Easter Was Sooooo Last Week…

Our home gets decorated for the seasons and special holidays- Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Today we had our daughter pack up the Easter decorations. The same ones she set out about a month ago…

Since we are family of Atheists, the religious aspect of Easter isn’t represented. Just a bunch of cutesy bunnies and pastel colours. Which to me is more mainstream Easter (just like Santa equates Christmas).

With Easter behind us, it’s time for spring cleaning. Time to rid ourselves of unused and unwanted items. A rebirth of our household. A chance to also bring back to life our garden and yard. Filling bird feeders and getting our pond set up once more. A time to put behind the pastel colours and bring forth the vibrant greenery and rainbow flowers.

Time to get ready for summer weather and sunny days.

Burn!

Having an acre full of trees and bushes is wonderful. The lush abundance of nature is tranquil and serene. As well, we have a sense of privacy from our neighbors which is fantastic. The only problem is the upkeep of the yard.

But we have two times of the year that we can really tackle and take back the yard- October and April. That’s because we get to burn all the dead branches and leaves. My wife claims it to be the best yard work job to do. In other words- she loves destroying with fire!

Burning Season means we also get the entire family out in the yard to help. Cutting branches, ripping out brambles, pulling out invasive plants… All of which gets tossed onto the fire. My wife likes to take full advantage of the weather and her days off in order to make a big dent in the landscaping. Next month we will be maintaining what we planted as well as basic chores.

I enjoy the final results. After a hard day of yard work, you just want to sit and relax. I have come to be using our wheelbarrow as a seat now. I chill with a cold beverage and watch the fire as it winds down. A great opportunity to reflect on life. A fire pit and the sun setting on our abode ends the day.

Bonsai

I have always wanted a Bonsai. I tried to make one about 15 years ago, but I failed miserably. Mainly because I didn’t put in the care and effort needed to keep it alive. So why not try again..? I am using this as a zen inspired activity. Keeping it watered and trimmed from time to time will help to calm and relax.

I picked up a small juniper since they are the heartiest and easiest to form. I took it out of the plastic pot and planted it into a new clay pot. Unfortunately the pot I do have is a tad large for the roots. A healthy bonsai needs to have the roots trimmed as well as the branches. Unless I want the tree to grow fairly large. So another transplant may occur by the end of summer. We’ll see how it does.

Then came the time to trim away almost everything. A bit of wire was used to help form the branches. This is just the start of my bonsai. Keeping it trimmed and cared for will be ongoing for the remainder of my time. And a desperate hope to keep it alive…

Wish me luck in my Zen Adventure.

Yard Work, Yard Work, and More Yard Work

I have been tackling our yard over the past couple of days. Yesterday I was working on trimming our rhododendron bush when the rain hit. Today, I cleaned the green moss/mold off the front edges of our roof’s flashing.

Then I formed our boxwood bush using bailing wire and my electric hedge trimmer. Followed by planting some Hostas and Helleborus in a shady part of our front yard. I figure by the end of next week our front yard will win back it’s curb appeal.

Having an acre is difficult to maintain. It’s also difficult to figure out how to decorate and keep the flow going. We have a few spots that are overgrown or ignored. I’m hoping to change that this summer (on a budget!). Lots of work to do for the family.

Having three teenagers around can either be useful or frustrating depending on their attitudes of the day. Hopefully they will enjoy the fruits of their labors. I figure by the summer our home will be easier to maintain. Only time will tell.

Breaking up the Doldrums

Spring Break has been treating us to some wonderful sunshine and warmth so far. We’ve taken full advantage of it. From washing cars to yard work- our kids have been doing chores without complaints! I know, crazy talk but it’s true.

Here’s the thing, they do the work so they can have the freedom later. Our kids get to play some video games in the morning before we start on the chores for the day. If we get the chores done in a timely manner- the kids then get to play some tabletops games before dinner. Win-win for all of us! Plus a clean yard and car.

