Darwin is Seventeen

Happy Birthday Darwin!

I can’t believe that it’s been seventeen years since our second child was born. I feel as though she will always be our little girl even as she enters adulthood. Much in the same way I see our other two children. Sometimes when you look them in the eyes, you can still see the child they once were. It must be a parent thing, because I hear the same thing about other people’s kids!

My favorite thing about Darwin is how she loves to be a goofball. I think she gets it from me… oops. I do appreciate that she looks up to me as a role model. And as much as she is very similar in personality to me, she is also has her own individuality. It’s as though she is taking my qualities and improving on them.

As the years go on, and she grows into a young lady, I wish her nothing but success and happiness through all of her accomplishments. Darwin leads the charge when it comes to hard work and commitment. I am inspired by her on an almost daily basis.

I love you lots Darwin. Have yourself a great Birthday!

Farewell Spring Break

Today is the last day of MY Spring Break– even though it’s the First Day Of Spring! My wife still has Sunday off and our kids have another week off from school. Lucky ducks.

I’m not sure how it went by so quickly. I was up early almost every day and stayed up late as well. We achieved a lot around the house through packing and donating. I think that was where all my free time went towards.

We did get some driving lessons in for our middle child, which was good. As well as a ton of emails and paperwork completed for the purchase of our new home. My wife and I spent a lot of time together on a few walks, and we went out for my Birthday supporting the local businesses.

I guess in the end, it was a fulfilled “Staycation” keeping me busy. It just seemed like something was missing. Perhaps the whole “can’t travel” outside of Canada has me down. I’m sure once more folks receive the vaccine, those borders will open up soon enough. For now, I should just appreciate the time I had at home with my family.

It would also be nice not to have to return to work… but bills gotta be paid somehow. Now to look forward to my next set of vacation days- set for when we move!

Bose Forest Park

Yesterday my wife and I took our teenagers to go and see the neighborhood we will be moving to. We parked up the street from our future home and explored the pathways. The area is called Bose Forest Park. It’s a well maintained set of trails in the suburbs. One of the paths lead past our new home, so we walked the neighborhood a bit as well.

Upon returning to the car, our teenagers excitedly went to the playground and goofed off. It brought me great pleasure to see the joy in their hearts as they played. They got along wonderfully and it made me realize that we did the right thing in choosing to move to that neighborhood.

My wife is happy that there are numerous pathways around with plenty of routes to choose from. After living in our neighborhood for so long, there is only so much you can see when you walk in a rectangle around the block.

I’m looking forward to the change and joining the suburban life. Don’t get me wrong- Country Living has been great and the neighbors have known each other for decades! But it will be neat to be a part of an ever changing community once more.

This time- we are going to be the newbies.

Hump Day Happiness

It’s always a good feeling when the weather is nice. The world just seems more alive and vibrant.

Sometimes a midweek break of poor weather has you looking forward to the weekend. A day at work or school just seems to be a bit more pleasant as you look out the windows. It lifts your spirits with the knowledge that the weekend is fast approaching.

Cresting Hump Day means the week is almost over. A sense of relief, a warm fuzzy, a breath of fresh air.

I like sunny hump days.

Recognized By My Peers

Today at work it was pointed out by my boss that I had won a prize for my participation in our my continued focus on our Safety culture. In my company’s program called “Looking Out For Each Other” it turns out that a coworker from another department nominated me for finding and correcting a safety concern in a timely manner.

I appreciate being nominated and getting the recognition. For me, this job is unforgiving and any safety issues should be dealt with quickly. Safety is a part of everyone’s job here- hence the idea of “Looking Out For Each Other”. I’ve worked here since 2007, and have made many friends. All of whom I want to see go home to their families and friends.

I was surprised by the recognition and reached out to the employee who nominated me. It was humbling to hear his take on why he nominated me.

I finished my work day feeling accomplished for the first time in ages. This was a good feeling that I needed.

