Enjoy It

This weekend has been the one we have been waiting for. The sun is shining, the grass is green, and the pool is ready.

Over the past couple of days, we have enjoyed the swimming pool. Today is going to be no exception. We are planning on hanging out with our downstairs tenants and sipping on some beverages. Taking advantage of the weather whenever we can is the goal.

Being neighborly is important as well. We enjoy having company over and plan on visitors coming by throughout the summer. Getting along with those around us is paramount. We are past the stage of loud parties, but I still enjoy my music playing.

Reach out and we will have you over this summer on a Friday or Saturday. Just remember to bring the sunscreen and a snack to share!

Is It Pool Time Yet?

The sun has been teasing us lately. But when you go outside, under the shade is frigid. The wind is still whistling past the clouds and pushing them onward. Looking towards the next few days and it seems like rain is in the forecast.

Today I took advantage of the nice weather. Our winter pool cover came off. I vacuumed up the debris and added a bunch of chemicals to the pool to balance it out. The pool is sitting at 15°C (59°F). Still far too cold to attempt to swim. I’m also waiting a couple of more weeks before heating it to ensure the chemicals create a safe swimming environment. Getting the pool ready is important to me.

But since it’s going to rain for the next ten days, there was no point in setting up the patio and deck furniture just to take it and store away again. I did sit outside first thing in the morning to eat breakfast. I can’t wait to be eating more meals outdoors. That has always been a favorite of mine.

Some day soon and life will be blissful. I will be able to swim and float around in the sun. For now, I get to enjoy the sunsets and views.

Another Beautiful Night

I cannot express enough how much beauty there is to view in this world. I look out off my back porch, and it feels like we are living in a land of fantasy.

Watching the sunset off in the distance has become a favorite pastime of mine. I stand up on our deck and just absorb its light. Our lower patio deck has stairs that look as though they are about to show you the way to an adventure. A journey that could take you off into the lush green fields and out into the horizon.

I am extremely appreciative of what we have. I know we won’t have it forever, but that we have it now is great. It’s important to reflect on what one has and appreciate the work and time it has take to get to this place. Especially when it feels as though live is trying to throw curveballs in your direction. Staying positive is the best way to battle those hardships and challenges.

Enjoy the what the world has to offer and don’t dwell on the negative.

Our Little “Therapy” Dog

Having a pet is genuinely nice. In the past we have had fish and Guinea pigs as well as dogs. To be perfectly honest, we have always had a dog in our lives.

Our latest dog we have had as a family member for about a year and a half. We named her Maki once we adopted her. As goofy as she is, and as crazy as she gets around other dogs, we love her immensely.

She is our little “Therapy” dog. She makes each of us feel happy when we need it most. If you are upset, she knows instinctively and comes to you for rubs and kisses. Maki has been specifically good for our middle teenager’s mental health. That’s the room she sleeps in six nights a week. The other night is with our youngest.

As much as I push Maki away sometimes (dog breath galore!) I do enjoy having her nearby. She comes to snuggle me when I want to nap and really invades my space when she wants to. Maki is a happy dog and she makes us happy as well.

Outdoor Night Lights

As the summer approaches, the sun is tentatively out for longer. So what we have done in our yard is added some solar lights for a night ambiance.

On the sides of the stairs leading down from our deck add a nice touch to the path. I like the brightness of these lights. At the very top I put one more bright light on the fence post next to the gate. That way our guests will see where they are going should they leave later in the evening.

Along our fence is some string lights that add a lot of light to that part of the yard. In the gazebo is two sets of solar string lights. They brighten up the patio set for some great evening conversations.

To the left of our home, there are a few lights that lead up to the pool shed. For when you have to put away items at the end of a good time. And finally is some more string lights on our upper deck. Should we choose to sit there and hang out, there is also a heater and bbq for making meals.

Some of our lights are remotely controlled. I’m working on adding them to my Google Home app. Automation of our home is some of the most fun I am having living here. Adding lighting and ambiance is also high up.

Do you like having lights as a side feature besides just functionality? Are you getting as impatient as I am for warm summer nights?

Let me know in the comments.

No More Wind Fears

Today has been blustery. The wind is blowing fiercely across the Lower Mainland. But today, I am at ease.

In our previous home, we experienced wind storms so bad, our home and yard was damaged and we could be without power for days. Here is one example from 2018: Windy. After a few years of these storms, we were often on edge when it was like this. The clean up afterwards would take days if not weeks.

