Today is Canada Day! I am proud to be Canadian. So much so that I work for Canadian National Railway. Just kidding, I work for the railroad because I love trains. Man, I cannot say that with a straight face. I work for CN because I enjoy making money to live.
Growing up, I remember my father always drinking Molson Canadian Beer. When I turned legal drinking age, Molson was my go-to beer for many years. Mostly because I’d buy a $20 t-shirt and get a free case of beer. (At least that’s what I told myself, but clearly it was the opposite).
There was a commercial years ago put out by Molson that I enjoyed. I Am Canadian aka Joe Rant. It felt like the commercial was made for me specifically. I rewatch it every year. I also share it every year. I am a proud Canadian and love this country with all of its amazing landscapes and diverse culture.
I have one more shift to go at work before a week of vacation kicks in. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. The crazy part is that I don’t have much planned for my time off. Our Disneyland trip is on hold due to COVID-19. We were looking forward to spending The Fourth of July in the USA for the first time ever. I assume it’d be a big deal. Especially in Disneyland!
I still plan on being not-so-sober during my time off. I do have a few days of camping planned with most of my family and a friend with his kids. Last summer he joined us and, well, drinking was pretty much non-stop. But the weather was great and so were the kids. So why not go for round two?
It’ll be hard to make it through that last day of work without a big smile on my face. Somehow, I’m sure I’ll survive until that first beer hits my lips. Then it’ll be a blur.
On the weekend I bet my three children that I would beat them at MarioKart on the Nintendo Switch. I said that for every point they could beat me by- they would earn a dollar. I also said that to make it fair, we would play three cups of four races each. However, my stipulation was that we had to play 150cc Mirror races.
I had no idea my kids would be so good, or clever! I thought I could let them win a bit, then school them.
Turns out my kids ganged up on me. The oldest did her best to keep the lead with one of the other two staying close behind in second or third place. The third child did their best to take me out and keep me in the last possible place. They chose to pool their winnings and split it evenly three ways.
I lost $195.
Obviously I learned that my kids think I’m not very good at MarioKart even though I’ve been playing the different variations since 1992. I also learned that when given the chance, they can actually work together for a common goal.
My wife was none too happy. Until I told her that I’m okay with losing some money to the kids. This is the week we were supposed to be in Disneyland. So their “winnings” would have been spending money for the trip.
Look at those smiles. It was totally worth forking over $65 to each of them. Plus I got to “spend” quality time with them.
It’s always fun to see your vehicle hit certain milestones. I was on my way to work this morning when a numerical one hit my odometer.
Yes, I’m a dork and stopped to get a photo of it. Good thing it was 5am on a Sunday and no one was on the roads.
I get pleasure from the simple things. Like seeing my odometer hit 123,456km. Yup, I also reset my Trip counter to add in the 7.8! I’d been planning this moment for a few days. Now to figure out what the next fun milestone will be. I can’t believe I’ve owned this car for three and a half years already.
Do you get little pleasures from numbers and sequences like I do?
Day three in a row of my wife and I hitting the water in our kayaks. Today we drove further southwest and put in the water at Ward’s Marina in White Rock. The smell of the fresh sea air was pleasant as we paddled throughout the afternoon.
This spot opens daily at noon. So it is generally not very crowded, even for a Saturday. The weather was cooler than it had been the past couple of days. And with no trees to shade us, today was a perfect day to enjoy this adventure.
Of course, as we paddled from Elgin Park towards Blackie Spit. The route had some tough spots where we had to work more. But the neatest part was going under the BNSF train bridge as the train crossed overhead. The vibration made the water push us away from the location. Making it difficult to stay still in order to get a good photo.
On our way back home, we stopped by the Fraser Valley Cider Company and sampled some of their ciders. There was live music as we sat in the farmer’s field and enjoyed some local beverages and cheeses from other local farms. Stopping at a place like this was a nice way to end the afternoon. Plus it supports local businesses which I wholeheartedly encourage.
Three days off flew by quickly. I enjoyed our kayaking adventures over the last few days. I really enjoy the time I’m spending with my wife as well. We needed the companionship as we relax with time away from our hectic lives. Plus we are getting some good exercise as we go.
Today my wife and I went out kayaking again. We drove towards our children’s school, and sauntered down the Salmon River in Fort Langley.