Shiver Me Timbers

As we were hanging out last night near our home at the local park, the temperature dropped quickly. The subzero temperatures carried on into the day today. We are finally feeling winter here folks. But that’s okay…

We are getting a look at that sunshine out there. I’m seeing a ton of my friends sharing pictures of walking bundled up outside, enjoying the vitamin D. Because of the sun, we are not experiencing the heavy rainfall which is nice. Next week shows a chance of snow. In all honesty that should not be too bad.

It seems everywhere else in Canada the temperatures are far lower and drop quickly as darkness falls. So I’ll enjoy the Lower Mainland and this beautiful weather.

Do you enjoy the sun even when it’s cold outside? I know I do.

Ignoring the Faults in What You Love

We all have something that we love to indulge in. Be it food, a sports team, a book, a park, or even a movie franchise. Whatever the case may be, we each have a thing we love. And most of us ignore the flaws.

And we love to share these interests with others. Myself for example- I really enjoy Star Wars. The movies, the books, the toys, the props, the tv shows- all of it. I just love the sci-fi fantasy realm that has been created.

But it’s not perfect. I can even look past the flaws- Those Ewok movies and the Christmas Special- and still appreciate the shows. Nothing is perfect. And that adds to the charm of the series. The diehard fans can nitpick and dissect the shows all they want. But I’m gonna still love the series no matter what.

Especially Empire Strikes Back. That is the best of the film series hands down. Maybe Rogue One…

Vision Board

Recently I’ve seen a few mentions of something called “A Vision Board”. The idea fascinates me and I think it’s a unique idea. It’s something that I plan on trying this spring. Why am waiting until then? I dunno. It just seems like the right time. Maybe I should make a “Vision Board” about making a “Vision Board”…

What is a “Vision Board”? Basically it’s a poster board made up of images. You can create a collage of dreams and goals you have for yourself. Back in high school I remember collages being the big thing to do. Take some old magazines and cut out pictures that represent something and glue them all together. With a “Vision Board” it’ll give you something to focus on and work towards.

I always have goals. But doing something like a “Vision Board” might help to make them feel less lofty and more achievable. Seeing goals might help with motivation in achieving those goals.

Have you done a “Vision Board” before? Did it work for you? Let me know in the comments.

I also have no idea why I kept putting the words “Vision Board” in quotes.

Coffee Talk

This morning I met with a friend that I haven’t seen in about a year and a half. I suggested we do what the older people in my neighborhood do. So we went for a breakfast up the road at the Co-Op and shared stories over a cheap meal and cheap coffee. Like a couple of old guys just being old guys meeting up.

The reason for our lengthy absence wasn’t evident nor important. Life just, uh, finds a way. And life gets busy. We were both still in contact through social media and the occasional text message. But meeting face to face is always different.

What could’ve been a quick meet up, turned into a three hour talk. Discussions about family, work, and even politics were on the table. A healthy back and forth, sharing the ups and downs as of late, and offering sage advice to one another. We both have similar outlooks on all of the above. Both of us aiming to stay positive and working towards just being better people.

After three hours together, it felt as if we hadn’t lost anything in our friendship. Those hours today only felt like a brief moment. A moment that I was surprised had lasted so long. I sense that our friendship won’t ever falter. Perhaps we can meet up more often as the world gets settled into a new lifestyle.

It was good to talk to that old friend as we acted like old guys. My advice- don’t be afraid to just drop a line to someone who mattered in your life. You never know when you both need to reconnect.

Doctrine

This morning when I came home from work, I decided to have a cup of coffee as I usually do. Instead of grabbing one of the Matching Mugs that my wife and I use, I chose to grab an old mug of my father’s. I somehow inherited the mug decades ago, and forgot about its existence until today.

It states on the mug this poem:

Joe

Meaning: Contributor

If there is one doctrine

You truly believe

It’s this one: It is nicer

To give than receive.

Your heart is unblemished

By envy or greed;

You are there for all

In times of desperate need.

Because of the kindness

And love you distribute,

You shall improve this world-

You’ll truly contribute.

I remember gifting my father this mug when I was a child. With it’s faded paint and cracking glaze, it continues telling a story. One that I read numerous times growing up. A story that I feel I have inadvertently made real.

