Enjoy It

This weekend has been the one we have been waiting for. The sun is shining, the grass is green, and the pool is ready.

Over the past couple of days, we have enjoyed the swimming pool. Today is going to be no exception. We are planning on hanging out with our downstairs tenants and sipping on some beverages. Taking advantage of the weather whenever we can is the goal.

Being neighborly is important as well. We enjoy having company over and plan on visitors coming by throughout the summer. Getting along with those around us is paramount. We are past the stage of loud parties, but I still enjoy my music playing.

Reach out and we will have you over this summer on a Friday or Saturday. Just remember to bring the sunscreen and a snack to share!

Excited For Disneyland

Even though we don’t head to Disneyland for a few more months, I’m getting very excited for it. It seems as though everything is pointing to a wonderful vacation.

Yesterday I was driving home from dropping the kids off at school- the sun was starting to come out. As it did, my watch reflected onto my visor; creating an all too familiar image. The iconic Mickey Mouse ears.

Naturally it made me feel jovial and happy. The previous trips were a blast. Each one was slightly different- creating new memories and unique experiences for all of us. Our future trip is looking almost like a whole new experience as well.

We will get to travel to the Star Wars inspired portion of the park: Galaxy’s Edge– finally after three years of anticipation and excitement. Plus there’s a whole new Marvel inspired land that will be a fun experience for all of us.

But there’s also the normal fun we love to have every trip. Turkey legs, Dole Whip, parades,shopping, rides, meeting characters… the list goes on and on. It’s just such a magical experience each and every time. This next time around, we are bringing a person who has never been to Disneyland. So we will get to see the joy and wonderment through their eyes as we hit up all the fun spots and secrets we have learned over the years.

Do you ever get signs of things to come? Does it make you excited? Let me know in the comments.

Change In Weather Attitudes

I mentioned previously about wind storms and the havoc it once reigned on our lives. The chaos that the wind would cause. The destruction and mess that it would leave behind for us to clear up. And the fear that a branch or tree would come crashing down.

Today was another windstorm. And as it continues, I am glad to have moved from our previous house. My wife is also getting over those bouts of weather induced anxiety. She was even able to joke about it earlier.

I’m glad she was able to find humor finally after decades of calamity and fear. It also seems that this windstorm is doing its best to get rid of the cold weather we have had these past few weeks and months.

As of late, I have been wanting warmer weather to approach. This weekend, I may get my wish to come true. We are expecting some sun and higher temperatures that we have yet to feel this season. I look forward to lounging in the backyard and having fun doing so.

As a man, I want to get everything done so I can have nothing left to do. I just want to do nothing in the sun. Just experience it. The warmth on my face, the red hue behind my closed eyelids, and the sensation of the world being at rest and comforting.

Theory aka The Roy Turned 16

Today is our youngest’s birthday. He turned 16. It’s a big deal because now he can go and start to learn how to drive. That’s truly exciting!

He also wanted to do something else more grown up- he wanted to make dinner. He asked if I could help him make schnitzel the way I make it. Which is a variation on the recipe my father used to do. Theory’s comfort level with cooking is getting better. Dinner was delicious!

In true teenage fashion, getting a nice photo of him wasn’t happening. So I ended up with a bunch of blurry, hands in the face, head turning photos tonight. But in the end, he wanted to spend time with me. Both watching tv and making dinner. That was more a gift for me I think.

The one gift I’m really happy about that we gave him was a license plate. It was hand painted by a street artist who tags rail cars. His name is also Theory. I reached out to him a while back and paid for a piece in order to gift it to our son. I’m really happy with how perfect the gift was for Theory since he will soon be driving.

So a big shout out to our son on his birthday!

Happy birthday Theory! Who also goes by these names:

  • The Roy
  • Theor Bear
  • T Bear
  • Bearbee
  • B Bear
  • Bear
  • Scrufty
  • Boy Darwin
  • Boy Random
  • The Boy

We love you buddy. We are so proud of who you are becoming.

First Dip In The Pool

The sun peaked out this afternoon long enough for us to enjoy it. It was sent hot, but in the sun it was warm! A couple of weeks ago we had taken the cover Off OurPool in hopes to jumpstart the summer. No such luck.

