Light Dusting

Overnight there was a light dusting of snow that fell. The sudden drop in temperature and weather changes came as a bit of a surprise. Last week’s windstorm and torrential rainfall was already challenging. The snow and cold temperatures made me realize that I needed to wrap our palm tree in order to save it for next summer.

The brisk air and chilled sky made the city skyline in the distance a bit more visible. With a lovely mountain backdrop, it hardly seemed real. Especially to be able to see it from our backyard. I expect to see more snow on the mountains as the season gets colder.

Over the next few days it should be sunny, but cool. After I protect our palm tree, I’ll be putting up the outside Christmas lights before it gets really miserable outside. That way when December is upon us- I can enjoy the lights as darkness takes over most of the days as we approach the Winter Solstice.

Appreciating the season can be tough. Finding the moments that can bring you pleasure or working towards them is challenging. I like the end result and try my best to accept when I can’t control something- like the weather.

Slow To Get Home

Protecting work is a part of my job. But sometimes it can be a long, drawn out process. I was waiting for a train to go back on for 24 hours. I was originally expected to be a conductor in the early morning, but that never happened. In the end, I am heading back with a crew in deadhead service.

This is also in part because the roads are treacherous as well due to a snow fall and strong winds. Getting in a taxi was not the safest choice at this time. So I am glad to be traveling back by train. I am also with an experienced crew who is good at their job. I know they won’t feel intimidated by my appearance there.

Home is just a few hours away. My own bed and a good night’s sleep is well needed. I’m looking forward to my bedroom and the fireplace. The -5°C in Boston Bar is not pleasant.

Back To The Tracks

I mentioned the other day how I have been with CN for 15 years now (Read about it here:15 Years of CN). Over the last few years I have been in management and generally stay in the yard organizing the movements in and out of my territory. It has its challenges and I really enjoy them. Sometimes I’ll go back to my roots and get out in the yard and work with a switching crew.

Today I took a train as a conductor from North Vancouver to Boston Bar. This is because we have been short workers as of late and the workload has felt like it has increased. So out came my old notes from when I first hired on. Pages upon pages of assistance that made my first trip back on the road a smooth sailing.

Now I am in Boston Bar with the other crews in the bunkhouse. It has had a severe upgrade since I last stayed here. Nicer rooms with a Smart TV. So far, everyone I have run into has been jovial and nice. The crews are respectful and I feel that I have been equally respectful towards them over the years. This doesn’t feel like management vs union. More like we are all in this together- working towards a common goal- move the trains safely.

Now comes the part that was always tough- waiting for a call for the train ride to return home. The call may be in a couple of hours, but could be up to half a day wait. Uncertainty is tough. But that’s how the railroad works. For now, I’m going to get some rest and wait to see what happens.

Soup’s On

There are some days that you just need a warm bowl of soup. I enjoy making a soup stock/bone broth, cutting fresh vegetables, adding some meat and letting it simmer. It produces a warm, hearty flavor and emanates a heavenly smell that fills your home. Such a beautiful thing to enjoy on a cool autumn night.

Sometimes, you need it quickly as well, but don’t have all day. Tonight, I made chicken noodle soup. From a packet inside a box. The smell wasn’t the same as making soup from scratch. But I did have a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup after about ten minutes. I grabbed some plain crackers from the cupboard which I crumbled a handful into my bowl.

It was exactly what I needed tonight. A quick bit of warmth in my belly. Convenient and easy.

Bedroom Fireplace

I never thought of having a fireplace in our bedroom as being something I needed. But once we bought this home, I am beginning to wonder how we lived without it. Especially last winter as well as right now, as we are entering the same seasonal chills.

I’m not about to say that having a gas fireplace in our bedroom isn’t a luxury. Far from it. Having a fireplace in any room brings forth warmth and comfort. But to fall asleep with the flickering flames and heat is wonderful. Even better today is that I was chilled last night having to work outside. Ending a night shift with a warm fire to fall asleep to is a total luxury.

