Working Summer Nights

The first heatwave has passed us by. As much as I enjoyed lounging by the pool (bit did I ever enjoy that!) I was able to combat the heat in other ways. We had our heat pump serviced last week and the technician gave us some advice on running the AC in order to keep the unit lasting longer.

We also keep the blinds down when the sun is hitting the windows. As well, we keep doors cans windows closed. The ceiling fans are on low in order to circulate the cool air. The comfort level in our home is perfect. So comfortable in fact that it makes it easy for me to sleep during the day.

That’s because my favorite way to battle the summer heat is to work at night. Yeah, night shifts aren’t fun, but the cool evening air and light breeze makes work so much better. When I was a switchman, I worked nights quite regularly in the summer in order to avoid bugs and the heat. I know not everyone has that option in working and outside job- but if you can- I recommend summer nights for working.

Since most folks work normal hours, remember to stay cool and hydrated! Even stuffy offices should be a comfortable place to work at.

Keeping Positive Vibes

I hear the phrase, “It is what it is.” Whenever there is something bad happening in life that you can’t control. It’s not a favorite phrase of mine, so I try not to use it- but I know I have from time to time. The other phrase that gets me is “At the end of the day…” The end of the day comes, well, daily. But I want to counter it with a new one.

“Oh well. Whatever happens, happens.” No matter what each day brings us, we are just should just chill out and breathe deep. Let the world continue on its merry way, and not get bothered by it. Here’s how I let that happen: I know what I’m working towards and enjoy why I do what I do.

Last night I was at work and my wife sent me a beautiful view of the sky from our home. The thought that our home is a mere thirty five minutes away from work keeps me going. Having views like this are some of the reasons why I go to work. Not bringing the stress home is also important. “Let it be.” As the Beatles sang.

What do you work towards? Do you try your best to let “whatever happens, happen?” Or do you try and gain control over things that are out of your control? Lastly, what are you working towards? Does it make you happy?

Summer Nights By The Pool

The last couple of days have been scorchers. The heat hitting 30°C yesterday and later today. All afternoon on Saturday, we took advantage of the pool and shade from the gazebo. A few friends stopped by to join us- which is always nice.

By 10:30pm it was just the family remaining. As the night started to settle on us, we stayed warm with the fire pit and a couple of blankets. By midnight, my wife put out the fire and I had fallen asleep. I woke up around 3am and headed inside. It was so comfortable outside that if it wasn’t for my allergies, I’d have slept through the night out there.

I’m looking forward to more days and nights like that one. Where friends and family can come by and relax with us. Hooray for summer making its appearance!

Our Son Is Getting Grounded

It isn’t as bad as it sounds. Our 16 year old son just got his first summer job. Our tenants introduced us to a fellow who lives up the road. That person told our son to go and apply for a job at the Surrey Golf Course.

Yesterday morning I dropped our son off to apply for groundskeeper/ landscaper. Forty five minutes later and he was smiling from ear to ear. He starts the job next week working full time Monday to Friday. The job starts early- 5am. But he will be done to enjoy his afternoons and evenings every day.

In getting his first job, he needed to get a few things. Most importantly was his first pair of work boots. I offered to buy his first pair of steel toe boots. But told him he will need to take care of them and after this, he will be on his own to buy his own work gear. We also went out to pick up a couple of polo shirts and some work pants.

He is excited for his new independence and cash freedom. We also went and opened his first bank account. I reminded him to set aside a minimum of 10% of his income. He is unsure what he will be saving towards., so I suggested he put the majority of his money into his savings account as the interest rate is better. I hope he understands why I suggest this.

I’m happy for him and look forward to seeing how he fares (get it? Like fairway on a golf course?) One of the perks of his job is getting free golf and discounts at the country club. I have a feeling he will be following in my father’s footsteps and grow into a love of golf.

Furry Critters

Leaving our acre last year, I thought we would be seeing less wildlife as we hit the Suburbs. I was wrong. But at least we haven’t encountered any rats or raccoons.

The furry creatures are really tiny and almost seem lost. We had a baby hare hanging out under our deck. It wasn’t scared of me at all as I approached it to get a picture. In fact, it seemed as intrigued by me as I was of it.

