Watching Winter Fade Away

As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.

My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.

At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.

In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.

Attic Storage

Since we are moving, I need to get into the attic and start pulling stuff out. I sort of know what’s up there. But I still wanted to check it out.

Disney Recess Movie. I forgot I had this banner!

We actually have three attics for storage in this house. I have emptied two of them so far. One had a box of wires. The other had old movie banners and fans for the summer. The third- which is above our linen closet- should contain a few Rubbermaid containers of baby/toddler clothes. Not a ton of stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

We have been paring down on stuff for a few months now. We started by trying to get the kids on board in decluttering their rooms. It wasn’t until we staged the house that this was finally accomplished. We have a little over three months to go through our stuff and decide what to keep and what to donate/sell. The final process will happen once we know where we are moving to and what stuff will make our trek to the new place.

Of course, we will probably still bring junk in boxes that shall stay packed up for many more years. Just because we cannot part with it. Relocating boxes from home to home without ever throwing it away? Seems like it would be commonplace in everyone’s house- just like a junk drawer. That’s normal, right?

I think moving is a good opportunity to evaluate what we have.

And what we have is a ton of junk!

Magic Kingdom For Sale- SOLD!

We have officially sold Castle Havelka. The subjects were removed last night and the final contract was signed. Perhaps it was this write up about our house from our agent that helped us get an offer within a week and a sold sign in twelve days:

“Quiet, Peaceful and Park Like! 38,000 sq ft southern exposed lot situated on a small cul-de-sac street in one of the best locations in desirable Salmon River. In an area of brand new luxury small acreage homes. This sprawling 3,134 sq ft two storey home has a terrific layout, exquisite detail and tons of character throughout. Beautiful large rooms including inviting kitchen/eating area plus large media and dining room on main floor. Upstairs has 5 large bedrooms. Fall in love with your backyard including large deck space with “Nano Style” doors opening up to your manicured grounds . Walking distance to North Otter Elementary. Wrap around driveway with tons of parking. Room for Shop! RV Parking. First time on market! This one is a must see!”

Now it’s time to hunker down on the house search. We’ve only scratched the surface and barely dipped our toes into the pool of what homes are out there. It’s time to really push our imaginations and find the right place for us. Essentially we are planning to buy a home that our teens can become adults in if they so choose to still live with us. We are looking for more space inside of the house and closer to big city amenities.

We are giving up the “Country Living” hashtag and going for more “Suburban Living”. It also means that CASTLE HAVELKA will need a new moniker for our next place. I want to use Kingdom, Empire or Realm to describe our next place. Perhaps Chalet or Shanty will be the term. Only time will tell with how it turns out.

I’m glad that this step is behind us. One sigh of relief has occurred, now to take a deep breath and dive into our house hunting!

Hump Day Happiness

It’s always a good feeling when the weather is nice. The world just seems more alive and vibrant.

Sometimes a midweek break of poor weather has you looking forward to the weekend. A day at work or school just seems to be a bit more pleasant as you look out the windows. It lifts your spirits with the knowledge that the weekend is fast approaching.

Cresting Hump Day means the week is almost over. A sense of relief, a warm fuzzy, a breath of fresh air.

I like sunny hump days.

March On

I cannot believe that we are in March of 2021 already. It feels like only yesterday that lockdowns began. But it’s been over a year. Here we are heading towards spring the following year… when is this pandemic going to end?

The “New Normal” is now the normal. Wear a mask, wash your hands ♾ times a day, keep your distance, no large crowds… For the most part, we are all accepting of these new rituals. I have become more accustomed to hand sanitizing than I ever thought I’d be.

Of course this has also made us buggy and stir crazy. (Since when did Sea Shanties become popular?) In the end we have discovered what is important to us. Walks in nature, making video calls to family and friends, learning new skills like baking or painting- all part of the “New Normal”.

As a society, we have been able to March On. That makes us resilient. Let’s keep up the positivity as we head towards a healthy tomorrow.

Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

Offer Accepted

After only one week on the market, we accepted an offer on our house. There’s subjects to be removed within the next week, but if all goes well- that’s one hurdle down, about 1.9 million more to go.

This is a big step for us all. And now that the reality of moving and leaving this house has really stepped up its game- we need to find us a place to live. Lucky for us we put in a date of mid-June in order to allow the two youngest to finish school without much in the way of interruptions.