With the openness of our backyard, the wind comes across at full force. I can hear it whistle past the windows and see as our palm trees wave. But I’m okay with this. No crazy damage is occurring. No trees are falling on our roof or taking out our power. And even as the hummingbird feeders sway- the birds come to take a snack without hesitation.

No more wind fears. It’s a good feeling.

Backyard Bird Watching

As the weather gets nicer, I find myself becoming more and more of a bird watcher. From our backyard we get to watch loads of birds flutter about. My two favorites are the birds of prey and hummingbirds.

I recently moved the hummingbird feeder outside of our bedroom into a position that I can see much better. From our bed, we can lounge and watch as these fast flapping fowls feed on sugar water. It’s a calming fun to just stare at them.

When I’m out on the deck, I enjoy watching the hawks as they circle for food in the field behind us. The other day we were treated to an owl doing the same thing. It was only a few feet away from our back deck and I was able to capture a short video clip. View it on My Instagram if you choose. It was really neat to see. This was the first time we witnessed an owl doing it’s hunting and I was in awe of its silence as it did so.

We have also seen numerous other birds such as cranes and robins, ducks and geese. When we moved from a location that was dense with trees to this open view, I love the change in wildlife that we get to observe.

Do you find watching birds to be calming as well? Any favorites? Or perhaps some tips on how to get some good photos? Let me know in the comments.

Solo Movie Viewing

It’s been years since I went to the movies by myself. Back in the 90’s I used to go to the mall on a Friday and head to a matinee to see the opening weekend of a blockbuster. In the early 2000’s I worked at the multiplex cinema and would watch films regularly by myself. Many times from up in the booth staring through the small window.

Today I needed to revisit this feeling. I attended the IMAX at the theater I once worked at. I bought a ticket for the back row away from everyone else. Absorbing the experience by myself brought back the sensation I once enjoyed. I was able to dive deep into the movie and view it uninterrupted. No whispered discussion with friends or family during the show. Just the film and I.

I will say, I enjoyed doing that. I may return to solo viewing of movies. It was a time to unwind and fall into the fantasy world of cinema.

An experience that I truly missed.

Spring Break Staycation

As my last day comes to an end, I think I had a relatively great staycation. A quick look back at the last ten days showed how busy it was. As well as how productive it ended up being.

We did a bunch of gardening, went to a speed skating meet last weekend, had a night on the town for my birthday, and built a gazebo as a family. We built some Lego, and our oldest came to visit and we all had a delightful time. There really isn’t much more I could ask for.

All in all it was a great birthday week. I’m glad I spent it with my family.

Forty Six- Returning To The Wedgewood

It’s my birthday today. I am now 46 years of age. No big celebration this year. Just a night away with my wife. A chance to act young and silly. All while feeling like royalty.

We have returned to The Wedgewood Vancouver for our night away. Last time we were here was nearly three years ago. This time around we are on the 8th floor and truly overlooking the city. I like this place because of the service we receive. From the valet meeting us in the street to the concierge bring wine and chocolate covered strawberries to the personal touches of the greeting card in our room.

A sense of luxury and pampering really makes this feel like a well deserved getaway. The stresses of life are left at home, and our short journey into Vancouver is wonderful. A fancy dinner and a couple bottles of wine- we shall let all of our cares subside for 24 hours.

Cheers to everyone who wished me a Happy Birthday today! I may be older, but now my foolishness is more eccentric.

Onto the next adventure!

Spring Break Staycation Time

It was a quiet evening yesterday at work. The sky was clear and the tracks were nearly empty. I enjoyed the calmness that came with my shift. I had a few days off approaching and was glad that there wasn’t going to be any unfinished business.

I finished my night shift at 6am and raced home to begin my first vacation of the year. As soon as I got home, it was straight to bed for a nap. Seriously one of the best ways to enjoy a staycation is to just relax.

My wife and I went for a walk around the neighborhood in the afternoon. We talked about the kids, money and my upcoming birthday. When we returned home, I took down our old awning and cracked open a beer. I’ll be putting up a new gazebo and selling this old one on Facebook Marketplace soon enough.

Tomorrow will be some more yard work since the sun is supposed to be out. I kind of like the tinkering about and just making the yard look nice. Sometimes a vacation is just meant to relax oneself. No fancy destination required.