We parked along Glover Road and walked down a path and put the kayaks into the water. My wife and I slowly followed along the water for around and hour and a half. It was a nice leisurely paddle. But we also knew that we’d have to paddle back.
It was another calm, zen like experience. Since we were in Fort Langley, we decided that we would stop at The Trading Post for a snack and a beer. It was a great experience, we even made friends with an older couple who were out on a motorcycle cruise.
If the weather holds up into tomorrow, we hope to kayak once more locally. I’ll be sure to share that experience here on my blog.
I am so happy that my wife had us pick up a couple of kayaks last summer. We go a lot of use out of them last year, and we don’t want the momentum to stop this year. My wife joined a kayaking group on Facebook and there have been some great locations shared. Today, we drove about thirty minutes away from our home to enjoy a spot.
I want to start off by saying, it took me longer to get the kayaks ready today. That was because our fourteen year old son wanted to learn how to strap the kayaks to the car and he did the majority of it. There is a bit of an art to getting kayaks tied down, so I was glad to share the knowledge with him. I also enjoyed just chatting with Theory. He’s a bright kid who is always curious about how the world works.
Onto my wife and I and our afternoon. We found the small boat launch with ease. There was a few people around fishing, but no boats on the river. So we unloaded quickly, sunscreen and bug spray was applied and into the water we went.
My wife described the water as “Glass” and she was right. It was one of the smoothest paddles I have ever experienced. The water levels were so high, that at times we were not just going through tall grasses, but literally floating through the trees. It was calm and amazing.
We spent a good two hours just casually enjoying the views. We saw Canada Geese, ducks and a couple of cranes. It was quiet and peaceful as we wandered out.
By the time we returned, there were four more kayakers hitting the water. There’s something about kayaking that brought up conversations with strangers. We chitchatted with a few people as we packed up, because another couple of groups showed up. This spot is appealing right now because of the high water level and calmness. In a couple of weeks, the water will drop and the river will have an entirely different feel.
Chances are my wife and I will go back in a couple of weeks to see the change. But until then, there is so much more of British Columbia to explore. If you missed my Instagram video, here is a quick shot of a couple of cranes that we saw:
We have so much fresh fruit in our yard! I love it.
In the very back of our yard, there is salmonberries. Which just so happen to be ready for consumption! We also have a bunch of huckleberry bushes throughout the yard. Once they are ready, the kids load up on them.
This year, I discovered our cherry trees are producing fruit. It’s been a couple of years since they did. I’m looking forward to enjoying them. Our pear tree is also producing an abundance of fruit which should be ready in a few weeks.
We had a plum tree- but it ended up being diseased and had to get cut down. Those plums were juicy! As well, we used to have an apple tree, but alas it fell over one year in a storm. I have since planted a new apple tree a couple years ago- this time with four different types of apples infused into the branches. Currently I only get an apple on each branch, but one day- variety!
Do you have fruit trees or bushes that you grow? Summer is the best for walking the garden and eating right if the limb.
When I finish a shift at work, I like to try and leave my thoughts of work behind. Of course it’s not always possible. Now that I have a “Work Phone” I’ll check emails while having a coffee and getting ready to leave my house. But I still avoid thinking about work on my days off.
If I hang out with coworkers outside of my work hours, more often than not we talk about… trains. It’s unavoidable since trains are what we have most in common. Sure, sometimes work gossip is fun, but there’s more to life than just that.
Work is essentially the beast you need in your life to survive. It brings you financial freedom, a meaning to your existence, a sense of identity. If asked, “What do you do for a living?” Your job is usually the first thing you mention.
Is it what you do for a living? Or do you enjoy your hobbies and family time more? Getting out of the habit of having a job or career define you is challenging. Once you get into the right frame of mind however, life becomes fresh and vibrant. Like being a child once more with no cares, but to play.
Remember to play. It’s good for the mind and body.
With yesterday being Father’s Day, my children gave me gifts that reminded me that I’m a father. However, it was a very bipolar type of evening.
I arrived home to see my teenage daughters making homemade pasta for dinner. The kitchen was a mess and flour was everywhere. They were stumbling over each other trying to make dinner. During this, my son had retreated to his bedroom to hide.
