Puzzle Time

I wrote about Jigsaw Puzzles back in April of 2018. It only seems fitting that I’d mention them again. It seems that our son has decided to dust off some of the boxes of puzzles to keep himself occupied during isolation.

He seemed to be pretty excited about the idea of doing a jigsaw puzzle and posted on his Instagram yesterday about it. He doesn’t post as much on there like his older sisters, so it surprised me to see the post. Usually he posts about speed skating, but I guess since that done for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that he wants to share something.

He hasn’t done nearly as much as I expected, considering I’d probably be close to finished in one sitting. It drives me bonkers to leave a puzzle unfinished. Seeing this laid out on our table made me want to partake in assembling it. But I held back on the urge. It is his puzzle to work on. At least until he asks for help. Then, I may lose sleep trying to get it completed.

Because of the self isolation and being forced to stay home (or nearby) without contact with pretty much everyone, I can see why puzzles have become popular in my Social Media feeds. I find it astonishing that our son also took to jigsaw puzzles as a way to cope and keep occupied. It’s almost like being a part of a “hive collective” ideal. Most of us all fall into the same line of thinking at similar times, even when nothing seems to provoke or promote those thoughts.

But I digress. Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. Our son also pulled out an old “word search” book that we had in a cupboard for ages. Pretty sure these are easy puzzles. But they are keeping him away from video games at the moment, which is a nice change of pace.

How are you doing in isolation? Did you begin doing puzzles? If so, what type? Let me know in the comments.

And stay healthy and safe during these crazy times.

Feeling Old. Thanks Hair.

Today I felt a bit older than I usually do. Not because of back pain or remembering when the internet became mainstream. I felt old because of my hair.

My wife stopped and asked me if I had scratched my face beside my mouth. Then she looked closer and said, “Nevermind, must’ve been the shadow of your facial hair in your wrinkles.” Ouch lady. Wrinkles?

Afterwards I went to brush my teeth and a hair fell from my head into the sink. Ugh. Time to take closer examination of my head. Ear hair? Check. Nose hair? Check. Wrinkles? Depends on the facial expression. We’ll go with Check. Receding hairline? My forehead definitely looks big- Check. Finally… grey hair? Please say it’s blonde, please say it’s blonde….

Nope. That’s a few strands of grey showing up. Not what I wanted to see.

Or perhaps I should look at the grey as a Silver Lining. A showcase of the life I’ve lived so far. And those wrinkles? That’s from all the smiling I’ve done from years of laughter. Nose hair and ear hair? Ok, those are just gross to see- time to trim. But the rest shouldn’t make me feel old. I should feel accomplished.

And I guess I do. Sometimes it just takes a closer look at one’s life to see past the image of oneself. Thanks hair. You’ve shown me a lot more today than I expected. Now stop falling out.

Super Cleaning!

We’ve been busy today with more cleaning. So much so that I don’t have much time to write today’s blog.

Our middle child took on the task of cleaning out all the cupboards in all the bathrooms. Pretty sure this is the look of regret by starting on it. She has found plenty of “product” that we never use. Time to turf it!

My son and I were cleaning the windows in the sun room. Bleach around the edges to get rid of the black and grime forming. Then washing the windows twice in order to get rid of the streaks.

Being cooped up in the house has it’s benefits. The cleaning was taken in stride and the kids were very willing to do the chores. Plus we aren’t out spending money- that’s always good for the bank account.

How clean is your house these days? Doesn’t it feel good?

Donuts or Doughnuts?

Mmmm dessert cake things. However you want to spell them (I’ll use both spellings in this blog)- they are sweet treats of yum that make you go nuts!

Okay, sugar high aside… we made donuts from scratch today. they turned out pretty darned good. I decided to make the doughnuts because I put fresh oil in the deep fryer. No one wants French fry or chicken strip flavored desserts.

The recipe was one I’ve been wanting to try for ages since I first ate one of these doughnuts. I didn’t make the cotton candy icing this time around. Forget it! I’m going to start a second batch right now and do that for this next batch. For the first donuts, our daughter made a lemon icing that she loves, and is equally as delicious.

