Prepare For The Apocalypse

The sun was shining once more today. I took a lazy day of nothingness. I woke up late and even procured a nap. Afterwards I decided to get active. Last year I set up an Axe Throwing pitch. It was time to get chucking once more.

My first throw of the year wasn’t too bad. Heck, I even dressed the part of a lumberjack with my beard and plaid jacket. I must’ve thrown for about thirty minutes as I listened to some Beastie Boys on my iPhone.

Afterwards, my daughter joined me, as did my son. They took turns throwing axes at the target. It took them a bit to get the technique down once more. But they started hitting the target more often than not.

We are getting some good exercise in on a beautiful day. Plus it’ll prepare us in the event of an apocalypse!

More At Home Time

Today was another day spent at home. I will say though, I’m really enjoying the fact that our house is feeling like a home once more. The family has pulled together and been a great help over the past few weeks.

We’ve done tons of cleaning inside already. The weather was beautiful today, so it was spent gardening. The kids helped tremendously today. I’m really satisfied with the results.

As we were working, my favorite brewery delivered some beers to our home. Within an hour of my order, they were at my door with a much desired beer for the weekend. Big thanks to Trading Post for the backyard beers!

For a break afterwards, the kids had some free time to do what they wanted. What they wanted to do was surprising to me. Our son played trumpet outside on the tree deck. Our oldest daughter did some painting on her canvases and our youngest read a book. Afterwards the four of us worked together and baked an apple pie. So amazing!

What a great life to live. Even in solitude.

All That Hard Work Will Make Our Home

Today the sun was shining and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day to clean the yard and the outside of our home.

Our son took on the task of adding some paint to their old playhouse. We use it as a garden shed now, but it can easily be converted back for play should young kids ever live here again.

Our middle child pulled out the lawnmower and gave the first mow of the season to the backyard. We have about half of our acre that needed a mow. The rest is mostly trees and bushes.

Our oldest enjoys pressure washing. With all the trees and dampness in our area- a lot of green shows up on cement and such. A deep cleaning at the start of the season will make for a good spring and summer.

At the end of the day, it feels like we’re only part way through. We’ll get there soon enough. And then we can relax enjoying nature and our home.

Stay Home- Early Start To Spring Cleaning

Next week, I have a week of vacation. We won’t be going anywhere due to the things going on in the world. So I’m going to get a jump start on Spring Cleaning! Or rather- I’ll make lists and get the kids to do most of it!

Except for today. Today I took advantage of a couple of hours of decent weather and filled six yard waste cans. No kids, no hassles, just me and the front yard. The wintertime always make the yard look bleak.

But when spring hits- Hoo boy. Our yard gets green and full of life. Which is good because the growth helps to hide the weeds and fallen branches that we neglect to pick up. Rarely do we need to buy any plants as it all comes back each year. Super awesome!

The fresh air and a bit of solitude will do the family some good. We’ve been busy with speed skating and graduation planning that this Spring Break is needed. No big plans, but some quality time outside (weather permitting of course) or we dust and wash the windows and floors inside.

Something to pass the time instead of just saying that we are avoiding the world.

Beauty-Fall

The weather over the next few days, and leading into November, is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe not with the warmth of a summer day; but rather a mid-day sunshine while wearing your favorite sweater and sunglasses kind of day. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy the changing colours of nature to be had if one so chooses.

I plan on taking it easy during my free time. I’ll probably chill out a bit more on my deck and stare out into the yard, admiring the tranquility that we are surrounded by. The brisk air keeps many people quieter as they begin to warm themselves more frequently indoors. The woodland animals are slowly preparing to migrate and hibernate. Slowly the sounds outside quieten to a faint whisper.

Autumn is a beautiful and peaceful season.

All The Leaves Are Brown

There was a burst of a wind storm the other day. Which caused a lot of debris to fall in our yard. On Friday I spent two hours clearing our roof and driveway of pine needles. I do not like that aspect of having old growth trees in our yard.

Leaves make the yard look messy, but are generally easier to clean up than pine needles. The sunshine and gentle breeze made for a perfect autumn day.