I hope you are finding ways to stay warm and enjoy your slumbers. I am off to sleep with a cozy fire on.

15 Years of CN Rail

Folks, I have been with CN Rail for 15 years so far. The job has had many ups and downs. Lots of changes as well in my career. From starting as a conductor, to being a union representative, to Yard Coordinator to my latest role since 2016 as Transportation Manager.

CN Rail has been one of the best and most random jobs I have ever had. I fell into it by accident because of a former coworker at a different job. I can honestly say that without that initial suggestion to apply- my life would not be where it is today.

I have put in crazy hours which has earned me a decent pension, share matching, and salary bonuses. Not all of it was easy. I still struggle sometimes at work if things are not going as planned. But I have a great team that I work with and they make coming into work all that more pleasant. The results of owning the home I have, putting the kids into better schools, vacationing as a family- all of that is because of this career.

I will be putting in at least 25 years of service before I retire from CN Rail. I may stay longer if life requires it. But for now I can say that an end date is closer than my start date was.

Feel free to check some of my previous posts about CN: by clicking on the links below:

10 Years

Steam Train

CN 100

Proud of Where I Work

Autumn Walks For Health

Over the last couple of days, I have been enjoying a nice autumn walk with my wife. Yesterday was a 5km walk and today was about 3km. What’s different this time, is I’m the one asking to go on these walks.

I’ve been asking my wife to go on these walks because she stopped doing them. Summer was busy and her routine got disrupted as she went from one job to another. Getting her out again has been helping her in processing and clearing her thoughts. I have been doing my best to be a sounding board for her while we get some exercise. she has been noticeably happier these past few days as well.

Admittedly, even though it’s been cool outside- the views and sunshine have made it worthwhile to get out. The crisp air has helped with breathing and getting the heart rate going. Our pace has been quick and steady, really making the heart and lungs work.

I have also wanted to get a bit more mobile as work has had me fairly stagnant. Either sitting in a desk or driving a vehicle around. I have not been as active as I once was when I first hired on 15 years ago. As I get older, I really should be more active, eat healthier, and cut back on alcohol. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

I hope the weather stays nice- even if it’s just for a bit each day. We can squeeze in a walk during those times. I like holding her hand and discussing our lives.

Halloween Is Over

It took less than 30 minutes for me to pack up the Halloween decorations and put them back into the attic. And of course, I decided to bring some Christmas decor down. Specifically the one that has brought the family the most joy.

Creepy Santa has Returned. He came out of the attic the day after Halloween- knowing that his time to emerge and terrify was upon us. He immediately disappeared into his first hiding location. Waiting to be discovered.

The only other decoration that makes an appearance so soon is Timmy- our tin soldier. All year-round he sits in the corner of our outside front entryway underneath our security camera. Once Halloween is over- he gets turned to guard our entrance. I was thinking that I may move him to the upper balcony instead, so he can watch over the neighborhood. He is the perfect pop of color needed for our house.

Because the weather was so nice today, a part of me was almost ready to put up the outdoor Christmas lights. But some of my plans were changed around and the idea fell towards the back burner only to be ignored completely by sundown. Maybe it’s too soon for Christmas decorations. Hahaha.

Have you begun slowly Christmas decorating as well? Or do you bring everything out at once?

Calm Halloween

Today was a very quiet Halloween. Nothing extraordinary happened. We decorated the front yard for the night and bought 150 candies to give away. We hardly had that many kids come down the hill to receive their treats.

My wife and I sat out front with the fire pit on and gave out the candy. I dressed as Johnny Depp’s character from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. The fire pit kept me warm as I was wearing shorts and summer shirts. My wife wore her Halloween leggings and kept warm beside me.