I love the fact that they also want to play their games outdoors. They put on some music in the background and proceed to play nicely together. They’re even getting some D&D characters made and shall depart on a journey that will likely last a few days. Seeing our children do their part around the house without a battle and getting along with one another makes me super proud.

What motivates your kids? How have you been spending Spring Break?

Rug Doctor

We live in a home that has very little carpet. In fact it’s only in our hallway and theater room. The rest of our home has tile or laminate hardwood flooring with a few throw rugs. I like not having carpet because it helps with my allergies. Sort of. Except we have a dog that sheds. He sheds a lot.

His shedding requires us to vacuum every few days otherwise there are tiny dogs everywhere in our home. Dog hair gets on all of our clothes as well.

The small amount of carpet we do have is rather, um, disgusting. No amount of vacuuming will get the dog hair out. Plus our once white carpet has turned beige with tons of spots everywhere. This is due to the kids growing up and spilling stuff everywhere. It may be time to steam clean it. It’s been probably a decade since the last time I tried to deep clean it.

When I was younger, my parents would rent a Rug Doctor every six months or so. They would spend an entire day on a long weekend cleaning our entire home. Being at home for this weekend of cleaning was stressful as well. Furniture would be moved around to one side of the room or kitchen in order to really clean the floors. No matter what they did though, the carpet would remain wet for three days after. Which was really gross because walking around your home in wet socks for a couple of days is unpleasant.

Eventually my parents bought a cheap steam cleaner that they had for years. It was okay at cleaning, but I’m pretty sure a professional would have been better. I don’t want to own a carpet cleaner since I would rather just get rid of our carpet all together.

I’m not sure when I will clean our carpets, if ever, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be renting a Rug Doctor and do it myself. Even if I have to go over the carpet a few times. I’m kind of cheap that way.

You Know You’re A Grown Up When…

Holy crap. My excitement level today shouldn’t have been so high. But it was. All because of a new Washing Machine. What is wrong with me?

Yesterday morning I mentioned our experience thus far with Home Depot Service. Later, a friend of mine asked if I got a phone call regarding the delivery. I in fact did receive an automated call at 5:30pm last night. Followed by a text message 5 minutes later. This is serious business folks! As you can see, it mentioned that the delivery would be between 11am And 3pm. No big deal- I was home for the day.

This morning at 10:30 I got a call from the delivery guy saying he’d be at our home by 11. Then he called my wife’s cellphone and told her the same thing. It was followed up by an automated call at 10:50 telling me they would soon be here. Ahhhh!!!

At 10:55 the truck was unloading our new washer. I didn’t even get a chance to take a photo of the box it came in. One guy was already removing our old washer out of our house at this time. I did get out and check for any damage and cosmetics of our new washer. Pristine.

At 11:05 they were done. Old washer gone- new one installed. Like magic little elves at Christmas- these guys were gone in a flash. So quickly in fact that I couldn’t even pick them out in a police lineup. Outstanding.

At 11:25 I received another automated call asking how my delivery and installation went. I gave all of the questions a “5 out of 5” rating.

In the end, Home Depot Services called me 7 times and texted me twice about our washing machine. All of the phone calls built up my excitement. About a washing machine! Not an upcoming birthday, or a new movie or even an exotic vacation. But a laundry device.

If a new washer can spark this kind of joy, I couldn’t imagine getting all new appliances for my kitchen at the same time. I’d probably die of a heart attack.

Taking This City for Granted

I’m always excited to travel to other countries, states, provinces, and visit different cities. I enjoy driving around certain cities such as Los Angeles or Calgary. Some of my favorite cities to walk around are Seattle, Tokyo, and San Jose. As well as the beaches of California and Hawaii. And of course, Disneyland.