On Saturday, I had two of my children help with cleaning up the fallen leaves on the rest of our acre. We had a ton of fun making a huge pile. And we all know what kids want to do with a pile of leaves…

Some Assembly Required

I finally bought us some classic style wooden chairs for our yard. The kind that suits our country living lifestyle. My wife always Adirondack chairs. However, I convinced her that we should by Muskoka chairs instead.

What’s the difference between the two styles you may ask. (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway.) Adirondack chairs are both 2 inches higher from the ground and 2 inches wider between the arm rests. Also, the Adirondack chair is built with a flat back for the seat. The Muskoka chair is built with curved back.

That’s it. The two styles are very similar in every other aspect. When we were purchasing the chairs we wanted natural wood, not plastic. Oh, and the Muskoka chair was cheaper by $20 And came with a foot rest.

I took the chairs home and needed to assemble them. Before I did that, I lay out every piece and gave a light cherry stain to seal the wood. I figure if they’re going to weather outside in our rain forest of a yard, it’d be best to try and get a few years out of them. After a couple of hours of preparing the wood and staining it, I had to leave the first chair over night to dry before assembling it.

This morning I woke up and put the first Muskoka chair and ottoman together. I’m really happy with how it looks. Just a hint of red on the wood from the stain. I’m also happy with the comfort level of the chair. The curve of the yoke feels more inviting than the flat back of an Adirondack chair. Chances are we’ll be spending hours relaxing in our yard on these chairs.

I can’t wait for summer to kick in.

From Yard Work to Axe-ercise

My son and I have been hard at work the past couple days clearing out an overgrown part of the yard. We needed to dig out a rotten shed and take back some of our yard.

Yesterday we cleared away quite a bit. Today, my oldest came out to help as well. She knew that I was going to be making a large target for archery and axe throwing. She wanted to be there when we began throwing.

We had ripped up an old deck, and I kept some of the wood. I placed them together and traced out a target. My kids helped me hang the target and excitedly began to decimate it.

Numerous throws and hardly any hits. But the hits that stayed- felt great. I have a feeling this summer we will be working hard in our aim. Seems like everyone wants to come out and try as well.

Pondering

After getting our septic tank pumped yesterday, I decided not to fill in the rock garden again. I figured that we may need to pump it out one day sometime in the nearer future… not twenty years later like this time. So we came up with a new plan.

Let’s build a pond.

Now, when we first moved in there was a pond in this location. But since our youngest was a year old at the time, we decided to fill it in to be safe. We just never bothered to dig it out until this summer.

Today my oldest helped me design the pond. She drove us to Home Depot and we picked up a pond liner, a fountain and some accent lights. We laid out the liner and began to fill the pond with water. As it filled up, we straightened out the liner and turned on the fountain. She’s really happy about the fountain feature- it looks neat.

As the afternoon went on, my two other kids decided they wanted to help out. We washed the rocks off from the previous rock garden that was here. My daughters set them up around the outskirts of the pond. Throughout the process, we all enjoyed wading around in the cool water. We set up a spitting fish fountain (that was from the original pond) and put our old gargoyle bird bath on the corner.

I did pick up a new piece that reminded me of our trip to Tokyo last Spring Break. As the evening settled in, we played with the lighting. We each have a favorite color, but it seems the pink is winning out at the moment.

Now to enjoy the zen like moments of the pond as we tinker and play with it over the next few years. Next spring we will put some plants out along the edges.

Maybe I could expand the pond to become a moat, after all we do live in Castle Havelka.

Stick Village Maker

Our daughter has been spending time in our backyard being creative. She reads, writes, and draws while enjoying the fresh air. I’m proud of her for keeping her creative juices flowing. I also think she is quite talented. She loves to share her stories and art with everyone.

Sometimes when she is sitting on the lawn and at a loss for inspiration- she builds what she calls “Stick Villages.”

At least four of these “villages” have cropped up in our yard in the past week. She finds small branches and stabs them into the lawn. It’s cute and fun. I don’t mind if more of these show up in the yard.

The best part of all of these “Stick Villages” is she has to clean them up because she is the one who mows the lawn. So in the end, she gets to destroy them like a giant.

WASPS!