Our 18 year old and 16 year old had some friends over. They got dressed up and hit the streets for some candy of their own. When they returned- we had two batches of chili ready for them to enjoy after their walk around the neighborhood. All of our children’s friends are extremely polite and really kind. I enjoyed the conversations with them.

My wife and I wound down our night watching fireworks from our bedroom window. After almost two hours of explosions, my wife went to sleep and I decided to watch some Twilight Zone. Even as the show played- the fireworks continued throughout Surrey.

I love Halloween. Yet the vibe continues to change and evolve. I’m still having fun throughout the years- albeit a bit calmer allowing others to share and entertain. And yes, the fireworks are still going…

Weathering Halloween

Looks like there is a possibility that rain will be here for Halloween night. It’s not the first time it has rained on October 31st. I do recall a few times having to take an umbrella out to keep the kids dry. But the excitement of free candy kept them going.

As a kid, I lived in Alberta and had to suffer a few snow filled Halloween evenings. Winter jacket and snow pants covered the costume, or you got a baggie costume and draped it over your outfit. It didn’t matter because you knew what you were pretending to be. And you still got candy!

I couldn’t imagine being an adult in my 20’s attending a Halloween party in Alberta like that. Especially since most people showed up at our parties in their “sexy” outfits. I imagine it would look like these.

Again, using your imagination and a Sexy Ghostbuster is pretty amazing. I’ve seen one.

Beetlejuice Carving 2022

This year someone suggested I do a Beetlejuice theme on my pumpkin. Originally I was going to do him from the cartoon with Lydia and the title plate as well. In the end I opted to do the snake version from the original film.

After years of carving pumpkins, I have gotten faster at it. My first intricate pumpkin was a Jack Skellington one that took over 4 hours to complete. Every year I get faster. I am also able to visualize the finish product as I go.

My intensity in pumpkin carving has passed on to my two oldest children. They have also spent hours carving pumpkins. Our middle loves doing anime fandom style. They are busy working on theirs this afternoon as well.

Besides a picture- sometimes I wish there was another way to preserve these art pieces. But they are meant for one night and then they cut up and into breads, soups and pancakes. We don’t just toss them in the trash once Halloween is over.

Do you carve pumpkins? How much time do you invest in doing it? Show me some of your favorites please!

Beetlejuice.

Avoiding Chips

My wife and I have always been potato chip eaters. Every weekend was a bag or two. When my wife and I first met- she always had a bag of regular Lay’s Potato Chips and Diet Grapefruit soda (Diete Pamplemousse).

Of course we have had other snacks over the years. From charcuterie boards to mozzarella sticks. But chips… man those are pure evil. A bag doesn’t stand a chance once it’s opened.

Today my wife made a snack plate for us. Goat cheese, avocado, pickled peppers, cream cheese, tomatoes in sliced baguette- much healthier choices for us. and very tasty!

I appreciate that my wife made us an afternoon snack. She put in more work than I would have- I mean last weekend I opened a bag of ripple chips and dip. That was the extent of my ability to bring a snack to the table. I think my wife wins in the snack department.

Memorize No More

I read a quote today that made me realize the world has changed in order to make us lazier.

Growing up, I memorized numerous phone numbers and locations. I still remember my old phone numbers from the last four houses I have lived in. Most times people say their phone numbers in a singsong manner. 3-3-4 or 3-4. But our last home phone number, I used to mess around and caused a bit of chaos in telling people.

  • 533-4833
  • 888-1046
  • 533-8248
  • 8-5678-02

One phone number I remember clearly was the one my father had gotten for a side hustle that he had started in the early 90’s. The secondary line in our home was 882-8822. When his business was no more, I ended up adapting that number for myself as a teenager. I had my own phone and answering machine. Too cool for school.

Nowadays I know both my number and my wife’s number off by heart. I have no idea what my kid’s cellphone numbers are or any other family members. I don’t even know my work phone numbers. That’s because everything is saved under Contacts in my phone. I even add addresses which means I don’t need to care about how to get places. The same thing is in my navigation in my car.