The doctrine on the mug is one I tend to follow as often as I can. Being an ear for the voices, having my hand to hold, and passing on my love to those who need it- fills me with a great joy. I’m always the person to be counted on when needed most.

First Day Of Autumn 2020

By the time you read my blog today, it will officially be Autumn. I love the changes in seasons. Each season is exactly the right length.

Even though this year has felt like it has drawn on forever, we are entering the final quarter. The last hurdle to go until 2021. To me, autumn gets broken down into pieces. We have the first week of Fall, Thanksgiving, Halloween, then November leading us into December and the excitement of Christmas Holiday Season.

By the time the Winter Solstice hits, we will be looking back on this year as if it had lasted a decade. A lifetime of history making done in a single year. It’ll be a relief to look back on 2020 and have it all behind us.

What is your favorite season? Are you ready for 2021?

Loving My Kids

These are my three kids. Even though they are teenagers growing into adults, they will always be my kids. This picture was from last Monday- the first day of “full time” school.

My family puts up with me during my tough emotional time from September to November. Yesterday they joined me as I went to the graveyard to visit my father’s resting place. We didn’t really talk about him while we were there. Which was okay. They were with me showing some emotional support. I just needed them to be there.

Afterwards we went out for donuts. We sat at a table in a small coffee shop and enjoyed ourselves. No talk about anything pressing. Just idle chitchat. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon followed by a home cooked meal.

It brings me joy that my kids can be so loving. I need it from time to time.

Playing 78’s

Today marks what would’ve been my father’s 78th birthday. Over the years I have not been too kind in sharing memories of him. This year I am going to do my best to share a couple of bittersweet experiences instead.

In the past I have gone to visit his grave and enjoyed a Molson Canadian beer in his honor. That was the beer of choice by my father. I remember the stale scent of Rothman’s cigarettes and beer emanating from his beard as I grew up. It was a very distinct odor on evenings and weekends that only my father possessed.

During the day, he would have the aroma of Halls Lozenges mixed in with the scent of Cigarettes. He always had a package in his car and would pop one in his mouth from time to time. They sat in the change holder near the car stereo. After unwrapping one of the square candies, he would bunch up the waxed paper into tight little balls while a song played on the radio. At the end of the song, he would place the tiny paper balls into the car’s ashtray. It was an odd habit, but one that was distinctly his.

I never knew my father to enjoy music the way I do. In September of 1981 he did buy a brand new stereo from Sears. Perhaps as a birthday gift to himself since he rarely wished to celebrate birthdays in group settings. The JVC LXI came in numerous large metallic framed pieces. A set of oversized 12” subwoofers, an amplifier, tape deck, radio and record player. I was with him when he purchased it from the local Sears in Edmonton. We brought it home and he set it up in the dining room on the china cabinet. Where it would remain until we moved.

I remember that once it was set up, he put on a record and I sat directly in front of one of the speakers to listen to the music. I was five at the time and just amazed at the magic behind how it worked. After a few hours, my father made me wear some headphones instead and turned off the speakers.

For the remaining few years in Edmonton, my mother would put on her “Highland records” and sing her Scottish songs. Occasionally ABBA would be put on the turntable (I think that’s where my love of disco originated). I was never allowed to touch the records in fear that I would scratch them. As well, my records were only permitted on my children’s plastic record player- not the high end one that my dad purchased.

Looking back on that purchase, I realized my father didn’t do it for himself. He did it for my mother… and in a way for me. I became entranced by music that wasn’t just learning my ABC’s. I fell in love with all genres and memorized numerous song lyrics as I grew up. The only music my father would listen to was the radio on his commute. No cassettes or records were ever played by him in our home.

Nowadays, in my home, music is always being played throughout the house. I set up speakers in every room, and we play music that keeps us all entertained. The family sometimes argues over what to listen to, because they don’t always want to listen to disco… but that’s okay. We all enjoy the fact that music brings us together.

Perhaps now my father listens to his collection of 78’s in the afterlife. Keeping his emotions to himself like he always did. His bits of sharing while he was alive was minimal, but effectual. I always thought he liked Elvis because of the records he owned, but I could be wrong.

