Sitting Serenity

Last night I moved our muskoka chairs from our upper deck to the downstairs covered patio. I also gave them a fresh coat of white paint in order to better protect them from the elements. Their new home allows for better views of the fields and skyline. On our upper deck, the handrail was at eye level and prevented us from fully utilizing these chairs.

This morning my wife and I sat out on our lower patio and enjoyed a cup of coffee together. We talked about plans for the back garden and the changes we want to make prior to winter. After our coffee, we began some gardening in the backyard- with an occasional break on the chairs admiring the view.

As we stared off in the distance, the birds were chirping from the large cedar tree in the green space behind our property. The trolley gave its toot-toot off in the distance. All-in-all it was a serene and quiet morning- the perfect way to relax on a warm autumn day.

Honestly, this weather can stay for a bit longer. I have no complaints.

Neat IOS 16 Features

I enjoy my iPhone. There was a recent update that I also liked. It has the option to change wallpaper and has a big clock.

I chose the moon as a backdrop from the preset ones available. I’ve always been fascinated by the moon. That’s cool. But something else I noticed after doing a screenshot happened.

If you touch and hold a part of the image- it does this little “swoosh” and cuts out the background. Then you can choose “share” and send just the main subject matter via messages/texts. That’s cool.

I think this aspect of photo sharing/manipulation is kind of fun. It’s a simple photoshop style of edit. It may not be perfect, but it works.

As I explore the new iOS 16 and the features- I’ll most likely also see online some other fascinating features. It’s like having a new phone all over again.

If you know of any other neat features from the latest update- let me know in the comments.

Our First Guests

This weekend we will be having our first guests over to enjoy our furnished basement suite. It’ll be kind of nice to have our friends stay for a couple of days. We have plans for the night and a wedding tomorrow. It just made sense for them to stay close by.

Our spare bedroom is all set up with a brand new mattress and sheets. We set out some towels for their use as well. The bathroom got some new soap and a fresh seal of caulk around the tub. Nice and clean.

In the kitchen- we have dishes and utensils all set for use. I also put some spice in the drawer just because. Our basement is almost like an Airbnb now.

I think we did a pretty good job getting it all set up. I even got a few new video apps set up on our new Amazon Fire TV for people to watch. As well, loads of video games are at our disposal for entertainment.

Now to enjoy the weekend!

Our First Guests

This weekend we will be having our first guests over to enjoy our furnished basement suite. It’ll be kind of nice to have our friends stay for a couple of days. We have plans for the night and a wedding tomorrow. It just made sense for them to stay close by.

Our spare bedroom is all set up with a brand new mattress and sheets. We set out some towels for their use as well. The bathroom got some new soap and a fresh seal of caulk around the tub. Nice and clean.

In the kitchen- we have dishes and utensils all set for use. I also put some spice in the drawer just because. Our basement is almost like an Airbnb now.

I think we did a pretty good job getting it all set up. I even got a few new video apps set up on our new Amazon Fire TV for people to watch. As well, loads of video games are at our disposal for entertainment.

Now to enjoy the weekend!

Rules Are Meant To Be Learned

This week I am renewing my conductor qualifications. Unlike the time three years ago when I Went to Winnipeg for my training- I am at home learning remotely this time around.

Because we recently had our tenants move out, I have the basement as my classroom. My wife has the office upstairs because she works online daily- and has for about four years now. Working remotely comes easy for her now and she is able to time manage quite well.

My first day is behind us and I’m starting to feel better about learning remotely. However- I can see how our kids had a difficult time adjusting and staying focused. But I made it through the first day and passed my first series of tests.

I’m glad that we have our basement back for the time being. The space has been calming and quiet. Perfect for studying and taking tests. Plus it’s got some of the necessities I need to make it through the day- coffee and snacks!

Only four more days remain ahead of me. After such, I will be a qualified conductor/switchman. By October I will need to get a physical from my family doctor and a recertification in first aid. At which point I can assist the company at different locations- including my home turf- in the running trades.

