That’s A Wrap

The weather was sunny and the temperature was decent, so we decided to take advantage of it. My wife and I went for a 5km walk at the Tynehead Park. It’s a short drive away from our home, so it was nice to wander an area that wasn’t quite at home. Since it’s autumn, the leaves have mostly left the trees and the bare bones of the park remains.

Later in the afternoon as the sun crested over our house, my son and I ventured into our backyard to wrap our palm trees. We used some burlap and created a blanket around the trunk. It was easy enough to do, and I know it is better to do this while it’s nice instead of when the cold snap hits. Hopefully the winter is mild and doesn’t hurt the palm trees.

After wrapping the trees, my son helped to run an extension cord under our back deck so that we could spin some rope lights around the trees. Besides a fun look, this will also keep them warm in the winter months as required.

Next spring it’ll be nice to see everything come back to life and spread some colour in the world. For now, gardening isn’t over- that’s a wrap.

Google Home

A little over a year ago we got ourselves set up on Google Nest Wifi. Since then, I have been really happy with using it as a Wi-Fi and as the occasional speaker. We then picked up a Google Chromecast to enjoy watching videos and VR. But today, I stepped up my Google Game and incorporated a bunch of smart devices.

Costco has dimmer switches available in a pack of 3 and plugs in a pack of four. The plugs are great since you can just plug them into the wall and then add your device. The switches take a bit more work. I’m glad that our home had a neutral wire available at every switch. Thank goodness for new home builds.

After getting the switches and plugs all set up, it was time to create some routines. One of the routines is to turn the lights outside on and the off at scheduled times of the night and morning. Saying “Ok Google…” and a catchphrase will set the mood for a pool party, or even meditation lounging in the bedroom. I also set up a bedtime routine which will turn on a light and added some nature sounds to calm down before sleep.

I’m sure there is plenty more to do with Google Home. For now, it’s time to teach my wife how to use it also. She may not like my Enya playlist and salt lamp going on, so she can create her own routines.

Nerdy tech stuff like this is fun. It takes a while to set up, and then I swear it’s forgotten about for ages. I need to get myself in the habit of taking to Google and not just turning on the lights. Maybe it’s movie time and the lights need to dim. Better use my phone since it’s already in my hand.

Do you have any tips or tricks when using Google Home? Any favorite devices or products you would recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Teenage Job Hunting

Our teenagers are pretty good at saving whatever money they get in order to buy the stuff they want. However, birthday and Christmas cash is only going to help a bit. Time to step it up a notch.

Our two youngest have been out looking for part time employment. At the start of summer, they were doing online applications. Now they are out hitting the streets with paper resumes and filling out application forms.

The hardest part I have found is explaining to them how to describe any past experience and relate it to the job they want. They may not have exact experience in retail. But they have worked Comicons in the artist alley and have been assistant coaches for some time now.

I’m sure they will become productive members of society soon enough. All the best of luck to their endeavors, because I’m not paying for the fun stuff any more.

Noticing Coincidences

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a version of the Matrix. I’ve been experiencing moments in life that share coincides in unusual ways. Or I should say, I’m noticing the coincidences more.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend about Tim Burton’s Batman movies; today a rail car rolled into our yard with a Penguin graffiti mural. I love rail art and enjoy the pictures that are A little different.

The other week when I got my new iPhone, I changed my background to a Matrix theme. A few days later a new trailer for the fourth Matrix film dropped. There hadn’t been any media surrounding the movie, so my brain was a step ahead.

I’ve also been hearing the term “Making It Up As I Go” a lot lately from song lyrics to tv shows. I know I’m not the first to use the phrase, but it has been the title of my Blog for years now. It’s like when you hear or see your name in places you don’t expect it.

Do you ever notice coincidences and wonder, “Hmmm…”

First Attempt At Foam Pumpkin Carving

I love to carve pumpkins for Halloween. I often spend hours searching for designs and creating my pumpkins. I have been doing it for years now. Check out the links below to view some:

Pumpkins 2020

Stranger Things

Pumpkins 2018

Pumpkins 2017

Pumpkins pre-2016

I recently carved my first craft foam pumpkin. I always wanted to do a more permanent pumpkin that I can display yearly. Since I can spend anywhere from 3 to 8 hours carving a live pumpkin, why not have it last longer than a single season?

My wife requested that I do not do a “Fan Art” pumpkin. She wanted me to try and do something more classic and still a bit detailed. So I chose to make an owl- my favorite one as well. The Burrowing Owl. Owls are Halloween, right?