For the rest of the evening, there was snarky attitudes going back and forth between all three kids and my wife. As they spoke to me, their tunes would change. They were each doing their best to show me kindness, but at a cost of being somewhat negative towards one another.
After dinner, the kids brought out the gifts that they had made for me. None of the gifts surprised me, as they were exactly what I was expecting. A Lego creation from my son (of my Nissan Rogue), some painted wood carvings from my middle and a painting from my oldest. I appreciate each gift as the kids showed off how proud they are of what they made.
We ended the night watching Robocop from 1987 just because I hadn’t seen the film in ages and wanted something to watch that the kids had never seen before. After the film, it was off to bed and sleep took over.
All in all a typical night, I even got a few gifts from it. It didn’t upset me that there was a bit of animosity between my family members. In actuality it reminded me of how normal we all are; and not everything is perfect no matter how much we try and showcase our lives on social media.
I’ve been a father for nearly 18 years now. In the grand scheme of things, I think I’ve done an okay job of raising three kids. Obviously I could not, and did not, do it on my own.
Without my wife; aka mother to our children; there really wouldn’t be a Father’s Day for me. She and I have worked together over the years to create a loving environment for our three beasts kids.
To be completely honest, I don’t know if I was ever going to be ready to be a dad without her pushing me. I’m glad to have taken on the challenge and the role. Our children are my pride and joy. I will always be there for them in whatever form they need me.
I was never close with my father. I’d like to think I have become the father I always wanted. The kind of father who goes on vacations, jokes with their kids, has family movie nights, even loses at video games to them. I have shown love and support through all of their endeavors, be it Cheerleading, Speed Skating, and the arts- no matter what they wanted to do, I was there.
Certainly there were times when they wanted to give up. But my wife and I pushed them and guided them through those hurdles. It’s not always fun and laughs when you have to be the bad guy either. In time, I’m sure they will understand why and when we needed to be strict with them.
For now, I’m just glad to be celebrated as their Father. I have a drawer full of handmade cards and gifts from over the years. I cherish those moments and memories.
I’ll always remember them as my kids, even as they enter adulthood.
Our middle child turned sixteen on April 15th. Right in the middle of quarantine/ social distancing life. (Note: I’m not saying the world has overcome the pandemic, just that the peak of solitude seems to be behind us.) We were hoping that on her birthday she would have been able to go and do her knowledge test to begin driving. But it seemed that life was on pause until the start of June when ICBC began allowing people to book these tests.
Our daughter booked her test immediately- but there was a two week queue already. This gave her more time to study and finally had a deadline. I went with her yesterday morning because I had to sign off on her getting her license as she is still a minor. Once I signed off, I was asked to wait outside. I watched from the parking lot as our daughter took her exam. She had forty five minutes to complete it.
She was done in eleven.
She successfully aced the test with only one wrong answer out of fifty questions! 98% is dang impressive, clearly she gets her intelligence from her father. A very proud teenager showed off her “L” to her friends on Instagram and through texting. We stopped about a block away from our home, and I let her get a taste of driving.
All I can say is that this one will need lessons from someone who is not mom or dad. She may be book smart, but she needs to become road smart because those are two very different skill sets. I’m really happy for her and think that driving is a great skill to possess.
It’s been a few years of orthodontics, but yesterday our middle child had her braces removed. Her older sister had hers removed back in December of 2018, read about it here: Brace Yourself, and she has been smiling more ever since. I’m hoping that this too will happen for our middle.
Naturally, I had to take a “Before” picture. Darwin was doing her best to hide the braces behind her smile. But you could sense the joy that was about to unfold as she walked into her final orthodontist appointment.
This is the obligatory “After” picture. Notice how she is showing more teeth! Finally, after a few years of braces, tightening, and suffering, she has a reason to smile.
The braces are off! Now, and for years to come, she will have a beautiful smile. And our pocket book will be full once more… until our youngest goes in.
Our oldest graduates from high school this year. Last week was supposed to be her graduation ceremony and tonight was meant to be her Grad Dinner and Dance. But alas, 2020 had other plans.
So tonight, we tried to make her Graduation something special. Everyone got dressed up and we headed out.
A short drive away, the outdoor mall had set up a backdrop that we took full advantage of. Our daughter willingly got up on the stage and had some photos taken with each of the members of the family in front of a Grad 2020 sign.