I know a few things I could do differently… mostly patience with the yeast and the rising of the dough. But not bad for my first ever attempt. Definitely going to repeat it… Right now!

Here is the link to the original recipe. Go and try it for yourself!!! Terri’s Donuts

Favorite Color

When I was a little child, my favorite color was not blue like most boys, but rather it was green. All because of a Tupperware cup. Ah Tupperware, the strange phenomenon in households from the 50’s through the 80’s. If you were a child of the 70’s/80’s you’d recognize Tupperware in almost everyone’s home.

I drank from the green cup all the time. I remember using it so much that the plastic coating around the lip began to wear off. I’d use my teeth to grind and shave into the plastic cup. I never cared to use the other cups.

By 1982 (I think?), I outgrew green as my favorite color. I began to like red more. As if a switch in my brain flipped. I blame the fact that my parents bought me an amazing Mongoose BMX bike.

It was red with a metallic sparkle to it with gold tire rims and foam pads to “protect” you from getting hurt by the handlebars or the crotch killer. It had a rock hard seat that I would rarely sit on. It was designed to keep you in an almost standing position. I wiped out on that thing a few times, including needing stitches one day on my way to school.

Then I entered awkward teenage years in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Everything was white with strange splashes of neon. As if a blank canvas was being used in the world to share simple images of Geckos or waves.

At some point in my late teenage years I started to like black. Some strange “Goth Phase” in the mid/late 90’s. I still try and buy black t-shirts, but with fun images on them now. I do prefer black clothes over any other color.

But I no longer have a favorite color. There is so much beauty in the world. All of the colors blend so nicely.

What’s your favorite color? Why?

My April Fools Joke

With everything going on in the world, it’s good to have some humor once in a while. And with today being April Fool’s Day, what better day to have some laughs? Since the kids are staying home due to the Covid19 epidemic, they have been enjoying not going to school. Time to change that.

I came home after my night shift at about 7am. I promptly went upstairs and woke up our two youngest teens. I told them they were late for school and it was time to get up. Naturally, they weren’t quite believing me as I rushed back down the stairs. A few seconds later, I hurriedly went back to their rooms and told them they had to get going.

My son rolled over in bed and flat out said, “There’s no school dad. Nice try.” My response was, “The school sent an email that it was back on.” And with that statement- it got him out of bed.

I kept them rushing around as I asked what they wanted for breakfast and in their lunches. Then I told them to pack their bags and instruments, because we were late for music class. That got my daughter confused and she rushed back upstairs. She passed my son as he was hurdling back down fully dressed. This must’ve lit a fire in her, because she was dressed and downstairs again within five minutes.

I had their breakfast at the table with a cup of coffee for each of them. I sat down across from them and joined them. That’s when my son asked about his other older sister and I lied saying she had to work and because of that commitment she would miss the first day back to school. My daughter then asked what’s going on. And I said, “It’s April First. You know what that means.”

You could see it click inside. “April Fools. Nice one dad.” And she laughed. My son complained that he should still be in bed for three more hours. At least I know now that the kids can hustle and be ready to leave in ten minutes.

This was a great “Dad Joke” April Fools Day prank.

Home. Home Again.

I like to be here when I can.

As much as I enjoy sharing about the adventures we take or have taken, I still enjoy having a home to rest my soul at. Being here a bit more frequently lately has made me appreciate what I do have.

Besides four walls and a roof to hold my stuff, I have a loving family. A family that remembers my birthday and Father’s Day. A family that will go out of their way to like the things I like in order to share moments with me.

In this home there are vestiges of each and every one of them. From pictures to artwork to trinkets- our collections share a story or a fond memory. I’m lucky that these reminders are around. They bring me joy.

That’s all I wanted to share with you. But I also used today’s blog as a friendly reminder to myself that I have an entire universe of love and kindness here in my home, even if I feel trapped.

Up Schitt’s Creek

All this time at home meant binge watching tv shows. I’m sure that it’s what everyone else is doing. Being told to not go out and socialize is a great excuse to stay in and watch Netflix! So here’s a couple that my family has enjoyed.

My kids have been watching Schitt’s Creek and have grown to love it. My wife and I have already seen the show and have deemed it appropriate enough for our teens to enjoy. It’s some good old fashioned Canadiana humor.

