A Year With Maki

My wife pointed out to us all that it has been one year since Maki entered into our lives. Over this past year, she has been through a lot of emotional times with us. From Christmas to birthdays, to moving homes to the Loss of Lex– our other dog… Maki has been here with us and for us in many ways.

Yesterday, our daughter shared these images on her Instagram. This was her caption: “A year ago today I met my best friend. The first photo here is the first one I ever took of her. She always knows when I’m feeling down when nobody else does, she’s funny, and she loves me. I love her so so much, happy adoptaversary” When I read that, I really understood the idea that pets can be great companions.

Maki has been wonderful for the mental well-being of our family members. She is always nosing in for a cuddle or rub. Maki is also the first pet that we have allowed to sleep in our kids’ rooms and permitted to jump on the couches. Taking her for a walk hasn’t been problematic either, as we all enjoy talking with her as we walk the neighborhood. Something about Maki is different than our other dogs, and it shows.

We all love her and are happy that she is sharing her love with us in her own derpy way. I can’t believe she’s been a member of our family for a year already.

Monster Express

After my daughter and I had an Early Morning at the Pumpkin Patch, we rushed home for a costume change. Our next adventure was about to happen. A ride aboard the Monster Express put on by the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail.

My wife and I first noticed the trolley heading off in the distance behind our home at the end of summer. We also wandered down to a corn stand and the trolley came right passed it. So we took an interest in seeing this thing in person. A Halloween theme seemed like a fun activity to go on with our two youngest teenagers.

We made the most of the one hour trip. My 17 year old daughter and I dressed up as characters from the anime Soul Eater. Most of the attendees were small children and their parents. We were by far the oldest group there. But we weren’t about to let that spoil our fun!

The museum and trolley are run by volunteers. Many of them retired bus drivers and railroaders. For this adventure, they dressed in costumes and had a great time wandering the car and dancing at the stations. By the end of the ride, they were trying to recruit me to join. Perhaps one day since it is so close to our new home.

In the spring, my wife would like to check out the rest of the museum and take a ride on the trolley when it’s not festively decorated. This is definitely one of those moments where it brings all ages together for a fun and silly outing. Thank you to the volunteers who were having a blast for the guests!

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.

Remembering The Family Dogs

Today is International Dog Day. Since I was a small child, I have always had a dog in my life. When I was born my parents had a wired haired fox terrier named Whiskey. When he had to get put down, I was maybe 3 years old. My father vowed to never get a dog again.

A couple years later, he brought home another terrier named Brandy. She lived with us for a couple of years until she bit my mother’s hand quite badly. Since my sister was a toddler at the time, the decision to give her up (the dog not my sister much to my chagrin).

Shortly after that we moved away from Edmonton, Alberta and into Langley BC. My parents adopted a cocker spaniel puppy named Charlie. He lived with us for about four years until a tumor took over. He was one of the most lovable doggies ever and enjoyed being cuddled.

Alvin the little white pooch mooch.
Chuppy the puppy.

We moved again to a new home where my mother and sister adopted a multipoo that I got to name Alvin. He was a bouncy little fella always happy yo see you. He lived for a very long time. So long in fact that my wife and I looked after him in his final year.

When I met my wife, she had a Rhodesian ridgeback that was a big ol’ softy. His name was Chuppy. Everyone who met him fell in love with his demeanor. He lived for 17 years. He was always known as Chuppy the Puppy. Bum rubbies was the best way to his heart.

Then came Lex Luthor. We adopted him about eight years ago at the age of about six. He brought some energy back into Chuppy which was the biggest reason for adopting a second dog. He was such a well trained big lug who always hung out with us everywhere in our home. We lost him at the start of this summer, so that sadness is still fresh.

Last fall we adopted Maki. She is turning five and much like Lex did for Chuppy- she brought some life back into Lex for a bit. Maki is probably one of the most loved of all. She has become an emotional support dog without intentionally doing so. She seems to know when people need love the most.

My wife and I have spoken about Maki being our last dog, but in reality we both know this to not be true. We are dog people and will always have a dog as a member of our family. They bring such joy to us all.

2021 Camping Trip Canceled

Last Summer’s “Feet in the Lake” picture.

For the past five years we have made it to 20 Mile Bay to end our summer vacation. This year we did not. There were three main factors in why we didn’t go camping this summer.

First, Theory was supposed to attend a Long Track Speed Skating Camp in Fort St. John. However it got canceled at the last minute due to an issue with their ice. As disappointing as that was, it was kind of a blessing because of the difficulty my wife would’ve had driving there. Which brings me to the number two reason for not camping.

Too many forest fires. The campsite we attend has not been closed down, but many routes and other locations have been. Which means it would be busier than we normally like. There is also a full campfire ban in effect. Which makes camping feel different. The air is still very smokey in many parts of our province, having a compromised respiratory system makes for difficult breathing as it is.