I used a black and white image online as the basis for my owl. I’m about 85% satisfied with the results. I can see what I can do differently next time. But since I have not worked with this style of pumpkin before, I’d say not bad for a first attempt. Next will be to see how it looks with a small LED light inside.

Have you worked with foam pumpkins before? Or do you prefer the real thing? Let me know in the comments or feel free to share pictures of your detailed pumpkins. I love to see what others create.

How’s It Going To End?

There are times that I get so focused on my goals that I don’t always see how it will end. From yard work to career goals- there is always a journey to be taken. Sometimes the journey feels like it just goes on forever.

I haven’t written the ending to my story yet. I’m still working on character development. Some follies and adventures are still to be had. One day I will stop writing my blog. That day will probably arrive suddenly and without warning. But I hope to grow from it.

Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Sometimes you see the conclusion in the sidelines- it’s not always directly in front of you.

Moving The Goal Post

I’d like to think that everyone sets goals and does their best to achieve them. Sometimes along the way the goal might change or the route to get there will alter slightly. You know what? That’s okay.

In the end you get where you’re going. Savoring the accomplishments is tough to remember to do. Reflection is also required once in a while. We may forget that we had a goal and it can come and go- and we don’t notice how hard we worked towards it.

Goals can be big or small. They can be health related or career oriented. You can have more than one goal at a time, and achieve more than one at a time as well.

Sometimes we think we want a goal but it’s not the right goal so we abandon it. That’s fine as well. For years I wanted to write a novel, instead I have been blogging about my life and thoughts every day since January 2016. They say “write what you know.” I know about me.

So check on your goals. Readjust as needed. Set some new goals. Achieve and fail, but learn along the way. Be the best you that you can be.

GOAL!

Churro Cookies

The one thing my wife has really wanted to experiment with since buying our new house is baking. We both bake somewhat frequently- usually around Christmas. But with a big kitchen island, my wife wanted to expand her baking skills into more gourmet style of cookies. I’m all for it! But that’s mostly because I don’t have a sweet tooth and will be able to resist eating too many.

Her first attempt at making rich tasting cookies was last night with Churro Cookies. Last summer, I made Disneyland Churros a couple of times. But those are traditional churros- getting deep fried. The cookies my wife made last night had the perfect taste and softness to them. I could have sworn they were actual churros.

She made a creamy churro icing to go on top and sprinkled that with sugar and cinnamon as well. We each had a cookie and really wanted a second one. I took a second churro cookie… I had to. A glass of milk was the perfect accompaniment for this late evening treat.

We are still learning the intricacies of our new kitchen and oven. But if the cookies come out as perfect as they did last night, I suspect we will definitely be baking more often!

Central City Fun Park

My daughter and I had another “Daddy/Darwin Day” today. It started with her getting some driving practice in. We headed to our old neighborhood to drop my son off at a friend’s house. After that she drove to do some grocery shopping with me. We did a pit stop at home and then went out for some more quality time.

We went to a place called her in Surrey that hasn’t been open for very long- Central City Fun Park. Essentially it is a superior Chuck E. Cheese’s. There was pizza, video games, skill games, and prizes. But what made it better than CEC was the mini golf, bowling, vr, and the roller rink. We went there to see if there was DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and roller skating.

We found a similar game to DDR and did our best to play. Let me tell you- my foot/eye coordination is abysmal. Unfortunately there was an injury in the roller rink, so skating was unavailable. We decided to try the 9 hole mini golf, which was okay, but we really wanted to skate.

After playing the arcade games (Star Wars was fun!) we had a battle of air hockey (tie game) and some other skill games to earn tickets. My daughter decided to keep the tickets and hopefully earn more in the future for a better prize. 287 tickets doesn’t get you much.

It was a good day followed by a fun afternoon of quality time. Next time we better get some roller skating in!

Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise

This past year I have been doing my best to work on all aspects of my health. Drinking alcohol less, enjoying the fresh air more, and swimming almost daily. I’m looking better (Dad Bod is diminishing) and feeling better. This has helped in my mental health as well. This past weekend was time to work on one more piece of the puzzle.

The Dreaded Finances!

It sort of started at the beginning of August. My wife and I sat down and wrote out an updated budget for the household. We decided to use Google Docs so we can edit spending in real time so that we can keep on top of spending. This past Friday, we met up with our financial advisor and talked about our future, and the future of our family. I highly recommend an outside source for financial planning. Free advice with a knowledge of the industry. We have been using the same advisor for nearly twenty years, and feeling successful as we grow.

