Spring Break Staycation

As my last day comes to an end, I think I had a relatively great staycation. A quick look back at the last ten days showed how busy it was. As well as how productive it ended up being.

We did a bunch of gardening, went to a speed skating meet last weekend, had a night on the town for my birthday, and built a gazebo as a family. We built some Lego, and our oldest came to visit and we all had a delightful time. There really isn’t much more I could ask for.

All in all it was a great birthday week. I’m glad I spent it with my family.

Gazebo A-Go

Back in the middle of February I ordered a gazebo from Costco. It was on sale and was out of stock every day I was trying to buy it. Until the last day of the sale. I snagged one and had it delivered about ten days later.

We were replacing a pergola that was on our back deck. The pergola was still in great shape, and we had picked up a new fabric top last summer. However, we also realized that we needed a better cover for the upcoming summer season. Our new gazebo arrived in three very heavy boxes on a pallet. It sat in my side of the garage for a little over a week.

I had taken down the old pergola last week. When my wife and I returned home from my birthday night away- we took the time to move the parts downstairs to the back deck. The family helped, and we built the four posts and the frame that afternoon. The next day, my son and I worked hard in the rain to build each roof panel. We placed them into position and called it quits. The rain was not easing up.

Today we had good weather. So in the afternoon when my wife finished work, we headed outside once more and worked as a family to finish the build. After a bit of figuring out the layout and how it would work- we had the roof up and the gazebo was completed within a couple of hours.

As I finished some of the last screws, the family brought down the patio set and got it in place. I’m so happy that the family came together as we built the outdoor structure. I truly appreciate their help and if you could believe it, there was minimal cursing and no bloodshed!

We are almost ready for the summer season. Just some lights, a heat lamp, and some friends are all that is needed for some great evenings.

Forty Six- Returning To The Wedgewood

It’s my birthday today. I am now 46 years of age. No big celebration this year. Just a night away with my wife. A chance to act young and silly. All while feeling like royalty.

We have returned to The Wedgewood Vancouver for our night away. Last time we were here was nearly three years ago. This time around we are on the 8th floor and truly overlooking the city. I like this place because of the service we receive. From the valet meeting us in the street to the concierge bring wine and chocolate covered strawberries to the personal touches of the greeting card in our room.

A sense of luxury and pampering really makes this feel like a well deserved getaway. The stresses of life are left at home, and our short journey into Vancouver is wonderful. A fancy dinner and a couple bottles of wine- we shall let all of our cares subside for 24 hours.

Cheers to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday today! I may be older, but now my foolishness is more eccentric.

Onto the next adventure!

Spring Break Staycation Time

It was a quiet evening yesterday at work. The sky was clear and the tracks were nearly empty. I enjoyed the calmness that came with my shift. I had a few days off approaching and was glad that there wasn’t going to be any unfinished business.

I finished my night shift at 6am and raced home to begin my first vacation of the year. As soon as I got home, it was straight to bed for a nap. Seriously one of the best ways to enjoy a staycation is to just relax.

My wife and I went for a walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon. We talked about the kids, money and my upcoming birthday. When we returned home, I took down our old awning and cracked open a beer. I’ll be putting up a new gazebo and selling this old one on Facebook Marketplace soon enough.

Tomorrow will be some more yard work since the sun is supposed to be out. I kind of like the tinkering about and just making the yard look nice. Sometimes a vacation is just meant to relax oneself. No fancy destination required.

Doggo Play dates

This weekend had some nice sunny days for us around here. It was so nice in fact that our dog even had a play date. She was tuckered out in the end after running around the backyard with her friend from downstairs.

Jax

A fluffy black doggo lives with our tenants in the basement. Sometimes he comes upstairs to see if Maki can play. It’s funny as well when he wanders inside and Maki wants to play outside. The two of them trip over one another at the back door as one enters and the other leaves.

Maki

By the end of this weekend however, Maki was out of energy from jumping and running around with Jax. She needed a break and came upstairs to lounge in the sun. Jax followed her up and was trying to get her to play some more. She was done and just plopped down not wanting to participate anymore. Jax accepted this and went on his merry way.