I don’t need to think anymore. Just announce out loud, “Hey Siri- call…” and that’s it. No need to even scroll to find the name and number once it’s saved. Convenient and lazy. Just like automatic windows and locks in a car. And cameras, and heated seats… too many things we take for granted.

Heck, I could dictate a blog if I wanted one day. Maybe I’ll try that and see how it goes.

Memorize No More

I read a quote today that made me realize the world has changed in order to make us lazier.

Growing up, I memorized numerous phone numbers and locations. I still remember my old phone numbers from the last four houses I have lived in. Most times people say their phone numbers in a singsong manner. 3-3-4 or 3-4. But our last home phone number, I used to mess around and caused a bit of chaos in telling people.

  • 533-4833
  • 888-1046
  • 533-8248
  • 8-5678-02

One phone number I remember clearly was the one my father had gotten for a side hustle that he had started in the early 90’s. The secondary line in our home was 882-8822. When his business was no more, I ended up adapting that number for myself as a teenager. I had my own phone and answering machine. Too cool for school.

Nowadays I know both my number and my wife’s number off by heart. I have no idea what my kid’s cellphone numbers are or any other family members. I don’t even know my work phone numbers. That’s because everything is saved under Contacts in my phone. I even add addresses which means I don’t need to care about how to get places. The same thing is in my navigation in my car.

I don’t need to think anymore. Just announce out loud, “Hey Siri- call…” and that’s it. No need to even scroll to find the name and number once it’s saved. Convenient and lazy. Just like automatic windows and locks in a car. And cameras, and heated seats… too many things we take for granted.

Heck, I could dictate a blog if I wanted one day. Maybe I’ll try that and see how it goes.

Life Cycling Loop

Sometimes I don’t want to be at work. And at the same time, I don’t want to be at home. It’s not that I am having issues in either place- I just don’t feel like I am moving forward. Except towards my days off. Which is filled with tasks and chores. And during those days off, I am thinking about my next set of days at work.

It’s mentally exhausting and a vicious cycle. I know I’m not the only one who falls into this trap. Many of you out there also feel trapped and in an endless loop. I don’t have a solution to it, so I’m looking to you for advice. In all seriousness- how do you break the cycle of feeling this way?

Much Needed Rain

Over the last few days, the Lower Mainland and Vancouver area has gotten some much needed rain. As much as I enjoyed the extended summer weather- rain was badly needed. And welcomed.

Even just the short amount we have gotten so far has brought back a bit of vegetation and vibrancy to our world. This will help with keeping wild fires down as well as give some life to the plants that have needed it most prior to going dormant for the year. I have also heard of people in our old neighborhood having their wells start to run low and even dry. That’s a tough situation to deal with. The rain can help fill those natural supplies once more.

Working or driving in this weather can be frustrating as well. Please just remember to take it a bit slower out there. No one wants to get in an accident or injured. Besides- rain and Vancouver go hand-in-hand according to other parts of the world. But only when it isn’t sunny and those folks are just jealous of the good weather we get most of the other time.

Happy Diwali

I want to wish a very Happy Diwali to my friends and coworkers who celebrate today!

I had only briefly heard of Diwali in the past from the news and a few social media posts from friends. It wasn’t until last year that I truly got to enjoy the spectacle that emerges with the celebration.

The back of our home faces Central Surrey. There are numerous temples and large homesteads that celebrated last year. We watched fireworks going off all across the tree line in the distance for days. We spent every evening watching from the comfort of our home. It was spectacular. New Year’s Eve and Canada Day paled in comparison to the extravaganza that we witnessed.

Reading and educating myself about Diwali, I came across this information: One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”. To me- that sounds beautiful.

Happy Diwali Friends! Thank you for sharing your celebration with the world.

Terror On Tubi

This entire month, I have been enjoying some of the most ridiculously cringy horror films ever made. Besides one or two films, most of the movies I have been streaming from Tubi.