Grey Skies And Rain

I’m often sharing pictures of the sunset and skyline that we see from our home. This evening I’m sitting in a chair in our bedroom, enjoying a beer while the rain falls outside.

As I sit by our patio doors, the bedroom fireplace is going and my wife is enjoying a peaceful moment in the bathtub. Much in the same way I have every week. We are chitchatting about relaxation and the rain. There’s nothing exciting going on for a Saturday evening. But it’s our Saturday evening together.

Looking around our bedroom, I realize that I am very lucky to have found a great partner. My wife and I have numerous art pieces that scream out our love for one another. There is special meaning behind everything we own and I can tell a story about each piece and why it means so much to us. That’s perhaps for another day.

So my Saturday night is a calm night of being content and sharing happiness with the one I love.

Peaceful Friday Evenings

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed my Friday evenings alone. My wife takes the two youngest to speed skating and I get a few hours to myself. A couple of weeks ago I had a bath, read a book and drank some wine.

This week I sat in our bedroom and watched the sun set. Once it was out of view and the night sky was upon us, I turned to the Oculus headset and began a new game- Moss. This was the first vr game my wife ever tried on the Oculus when we were at a friend’s place in Calgary back in 2019. Read about that day here: Unassuming Friday.

The game itself is really cute and easy to play. I was enjoying myself for well over an hour. But had to call it quits because my eyes were getting fatigued. I also had to prepare a late dinner for the family once they arrived home. But it’s going to be some quick and easy. I forgot to get anything ready ahead of time.

I do enjoy the time I have to myself. I’m not ever trying to fill my Friday nights, but I do appreciate the opportunity to lounge for a few hours. Taking some “me time” is beneficial in many ways.

Day Sleeping

Working night shifts means I need to sleep during the day. Since it’s still winter, I fall asleep while it’s still dark out. However, my bedroom doesn’t stay that way.

The blinds we have are not “blackout blinds” and a lot of natural light gets through. However, it reminds me of our old home.

In our previous house, we didn’t have blinds for a number of years. The trees just gave natural shade to the bedroom. I became accustomed to the diffused light, so there is no issue sleeping here.

I pride myself in the fact I can fall asleep anywhere and quickly as well. I don’t need it to be dark or even quiet. Sometimes background noise or music is nice for me to fall asleep to, albeit unnecessary for my sleep.

I do prefer our new home ambiance compared to our previous house. The color palette is calmer and soothing. I generally feel relaxed at home now, not worrying about repairs or renovations. Just enjoying the house. I sleep a lot better these days.

X-rays And Relaxing

As I have mentioned I have had some severe back pain as of late. It has been building up for a while now. I finally had a doctor’s appointment and his recommendation was to get X-rays done.

I chose to go to the lab as soon as it opened today. I was the first person there, and was in and out within half an hour. The technician took images of my hip, lower back and upper back. It was extremely uncomfortable to contort on the flat slab for the X-rays to take place. Once it was done I headed to my car and sat there for a bit with my seat warmer on to help the lower back pain. Now I await results.

When I got home, I took the afternoon to myself. I put on my noise canceling headphones and listened to my music while farting around on the computer. The family headed out for the regular Friday night speed skating practice, I chose to run a bath. Listening to some Enya, reading a book, and drinking some wine will help to relax me a bit more.

Welcome to your mid-forties Josef.

Winter Walk By The Water

The other day my wife and I went for an afternoon walk by the beach. On our walk we talked about our first year together and how we went down that way only a few times. We now live only about a 20 minute drive away from White Rock, so heading there may be happening more often this summer.

When we first arrived, we took some happy selfies with the ocean and clouds as a backdrop. We were probably the least bundled up people as many who we passed had scarves, toques and gloves on. But at 8°C it wasn’t that cold.

Even though it was grey and a bit cool, my wife and I were wearing our rose colored glasses we had bought for her Birthday Trip to Mexico. The warmth of the view from the sunglasses made it easier to enjoy our date. We walked along the shore, up the pier and enjoyed the promenade. We headed back along Marine Drive and talked about coming back to enjoy a restaurant or two in the future.

It was a good few hours of casual strolling just holding hands and talking. As we get older, we both just want to enjoy one another’s company more. Keeping the emotional connection between us going and creating memories along the way.

