Foggy Autumn Vacation

This is one of those rare vacations where I didn’t have much planned. Setting up the Christmas lights was really about it. Everything else I am doing is just the routine of our lives. Grocery shopping, speed skating practice, meeting up with friends… that sort of thing.

During my downtime I am watching some tv and playing video games. No big household projects or crafting this time around. I just want to relax. And I’m getting to do exactly that.

Last night I soaked in the tub, read a book and enjoyed a glass of wine. This morning I have been staring out the window amazed that the fog is so thick and just doesn’t want to lift or burn off. Yet somehow our view is still just as stunning without being able to see much. As if we are floating in the clouds.

That’s kind of how I feel about my week of vacation. I’m enjoying it, yet not much is happening that is exciting. This staycation is precisely what I needed. No hustle, just floating through. A chance to watch the world and appreciate the beauty it holds.

Hotumn

2021

Last year, we had already covered our pool for the winter. That was mostly because the weather was far cooler and wetter than it is this year.

This past weekend, my wife and I enjoyed the sun and an August-like heatwave. I saw someone use the term “Hotumn” and it described the local weather perfectly. My wife and I had a great time floating, splashing, and swimming for a few hours everyday this month.

Coming up on Friday, our weather patterns are subject to drop to last year’s similar cool and wet conditions. Our swimming pool shall be shut for the winter weather by the end of this week.

I’m a bit sad that our enjoyment of the outdoors is coming to and end. I’ve enjoyed the pool and the gardening tremendously this month. It has kept me happy and occupied. Soon, all of our activities will be indoors. Such as more movies, games, and food. I am looking forward to those activities as well.

Goodbye Hotumn. I’m glad you stayed a while longer.

Final Push Home

Yesterday was the last leg of our journey to return home from Disneyland. We woke up and had breakfast by 7am as we were all eager to get under way. Home was only a short 5 hour journey if traffic was good. Otherwise it could take about 6 1/2 hours. We needed to get through Tacoma and Seattle.

Of course, the teenagers were out cold AGAIN almost instantly. Yup, I kept taking pictures of this. My wife and I talked and listened to music up front and enjoyed the peace and quiet coming from the back.

I mentioned about having road nuggies the previous day. This time my son wanted to bring “racon” aka “road bacon”. He grabbed a to-go coffee cup and filled it packed tight with bacon from the hotel breakfast. A couple hours after leaving and our car smelled like the heavenly aroma of bacon.

The journey only took us a little over 5 hours to complete. Once we got home, our oldest was in the process of tidying up. They had opted to staycation at our home and look after the pets and house while we were out of town. They even made my wife and I a painting and left it in our bedroom for us.

Being home is a great feeling. I was surprised that it was far hotter than Disneyland. But I got to work quickly and had the pool cleaned and open for us to relax in after our two day drive home. I love the memories that we have made over the years doing these road trips. Maybe more will happen, but I have a feeling this may have been our last one for quite some time.

Next summer I do not plan on going anywhere as our home is pretty gosh darn awesome. For now, I’ll enjoy the next few days alone as my wife is taking our two youngest on yet another road trip to Calgary for a few day. Practically feels as though she is living in her car. But this sacrifice she is doing is for our son’s speed skating. He has a competition this weekend and it was imperative that he attends.

A bit of “me time” is on the agenda the next couple of days as my vacation time winds down. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep busy. Or at least catch up on some naps like the teens did.

My Habits Are Becoming My Wife’s

I have often talked about how much I love to nap. It’s one of the joys of adulthood that a person eventually discovers.

My wife accepted that I love to nap long ago. Sure, I tend to use the excuse that I work shift work. But in reality I just love resting.

Last week we had some friends over to hang out in the pool. At one point, all four of us took a little shut eye while floating in the pool. I thought it was amazing. It was calm and zen like as we floated around- they had entered my world of peace and tranquillity. Guess what? They wanted to come back again. Guess what this afternoon will entail?

Moving on…

I had permission to share this.