My wife and I have now watched the train wreck which is “Tiger King”. Holy smokes is this show bonkers. Just when you think it’s over, something new emerges. All of these people are levels of crazy that I did not think was possible. And it’s a DOCUMENTARY! Not like a “Flat Earthers” type of crazy or “Jackass” type of buffoonery. This is batshit insane what you see happening over the course of five years between these people.

Both shows contain mature content and languages. So not for the prudish or young. But both are entertaining in their own ways.

Have you seen either of these shows? What shows are you enjoying during isolation?

Back To Normal?

My vacation is ending today. I enjoyed my physical distancing of the rest of the world as I stayed home. I kept busy during my time off working around the house/yard. I also enjoyed the cooking and painting I accomplished while in seclusion.

Getting back to work after an extended time away is always challenging. There are changes to adapt to and hundreds of emails to read. Heading back to a “normal routine” during the epidemic feels a tad strange. Moving trains helps keep the goods flowing to the customers and places to keep the public supplied. I’ll still be practicing my physical distancing and extreme cleanliness.

Traveling to work and coming home will be the majority of my venturing into the wild during this COVID-19 crisis. I’m glad that for the next three weeks I’ll be working the night shift as well. It means far less people to interact with. Plus I get to sleep all day long.

Like one giant nap.

A Galaga Havelka

I enjoy painting. I think I’m okay at it. I found that over the past couple of days I dove into my art for hours on end. I only noticed how much time was spent because I would suddenly be hungry.

The other day, my inspiration was an old painting I remembered from my childhood. Read about it here: Shelley. When I posted the image on Instagram my sister thought it was the original painting. (Just a side note: I am in no way trying to plagiarize the original art style for any type of profit. I just really wanted to recreate a memory.)

Yesterday, I finished a completely different piece. It was inspired by my poem I shared the other day, Machine and the original marquee for Galaga/Galaxian artwork. I have always been fascinated with the late 70’s/early 80’s arcade artwork. Something about the artistic styling being more lively and vivid then the pixelated games themselves. As if your imagination was needed to make those dots come to life.

I’d like to start on another piece. But I don’t really know what to do. I will just have to wait for inspiration to hit me. Like when one of the space invaders from Galaxian destroys my ship in an endless battle.

Google Nest Wifi

My wife had Google Nest Wifi delivered to our home today. I thought for sure it would take a long time to set up. I was wrong. It took under 15 minutes including unboxing.

As usual, I was excited to have new tech in the house. My kids are stoked as well to have Google Assistant at their fingertips from almost anywhere in the house. We can also play music through the speakers in the WiFi Points.

We don’t have a Spotify, Youtube Music or Google Music account. So there wasn’t any option to really “skip” or choose songs. But I was able to choose a genre or style. I started by requesting Queen. Then moved on to Ska. And wow, I really enjoy Ska, who knew?

I’d be more excited about the idea that instead of saying “Ok Google” I could say “COMPUTER” like I am living in the Star Trek universe. But at least there’s some music to enjoy, and I love tech, maybe one day we will be closer to the Star Trek life.

Shelley

A gift to my wife almost ten years ago.

Today I decided to do some painting. Not painting walls or doors this time, but rather something artistically inspired. For my birthday, I received some brushes and paints. Probably because I kept using our oldest daughter’s paints for ages and she was getting annoyed with it.

Two years ago, we were in Tokyo for the Cherry Blossoms.

I do enjoy painting. I love to share memories through my art. Usually I like to do scenes and scenery. Mainly of things that bring me joy.

Today I painted an image of a painting I used to see all the time as a child. My parents once owned an oil painting by an artist named “Shelley”. The original painting was large and cumbersome- at nearly 4 feet by 4 feet in size. I went through a bunch of old photos and pieced together the image I remembered so clearly.

I decided that I wanted this image hung in my home. Only on a smaller scale. After some research online, I discovered that “Shelley” did similar paintings, in the same fashion. With prices for the paintings ranging from $650-$1200.