3D Printing, Crafting, Art

On Thursday I decided to clean up the garage and my work space. I threw out a bunch of items and got other stuff ready for donations. I felt really proud of myself.

I also recalibrated my 3D printer. It’s been almost a year since I last used it. I was worried that during the move something may have broken or jarred. But that was not the case. Thirty minutes later and I was working on my first test print. Which came out perfectly.

Now it’s time to get back into the hobby. And with a larger work bench, I’m looking at adding in a resin printer and possibly a larger 3D printer. I love making stuff, and learning from my errors and growing with my knowledge keeps my going. Hopefully I can get a few big projects hammered out before the weather gets nice and the I’ll be outside more often.

Perhaps at that point I can work on some paintings again while enjoying the warm sun. I know my wife is looking forward to gardening and she already has some big plans.

Do you have hobbies that were put on hold? Now that the holiday season is over, do you plan on getting back to them? Let me know in the comments.

The Sky’s The Limit

I have shared so many photos of the sky that we can see from our home over the past few months. Many of you can see the sky from your own homes. You probably also have some amazing views. I’ve been sharing because I’m excited to see the sky for the first time in years on a regular basis.

The transitions and changes over the last few seasons leave me awestruck. Every night and day showcases something new to admire. We have also been lucky enough to see tons of fireworks off in the distance as folks celebrate various events. From out the windows and off the decks- we just love our home for what it has to offer.

Occasionally I do miss the trees and the greenery from our last home. Unfortunately all of those trees kept us shaded from the wonders of the sky. We never saw the clouds, the moon or the sun. We would get sneak peeks of them periodically, but never enough to truly enjoy.

I do like that we did not compromise on privacy when we moved. The neighbors may be closer, but it’s still peaceful and tranquil like our last home was.

As I have mentioned before- I don’t think I will ever tire of the views our home has to offer us.

Lighten Up

In this day and age it’s important to find ways to be calm and relaxed. I’m not new age, nor do I fully understand meditation. But I have found my own way of letting go of the stress and frustration of life.

Some people run marathons. Others play online first-person shooters. Me? I breathe, stretch, write, enjoy classical music and just try and let the world problems wash away. I used to burn incense, but my wife’s asthma has prevented that. Recently, I have been utilizing my salt lamp and aroma diffuser as alternatives.

I have always enjoyed lighting and the effects it has on emotions. For Christmas, my son gave me a lava lamp. I had recently donated my old lava lamp telephone (because who uses a landline anymore?). He knew I missed my lamp, so it was really nice that he bought me one. So I placed it on my bedside table next to my salt lamp.

When I came home last night, I plugged it in and turned it on. After it warmed up for a couple of hours, I was able to zone out staring at it while I fell asleep. The green and orange hues were calming and I woke up feeling recharged.

Sleeping with lights on isn’t for everyone. Same with meditation or music. I just found something that works for me to help calm my life and I like it.

Mid-Trip in Mexico

In the middle of our vacation to Mexico, we decided to take a day on the beach. The beach first thing in the morning was impressively pristine. So we spent all day hanging out there.

Our friend, Megan, joined us while we relaxed. We had a few drinks, read our books, and frolicked in the ocean. I did my attempt at being David Hasslehoff running out of the ocean. The service was great as well, and the drinks kept coming.

Mid-day was a PCR test. We require this in order to get back into Canada. Not really a highlight, but it was quick and over with in a matter of moments. Soon we were back at the beach. That was when a couple of vendors came by selling jewelry, towels, blankets and dresses. I did my best negotiating and haggling and picked up a couple of souvenirs.

Shortly thereafter, my wife and I went to get a back massage on the beach. This was a fantastic way to relax and get those tense muscles loosened. The sound of the ocean in the background was tranquil and soothing.

Afterwards we headed out for dinner at the Teppanyaki again (it was by far the best experience for dinner). Once dinner was over, we headed to the theater and enjoyed a burlesque show. The theatrics and acrobatic dancing was intense. The show was well worth watching. My throat was sore from all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ I was doing.

It was another full day of relaxation and fun.

Poolside In Mexico

Yesterday we had a full day just hanging out at the pool. That’s a lie. First thing in the morning we ate breakfast at a restaurant by the beach. Shortly after, we learned how to make guacamole and the history of the ingredients. Then we did salsa dancing lesson. THEN we hung out at the pool.