My wife has had the occasional nap now. Not nearly as often as I do, but it has happened periodically. The biggest thing I have noticed is when I come home from a night shift, she has burrito’d herself in the blankets. Yeah, I can still crawl into my side of the bed- she leaves me room which is nice. But to get some blanket? Aw man. Unwrapping my little sleeping burrito is a challenge.

Meme from the internet.

She is so comfortable looking that I try and disturb her as little as possible. Sometimes I’ll go sleep elsewhere. Other times I’ll sneak in on her side and take the smallest amount is space possible on the king size bed- just in order to get a bit of blanket. She is often in a deep sleep when I arrive home lately that I don’t think she notices me.

How much do you like to rest and/or nap? Do you find it refreshing like I do?

Staycation So Far- Soooooo Good!

I have been throughly enjoying this past week of staycationing at home. For a couple of the days I built a Deck for my wife’s garden. The two of us have also gone for a couple of walks together. We did a bit of shopping, we have made some amazing dinners and I have been doing breakfast meals better than ever. All with the company of the one I love.

But the majority of this staycation has had us poolside. We have done nothing but relax, swim, read, listen to music, enjoy the breeze, and appreciate what we have. If it weren’t for having to make our own meals and clean up after- you’d think we were staying at a private oasis resort. But this is exactly what where we wanted to get to in life- appreciating our home and each other’s company.

As much as I am looking forward to our next “get away” I can’t help but be upset about leaving our home to do it. Especially in the summer. My days off from work will have me poolside whenever the weather permits. But until then- time to get back to enjoying this staycation!

Cheers everybody! Catch me by the water for the next few days if you want to hang out!

Swing And Soul Searching

Two years ago I built a swing for the front porch of our previous home. (Read about it: Front Deck). I couldn’t leave it behind, so I brought it to our new home. At first, we were going to put it up near the basement entry. But I wanted to utilize more space that was otherwise non-functional.

Many people know we have a pool with a large deck on the back. But underneath the wooden deck was just a bunch of space. There were a few boards left behind under the deck, so I made a small platform and chained up the swing. It’s a great place to just go and hide for a bit and stare out into the fields.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have had groups of friends over to hang out poolside and enjoy life. As the evenings progressed we became tipsy and talkative. I have found myself hanging out with a friend on more than one occasion sitting on this swing and just airing out concerns.

It’s a wonderful surprise that this swing has become a place to soul search and share. Staring out into the tall grass as the night sky looms on forever, is a good way to open one’s heart and thoughts. I have heard of my friends’ dreams, passions and even problems as we sat side by side swaying gently.

I hope that the effect of this swing continues for years to come. I also really hope that it helped my friends become emotionally stronger as well as them being able to take charge of their dreams. So if you find yourself at my place again, know that there is always going to be a spot beside me on the swing. My ear will always be ready to listen.

Summer Nights By The Pool

The last couple of days have been scorchers. The heat hitting 30°C yesterday and later today. All afternoon on Saturday, we took advantage of the pool and shade from the gazebo. A few friends stopped by to join us- which is always nice.

By 10:30pm it was just the family remaining. As the night started to settle on us, we stayed warm with the fire pit and a couple of blankets. By midnight, my wife put out the fire and I had fallen asleep. I woke up around 3am and headed inside. It was so comfortable outside that if it wasn’t for my allergies, I’d have slept through the night out there.

I’m looking forward to more days and nights like that one. Where friends and family can come by and relax with us. Hooray for summer making its appearance!

4-7-8

People often wonder how I can fall asleep so quickly. Especially being able to do it any time of day. It has come in handy working shift work. I must have learned this technique decades ago. I have become a master of it.

It’s the 4-7-8 breathing technique, or also known as relaxing breath. It’s extremely easy.

Breathing in for 4 seconds.

Holding your breath for 7 seconds.

Exhaling for 8 seconds.

I do this a few times and focus on the counting and breaths- letting all other distractions fall by the wayside. I can be out cold in under a minute. I have done it on airplanes, trains, and road trips without fail. I use this technique every time I go to bed.