Today we were cleaning around the yard getting ready for a bbq party tomorrow. As my son was cleaning up toys, he got stung five times by a group of wasps. They even chased him into the house to get him the last two times! I went to check where the nest was and got stung as well for just being in the area. FFS!

Every year I usually destroy two wasp nests. Seems like I found the first one of the year. Last year one was in my roof and the other next to our awning. So my son and I went to the store and got our spray attack ready. We are prepared to kill!

These jerks won’t be stinging my guests this weekend after tonight. Once the sun goes down, death shall be brought upon the beasts! Why must wasps be so evil?

Go make honey like the bees you jerks.

Long Weekend May 2018

It’s Friday before the May Long weekend. I’ve picked up the kids from school and saw that the freeway heading out of town was busier than a regular Friday. Campers, boats, minivans and SUVs departing for some time away from it all.

Not us.

This weekend we have no out of town plans. In fact our regular Friday plan of going to the Speed Skating Coaches on the Lake has been cancelled. But only because our one daughter is getting over being sick and our oldest daughter volunteered this morning. She helped to set out sandbags on a reserve to protect the homes from flooding. (I’m really proud of her for doing such a great thing for the community without being asked.)

This weekend for us will mostly be at home doing yard work. Sunday we are invited to a bbq so we will likely go there. And on Monday our two youngest are in a parade to promote our local Speed Skating Club. But if the weather is nice, we are tackling this crazy acre of ours! So many weeds…

Your Backyard Friend

I love that the weather is turning nice again. Everyone is outside doing yard work and wanting to share the beauty with their friends. My friends and family all have something different to offer from their homes. I love visiting as well as entertaining people.

Yesterday afternoon we were having a lovely time at a friend’s townhouse. There was a park nearby where we went off to play frisbee and bocce. Lots of sun, great food and good times were had. These friends really enjoy entertaining folks and it shows.

Every Friday night we take our children to “Dry Land Training” with their speed skating coaches. The coaches’ home is on a private lake where we get to watch the sunsets as the kids exercise. It’s a calming sensation to end an otherwise hectic work week.

My sister has a home on the edge of the Georgia Strait looking out towards Texeda Island. It’s a beautiful view in a peaceful part of BC along the Sunshine Coast. If she didn’t live so far away, I’d probably visit more often in the summer months. But those ferry costs are a bit outrageous.

These are just a few examples of the lovely homes I am happy to visit. I also have other friends who enjoy bonfires and barbecues on an almost weekly basis. Spending time with them is always great and brings out some good laughs.

Then there’s our home. We offer shade and privacy on an acre. This time of year and throughout the summer- my family enjoys eating our meals outdoors. We have a covered deck and another deck with a retractable awning. During the summer, we like to have friends over to enjoy the peace and quiet our home has to offer. With classical or calming music playing through our home, it adds to the tranquility we have come to know and love.

Enjoy the weather, and be sure to invite me over for a dinner sometime! I love hanging out with friends.

How To Throw A Good BBQ

Last night we went to a "Backyard Bash". There was a $15/person fee to enter and enjoy. And enjoy we did.


The main food attraction was a spit roasted pig! It smelled and tasted heavenly.

There was a live band echoing some fun and amazing cover tunes.

We played badminton (for fun this time, not like I mentioned in Bad Min Ton). My daughter and I then had a water fight and a few more people joined in.

There was a face painter and a guy who made balloon animals. My daughter learned how to make balloon dogs and is now contemplating a career in it…

Food and drinks and friends and family and music and fun. A perfect Saturday BBQ party. All proceeds going to Stepping Stone Community Services Society.

All-in-all it was a successful mid-summer BBQ.

Ice Ice Baby

Skating is pretty much second nature to most of us Canadians.  That and snowshoeing to the grocery store to buy ice for our igloos.  Ok, I jest.  Our fridges make ice, we don’t need to buy it.


I’ve mentioned in the past about my son being in speed skating.  Feel free to read about it: My Son- The Future Olympian.  But I never talked about my personal skating experience.  When I was a boy- younger than what my son is now- I learned how to skate in my backyard.

