Staycation- All I Ever Wanted…

Today I am starting my 11 day vacation. I booked this time off in January as a “back-up” trip to Disneyland when I realized that July’s trip may get affected. And July’s trip did get affected. But so did my back-up dates. So now I am having a Staycation.

Today will be an ever increasing lazy day of sleeping and napping. Over the next few days the rest of my family still has school, online courses and work. I will have the freedom to do whatever I want. You know what that means…

That means time to get really invested in my 3D printing! Download files, prepare the files, print the files, curse that there is a failure, reprint the files, sand the print, paint the print, sand the print, paint, assemble the print, print another file, fail at that and reprint it… the list goes on. But I will have all the time in the world (or at least daylight hours) to work on my prints.

Since I am a Star Wars fan- I actually intend to print a life size droid. This week will give me a good jumpstart on my first one. I suspect it will take me the better half of the year to really get an R2 unit put together. So I may start with something smaller or easier. Yes- I plan on having a few droids built. Don’t tell my wife.

Having time for me is going to be nice. It’s been a very long time since I’ve really focused on what I want. Usually I put the family first and enjoy the ride. We will still hang out this weekend together, but during the week- that will be my time. Or rather, my 3D printer’s time.

Early Autumn Morning Drive

Living in the countryside has its advantages. My commute to and from work can be long and tiresome. I try and use that time to decompress and leave the workload behind me. Driving home from a night shift lately has been rather pleasant.

I enjoy the sunrise in the autumn much more than any other time of year. The sun is at a slightly different angle as well as a bit later to rise. A misty morning makes the light of day shimmer with a hazy aura. As if the trees are glowing and preparing to change colors.

Having trees all around my neighborhood makes for a peaceful autumn morning. A freshness is in the air. One that you cannot experience in the suburbs or city. It clears my head and relaxes me on a daily basis. My own little zen experience.

An autumn morning drive fills me with contentment. This world is a pretty place.

Friday’s Sideline

I can’t believe there is only 14 Fridays left in the year. There’s even a Friday the 13th coming up in November. But during all of what has gone on thus far in 2020- Friday happens to be just another day. No big plans ever get made anymore.

My Friday began earlier than normal. The smoke and hazy has been doing a number on my breathing. I feel like I did when I was a smoker- having to wake up with a “Smoker’s Cough” in order to start my day. Once I was awake, I just decided to get on with my day. Mostly obsessing over the 3D printer. (I did make chili at one point for dinner, but that was the extent of my other activities)

I like my new hobby. In a few days I’ll share with everyone the finished projects that I have been working on. I can also understand now why people own more than one printer- I have a slew of files saved and ready to be created. However, my big project- I plan on starting that in the new year.

Until then, I will be creating a few gifts for the family. Some will be sanded and painted, others shall remain unfinished and rough. Having a day to myself has been rather pleasant.

Working Stress-Free

Sometimes a night at work can be relaxing. Having a purpose and doing a job can help alleviate the stresses of the world.

All those crazy emotions of home life are put on pause during the hours at my job. I’d like to think that life away from work is calm and peaceful, but it isn’t always. The worries of returning to school during a pandemic are highest in my home. Like many other parents, we are just waiting to see how life plays out.

So I take solace at my job. Where precautions have been taken since the beginning. A job I have done for almost 13 years. A place I know all too well keeps me calm.

Playing Around

Camping is filled with loads of keeping ourselves active. We have been spending most of our time at the beach and in the water. Flying a drone, tubing, kayaking, fishing, playing cards, and cooking over a campfire. These are what makes the experiences more and more enjoyable.

Plus we have limited cellular service. So we are using our phones to take pictures and listen to music. I sneak off to a little island by kayak in order to get 2 bars of service in order to blog each day.

Priorities, am I right?

Twenty Mile Bay 2020

This is our fifth year of going to Twenty Mile Bay to enjoy some camping at the end of August.

First off, the weather looks like it will be in our favor. Should be a comfortable week ahead with loads of sunshine. Honestly, we have been lucky every year we go. Not once has it rained. We did have one year of gusty winds- where our tent was trying to eat us. But it made for good kite flying.

The part I do not like is driving the logging road to the site. We drive about 45 minutes on nicely paved roads doing the speed limit. Then we have to drive about another 45 minutes navigating a rough path going up and down the mountain. With many parts only able to get one vehicle by at a time.

At least the check out time for the campsite is a few hours before the check in time. This means you rarely have oncoming traffic to negotiate around. Plus I like getting there at check in time to set up and start enjoying the trip.

Stay posted for lots of pictures coming soon!

Bathtub Blues

After my time away with my wife on our anniversary, I think I need more bathtub time. We have a tub in our main bathroom, but haven’t used it since we had to wash toddlers. We now have teenagers who use all the hot water in the walk in shower downstairs.