The ability to quickly fall asleep has benefited me numerous times. I can dart away for a quick nap and be awake again before anyone notices I’m gone. This has helped me at social events after a night shift on more than one occasion.

Try the technique for yourself a few times. It’s also really good for when anxiety tries to strike while your laying in bed at night.

Have a good sleep.

I’m Blue Da Ba Dee…

This afternoon I decided that I wanted to do a painting. It had been a couple of years since I last did a special one for myself. I was feeling energized and didn’t want my ambition to wane. So I jumped right in.

Shelley by Josef 2020

A little over two years ago, I did a small version of a painting inspired by an artist named Shelley. The original painting was huge. I believe it was four feet by four feet in size. The one I made that mimicked the original was on one foot by one foot. Today, I decided to double the size. I also chose to change the color palette.

Blue Shelley by Josef 2022

I love this new color concept that I did. It made me think that perhaps I could do one or two other ones that could be similar. Perhaps a green one. Or a red/pink one. “Blue Shelley” is double the size of the one I did two years ago. But still half the size of the original piece that inspired me.

I know it’s not an exact replica in the shapes. But that’s what makes it unique. It’s not a printed image, but rather an inspired one that was inspired by another that was created by my memory.

I think I’d like to do more paintings again. I enjoyed listening to music and doing today’s piece. It was relaxing and pleasant.

Do you paint any art pieces? Let me know in the comments. Or perhaps share with me a picture or link to your art.

Friday Fun

Today was a day of shopping and just having fun. My fun consisted of the following:

Finished shopping at Costco, so I sat in a prime spot and ate my hotdog. Numerous people wanted my spot, but I just sat there eating. Now don’t go thinking I’m a jerk. First of all- there is no seating at Costco, and who wants to drive home and eat a cold hotdog? Secondly, I built some karma points to offset this by helping and older lady lift some heavy items into her trunk. I was also being kind to drivers on the road and allowing merging from store driveways. So there’s that.

For the afternoon, it’s time for some European treats. My favorite drink combo: IRN-BRU and vodka will bring forth some memories and fun. The chocolate Flake bars will also necessitate a sugar high.

Time to enjoy the afternoon!

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.

Alone, Quiet and Doing Nothing

I’m about to start a four day weekend. Of which I only have plans for my last day. The other three days have a few errands- such as driving the kids to school- but nothing else planned. Which is great in a way.

I want to do nothing. I want to be left alone. I want to just enjoy the peace and quiet of having no one around. Well, sort of. My wife works from home, so I know she’ll be around periodically. I also just found out that our two teenagers have the Friday off. So I may only get two days alone.

Having some days where nothing is planned is a rare occasion for me. Usually I try and push myself to get a bunch of errands or home improvements done. Not this week. Sometimes a break of nothingness is better if planned. I know that doing nothing is a lie. I will eventually get something done or start some sort of project. I find it difficult to not be a busybody.

How do you do a day of nothing? I need advice.

Derby Reach

On Friday evening, my wife and I dropped our two youngest off at skating and headed out for a walk. Since we were in Walnut Grove, we decided to head to Derby Reach for a gentle hike. For those who may be wondering- Derby Reach is a park area located in Northern Langley, BC.

Our walk along the path gave us plenty to admire. Especially as the sun was slowly setting in the west. It added some beautiful light to the trees and landscapes as we walked for about four kilometers. With plenty to see on a beautiful evening, the stroll was a nice way to end the week.

We ended up near the Fraser River at one point. Looking out across the water we’re more trees and the mountains in the distance. This was around our halfway point, so we took a short break before heading back to our car.

By the time we returned to the car, dusk was fast approaching. As was a slight chill in the air. The walk was refreshing and pleasant. There’s something about being out in nature on these paths that just clears your head and invigorates your lungs.

Gas Fireplaces

Today was a chilly and rain filled day. After being out shopping, my wife and I came home a tad bit wet and rather cold. So we relit the pilot lights on three of our four fireplaces. We turned the fireplaces on shortly after to burn off some of the summer dust.

