Birthdays

Private Movie Screening

This morning I saw an old friend for his fortieth birthday. It’s probably been about a decade since I last saw him. Today, he rented out a movie auditorium and screened the film,”The Green Knight” which was a film that my friend enjoyed this year and really wished to share with us. I’m glad I saw it, as it was more artsy than the films I have been known to watch. The last time he rented out a theater was probably 20 years ago when we both worked at Colossus and he showed the 1990 classic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

It got me thinking about how we celebrate birthdays in general. First birthday is mostly gifts for baby and parents. As children, your parents throw parties for you with the expectation that gifts will be given to the birthday child, they give some cheap goody bags as a thank you.

Then you are a teenager, and you’re “Too Cool” for a Chuck E Cheese party, so you go and hang out. Everyone is broke, so you just do what you did on a regular Friday Night. Once you hit “legal drinking age” that’s when friends buy you drinks and everyone will pitch in for the dinner. After a couple years of this, everyone is broke again. So your birthday is just another reason for others to get drunk- byob style or everyone pays their own way.

As you get older, it seems the milestone birthdays are all that matter. And if you want friends to celebrate with you, you end up throwing your own party. Supplying the food and beverages. Some friends will bring something to share or a bottle for you to enjoy. Eventually as we get even older, birthdays are all but forgotten. You made it around the sun once more, and the few who care will still send you love. And that’s what really matters.

Feeling loved. Not showered with gifts. Legitimate love and caring from people who at one point made an impact on your life, and you made one on theirs. My friend today was an integral part of my life at one point. I’m so happy to have seen his successes and been able to share with him a brief moment today once more. Birthdays should always be important to your friends and family.

My Time Is Valuable

I’m on a week of vacation at the moment. I am not going away on a trip. Instead I have planned to fill each and every day with experiences and time to myself. A mental break from work and stresses.

My time away from work is precious to me. Everything from the hours in between shifts to days off, and especially vacation. Work is the furthest thing from my mind. It’ll still be there when I return.

I do have plans to see some coworkers over the weekend. I’m sure some gossip and work talk will come up. But it’s a bit different than having to answer emails and help out. Plus we can discuss life outside of work, which is nice.

My time is valuable to me. I’m not willing to give it up as it’s one of the most important things to have. People everywhere want some of it. Be wise when giving it out.

This Isn’t Going To End Well

Today I was at home starting my vacation. This morning I was on a Zoom meeting while sitting on our front porch. As I was there, a lady with about four preschool aged children walked by. They noticed the banners I put out for Halloween. And one of the boys yelled up to me, “Is that Freddy VS Jason?” I was rather surprised that a kid under age five would know that.

Later on a couple of ladies walked by and stopped in front of our home. They were trying to figure out who the characters were from. Clearly our home is drawing attention.

Afterwards, I was in the garage making some Halloween decorations. A father and his young song passed by. They too saw the banners out front. I heard the father say to his son, “we will definitely come back to this house on Halloween.”

I’m sure that we will get more kids this year in this part of the neighborhood than they have in the past. Our last neighborhood we only gave out about a dozen treats. Three to each kid… It’ll be neat being in a suburb again, but it’s not going to end well. We better get a bunch of candy and be ready to hand it out.

Oktoberfest In Small Doses

When I was a kid, National Lampoon’s European Vacation came out on video. I found the film to be absolutely hilarious. It also made me put Germany and other parts of Europe on my bucket list of places to visit. Specifically during Oktoberfest. (Much like our visit to Tokyo during the Cherry Blossoms). Since I have a wife with German roots, this idea excites me more.

Experiencing the world and other cultures like that is high on my list of why life is awesome. So as my wife and I plan our next big trip (which is on pause because of Covid), she is wanting to introduce me to some things that I never tried. The other day was sauerkraut on a bratwurst. All I can say is that it was surprisingly delicious. I’m not a fan of anything pickled, but as an addition to the food, it worked perfectly.

Of course you can’t have Oktoberfest without beer. A couple of years back, my wife and I attended Oktoberfest in September at The Trading Post. This was during one of my “Sober Septembers” so I was the designated driver. I still had a great time watching people cheer and sing while they drank and ate.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying some OOMPA Music played through the Spotify account. There’s something about German Polka that is kind of fun. My family is not as keen as I am it seems. But that’s okay.