That’s almost four months of trying to find the perfect home to relocate to. I think it’s doable. What I’m really liking is that friends and coworkers from all over the area are trying to convince us to move to their neighborhoods. Everyone is proud of where they live, and it shows.

So if you know of a great location in the Lower Mainland of BC with five bedrooms and a suite to rent- let me know! We could be neighbors!

Stress Crying

It’s been a very long time since stress has hit me. But yesterday it hit me so hard that I broke down crying. And it happened in front of my family. The group of people that I do my best to remain calm and emotionally strong in front of.

I’m not going into details, because airing my personal business isn’t something I think is appropriate all the time. But needless to say I hit a breaking point where I needed to take a shower to wash away the tears. That helped a lot.

I like to use my blog as a place of positivity. Rarely, if ever, do I share the bad on here. So I’d like to take the fact that I hit a low point and turn it around. There’s only one way to go and that is up. Things and situations are just going to get better. They just have to, right?

Right. Things are going to get better! Positive Mental Attitude.

Three Day Work Week Stress

Hooray for the upcoming four day weekend!

With everything that is going on this month- it is nice to realize that I only have a three day work week. Even better is the fact that I have only one more shift to go. What’s been really good is that work has been comforting in the fact that the stresses there are manageable.

I’m not liking the house selling/buying stresses. About twenty years ago when my wife and I did a “Pre-Marriage Course”. It was part of the agreement we made with the pastor in order for her to marry us. The course was over a weekend and delved into a lot of subjects related to marriage. The one I recall the most was how to Tri-fold a towel. The other was about the different stresses in our lives. (Folding towels isn’t one of them… unless you make it one).

The top stressors after death and marriage was having children and moving. I’m happy to report that divorce hasn’t happened and death in the family has been at the wayside since just before we married. Children are an ongoing stress. But moving has happened only twice since my wife and I met 21 years ago. I guess it was about time to add that stress in our lives.

So as nice as it is that I have a three day work week, it just means that I will be able to focus my free time at home stressed out. No real avenue to relieve that stress either. I’ll probably just end up gathering more junk together and get it ready for pick up. I’m also going to try going for a walk each day to clear my head. I just need to stay active and not dive too far into my own thoughts.

Now We Wait

Over the weekend we had nine viewings of our home. I have no idea if that is high or low or about average. But it does mean that people wanted to see our house. So that’s a good sign.

Now it’s a waiting game. We wait and see if there is a purchaser for this house. I’m positive that there is someone out there that would take great care of this home the same way we have over the years. Hopefully a family with little kids to enjoy the yard.

But waiting to hear anything sucks. A bazillion thoughts go through your mind. The kind of thoughts that keep you up at night causing you to feel unrested and agitated the next day.

Soon it will all be over. The waiting will end and the stress will dissolve. I just wish for that day to come quickly.

Buying A New Home

Our house was put on the market late this week. Within the first 24 hours we booked half a dozen showings for today. We also noticed a lot of cars not from our neighborhood doing a slow drive-by of the home. Hopefully this is all a good sign and we will sell our home.

The thing is, my wife and I have not found a house to buy yet. We ourselves have been looking for the past two months and have gone to several viewings of potential places. Many of which are perfect- for someone else. Or we would need to change our lifestyle drastically to enjoy the home.

At some point our criteria for the perfect home will need to be trimmed. Especially since the market is so hot right now and places are generally selling within a week of listing. Good and bad for us. So we will need to act quickly on a place it seems.

Our biggest wish is for a place with a rental suite. This will allow us to help our adult children to live near Vancouver and save money towards their own place one day. The other “must have” is the the house should be fairly new, or at least be upgraded. A big kitchen is desired and a garage. Beyond that, most everything else is superficial extras.

We know that we are giving up yard space. But that also means that maintaining a smaller yard should be easier. We also know that we will finally have neighbors that we will see more often. And that’s cool,

I kind of miss the suburban lifestyle. Let’s see how long that lasts when we join it once more.

Castle Havelka

It has officially happened folks. After a couple of years of hemming and hawing we put our house on the market to sell. This has been an emotional and tough decision that didn’t happen easily.