The other little fellow that appeared the next day was a field mouse. It decided to cool off in our pool. I caught it swimming and then jumping onto our solar pool rings. Getting him out of the pool wasn’t too tough. I used our net and then released it back into the field behind our property. Maybe in the heatwave, it will return for a quick dip.

Of course our dog is often watching for wildlife as well. Generally she keeps the little creatures away, including cats. If she sees a coyote in the back field, she lets them know to stay away with incessant barking. Sometimes she does it from inside our home; other times she is in the backyard doing a proud stance on one of our rocks as she howls.

The wildlife is different in the ‘Burbs. Aside from the couple cute furry critters, it’s usually birds out and about. Most of the time I see hawks, owls, hummingbirds and a large assortment of other birds.

I have a feeling I will become a bird watcher pretty quick and start to get books and binoculars to view them.

Red Carpet Grad 2022

Tonight we are at the Grad Dinner and Dance for Darwin. Prior to the meal was a “Red Carpet” event. The graduates went to the school, and walked out the front doors for the last time.

The teens had a beautiful day for some outdoor photos. A friend of ours took some fantastic shots with a professional camera which will be sent to us later. I grabbed as many as I could with my cellphone.

Most of the pictures I will be sending to Darwin so they can share with their friends. I did get a few that were fun for us to enjoy. The afternoon was filled with smiles and laughter. Keeping with the high energy, we headed out to the Grad Dinner and Dance.

I took a few minutes to write my blog while the kids shared some more photos and had more laughs before the elegant evening began. It was great to see them mingle and you could sense the relief from a long hard road they went on to get here.

Now we feast!

Milestones Memories

Over the years, I have been there for all of my kids and the milestones they are meant to hit. There are so many important landmarks in life that it just feels right to be a part of each one.

As June quickly reaches an end, so does the school year. All three of our teenagers have hit important landmark events that I have been proud of. And as a parent, it’s always a good feeling to see how proud your kids are of each goal they have achieved.

Watching my memories on Facebook return each June with highlights of these moments hits the heartstrings a bit more than usual for me each day this week it seems. Especially for our oldest.

Reminiscing about each achievement our oldest hit over the years really stings me in my emotions. From a Preschool Graduation to a Grade 7 farewell Graduation to finishing Grade 12 during Covid lockdown… on each of these moments I was there for them and cheered with pride.

Until Tuesday this week. Our oldest had a convocation to receive a diploma for two years of post secondary at BCIT. I’m really proud of them, but for reasons- I did not attend this ceremony. It’s the first big moment I was not allowed to be at. Respectfully it was out of love that I did not attend. They requested that I would not be present at it. As an adult, I must respect their wishes- but it stings and they knew it would.

I will still continue to share my love for each of my children and their achievements. Even when I cannot be there in person. As a piece of my heart longs for the simplicity of a preschool graduation once more, I know that life gets complicated and can be messy.

Yet those milestone memories bring me joy, even if it hurts.

First Day Of Summer

It sure hasn’t been feeling like summer has wanted to start this year. All the rain and grey skies have made it feel as though we were in a second January. A “June-uary” as I have heard it called.

But today is the first day of summer! The Summer solstice is upon us. The longest amount of daylight to be had for the year. With it brings the hopeful warm weather.

The second half of this week it will finally feel as though we are hitting the temperatures we are meant to enjoy. I look forward to hanging out with friends in the backyard and cooling off in the pool with an ice cold beverage. Afternoon siestas are also a favorite of mine. Especially done outdoors with the warmth of the day blowing in as I fall asleep in the shade.

Are you looking forward to summer finally arriving? Remember to Wear Sunscreen.

One Year…

What a difference a year can make. For us, we have lived in our current home for one year now.

Castle Havelka

It was difficult to leave our other home. We had created some many memories while living there. We also did numerous changes on a regular basis to the house and yard. Yet somehow, it never felt as if it would end. Moving was the only way we could start with a clean slate and figure out what we really want in a home.