Finally, the main reason we aren’t going camping is our new house. I had to change a week of vacation in order to move. We had talked about taking a shorter three day camping trip; but decided that our home is new and exciting to us that it was time better spent enjoying this newness. I still get to put my feet in the water, almost daily this summer. That’s been a lot of fun, so I really cannot complain. Like living in an Airbnb every day.

Perhaps next summer we can get out to camping once more. Or perhaps it is behind us now. Only time will tell.

Showing Where I See From

I show a lot of photos of the skyline lately. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I do. As pretty as the sky is, it needs to be enjoyed from a great location that is comfortable as well. My favorite outdoor spot is on our balcony outside the kitchen.

I set up a couple of Muskoka chairs facing west. I love their location because of the fact that I can sit with my wife or one of the children and just stare off at the clouds or watch the sunset. This summer has had a few good convos on these chairs.

My inside favorite spot is laying in my bed. Sometimes I’ll just stare off into the horizon and daydream instead of sleep. Both are extremely relaxing.

These are my personal favorite spots around our home. The pool feels like a separate entity all together. That is our chillaxin’ fun times place. Well deserving of its own stories.

Where do you like to hang out in the summer evenings? Let me know in the comments. Or better yet- share a photo!

Clam Chowder In A Bread Bowl

My wife thinks that she must be missing Disneyland. Mostly the memories that the food brings back. She made churro cookies the other day- which are delicious! Last night for dinner we had clam chowder in bread bowls. Just like the ones we ate from Harbour Galley at New Orleans Square in Disneyland.

My wife has been playing with bread recipes for a few weeks now. These bread bowls were perfect. We have a “Proofing” option in our new oven, so the bread is rising nicely each and every time. The clam chowder was also made from scratch. My wife is superb when it comes to chowders and goulashes.

I just wonder what our next Disneyland themed treat will be. Perhaps beignets like the ones we at in Downtown Disneyland from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. She could find us some smoked Turkey legs. Or maybe a Dole Whip or even a Margarita like we had at Rita’s Baja Blenders. Who knows what my wife’s tastes will bring for for the rest of us.

But my tastebuds have been pleasantly surprised thus far.

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!

Biking With My Son

This morning I took advantage of the fact that our teenage son wanted me to go with him to the Cloverdale Athletic Park. He has been there a few times himself with friends and his sister. At the park is a bike park section that he wanted to show me.

My son picked up a free trail bike back in February. He has been using it diligently since then. He likes the suspension on it to go over the jumps and hills. I have a “cruising” style bike, so I am more casual in my riding.

Unfortunately on the way back home, my son ran into an issue. The brakes seized up. This was likely due to the rear tire being warped. That also caused the gears to constantly skip and the chain would always fall off. Today the bike ended its cycle. Wahahahhaha

Now my son wants to buy a better bike. This is something I told him he needs to save up for. Perhaps it will motivate him to get a job.

Anyways. It was a good father/son time and I’m glad we had it together. He really loves hanging out with me. I’ll take it any day!

Simple Breakfasts

In this day and age people love to share photos of their meals. I am not ashamed to say, but I have also done this (and still do on occasion). Even though restaurants or homemade meals can look and taste amazing, sometimes it’s the simple foods that can also spark joy.

Today I was looking forward to having a bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh blueberries. This meal brings back a various flood of memories for me. The first time I had granola for breakfast I was about fifteen. I had gone with a friend and his family up to the Okanagan to pick apples for a week. I fell in love with this sweet, yet healthy snack. Later in life- my wife and I spent our two day honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in Harrison Hot Springs. That was where I had yogurt, granola and fresh fruit served to me. It seemed elegant and heartwarming at the same time. A true B+B experience.

Yesterday I had buttered toast with marmalade. Again, simple and tasty. This is a meal I have maybe once every couple of years. That’s because I don’t find it overly filling. So if I want a light breakfast- toast is it. To me, orange marmalade is a special treat for on top. I first had marmalade when I was four years old. It was on my first trip to Scotland. I thought it was a big deal to eat this in a foreign country.

At my grandparents house in Scotland, they had 3 channels on the television back in 1980. Paddington Bear (the 1976 BBC series) was on every morning. He ate marmalade. My mother made it a big deal that she could get me some marmalade if I wanted too. To be four years old and eating the food that a funny little bear was eating during his daily adventures- was like a dream come true. I’ll always associate marmalade with that bear and those memories of my youth.

Simple foods can bring forth a flurry of beautiful memories. Do you associate breakfast food with a fond memory?

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?

Dog Dream

Last night I was dreaming about our dog Lex. I dreamt that he was back with us as his younger self. As the dream went on, I unfortunately began to awaken. As that occurred, I did my best to hold onto my dream. But I could not.