Yesterday, the weather report was not looking promising for the near future. But I was hopeful. So today, when my wife finished work, we jumped into the pool. We both agreed that we were going in- rain or shine.

Lee-Anne went in first. The sun was out and the atmosphere was pleasantly warm. I had turned on the heater for the pool yesterday- and it was a comfortable 24°C already.

We had kind of forgotten to let the kids know that we were going into the pool. So when our middle came home from school- they ended up hanging out in the yard while my wife and I swam. I felt like Darwin was the adult in the situation- making sure that two doofuses didn’t drink too much and get hurt.

I’m definitely looking forward to enjoyment of the pool throughout the summer. I’m already feeling the energy burn from splashing around. Swimming has always been a good workout that leads to a great sleep. Hopefully we can have friends over soon to enjoy the fun and relaxation poolside. It would be nice if the entire weather forecast could change for the better!

Everything Matters/ Nothing’s Important

I’m not sure why it happens… but it does…

My brain oftentimes brings up a memory that happened a few years prior on a day that is generally really close to the date of the original occurrence. I’m not talking about those Facebook Memories either. My brain just finds something and says- hey what about this thing?

Since I began blogging about my thoughts and experiences, I finally have a way to look it up once more and see what I originally wrote about. For example, Unfinished Work was a piece I wrote on May 18, 2017. Reading it now, I see that I really did put a lot more thought and length into what I wrote. Not that a lengthy blog is good… but it was one of the images that I was searching that my brain had decided to think about.

EVERYTHING MATTERS NOTHING’S IMPORTANT. This was a mural that was nearby my place of work when I was in downtown Vancouver. I’m not sure why it resonates with me periodically, yet it does. It’s a what life feels like some days. It’s not important, yet somehow it matters. Those intrusive thoughts and feelings that you should just leave behind. But there you are, letting it bug you.

So stop letting it get to you. It’s not important in the long run. Simple advice that even I wish I would take. Yet sometimes I can’t, but I should. I have to stop letting things bother me. I need to focus on the positive more. Even though that can be hard to do.

As I said though, my brain somehow cycles through thoughts and memories roughly the same time and date. Hopefully my next set of memories is more positive and I can get out of my rut.

That would be nice.

After Work Alone Time

I came home the past couple of days and headed straight to my bedroom… I just needed to be alone. I also wanted to enjoy the sunshine, but not sit outside. I genuinely can’t tell if I want to be alone right now lost in thoughts.

Laying down in a sunbeam warms me up. I don’t want to close the blinds- I want to feel the sun. It makes me feel alive. In fact, I wish for more sun these days. I need it.

Staring out the window at the clouds has me daydreaming of a life I once lived. The moments where I could enjoy myself and not care. These days I care too much. And I hurt too much from thinking too much. The hurt just sits there. Like a pit that I can’t swallow.

So I go to my phone. Facebook shares memories from the past decade or so. Mostly good times and follies of silliness. Again, the life I once lived. That energy is diminishing. The charisma is fading. Just making it through each day is the current sensation.

Not all days will be good. Not all experiences will be memorable. That’s not a bad thing. Just not a good thing. So I sit in my room. Watching the beauty in the world from my window. Not sure how to feel.

Shout Out To Family Pets!

We have always had a dog in my life. At one point my sister brought home a kitten way back when… In my early 20’s I also got a kitten, but he had a traumatic ending to his young life. A few years ago, we adopted some guinea pigs and loved the little squeaks they made. I also had a fish tank for a few years and enjoyed the zen like ambiance.

But dogs are the one constant that have brought me and my family the most joy and love. Our latest family member is Maki and she is so cuddly and kind to each member of the family. Sometimes embarrassingly so. Yet we love her.

She knows and senses when one of us needs a bit of extra love. She will come by and snuggle up right into your face. It’s a wonderful feeling albeit it can be annoying at first. But much like eating when you don’t realize you are angry because you are hungry- Maki fills your heart and joy returns.

Do you have a pet that brings you joy? Are you more a dog person or a cat person? Perhaps lizards or fish are your thing. Let me know in the comments if a pet has made your life better.

Pretzels!

Yesterday was National Pretzel day (as well as Alien Day). So naturally pretzels needed to be eaten. Something wonderful about eating fresh made, salty, doughy treats! I do enjoy store bought crunchy pretzels as well. Those go great at parties.