This is our tub. Not very appealing. Can you believe this tub was cleaned two weeks ago? Turns out the cold water has a leaky washer. The hard water we have from our well is making the pipes and tap corroded. Hence why no one uses the tub (except occasionally to rinse hair dye out).

We have an exceptionally large main bathroom. Upgrading the tub and fixtures has been a plan since we bought our home Thirteen Years Ago! I think that after all these years, and the ugliness dripping out of the walls, it is time to get a tub that we can enjoy once more.

Question is- do we install a “Soaker Tub” or a “Jacuzzi” style? Perhaps a two person tub for my wife and I to enjoy once the kids move out? Or do I just buy a new washer and fixtures and call it done?

Of course I want to DIY the heck out of this project! I love the feeling of getting a project like this done. I’m sure that the cost would put weigh the time exponentially. But…

But… spelled backwards is Tub. Let’s do this before more “buts” come forth. Get some butts in a tub again!

Camping at Home

Our middle child has the right idea. Since we came home from camping last week she decided to set up the tent in our backyard.

Having a yard with a park like setting is my favorite part about not living in the suburbs or city. I sit out on one of our four decks on a regular basis to just enjoy the country life. Almost every one of our meals is had on our covered deck. Since installing the Porch Swing in our front yard, I have spent more time out there after a day at work.

Our tree deck is still my favorite of all the decks we have. The family is utilizing it more frequently as well since I added the deck chairs and lights. It also happens to be where the tent got set up for the past week. Our daughter has been the only one sleeping out there. Except yesterday when I disappeared into the tent for a nap.

The peace and quiet was thoroughly enjoyable. As it always is in our park like setting.

Ending Vacation / Starting Short Work Week

My vacation is over which means back to work for me tonight. I have a “week” of night shifts. But it’s really only three nights. I have a four day weekend coming up starting Wednesday. Which makes it nicer to ease into the workload after vacation.

It’s been nice just doing camping, kayaking, and hanging out. No smell of diesel or grain dust on me. I will need to dig out my work clothes and gear before I return to work this evening.

My wife doesn’t return to work until tomorrow. So she is going to relax for one more day while I nap before my night shift. Pretty sure she is going to play video games. She has an extra day off on Thursday so her work week is shortened as well.

So far summer has been pretty good to us. I hope for it to continue over the next couple months.

Time For A Tech Break

Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.

It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.

I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.

Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.

Kayaking the Salmon River, Fort Langley

Today my wife and I went out kayaking again. We drove towards our children’s school, and sauntered down the Salmon River in Fort Langley.

We parked along Glover Road and walked down a path and put the kayaks into the water. My wife and I slowly followed along the water for around and hour and a half. It was a nice leisurely paddle. But we also knew that we’d have to paddle back.

It was another calm, zen like experience. Since we were in Fort Langley, we decided that we would stop at The Trading Post for a snack and a beer. It was a great experience, we even made friends with an older couple who were out on a motorcycle cruise.

If the weather holds up into tomorrow, we hope to kayak once more locally. I’ll be sure to share that experience here on my blog.

The Vedder Made Today Better

I am so happy that my wife had us pick up a couple of kayaks last summer. We go a lot of use out of them last year, and we don’t want the momentum to stop this year. My wife joined a kayaking group on Facebook and there have been some great locations shared. Today, we drove about thirty minutes away from our home to enjoy a spot.

I want to start off by saying, it took me longer to get the kayaks ready today. That was because our fourteen year old son wanted to learn how to strap the kayaks to the car and he did the majority of it. There is a bit of an art to getting kayaks tied down, so I was glad to share the knowledge with him. I also enjoyed just chatting with Theory. He’s a bright kid who is always curious about how the world works.

Onto my wife and I and our afternoon. We found the small boat launch with ease. There was a few people around fishing, but no boats on the river. So we unloaded quickly, sunscreen and bug spray was applied and into the water we went.

My wife described the water as “Glass” and she was right. It was one of the smoothest paddles I have ever experienced. The water levels were so high, that at times we were not just going through tall grasses, but literally floating through the trees. It was calm and amazing.

We spent a good two hours just casually enjoying the views. We saw Canada Geese, ducks and a couple of cranes. It was quiet and peaceful as we wandered out.

By the time we returned, there were four more kayakers hitting the water. There’s something about kayaking that brought up conversations with strangers. We chitchatted with a few people as we packed up, because another couple of groups showed up. This spot is appealing right now because of the high water level and calmness. In a couple of weeks, the water will drop and the river will have an entirely different feel.

Chances are my wife and I will go back in a couple of weeks to see the change. But until then, there is so much more of British Columbia to explore. If you missed my Instagram video, here is a quick shot of a couple of cranes that we saw:

What Were The Skies Like When You Were Young?

The skies always had little fluffy clouds in them.