Yesterday we went through our old bills and paperwork. It was time to shred as much as we could. With everything going digital and paper free, there really isn’t much need to keep a physical copy any more. We have kept copies of vehicle maintenance and income taxes, but almost everything else turned into paper streamers.

That was a good feeling- shredding old credit card bills. It makes me feel bad for old me and how much my wife and I struggled at times to keep the debt load down. Using credit cards is a luxury and a curse. Getting back on track is a challenge.

So my health in all aspects is improving. Including my future financial health with my wife. I’m happy with how things are working out and where our future is going.

Sky Time

Every so often I am just in awe of the sky. Last year I shared a bunch of photos I had taken over the years- Read about it here: What Were The Skies Like.

Today I came home after a night shift and was again filled with wonderment of the sky. I’m also enraptured to have such a beautiful view available to enjoy; and share. The pleasure I get staring off is immeasurable. The view from our front balcony and the back balcony make for an almost 360° sight line of the sky.

On a day like today, I’ll just stand around soaking in the world. My concerns are gone for a brief moment until I get distracted by family members. But these little moments are the zen required to fulfill me and create inner peace.

How does the sky make you feel?

Shelved

Our kitchen is larger than our last one. There is great use of space in most of it, and a beautiful flow making it easy to navigate. There are a couple of down sides however.

The first one is that the pantry is far smaller than we are used to. It’s basically a broom closet with shelves. This will take us some getting used to, but is completely manageable. The second was an empty space with just a countertop. It looks like the space was originally created a decade ago for a phone or computer. So it was time to do something with the empty space and make it functional.

My wife and I were trying to find cabinets that we would like. But with the world being what it is, most products were on back order or not what we wanted to match our home. Since we have a certain style, it was time to get creative. I love a good diy.

Since we love dark woods and the industrial look, we came up with a plan over brunch while out in Fort Langley. Why not reclaim some wood we have and build our own shelves? I made a farm table once before. This should be easier.

A quick stop at Home Depot for some iron pipes and connectors- and voilá- shelf brackets. I went with ten inch wide pipe and twelve inch for height, with a small bar at the top to finish it off.

I needed some help to measure the anchor holes prior to hanging it up. My wife also suggested that we measure from where the coffee maker opens to so we don’t have issues trying to make our favorite beverage. What a smart lady. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes on a project.

Oh and those wood slats? They came from an old IKEA bed frame. Soon I will stain the pine wood a darker colour to match the other stuff we have. With the cost of lumber these days, I’m glad we didn’t throw them away.

So that was my quick project for our coffee bar and cookbook shelves. I like the openness of the shelves and the industrial look that matches our tastes. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Lego Bonsai

Today we went shopping for some summer clothes. We also went to a couple of stores just because we were at the mall. One of those stores happened to be The Lego Store. I totally did a spontaneous purchase of a Lego set.

The Lego Bonsai Tree.

We got it home and decided to put it together as a family. This is the first set we have built in the new house. It’s also been years since we last tried to build a set together. The Lego Spaceship from The Lego Movie was an ordeal and a half one Christmas! We were lucky to not repeat that fiasco.

But we were able to work together and got it completed rather quickly. We even had a spot all picked out at the bottom of our stairs for it to hang out. I think it looks really neat.

As well, when spring comes around, we can change the bonsai tree into a Sakura tree.

Back To Work Blues

Vacation doesn’t last forever. It was time to return to work last night. After getting through a couple thousand emails, I was up to date with the operation. But in the back of my mind all night was thoughts of our new home.

When I finished my night shift, I headed home and got into some swim trunks. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed down to the pool. As exhausted as I was from doing my first night shift in ages, I still enjoyed the refreshing water. I’m even contemplating doing yoga this summer.

Standing on my deck I realized- this is my lifestyle now. You know what else? In two weeks I have some more vacation time to chill out in our yard. I plan on owning the summer and making the most of what we have.

Raised Spirits

After a week in our new home, it was time to enjoy quality time together. Boy was it fun!

This evening before dinner, we all hung out at the pool. Loads of laughter and splashing. It was an excellent way to cool off after a smoldering hot day.

To finalize our family time together we did something we always do. We watched a movie as a family. The movie of choice? Spirited Away. A favorite amongst us all. We love Studio Ghibli movies and enjoyed visiting Studio Ghibli when we travelled to Tokyo a few years back.