Afterwards we picked up some sushi from our favorite restaurant and brought it home. Our daughter ate a Sushi Boat to herself- A goal she tried to do a few years ago on her birthday. She succeed tonight! After dinner, she received some gifts from us and ice cream cake.
Then we streamed her graduation ceremony that was filmed a month ago. It was filmed with social distancing in place and edited together. Before we watched it on our big screen, we talked about all the years of school she has been through.
She made some memories over the years, as well as some great friends. I’m sad she didn’t have the same graduation ceremonies as those who came before her. As unfortunate as that may be, Grad 2020 will still be memorable in its own unique way.
This may have been said numerous times by numerous people, but it bears repeating:
To all those high schoolers who have had to endure similar nights like ours- you successes over the years should not be diminished by the fact that the world is struggling through a pandemic. Your resilience to overcome diversity, pandemics, or any number of worldwide challenges is proof that you are the future. A future that will bring us all closer together.
I looked out this morning and the sun was gone Turned on some music to start my day I lost myself in a familiar song I closed my eyes and I slipped away.
Something about music can bring forth memories or feelings. Hearing songs from years ago can truly raise your spirits. I have become fascinated over the years at the variety of genres that I enjoy. Each time I put on something new, I find I over indulge in the music.
Unless it’s country. No time for that genre to pollute my ear holes.
I have written about music numerous times now. It’s nothing new to my readers. I would like to write my own music eventually. Just don’t get me to sing- I am self conscious about that. Especially if it were to hit the interwebs.
Hopefully one day I can piece together a song and say, “Here’s a little number I tossed off recently in the Caribbean.”
My buddy at work and I were talking about weekend plans. I said I usually go into the weekend without much in the way of plans. He pointed out that I build something almost every weekend. Looking back at the past few weeks, he isn’t wrong.
I’ve done numerous things around the house as well, finishing off floors, painting rooms, building an Axe Throwing Pitch, and trying out various baking. I’m always busy even without planning it. I hadn’t really noticed. I just like to make stuff.
My buddy was laughing and we talked about how if a tree fell in my yard, I’d end up carving out a canoe. What would be more Canadian than carving out a canoe? It got me thinking about an old Canadian TV show- The Frantics and their character, Mr. Canoehead.
The Frantics starred four Canadian comedians, one of which was Rick Green, who many know as the duct tape guy from the Red Green show. But I also remember he did a talk show in the early nineties called, Prisoners of Gravity. This show was like the early days of video podcasts. His character was stuck in a space station, as an escapee of Earth exploring the issues examined in science fiction/fantasy literature and comics.
One of my favorite episodes was when he talked to the creators of The Watchmen comics. That really got me into the idea that comics are an art form that can be enjoyed by adults. This show was before ComicCons and superhero movies really took over our lives.
But I digress. I don’t have the talent to carve out a canoe. No matter what you might think. I’ll just continue to tinker and build stuff for fun and share my stories. And be a nerd along the way.
Oh man. Finished the night shift yet again. I enjoy working at night for the simple fact that the world is calmer and not so busy. I’m so lucky to be home to hear the birds chirping and singing before the world gets busy.
Sure, it’s nice and tranquil most of the time. I used to pull all nighters as a teenager/twenty something. I would be out wandering parks or fields and listen as the birds slowly woke up. It was like a concert firing up. An overture played from eons of nature growing and practicing together.
Falling asleep to the sound of birds is very different than waking up to hear their lovely tune. I want to say I enjoy it, but it’s keeping me awake longer as I wait for the sounds of cars and human noise to lull me to sleep.
The other day I was curious if I could befriend some of the wildlife that lurks in our neighborhood. Particularly the squirrels. They looked like they were having such fun running and chasing one another all the time. Plus they bounce up and down all cute like. What’s not to love?
I noticed the little rascals were getting into our bird feeder and had successfully knocked it onto the ground one night. So I used some birdseed to entice them to get closer to me. It started with a small pile by a tree that they like to climb. Then after a bit I began to put some seed in a leather glove and laid it down on our deck.
Three of the squirrels began to show up closer to our home. They ran past me a few times and we’re becoming more courageous about approaching me. It’s been a couple of years since the cute furry Wildlife has come up to our house.
