Time For A Tech Break

Getting the 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.

Water Ways

It was a hot one on Friday. So it meant cooling off the only way I know how. In the water.

First was taking a couple of my kids on a trip to our local watering hole at Williams Park. This is our regular venture every year around this time: Dad Days Of Summer. My daughter had been wanting to go for days, so I figured it made sense to go sooner rather than later. The water was cold and the fun was had.

Later in the afternoon, my wife and I took our kayaks out for another adventure. Just like last month’s Kayak Adventure, we had a great time. This time we went up and down the Fraser River. My arms and body are thoroughly sore. But the quality time with my wife was worth it.

These small workouts yesterday made me feel energized and youthful. I look forward to many more days in the water this summer.

Stopping To Admire The Flowers

I enjoy pausing during my day to admire nature- even if it is for the briefest of moments. It helps to put me in a state of comfort and contentment. “It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.”

Usually I try and snap a picture. Many times I’ll share it on Instagram. Look at the beauty I just saw in nature! #sharingeverythingisee #iloveusingfilterstomakeitlookbetter

Taking a deep breath and smiling on the inside works wonders for the mind. Seeing flowers bloom and trees grow foliage makes me happy. I’m out there watching the world go about it’s business while I’m just here for the ride.

A ride that has many sights and sensations waiting to be savored. All I need to do is hesitate momentarily and smell the flowers.

Back to the Grind

Enjoying four days off was great. Especially when my wife and I had a quick romantic night away. But like all good things (and days off) they must come to an end.

W-O-R-K is a four letter word that kills the euphoric sensation of freedom. Trudging through that daily grind can be tough when you’re only starting day one of your workweek. But like most people- I work in order to afford what I do with my free time.

So I take it in stride. I try and look forward to those whom I work with. This creates a joy in my personality that exudes into my work ethic- thus making my shifts go much faster. Sometimes those weekends approach faster than expected. That can affect one’s life adversely. Or a lack of future plans for your days off makes one feel as if you’ve lost some free time.

But work is work. I’m glad to have a job that I enjoy most days. Even though I’m counting down my time to retirement, the years I have left to give shall be good ones. Filled with great coworkers and fun shifts. With each workweek ending with some time off at the end for good behavior.

Bonsai

I have always wanted a Bonsai. I tried to make one about 15 years ago, but I failed miserably. Mainly because I didn’t put in the care and effort needed to keep it alive. So why not try again..? I am using this as a zen inspired activity. Keeping it watered and trimmed from time to time will help to calm and relax.

I picked up a small juniper since they are the heartiest and easiest to form. I took it out of the plastic pot and planted it into a new clay pot. Unfortunately the pot I do have is a tad large for the roots. A healthy bonsai needs to have the roots trimmed as well as the branches. Unless I want the tree to grow fairly large. So another transplant may occur by the end of summer. We’ll see how it does.

Then came the time to trim away almost everything. A bit of wire was used to help form the branches. This is just the start of my bonsai. Keeping it trimmed and cared for will be ongoing for the remainder of my time. And a desperate hope to keep it alive…

Wish me luck in my Zen Adventure.

Shower Start

I have a routine that I need to follow to get my day going. First is having about 5-7 alarms go off in ten minute intervals to get me out of bed. Yes, it takes me about 45 minutes to finally roll out of bed. Over the years, my wife has come to accept this even though she is not always thrilled by it. The other routine I have starts the night before.

Before I go to bed, I lay out what I want to wear the next day. Socks, underwear, pants and shirts. I find it easier to not have to think about it when I wake up. The other thing I do is every day before I leave my home- I must have a shower.

This stems from when I was a teenager. I just never felt comfortable going to high school without first washing up. My showers are usually quick, lasting about ten minutes. In our home we have two showers. I am the only person who uses the upstairs shower stall. I like it.

There’s no fancy shower head or anything. It’s still the original 1970’s tile and glass door. Every couple of years I have to replace a washer in the handle of the hot water otherwise it drips. But I have become accustomed to this.

It’s my shower.

It’s a place of solitude as I let the water wash away my sleep. It’s a place where I start to mentally prepare myself for the day (or night) ahead. It’s how I wash away the day before and start fresh.

18 Days of Freedom…

I am doing a night shift tonight followed by 18 days away from work.  Nearly 3 weeks.  I’m looking forward to just chilling out for the end of the summer. It’s been years since I’ve had so much time off.  The last time I can remember having a block like this was when I was laid off. At least this time, I’ll be getting paid vacation.


As much as I am looking forward to my time away, I still need to remain focused overnight.  My work is not a forgiving environment when mistakes are involved. Statistically most accidents or incidents occur when it is right before a weekend or vacation. People’s heads aren’t always in the game.

I want to safely finish my day (night) and enjoy some time away from work.  A little rest and relaxation are in order. My wife is looking forward to spending time as a family as well.  I’m looking for to enjoying a couple of adult beverages and a tour of Shelter Point Distillery this week.

Cheers!

Opening up

It’s not very often that we have company stay over for more than just one meal.  Sharing a meal is about all the time we can squeeze out of our busy lives.  In other cases, that’s about all the interaction we can handle with other humans.  So opening up our home and inviting a non-related adult person for a weekend is a rare occurrence.  Almost like the Olympics it seems- about once every four years. 

We gladly open our home, but only every four years.

 
The last time we were in Calgary, a friend of ours whom we met years ago through the convention circuit, mentioned she would be out our way.  We offered to meet up with her and spend some time away from the comic con lifestyle and just shoot the shit.  She was attending a work summit in Whistler, BC so we drove out to meet her.  We returned to our home and had this other person stay with us for a couple of nights.  Of course not only did we have to supply a private room​ and clean linens for our guest, I even had to feed this person.  Not just dinner, but numerous meals.  I’m not going to lie to you, I enjoyed it.  

I love to cook.  I love to show off my mad culinary skills.  I love to discuss how I make the food- from preparing to cooking to displaying to eating.  The majority of my friends know that if they want to meet up for a dinner with my wife and I, I never suggest a restaurant.  I would much rather make a home cooked meal.  Even our children’s friends want to come back for meals more often.

Not only did we set the table, I built it from scratch as well.


Besides patting myself on the back about how amazing I am at being a chef, I am also a perfectionist when it comes to food.  I time everything to be ready at the same moment.  This can often lead to a bit of organized chaos in the kitchen/dining area/patio (or all three) as the meal is being finished.  

But the best part is the enjoyment of eating the meal.  Every meal I made this weekend brought pleasure to our guest.  Not just, “Thanks.  That was good.”  But a pleasure you could witness by the silence.  After our last meal with her, she commented on how great the weekend was and also said, “Seeing someone’s ears move during a meal is a better sign than hearing someone rave about the food.”  This really made me beam inside.

Take a break from life.


She also told us she hasn’t slept that well in weeks until she stayed in our home.  Our lifestyle is laid back.  We didn’t make any plans with her to race around town.  Instead we just woke up when we wanted, relaxed in the backyard,listened to music, shared a few drinks and stories.  It’s a huge sigh of relief to most people when they come out to experience a little bit of nothing.  We gave our friend undivided attention, barely ever reaching for a mobile device.

Perhaps it’s time to invite more people to stay more often.  If you ever want to get away from it all for a couple days of R&R- come to our castle.  You will be greeted like family and treated like royalty without even realizing it.