Our adventures over the years have taken us to see some beautiful cities and picturesque landscapes. From unique architecture to forests to parks to beaches. But I forget that Vancouver is unique and beautiful in its own way. With many of the things I have experienced elsewhere.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to work downtown Vancouver. It made me want to come down to this city more often. I’ve begun to take the time and just wander around Vancouver as well as take in a Hockey Game with my son. Vancouver has parks and architecture that you can only find here.

The outskirts of Vancouver boast beautiful trails located in many municipalities; and White Rock’s beaches aren’t crowded. This year, we aren’t planning any big trips or vacations. I’m going to plan more daily explorations of our current stomping grounds. Let’s share what the Lower Mainland has to offer.

By all means, give me some ideas of places to visit and things to do. No need to keep secrets about this exquisite locale we call home.

Roof Repair

We had a fairly substantial rainfall the other day. At which point my wife noticed that the door frame to one of our bedrooms was leaking. Ya. The door frame. I knew immediately what it was from.

Two weeks ago, we had a tree fall on our roof during a Wind Storm. I had only gone out on the roof that day to quickly assess the damage and clear off the broke logs. At the time I didn’t see any damage near where the large logs lay. So I planned on going back up on another day to clear off the roof and check some more.

I forgot to go back up. Because Christmas got in the way.

Part of a branch had punctured through. When I finally pulled out the remnants, it was in the shape of a thick blade about two inches long. My guess is that it snapped off of part of the tree when it collided with our roof. And remained hidden by the other branches and twigs.

Out came Handyman Joe to the rescue. I cleared away the surrounding debris from the hole. I had a can of roof repair handy from previous years of issues before our old roof. I over-filled the hole, making sure that the tar went under the shingle. Then I went to work liberally applying and smoothing our the patchwork tar.

No way to know if my repair was successful until the next rain storm. But I have a feeling that I was. At least, keeping my fingers crossed that I was.

Christmas Video Games

Almost all my life, Christmas has involved video games. Either getting new systems or games. This year was no different.

We picked up a Switch for the family and the NES/SNES minis for my wife and I. Even though I didn’t want to last year. We also picked up a couple games to play. All afternoon and night yesterday had us playing as a family.

Even today, everyone has been gaming throughout the house. Lots of laughs and smack talk a-plenty. When I was younger, my family never played games with me. I did play with friends quite often. Which was great. I also powered through those endless games for hours on end.

As well when I was younger, we had one of those large wooden cabinet tvs that sat on the floor. Over the Christmases, starting around 1980, our home had consoles arrive that would require Channel 3 or 4 to work. Intellivision was our first one. A couple years later, we got a Colecovision/ADAM computer combo. At which point my father bought another tv. This time a small 13″ one that could go into a different part of the house so that I wouldn’t bother him as I played games.

Eventually, when we moved to a new home, that small tv ended up in my bedroom for a couple years. Until the Sega Genesis came into my life. We moved again, and then my parents bought themselves another tv and I was given the large old one. Which took up half my new bedroom. So I got a Futon bed to fold into a couch in order to play games more. Which meant I also never put it into bed form. Super Nintendo, followed by the N64 became favorites to play with friends as well.

Growing into an adult and having a place of my own for nearly the past two decades, I have changed TVs every couple of years. With technology constantly evolving, “upgrading” is one of my favorite things. This Christmas we upgraded our theater room projector. For about five- six years, we had a small 720p Epson projector. It got a ton of use. But as the game systems and games got visually better, it was time to upgrade.

So on Black Friday, we ordered a new projector online. Since we had such good luck with Epson, I wanted to stay with it. Our new projector shows images in 4K. We weren’t expecting it to be such a large machine. However, the entire family agrees that the quality in the images is incredible. Especially when shown on a 106″ screen.

It was strange today to play on the big screen and then take the Nintendo Switch out into handheld mode for the same game. Going from 106″ to 6.2″ would seem incomprehensible in 1980.

What memories do you have of video games? Do you still play them? Have you upgraded your tv or stereo to match the quality of modern systems?