It’s fun to see these floofers out there goofing off. They run and chase each other- generally exhausting one another. Jax is one of the few dogs that Maki doesn’t bark at. They’ve been good friends since they met in June.

Is It Spring Yet?

Here on the West Coast we have been getting teased with sunny weather. It doesn’t help that the stores are also bringing out the summer stuff. Displays of lawn furniture, planters and BBQs make it feel as though winter is over.

So I’ve been actively getting the yard ready. Got some pressure washing underway and will complete it tomorrow morning. As zen-like as the activity is, it really hurts my back and I feel it for a few days afterwards. We have a large 75’ deck and poolside concrete that I’m about 2/3rds done.

I also assembled most of the patio set that I picked up last week. I figure with the sun out tomorrow, I may sit out there and enjoy the upper deck for a bit. This seating set will be going on the large wood deck when spring officially starts.

On Saturday I will be having a new gazebo delivered from Costco. Unfortunately it is too much for just me to assemble and I will be doing a shoutout to a few friends and ask for help. Pretty sure some beers and pizza will be a good payment for a few hours of work.

Are you getting excited for winter to disappear?

Too Busy For A Real Meal

This morning was a hustle and bustle kind of day. Kids to school, get gas, hit Costco, grocery store and Home Depot… rush home to unload and then off to a different Home Depot to buy what I wanted. Kind of frustrating trying to get a patio set these days it seems. But I was successful in acquiring it!

What was great was the sales associate at Home Depot was happy to help me load up my car- it meant they didn’t need to find a place to store the set as it was on a palette and in the shipping area. Once at my vehicle- two more employees came to help load it up. Which was awesome! I strapped everything down and drove home.

I got home and my wife came to meet me in the driveway. I was taking the straps off and we took the table off the roof rack. The remaining benches and chairs were in my vehicle and very heavy! my wife made a comment that I should wait until I could get friends over to help move the set. At this point, some random jogger stopped and offer help to move it from my vehicle to the garage. Awesome! Totally appreciated it. Then he ran off.

Because of all my running around, I didn’t have time to make a nice lunch for myself. So I went old school living on my own style. Mac n’ Cheese with a can of tuna and a cheap beer on the side. Perfect for just myself. Honestly, who am I trying to impress these days?

I’m looking forward to the spring and summer when I can really enjoy the weather. Even the small glimpse of it was a nice addition to my day. But I want to give out a big cheers to the three Home Depot employees and the random jogger who helped me today! You guys are the mvps of my day! Thank you!

Walk To Clear My Head

Today was emotional for me at one point. I started to just wallow and was unsure what to do with myself. So my wife suggested to go for a walk. As blasé as I was, I went out expecting to just wander our neighborhood.

We headed down the road and wandered behind our home. My wife asked if we could walk on the other side of the dyke. So we did. It was brisk and cool outside which made for a strong cleansing of the mind. We walked until the end of the dyke and turned around.

That was when I realized where we were. Beauty stretched out towards the mountains. The berry fields were raw with a natural color to the vines. The grass was green and growing. And the skies went on forever. As we walked back home, my head was clearing.

It was a much needed walk. Something I used to do when I was younger. I forgot how satisfying a walk can be and how helpful it can be mentally.

Grey Skies And Rain

I’m often sharing pictures of the sunset and skyline that we see from our home. This evening I’m sitting in a chair in our bedroom, enjoying a beer while the rain falls outside.

As I sit by our patio doors, the bedroom fireplace is going and my wife is enjoying a peaceful moment in the bathtub. Much in the same way I have every week. We are chitchatting about relaxation and the rain. There’s nothing exciting going on for a Saturday evening. But it’s our Saturday evening together.

Looking around our bedroom, I realize that I am very lucky to have found a great partner. My wife and I have numerous art pieces that scream out our love for one another. There is special meaning behind everything we own and I can tell a story about each piece and why it means so much to us. That’s perhaps for another day.