What I find amusing is that I had no idea Tubi existed or that they even promoted “Terror on Tubi” this time of year. I recently discovered the app/website when we bought a new Amazon Fire TV and was browsing for streaming apps.

This is the first year I have watched a horror movie a day for the month of October. I may make this a regular tradition every year. I have been amused and throughly entertained this month. I have even had family members join me periodically to watch these ridiculous films.

Anyways, on to the next movie!

With only 8 days remaining until Halloween, todays film is about spiders. I was originally looking for the movie, “Arachnophobia” but have been unable to find it. I also thought about putting on “Eight Legged Freaks”- both films I had seen in the movie theater years ago. Instead, I went with a film from 1975- “The Giant Spider Invasion”.

Do you enjoy bad movies? How about horror films? What are your Halloween traditions?

Family Kindness

My mother surprised me this week. She called me last weekend and asked if she could come for a visit before the weather turns. She drives from Cambell River on Vancouver Island and it takes a while to get here. Normally if she comes, she brings her friend along for the ride. That friend of hers is the mother of my oldest friend William. This time around, my mother came down by herself. Along with Jodie- her puppy.

The visit was more of a surprise by what my mother did for me- not her time coming out. My mother reads my blogs on a daily basis and I wrote something that got her thinking. She kindly brought me a gift that prompted my memories.

My mother brought over the ruby and gold glasses I had mentioned in Dad’s Ruby And Gold blog. I was taken aback by the gesture from my mother. She told me she would rather that she gave them to me before her passing than after. That way I could enjoy the glasses for longer. It was really kind of her to do this.

I sometimes forget that my family reads my blogs. I also don’t realize that what I write can affect others in a positive manner. Which can positively impact me as well. I love sharing my memories and stories and my biggest hope with the majority of my blogs is to promote positivity. I guess it does.

Thanks Moira for the kind gift. I appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Shopping Woes

Today my wife and I were looking forward to a day of shopping. We even went cross border into Washington State to try and find some deals, just like the old days pre-Covid.

The border wait was minimal. When we got to the Costco across the border, we saw numerous BC license plates in the parking lot. We assumed everyone was there saving money. Boy, were we wrong.

We had hoped to save some money on early Christmas shopping. But with the exchange rate being $1.37 CAD for each $1 USD- we really needed to do the math before buying anything. Some of the items said the same price as they do in Canada. Which meant we’d be paying more money and then have a possibility of paying duty coming home.

After Costco, we tried our luck at Fred Meyer and then Walmart. Same sort of results. No savings to be had. We did pick up a couple items that aren’t available in Canada, so at least we came away with those.

At the end of the day, I do not recommend wasting time and effort to travel southbound for my Canadian friends. But with the exchange rate the way it is- my American friends will find good savings coming up to Canada.

We Just Ended Summer

Today, my wife and I cleaned up the backyard and prepared for winter. That meant bringing in outdoor cushions, wiping down the tables and chairs and then covering them for the end of season to protect it all. My wife also went through and trimmed the last of her large tomato plants (the ones that weren’t in the Greenhouse).

The one thing that really says “summer is over” is the fact that I put the winter cover on the pool. I gave it one final vacuum, cleaned out the filters, shut off the gas and set up the bypass water pipe. That way I can keep circulating that water over winter, but it doesn’t have to go through the heater.

Our yard looks barren now. All set for the rain, wind and potential snow that will come in the following weeks. I’m happy that we have more of our house back as well. We were able to utilize more storage space indoors this year. Over the next few weeks, my wife is wanting to set up her sewing area again. It’s perfect that we get to be indoors more often.

I may be done hanging outside, but I can still enjoy the views from the comfort of our living room and bedroom. It’s almost time to turn on the gas fireplaces to add warmth to our environment.

Are you ready for summer to officially end?