Wish me luck!

Harvest Followed by Relaxing

Today was a bit hazy and hot out. My wife decided that it was a perfect day to harvest some of her tomatoes and peppers. That way she could work in the kitchen preparing ways to preserve them.

She began by cutting up her banana peppers into rings. She kept the colours of the peppers separated once sliced up. While she was doing this, she had a vinegar brine solution simmering on the stovetop. I stirred it up occasionally. (I’m helpful!)

We currently have three jars of pickled peppers on our counter. Even though I’m not a big fan of pickled food, they sure did smell good. I have a feeling we will be enjoying these over the next couple of months in a variety of ways.

My wife took a break from doing anything with the tomatoes today. As the sky began to clear up, and the smoke rolled away- we hit the swimming pool for a little Sunday relaxation.

We spent hours in the pool. At one point before dinner, our 16 year old and 18 year old also hit the pool. It was a nice afternoon of using the water to cool off. Summer sure doesn’t feel like it’s over. But nature is sometimes pushing to get autumn onto our doorstep.

We can tell by the fruits and vegetables from our garden being ripe and ready to consume.

Greetings At Home

This evening, I was at the front balcony waiting to see our kid come home. I know it’s only the second day of university, but it was nice to see them walk up the driveway with their backpack in tow. The was a sense of ambition as Darwin hustled up the path to the house.

I called out a greeting as they walked in. I received a half answer as Darwin rushed in the door. Darwin was eager to get home. Over dinner, we discussed the classes and I could sense the excitement of the semester to come in their voice.

I’ll always be the parent that greets our kids after a long day- no matter how old they get. I’ll gladly stay up late and offer support no matter how difficult life can get. Home is where the heart is- and home is where you make it.

Old Man Shower

Now that our tenants have moved out, it was time to check that all of our facilities are working. As I mentioned before- the laundry machines got swapped and we have set up a nice living room in the basement. We also ran the dishwasher and tested the fridge water/ice maker. In the bathroom- besides using the toilet and sink- I needed to try out the downstairs showers.

Is that a tub or a walk-in shower? It’s both.

The basement portion of our home was tailor built to accommodate an older generation. You know- people well past their sixties. In the basement is a bathroom with a unique tub. It is a walk-in bathtub called “The Imperial”.

It’s the sort of tub that you need to step into first and latch the door before filling it up. Naturally I needed to try it out. So I stepped inside and began to fill the tub.

In under 8 minutes, the water had filled up past the jets and covered my knees as I sat there. At this point, I turned on the jets. BUBBLES!

I’m not going to lie- I was fairly comfortable as the bubbles and water washed over my lower body. This is one of the few times my knees have been submerged in a bathtub as an adult. TMI: I really enjoyed the bubbles that came up past my junk. It wasn’t arousing in any way, just sort of nice. Looking at the pamphlet- it’s called “The Bidet Notch”. Noice.

Draining it is far faster than any other tub I have ever been in. I pulled the stopper and the water flowed out in an almost vacuum like state. Anyways, I may hit this tub when I have a long day. It’s calm, relaxing and at the far end of our home- away from the hustle and bustle of our lives.

Man, I’m ready to be old.

More Space At Home

We have only been three days without tenants in our basement suite. Yet we have taken over and began decluttering the rest of our home. This has been nonstop with help from the entire family over last little bit.

We managed to unpack a bunch of boxes from our garage to fill our secondary kitchen. Our camping supplies came out of the garage and went into the storage under the stairs. We also moved two of our shelving units from the garage and placed our crafting supplies into a walk-in closet.

In one of the bedrooms downstairs, I assembled a new queen sized bed and fresh mattress for visitors to use. The other bedroom will be used as my wife’s studio for the time being. So a lot of fabric has moved from the garage into that room. Our garage doesn’t feel as cramped now that everything is out- especially the shelves. Basically, passengers in the car can get out in the garage instead of the driveway like they once did.