Kingdom Havelka

I never thought owning a pool would be high up on the list of what we wanted in a home. Yet now I can’t think to live somewhere without a pool. Trading the trees for open views has greatly helped with feeling better and happy thoughts. We are taking in more sunshine than ever before. My wife even commented on my glow the other day. I feel rejuvenated on a regular basis.

As summer approaches tomorrow, I continue to look forward to spending time outside. Relaxing by the pool. Watching sunsets. Sharing quality time with friends. Food and drink beside the pool…

I loved our previous home for the memories we created, but I love the one we are in because of the memories to come. In one year a lot has happened already. If we do another 15-20 years here, who knows what else this home will have in store.

Reflecting On Being A Father

Today is Father’s Day- a time to celebrate dad. My kids are in their late teens, so it feels different these days than in the past. The two youngest wished me a Happy Father’s Day and my son made me a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. I am aware that as they grow older, gift giving is not the same as it once was. Just being acknowledged these days is the best feeling. I still do my best to help guide them through life, even when it becomes difficult to handle their strong opinions and personalities.

Some previous gifts from my kids.

I have saved every hand made and store bought gifts that my kids have given me over the years. From cards to ceramics; paintings to pens- they had put forth effort in thinking about me as a father and shared them with me. Chances are my kids won’t read my blog, but if they do- they’ll know how important those trinkets and words still mean to me.

Facebook also shares memories with me on a regular basis. We had many good times as a family doing everything from the mundane to traveling to other countries. I love looking back on our time together and seeing how much they have all changed over the years. I’m always proud of what they have done and who they are becoming as adults.

My Father and I.

Sometimes I wish my father were around to see how amazing these kids are. I often wonder if he was proud of me before he passed away. I’ll never know. What I do know is that we had a tough time sharing feelings and I didn’t always have fond memories of him. Towards the end of his life, he and I were civil to one another. But I was already past trying to make amends. Maybe it could have happened over these last 20 years since he died, but all I can do is try and remember the good times.

As my kids grow older and move on with their lives, I hope to be able to have a healthy adult relationship with each of them. I really enjoyed their company as babies, toddlers, kids, and yes- even as teens. Being a father isn’t always easy. Sometimes you have to be the bad guy. But I hope that all of good memories will stay front and center as my kids continue to grow up.

I love them all immensely. I couldn’t be happier for the way they love me back- each in their own way. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye or have a perfect relationship- I’ll always be here for them. That’s what a Father does.

The Queens

Today was a day of moving beds around. Two were dismantled and another was built. Not too shabby of a day. I even had some help without much prodding.

First I took apart the queen sized bed that our oldest was using. It had been all but forgotten about in my wife’s front office. We are going to put the bed and frame into storage until our oldest needs it. All the pieces from the frame are together and I labeled each part just in case they need to reassemble it on their own.

After I dismantled that bed, I moved onto our middle child’s bed. They had been using a twin frame that was originally from a bunk bed. It was a solid pine wood bed and will last forever. So that bed is going into storage as well for the time being. Basically until one of our kids has kids…

Once that bed was out of the bedroom, it was time to build a new bed frame. We had bought a queen sized frame, mattress and blanket set as a graduation gift for our middle. At first they were worried that the bed would take up too much space. But in the end, it was a perfect balance of space needed so they could still have all of their friends (aka stuffed toys) sleeping over. Especially the Hello Kitty stuffies and accessories.

I’m glad that our kids are growing up, yet staying youthful at heart. A new bed and frame will push them into adulthood, but with a good nights sleep to get them there.

Darwin Did It!

Last night’s Graduation Ceremony was five hours long. Because it was a Fine Arts Graduation- it was run a bit differently than most. First the students were broken up by majors and called alphabetically by these. Dance, Drama, Music, Photography, Visual Arts, and finally- Writing (Darwin’s major). Between each category, the Grade 11’s for each of the majors put on a short performance as a thank you.

Darwin was one of the last to be called up to receive their diploma. Once all the pomp and circumstance was over- the kids got to mingle with friends, family and teachers in the lobby. I was taken aback by the amount of congratulations that were offered up to the parents as well. But looking back over the years- it’s kind of understandable. Like many parents- we’ve been through a lot as well!