Do you enjoy Oktoberfest? Besides German beers of course!

Gloomy Nap

I tried to take a nap this evening after work. It was the perfect evening to do so when I lay down. The sky was dark and the rain was falling heavily.

Moments later, the sun decided it was having none of that. My once dark and gloomy bedroom was being filled with light. Aimed directly at my face. My bed was even with the sun as it set, so I was once again awake.

As a gift for waking me shortly after putting my head to rest, the universe granted me a rainbow. Actually it granted me a faint double rainbow out the front of the house. The rain continued as the sun did it’s best to show itself for a brief moment before hiding for the day.

I will forgive the universe this time for stopping my gloomy nap. Maybe next time I should close the blinds.

Halloween Is On The Way

I love October. It means Halloween is on the way!

I can start to wear more black clothes than I already did. I also have the next couple of months to wear some of my “Nightmare Before Christmas” t-shirts. I remember seeing that film in the theater as a teenager when it first came out. I took my girlfriend at the time on a date to our local six plex. Since then, so many women I know have loved the movie. Perhaps they have a thing for tall skinny dudes?

Getting closer to Halloween also means things are more spooky! Over the weekend, I pulled out some of our decorations and set them up in the yard. The two banners I picked up from the movie theater in 2003 still make up for the largest part of my decorations. Each banner is approximately 4’ x 8’ so they look spectacular (or is that spooktacular) hanging on our front windows. I have had numerous friends wanting to buy these banners from me. They keep asking when I will part with them. Probably never. They are an integral part of our Halloween decor.

Are you starting to decorate for Halloween? Or do you wait until a few days before? Let me know in the comments.

Existential Doggo

Another great evening to be had on the back deck as the sun begins to set. I keep on sharing pictures of the view, and it is well worth it. It seems I’m not the only one who enjoys the deck and the sky.

Our dog, Maki, has decided that she is just as good as her human family. She has discovered the joy of sitting on our back patio set and staring off into the horizon. I watched her for a while while she just zoned out.

When I finally got her attention, she just looked so happy. She also didn’t want to leave her seat. So I sat beside her and we gazed out on the horizon. She’s a great companion who can sit silently and just enjoy the moment.

Dogs are the best. I wonder what she was thinking?

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.

Sober September Savings

As my Sober September ends, I realize that it’s the money saved that really makes me not want to drink. Not the overindulgence that I tended to do. When last year I went 300 days sober, it wasn’t that I missed drinking. But there was a few times that a glass of wine or a beer would have been nice.

Tonight I am planning on having a beer with dinner. I needed to buy cheap-ish beer for the egg wash for the schnitzel dinner. Since it was a recipe I perfected from my father, I also picked up a few Czech Pilsners.

Last year’s savings helped with buying a house and all the amenities we wanted. Over the past month, not drinking also stopped us from going out for meals. It’s crazy how drinking and dinner goes well together. So an entire month was filled with savings.

My wife brought up a good point. If I am able to enjoy A Beer periodically, then go ahead. But she has agreed that if I start to go down a negative road and overdo it, then I need to stop drinking and reassess my health. So, it’s time to be smart once more and only drink periodically.

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.

Good Spooky Music

My daughter and I were having a conversation about what makes good spooky Halloween inspired music. I enjoy the spirit and ambiance that music like that can bring. Halloween Music definitely fills my next month’s playlists.

First you need a drum beat or a bass beat. However, it needs to resemble a heart beat and have a rhythmic timing. Music like this is also good for workouts.

Secondly, there needs to be a unique sound added. Such as the harpsichord or synthesizer. Once that instrument is involved, next is to add a trill or repetitive partial scale.

Lastly, you need one higher pitched sound to be made by a piano or piccolo periodically.

Put those three things together and you can get the perfect spooky soundtrack going. Everyone would get the feels that you are attempting to create.

I’m going back to listening to my Creepy Carnival playlist on Spotify and see what else makes a good spooky song.

