That’s A Wrap

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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?

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.

Colours Make Me Happy

Last night, my wife and I prepared dinner together. She had already done a bunch of the preparation work prior to my arrival home. As we worked in the kitchen- we created a beautiful ballet of coordinated movements. Not once did we get in each other’s way, or bump into one another.

Dinner was a flavorful udon noodle soup. With a soft boiled egg, sautéed mushrooms, garlic steamed carrots, seared pork, seaweed and spinach. A delicious medley of tastes that all came together in a large soup bowl.

After dinner was done, the sun was putting on a dazzling show for us in the sky. The colours mimicking the pleasure we experienced from creating and enjoying our meal. The different hues and tones shone into our kitchen creating a sense of wonderment.

Sometimes experiencing the world is akin to admiring a great painting. The views last night were absolutely awe inspiring and tranquil. A true treasure to behold.

I love the colours of the world.

The “I Do” BBQ

Yesterday afternoon, some of my friends tied the knot. They did it in a way that was special and meaningful to them. It wasn’t extravagant or lavish. The service was humble and friendly. It was exactly the kind of service you would expect from them.

First of all, it was a fairly short announcement to the wedding day. Even though Jay and Leona have been a couple for quite some time, it was just the right time to get married. The venue was at a friend’s place where they (or we if you wish) have spent many a weekend enjoying each other’s company over food and drinks.

Jay and Leona kept it low key and simple. Their friends came together to setup tents, tables, decor and made food. Even though it was raining periodically, that didn’t stop the festivities. It was essentially a large BBQ with a wedding thrown in. In fact, right after the “I Do’s” were said, the two of them got changed back into their street clothes to relax. It was wonderful that they shared their love with us and we all got to hang out.

Sometimes I think back to when I first met them. Each was in a different aspect in my life within a couple years of each other. As well, their lives intersected periodically until the universe finally linked them together.

It was a good time yesterday with loads of smiles and laughs. I wish many more years of happiness to Jay and Leona! Congratulations once more.

Lack of Kayak

This summer we have been having a great experience in the water. In fact, I’d say 90% of our summer days were spent in the water. However, that water has been just our swimming pool.

I’m not complaining. I love our backyard. All the relaxation, the floating, the serenity- it’s exactly what I needed in my life. However, my wife wished we hit the water elsewhere at least once this summer. Our kayaks have been neglected since moving into our new home.

I have three weeks left of summer to try and get out with our little boats just to say we did kayak this summer. My hope is that the weather holds up for the days off that my wife and I have together. Or perhaps a later afternoon/ early evening paddle will occur after work.

If all else fails, I’ll toss the kayak in the pool and make the best of both worlds and just go back and forth. That’s the same, right?

Sobering Time

Last year I did my third year of Sober September. Instead of 30 days it lasted for 300. I was feeling really good about myself by the end. It was moving into the new house and celebrating that knocked me off the wagon. But during that time, I felt really successful in everything we did- including buying this house.

So it’s time for Sober September Number 4. I did like the fact that last year I went past the one month mark and remained dry for nearly a year. Perhaps I shall push for that again this year. I was getting into some of my old habits this summer. I don’t need to “time” myself and crack a bottle on October 1st.

I also don’t need to have a “cheat day” just because of a couple of weddings I need to attend this month. I can still celebrate and remain uninebriated. Maybe I can offer to be the designated driver for people.

Cheers to working on my health! Yes I see the irony in that. But hey, I got this.

Looking At The Path- Not The Obstacles.

I don’t talk much about my battles with depression. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt awful- I really hope it’s a thing of the past. Let’s start in the past for those of you who didn’t know me very well. (Warning: Today’s blog is longer than normal)

I was a gangly, gawky, awkward teenager. Because I stood out, and like most other teens, I was bullied but kept it to myself. At age 15 I remember crying myself to sleep wondering why I was even alive. Replaying shitty interactions in my head to figure out what I could’ve done differently. I will say though, my mother was trying her best to figure out what was wrong since all I wanted to do was sleep and was constantly “sick”. She thought it was something physically wrong with me so I had a bunch of tests done on my blood and lungs. I went along with it because it meant not going to school for the day.