That’s my story about my father and how he inadvertently created my love of music. Happy Birthday Dad.

Aldergrove Regional Park

Today my wife asked if we could go for a walk together. She has been going around the neighborhood daily for a few years now. Yes, years. And since the weather was fairly decent today, she wanted to go elsewhere. We ended up going to the Aldergrove Regional Park.

We took a lovely stroll along a horse trail. We saw four horses (no, not the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse) stride past us with a quick hello to the riders. But that was about it. The park was quiet. I think people forget that we have such beautiful locations that we can still enjoy during these crazy times. Even I forget.

The walk was serene and peaceful. The fresh air and lack of worries really cleared the mind. I think I need to do this type of activity more often, even though it feels forced by my wife. That’s only because when she’s ready for the walk, it means we are both to be ready. That brings up some conflict which usually has me lounging at home and her enjoying a walk.

What I’m saying is that she was right. Enjoying nature has it’s mental healing properties. And I’m glad I went.

Estranged Stranger

I am an adult. I do adult things. I work hard to be the best husband and father that I can be. I also have friends and coworkers who rely on me and whom I rely on equally. I think I’m doing a pretty good job out there.

Over the years, I have chosen to lose contact with certain friends. Sometimes we just drift apart. Other times it was a misunderstanding or disagreement. That’s totally fine. Recently I was contacted by an old friend out of the blue. We shared stories and thoughts as if we hadn’t skipped a beat in our friendship. When I’m usually the one reaching out, it was heartwarming to know that he reached out to me instead.

As an adult with a life I in which I am trying to have filled with joy and happiness, I’ve chosen to lose contact with my mother and sister. My mother and sister have their own lives. I was often putting forth the effort to stay in contact and don’t have the energy to do it any further. It’s been a few months now, and I’m okay with that. After a few decades, it’s time to move on. I have other people who mean more to me in my life.

On the other hand, it’s also hard to want to miss somebody who could’ve been a bigger part of my life. How do I miss someone I’ve never met, like my Unknown Half Sister? It’s weird to think that there could’ve been someone I could look up to and ask advice. But that never came to fruition. That was more my parents’ choice to hide her existence for most of my childhood. As an adult, I just don’t care to discover an estranged stranger on the other side of the planet.

I sometimes dwell on the past. But I also move forward from these thoughts rather quickly. As I write this I know that it is helping me move forward with my life. I’m excited about the possibilities that my future has in store with friends and immediate family. Perhaps one day I’ll miss someone I haven’t met yet.

Utilizing The Weather

It’s another beautiful day on the West Coast. I decided to make the most of it and get some “winterizing” done. I headed to the gas station and filled a large jerrycan for future use in our backup Generator in case of a power failure. Our one daughter filled six yard waste cans with leaves and our other daughter cleared off the roof and driveway.

Then I did the unthinkable.

I put up our Christmas Lights.

I figured I might as well do this chore while the weather is warm instead of waiting until December. The lights won’t be going on until then. But why not put them up ahead of time? I’m also not the type of person who leaves the lights up year round.

Either myself or my daughter are up on our roof every couple of weeks blowing leaves and pine needles off as it is. So taking a few moments today made sense to check the downspouts and put up those lights. I was able to enjoy a bit of quiet contemplation time on the roof. There’s something calming about autumn when you get to enjoy a few hours of beautiful sun and crisp air.

Now to head back inside and pour a nice cup of tea while we listen to music.

Reset The Week

Okay people- it’s Monday. Time to start a new week. Let’s put those negative feelings behind us and create new goals. We got this. There’s seven days to look forward to this week. Two of them happen to be the weekend as well!

So let’s get us a coffee, check the interwebs for some feel good inspiration and tackle this week. Unless you started your week on Sunday, then you’re already a day ahead. So good on ya! One down and six to go.

Don’t Worry – Be Happy

Back in 1988, I got a tape cassette for the “Cocktail” movie soundtrack. I had never seen the film- I was only thirteen at the time (I still haven’t seen it). Going to movies at that age were generally comedic or of a family style. But this film had a soundtrack that perfectly summed up that year.