Homemade pretzels and pretzel bites are something else. Check out Terri’s amazing Pretzel Bites Recipe here. Super easy recipes that kids can make. Of course these soft pretzels needed mustard as a side.

Delicious soft pretzels… especially if served hot and fresh… can make you feel so good. I’ll even order some at a pub or Oktoberfest because what besides mustard, what else goes good with a warm pretzel? Beer! I just wish I had one of those last night, but alas no beer was available for me.

Did you enjoy some pretzels yesterday? Or did you watch Alien? Perhaps both like I did?

No More Wind Fears

Today has been blustery. The wind is blowing fiercely across the Lower Mainland. But today, I am at ease.

In our previous home, we experienced wind storms so bad, our home and yard was damaged and we could be without power for days. Here is one example from 2018: Windy. After a few years of these storms, we were often on edge when it was like this. The clean up afterwards would take days if not weeks.

With the openness of our backyard, the wind comes across at full force. I can hear it whistle past the windows and see as our palm trees wave. But I’m okay with this. No crazy damage is occurring. No trees are falling on our roof or taking out our power. And even as the hummingbird feeders sway- the birds come to take a snack without hesitation.

No more wind fears. It’s a good feeling.

Training Ground

Our son is still actively training even though the regular speed skating practice season is over. Now he is onto Spring Session with his future club. And they push hard.

He is enjoying it. He’s looking fit. He’s strengthening his muscles, and getting a chance to meet other athletes with similar goals. Our last club was great and the family was there since 2010. But because our son wanted to continue with competitions- he needed to move to a club that really pushes the skaters.

Last weekend our son also went to participate in a special training at a University campus. This was put on by RBC to allow up and coming athletes from various sports to showcase their skills. It was mainly for sports that aren’t as mainstream as some. So no hockey or baseball were being represented. Once the evaluations are completed from the one day event, those kids selected will be given a grant to help pay for their dreams to compete.

I do hope the best outcome for him with that brief moment to showcase his strengths. But since it is Canada wide, he knows that he can’t be disappointed if it just doesn’t happen for him. However, we are still making sure that he practices and trains as much as possible in order to keep his muscles strong. There are a few summer programs and still a couple competitions that he will attend prior to autumn.

Training and a regimented schedule will help to keep him focused. I know he wants it bad enough, so my wife and I will help him on his journey as best we can. Mostly my wife mind you. She is really devoted in seeing what competitions are coming up and his times at each event. Being a supportive parent is the best thing we can do for him.

Do you train for something you enjoy? Let me know!

Burnt Out

Something’s got to give.

I’m really starting to feel burnt out at home lately. Everything is becoming a chore. Even working on my daily blog is getting difficult.

Mostly because I’m not relaxing the way I want to without judgement. My wife is my partner- whom I appreciate and love, yet I can’t be left alone to gather my thoughts or unwind. If I try and get away to take some time for myself, it seems as though she makes me feel guilty for doing what I do.

Sitting on the couch, or in the yard, having a beer is not acceptable in her eyes. She approaches me with more complaints about pretty much everything, and I can’t clear my own thoughts. I also need to process my emotions and difficulties away outside of the household. But it seems like it’s not in the cards.

As much as I want to run away, I cannot. I stay, the problems keep coming. I’m falling into a slump. I’m not looking for advice at this time, more just venting out into the ether.

Thank you.

Smokey

Today I hung out with an older coworker of mine. He is an experienced railroader who has been with the company as long as I have been alive- almost five decades. So I respect how he runs things and listen to his stories. Not many of his tales are of work. Most are of his family and experiences outside of there. I appreciate his tales and respect how he tells them.

I spent hours with him today. In doing so, I came home smelling like an ashtray. He smokes. A lot. I haven’t smelled like cigarettes in years. My father smoked regularly. And in the 70’s/80’s it wasn’t uncommon to be indoors or in a car with a child while you smoked. As a result, I took up smoking at around age 17.

I smoked for about 10 years off and on. There is hardly any pictures of me smoking. In fact, when my wife and I married, she requested that we do not have pictures of us smoking in case our children were to see them. The last time I smoked a cigarette was before my son was born. Over 16 years ago.