The biggest hurdle was today. The other day, my wife decided to try out the washer and dryer that was in the basement suite. We had never used them in the 14 months of living here. Of course my wife fell in love with them… so we had to swap them with the ones upstairs. A couple of things about this make me happy- now all the appliances in the basement match and are LG brand. The other thing I like is that the washer we moved upstairs is a top loader- meaning the door won’t get hit by the garage door as you enter the home. Plus it lightens up the laundry room. The worst part was moving four heavy appliances up and down the stairs. Good thing our son is sixteen and strong.

My favorite change is our couches. We moved the brown leather sectional into the basement suite along with a new Amazon Fire TV. This feels like our old theater room. Upstairs we bought a love seat and a chair from IKEA along with a new rug. The room is now bright and vibrant feeling, not so clunky. Best part- our settee matches in fabric colour and fits in nicely to the sitting room feel.

We still have a few little things left to do. Like clean up the empty boxes and finish arranging the kitchen. However, these last couple of days have felt like we are gaining back our home as well as our space. No more clutter or holding onto furniture and furnishings for future use. The future is now- and it feels wonderful.

Bug Off

It’s September 1st. Some folks think summer is over- but I disagree. The weather has been absolutely stunning these days. My days off have been fantastic, but busy. Yet I am still enjoying life.

Today as I got the pool ready, I noticed a couple bugs in the water. As I skimmed the water to get them out, I realized the size of these ones. Much larger than the usual fly or mosquito. Clearly the summer was good to them- as they are bigger than I could have imagined.

Once I cleaned the pool, my wife and I enjoyed the afternoon sun. We floated around in the pool- staring off into the horizon. We are not ready to give up on summer.

Just like the bugs that I tossed aside- I’m tossing aside the idea that summer is over. And any of those folks who think it’s time for autumn- you can bug off. Summer isn’t over!

Seeing It From A Different Perspective

I’m always sharing pictures of sunsets and views from our vantage point. I love the colours that nature produces and the way the sky is always vibrant and ever changing.

Today, we had a late dinner and sat inside instead of on our deck; like we usually do in the summer. When eating at the dining room table- normally I face the glass door that looks outside. Tonight I sat opposite of my normal chair. I was missing out on the sunset, but the world was shining into our home and brought with it similar hues.

As beautiful as the sun shining into our home was, my wife and I had a difference of opinion on what the colour actually was. I said it was orange, my wife said the colour shining in was purple. Our son said it was light brown. Now I’m leaving it up to my friends and readers- what colour do you see shining against our grey walls?

Honestly, I’m at a loss. I am adamant that it’s orange. But I could very well be wrong.

Moving On Out…

Thirteen months after we moved into our home, the former owners are finally moving out. When we bought the house, we set up a rental agreement for them to remain for a few months. This was in order for them to have their next place built on the island. The arrangement was beneficial to both them and us. As their new home was getting built, it kept getting delayed. So they stayed far longer than expected. But it wasn’t a big deal for us.

But the time came for them to bid us farewell. They had a shipping container dropped off in order to fill their remaining contents. During the day today, they had some movers come by and pack it up. Unfortunately, the container was too small to fit everything.

So they ended up having a truck come by as well afterwards. It was a far longer day than expected. The movers were only here to fill the container. Good thing our teenagers were home and were able to offer assistance. I also ended up offering my help when I came home after my 12 hour day at work.

Now the suite is essentially empty. Technically their last day is the last day of the month. But we did the walk through of the suite with them and everything seems to be in great shape beyond some basic wear and tear. Next month, it’ll be time for us to declutter the rest of our home and furnish the basement the way we want it. I can’t believe that we have almost 1900 sqf down there. It feels like we are moving into a new home again.

John and Sandra were great tenants. We will keep in touch with them still as we created a good friendship with them.