We also chose this film because it starts with a family on their way to their new home, yet adventure takes hold. It’s the perfect film to boost our spirits amongst the chaos of unpacking. I’m so happy to feel like a family once more. Stress is behind us.

Time to live our best lives.

Morning Break

Moving into a new home is tough. I’m still tackling the organization of whatever storage we have available. I’m also planning more ideas in order to help with future storage.

But this morning I had to take a break in our pool. Taking a breather in order to relish in what we bought was needed. Chances are I’ll do the same tomorrow morning and the next. I need to remember that all this hard work needs to be appreciated.

Making Space In The Garage

It’s been over 14 years since we had a garage. And the last time we did, only one car could fit. Prior to our move on Saturday- we labeled a bunch of boxes as “Garage” thinking we’d have loads of space. Boy were we wrong.

Today, we dug out about half of the garage. Christmas boxes went in the attic, boxes of tools were moved to the proper location, other boxes were emptied and put away. I was also able to set up a shelving unit to store our Rubbermaid bins.

After a full morning of rearranging and storing, we successfully were able to park my wife’s car in half of the garage! That’s quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself.

Too bad we still have to unbury the rest of the garage. And kitchen. And dining room. And living room. And bedrooms. And… you get the idea. But one goal at a time.

Goodbye

So long, goodbye
I'll see you when I see you
You can pick the street
I'll meet you on the other side
So long, goodbye
Do I really have to finish?
Do returns always diminish?
Did I say that right?

Time to bid farewell to a home that my wife’s father built 49 years ago. It’s been our family home for the last 14 years. During which time I renovated, repaired, revived, and even at times resented. These past four months have been a difficult time as we prepared ourselves to leave. There was no chance that we were going to leave on a negative note, so we continued to enjoy the house and yard right to the last possible moment.

2008.

But today is the last day. A chaotic good change is occurring. Our home is filled with boxes and people moving those boxes for us. I really don’t have much more to say on the subject that I haven’t previously. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

So long brick house. Goodbye parenting memories. Farewell country living. Our castle gave us a roof over head and natural beauty on the doorstep. Everything this home could offer us, it successfully accomplished.

Thank you Castle Havelka.

We love you.

1

So this is it. One day until we move. This countdown has been keeping me distracted from talking about the real feelings I have about this move. Joy, sadness, stress, fear… but wait there’s more! Today I will focus on what number 1 means to me.

I have a best friend since Grade 1. That’s over forty years of friendship. We have been through quite a bit of life’s journeys together- including sharing advice with one another. He is coming out tonight with his son to help us with our move in the morning. It’s wonderful that his son is friends with my son since birth. That’s been going strong for fifteen years now.

“One love, one heart
Let’s join together and a-feel all right.”

My wife is my one true love. She has been a wonderful partner in all of these years that I have been on this planet. Without her, I don’t think I’d be anywhere close to living this lifestyle. I talk about her regularly. She is my number 1.

With one life to live, I’m excited to continue my journey on this planet. Creating a new homestead with fresh memories.

Hello

Our first full day in the new house has begun. The foray of chaos yesterday ended, yet the unpacking will remain for days, nay– weeks on end.

It was a bittersweet move. Emotions ran high yesterday. Everyone was happy to experience our new home and we took our first family photo in the backyard. I even broke my dry spell of almost 300 days and sipped on sparkling wine and then had a beer poolside.

Before that- I started the evening off for everyone by taking the first jump into our pool. The weather was perfect and the water was fine.

Once everyone was gone, we enjoyed seeing a sunset for the first time in years from our backyard. As much as I loved the tress in our last place, I have really been enjoying the million dollar view we have now.

As we greet our new neighbors we are also looking for some names for our home. The last place we titled, “Castle Havelka”. Our Internet still says Castle, but I’m thinking since we moved up we should call it “Kingdom Havelka”.

Let me know in the comments some suggestions for a new name should be. For now, it’s time to tackle more boxes.

1001 Days Straight

WordPress recently congratulated me on 1001 days straight of blog posts. That’s a lot of stories about me and my life experiences. However, I’ve actually written more than that. 1001 days puts me only to the end of August 2018.

I’ve written in this blog every day since January 27,2016. That’s 1950 days. I hit a few technical issues in the years of blogging which explains why it didn’t count every single day posted. Computers, am I right? Wait, I use my iPhone 98% of the time to write.