I have celebrated with a cigar on occasion since then. Not my favorite thing to do, so it’s only been about three times. I do not smoke any other things, as my world is already a trip as it is. Finding a picture of my indiscretions of the past is rare and I would be surprised if there are more than the two I have shared today.

But the smell of stale cigarettes on my clothes today brought back memories of long ago. I was unsure of what tale I wanted to share, if any, of smoking. So here’s a small tidbit.

When I was under the age of ten, my father would send me to the corner store to buy cigarettes. There was an age restriction of being sixteen in 1986, so I would be given note with a phone number to contact my dad, and I could buy a pack and bring it home. After a few times, the corner store owner began to know me and my father’s brand, so the note was unnecessary for a couple of years. That was when the age limit changed to 18 and the government cracked down on selling to minors.

Cigarettes and smoking have a different stigma than they once had. My coworker still smokes as of the 80’s and 90’s were relevant. A part of me looks to him as an uncle, and honestly he probably could’ve been a close family friend. He reminds me of the good aspects of my father. Plus my coworker has been known to dye his hair and mustache to look younger. He has a look of Burt Reynolds when he does this.

Hence the title of today’s blog- Smokey. Honestly, I think of how my father looked in the 80’s and believe this was also his attempt and being cool. Facial hair, a cigarette and a beer- that was the 80’s “Dad Look” and smell. No cologne needed as a haze of smoke would be around.

Back At It Again With The Back Pain

It’s been a few months since I have complained about Dealing with Back Pain. So here’s a quick update.

It’s still here.

Today is not as bad as it has been in the past. Mostly my lower back causing me grief. I think it is partly due to sitting for extended lengths of time while at work in front of a computer. I have been doing my best not to cross my legs while sitting, as well as getting up to walk around more. I do have to drive quite a bit for work, so I’m also sitting for ages heading out to different locations.

I do enjoy walking when the pain isn’t around. My wife knows that I have struggled occasionally to keep up with her- I feel elderly some days even though she has five years on me! At work, the ground isn’t exactly an even surface to walk on (railroads are like that). Sometimes I’m naturally tense as I walk the rail yard talking to crews.

Slouching is also a bad habit I have. But being 6’8” means I have to lean over naturally while standing. Slouching while sitting is a habit I need to break; and I should have broken years ago. Back stretches help. I hate to say it, but last week when building the roof on the gazebo was really good for my muscles. I felt great after the physical work.

What I’m saying is, the back pain is back. Or it never really left in the end.

Parent Commitment

As much as I discuss our kids and their accomplishments when it comes to speed skating, there is still a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

The parents are often in the crowds cheering on the skaters. But they also take the time to sharpen skates and discuss equipment and skating strategies. Keeping the kids excited and actively involved can be challenging as the days go on. It’s not just the competition days though.

My wife travels a lot with our son. I have gone on the occasional trip for practice with him. But the competitions are mostly my wife’s domain. She is always excited to travel with him. Our son does his best and knows that these trips aren’t cheap. Nor are they a vacation. It’s like traveling for a business trip.

The business is skating. And encouraging our kids is the best way to keep them out of trouble due to boredom. It’s a sacrifice of our time and money, but the results are well worth it. A commitment to supporting our children no matter what.

11 Years Of Skating

Theory is attending a Speed Skating meet this weekend in Richmond. He has been to this rink numerous times before. As the years go on, I find it amazing at how much better he has gotten at skating. He gets a feel for the ice, he interacts with other skaters to do stretches between races, he also works on mental strategy before and during his races.

I’m always looking back at our kids’ progress. Yesterday was one of those Facebook Memories that is relevant once more. Theory’s first competition ever had him falling repeatedly, but the crowd cheered for him each time he got back up. Almost every meet since then, he has had friends and competitors in the audience continue to cheer for him.

This weekend will push Theory in his age group more than it has in the past. He is skating against someone in a 1500m race that is almost 20 seconds faster than he is. Chasing that skater is today’s goal for his personal improvement.

I’m always proud of how Theory skates. He never holds back and always does his best. Seeing how he had fallen and gotten up during his first ever meet proved that he wants to succeed. I’m looking forward to seeing his results this weekend.