Weather Report Is Close

I think that the weather reporting is getting better than it once was. Take my local report for example. Today calls for “Mostly Cloudy” but no rain; with images of sun peaking over the clouds to end the afternoon. Let’s ignore the next few days, because I swear it is subject to change.

As you can see, the weather app is pretty close. I’d say it’s not as cloudy as expected. So a vague report of clouds and sun is about as accurate as it will get.

Reporting the weather is still a guessing game it seems. Having a precise weather report is a thing for movies like Back to the Future 2. Maybe one day scientists will get it down to the second. But they cannot even get it right for two days from now. Predicting next week’s weather? Not even close.

But I’ll take a day of clouds with sunny breaks anytime.

Rooms Less Viewed

Since autumn is slowly encroaching on our lives, we will be spending more time indoors than we did over the summer. Of course I have mentioned some of our more used rooms in previous blogs. But there is also a couple of spaces that we use but just don’t have the pizazz or views that I have shared.

The “Flex Area”

Upstairs in the main section that leads to the bedrooms- we have a squared off “Flex Area”. Our couch fit in the spot under the window perfectly. Our dog loves this location as well. I also put our old plasma television with the PlayStation 4 across from it. The kids can disappear for a bit to watch tv or play games, but still be within yelling distance of the staircase.

It’s also a great area for the VR headset. Our son will put a couple of our Yogibos at the top of the stairs as an added safety when playing. (Although the virtual parameters are set well inside of this and will warn the player if they are crossing the border.)

The “Dining Room”

We have never really used a “Dining Room” as intended. Our last house had such an open concept that we would constantly move our dining table and piano around. In our new house, we opted to put our parlor grand piano and a glass door bookcase in the dining room. This section of the room is hardly used. Except for the dog bed. How come our dog gets two rooms?

A small section of the dining room is devoted to my wife’s work station at this time. She is enjoying facing the back windows and staring at the views whenever she looks up from her monitor. Next summer all of this will move into our front office (which is currently our eldest’s bedroom). For now, it’s a great use of a space we don’t use very often.

Do you use rooms for unintended purposes? Is your dining room a craft room perhaps? Or is a spare bedroom a darkroom for photography? Let me know how you use spaces in your home.

Derby Reach

On Friday evening, my wife and I dropped our two youngest off at skating and headed out for a walk. Since we were in Walnut Grove, we decided to head to Derby Reach for a gentle hike. For those who may be wondering- Derby Reach is a park area located in Northern Langley, BC.

Our walk along the path gave us plenty to admire. Especially as the sun was slowly setting in the west. It added some beautiful light to the trees and landscapes as we walked for about four kilometers. With plenty to see on a beautiful evening, the stroll was a nice way to end the week.

We ended up near the Fraser River at one point. Looking out across the water we’re more trees and the mountains in the distance. This was around our halfway point, so we took a short break before heading back to our car.

By the time we returned to the car, dusk was fast approaching. As was a slight chill in the air. The walk was refreshing and pleasant. There’s something about being out in nature on these paths that just clears your head and invigorates your lungs.

Wookiee Cookie Chaos

This morning I decided to bake some Wookiee Cookies. This is the first time I’ve baked cookies in our new house, so I thought it appropriate to bake my favorite ones.

As I was getting out the ingredients, I realized that I didn’t have chocolate chips. So I substituted caramel ones instead. Not a big deal. The milk chocolate chunks go well with almost any type of chips. But then the unthinkable happened.

The tub of sugar fell off the counter and spread everywhere. Tiny granules got in between my toes. You can see my barefoot print in the sugar on our floor. We were already low on sugar, but this put us well past needing to buy some. I cleaned up the mess, and continued on. I was able to salvage 1/2 a cup for my recipe.

My rage meant it was time to play some angry sounding music while I finished baking. White Zombie ended up on my Spotify playing from our TV. Which is kind of fitting as we are a little over a month from Halloween.

In the end the cookies turned out great and the kitchen was super clean. It’s still frustrating when mishaps occur. But such is life.