Even though the ceremony is behind us, there is still more to come over the next week. A Grad Dinner and Dance, an After-Grad party and the final day of school. Then a summer of freedom (sort of…) to enjoy the last bit of youthful follies.

Again, my wife and I are extremely proud of our Straight A student. As a middle child, we know that they put more pressure on themselves even when we told them to take it easy. But the results are something that Darwin is proud of! And we couldn’t be happier.

Grad 2022

This evening we will be attending our middle teenager’s graduation ceremony. We are excited for this moment as it’s a major milestone. Years of schooling is behind Darwin and an entire life of adulthood lies ahead.

Of course we took some pre-graduation photos! The clouds were out, but no rain so we took the opportunity to take some pictures in our backyard.

Darwin wanted to wear something cute and meaningful to them under the gown. A Sanrio skirt and cute shoes were a perfect choice.

My wife and I each got a photo with the star of the day. We will be taking many more pictures throughout the evening. Be assured that as a proud parent- I will be sharing them today and tomorrow!

Seeing the tassel with the year on it makes this moment that much more real. All of the memories of Darwin’s successes and accomplishments have come flooding in to my mind. My heart has been welling up and I’m going to blame tonight’s tears on allergies.

Way to go Darwin! We are so proud of everything you have done and who you have become. Today is your day- cherish this moment and all of your memories of the road that brought you here.

Love always, mom and dad.

4-7-8

People often wonder how I can fall asleep so quickly. Especially being able to do it any time of day. It has come in handy working shift work. I must have learned this technique decades ago. I have become a master of it.

It’s the 4-7-8 breathing technique, or also known as relaxing breath. It’s extremely easy.

Breathing in for 4 seconds.

Holding your breath for 7 seconds.

Exhaling for 8 seconds.

I do this a few times and focus on the counting and breaths- letting all other distractions fall by the wayside. I can be out cold in under a minute. I have done it on airplanes, trains, and road trips without fail. I use this technique every time I go to bed.

The ability to quickly fall asleep has benefited me numerous times. I can dart away for a quick nap and be awake again before anyone notices I’m gone. This has helped me at social events after a night shift on more than one occasion.

Try the technique for yourself a few times. It’s also really good for when anxiety tries to strike while your laying in bed at night.

Have a good sleep.

Finding Beauty At Work

Sometimes work is not the place a person wants to be at. Especially on a sunny day or worse- when things don’t go right. It’s hard to find a slice of joy at work during the ups and downs.

I do my best to try and find the beauty all around me. Oftentimes my work just has it rolling right by me. Today I saw some artwork that caught my eye. Where the car sat- the backdrop was perfect. Naturally I had to get a picture.

I love the image someone vandalized on this grain hopper. It’s ironically of a grain silo on the side of a grain car. But it is so well done and detailed that you almost forget that it was created with spray paint and done illegally. Clearly the image of a silo in the prairies with northern lights emanating from the background is something of significance to the artist. I love how they were also able to make the lights look like they are actually glowing.

I am fully appreciative of the skills it takes to make art of this scale. The amount of time and effort to hone in on their talents astounds me. Over the years I have been able to track more of the art down on Instagram and I have even been in contact with some of the artists. My appreciation has been expressed to them for creating beautiful pieces in an otherwise monotonous and grey environment. Keep up the creativity and I’ll continue to share the art as it rolls from town to town.

Sunshine And Lifestyle

I’m not sure I can trust the weather app or the meteorologists anymore. This weekend was supposed to rain everyday with almost 50-90% each hour. I was ready to get upset. But they were wrong.

The last two days I have absolutely taken advantage of the sunshine. The pool is sparkling clean and the fields are lush behind us. I have floated around for hours on end listening to music and just appreciating the world. As they say- Living my best life.

But because of the uncertainty of the weather, we haven’t invited anyone over to share our slice of paradise with. I really want my friends to come and hang out. Having the space and wanting to share our happiness is one of the best things we could do. When you have more than you need- build a longer table, not a higher fence.