From the deep sleep I awoke in a slow and sad pace continuously trying to force myself back into my dream. Instead I woke up crying.

This has never happened to me before. My subconscious caused extreme emotions to overcome me. After a few tears fell on my pillow I returned to sleep only to not reenter that dream.

Just like the loss of our family dog, my dream was also gone. But the memories remain, almost hauntingly so.

Garage Success

About a month ago I mentioned about Making Space In The Garage. We have been able to park my wife’s car on her side since then. We also rearranged some of the storage last week to make it more accessible and easier to manage. This afternoon- we tackled my side. And won!

With a few things still needing better placement, I’m happy with the progress. We have some donations to send out and some recycling to toss that will help with the space. But all in all, I now have a spot to park my car.

We now have two cars parked in a two car garage! This makes me tremendously happy. Much to their chagrin- I had to have to kids out there to enjoy my moment of triumph! This was a total “Dad Flex” to unbury the garage and park our cars.

Go Joe! Next is to organize the shed…

Andrew Porter

An old friend of mine from the late 90’s passed away recently. Today was his funeral service. His name was Andrew Porter.

“Porter” by definition comes from the Latin portatorem: one who carries. Andrew Porter carried many of us through a strange and unusual time in our lives.

After the service, a dozen of us went for lunch and shared stories of our youth. There were catch phrases- little inside jokes only we understood. Here were the craziest ones:

Cheeseburger

She bit my dick!

Break out the saki! Andy got laid!

Andy’s smoking “American” cigarettes.

I’m a lover, not a fighter!

Scabbies (there are a ton of songs on this subject)

Our lives back then made me realize how lucky I am to have endured those days. We were stupid teenagers doing stupid shit thinking we would live forever. Andy was my next door neighbor for a few years at the end of high school- that’s how we became friends.

We were the delinquent houses where groups of us would get drunk and high. From those insane catchphrases and memories, I’m glad I lived the life I did with Andy close by sharing in the journey.

As the years went on, eventually I lost touch with him. Seeing him fourteen years ago was the last time. I could view his life on Facebook, but in March of 2019 I chose to erase my Facebook friends. Today I realized that I still need Facebook friends. I need to follow them so that I know that they are okay.

Because one day they will be gone. Just like Andy.

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida Andy. You will be missed, but the memories lasted a lifetime.

Ha! 19 Now…

Our oldest child turned 19 today. That means she is legal drinking age and can have alcohol without trying to sneak it. On my 19th birthday I went to the club and got completely loaded with a coworker who was five years older than me. I was a disaster. Our daughter on the other hand? Well she chose something different.

She doesn’t want alcohol. It’s never interested her. Instead she wanted to have a day at work followed by an at home family dinner and some ice cream cake. Totally doable and within our means!

I’m really impressed by how much more mature she is than I ever was when it comes to partying. But we still had a lot of fun at dinner. We were listening to a playlist that her sister cream Spotify, took some silly photos and cut the ice cream cake in the worst possible ways. Laughter filled the atmosphere.

It was exactly what she wanted. Why not give a person what they ask for on their birthday? No unwanted surprises. Just a casual night at home with family. In the end it was more a gift for the rest of us than for her. She even arrived home in great spirits!

Happy 19th Birthday Random! May you always be the responsible adult you have proven to be on your first day of adulthood!

Summer Tradition- Fish and Chips in White Rock

Tonight was the perfect night to go out for dinner with the family. It was also the perfect evening to eat outside and stare at the water.

Every summer we go to Crescent Beach and get ourselves deep fried cod and chips. Then off to find a log or some rocks to sit at to enjoy our dinner. This year we tried a new fish and chips location. We were not disappointed!

While we waited for the fish to cool down a bit, the family posed for a picture at the beach. After several retakes and arguing, I got a sort of okay photo of us. You’d think that after all of these years my kids would just cooperate willingly. I mean, honestly- how hard is it to give a smile to your poor old dad?

After dinner, we strolled along the beach looking at houses and the fun seaside artwork that the town has. I’m happy that we are only about a twenty minute drive to Crescent Beach. I’m hoping to go kayaking some more like we did last year- read about it White Rock Kayaking.

This summer could go on forever. I’m enjoying every minute of it. Even the arguing about posing for a picture. That’s quality family time!

Vintage Love

I am a huge fan of all things retro and vintage. Sure, I still like my modern amenities and won’t give those up any time soon. But there are some things that just bring me joy and are unique in many aspects.

I do like when old mixes with new. I picked up a couple of Panasonic noise canceling headphones with Bluetooth capabilities. I love the look of these headphones and how they remind me of elementary school libraries. That “station” where you could listen to an audio book or watch those short little filmstrip projectors. Those headphones were indestructible. I’m hoping these new ones are equally as awesome.