So my Saturday night is a calm night of being content and sharing happiness with the one I love.

Peaceful Friday Evenings

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed my Friday evenings alone. My wife takes the two youngest to speed skating and I get a few hours to myself. A couple of weeks ago I had a bath, read a book and drank some wine.

This week I sat in our bedroom and watched the sun set. Once it was out of view and the night sky was upon us, I turned to the Oculus headset and began a new game- Moss. This was the first vr game my wife ever tried on the Oculus when we were at a friend’s place in Calgary back in 2019. Read about that day here: Unassuming Friday.

The game itself is really cute and easy to play. I was enjoying myself for well over an hour. But had to call it quits because my eyes were getting fatigued. I also had to prepare a late dinner for the family once they arrived home. But it’s going to be some quick and easy. I forgot to get anything ready ahead of time.

I do enjoy the time I have to myself. I’m not ever trying to fill my Friday nights, but I do appreciate the opportunity to lounge for a few hours. Taking some “me time” is beneficial in many ways.

Dog Nap

After a long day of pressure washing the driveway, I wanted to take a nap. It seems though our dog had different ideas. And my wife found it humorous as well.

With what little space there was between me and the back of the couch, Maki squeezed herself in. My wife thought it humorous to take a photo. After a bit my tried to call the dog off the couch.

Wouldn’t you know it, the dog climbed onto the back of the couch and began to wag her tail. Slapping me in the face repeatedly with excitement as my wife pet her. Soon after my wife left, but the dog was riled up and refused to leave me alone.

That was my cue to get off the couch. So I went to the bedroom and took my nap in peace. The dog was like a toddler unable to leave me alone. As much as I appreciated the love and affection-

I just needed a nap.

Fog In Fog Out

This morning the fog rolled in quickly. It also rolled out just as fast. I awoke at around 7:30 this morning to look out my back window.

Within an hour it was heavy fog. And fifteen minutes later it was all but gone. I watched as the fog slowly pushed its way westward, revealing the colours of the fields that lay behind our home.

I do enjoy getting up early when the weather is nice. The sun over the last few days has helped with my mental state. The fog internally is also beginning to roll away as spring and summer quietly approach. This is the first time in decades that I feel at one with the changing seasons. The warm and cold, the dreary and uplifting… I’ve begun to feel better mentally as the chaos of life isn’t as busy. A couple years of this pandemic has made me reevaluate what is important.

Does the weather affect your moods? Does the sunshine help you feel better? Have you had a chance to understand your emotions and values better over these last few years? Let me know in the comments.

Alone, Quiet and Doing Nothing

I’m about to start a four day weekend. Of which I only have plans for my last day. The other three days have a few errands- such as driving the kids to school- but nothing else planned. Which is great in a way.

I want to do nothing. I want to be left alone. I want to just enjoy the peace and quiet of having no one around. Well, sort of. My wife works from home, so I know she’ll be around periodically. I also just found out that our two teenagers have the Friday off. So I may only get two days alone.

Having some days where nothing is planned is a rare occasion for me. Usually I try and push myself to get a bunch of errands or home improvements done. Not this week. Sometimes a break of nothingness is better if planned. I know that doing nothing is a lie. I will eventually get something done or start some sort of project. I find it difficult to not be a busybody.

How do you do a day of nothing? I need advice.

Day Sleeping

Working night shifts means I need to sleep during the day. Since it’s still winter, I fall asleep while it’s still dark out. However, my bedroom doesn’t stay that way.

The blinds we have are not “blackout blinds” and a lot of natural light gets through. However, it reminds me of our old home.

In our previous house, we didn’t have blinds for a number of years. The trees just gave natural shade to the bedroom. I became accustomed to the diffused light, so there is no issue sleeping here.

I pride myself in the fact I can fall asleep anywhere and quickly as well. I don’t need it to be dark or even quiet. Sometimes background noise or music is nice for me to fall asleep to, albeit unnecessary for my sleep.