Starting Autumn Right

Autumn has officially started. All I can say is that we are doing alright as it takes hold and kicks summer to the curb. I have enjoyed the past few days already. The weather has been rather cooperative. Fooling us into thinking summer hasn’t ended.

Even though we have packed up our pool toys and patio furniture- we are getting every last possible day of use in. The last two days, and tomorrow as well, have kept the temperature in the low 20’s. So we’ve kept the pool heated and clean. I’ve spent more time doing laps than I did all summer. The pool is invigorating and relaxing.

Last night, my wife and I sat on our back deck with the fire pit warming us up. We talked and watched the traffic off in the distance as the darkness took hold of the evening. I love seeing the stars above and the city lights off in the distance. A cup of hot chocolate was a nice treat as well.

How are you enjoying the start of fall?

Morning Moon

The views from our home keep enthralling me. The other day was no exception.

I came home from work after a nigh shift and the fog had rolled in. Much like it had the other day. This was a bit different though- as the moon was still visible in the sky.

I zoomed in on my iPhone, but it couldn’t quite make out the moon. However, those colours were amazing. After numerous attempts to get a better photo of the moon, I gave up and retreated to my room.

Right before going to bed for the day, I moved the telescope in our bedroom and aimed towards the moon. I peered through the lens for a bit, entranced by the craters and shadows. I tried to get a photo using my iPhone, but it turned out far too blurry. However, you could still see the shadows on the surface.

It makes me want a better telescope with an attachment to take photos with my iPhone. Perhaps I’ll get one sometime. But for now, I’ll take what I can get. And what I get is beautiful scenery each day that I look out onto the horizon.

Gourmet Mac ‘N Cheese

I did one of those TikTok recipes the other day and it turned out not too bad. It involved using regular boxed KD Mac and Cheese.

You add the noodles to the pot and water to just cover them. At the same time you pour the cheese powder and add the butter. Then you bring it uncovered to a boil until the noodles are softened. It essentially boils the cheese flavor into the pasta.

You don’t need to drain the water since it boils away. Once it’s done, add the milk or heavy cream and shredded cheese. This creates the thickest, cheesiest and most gourmet Mac and Cheese.

I was impressed with how it turned out. It is definitely a side dish next time as it was too much to handle as a bowl by itself. We will try this again one day, but as a snack I will keep to the original way to make boxed KD.

21st Night of September

Today is one of my favorite days. It’s all because of the song “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire. This song is one of those songs that you just know. It is catchy and fun to sing. Do you remember?

It all started back in my days as a manager at Chuck E Cheese’s. The video screen would play Chuck E and his cohorts singing the song. All the while the animatronic Chuck E would sing alongside them. These videos were on loop for a month at a time playing again every few hours. The songs would get droned into your head and the staff would sing along unknowingly. Here’s a link to the C.E.C. Video: CEC September

The other reason I love this song is that my wife’s current coworkers love to “Rickroll” her with it. Every so often they will play the song for her. My wife lights up with joy when she hears it. (Hashtag sarcasm) For her, it is one of those ear worms that she cannot get rid of for ages.

Here is a link to the original video just in case you haven’t seen it before: September. Enjoy your 21st night of September! Ah ee ah!

Oldest, Best Friend

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I attended the wedding of my oldest best friend. I have known him since kindergarten- which is four decades now. My wife has known him half as long, which is still a very long time these days. He is like a brother to me in many aspects.

Sharing in his special day made me feel, well, special. It was a tiny venue of around forty people. It was also quick and to the point. The ceremony happened shortly after 1pm and the reception was immediately after. Everything was completed by 5pm and people began to head home.

I’m genuinely happy for my friend. It seems as though he has finally found the love he was searching for. His new wife also seems to have found in my friend a love that she was yearning for as well. Together they are one of the most perfect couples I have ever seen.

I wish them many more years of happiness and love.

Congratulations William and Vanessa! With love always, Josef.

I Need To Be Better

Around this time every year, I am not the nicest person. I’m especially shitty towards my family. Unfortunately I usually catch myself after I have said or done something hurtful to them.

I have a tough time on a day like today- which would’ve been my father’s birthday. My crummy behavior sprouts up around this time every year and goes until the end of November.