Our bedroom boasts a two sided fireplace. For the part facing our bed, we placed a lovely faux sheepskin on the carpet. We love walking across it with bare feet- sliding along the softness. With the fireplace lit, it adds a lovely ambiance while laying in bed.

On the other side of the fireplace we have a painting hung up above that our friend made. There is also a chair by the door which leads to the deck. My wife is hoping to learn how to play her bass guitar while sitting with the fire on and viewing the sky.

Our living room fireplace is the only one with a fan. Which makes sense since it has the largest area needed to heat. Today, I decided to add a smart device to it. Now through Google Home I can turn on the fan and the tv. At Christmas, I’ll add a couple plugs for the trees and have them connected to Google Home as well.

The other fireplace we have in the upper floors of the house is in the office. However, the office is currently our daughter’s bedroom. So I’m not adding a photo, she likes her privacy. But once she moves downstairs, my wife is looking forward to working from home with a lovely fire. Our tenants have the other fireplace which is in the second living room. Soon, that will be our oldest’s personal space.

Having gas fireplaces is a luxury we never knew we needed. Our last home has wood burning fireplaces which we used every winter. After having the fire going today in our living room I did notice that my asthma was not affected. Unlike our previous house where I would be wheezing within an hour.

I love having a fireplace and enjoy the moments hanging around them. The soft warm glow makes me happy inside.

A Windstorm? Hardly Noticed.

Early this morning we had a windstorm roll through the neighborhood. It was a little gusty still as I headed out this morning. However, I didn’t even notice until I opened the door.

We had a few things blow over, but the 60km/h winds didn’t shake us up like they had in the past. In our previous home we would have been awake all night listening to the trees sway and crack. Not to mention the fear of the damage that would be inflicted on our house and yard.

Trees falling and power out for days on end are a thing of the past. Windy days in our old house are now someone else’s concerns. My wife and I slept peacefully and our home didn’t make a peep. Such a nice change of pace compared to the last 15 years.

Last Of The Good Weather

As the summer draws to an end, the last of the good weather is upon us. These past three months have been nothing short of amazing. A few heat waves thrown in, and a new home with a pool to enjoy the summer sun.

After an afternoon of swimming, I realized I better enjoy my evening outside before starting dinner. There’s a light breeze, a gentle sunset and a singsong of the birds. All of which I am enjoying while I write today’s blog in my hammock. After my swim, I also tossed on my pajamas to create the ultimate comfort.

I’m going to cut today’s blog short as I want to spend some time watching the clouds roll by overhead. It’s so much easier to relax without a screen in front of my face. Besides some music earlier, I haven’t touched my phone all day.

I’m at peace with the world today. It feels good.

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.

A Nice Day To Relax

No big goals today. Just things to occupy myself. I’ve been doing odds and ends around the house. Such as starting dinner. Beginning preparations for fixing the leak around our shower. Dyeing my wife’s hair. And tidying around the house a bit.

But mostly I’m just relaxing. Lots of time plopping on the couch, bed or beanbag chair. Whichever is closest. It’s a good day to chill out. Maybe I’ll turn on some Netflix or music in a bit. Who knows. I’m taking it easy.

Fancy Feasts

My wife and I have enjoyed a lovely overnight excursion into the city of Vancouver. We were celebrating the Anniversary of of first meeting 19 years ago. Besides just enjoying a spa escape and a wonderful hotel experience at The Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, we indulged in some extravagant meals.

First we enjoyed a lovely tea at the spa prior to our treatment. Then we enjoyed a glass of wine back in our hotel room. The afternoon was starting off delightfully.

Before dinner we walked around Vancouver and found a wine sampling at Sutton Place Wine Merchant. My wife and I tasted a few varieties from West Kelowna from a winery called Kalala. We picked up a bottle of white wine for our night back in the hotel room.

We headed back to our hotel afterwards because we had a dinner reservation for 6:30pm at the Bacchus French Restaurant. They seated us in a quiet booth and we were given complimentary sparkling wine for our anniversary. We don’t normally indulge in fine dining, in fact this was really our first time ever. The waiter placing the napkins on our laps kind of fine dining. As much as we felt a bit out of place, the staff was friendly and courteous throughout the experience.