End Of My Summer Vacation

Saturday was the last day I had off for my vacation. I had the house to myself for the last few days of vacation. So I enjoyed my solitude.

My wife had taken Theory to a speed skating competition in Calgary for the weekend. Darwin tagged along as well. I was lucky enough to have watched his races via a live stream from The Olympic Oval.

Being that I was home meant I had to take of the garden. We have had a good amount of vegetables coming in. Mostly peppers and tomatoes. Our mixed apple tree is bearing a ton of fruit as well. I can’t wait to make an apple pie from the green ones!

The end of my day (and vacation) I watched the sun as it set. The sun beams shone over the land as the clouds lay up in the sky. A flock of geese flew past at one point making a flight path southward. Summer is almost over- unfortunately my summer vacation has come to an end.

But it was fun while it lasted.

Final Push Home

Yesterday was the last leg of our journey to return home from Disneyland. We woke up and had breakfast by 7am as we were all eager to get under way. Home was only a short 5 hour journey if traffic was good. Otherwise it could take about 6 1/2 hours. We needed to get through Tacoma and Seattle.

Of course, the teenagers were out cold AGAIN almost instantly. Yup, I kept taking pictures of this. My wife and I talked and listened to music up front and enjoyed the peace and quiet coming from the back.

I mentioned about having road nuggies the previous day. This time my son wanted to bring “racon” aka “road bacon”. He grabbed a to-go coffee cup and filled it packed tight with bacon from the hotel breakfast. A couple hours after leaving and our car smelled like the heavenly aroma of bacon.

The journey only took us a little over 5 hours to complete. Once we got home, our oldest was in the process of tidying up. They had opted to staycation at our home and look after the pets and house while we were out of town. They even made my wife and I a painting and left it in our bedroom for us.

Being home is a great feeling. I was surprised that it was far hotter than Disneyland. But I got to work quickly and had the pool cleaned and open for us to relax in after our two day drive home. I love the memories that we have made over the years doing these road trips. Maybe more will happen, but I have a feeling this may have been our last one for quite some time.

Next summer I do not plan on going anywhere as our home is pretty gosh darn awesome. For now, I’ll enjoy the next few days alone as my wife is taking our two youngest on yet another road trip to Calgary for a few day. Practically feels as though she is living in her car. But this sacrifice she is doing is for our son’s speed skating. He has a competition this weekend and it was imperative that he attends.

A bit of “me time” is on the agenda the next couple of days as my vacation time winds down. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep busy. Or at least catch up on some naps like the teens did.

Vacation About To Begin!

Work is over for the next week and a half. Time to enjoy some well deserved sunshine! Now, as the sun sets, I am happy to be off work.

My son and I had a good evening in the pool after dinner. After tonight’s relaxation- fun is the goal for the next seven days! I’m looking forward to time with the family as we hit the open road! We are packed and ready to roll.

Hooray for time off!

Another Beautiful Evening

Last night my teenager and I had dinner together. We watched the clouds in the sky as the sun vanished behind them. I’m still mesmerized by the views we have from the back of our home. I was happy to share the moment with someone.

There’s just something magical about nature and how the universe works. I don’t know the answers to Life- but I will say, watching a sunset hanging out with someone you care about really fills my heart with joy.

Alone On The Pool

My wife is out of town with our youngest in Calgary. Our other child is at work and won’t be home for a few more hours. After doing my weekly Thursday shopping- I opened the pool to give it a clean.

Now I’m floating around by myself- listening to music and enjoying life as the sun beats down. I am enjoying my solitude. Getting here was hard work and headaches for many years. Now it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Even if it is by myself.

Being alone isn’t so bad, but I like to share experiences with others. Come on by for a dip. I’ll gladly share this life with friends!

Cat-Astrophic

Our kids have asked for a cat on numerous occasions throughout the years. My wife and I are quite allergic to felines, so we always said no. We always said that when they are adults, they can do what they want. Our kids accepted this answer.

