Loving Canada

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.

Moving on…

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.

My name is Joe.

AND I AM CANADIAN.

Happy Canada Day!

One More To Go

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.

White Rock Kayaking: Nicomekl River

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.

Kayaking the Salmon River, Fort Langley

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.

The Vedder Made Today Better

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:

Fresh And Fruity

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.

Leave Work at Work

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.

Upcycle To A Greenhouse

Last year when I Built a set of doors, I had removed the old sliding glass door and set it aside. It was pretty massive, with each panel being four feet wide. Today I finally began to do something about them. I made a mini greenhouse.

I had my son as a helper once more as we measured out some boards for the frame. I figured we could make a TARDIS shaped greenhouse. Just the right size to get some of the plants started.

These boards came from our old deck that was in front of the old sliding glass door. We ripped that deck out in 2014. Many of these board have been used for projects such as an Axe Throwing Target. I kept the long ones just in case. Today they became the frame of the mini greenhouse. I also added an old busted sliding window for the roof. That way it can be opened to allow airflow.

All that’s left is adding a door and maybe some painting of the boards. If I can find a small can of blue paint- you know I’ll be making a TARDIS door! It’s fun being a Whovian. Pretty sure my wife will be okay with that idea.

I think she will also appreciate this Great Glass Elevator in our garden.

Keep On Sleeping

When I’m doing a couple of weeks of night shifts I tend to stay in the rhythm of the night. So I stay up late and sleep most of my day away.

In all honesty, I can also sleep all day and all night. Naps are the greatest thing as well. Sometimes I take two or three a day. Glorious sleep.

My wife doesn’t understand how I can sleep so much. But I love sleeping. There’s something about it that I enjoy. I guess it’s that my brain takes me away to a dreamland that I tend to forget when I wake up. Or that it’s time to eat when I wake.

Eat/sleep/repeat

I can fall asleep almost anywhere as well. And quickly. I’ve mastered the art of passing out. I’m glad that I’m getting back into it; as last week I was unable to. It’s been a long time since I had difficulty sleeping. Now it comes in the blink of an eye.

Night Shift is For The Birds

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.

Squeak Squeaken

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.

I Hadn’t Planned a Recovery

This COVID thing has finally ticked me off. Our road trip to Disneyland at the end of the month is cancelled. I really didn’t want to admit that it was a possibility. But here we are, no Disneyland trip.

And no recovery plan either. It’s not like we can drive across the border and take a break someplace else in California. We can barely travel between provinces here in Canada as it is…

I am at a loss for what to do in order to get some “Rest and Relaxation” away from the daily grind. Seems like camping is about it. But being so late to the game, I have no idea if we can even book a site at the last minute.

I’m not used to this. Last minute travel is not my thing. I like plans! Itineraries! Goals! Gosh dingit! I feel lost. I need some guidance as to what to do or where to go.

Pool of Thought

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.

What Were The Skies Like When You Were Young?

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.

Do you like clouds?

I’m Done

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 done with not feeling normal this week.

Darts

I came home this evening and went into our storage barn looking for some wood. I think I found what I wanted. But in my search I found some coconut shells and my old dart board.

I took the coconut shells to my daughter’s room and told her that a horse had entered our barn. She was like “What?” I was like, “Ya!” Then pulled out the coconuts and clapped them together. The coconut shells made my daughter happy because it reminded us both of Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

The dart board brought more joy to everyone though. My son and I set it up to regulation height and marked the distance on the deck with a chalk line. We began to toss a few shots. We had a couple competitions, first counting up to 300, then down from 200. I won one game, he won the other. My son is loving the math aspect.

I’m happy that the dart board and case are still in great condition. I’ve owned it for nearly twenty years and it’s been in storage for about five years now. We will probably get many more years out of it. I’m also impressed that our kids are wanting to play and have the skill sets to do math quickly in their heads. Far quicker than I can it seems.

Maybe I should just go back to clapping the coconut shells together.

Transcendental Music

I worked for twelve hours. I drove for forty five minutes to get to work and forty five minutes to get home. I got home, I put on some music, and made dinner for everyone. We ate our burgers on the back patio, shared some stories of the day, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Slowly, everyone left the table. No words were said. Just one by one they left. Until I remained. Hoping one or more would return. But they did not. They left their dirty plates. They left me behind.

After about ten minutes, I changed the music. I put on some trance music by The Orb and stared off into the yard, listening to the music and the wildlife, eventually closing my eyes. I let the music take me away. Several moments passed. I had been zoned out. It was relaxing.

I miss listening to music for the sake of music. No lyrics. The occasional word is spoken. But the rhythmic nothingness of trance music with the sounds of birds chirping is zen like. I do not care that the dishes were left behind. Or that no thank you’s were offered up to me for working all day and making dinner. My wife also worked, so did our eldest. The other two had online school. We all had busy mental days. Busy happens.

Life is busy. We all experience it. Take a breather and don’t get angry. The dishes will get washed. The table will get cleared. The smiles will remain. The music will play. The time is now.

Bucket List Places?

Once the restrictions on travel get lifted, will you be planning a vacation?

Personally, I think I’ll wait a bit. But I also realized that there is a great big world out there that I’ve missed out on already. I now want to see more of this planet than ever before. Mostly because I’m being told to stay home!