By grade twelve a lot had happened in my life. I fell into a group of friends who, by all accounts, helped me “self medicate.” Every Friday we skipped school for the day and drank. Not once did we get caught or questioned by teachers or parents. This little thrill ride was all I had to look forward to each week. And then that summer hit. Drinking wasn’t the only thing happening.

Getting up before noon was not a regular occurrence- hanging out doing dumb shit all night was. Of course I had friends and girlfriends and we had fun. I just didn’t care if I would make it through my early 20’s. I was driving down a lonely path as my family life was crumbling. Anything from my youth was long since a distant memory. My parents fought more, my dad was diagnosed with cancer, my sister was working through her own stuff; being broke and couch surfing was my new normal.

Suddenly I was an adult. Somehow I lost five years of my life. My doctor prescribed antidepressants to me. I took those for about six months and lost all feeling of feeling anything. That sucked worse. So I went off them on my own accord. Shortly after I met the woman who would become my wife.

She is an incredible woman and we have accomplished a lot together. Being with her- I only wanted to do; and be; the best in my life. We were suddenly buying a house and raising a family. I had something to strive for. A better existence for my kids than what I felt I had growing up. Head down + hard work= happiness? Sort of.

I still have days where all I want to do is sleep. I sometimes don’t want to face the world as I worry that it will crash down around me. How do I cope? This is what has worked for me:

I write daily in my blog. I do my best to focus on the positives in my life. This can be difficult and sometimes I feel like I am bragging, but those of you who know me or knew me have seen me struggle to get here.

I also try and share more positive images on my Instagram with the hashtag #livingmybestlife That is a mantra that sounds hokey, but really works for me. I recently watched a video that sums up the best way to do this. To paraphrase: A skier doesn’t look at the trees that they could crash into, but rather the path between them. Focus on the journey, not the obstacles- or you will only hit the obstacles.

I still have bad days. I know many of you out there also have them. We’re in this together. I’m just Making It Up As I Go like my blog states. Perhaps I’ll figure out the recipe to battle depression. But until then, it’s just a part of me and I really want it to be a part of my past and leave it there.

Poolside Siesta

Today is the first time that I have decided to take an outside nap before working the night shift. So far this summer I’ve enjoyed my bed for a few hours prior to working. Today I already slept for around four hours, but woke up because I was hungry. Lunch was made and eaten on the deck. That was when I decided to relax.

Instead of crawling back into bed post snack, I chose to lounge in the hammock beside the pool. I put on my swim trunks and grabbed an oversized towel to use as a blanket. Chilling like this is a far better plan. That way I could enjoy the tranquility of our yard and be ready to wake up for a quick dip in the pool before work.

Our dog, Maki, has also decided that taking a nap outside with me by the pool was a good idea. Now we are off to slumber ville for a midday siesta. May you also be enjoying the end of summer. Remember to siesta at some point- you deserve a break as well.

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.

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.

Churro Cookies

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

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

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

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

At Peace With The World

This evening I enjoyed sitting peacefully on my back deck absorbing the many sensations as the sun slowly set. I listened to the gentle chirps of the hummingbirds in the air above me. I felt the soft breeze on my arms that occasionally flittered past. My nose was filled with the scent of the pool that I had just stepped out from.

Something about this evening was making it feel perfect. My worries from work were left behind me. A relaxation overtook my psyche. I am slowly coming to accept this as a regular occurrence in my life.

At peace with the world? You bet.

It was a perfectly blissful evening.

Healthy, Wealthy, & Wise

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

The Dreaded Finances!

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

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

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

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

Down Time. Relax.

Yesterday afternoon was all “Me Time” and I needed it. Since moving into our home, we have been busy entertaining every weekend. Plus all the unpacking and organizing has been ongoing between days at work. Relaxing has not happened enough.

I took advantage of having the pool to myself and went full Pink Flamingo. I floated around the pool. When I got out of the pool, it was time for the hammock. Resting under by the pool and under the umbrella was great.

As I chilled in the hammock, my wife ran a bath for me. She wanted me to experience bath salts in our soaker tub. Our last home had an old ceramic tub and was uncomfortable. (Only our kids used that tub when they were toddlers.) Yesterday afternoon was relaxing and the bath was a perfect way to let the stress wash away.