I do prefer our new home ambiance compared to our previous house. The color palette is calmer and soothing. I generally feel relaxed at home now, not worrying about repairs or renovations. Just enjoying the house. I sleep a lot better these days.

X-rays And Relaxing

As I have mentioned I have had some severe back pain as of late. It has been building up for a while now. I finally had a doctor’s appointment and his recommendation was to get X-rays done.

I chose to go to the lab as soon as it opened today. I was the first person there, and was in and out within half an hour. The technician took images of my hip, lower back and upper back. It was extremely uncomfortable to contort on the flat slab for the X-rays to take place. Once it was done I headed to my car and sat there for a bit with my seat warmer on to help the lower back pain. Now I await results.

When I got home, I took the afternoon to myself. I put on my noise canceling headphones and listened to my music while farting around on the computer. The family headed out for the regular Friday night speed skating practice, I chose to run a bath. Listening to some Enya, reading a book, and drinking some wine will help to relax me a bit more.

Welcome to your mid-forties Josef.

Charlie Don’t Surf

This afternoon my wife and I took our kids out for lunch in White Rock. We hit up a restaurant that my wife and I had been to over twenty years ago on one of our first dates. Charlie Don’t Surf. The last time my wife and I went there, we went for a walk hand in hand along the pier. When suddenly a lightning storm began. We enjoyed the strikes out in the ocean moments before the rain forced us to run to our car and head home. At home, we cuddled on a beanbag chair with my wife’s dog and continued to watch the storm as it passed.

It was a romantic memory to share.

This time was more family oriented, interest of romantic. We enjoyed a meal of fish and chips followed by my daughter and I having a New York Style Cheesecake. It was a nice mid-week afternoon treat for the four of us.

After lunch, we wandered up and down the pier enjoying the fog and watching a couple of BNSF trains going by. It was a nice peaceful walk before we headed back home for a relaxing afternoon.

Sharing an old memory and creating a new one is circled around a fun and tacky decorated restaurant. A good day all around.

Reflecting An Image

The other day the sun was shining. And as usual I was enjoying the views and the feel of the vitamin D. But I noticed something unusual in our bedroom on the bookcase.

A magnifying glass was reflecting an image of the view from our window onto the back wall of the bookcase. It was neat to see it flipped and in full colour. It was like seeing the science of how old cameras worked with mirrors.

I stared for a bit just marveling at it. My brain knew how it all worked, yet not seeing this sort of thing in person kept me curious. Sometimes the simple magic of how the world works is worth stopping to view for a moment. I also realize that I better move the magnifying glass so as not to accidentally start a fire if it magnifies the sun. That would be dumb of me.

Do you ever have moments where you just stop and ponder what you see or experience?

Dealing With Back Pain

I have mentioned experiencing back pain a few times over the years. Getting older is rough on the body- you can’t do what you once did. Recently, my back hit a new level of pain.

Over the years, dealing with the pain has been a challenge. Besides stretching and Advil, I have a few other tricks I use.

A5-35 is always soothing. The smell is unforgettable and is ingrained in my memory from childhood. I have tried many different types, but original extra strength is my favorite.

The next favorite is Acuhealth. This is an electronic acupuncture that I bought 20 years ago on eBay from Australia. It was my parents that introduced me to this device. They had one back in the late 80’s/early 90’s. It works amazingly and helps relax tense muscles.

Recently we picked up a roller and my wife also bought an item called Bang. That machine bumps the muscles rhythmically to remove tension. Great for calf muscles.

Living with pain sucks. But I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have back pain. I remember my mother saying it was just “growing pains” when I was a kid but they never seemed to stop. In fact they have definitely gotten worse over the years. Most people don’t notice that I suffer since I usually just keep going through the pain. Sometimes the pain is too debilitating and I have to call it a day by laying on the floor attempting to stretch my back.

How do you deal with back pain?

Winter Walk By The Water

The other day my wife and I went for an afternoon walk by the beach. On our walk we talked about our first year together and how we went down that way only a few times. We now live only about a 20 minute drive away from White Rock, so heading there may be happening more often this summer.