Here is my painting inspired by “Shelley”. There’s something about the browns and yellows that I always liked on the original. As a child, I often laid on the couch staring at the painting. I understand why my parents sold the painting. It was rather large and clearly screamed 1970’s. It wouldn’t always compliment the walls or rooms of the houses we lived in. I think my parents got rid of it in the late 80’s/early 90’s.

The way the artist signed the painting we owned had a big impact on my written style. I usually write in capitals with straight edges on letters that would normally be curved. Such as the letter “S”. I also tend to use the lines to join the letter in my name like “EF” or “HA”. I only noticed this today when I began searching online for images of their art. It seems “Shelley” had a variety of signatures. But the one we had was the biggest impact to my development.

Does art inspire you? What makes good art memorable?

Machine.

In the dew soaked dawn

Grass stretched on for miles and miles

The life of the world was starting a new day.

The rebirth had begun… again.

From the dirt, the insects crawled out.

From the trees, the birds came to feast.

From the building came a machine:

Pushed by men

A box of wires and buttons invaded the earth.

Cabinetry of exquisite art and form;

Brought forth a new sense to the field,

Nature was no longer alone.

The men left the machine to stand tall in the grass.

It stood high on the plains.

Tall and proud as it once was,

A former God clearly visible on all sides…

Men had devoted endless hours to it.

These fields had become forgotten in the years past.

But the earth knew that the men would return.

The brief fling with the machine had taken its toll.

Man was becoming poor as his focus changed.

Until one day it all ended.

The machine, like so many others, had been cast aside.

Some men found homes for similar machines.

The machines were stored away in basements,

Hidden from their families; but still shown to close friends.

The hums and tones emanating into the dungeons that were now home,

As the lights shone forth from the device to mesmerize…

Forgotten, was it all.

The memories, the mistakes, the pastimes…

The last of the heroes to man,

Had been dragged to its final resting place.

There alone in the blazing sun,

Its circuits, wires and lights to die off.

No protection from the sun, the rain, the snow.

Never to be played again.

Through the songs of the insects and birds,

The field breathed a sigh of relief.

Never again would man enjoy

Galaga.

Spring Break Staycationing

The past few days I’ve been staying at home. Wednesday was the last time I ventured out. I had booked vacation time for this week because I knew the kids would be home for Spring Break. I did not know COVID-19 was going to be so widespread, thus requiring people to stay home.

It’s tough to feel cooped up that’s for sure. I’ve seen a lot on Instagram of people making the most of the situation. Many others are doing the same thing I’ve been doing for “Spring Break.”

Originally we were going to do some day trips around the Lower Mainland, and I was planning an overnight excursion to Victoria. Instead, I have taken the time to do touch ups to our home that are long overdue. Loads of yardwork, painting and decluttering. But visible progress has been made.

I’ve also enjoyed the extra time we are having together as a family. Making meals and having fun. I’ve been actively spending extra time with each member of the household. And not just making the kids do work, but actually having quality parenting time. I think a break amongst the hard work is necessary.

How are you coping with seclusion and physical distancing?

Sushi At Home

I’m enjoying this at home meal making. Tonight I made homemade sushi. I’ve made sushi at home previously, so I wasn’t afraid to have another go at it. I’m also getting better at making sushi.

I also cheated a bit this time around. I used a Sushezi. It’s essentially a “Sushi Bazooka” that pushes out the rice/fish mixture. It makes the sushi rolls so much faster than when I roll my own. Unfortunately they are much larger than regular sushi rolls.

The family enjoyed the dinner and scarfed it down in record time. Much faster than when I was making it.

How are your cooking skills these days?

I Made Pasta!!! Eat It.

I’ve always wanted to make my own pasta. So I decided that while I’m at home avoiding the world- this is the best time to try it. I even had a helper who enjoyed the rolling out of the pasta.

A couple of years ago I wrote about my discovery of my father’s old pasta maker: My Place Is In The Kitchen. It promptly was put in the back of a cupboard to be forgotten about, until today. I think it was because of playing the video game “Overcooked 2” recently that inspired me.

I decided to try my hand at making spinach pasta as my first ever attempt. Mainly because my wife bought a metric shit-ton of spinach, and no one was eating it. Why not make a green pasta with a white sauce?

Our middle daughter was a fantastic helper as we rolled out long strands of pasta. She also brought her Pop Vinyl from the film Ratatouille so that he could watch over us.