No More Masks

As of 12:01 this morning, BC had lifted the mask mandate. There are mixed reviews on this decision- as can be read hear from the local News: Mask Reaction.

Personally, I will still carry a bag of disposable masks in my car. I honestly feel it will depend on the situation and location as to whether I should wear one or not. For example, this morning I have been out shopping to three different stores. I’ve been wearing a mask and probably 75% of people are as well.

Just because the government says we don’t need to wear a mask, doesn’t mean we should accept that Covid is over. Far from it. Perhaps though, people and businesses will be more forgiving if people take sick days. No need to come to work and spread a cold or flu in the upcoming years.

We should also make it normal that folks wear masks by choice if they are getting over being sick. Much like the Asian communities. No one treats people poorly for choosing to mask up in places like Hong Kong or Japan.

If mask mandates return, I would hope that folks be receptive to the idea, and not be idiotic as some anti-maskers/ anti-vaxxers have been.

Phone Contacts

I added a new number recently into my cellphone. I think it means I have entered the next stage in my life. If I ever put it as a “Favorite” then I’ll be reaching the final few years of my life.

Yeah. I added a pharmacy phone number into my phone. I have gotten prescriptions elsewhere. Previously, if I ever needed a refill I would just look on my bottle or inhaler and call the pharmacy. Easy-peasy. Except the last time.

Maybe I’m getting old, or maybe I just wasn’t focusing. But I had a tough time reading the label on my inhaler. The writing was too damn small! I tried to use my phone and take a picture so I could zoom in. That got me most of the number. But I didn’t want to hazard a guess. I ended up looking up the pharmacy phone number online. After I called in the refill- I stored the phone number into my phone.

No more trying to squint or take pictures for this old man. I don’t think I need glasses quite yet. But I do think I may need to set my phone to a larger font… ah the joys of creating my mid-forties.

Darwin Does Coaching

While our youngest is out in Fort St. John for a speed skating competition, Darwin has been actively coaching the home town skaters.

Darwin in a blue jacket from 2020 BC Winter Games.

On Friday night, we were in Langley and I watched as Darwin taught the younger of the two groups. Most of it was the basics of speed skating and a lot of drills.

Today is the last day in North Surrey for the season. Our club is in charge of this Sunday skate, so it’s a bunch of Langley skaters who want an extra day of practice. After some basic drills, Darwin plans on making it a bit more fun and games as the last day.

Next year is up in the air if Darwin will coach. Post secondary will take up the majority of their time. This upcoming Friday is the last skate of the year at our club. I know Darwin will be there and hopefully it won’t be emotional for all of them. The kids love Darwin.

Next weekend, Theory has one more competition in Richmond. Darwin has put in a request to be in the coaches box for that one. I think it’s amazing. How Darwin wants to help Theory and any other Langley skaters one last time.

Skinflint Supper

All my life I have been very conscious of my spending. I’m not always good as saving money, but I do my best. Shopping is a lot of what’s on sale and price matching.

If I choose to eat fast food, which is maybe twice a month, I will order from the value menu or use coupons. Last night I order some McDonald’s using the app. And I saved big time. (No, I am not sponsored by the Golden Arches, nor do I really consider it a healthy food choice.)

My total should have been $10.58 plus tax. Instead I paid $1.05 after taxes for my order. That’s because the app gave me a coupon for a $1 burger which I used. But because I generally use the app to order food (I find the accuracy of my order has increased) I am now gaining “Points”. So I used some points and got a free large fries. I felt really proud of myself for such a good deal.

However it got me thinking… since it was so cheap does that mean I can get an extra day of fast food this month? The other question that arises is, what is the dollar amount that would constitute a “meal” because clearly spending one dollar isn’t it in my mind.

For now, as I try and sleep after a night shift, I’ll just let the stomach pains tell me it was a bad idea- and that twice a month for junk fast food is more than enough- no matter the cost.

Starting Night Shift Rotation

Switch every two weeks from days to nights is a bit challenging. After doing two weeks of day shift, I had three days off to get ready for my first night shift. Instead, I was still waking up early, going for walks, doing chores and in bed long before midnight.