I love staring into the skies and seeing the clouds floating there. I’ve done it since I was a child. Sometimes I just get lost in thought as I daydream. I sometimes think back to my late teens and listening to “The Orb”.

Stereophonic and psychedelic- a peaceful easy feeling. Listening to music while staring off was a great way to pass the day. A simplistic time in my youth where nothing mattered.

Clouds continue to take me away to my happy place. A spot in my mind that no one can control-the depths of my id. The inner me of me.

The skies continue to bring tranquility to me. I love taking photos of the clouds. I try and take pictures with clouds in the background as well when doing pictures of the outdoors.

Do you like clouds?

I’m Done

I’m finally through the longest mentally exhausting work week ever. Even though it was just my regular schedule, and the workload hadn’t changed, I’m done. I can actually feel my body loosening up and needing rest.

I’m going to take some much needed “me time” this weekend. I hate to do it, but I may need some time away from the family as well. If only for a couple of hours. I feel like I’m mentally overwhelmed and not making sense any more. I want to get back to normal.

By normal, I don’t mean “The New Normal” that everyone is talking about. I need to get back to my “Joyous Josef” normal. Fun t-shirts, silly discussions and laughing. That’s the normal I desperately need.

I’m done with not feeling normal this week.

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.

A Galaga Havelka

I enjoy painting. I think I’m okay at it. I found that over the past couple of days I dove into my art for hours on end. I only noticed how much time was spent because I would suddenly be hungry.

The other day, my inspiration was an old painting I remembered from my childhood. Read about it here: Shelley. When I posted the image on Instagram my sister thought it was the original painting. (Just a side note: I am in no way trying to plagiarize the original art style for any type of profit. I just really wanted to recreate a memory.)

Yesterday, I finished a completely different piece. It was inspired by my poem I shared the other day, Machine and the original marquee for Galaga/Galaxian artwork. I have always been fascinated with the late 70’s/early 80’s arcade artwork. Something about the artistic styling being more lively and vivid then the pixelated games themselves. As if your imagination was needed to make those dots come to life.

I’d like to start on another piece. But I don’t really know what to do. I will just have to wait for inspiration to hit me. Like when one of the space invaders from Galaxian destroys my ship in an endless battle.

Oddly Satisfying Videos

There are times when I still get sucked into social media for hours on end. I don’t really know how or why. But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

I sometimes fall down a rabbit hole of “ODDLY SATISFYING VIDEOS”. Everything from wood turning to glass blowing to brick stacking. Seeing those menial tasks that people do on a regular basis bring me joy. especially when they’re good at what they do.

I also watch these videos muted. I prefer to read captions and not listen to the generic music used. I do find that if I listen to the videos I don’t watch as many. So maybe that’s a catch 22. I should turn the volume up and not watch as many.

Do you enjoy “ODDLY SATISFYING VIDEOS”?

Christmas Eve 2019

Ah Christmas Eve Day. There’s last minute shopping, plans for dinner and tomorrow’s morning rituals. Is it worthwhile? I like to think so.

I plan on finishing my day at work, drive home a bit more cautiously than usual and relax to some Christmas music. I’ll get home and listen to some more Christmas music while I make dinner with my wife. We will probably play a video game or watch a film as a family before retiring for the night.

My calm evening will lead into a calm day. I am appreciative of all the preparations that my family has done ahead of time to make Christmas go smoothly. Sometimes the expectations are too high. Not every Christmas can get knocked out of the park. I guess we shall see what tomorrow brings.

Have a great evening with family and friends!

More Painted Wood

About a month ago I Painted Wood with some winterscape images. I was happy with my first go around that I had to make some more.

What I liked with this one is the rainbow of colours in the sky. I enjoyed blending the colours to create the illusion of an early morning with a slight reflection below.

The other piece I did was of a pathway curving off with a couple of mountains in the faded background. The single tree stood silently with a hint of snow speckled throughout. I liked that I remembered the rule of lightning and the moon’s glow cast a faint shadow from the tree.

The thing about my paintings is that when painting snow, I wanted to portray a semblance of realism- that snow isn’t brilliant white. Snow has a tendency to reflect the light and colours of it’s surroundings. Hints of blue or grey, yellows and pinks make snow a tad more magical.

Using carvings from trees has added a natural wood frame around my paintings. These frames limit what I can paint, but also help the finalized landscapes come to life. I have a few more to finish up and share.

Now the question remains- do I keep them, sell them or give them away? A labour of love and a new found hobby has brought forth something from inside of me. I don’t want it to become commercial, so selling these isn’t likely.

Beauty-Fall

The weather over the next few days, and leading into November, is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe not with the warmth of a summer day; but rather a mid-day sunshine while wearing your favorite sweater and sunglasses kind of day. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy the changing colours of nature to be had if one so chooses.

