Pool of Thought

At the start of my preteen years, we moved from the arctic tundra of Edmonton to the rain forest neighborhoods of Vancouver. We gave up ice and snow for an older home with a swimming pool. This was the greatest single thing that I appreciate my father ever doing for the family. Of course I was angry to leave my three closest friends behind, but I eventually made new friends. I did manage to keep in touch with my best friend since kindergarten 1981.

Back to talking about my first Langley house. I loved that home. I had plenty of privacy upstairs. My little sister didn’t like having the bedroom across the hall from me, so she moved downstairs and the upstairs became mine. We also had a large unfinished basement with plenty of space to become a second home. But the house had the greatest thing ever- a swimming pool.

Not one of those circular above ground pools that are only good for playing “Marco Polo”. This was a pool with a ten foot deep end, a slide and diving board. The prefect size for swimming laps and filling with 20 friends. Our backyard at the time was basically a large deck and the pool. Perfect for lounging on a hot summer day. I remember swimming in rainstorms and at night. My family sold that home due to many factors. One of them being the cost associated with upkeep and heating of the pool was far more than was worth the headache. My parents figured we weren’t getting much use out of the pool anymore, so it was time to move.

Since my memories of that home, whenever our family travels, we always have to book a hotel with a pool. I love swimming, my kids don’t overly care one way or the other. That being said, we’ve never bothered to pursue the idea of a pool in our current home. I do love the trees we have and don’t want to get rid of them to add a pool at this time.

Assuming our kids move out or we get grandkids, or my wife and I ever do sell this house- I’d like to find a home with a pool. It would be a treat for me to have a little oasis to enjoy. Or maybe one day we will redo the landscaping in our current yard and add a pool. I’m sure that a windstorm or two will knock down a few more trees over the years.

Perhaps that will be my midlife crisis. Who needs a luxury car? Give me a pool any day.

Birthday Weekend Flashbacks

Usually for my birthday I just celebrate on the day of my birthday. But since I went out to Throw Axes on Friday, my kids wanted to spend time with me on Saturday. So I did- it was fun and also bizarro with lots of familiarity surrounding it.

First thing in the morning- I shared a box of specialty KitKats that I had saved from last year’s trip to Tokyo. Keeping it hidden from the family for almost a year was challenging. I also ate the special March birthstone one I kept. Needless to say- these were just as unique as any other KitKats we sampled in Tokyo. The Butter flavor was amazing!

Later, we went out for Poké Bowls at a place in Langley called Dal’s Poké. This is probably one of the freshest meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant! If you’ve never tried a Poké Bowl, do it. It’s sort of like deconstructed sushi. Lunch inspired us to go pick up some Asian foods at the H Mart Korean grocery store.

Immediately after lunch we wandered a bit around Downtown Langley. As we hit some thrift shops, it was suggested that when we go to H Mart that we stop at an old video store called Willow Video. Walking into that place was like walking into the past. The store hasn’t changed in almost 30 years. I swear that the used games in the cabinets were the same ones that were there when I was a kid. Used Sega Master Systems, old Game Boys, and assorted Games with price tags from thirty years ago. The place still offers Video rentals and sales. Not to mention that the store was busy as well! Good for them.

After our shopping at the Korean store, and the kick in the nostalgia memory banks of Willow Video, we went to see if an old Billiard hall was open. Three weeks ago I had mentioned wanting to play Billiards again. But since so many of the places from my youth were gone, I could only find one of them- The Ballroom.

Walking upstairs into the hall hit me again in the memory banks of years gone by. Much like Willow Video- this place had also remained unchanged. It had been almost twenty years since I had been there and it looked like I could have been there just yesterday. The hall of a dozen or so tables was empty except for the cashier.

With an uncanny familiarity, I took the family to a corner table that I remember always favoring. My wife and I taught the basics of pool to the kids. They started to pick it up and enjoyed themselves. After an hour or so, we decided it was time to go. By this time a few more people entered the hall. A couple on a date and two older gentlemen with their personal cues.

March 16th, 2019 was like traveling back in time. Starting with some chocolates and ending at a pool hall that my wife and I last went to when dating twenty years ago. It was a great way to celebrate my birthday weekend with my family.

Billiards

When I was the age of 17, shooting pool was the start of adulthood. I played fairly regularly for about five years. My skill level was average at best. I enjoyed playing regularly, and would drag friends out with me all the time. Because I wanted to play, I oftentimes paid as well. That was where most of my spending cash went.

Teaching people how to play was always fun. When I first began, I did my best to learn from those who were better than me. I tried to pass on my knowledge to others as well. Playing against people who want to play made it more fun. Especially when the playing field was fairly level.

Being cool and looking cool meant playing pool. I never joined a league, I was never that good. Back in my day smoking was allowed inside the halls and bars. Drinking alcohol also boosted the confidence level with liquid courage. Cocky attitudes led to wagers and losses. But it also led to some witty banter and insults.

Back in 2012, I picked up a free pool table. At the time, we had an old wood working studio on the side of the house that I was using as a “Man Cave/Bar”. I found that I only played once every month or two and that the bar wasn’t being utilized. I wanted a hang out for me and friends, but socializing was difficult when I worked on-call or straight nights. My skill level at pool began to really suck.

Jump ahead to February 2015- I finished changing this bar into my wife’s studio. The pool table was a perfect height for her to use as a fabric cutting table. We joked that when she wanted a break, we would play a game of billiards. Four years later, we have yet to play.

I miss playing pool. I still have my first pool cue. I own a “19” in immaculate condition. I’d like to take my kids out and play with them. Maybe this could be a way to connect with them as they get older. Since our oldest is getting closer to the age I was when I first started. But if dad says “it’s cool” to play the game, they may not want to.

Synchronized Solo Swimming 

We are in a hotel overnight for a speed skating meet in the morning. We always like to stay at a Holiday Inn Express whenever we travel. Free breakfast and usually a pool.  We went down to the lobby pool for a little bit of fun to have the night before my kids’ competition.


Previous times that we’ve been in hotel swimming pools we love to play around. Hours of “Marco Polo” have been played. We even pretended to be a variety of sea life. I can do a wicked dolphin! Eeee-eee-eee! I get pretty noisy as well as we splash around. My kids have even pretended to be Godzilla and Ariel as we goof off.


Tonight was about Synchronized Swimming! It started with me doing it solo.  I was having so much fun, that my kids finally joined in. We did some poorly choreographed water ballet. Another family was at the pool and decided to escape. Not sure why. Sometimes people are afraid to be silly in public.


Burning off some energy after a half day of driving is always fun. I love that my kids can let loose and not care what others think. Maybe in the future we can get more synchronized at our swimming.