When we first arrived, we took some happy selfies with the ocean and clouds as a backdrop. We were probably the least bundled up people as many who we passed had scarves, toques and gloves on. But at 8°C it wasn’t that cold.

Even though it was grey and a bit cool, my wife and I were wearing our rose colored glasses we had bought for her Birthday Trip to Mexico. The warmth of the view from the sunglasses made it easier to enjoy our date. We walked along the shore, up the pier and enjoyed the promenade. We headed back along Marine Drive and talked about coming back to enjoy a restaurant or two in the future.

It was a good few hours of casual strolling just holding hands and talking. As we get older, we both just want to enjoy one another’s company more. Keeping the emotional connection between us going and creating memories along the way.

Six Years of Daily Blogs

January 18, 2016

That was the day my first blog was posted on WordPress. Since then, I have written daily blog posts about whatever comes to mind. That’s a lot of writing. About a whole lot of nonsense.

2192 days of writing to be precise.

During that time I have had nearly 16,000 views with 8700 visitors. I have enjoyed interacting with those who send messages or comment on my stories.

I also look back on what I wrote and relive those memories with a personal fondness. I hope that what I have written has helped to guide my friends, family and readers to explore and experience new facets of life.

Most of all, today is about saying Thank You to everyone. I write mostly for myself, but I love that I have reached so many people with my thoughts, feelings and follies.

Please continue to follow along with my daily adventures.

Love, Josef

3D Printing, Crafting, Art

On Thursday I decided to clean up the garage and my work space. I threw out a bunch of items and got other stuff ready for donations. I felt really proud of myself.

I also recalibrated my 3D printer. It’s been almost a year since I last used it. I was worried that during the move something may have broken or jarred. But that was not the case. Thirty minutes later and I was working on my first test print. Which came out perfectly.

Now it’s time to get back into the hobby. And with a larger work bench, I’m looking at adding in a resin printer and possibly a larger 3D printer. I love making stuff, and learning from my errors and growing with my knowledge keeps my going. Hopefully I can get a few big projects hammered out before the weather gets nice and the I’ll be outside more often.

Perhaps at that point I can work on some paintings again while enjoying the warm sun. I know my wife is looking forward to gardening and she already has some big plans.

Do you have hobbies that were put on hold? Now that the holiday season is over, do you plan on getting back to them? Let me know in the comments.

Manifesting Memories

It dawned on me today that I manifested a perfect life for myself based on my favorite memories.

Our current home takes my earliest memories of living in Edmonton. Back in the early 80’s, that house backed onto farmer’s fields. Where the views went on forever. Even this last winter snowfall reminded me of the streets and fun I had from ages 5-8.

The next house my family moved to in 1985 had an in ground swimming pool. I recall always having friends over playing and lounging around listening to cassettes on my portable ghetto blaster. Last summer, I continued that tradition in our new home. Every time I was in the pool, I had music playing on a large Bluetooth speaker.

Growing up, I loved movies. The idea that a short story could take you away to an entire new world always filled me with joy. As a teenager I always wanted to be a projectionist. That became a reality in my early 20’s. I loved doing that job for almost five years. We even had our own theater room in our last home.

Besides our my dream job and current home, I remember always wanting to be a good father. In 2000, I met a partner who became my best friend. Her and I both had similar family goals. So we married quickly and got to work making a family even quicker. As the kids grew up, I stayed young. Constantly playing with them and creating new memories for us.

One day, I suspect our kids will manifest their own dreams and goals from the positive experiences they have had.

I didn’t even touch on these facts of what I always wanted: that have also come to fruition:

  • Traveling to Hawaii
  • Traveling to Tokyo
  • Driving the Extraterrestrial Highway
  • Owning a lightsaber
  • Experiencing VR
  • Owning a car
  • Owning an arcade machine
  • Having close friends that last a lifetime

There are so many more things in my life that have come in to reality. All of it is possible through the power of positive thinking. It’s not always going to be easy. Some things are a long arduous journey. But looking back, I know this is exactly where I need to be.

