Stepping Up

My family and I have been volunteering at our Speed Skating club since September 2010. As the years have gone on, volunteer work at other events has also happened. As I mentioned yesterday, we had our First Meet of 2021. My wife, myself, and our seventeen year old volunteered for the entire day. Our fifteen year old son competed in the morning, then volunteered for the afternoon.

Our son went above and beyond in his role. Originally he was going to be on the ice as a Track Steward. That meant he would check the ice after each race, adjust the markers, and assist as needed. Instead, at lunch he was asked if he could coach on the sidelines to a new skater from out of town. That skater came down with his father, but did not have a coach there. Because our children have done assistant coaching and coaching over the last few years, Theory stepped up to help without hesitation.

Because this meet was on our home ice, our son knew where to be to offer encouragement and support to a skater he met just moments prior. Watching my son on the sidelines calling out advice and coaching was one of the proudest moments in parenting that I have had. Theory is a great person and offers plenty of encouragement as it is already.

It feels as though our family has made a name for themselves in the local Speed Skating community. I hope it continues on for years to come. I know I’ll be volunteering still and I know our teenagers are enjoying it as well.

Moving The Goal Post

I’d like to think that everyone sets goals and does their best to achieve them. Sometimes along the way the goal might change or the route to get there will alter slightly. You know what? That’s okay.

In the end you get where you’re going. Savoring the accomplishments is tough to remember to do. Reflection is also required once in a while. We may forget that we had a goal and it can come and go- and we don’t notice how hard we worked towards it.

Goals can be big or small. They can be health related or career oriented. You can have more than one goal at a time, and achieve more than one at a time as well.

Sometimes we think we want a goal but it’s not the right goal so we abandon it. That’s fine as well. For years I wanted to write a novel, instead I have been blogging about my life and thoughts every day since January 2016. They say “write what you know.” I know about me.

So check on your goals. Readjust as needed. Set some new goals. Achieve and fail, but learn along the way. Be the best you that you can be.

GOAL!

Red Sun

It was another beautiful evening to watch the sun go down. Tonight’s colour palette was brought on by the smoke and haze of forest fires.

Watching the sun set is different than taking a picture of the sun setting. The magnitude of the visual of the sun in real life far exceeds what my iPhone camera can capture.

The sun was burning red tonight. Watching it over the horizon was surreal. As if we were living on another planet. It’s not supposed to be red. But it was. And it looked amazing.

Do you watch the sun go down whenever possible?

Simple Breakfasts

In this day and age people love to share photos of their meals. I am not ashamed to say, but I have also done this (and still do on occasion). Even though restaurants or homemade meals can look and taste amazing, sometimes it’s the simple foods that can also spark joy.

Today I was looking forward to having a bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh blueberries. This meal brings back a various flood of memories for me. The first time I had granola for breakfast I was about fifteen. I had gone with a friend and his family up to the Okanagan to pick apples for a week. I fell in love with this sweet, yet healthy snack. Later in life- my wife and I spent our two day honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in Harrison Hot Springs. That was where I had yogurt, granola and fresh fruit served to me. It seemed elegant and heartwarming at the same time. A true B+B experience.

Yesterday I had buttered toast with marmalade. Again, simple and tasty. This is a meal I have maybe once every couple of years. That’s because I don’t find it overly filling. So if I want a light breakfast- toast is it. To me, orange marmalade is a special treat for on top. I first had marmalade when I was four years old. It was on my first trip to Scotland. I thought it was a big deal to eat this in a foreign country.

At my grandparents house in Scotland, they had 3 channels on the television back in 1980. Paddington Bear (the 1976 BBC series) was on every morning. He ate marmalade. My mother made it a big deal that she could get me some marmalade if I wanted too. To be four years old and eating the food that a funny little bear was eating during his daily adventures- was like a dream come true. I’ll always associate marmalade with that bear and those memories of my youth.

Simple foods can bring forth a flurry of beautiful memories. Do you associate breakfast food with a fond memory?

Celebrity Fun

Over the years I have met numerous celebrities. That is mainly due to me being a Convention Carny. I’ve even had quite a few interactions with celebrities online as well. Most recently was my all time favorite- Elvira.

I had the luxury of meeting Cassandra Peterson in person in Vancouver followed by a few weeks later in Los Angeles. She was so nice to my daughter and I. I learned that her sense of humor is raunchy and fun, so a random comment on Instagram made me happy that she responded. Oh yeah, 13 year old me still has the hots for her.

The fact that Pee-Wee Herman and Elvira are close friends makes me happy as well. A few years ago, Mr. Herman liked a comment of mine on Facebook. I’ve dressed as PW for Halloween and acted the part as well.

But my favorite set of celebrity friends is Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton. I’ve had the opportunity to met them both a couple times at various conventions and even played a board game with Felicia Day.

Celebrities are like regular people running a business. The interactions they have with the public is akin to promoting a product. That product being their status in the media world. It’s fun and neat when they communicate indirectly with you. A moment of connection occurs.

Have you had any good interactions with celebrities? Or even any bad ones? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to continue being an influencer now… to my family.

Patience Young Grasshopper

For the first time in over three decades, I caught a grasshopper. Super exciting, I know. But this summer is also the first time in about thirty years since I’ve even seen a grasshopper. I hadn’t realized that fact until I saw one.