Luck And Hard Work

Last night I was shredding old documents from the years 2000-2010. I saw my old paystubs, taxes, and mortgages. Looking back, a part of me wishes we had paid off our first mortgage- or at least gotten close by now. Since we have been homeowners for nearly twenty years- it could have been accomplished.

Our current mortgage is six times higher than our first one was. When we needed that first mortgage- we struggled to qualify. We jumped through so many hoops and spent a small fortune to get approved through a house evaluation. My mother was also the guarantor for us. I worked nearly 80 hours every week to keep on top of the finances. All of those things helped tremendously.

The horseshoe we have brought with us.

Once we had that first home secured, we knew life was going to get better. Even with all of our hard work, I was a bit superstitious. A fear that it could all come crashing down was in the back of my mind. So I put up a horseshoe in the basement of our first home for good luck. When we moved to our next house, I brought it with us and had it in our carport. Now it hangs in the garage of our current home, bringing us more good luck.

Luck and hard work have gotten us to where we are today. In a few years, my wife and I may decide to go mortgage free and sell this home to downsize. For now, it is our dream home and we are happy to be where we are.

Peony

I’ve always been appreciative of flowers. I have favorites- like roses and birds if paradise. Some other ones we have owned and planted that are among my favorites are lilies, daffodils and rhododendrons. Whenever they bloom, I know the spring and summer seasons are at hand.

Our new home has a couple of peony plants that were already in the garden. I had never heard of them. Seeing them grow was interesting. Little balls on the end of stalks. Tons of ants crawling around on them. And suddenly- BLOOM!

These things just POP. I am absolutely enthralled with the colour and the size of the blooms. My wife trimmed a couple of them and brought those inside for a vase to set on our countertop.

They look beautiful. I never knew that I’d like these. But then again, I never knew about them before this house.

Blue Once More

After a week and a half of frustration- our pool is back to normal. Loads of chemicals, scrubbing and vacuuming made our pool usable once more.

The algae is finally gone! At one point our pool was vibrantly green and it felt as though it would never change. Today I did a quick scrub and a vacuum to get the remaining algae off the sides and corners. A little bit of careful elbow grease and patience went a long way. I really don’t want to deal with algae again.

With the weather showing us some sun this evening- it was a great opportunity to jump in the pool and relax. I could do that aspect anytime!

Now I’m ready for summer to commence!

Continuing Cosplay

Years ago we introduced our children to the world of cosplay. They loved the idea of being able to be a character from a show or video game. My wife enjoyed making their costumes. I enjoyed acting out the characters with the family. We all really enjoyed showing off at Comic Cons.

Pokémon Trainers and a wild Pikachu!

For me, that felt like a lifetime ago. We haven’t dressed up for conventions in years. Halloween was a wash for me last year, as I didn’t dress up. I did my Obi-Wan for May 4th, so I was happy there. The love of dressing up in cosplay is still rampant with our 18 year old. That also makes me happy- even if I don’t know the characters they are doing.

Out of the blue, our middle went to our next door neighbor yesterday and asked if they would come over to help with some cosplay photos. After living in our home for almost one year, this was the first interaction the two of them had. It was a positive one. Our neighbor, who is 16, has been interested in doing cosplay but was unsure where to start.

Good thing we moved in next door! Now our middle will have someone to teach the joy of cosplay to. I am really happy that my wife and I encouraged this activity years prior. It has helped with our kids expressing themselves through fandoms. Now that expression is being shared from our teens to others.

That’s pretty cool.

Slow Love

I first met my wife a little over 22 years ago. On our first date, we set our wedding day based on numbers with both like. Within a couple of weeks, I told her I was falling in love. within months we were engaged. Thirteen months after meeting, we were married.

Life and love was a whirlwind adventure. We made moves together that benefited us long term. Kids were quickly in our lives. We tried to budget, but bought a house and a new car. My wife was a stay at home mother. She did a few part time jobs. I was still gaining ground on where my career would take me. Money was tight for years… Until last year. Somehow we took out a million dollar mortgage and our money woes are behind us (hopefully permanently). Don’t ask me how, but our mortgage payments are easier to handle compared to the credit card debts we once held.