November 25 is the date to be precise- that was the day my father passed away in 2000. Mentally, every year on that date is like a sigh of relief for me. I suddenly can become whole again.

Even though I am aware and acknowledge my shittiness, I still end up overreacting at some of the simplest things. It’s like a couple months of male PMS and I really hate that I am like this. So if I’m a jerk to you (especially my family) please forgive me. I don’t get seasonal depression. I get seasonal asshole.

Foggy Feels

As autumn slowly approaches, the weather starts to turn. The sun disappears for longer. Rain falls more frequently. And the fog rolls in.

Looking out the back window, we get to enjoy being above the fog. Early mornings brings in a breathtaking view. The sun attempts to bring color to the sky as a gentle mist hovers low. Morning fog reminds me that fall is just around the corner.

Soon it will be Halloween. People will have fog machines going in an attempt to recreate a spooky sensation. When I was younger, these machines were mainly used in nightclubs and amusement parks. Now they are readily available and people love them.

Maybe one day I will own one. But it’s not on my agenda at this time. Even though they are inexpensive, I prefer the natural beauty of early morning fog.

Are you excited for autumn? How do you feel about foggy mornings? Are they spooky and pretty?

Let me know in the comments.

Gas Fireplaces

Today was a chilly and rain filled day. After being out shopping, my wife and I came home a tad bit wet and rather cold. So we relit the pilot lights on three of our four fireplaces. We turned the fireplaces on shortly after to burn off some of the summer dust.

Our bedroom boasts a two sided fireplace. For the part facing our bed, we placed a lovely faux sheepskin on the carpet. We love walking across it with bare feet- sliding along the softness. With the fireplace lit, it adds a lovely ambiance while laying in bed.

On the other side of the fireplace we have a painting hung up above that our friend made. There is also a chair by the door which leads to the deck. My wife is hoping to learn how to play her bass guitar while sitting with the fire on and viewing the sky.

Our living room fireplace is the only one with a fan. Which makes sense since it has the largest area needed to heat. Today, I decided to add a smart device to it. Now through Google Home I can turn on the fan and the tv. At Christmas, I’ll add a couple plugs for the trees and have them connected to Google Home as well.

The other fireplace we have in the upper floors of the house is in the office. However, the office is currently our daughter’s bedroom. So I’m not adding a photo, she likes her privacy. But once she moves downstairs, my wife is looking forward to working from home with a lovely fire. Our tenants have the other fireplace which is in the second living room. Soon, that will be our oldest’s personal space.

Having gas fireplaces is a luxury we never knew we needed. Our last home has wood burning fireplaces which we used every winter. After having the fire going today in our living room I did notice that my asthma was not affected. Unlike our previous house where I would be wheezing within an hour.

I love having a fireplace and enjoy the moments hanging around them. The soft warm glow makes me happy inside.

Blister In The Sun

After a hard day of manual labor, I had to take note of my hands. They were rough, dirty and beat up. I was assaulted by blackberry bushes that caught my skin and tore me up. But the worst was the blisters I received from the tools I used.

It may not have been an excruciatingly sunny day, but I broke into a sweat. After my first blister began, I caught myself singing “Blister in The Sun” by Violent Femmes over and over in my head. Let me go why??? I also tried to baby that spot, but the skin quickly tore away, so I gave in to the pain.

My days off are usually filled with chores and work that I do for my family and home. Seeing my rough hands makes me think of my father and how hard he would go to finish his chores. I have a similar trait and when I start something- it needs to be seen to completion.

I still get prideful doing work. Blisters and all.

A Windstorm? Hardly Noticed.

Early this morning we had a windstorm roll through the neighborhood. It was a little gusty still as I headed out this morning. However, I didn’t even notice until I opened the door.

We had a few things blow over, but the 60km/h winds didn’t shake us up like they had in the past. In our previous home we would have been awake all night listening to the trees sway and crack. Not to mention the fear of the damage that would be inflicted on our house and yard.

Trees falling and power out for days on end are a thing of the past. Windy days in our old house are now someone else’s concerns. My wife and I slept peacefully and our home didn’t make a peep. Such a nice change of pace compared to the last 15 years.