Looking forward, I know exactly where I need to get to. And I hope you are having the same successes in your lives also.

The Sky’s The Limit

I have shared so many photos of the sky that we can see from our home over the past few months. Many of you can see the sky from your own homes. You probably also have some amazing views. I’ve been sharing because I’m excited to see the sky for the first time in years on a regular basis.

The transitions and changes over the last few seasons leave me awestruck. Every night and day showcases something new to admire. We have also been lucky enough to see tons of fireworks off in the distance as folks celebrate various events. From out the windows and off the decks- we just love our home for what it has to offer.

Occasionally I do miss the trees and the greenery from our last home. Unfortunately all of those trees kept us shaded from the wonders of the sky. We never saw the clouds, the moon or the sun. We would get sneak peeks of them periodically, but never enough to truly enjoy.

I do like that we did not compromise on privacy when we moved. The neighbors may be closer, but it’s still peaceful and tranquil like our last home was.

As I have mentioned before- I don’t think I will ever tire of the views our home has to offer us.

Is This The Real Life…

What if this life we are living isn’t real?

If you found out it wasn’t real, would that make it any less worth living? Or maybe you’re like me and want to walk that fine line of questioning reality and adhering to the rules.

Normally these thoughts enter my mind every September. Don’t ask me why. I think that’s just when the server gets rebooted. Or that reality gets shifted two inches to the right.

In all seriousness, I love the idea of VR. In fact, we have had the Oculus Quest 2 in our home for two years now. With The Metaverse starting to take shape, I think it’s an exciting time to be alive. Over the past couple of years we have all been more exposed to Zoom meetings and video conferences. Strapping on a headset is the next step. The current visuals alone are compelling and immersive. Soon there is going to be Haptic Gloves coming out. That will really change the usage of the Virtual and Augmented reality.

In the not too distant future, we may become fully immersed in a haptic body suit or some sort of chamber. We will begin to occupy a new level of interaction with one another. I do wonder if one day we will be so interconnected that we lose sight of reality.

Perhaps we already have. Maybe we are reliving aspects of humanity we once romanticized- the dawning age of computers. Or maybe we are an alien race playing a life simulator. Could it also be we are just a computer program that became sentient?

I have no idea about any of this. But it sure is fun to imagine that it could be the reality. And if the life we are currently experiencing isn’t real- at least it’s been a crazy adventure.

Icicles Thaw Out A Memory

The other morning I was outside in the backyard admiring the peace and tranquillity that the snow had brought for New Year’s Day. Something astonishing happened to me though. An icicle came into view.

This surprised me because I rarely see icicles in the Lower Mainland. I am aware that they have been known to occur. But I don’t notice them to ever be this size. Usually they are small and are gone in the blink of an eye. That warm weather and rain thing normally diminishes their existence rather hastily.

As I walked up to the shed to take a closer look, there was an entire row of icicles hanging down. The sight reminded me of my youth and living in Edmonton. I would lay in my bed and stare out the window at the edge of the roof. Numerous icicles would be growing there over the winter. Their size increasing as winter went on. Then decreasing as spring would roll in. Icicles in Edmonton lasted much longer than they do in Vancouver.

Those memories of watching icicles form and vanish triggered numerous other youthful memories. Snow banks blowing into the corners of the yard against the fences. The way those banks would freeze on top and become strong enough for a five year old to walk on. We would dig out small tunnels and little caves inside. Keeping the smooth top as a roof.

The fences would also create a row of icicles. So would the deck railings, sheds and rooflines. As kids, we would break them off and have sword battles. Or we would throw snowballs at them, trying to knock them off. We kept ourselves entertained in the snow.

The icicles that were here the other day are already gone. Melted away. As quickly as the memory I just shared popped into my head, it faded just as quick. The weather is turning and changing so rapidly these days, I may not see more icicles before next winter.

As an adult, I’m totally fine with it.