But the greatest thing we got as a housewarming gift came from my in-laws. They gave us six new towels for our use in our pool. The towels are fluffy and the color scheme screams 1970’s. What’s even better? The towels are from SEARS. So either my in-laws had these in storage, or somewhere out there is a Sears that is still in business. No matter what the case, I love these towels.

Do you like vintage and retro style? What makes you think it is vintage? Let me know in the comments.

Twenty Year Celebration

Yesterday we had some close friends over for an evening of hanging poolside. I love to entertain, and our anniversary was a great reason to have friends over.

We supplied our guests with food and drinks. There were bottles of wine chilling on ice for everyone’s pleasure. I had also printed off some custom labels for the water bottles. I made sure to keep everyone hydrated as we hung out in the sunshine.

Most of the evening I spent wandering around and socializing with everyone. At one point in the evening my buddies and I took a “Bro Pic”. We had done the same thing years ago at a brewery. It was the only picture i know of that was taken all day.

That’s a good thing. It means everyone was having fun and distracted from their phones. My wife and I are lucky to have such great friends that we have known for years. Even better is the fact that they mesh well with one another.

A hearty thank you to everyone for coming over and having fun yesterday. We look forward to having our friends over more often now that we are settled into our new home.

Hanging Out With A View

After almost three weeks in our new house, we have been extremely active in setting it up. Unpacking, organizing, getting a cleaning routine going, that sort of thing. On an almost daily basis we have also been hanging out in the pool. All of it is great and keeping us busy.

This evening I took a page from my wife’s book. We stopped to enjoy the view from our living room. Sure, there’s more work to do and a dinner to make. But taking a breather to remember why we bought this house is important.

The skyline. Something we gave up in our last home. But the exchange in our last place was the beauty of living in a park like setting. Old growth trees offering natural shade and cooling of the home. To me, this exchange is equivalent, even though different in many ways.

Appreciating what we got and what we work towards is necessary. We love our new home and are working hard to create Kingdom Havelka as a magical place to live.

25 Years of ID4

Every year on the Fourth of July we watch the movie “Independence Day”. It’s a tradition that I have kept up since I can remember. I first shared our story five years ago: ID4. My wife and kids all look forward to it each year. I can’t believe the film is a quarter century old now.

This is a great sci-fi film which borders on impossible at times. The characters and interactions more than make up for the fluff that this movie has to offer. Heck, after 25 years a lot has changed. Even the US Military has sort of, partially, kind of told the world that there is such things as ufos.

As American as A.L.F.

I have always wanted to believe that there is life out there. Hopefully it isn’t as mean as the aliens are in this film. Perhaps as a race we can come together and accept diversity as a way of life. Only then do I think we will meet alien life forms. Hopefully they are also not like A.L.F.

Happy July 4th to our American Cousins!

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.

Night Sky Happy Feelings

After a hot day poolside, it was just as nice to just hang out as dusk fell.

We could see the skyline off in the distance. As the horizon faded from the orange to darkness above, I relish in the pleasure of knowing we will have this view for years to come.

My wife and I took a brief stroll around our cul-de-sac and discussed some future plans for our front yard. Having continuous dreams keeps us going. And in the end, it makes us happy.

That’s the goal life- happiness. And I do my best to achieve it everyday.

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.

Longer Sunshine

With these summer days upon us, the sun is staying out longer and hotter. It’s a blessing and a curse as they say. I’m getting up early and starting my day of a billion chores. Only to end the day with a late dinner watching the sunset.

I’m still trying to get some relaxation in each day. That’s tough. But today I made it into the pool twice! I was also able to sit and talk with my wife as she finally hit our soaker tub.

Our son had a couple friends over to hang out in celebration of the last day of school. They hopped out of the pool for dinner and we’re back in it until 11pm. After the got out, I managed to stand on our top floor balcony and see something I never saw in our last home.

The Big Dipper.

Not a big deal to most, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen the sky from my balcony. I’ve really enjoyed the sunsets. I can’t believe this is our home now.

Loss Of Our Family Dog

Today we had to say goodbye to our family dog, Lex. We adopted him January 2013 and he has been a great family member ever since we met him.

Lex was a great dog. He always stayed nearby us whenever we hung out as a family. He would join us in our media room to watch family movies. He would go on walks and camping with us- never required a leash.

The first day we met him, he never left our side. He chose us to be his family- we didn’t choose him. We brought him home that same day between snowstorms.

We did our best to make his final year comfortable as we could see his health deteriorating. I’d like to think we helped for the last few months, and I know the kids are glad that he got to see our new home. My wife and I knew something was up when Lex decided to go for one last walk in the old met last week. He pushed himself harder than he had in recent times. He hardly moved after that.

Lex was a good boy and made our lives fulfilled. We will miss you buddy. May you Rest In Peace.