I even named the squirrels. Jimmy James, El Gato, and Samson. JJ is the lazy one on the fence. El Gato is the female who acts like a cat about to pounce. And Samson is the crazy one who jumps branches.
As much as my experiment is starting to work, my wife is none too impressed. It seems these little fellas are pooping on our deck and making a bigger mess of the bird feeder. I have been asked to adjust my plan to get them to wander elsewhere.
Time to get them to the other side of the backyard and maybe we can bond over some berries.
At the start of my preteen years, we moved from the arctic tundra of Edmonton to the rain forest neighborhoods of Vancouver. We gave up ice and snow for an older home with a swimming pool. This was the greatest single thing that I appreciate my father ever doing for the family. Of course I was angry to leave my three closest friends behind, but I eventually made new friends. I did manage to keep in touch with my best friend since kindergarten 1981.
Back to talking about my first Langley house. I loved that home. I had plenty of privacy upstairs. My little sister didn’t like having the bedroom across the hall from me, so she moved downstairs and the upstairs became mine. We also had a large unfinished basement with plenty of space to become a second home. But the house had the greatest thing ever- a swimming pool.
Not one of those circular above ground pools that are only good for playing “Marco Polo”. This was a pool with a ten foot deep end, a slide and diving board. The prefect size for swimming laps and filling with 20 friends. Our backyard at the time was basically a large deck and the pool. Perfect for lounging on a hot summer day. I remember swimming in rainstorms and at night. My family sold that home due to many factors. One of them being the cost associated with upkeep and heating of the pool was far more than was worth the headache. My parents figured we weren’t getting much use out of the pool anymore, so it was time to move.
Since my memories of that home, whenever our family travels, we always have to book a hotel with a pool. I love swimming, my kids don’t overly care one way or the other. That being said, we’ve never bothered to pursue the idea of a pool in our current home. I do love the trees we have and don’t want to get rid of them to add a pool at this time.
Assuming our kids move out or we get grandkids, or my wife and I ever do sell this house- I’d like to find a home with a pool. It would be a treat for me to have a little oasis to enjoy. Or maybe one day we will redo the landscaping in our current yard and add a pool. I’m sure that a windstorm or two will knock down a few more trees over the years.
Perhaps that will be my midlife crisis. Who needs a luxury car? Give me a pool any day.
The skies always had little fluffy clouds in them.
I love staring into the skies and seeing the clouds floating there. I’ve done it since I was a child. Sometimes I just get lost in thought as I daydream. I sometimes think back to my late teens and listening to “The Orb”.
Stereophonic and psychedelic- a peaceful easy feeling. Listening to music while staring off was a great way to pass the day. A simplistic time in my youth where nothing mattered.
Clouds continue to take me away to my happy place. A spot in my mind that no one can control-the depths of my id. The inner me of me.
The skies continue to bring tranquility to me. I love taking photos of the clouds. I try and take pictures with clouds in the background as well when doing pictures of the outdoors.
Today I went out for a kayak with our daughter in Fort Langley. This is the first one of the season. I was a little rusty getting the kayaks onto the roof of the Rogue. I had to unstrap them a couple of times to get it just right.
We made it out to the boat launch in Fort Langley and confirmed that the swiftness of the current wasn’t to difficult for our adventure. As we were about to launch, a fellow walked by and struck up a conversation. He noticed our CN Rail hats and told me he worked at CN for 42 years before retiring. Sounded like he was working in marketing at the am time I began my career there. It was a good talk as he shared some stories and told him of the changes going on. Seems I cannot get away from the railroad even on my days off.
Eventually my daughter and I were in the water and began to paddle. It was tougher than I imagined. My arms were not used to the movements and after about twenty minutes, it felt like we hardly got anywhere. We stopped along the shoreline at a log and chugged back a bottle of water each. She took out her phone and snapped a bunch of photos for a class project. I captured a few of us.
We floated back to the boat launch rather quickly. Good thing we did the hard paddle against the current first! Once on shore, we packed up the kayaks with a greater ease and my daughter asked if she could stop by a friend’s house. So we did. Social distancing of course while there. It was a nice afternoon.
Now I’m sore, but energized- if that makes sense. I look forward to more kayaking this summer. It’s all my wife’s fault for making me want to go out and do it! Pretty sure the next kayak adventure will be with her.