It’s just an insect. No big deal to most folks. I found it fascinating as a flood of memories came swarming into my head. My wife and I were walking along a berm that ran behind our home the other day when my first encounter occurred. A similar type of place from my youth where we would hunt grasshoppers and frogs.

I remember spending hours in the fields and mud trying to capture these hopping critters. Taking your time to sneak up on one only to miss nine times out of ten. But that final catch always made you proud. My friends and I would take the grasshoppers or frogs home in an ice cream bucket with holes punched in- just to show the other kids in the neighborhood. This made you the highlight of a hot summer day.

So here is my ice cream bucket. A quick photo of the grasshopper I caught. I hope that for a brief moment it brings you joy like it did me.

Garage Success

About a month ago I mentioned about Making Space In The Garage. We have been able to park my wife’s car on her side since then. We also rearranged some of the storage last week to make it more accessible and easier to manage. This afternoon- we tackled my side. And won!

With a few things still needing better placement, I’m happy with the progress. We have some donations to send out and some recycling to toss that will help with the space. But all in all, I now have a spot to park my car.

We now have two cars parked in a two car garage! This makes me tremendously happy. Much to their chagrin- I had to have to kids out there to enjoy my moment of triumph! This was a total “Dad Flex” to unbury the garage and park our cars.

Go Joe! Next is to organize the shed…

Quiet Streets

Working nights can be a beautiful thing. As much as I sometimes complain, there is still some good that can be found in the night shift.

My favorite thing about working at night is how quiet the streets are. I can travel down the city streets with no other cars in sight and make every green light. Even the commute is easier. I’m busy traveling in the opposite direction from rush hour traffic.

I also really like the peace and quiet that nighttime brings with it. There’s a certain time at around 3am that just seems to shut down the world. As if the universe is resetting itself to begin anew.

I’m also enjoying the last couple of nights because the temperature drops to a comfortable level. Normally I’d feel as if I was missing out on the daily grind. But our record breaking heatwave was getting to be unbearable.

Do you work shift work? How do you like it? Drop your opinion in the comments section and let me know.

Back To Work Blues

Vacation doesn’t last forever. It was time to return to work last night. After getting through a couple thousand emails, I was up to date with the operation. But in the back of my mind all night was thoughts of our new home.

When I finished my night shift, I headed home and got into some swim trunks. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed down to the pool. As exhausted as I was from doing my first night shift in ages, I still enjoyed the refreshing water. I’m even contemplating doing yoga this summer.

Standing on my deck I realized- this is my lifestyle now. You know what else? In two weeks I have some more vacation time to chill out in our yard. I plan on owning the summer and making the most of what we have.

5

FIVE… 5 days to go people! Here comes number five for my numerical blog posts as you countdown with me to our new home. Let’s go retro fun to start on today’s blog.

When I first moved to British Columbia, my mother bought me some books. Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series was some of my favorite childhood novels. I spent hours in my room reading about the adventures of these kids. Especially as a child who had no friends moving province to province. This was my version of the Harry Potter series, only without magic. I never did pass these novels onto my kids, but they did read a lot of their own books growing up.

Number 5 is alive! Short Circuit was a fun movie from the 80’s. Not a great plot, more relying on slapstick and humor to get the film through. Yet, anyone around my age can quote this film in some way. “No disassemble!” In fact, I’m hoping that one day I can a Johnny 5 with my 3D printer.

I can’t talk about the number 5 without mentioning I have a family of five. We have all been working so hard to get ready for this move. It is an emotional time for all five of us. Leaving one home to get into another. This countdown is getting us closer to that day. A chance to create a new home.

To quote Johnny 5- “Home… Number 5, home.”

21

May 29,2000. Twenty one years ago my wife and I met. We have been together almost every day since then. Any time we have been apart, we have spoken on the phone. The time we have had apart is so minimal that I’d hazard a guess it’s been less than one month all added up.

We are moving into our dream home in twenty one days. I am nervous and excited at the same time. Change is good. Like all of the changes that have entered my life, the biggest ones have occurred with Lee-Anne by my side.

In all this time, my wife has- and will be- the constant that makes my life matter most. She has pushed me beyond my comfort levels and helped in creating who I am today. From parenting to career to travel to just living life- after meeting Lee-Anne my journey has been a whirlwind of excitement.

In July we will celebrate twenty years of marriage. In our new home, with an adult child and two teenagers to celebrate with us. I’m always amazed to look back at life and see the journey we have been on. Sometimes you miss the process as you are in the midst of it.

Twenty One. What a great number.

ENDY- Will It End My Poor Sleep?

Man, it feels as though I’ve been complaining a lot lately about getting old and my ailments. Sorry about that. This is my last one for a while, I promise.

Couple of human sized divots from a decade of sleeping.

Our king size mattress has been causing restless nights over the past while. Waking up with back and shoulder pains was making my wife and I cranky. So we discussed getting a new mattress for when we move.

My wife placed an order for the ENDY mattress because it was coming with some free bedsheets if we order before the end of May. We expected the mattress to show up next week some time. Instead it arrived the next day. Awesome!

This morning I swapped out our old mattress for the new one with the help of our kids. Then off to the Waste Transfer Station (A nicer way to say Garbage Dump) to get rid of the old mattress. $15 to ditch a bad night’s sleep. Better than offering it out to friends.

We are looking forward to our first sleep on the ENDY. With all of the positive reviews, if it lasts ten years like our other mattress then it will be well worth it. If you want to get one for yourself, check out this link: ENDY.

Now to make the bed and take a nap.

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.