As I mentioned the other day, we are in the Final Month Of Tenants in our basement. We agreed to allow them to have their dog and cat during their stay. Over the past year the cat has become friends with us. Specifically our 18 year old. The tenants asked if they could leave the cat behind.

So now we have a cat. After years of denying one in our home- “Buddy” has joined our family as of Saturday. Naturally, our 18 year old would like to give him a new name. That will probably happen over the next few days. Naming an animal makes having it as a part of our family more real.

The cat isn’t that bad. In fact he is very cuddly and friendly. Doggone it- I’m not supposed to be a cat person.

Behind the Scenes

I often share images of hanging out in our backyard. But I don’t always talk about the work that goes into cleaning and maintaining the pool everyday. It usually takes me 30-45 minutes by myself every time.

The first thing I do is get some music playing. It just makes manual labor so much more enjoyable. Then I take off the floating pool rings that protect and keep the heat in the pool.

Then it’s time to vacuum and skim the pool. (Periodically I’ll also scrub the sides with a gentle brush.) Of course, when vacuuming- there are numerous valves to twist in a certain order before and after.

Then I test the pool and add chemicals as required. Lastly, I rinse and inflate the pool toys if they need it. Fun takes work! Now to jump in the water to cool off!

Free Coffee Table

I did something the other day that I said I wouldn’t do anymore. I picked up a piece of furniture from the side of the road.

We had been recently shopping around for a new coffee table. We wanted something small and oval shaped. This one fit the bill perfectly. I did a quick inspection before tossing it in my car. Glass was clear- no chips or scratches. The legs were chrome, but very pitted and rusted; and the wood was pealing. Nothing a little TLC couldn’t take care of.

I took the whole table apart, sanded the legs and wood. Then I stained the wood a light colour followed by a clear coat. I was unable to save the chrome legs, so I used a Rustoleum spray pant and made them a sand colour. The entire process to update the table took about 2 hours.

Finished table is lighter in colour and suits our decor now. I am happy with how quick it was to refurbish the table. Plus it saved us money- about $100. Not too shabby.

A Day Of Rain

The rain came in yesterday and was gone by this afternoon. Working in the rain sucks, so I have sympathy to those who endured the downpour. But it was a nice refreshing cool down that we needed. Plants seem to be a bit happier in our garden as they also needed the refreshment.

I enjoy sitting out on our deck and watching the clouds afterwards. I snapped a quick picture, then put my phone away and just enjoyed the fresh air. The world can be filled with dark clouds periodically, but when those pass- it’s just calm with a gentle breeze that makes you breathe easier.

Do you like when the rain passes by quickly?

Final Month Of Tenants

Our tenants have given their notice to move out at the end of this month. As much as the income was nice and beneficial from having them there, it will be amazing to have the space back for our usage.

The tenants of our basement suite happen to be the original owners of this house. When we first bought the home they were only supposed to live here for six weeks. That would have put them out at the end of August last year. As we were about to move in, they had asked if we could extend it to February as they waited for their new home to be built. We agreed. Of course, as February approached they asked to extend it to May… then July… as the house they were getting built was getting delays.

Even though they are moving out at the end of this month, their new home isn’t quite done yet. In fact it sounds like mid October may be the completion date. But during these final stages, they wanted to be closer to the new house (which is on Vancouver Island). That’s completely understandable. Maybe now they can apply some pressure to their contractor to get their place done. I am glad that we have become friends with the former owners. As leery as we were at first, those fears subsided over the year.


For us this means nearly 1900 sqf of living space will become available to us. A full kitchen, living room, den, two bedrooms, two full bathrooms and plenty of extra storage. It also means we can begin to furnish our current space as we move some of our older furniture downstairs. This has become an exciting journey for my wife and I. We have been window shopping (and a bit of real shopping) as we plan new styles for our home.