Taking love slow. Snailed it!

Nowadays my wife and I are re-kindling our love. It’s a slow go, but we are finally able to focus on ourselves. Our kids are starting to grow up and explore independence. The two of us are going on much needed vacations together without the teens also.

What I like most about the changes- we are still in love, and slowing falling more in love each day. As each day, week, month and year passes- I am glad to have found a partner who makes me happy every time I see her. Somehow the slow down of our life together has been a glorious change. The rest of our lives are busy still, but there is an end in sight for that aspect.

Soon it’ll just be the two of us taking it easy and falling in love all over again

World In My Hand

Back in the 90’s I bought a t-shirt. I wore it regularly. I even had a medallion that fit perfectly against it. Last night, I put that shirt back on for the first time in years.

As faded as the image is, I still love the shirt. Having flashbacks to my late teenage years and the fun times we had. I believe that all of those crazy times helped me to navigate through shift work as well. All nighters playing video games and wandering the streets definitely messed up my sleep patterns.

More than just memories of a t-shirt. Smoking cigarettes and other things that I thought would not harm me- I’d live forever. But the image on my shirt also reminds me of music.

Music that I enjoyed in my youth that resonated in my soul. I wore this shirt to many a nightclub and watching late night jam sessions. Lyrics that hit differently now than they once did.

“Man was born to love
Though often he has sought
Like Icarus, to fly too high.
And far too lonely than he ought
To kiss the sum of east and west
And hold the world at his behest
To hold the terrible power
To whom only gods are blessed
But me, I am just a man”

I love my t-shirt. And after thirty years, it’s still all about what I see in me. The world is in my hand. A showcase of what is yet to come. Get ready for it.

What’s On Your Bucket List?

Normally I talk about myself in my blog. Sometimes at the end I ask if anyone wants to share in the comments, and I’ll get a few responses. But today I wanted to try something a bit different.

Today, I want to know more about all of you. I want to know one of the following two things. You can answer both if you wish.

  • Have you completed something important on your bucket list- and how did you do it?
  • What is on your bucket list and how do you plan on accomplishing it?

That’s it. Pretty simple questions. What I would like to find out is where people are getting their ambition to achieve their goals.

I am hoping that the answers will help other people in getting to their goals. Because we are all in this together and we need to cheer one another on! Please, do not be afraid to share your responses. I’d love to hear the answers.

Glass Glowing

I love glasswork. Finding special pieces that we can display is always fun. But now that we have the sun setting in our backyard everyday- those glass pieces just light up.

We have a couple of items that hang outdoors. My favorite being an orange glass ball that is made to mimic a hot air balloon. Fun fact: my wife and I flew in a hot air balloon nearly 15 years ago and went straight past the house we are in now. The ball is technically candle holder, but the natural sunlight looks fantastic passing through.

We also have a few glass pieces that are on a couple of upper window ledges in our living room. They add a nice colour to the room as the sun sets. We do have a few more pieces in our kitchen above the cabinets. But those are mostly glasses and a couple bottles- they don’t get much sunlight.

A part of me would love to have a stained glass window, but I know that is we did- we’d be missing out on the beautiful sunsets. And we can’t have that. The views are the biggest reason we bought this home. So in the end, a few small knickknacks placed strategically are just as pretty.

Needed To Kayak

Last year, my wife and I neglected going kayaking. We had to move, get into a new home, learn about the neighborhood, and most of all- enjoy the swimming pool. We didn’t make time to go out and enjoy nature. No kayaking or camping.

This afternoon, I said screw it. My wife has been missing kayaking. As I was getting the gear on the top of my suv, it began to rain. Too bad. I was set on going out and if I put it on the back burner again, we may not go anytime soon.

The rain wasn’t so bad in the end. It kept the air cool. However, the path down to the water was muddy and slick. But even that didn’t stop us from getting on the water.

It was a good couple of hours of paddling and talking. We saw ducks and a crane. The sounds of the birds and the rain on the water was soothing and calm. It makes me want to go out more often this summer.