First, some history on the house:

It was built by my wife’s father in the early 70’s. He was a bricklayer by trade and enjoyed woodworking as a hobby- and it shows throughout the home. We took possession of the house in May of 2007 when our son was only one year old. It has been a great home to grow in with our kids, with innumerable memories made and loads of personal touches added over the years. Putting the house on the market has a greater emotional connection with more members of this family than just my wife and I.

Here is a collection of pictures from the house after staging. It sure feels like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of life.

If you wish to check the listing while it is still active, head over to REW. This house has never been on the market, so the value we put on it is worth more in memories than it is in dollars.

We are excited to pass it on as we say goodbye to the beautiful nature that surrounded us. This is a truly unique home that we hope will be enjoyed by future families.

Seven Minutes of Terror

Today NASA is sharing a live feed of the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars. It has taken a decade of planning to get to this point. And there is no guarantee that it will go smoothly.

Approximately 60% of the trips to Mars have failed. That’s huge considering this next trip has cost $2.7 Billion. It is set to touch down at 12:55pm Pacific Time (15:55 Eastern). NASA is providing a live feed on their YouTube Channel starting at 11:15 Pacific Time (14:15 Eastern).

The information I read online about the final few minutes, dubbed “Seven Minutes of Terror” is:

“The Perseverance will plow into the Martian atmosphere at speeds reaching 12,100 mph (19,500 km/h) at 3:48 p.m. EST (12:48 p.m. PST). The ensuing Seven Minutes of Terror will involve extreme heat, the deployment of a supersonic parachute, and the rover’s separation from the heat shield and back shell. By the time it hits the dirt—with the assistance of retrorockets and tethers—Perseverance will have slowed down to a walking pace.”

So we could be witnessing a historical landing or absolute destruction involving billions of dollars of research. Either way- I’m excited to watch it. If the rover is successful in its landing- it will share images with us within moments of landing.

NASA has a live feed on YouTube leading up to these events: NASA if you wish to watch.

Weather or Not

The past week’s weather has been bonkers here in the Lower Mainland. We experienced a Polar Vortex just days ago. We even had to dig out the winter parkas just to get from the front door to the car.

This afternoon I was out in my yard with a hoodie and jeans playing with the dog.

The sun and mild weather is a welcomed change. The sunshine brought my spirits up. Even our yard was looking a bit more vibrant than usual. I watched the neighbors wandering around the streets- all of whom seemed to have a pep in their step.

I like that we received a brief taste of spring already. Some of our plants are starting to bud. Now if only the little bits of snow would vanish, I’d be really happy.

Recognized By My Peers

Today at work it was pointed out by my boss that I had won a prize for my participation in our my continued focus on our Safety culture. In my company’s program called “Looking Out For Each Other” it turns out that a coworker from another department nominated me for finding and correcting a safety concern in a timely manner.

I appreciate being nominated and getting the recognition. For me, this job is unforgiving and any safety issues should be dealt with quickly. Safety is a part of everyone’s job here- hence the idea of “Looking Out For Each Other”. I’ve worked here since 2007, and have made many friends. All of whom I want to see go home to their families and friends.

I was surprised by the recognition and reached out to the employee who nominated me. It was humbling to hear his take on why he nominated me.

I finished my work day feeling accomplished for the first time in ages. This was a good feeling that I needed.

All That And A Bag Of Chips

Valentine’s Day is about love. I have found over the years that expressing love today doesn’t need to be flashy and over the top. Nonetheless, moments like that are beautiful and memorable. But you can be romantic in simpler ways as well.

For my wife, I gave her a bag of Lays potato chips and a case of pink grapefruit soda. It may sound silly to everyone, but I know that it meant a great deal to her. That’s because when we first began dating, this was her comfort snack while we cuddled.

“Dee-ah-tay Pample-Mousse” as we called the pop, is a great refreshing beverage. My wife used to enjoy having a 2 liter bottle at the side of the bed. She would have it sitting there for days on end, just slowly going flat. But that’s how she liked to drink it.

Memories like this are what makes Valentine’s Day a bit more romantic in my eyes. Looking back at our younger selves with awe and amazement that we have been together for over 20 years now. If I could, I would go back in time. Not to change anything, but rather to relive the moments once more.

Happy Valentine’s Day sweetheart. I’m glad that you are all that- and a bag of potato chips.