I’m about to attempt a nap now. I’ll likely get a couple of hours, but not the full four I was hoping for. This usually happens. The other thing that happens is that I will sleep all day tomorrow and my body will be close to the flip of nights.

Anyhow, not much to write about today. Just that I need a nap and swinging into nights is difficult. Oh well. I like my job so I’ll keep doing this for a few more years. Retirement will be arriving in September 30, 2034. Without a loss to my pension. Age 58 isn’t so bad to call it quits. Freedom from night shifts is within reach!

Peaceful Friday Evenings

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed my Friday evenings alone. My wife takes the two youngest to speed skating and I get a few hours to myself. A couple of weeks ago I had a bath, read a book and drank some wine.

This week I sat in our bedroom and watched the sun set. Once it was out of view and the night sky was upon us, I turned to the Oculus headset and began a new game- Moss. This was the first vr game my wife ever tried on the Oculus when we were at a friend’s place in Calgary back in 2019. Read about that day here: Unassuming Friday.

The game itself is really cute and easy to play. I was enjoying myself for well over an hour. But had to call it quits because my eyes were getting fatigued. I also had to prepare a late dinner for the family once they arrived home. But it’s going to be some quick and easy. I forgot to get anything ready ahead of time.

I do enjoy the time I have to myself. I’m not ever trying to fill my Friday nights, but I do appreciate the opportunity to lounge for a few hours. Taking some “me time” is beneficial in many ways.

Fog In Fog Out

This morning the fog rolled in quickly. It also rolled out just as fast. I awoke at around 7:30 this morning to look out my back window.

Within an hour it was heavy fog. And fifteen minutes later it was all but gone. I watched as the fog slowly pushed its way westward, revealing the colours of the fields that lay behind our home.

I do enjoy getting up early when the weather is nice. The sun over the last few days has helped with my mental state. The fog internally is also beginning to roll away as spring and summer quietly approach. This is the first time in decades that I feel at one with the changing seasons. The warm and cold, the dreary and uplifting… I’ve begun to feel better mentally as the chaos of life isn’t as busy. A couple years of this pandemic has made me reevaluate what is important.

Does the weather affect your moods? Does the sunshine help you feel better? Have you had a chance to understand your emotions and values better over these last few years? Let me know in the comments.

Day Sleeping

Working night shifts means I need to sleep during the day. Since it’s still winter, I fall asleep while it’s still dark out. However, my bedroom doesn’t stay that way.

The blinds we have are not “blackout blinds” and a lot of natural light gets through. However, it reminds me of our old home.

In our previous house, we didn’t have blinds for a number of years. The trees just gave natural shade to the bedroom. I became accustomed to the diffused light, so there is no issue sleeping here.

I pride myself in the fact I can fall asleep anywhere and quickly as well. I don’t need it to be dark or even quiet. Sometimes background noise or music is nice for me to fall asleep to, albeit unnecessary for my sleep.

I do prefer our new home ambiance compared to our previous house. The color palette is calmer and soothing. I generally feel relaxed at home now, not worrying about repairs or renovations. Just enjoying the house. I sleep a lot better these days.

Keeping Ahead Of The Youth

My children are often surprised that I am well engaged in what is going on in the world. I don’t mean current events per se. But rather the latest social media trends.

Since my knowledge of the internet started long before our children were born, I have learned, watched and participated in growing and learning with the information super highway. Even before the internet we had “shareware”. A floppy disk with pirated software shared amongst friends. Now I can find almost anything I want at all online. As well, anyone can have a moment of fame. And there is no rhyme or reason for how that works.

It’s all about ME in Social MEdia

As for social media and sharing trends, I have created accounts in almost everything that has come along. Some last only a brief second- Google+ for example. While other apps just don’t excite or interest me, such as Snapchat or Reddit. That’s just personal taste.

🟩⬛⬛⬛⬛
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🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 This game. Ugh.

I have found that since I am ahead of my teenagers in the trends, they will often share with me a love of the goofiness that we find on the various applications. We get to bond over random humors. I’ll continue to stay engaged in what goes on in the world and any trends that pique my interest. Currently looking at you WORDLE. For a game that takes a couple of minutes, I’m definitely competitive in trying to solve it in as few turns as possible.

For me, social media is a part of life and community. I’m glad that it all still makes sense to my mid-forties brain.