It was a good time relaxing. The drinks kept flowing and laughs were raucous. Lounging for hours really helped with the relaxation that was needed this year. As well, seeing our pool back home surrounded by snow made me happy to be here.

Later we had dinner at the Mexican restaurant where a mariachi duo came to our table and played some music. Afterwards I caught the tail end of a Michael Jackson tribute. We ended the night eating churros as live music played in the main plaza area. Halfway through vacation and it’s been so much fun.

Spotify Wrapped 2021

Spotify released the yearly playlists for everyone’s top 100. Here is a link to mine: Josef’s 2021 Top Spotify . I always like to see what makes my top songs. 97 different genres to be precise.

My top 5 songs are fantastic songs from years ago- late 90’s early 2000’s. Most of my playlist comes from songs I chose to enjoy in the backyard this summer hanging out poolside. A few of the songs surprised me as I didn’t realize I had listened to them that much.

My audio aura was two extreme levels. ANGST AND HAPPY. That humors me to no end.

But I also worked hard on my relaxation techniques. I listened to a lot of Enya and my top podcast was a wellness one. I spent almost 3000 minutes listening to calming music and sounds. I was zen AF.

So take a listen to my music if you wish. How was your 2021 Spotify Wrapped? Share in the comments, I’d love to hear your playlists.

Rain In Vancouver? Preposterous!

I love living in the Lower Mainland on the outskirts of Vancouver. There is plenty to see and do. Lakes, nature trails, mountains, shopping, restaurants, and plenty of local activities that go on. On a nice day, Vancouver, the outlying cities and towns, are green and lush almost all year round. But it rains. Especially in November. You know- just like the Guns ‘N Roses song…

Everybody needs some time on their own.

And when your fears subside

And shadows still remain

I know that you can love me

When there’s no one left to blame

So never mind the darkness

We still can find a way

‘Cause nothin’ lasts forever

Even cold November rain

One day it will end, but today feels like the day it begins. This week is a 100% chance of rain. Today sunrise occurred at 7:21. I woke up and it was already a deluge of water falling. Large blobs, not drizzle like the weather app states. Big, heavy, rainfall. No sun. Just grey skies dumping water.

So I’m going to stay indoors for the day. I’m also going to put on the fire, finish my artwork from yesterday (read about it Here: Up-Cycled), read a book, and take a nap. Those activities make me happy in the rain.

What do you do on a rainy day?

The Bedroom: A Comfortable Reading Spot

I have been enjoying reading once more. Now that we are essentially settled into our new home (almost FIVE months), I am finding comfort zones. Our home is starting to feel more cozy by the day… And not just because of our Christmas decorations.

When I read, generally it’s in bed right before I go to sleep. Right before we moved we had an ENDY mattress delivered. I can’t believe that my sleep has improved so much over these past few months. This was probably the best investment in our health ever made. What ends up happening however, is that I fall asleep very easily about a dozen pages into my book.

On the other side of our master bedroom is a little sitting nook by the balcony doors. I have sat here numerous times on Zoom calls and to read. My wife has also utilized this spot. It is a perfect setting for relaxing and daydreaming. Getting lost in the fantasy world of a good novel is throughly enjoyed.

Our family members each have spots that they enjoy as well. Obviously the teenagers favor their bedrooms. But I am doing the same. Your bedroom is a place of solitude where you can feel at peace. It’s the great location to read a book.

Do you read in bed? Or do you have a favorite spot that you find comfortable? Let me know in the comments.

Gutters, Rainbows, and Fireworks

The autumn rain was falling periodically today. Between the rainfalls I decided to clear out the gutters of leaves and debris.

Our last home didn’t have gutters the way most houses do. Instead it was a flat roof with slopes to the drains. Cleaning these gutters was easy. I just put on some gloves, climbed a step ladder and scooped them out. In the spring, I plan on giving them a hose out as I check the shingles on the roof.

I also enjoyed another break from the rain as I drove to get the kids from school. The sky cleared up in the distance and the sun refracted beautifully off the remaining droplets in the atmosphere. Seeing the rainbows against the autumn colours was amazing.

I’m ending my day by watching fireworks from my bedroom window. Diwali is being celebrated. I really enjoy living in such a diverse country such as Canada. Especially on the outskirts of Vancouver. Those celebrating have a clear night to enjoy the festivities. I have a front row, million dollar view of the action. What a day.

Life is good.