I listened to it on my ghetto blaster over and over. A favorite song being, “Don’t Worry- Be Happy“. I played this soundtrack so much that a couple of years later- when my parents bought their first CD player- I was given the soundtrack again on CD.

To this day, I still like this soundtrack and that particular song. The advice is prevalent even more so in this day and age. So get out there and live life. The best way to do this-

Don’t Worry – Be Happy

Good Fortune

On the last day of my work week, my boss threw a fortune cookie at me. It read:

“Be yourself and you will always be in fashion.”

This is pretty much how I live my life. Especially when it comes to fashion. I just dress the way I want. Sometimes it’s a bit out there and odd. I guess that’s what makes me unique.

But if I believed baked goods could tell me my future- then there may be something wrong with me. But since I don’t, I suppose it’s still fun to read these fortunes. Horoscopes are the same way. Decipher the deeper meaning to make it pertinent to your life or situation. Read into the signs to reflect what you want to hear.

Or just be yourself and always be in fashion.

One Month Sober

I successfully went the entire month of September not being abducted by aliens not drinking. I’m not gonna lie, I feel goram good about it. (That’s my Firefly reference for the year btw). it was a personal goal that I successfully met. Like when I quit smoking cold turkey 13 years ago.

Being that the limitations I set out a month ago were personal ones, there was nothing stopping me from giving up and having just one drink last month. No one else would’ve cared. But it mattered to me. A couple times I really wanted a beer to just “feel normal” after a tough day. I contemplated whether drinking makes me normal or if my indulgences make me more like Rick Sanchez. Thus making drinking a part of who I am.

Will I have a drink on “Day One” after my month of sobriety?

Not likely.

Will I refrain from ever drinking again? Doubtful. I’m just not planning on partaking in alcohol any time soon.

Previously I would look forward to my days off or vacation time by planning my drinking schedule. WOW that sounds bad. But when I’ve been drinking for 25 years, that’s kinda how I plan my life- it just became normal. What’s strange about that observation is that many people live like this. Planning to the end of the work week or the next social drink. This is totally acceptable.

I never let alcohol interfere with work or the obligations to my family. But when you train your kids how to serve a drink or fetch a beer- is that the role model I really want to be? Haha, maybe… it’s cute in a bizarre way to have a two year old hand you a beer, right?

I’ve always become more socially fun after a few drinks. It doesn’t mean I don’t have fun when not drinking. It’s just a different “let loose” fun.

When I examine my lifestyle- Staying alcohol free may be the best plan for at least a little while longer. My bank account is feeling relief. My body is doing great- I’m napping less and my allergies are calmer. But I don’t think it’s ever going to happen that I never touch a drop again. I am in no rush to grab a beer over the next while that’s for sure.

But I am starting vacation soon… and there’s this margarita stand that I like…

Positive Mental Attitude 

One of the few things I took from my father was his attitude towards life.  (I also took his asshole personality and tweaked it a bit, but that’s for another day.)  My father wore a necklace for as long as I can remember with PMA engraved on it.  He told me that it stood for Positive Mental Attitude.  It’s a mantra that I have since adopted in my day to day life.

 

What a bunch of hippy, dippy, baloney.

 

The other side of my father’s necklace had NMA engraved.  It stood for Negative Mental Attitude.  He wore the necklace with NMA against his chest and PMA facing outwards.  He told me it was in order to keep the negativity inside and express positivity outwards.  It’s about the most spiritual my father was in life.  I’m not a very spiritual person but I do believe in being kind.

This world has too much negativity flowing through its veins.  It’s never going to disappear.  The best we can do is try and not add to it.  Everyday I try and act positive towards my family, friends and coworkers.  Sure, I poke fun at them from time to time, but I’m also ok being on the receiving end of a good natured joke.

Teaching my children to have empathy and be nice to others is my way of trying to move the next generation forward.

To quote one of my favorite films, Brazil, “Listen, kid, we’re all in it together.”

…well, that’s a pipe of a different color.