The end of our evening, we watched the sun disappear behind the clouds. The sky had dark blues and pinks as the storm clouds rolled in. I went to bed fully recharged and slept soundly.

Down time was needed.

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!

Hazy Sunrise

One of the things that I do miss about our old home in the countryside is viewing the sunrise through the trees. Especially an Autumn Morning Sunrise. After a night shift it was always nice to see the sun crawl through the mist as I drove home.

It wouldn’t have mattered much if we lived in our old place this morning. The sunrise is being hampered by the smoke in the air from the forest fires. Every so often the sun was giving off an orange glow- creating more beauty than should really be allowed.

Yes folks, I do believe global warming is real. This summer is only just the start of what we can expect on a regular basis over the next few years. I’m trying really hard to enjoy the sunrise through the smoke filled sky, but it nags at me the cause of the smoke.

We can do better as a species. And we really should try more often. On the weekend some friends and I were having a discussion about recycling and trash pick up. Individually, most people are doing their parts. But the waste collection companies still toss the majority of everything into one pile. This saddens me.

How do you feel about global warming or recycling? Are we doing our part? Is it wrong to enjoy the colours of a hazy sunrise?

Juliette Deck

After a quick dip in the pool, I went upstairs to get changed. From our bedroom on the third floor we have a small balcony. Some call it a “Juliette Deck” in reference from Romeo and Juliette. Of all of our decks (four of them in total) I spend the second least amount of time on it. The one above our front door I actually spend less time on.

But tonight I decided to sit in the sun on the Juliette Deck. As I sat there, numerous hummingbirds came to visit. I even caught the shadow of one as I took a selfie.

The visiting hummingbirds arrived because off to the side of the deck, we hung up a hummingbird feeder. At first it wasn’t getting much attention. But tonight was a flurry of activity. The warm weather is causing these birds to seek refreshments. I’m glad we have a spot so close by to enjoy their buzzing little wings.

It was a peaceful way to end a long day of errands. I think I shall call the bird that kept coming back… Romeo.

I Need Some Of That

Earlier this year Weezer released a new song, I Need Some Of That. I immediately connected with the lyrics. The same way I can associate life with the Barenaked Ladies song, Pinch Me. Both songs are well written songs about youth and living in the suburbs.

Only recently have we re-entered the suburban lifestyle. I hadn’t realized how much I needed it. Seeing children playing, folks washing cars, dog walkers, joggers, sprinklers on the lawn; all of it is a sense of serenity and life. A life I had as a child and teenager that somehow I forgot about or didn’t acknowledge at the time.

I now enjoy being around neighbors who stop and say “Hello”. Not that our old neighborhood wasn’t like that. It just took walking for a couple of acres to possibly see someone. In our old neighborhood- everyone knew everyone for decades. This neighborhood? Perfect strangers greet each other with a smile and a kind word.

It’s just what I needed. A lifestyle consisting of strangers just being nice. A wave or a nod sharing a moment. Living in the suburbs has a zen like feeling you cannot find anywhere else. A sense of security and safety. I’m totally drinking the cherry koolaid on this one folks.

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Back to work after vacation doesn’t mean that enjoying summer is over. I’ve been coming home the last couple of evenings feeling grateful for what I have.

Having a positive outlook on life is important to having positive things happen for you. Luck is also a huge role in everything that happens. We are lucky to live in this part of the world. Clean water, good education, and plenty of opportunities for success.

Finding success can create happiness. At some point though you really need to step back and admire what you have accomplished.

Vibing with a peaceful easy feeling is what my summer is all about. Come on in. The water’s fine.

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!

Need To Get A First Nap.

I still haven’t had my first official nap in our new home. I’ve tried to relax, really I have. But there is still so much to do! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying all my little projects on the go. It’s far better than having projects that are a necessity.

But I could still do with a nap one day. Our bed is very inviting- except the views keep me alert and daydreaming.

I’ve tried relaxing in our hammock poolside, but that has been cut short due to the heat. I end up back in the pool or finding air conditioning in the house.

Going back into the house also means more projects. It’s a vicious cycle. I think I’m going to have to schedule a nap in order to get one!

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.