Calming Toner

A few weeks ago I noticed I was breaking out more than I ever did before. I thought originally it was due to the swimming pool and the chlorinated water. That, it turns out, was just causing my skin to dry out. So I used more moisturizer to combat the dry skin. Naturally, I began to think maybe it was the moisturizer causing acne.

In actuality, it was work. We moved offices at job a couple months back. The vent above our desk seems to not do a great job of cleaning the air. Instead it seems to just circulate the dust from our environment. I discovered this one day after work, when I went home and washed my face before bed. Afterwards, my wife suggested I try using her Calming Toner.

I have now been using it after every shift. I come home, wash my hands and face, then use the toner with one of my wife’s make-up pads. Even after washing my face- dust and dirt remained on my skin. This toner has helped with my complexion and I am still disgusted at the amount of dirt that comes off every day.

This cleaning regiment is now an almost daily routine. I’m feeling good about it, but am also annoyed at my work for having this occur. It also can’t be good for my asthma if that sort of dust is on my skin after a day at work. Just imagine what we could be breathing in while in the office. Ugh.

Stink Bug

It seems that with the abnormally warm October comes an infestation of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. (Here’s what the Canadian Government says about them: BMSB). A couple weeks ago, I saw a couple inside our home. Naturally, I got rid of them and thought nothing of it. Just a bug making its way inside somehow.

Last weekend, as we started to prepare our backyard for winter, an abundance of these critters were discovered. Under our gazebo, we have our deck furniture set up. As I lifted the cushions up, I began to notice hundreds of these little brown shielded insects conglomerating in groups. They were seeking warmth on the cool nights.

Aside from the initial “ugh, gross” moment- these bugs don’t bite. They are easy to scoop up, but they scuttle away like cockroaches when disturbed. The biggest tip- don’t squish them. That’s when they ooze and cause the stink. There’s not much you can do except vacuum them up and toss them out. I did hear that drowning them is a good way to get kill them. Unless of course you enjoy the smell they secrete when squashed.

If that’s the case, let me know- I’ll bag up a bunch for you to destroy.

Hotumn

2021

Last year, we had already covered our pool for the winter. That was mostly because the weather was far cooler and wetter than it is this year.

This past weekend, my wife and I enjoyed the sun and an August-like heatwave. I saw someone use the term “Hotumn” and it described the local weather perfectly. My wife and I had a great time floating, splashing, and swimming for a few hours everyday this month.

Coming up on Friday, our weather patterns are subject to drop to last year’s similar cool and wet conditions. Our swimming pool shall be shut for the winter weather by the end of this week.

I’m a bit sad that our enjoyment of the outdoors is coming to and end. I’ve enjoyed the pool and the gardening tremendously this month. It has kept me happy and occupied. Soon, all of our activities will be indoors. Such as more movies, games, and food. I am looking forward to those activities as well.

Goodbye Hotumn. I’m glad you stayed a while longer.

BC Lions

Last night I watched my first ever CFL football game in person. In fact, it was my first CFL game ever to watch. We went to BC Place to watch the Lions vs Blue Bombers. Even though I don’t follow sporting events- it was a great evening out with friends.

My wife and I parked about a ten minute walk away from the arena. As we made our way to the event, the sun was setting, creating a beautiful skyline. When we arrived, we ordered some beer and poutine. Our view of the game was right on the sideline, almost center field and in the second row.

The action was so close to us throughout the game that I found myself really getting into it. I cheered and stood up numerous times as I got excited by the plays on the field.

There is something to be said about the energy at a sports event. The crowd and the buzz that goes on. I thoroughly enjoyed our night out and would gladly do it again sometime. The last sports team I need to see play in BC is the soccer team- The Whitecaps. I have already watched hockey, baseball, basketball (when the Grizzlies were here), and now CFL.

Do you enjoy being at a game? Are you more of a hockey fan instead of football? Let me know in the comments.