I plan on taking it easy during my free time. I’ll probably chill out a bit more on my deck and stare out into the yard, admiring the tranquility that we are surrounded by. The brisk air keeps many people quieter as they begin to warm themselves more frequently indoors. The woodland animals are slowly preparing to migrate and hibernate. Slowly the sounds outside quieten to a faint whisper.

Autumn is a beautiful and peaceful season.

Staying Dry

My wife and I had a fairly successful Sober September. I faltered once and had a beer at the airport in Winnipeg. As September ended and October began, I wasn’t eagerly waiting for the month to end in order to “Hit the sauce” so to speak.

On Thursday we went out with some friends for a dinner. Originally we were going to go to Trading Post in Abbotsford- a place with great food and atmosphere. I would’ve likely had my favorite beer there- the 1828 Helles Lager. But they were closed for a private event. So we ended up at The Canadian Brewhouse instead.

Their beer special was Budweiser. A beer I don’t overly enjoy. So I had a ginger ale instead and I felt good about it. I know we’re only five days into October, but I’ve been enjoying a variety of teas and sodas in lieu of alcohol. The only thing I’m noticing is that I am craving sweets more often. Hence the sodas.

As Autumn progresses, I’ll probably enjoy a drink or two at some point. I’m just not actively going out to buy beers or planning nights with friends at breweries as I have in the past.

Maybe I can find an elegant tea house nearby and invite you out for a social date.

Sauna

We bought our home with a sauna already built in. About a decade ago we stopped using it and it became another closet for storage. After my trips to Winnipeg and Fort St. John, where I used saunas to relax, I realized I want our sauna back.

Yesterday, I cleared it out and set up the benches again. I vacuumed up the cobwebs and dust from the walls and heater. I turned on the elements and the heat was returning. The smell of the remaining dust burning off was strong. However, shortly after the heat stopped working. So much for relaxing on a Saturday night.

How do you troubleshoot a sauna built in the 1970’s? I seriously have no idea where to begin. It obviously was getting power. My guess is that it could be one of three things-

  1. The thermostat is toast.
  2. The elements are toast.
  3. Perhaps there’s a fuse or relay switch that’s toast.

It’ll have to wait until my next set of days off. But how do I go about checking these things? I need to see if there’s and obvious fuse somewhere either in the controls or under the burners. That’s where I’ll first start. I really hope it’ll be something simple. I’m not sure what the cost would be to replace the entire heating mechanism. As well, the thermostat is built into the wood walls and I don’t really want to start tearing apart the sauna.

I’ll post an update if I eventually figure out the issue. I’ll need to relax once this is all sorted out. Wish me luck. I’ll also take any advice you have to offer.

Vivaldi

The past few days I have been enjoying listening to Vivaldi: La Cetra, 1-7. It has made my drive to and from work a bit more pleasant and calm. There’s something about hearing stringed instruments as they eloquently form each piece. As I listen to La Cetra I can also pick out the piccolo and harpsichord. Two very unique sounds that work well together.

Many know Vivaldi as written Four Seasons which is also a fantastic piece. I’m a huge fan of classical music and the variety of styles that come with each composer. Next week I am planning on listening to another composer as I travel to and from work. Perhaps Mozart, Bach, Handel or Beethoven. Whichever suits my fancy on my first day of commuting.

Do you appreciate classical music?

Who are your favorite composers?

Let me know.

School Is Back In Session or How to Survive Re-Learning at Age 43

Every three years, I have to get re-certified as a conductor/switchman. The previous times I did it in my home town area of Vancouver. This time around my company sent me to Winnipeg. This is where the new centralized training center is located.

The CN Campus is huge and modern feeling. We have been treated to unlimited coffee and a cafeteria style lunch. The classroom portion itself is, basically, dry. When learning rules that are important for the safety and service of our industries- it’s difficult to make it entertaining.

At least after those eight hour days we get to go and leave it all behind us for the evening. My coworker and I headed back to the hotel where I enjoyed the pool and sauna while he hit the gym. The 21st floor of our hotel has the pool and views of the city. A few minutes in the hot tub and I was relaxed again.

On to day 2 of the classroom portion. Hopefully my swimsuit will be dry for another evening dip and relaxation afterwards.

Float The Boat

Kayaking and floating on the lake was a great way to spend our first full day on Harrison Lake. We love coming to Twenty Mile Bay.

My wife and oldest daughter went out kayaking after breakfast. I took my other daughter out and we floated about in some tubes. Shortly after, my wife came back and I hopped into the kayak. My wife and I towed our daughters out in the lake having a great time.

Once we ditched the girls- my wife and I paddled to the island just off shore. As in a twenty five minute paddle to the secluded island.

We paused for a beverage and some time to talk. We put on our PFDs and floated in the lake around the island back to the kayaks.

The water was peaceful and it’s always great to connect with nature without the white noise of suburban life.