Who knew making pasta was so easy? And delicious. A glass of wine and a side casear salad made for a great family dinner. Making the pasta took the better part of an hour. But it was some good quality time spent with my daughter, and I’d do that any day.

Temporary/Permanent Garage Shelter

Back in 2016 we bought a temporary shelter for our Honda Element. I put it up along the side of our home near the carport. And there it stood… until today.

We’ve been using it as extra storage for things like camping gear and outdoor Christmas decorations. I’ve also used it as a workspace for when I needed to set up some sawhorses and do some painting or building. It’s been extremely versatile. So we didn’t really want to get rid of it.

Instead, two of our children lay out the cover on the lawn and scrubbed the green film off the outside of it. I disassembled and reassembled the frame in its new location. The other side of the house. Which is a great location for this shelter.

We have a “dead space” on the side of our home that we have tried to utilize. We’ve set up a fire pit, a sitting area, even an herb garden- but it never lasted. Mostly because it is out of sight. So it’s a great spot for the temporary shelter. We moved the camping stuff, Christmas stuff and some other stuff that we don’t need out in the open. It’s a perfect storage spot.

It also made the front of our home have nicer curb appeal. Our daughter can park off to the side if she wishes. We can also access the backyard much easier once more.

Pressure Washing Zen

My daughters were hard at work the last couple of days using the pressure washer I had recently purchased. Today, I was going to clean just a small area. Five hours and two large decks later, I finally had to stop.

I completely forgot how therapeutic pressure washing can be. The vibration of the wand, the gentle hum of the machine (because you should always wear ear protection!) and the way the water works to remove grime. A soothing visual of immediate changes occur. Sometimes the sun hits the mist and a glinting of rainbows appear.

The final result brings a sense of pride to your work. A clean area to enjoy nature once more. Cleaning therapy, who knew?

All That Hard Work Will Make Our Home

Today the sun was shining and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day to clean the yard and the outside of our home.

Our son took on the task of adding some paint to their old playhouse. We use it as a garden shed now, but it can easily be converted back for play should young kids ever live here again.

Our middle child pulled out the lawnmower and gave the first mow of the season to the backyard. We have about half of our acre that needed a mow. The rest is mostly trees and bushes.

Our oldest enjoys pressure washing. With all the trees and dampness in our area- a lot of green shows up on cement and such. A deep cleaning at the start of the season will make for a good spring and summer.

At the end of the day, it feels like we’re only part way through. We’ll get there soon enough. And then we can relax enjoying nature and our home.

Planning For The Solitude

With everything going on in the world today, I have made a plan to keep our children busy. Go Joe!

Today I headed out and hit up the Home Depot for a pressure washer, some cleaning supplies, tools and paints. A $1000 later and I have enough projects to keep us busy for quite some time.

I also made a point of getting my haircut, an oil change and to pick up some old records. Those last three were in order to support small businesses during this tough time. With everyone rushing to buy toilet paper and pasta sauces, remembering that those small businesses rely on us now more than ever. These small businesses are also taking precautions to ensure healthiness. As well, I did my best to avoid touching stuff and sanitizing frequently.

Starting tomorrow, I don’t plan on leaving my house anytime soon. I am on a week of vacation that I was already planning on just staying home. We have enough food to keep us fed for nearly a month. But that’s how we have always been. We keep our freezer and pantry stocked at all times. Of course this could all change if required.

Like if I run out of beer. But I got a decent stockpile of cheap beer to keep me going.

Seriously though, I plan on not going out any more. Every place I went to today was pretty empty. And no one was rude or panicked. Let’s keep it that way please.

Cancel Those Beer Plans

I’m not one for going out on St. Patrick’s Day as it is, which is fine. It’s a fun type of celebration for many though. From plastic leprechaun hats to green beers- people love to have a raucous of a time today.

With today being St. Patrick’s Day, it would normally be filled with people going out and having a good time. But due to the recent pandemic, it is recommended that people stay away from large gatherings. Sadly this may mean no green beers in the pub. The world needs a touch of good luck, but we seem to have a No Leaf Clover kind of day. Hopefully things get better before they get worse.