I Forgot To Take Pictures- But It Happened

Today my wife and I had a lunch date at The Trading Post in Fort Langley. It was a double date with some coworkers of mine. We went to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the brewery. There was live music and good food. Pics or it didn’t happen.

I took one photo. It was as I waited outside the eatery before anyone met up with me. My wife was waiting in the car to keep warm prior to the opening. Our friends were only a couple minutes behind us. I was first in line. Just like my other years of attending their anniversaries.

We had a great time talking and eating. So much so that I didn’t take any photos. We just all lived in the moment. No sharing of life on social media. Lots of good laughs and intimate personal conversations. It was good to share in person.

So no photos. But it did happen. I’m glad it did- my wife and I needed a break from this week. A mental health break of sorts. It felt good.

Shiver Me Timbers

As we were hanging out last night near our home at the local park, the temperature dropped quickly. The subzero temperatures carried on into the day today. We are finally feeling winter here folks. But that’s okay…

We are getting a look at that sunshine out there. I’m seeing a ton of my friends sharing pictures of walking bundled up outside, enjoying the vitamin D. Because of the sun, we are not experiencing the heavy rainfall which is nice. Next week shows a chance of snow. In all honesty that should not be too bad.

It seems everywhere else in Canada the temperatures are far lower and drop quickly as darkness falls. So I’ll enjoy the Lower Mainland and this beautiful weather.

Do you enjoy the sun even when it’s cold outside? I know I do.

Frugal February

Ever just go online and start searching for stuff to buy? Even though you don’t need it? I caught myself doing that last night. I came to the realization that I like to “window shop” but do eventually purchase something frivolous.

For example…

Last night I went onto Amazon and looked up men’s roller skates. Why? I dunno. Maybe because I had a pair of black boot roller skates as a pre-teen before my first pair of inline skates. I thought that maybe it would be neat to own a pair again.

Gorillaz

But it took me down a rabbit hole of accessories as well. Different wheels, knee pads, wrist guards, and even Bluetooth headphones. The type that looked 80’s retro. Why? No idea. It just seemed to match.

And that got me to look at 1up arcade games. I think it would be neat to have a collection of them. But at $400-600 each it seems a tad bit eccentric to own a few, even though I love the cabinet artwork.

In the end I didn’t buy anything useless. I am choosing to go with a “Frugal February” and not buy stuff. Besides the obvious necessities. I’m also thinking that I won’t spend money eating out. That would be a good addition to the “Frugal February” mentality.

Laughing After Work

Every couple of weeks I work opposite a fella who I enjoy talking with. We have gotten into a routine of conversations while we drive to and from work. I really appreciate those phone calls.

We talk about pretty much everything. Work, family, the weather… you name it. But my favorite phone call is the one we have after work. That is when we share all the stuff that has occurred throughout the day. And we laugh. A lot.

It’s a great feeling to unwind after a long shift with a mutual kindred spirit. In all honesty, sometimes all we can do is laugh. Some of the most ridiculous things can occur in a twelve hour period. And it must be laughed about.

Sea Shanties

Somehow I keep up with ridiculous trends. Even when it’s unintentional. Most recently is listening to Sea Shanties on Spotify. I guess I’m hip with the cool kids.

My first Space Lego Set (from 1979- given to me in 1981)

I’ve always enjoyed songs that can tell a story. It’s probably why I obsess about musicals so much. When I was about five years old, my mother gave me an Irish Rovers record for my Birthday. And a Lego Set. I built, played and rebuilt that Lego set over and over again while listening to the Irish Rovers. Odd memory that’s for sure, but it helped make me who I am today.

Canadian/Irish Musicians performing in Australia. (Album from 1976)

My mother would also play Scottish Highland songs on our stereo. Hearing voices that harmonized so eloquently is something I have enjoyed for decades. The newest Tiktok trend of singing Sea Shanties is right up my alley.

I don’t have a favorite Shanty or pub song. But you will catch me singing along to them on occasion. Do you have a favorite genre of music that isn’t mainstream? Let me know in the comments.

Ignoring the Faults in What You Love

We all have something that we love to indulge in. Be it food, a sports team, a book, a park, or even a movie franchise. Whatever the case may be, we each have a thing we love. And most of us ignore the flaws.