Yes, some parts of Canada allow for an ice rink to be made in literally our own backyards.  My father would packdown the snow on our lawn with a board and build up an edge of snow all around.  He would stand outside with the hose for about a week straight every evening creating ice.  Each night, he would come inside for a coffee and a quick warm up, then back out.  This often lasted for a few hours.  I would watch him from the upstairs kitchen window until the darkness overcame the outdoors.  After the first year, my father invested in flood lights so we could skate well into the night.  Or until we froze our toes and fingertips.  Frostbite among Edmontonians was a right of passage.  My ears have felt the burn in the past.


My father, proud of his accomplishment, would invite the neighborhood kids (and the parents) for a skating party.  There was hot apple cider and hot chocolate served in styrofoam cups.  Laughs and fun would be had for a few hours.  Hockey sticks and pucks a plenty remained in our yard every winter.

Father/son time. Photographic proof that my dad hung out with me.


My father taught me how to skate.  I remember how tight he would pull the laces on my skates, even with his frozen hands.  After learning the basics of hockey he would play pass with me.  We had a few late nights with the white, red and green flood lights shining down on us as we skated around.

Memories of my father aren’t always good.  But the winter season and Christmas meant a lot to him.  This year, as I have written my blog, I have shown who I pictured my father to be.  Good and bad- I do miss him.  Sometimes I wonder what kind of grandfather he would have made.  He would probably still be out there with his thumb over the end of the hose, creating a shimmering glass sheet of ice waiting for the children to mark it up with their blades.

Break time

Middle of the day.  Yardwork is priority while the weather is nice.  Time for me to take a break.  My kids have already taken a dozen or so… Go figure.

Having an acre of land is nice.  Lots of privacy.  But it also has lots of work.  Over the years, we have set up numerous spots to stop and enjoy the yard.  Strategically placed benches have encouraged us to make the most of the views of what they are aiming towards.  I don’t have any favorites since each has something different to look at. 

Side of our driveway.

Our front entry.


Old carseat turned bench on the side of our home.

Our favorite dining area. I have speakers above to enjoy music during our meals.

Relaxing spot to watch the trains roll by(when they are running).

Playtime.

Full sun exposure. This one is at our vegetable garden.


We have a couple more benches and another dining table on the opposite side of our sunroom.  My children also enjoy the deck we have beside the tree fort.  They love doing painting there.

Wicker chairs for my break today.


Break time is over.  Time to rustle up the kids and try to get a couple of more hours of yardwork out of them.

Weeds and work

We’ve been at our home for nine years now.  Every year I allot about $500 towards our garden.  Having an acre and budgeting such a small amount has its challenges.  Nine years ago we bought a trampoline.  Six years ago, the money was mostly spent on bark mulch.  Seven years ago, I spent the money on building garden boxes.  Two years ago we bought cement for our covered deck.  Last year was a new BBQ and a new lawnmower.  This year is some more cement to finish off the deck, some plants, and a new patio set.

Old bench seat from a car now for the backyard.


$500 doesn’t go very far these days.  Pinterest has given me plenty of ideas on “up cycling” and dealing with what we have on hand.  We have grown lettuce and green onions from the stalks of the remaining vegetables.  We compost as much as we can and use our rain barrels as well.  Without having to spend a fortune, we do our best to keep the yard maintained.  I have more moss than grass but hey it’s green and soft.

There’s a garden shed back there somewhere.


Most of our gardening time is spent pulling weeds and cutting back on brush. Trimming ferns and bushes takes up half the day.  The end result looks amazing, even if it only lasts a week or two.  The warm weather has been both a blessing and a curse.  We get extra time to make the yard look nice, but we will have twice the amount of work to do in later months.  The weeds are relentless this year.  My fingernails are coated underneath with soil from digging down to pull the roots.  My “yard work clothes” are getting washed more regularly.  My back and knees are taking a beating as I bend over to work.

Only a few weeds to pull. No big deal.


I love my yard.  All the work we put into it makes me beam with pride and joy.  Especially when the kids are out playing or our friends are over for a visit.  We work hard to make it pretty.  Of course I could spend a small fortune to get the outdoor kitchen and seating set I want.  I don’t need to get further into debt just to have a few days of pleasure.  We have plenty of seating as it is, it’s just not new- it’s up cycled.