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.”
Okay… So it’s Thursday today. Many people do a Throwback Thursday post on various social media platforms. I think it’s time to go waaaaaayyy back. It’s time to do a mental reset for everyone. Especially adults who’ve forgotten the simpler things in life. Where this was the hardest question to answer as a child:
What is your favorite dinosaur?
I began asking everyone this question yesterday, continuing into today. And I mean everyone. To my surprise there are two types of people who answer. Those who answer quickly, and those who get confused by the question.
The ones who answer quickly are usually the ones who have small children in their lives. Either their own kids or grandkids. The other ones who have to think about it- do not have kids. The second group is also weirded out that I ask. And many do not remember anything about dinosaurs.
Just for fun, here’s the top five answers adults give me:
That is also pretty much the order of most popular to least. I had some people answer by describing the dinosaurs to me. Reaching way down into their memory banks of what these creatures once looked like. (That one with horns like a rhino… The one with a club tail… the dinosaur with a long neck). I also got into deep conversations with some about dinosaurs, museums, children, etc. This simple question opened up conversations.
My request for all of you out there- start conversations today with, “Mind if I ask you a question? What’s your favorite dinosaur?” You will be glad you did.
I’m finally through the longest mentally exhausting work week ever. Even though it was just my regular schedule, and the workload hadn’t changed, I’m done. I can actually feel my body loosening up and needing rest.
I’m going to take some much needed “me time” this weekend. I hate to do it, but I may need some time away from the family as well. If only for a couple of hours. I feel like I’m mentally overwhelmed and not making sense any more. I want to get back to normal.
By normal, I don’t mean “The New Normal” that everyone is talking about. I need to get back to my “Joyous Josef” normal. Fun t-shirts, silly discussions and laughing. That’s the normal I desperately need.
I’m a white male between the age of 18 and 45. I have white privilege and I am fully aware of how it is. It isn’t right in many aspects. But it’s the life I was given. I can’t change that. But maybe I can change a small part of the world.
Our neighbors to the south of us in the States are in upheaval. And rightly so. What do I want? Stop being racist. Stop being shitty to people who are different. I want people to be nicer to one another. There is so much diversity in the world that we should share more kindness instead of hatred.
I feel sorrow for those who are Black and living in America. I don’t want them to experience more hatred. It’s not fair. And no one listens. The protests are needed now.
Over the past few years there’s been so many attempts to correct the issue of racism. People have tried to shed the light on the issues.
Today was “Blackout Tuesday” a day to not share on social media. A day to shock people into realizing the hate. Let’s fix it together. Protests, solidarity, humanitarianism.
My daughter asked me a unique question the other day that I was unable to answer her immediately. She asked, “If you could give a motivational speech, what would you say?” This question was heavier than I expected. I had to think this one over.
Naturally I told her that I’d let her know. But she had me thinking about it all night. At least my daughter told me that I was inspiring with the majority of my blog posts. Hopefully she’s been reading my blogs! She’s also extremely intelligent and has a knack of reading people… just like her father.
Yes, she played me.
My daughter knew that in order to win me over she needed to “show” that she reads my blogs. Of course I do my best to be inspirational with what I write. Sometimes I write about my children and their achievements. Because their success is my success. I also love to write about the beauty in the world, even when it’s really tough to see it.
Even in my positivity, I have a dark side to my humor. I love to let it out and surprise people with my crudeness. Last night was no exception.
Our family sat around and played Cards Against Humanity. One of my favorite games for all the right reasons. It’s rude, vulgar, and downright funny to see our teenagers try and out do each other in the punchlines. Or try and play disturbing cards to gross each other out.
Like I mentioned though, I am good at playing people. I play the cards that I know will win based on each of their sense of humor. The first round was an easy win for me. The second round, the family started to use my technique against me. But it was more fun to see them strategize on who played what cards.
Cards Against Humanity has been humoring me for years now. We’ve seen it at conventions and I’ve bought into special edition cards that support a sort of anarchy. I’ve even shared the game with others and gotten them hooked on it. Evil, pure evil.
My motivational speech? It would have to be titled, “Play to the gallery.” Where every time I had to give a speech, I’d tell people what they want to hear.