Of the vacations and travel I have done, the best times was spent with my family. We’ve taken our kids from California to Tokyo, Hawaii to Calgary. These are top of my lists- especially to travel to with kids/teens. I have now created a small list of places I still want to go to as a family. Now to figure out when to get there and how to afford it!

  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Hong Kong
  • Shanghai
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia
  • Ireland
  • Road trip across Canada

The last one is what I’d love to do with my wife. Do a fun road trip in a camper van or small RV once we retire. Spend a few months just picking up and going everywhere we can. Plus if we’re on the move, it’ll feel like a grand adventure!

This summer we would like to be camping more than before. Not glamping. We’ve never done that, yet. Or we may just stay in our yard and live the best quarantine life we can! But I want to travel!!!

Rain Filled Movie Night

Last night we hit the Twilight Drive In for a retro double feature. The family piled into the car and we were off… two and a half hours before showtime. Even though we bought tickets in advance, it was sold out and we have a few spots that are a “Must Have” when watching from the car.

We’ve done the local Drive-In numerous times in the past. Many times for our son’s birthday (same with last night). Even though last night was quite the rainy evening, we stayed for both films. It made for added effects to our viewing of Back to the Future / Back to the Future II.

Of course, our car battery died halfway through the second film. I ran the car during the intermission in order to try and keep the battery alive. The seven speaker stereo, defogger and wipers did the battery in. But since we’ve done this before, I knew to bring a backup radio. Because, you know… the movie watching is important! By the end of the second film, the car started up again with no issues.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot- our son lost one of his final baby teeth from a hard candy in between the films. I told him the tooth fairy does not visit teenagers. He was not at all phased. That’s because the tooth fairy still made an appearance.

Go figure.

When Did The Pain Begin?

I like to think I’m still youthful and carefree as I hit my mid-forties. But as much as my mind likes to think so, my body says otherwise.

From my ankles to my arms, it seems my pain receptacles like to remind me that they are still working. Muscle aches, joint pains, even skin irritations. Everything just hurts a tad bit more than it once did. Or maybe I’m just noticing it more often.

The hardest part about being over two meters tall and with mild scoliosis is the constant back pain. I mean constant. I can’t find a comfortable way to sit or sleep. Just as I feel like I’m going to relax, my lower back screams in its best Samuel Jackson impression, “NOPE! Wake Up Mother-!”

I have a little machine that takes a 9V battery. I call it “The Zotter”. It’s an electronic acupuncture and it helps to relieve most of my pains. Perhaps I should also try doing more yoga once more. Stretch those muscles. Or whatever people do when they Yoga.

There’s no way to avoid the pain. It’s just how to deal with it. I feel like yelling at the pain Get off my lawn!

My Wife- A Fantastic Mother

Today is Mother’s Day. My wife loves being a mother. I can’t imagine a world where we didn’t meet and have children. Since 2002, my wife has been a mom.

Now the kids are getting older. The teenage years are aplenty. And they are of the capacity to decide what to do for Mother’s Day. So far our two youngest have made her breakfast in bed. Now my wife is playing video games with our middle child. Our oldest will return from work shortly, at which point they are going to head out to visit their Oma. Physically distancing of course. But to see the smiles on her grandchildren’s faces is something that hasn’t happened since Christmas.

Besides breakfast in bed, the only gift my wife has received is a Lego Minifig that our son made. It really looks like my wife! I can share any other images at this time, as the other two kids haven’t given their gifts yet. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing those pictures and stories.

Until then, Happy Mother’s Day Lee-Anne! May it be relaxing and peaceful.

Quiet Yard

Today is peaceful in my backyard. There’s no sounds of cars racing down the road. Nor is there lawnmowers or pressure washers. All I can hear is the faint sound of crows off in the distance as the wind gently whistles through the trees.

So I invited some friends and coworkers over. It was surprisingly fun as we spaced ourselves away from one another. It was a Social Distancing Socializing at our place.

No wives. No kids. Just lawn chairs and axe throwing. Of which my guests brought everything. It was a ton of fun. And it ended early. Hence why I’m posting about it.

I hope y’all are having a great time together these days!

Another Hummingbird In Our Home

Today a hummingbird flew up to the skylight in our sunroom. My wife went on the roof and covered it with a blanket and I stood on the dining table to catch the little rascal.

This is the second time we’ve had a hummingbird in our home. The last time was a couple years ago- Wildlife House.

Here’s a quick video of me setting this little fella free that I shared on My Instagram. Enjoy.

In The Trees

The weather has become ab-fab. That means more time outside again. Having a yard and the space like we do makes for a relaxing time.

This afternoon I put up some lights in our tree deck with the help of my son.

For dinner, I stopped at a fish n’ chips place called C-Lovers and grabbed some cod. We had a picnic on the deck.

I played some music on a Bluetooth speaker called “Songs to Sing the Shower”. My wife danced on the deck. I took some pictures as I watched from above as the kids played frisbee and they sang.

Life is really good if you let it.

After The Rain

I love the skies after the rain. The way the clouds disperse or rainbows appear- make for a beautiful show. Especially in the spring time.

Over the next few days, the sun should start to make an appearance a bit more frequently. This rain has been beneficial to our gardening that’s for sure. But those plants also need some sunshine.

The transition in the center of the seasons is probably my favorite part. Not the start of spring or summer, or fall or winter. But the middle bit. The part that we live out between the start and end of the seasons. The Uncelebrated parts.