If you are still going to celebrate with some beer- do it safely from the comfort of your own home. Maybe Skype or FaceTime some friends instead. Practice that new buzz term- Social Distancing. As I’ve gotten older, I enjoy Social Distancing already. So, here’s my virtual clinking of a glass to you-

Cheers!

Inspired Art

Yesterday was my birthday. And while it wasn’t what you’d call a “Milestone Birthday” it was still memorable and caring.

Going to work wasn’t special that’s for certain. A couple coworkers wished me a happy birthday, which was nice. There are was no “Office Cake” which I am glad about. I’m not much of a sweets fan. At home, I did receive a cake. Sort of. It was an oversized cream puff that reminded my family of our trip to Tokyo a couple of years ago. But the cake wasn’t the gift. The gifts was my daughters handmade artwork they felt symbolizes who I am.

My youngest daughter painted 28:06:42:12 on a canvas for me. (On the back is a lovely paragraph written with uplifting comments by my daughter. That brought a tear to my eye.) For the past decade I have posted that image on Instagram or Facebook as a countdown to The Ides of March- March 15- my birthday. Many of my connections and friends see it as a “Donnie Darko” reference. Which it is. But I’m also a bit self centered and love to make people think about what the countdown is for.

My older daughter chose to go simplistic with an iconic “Running Man” image from Intellivision. The kids know I’m excited about the Amico system coming out this fall. Naturally this image means more to me than most folks. It is a great piece of imagery in my opinion. A change of colour and size symbolizing growth over the years.

I love that my children feel that my passions and joys can bring inspiration to their art. And that they want to relive those passions in art they give me. That is the greatest gift- knowing I’m a muse to my children.

2020 44

March 15,1976: A self proclaimed hero was born in Halifax Nova Scotia. He came screaming into the world not knowing what was in store for him. Except naps. Lots of naps. Little did he know that his adventures would continue to the other coast of the country.

Here he is, 44 years later. A hero to his family, friends and coworkers. His superpowers include hyper kindness, magnified positivity, ultra attentive listening, and height. All of which he tries to showcase regularly. All of which makes him more than just a man.

He has a loving wife and kids. A good job with good pay. Friends who reach out and show that they care as well. Looking at his life- he should be happy. And he is. Today is his birthday and it marks one more revolution around the sun. One more notch on his superhero belt.

I couldn’t feel super if it wasn’t for everybody in my life. Thank you everyone for always being gracious and fun. that’s the best gift I can get on a daily basis.

Bloody Weather Doesn’t Feel Like Spring Break

The weather today was frustrating. It was sunny but windy. I thought it would be an alright kind of day, but it was really cold. A funky kind of cold that chills you to your core. I’m at home now after wandering around with my wife and still shivering. What in the world?!

The day ended with the sun setting over our backyard- gleaming with beauty. As it grew darker, I also became tired. I’ll be retiring to my bedroom early tonight. No family movie night for me.

Our kids have two weeks off from school to enjoy spring break. And with my vacation starting on Wednesday, I’ll spend more quality time with them at that point. Considering the fear of the COVID-19, we’ll probably get “cabin fever” by the end of their break. And if the weather doesn’t get warmer, pretty sure we’re going to be vegging in front of the tv a whole lot.

Stay Home- Early Start To Spring Cleaning

Next week, I have a week of vacation. We won’t be going anywhere due to the things going on in the world. So I’m going to get a jump start on Spring Cleaning! Or rather- I’ll make lists and get the kids to do most of it!

Except for today. Today I took advantage of a couple of hours of decent weather and filled six yard waste cans. No kids, no hassles, just me and the front yard. The wintertime always make the yard look bleak.

But when spring hits- Hoo boy. Our yard gets green and full of life. Which is good because the growth helps to hide the weeds and fallen branches that we neglect to pick up. Rarely do we need to buy any plants as it all comes back each year. Super awesome!

The fresh air and a bit of solitude will do the family some good. We’ve been busy with speed skating and graduation planning that this Spring Break is needed. No big plans, but some quality time outside (weather permitting of course) or we dust and wash the windows and floors inside.

Something to pass the time instead of just saying that we are avoiding the world.