I have enjoyed journaling here in hopes that my experiences are uplifting and relatable to those who do read my blog. I enjoy writing about parenting, traveling, music, movies, memories, growing old, and kindness. Sometimes I stray from that and share a bittersweet or sad story. But it’s generally about me and my thoughts for the day.

As always, thank you to my devoted followers for reading my tales. They may never become a bestseller novel, but the stories are mine to share.

21

May 29,2000. Twenty one years ago my wife and I met. We have been together almost every day since then. Any time we have been apart, we have spoken on the phone. The time we have had apart is so minimal that I’d hazard a guess it’s been less than one month all added up.

We are moving into our dream home in twenty one days. I am nervous and excited at the same time. Change is good. Like all of the changes that have entered my life, the biggest ones have occurred with Lee-Anne by my side.

In all this time, my wife has- and will be- the constant that makes my life matter most. She has pushed me beyond my comfort levels and helped in creating who I am today. From parenting to career to travel to just living life- after meeting Lee-Anne my journey has been a whirlwind of excitement.

In July we will celebrate twenty years of marriage. In our new home, with an adult child and two teenagers to celebrate with us. I’m always amazed to look back at life and see the journey we have been on. Sometimes you miss the process as you are in the midst of it.

Twenty One. What a great number.

On Track Photos

I love taking pictures of the artwork on rail cars. I enjoy how an image can tell a quick story.

I also like taking my pictures with a bit of an artistic flare. It’s amazing how lighting and backgrounds can change the feel of the image so easily. Not to mention the filters that smartphones and apps have available. An original image can change completely given the appropriate filter.

Taking pictures of inanimate objects is easy enough. Especially if the art is worthy of a photograph. Catching the right light and angle is also important. Rule of thirds, leading lines, framing- any of the photographer’s special gambit of artistic flair is made easy using railroads and rail cars. I have been doing it for years in order to perfect those skills I learned in high school photography almost thirty years ago.

I appreciate Instagram for being able to showcase and see some fantastic images. There are a lot of talented photographers out there who make a subject jump out at you and make you feel emotion.

I’m feeling contented and courageous by sharing my pictures regularly. I hope you all enjoy seeing the art from my point of view that others have painted. Feel free to follow me on Instagram and see more pictures of rail cars and my life.

Drone On

Our oldest child is about to finish her first year of post secondary education. Because she is attending British Columbia Institute of Technology, there has been a good variety of in-class and remote learning happening. Her area of study is in film.

She has been enjoying all the different aspects of being behind the camera. She has had an introduction to filming, editing, sound, directing, and everything else involved. I love hearing about it all and how excited she is when she successfully accomplishes one of the tasks or projects. She has been putting in long hours and determination.

Yesterday she was learning how to use drones to create professional images and movies. Using drones may not be exciting to some, but these aren’t the little ones you buy at Walmart. Her class had a good day to test them out and these are a few photos she took.

Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, our daughter will be unable to take on any apprenticeships this summer. She is hoping that after next year things open up and she can utilize her skills in a more hands-on approach. BCIT has been good to her and her skill sets. I’m proud of what she has been doing so far and love to see her sense of accomplishment as her projects get completed.

Six Times Nine Equals Forty Two

Okay. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything is…

42

That’s 42 days from now!

In six weeks we are moving to our new house. Our entire life, universe and everything will be changing. This is hitting a 9 out of 10 on the stress scale now.

I’m terrified and excited at the same time. The fact that we had such a long closing date for leaving here and the possession of our new home has been both a blessing and a curse. The countdown seems so far away still. Yet we have the majority of our home packed up. Which is great, except that we are living in only a portion of our house at the moment.

Our living room is packed with boxes all labeled to where they need to go in our new home. No more theater room and watching shows on our big screen. My wife’s studio is also filled. All of the bedrooms have a stack of boxes and this new chaos feels like it is running rampant in our home. The most empty space we have at this time is our yard. We cleared out so much debris outside that our land looks enormous once more.

For the next month and a half, we will be enjoying the outdoors a bit more than normal. Every year we have enjoyed dining outdoors. This year will be no different. Even when we move- we will enjoy the outdoors.

Enough blogging. Back to packing. Hmmm… I wonder which Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quote I should focus on:

  • “Don’t Panic.” …
  • “Time is an illusion. …
  • “Would it save you a lot of time if I just gave up and went mad now?”