And we love to share these interests with others. Myself for example- I really enjoy Star Wars. The movies, the books, the toys, the props, the tv shows- all of it. I just love the sci-fi fantasy realm that has been created.

But it’s not perfect. I can even look past the flaws- Those Ewok movies and the Christmas Special- and still appreciate the shows. Nothing is perfect. And that adds to the charm of the series. The diehard fans can nitpick and dissect the shows all they want. But I’m gonna still love the series no matter what.

Especially Empire Strikes Back. That is the best of the film series hands down. Maybe Rogue One…

Vision Board

Recently I’ve seen a few mentions of something called “A Vision Board”. The idea fascinates me and I think it’s a unique idea. It’s something that I plan on trying this spring. Why am waiting until then? I dunno. It just seems like the right time. Maybe I should make a “Vision Board” about making a “Vision Board”…

What is a “Vision Board”? Basically it’s a poster board made up of images. You can create a collage of dreams and goals you have for yourself. Back in high school I remember collages being the big thing to do. Take some old magazines and cut out pictures that represent something and glue them all together. With a “Vision Board” it’ll give you something to focus on and work towards.

I always have goals. But doing something like a “Vision Board” might help to make them feel less lofty and more achievable. Seeing goals might help with motivation in achieving those goals.

Have you done a “Vision Board” before? Did it work for you? Let me know in the comments.

I also have no idea why I kept putting the words “Vision Board” in quotes.

Five Years Of Blogging

Well folks I made it this far and you have joined me for the ride. I am about to crest my five year mark of writing every single day. I cannot believe that I have been blogging now for 1825 days in a row.

I have diligently written every day for these five years- no matter what. I have written about movies and music (I’m not an entertainment blogger) and enjoying small businesses (I’m not an influencer). I even write about family (Not a parenting blog) or when I was on vacation in other countries (Nope, not a travel blog).

I just write for the sake of writing. Sometimes what I share can be inspirational. Most often it is to remind people that life is good and memories are worth sharing. Many people can relate to my experiences it seems, which can make for pleasant interactions with my audience.

Generally speaking, I don’t have thousands of followers. But of the almost 900 people that do follow and choose to interact with me, I will respond to every comment made. That always makes me happy. Last year in 2020, I had over 14,000 views on my site. That seems like an astronomical amount of strangers visiting my ramblings. Especially when I look at my stats and see that people all over the world read about my life.

I just want to say a hearty “Thank You” to all my friends and followers out there. I’m sure some days you think to yourself, “There’s Josef’s blog, showing up in my newsfeed again.” While other days you may look forward to seeing what I have in store.

I’m still Making It Up As I Go

I plan to keep my momentum going and will continue to share my thoughts each and every day. Please keep reading, sharing and interacting with me.

Love, Josef Making It Up As I Go

Lava

The word “LAVA” is so much fun. When you say it, your brain naturally goes to the idea of Volcanoes and oozing hot magma. Even the word “magma” is fun to say. I’m also enjoying “Lavazza” coffee these days. How fun is that? It’s like I’m pretending to have lava coffee!

When I was in grade 1 (…damn this story is starting waaaaaaayy back when…) I would take out a book about volcanoes from the library every week. Most kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or the Old Testament, that whole Catholic school thing; but I liked volcanoes. Plus every tv trope involving kids and science fairs naturally had a model volcano that made a mess. I remember trying to paper mache my own volcano and made a mess in the basement before completing it.

As well, when I was growing up, I also always wanted a Lava Lamp. In the late 80’s it wasn’t an easy item to find for a decent price. Many lamps cost around 100 bucks in 1987 dollars- so around $230 in today’s money. Not something reasonable for an 11 year old to afford back then.

Fast forward to around 2004… I was in the middle of my five year career at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Where I was in charge of the prize wall- and was permitted to take a prize or twenty home for myself. I took full advantage of this for my kids. They got a lot of toys. But the one that I loved most for me was a Lava Lamp telephone.

We have not had a “landline” in years in this house. In fact, my lava lamp phone was put in storage and forgotten about long before we removed our home phone. This “editing/ purging” kick meant my kids discovered the phone once more. Our son had never seen it, or at least doesn’t remember it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to part with it. So it gets another shot at being plugged in for fun.

Do you like lava lamps? Or do you have memories about volcanoes you wish to share?

Let me know in the comments so I can share them from my secret volcanic lair!