This has made us feel youthful and fun. When we first started dating we went on many dates doing this sort of thing. Planning bedrooms, living rooms, etc as our family grew. The plan when we purchased this house was to allow for our children to have their own space as adults to live. We are helping them by furnishing the area and hope that one or two of them take the opportunity to use such a magnificent space to grow into adulthood before the possibility of moving out on their own.

Until that time, we will use the extra kitchen to prepare meals while we sit out at the pool instead of always running up and down the stairs. We will also have the space for friends and family to stay and visit for longer periods than just a few hours. Especially those from out of town. There will now be a few beds available for guests.

Everything feels exciting and new again about this home. Only one month to go!

Weekend At Home With My Wife

This weekend our two teenagers went off to Vancouver to attend Anirevo (an anime convention). So my wife and I had the place to ourselves.

And we goofed off.

We played in the pool for hours- splashing and laughing with a few drinks inside of us. We lounged in the gazebo (which we have now dubbed “The Cabana”) and had some fantastic dinners together. It was like having our own private oasis on vacation together. These past couple of days has us realizing that becoming “Empty Nesters” won’t be so bad.

I’m really happy that my wife and I can do these things together. It feels as though we didn’t really have much time to date before we jumped into parenthood 20 years ago. So we are making up for it now.

Life is pretty good these days.

Going Blonde

With the beautiful summer weather, it makes one want to feel young and carefree. And what better way but to go blonde.

I’m talking about the lawn going blonde.

Honestly, I have always felt that lawns are drain on resources. People waste so much time and effort trying to keep them green. Not only that, but people water them unnecessarily as well. With droughts and water shortages throughout North America there is no need to waste it frivolously on watering a lawn. Grass stays healthy and is designed to look dry and discolored during the summer.

I know what you’re thinking. But Joe, don’t you have a pool? Yes we do. But we don’t drain it or have to add gallons of water due to evaporation because we take care of it. We are very conscientious about our water consumption and usage.

We do however have a garden. Many bushes and flowers grow bringing beauty to our landscape. We use water in the early morning and late evening to grow herbs, fruits and vegetables. Yesterday I enjoyed a cherry tomato right off the vine. No pesticides or chemicals on it. Just as natural and as fresh as you could imagine.

I honestly think we as a society need to do away with lawns. Or at least the obsession with having them green all the time. People also need to respect watering restrictions as well. I see too many of my neighbors ignoring the laws, wasting water and having green lawns during a heat wave. Water should be used to keep hydrated and refreshed. Not to make grass grow.

I’m a Fan of Fans

Since today is a scorcher of a day, I just want to say how much I love fans. We have a fan in every bedroom (I installed the kid’s ones last summer) and one in our stairway leading from the main floor to the upstairs. These fans help to circulate the cool air created by our heat pump.

Hiding the heat pump

We do have central air conditioning that is pushed into our home from the heat pump outside. Last summer we had our home at a chilling 19°. But after getting it serviced a few weeks back- the technician recommended keeping the temperature at 23°-25° when the summer heat is in full force. That’s because even just a couple of degrees lower from outside will make all the difference for the comfort level inside. It will also help to keep the heat pump lasting longer and giving it a better lifespan. I still like using our fans though.

My favorite fan is the one in our bedroom. If I had my way, it would be on every time I went to bed- every day of the year. I like the gentle breeze and soft whir as it spins. It reminds me of my teenage years when I had a cheap ceiling fan in my bedroom. I would lay on the bed talking to girls on the phone, just mesmerized by the blades as they spun… as well as being mesmerized by the girls I was talking with. Let’s just say both made me cool.

Do you use air conditioning in your home? Or perhaps it’s windows open and a fan in the window drawing the hot air out of the house. I remember having to do that in our first home that my wife and I bought. How we longed for comfort and AC back then.

Stay cool and hydrated my friends. I’m also a fan of you staying healthy!