Our meal began with Amuse Bouche followed by a half dozen Creuse Oysters. The main course for myself was Yarrow Meadows Duck Breast with Duck Sausage Terrine served with Pomme Dauphine, Asparagus, Wild Mushrooms, Leek Fondue.

My wife enjoyed Beef Tenderloin “cooked to her perfection” served with sweet bread and broccoli purée. She asked for blue rare and that is exactly what she received.

Dessert was a couple of soft biscottis and a fruit gelatin. The dinner was delightful in every way possible. we decided to walk around Vancouver some more before retiring to our room.

We stumbled upon a gala event at the Nordstrom’s department store where my wife and I enjoyed some more complimentary drinks and she got her hair done. It was a fun last minute experience that cost us nothing but time.

We returned to the hotel afterwards to find a couple of gourmet cookies awaiting us. We were also treated to complimentary chocolate covered strawberries. We shared a bottle of wine and relaxed, feeling like the upper crust.

We didn’t think we could attend the Bacchus Restaurant again for breakfast. So we had it delivered to our room. The sun was shining as we enjoyed a meal overlooking Robson Square. A great way to end some distinguished culinary experiences.

We may do this type of night away again in the future when we need it. For now, the memory and relaxation was worth the time and money to get away from our regular lives. Vancouver City is a beautiful place to visit- now back to our country living where we can just take it slow.

River Day

Today my boss took myself and a coworker out in his boat. We were going to attempt to do some white sturgeon fishing. We left at 9am to hit the Mighty Fraser River. Once on the River, we weighed anchor about a half dozen times in hopes to catch something.

The first spot we stopped at had plenty of harbor seals swimming around. We were sure it would be the best spot. No such luck. So we set off to find another location.

Even with a sonar and some fresh bait- the fish weren’t biting. About three hours into our day- we decided to have some lunch and a couple of beers. Why not enjoy the afternoon on the water?

We couldn’t really avoid work. The Fraser River is lined with train tracks as well as a rail bridge that crosses it. Naturally our conversations would resort back to talking trains. We had some good laughs and shared stories of our careers thus far.

We ended our day with no fish caught. We did enjoy our day of rest and relaxation though. At our last spot of the day, the seals were back to greet us. Which was nice. It was a good Sunday to be had.

April is Here

Somehow I lost January, February and March. Except for a couple of key moments, like my birthday two weeks ago, the past three months blasted by. Ahhh!!!

I need to take it easy a bit more. With a quarter of the year gone, it’s time to reel it back a bit. The first thing I am going to do to achieve this? Change the music I listen to. No more Heavy Metal or Industrial music. I have discovered the joy of Lounge Music.

No joke.

Hearing covers of “Fame” or “Funky Town” or even Pink Floyd’s “Money” brings me joy. We ate dinner tonight on our back beck as the sun set, listening to some amazing lounge covers. Even our kids commented on how it felt like we were eating at a restaurant on a patio as we tried to guess the songs as they played.

Hearing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t stop ’till You Get Enough” covered by Bossa N’ Disco made my busy day at work seem calm and relaxing. I almost completely forgot about work until I wrote that sentence. I’m off to discover some other great Lounge Style Covers before bed.

A Day Off Together

My wife took a day off work today to spend time with me. She’s going out of town this weekend. (Our son has a Speed Skating competition in Northern BC.) I figured we’d have some nice quality time together.

First, she woke up and helped the kids get ready for school. I then drove them to school. When I returned home, I made us a lovely breakfast of bacon wrapped asparagus with poached eggs. So far our day was off to a great start.

Outside, the sun was shining brightly. Best avoid it and play video games. My wife and I played on the Nintendo Switch in our dark theater room for about three and a half hours.

It was a ton of fun lounging on the couch in our pajamas until one in the afternoon. Ya, I drive my kids to school in my pjs. Not like I have to get out of the car. In fact, sometimes I go shopping in my pjs. I’ve even gone to work like that in the past. Comfort wins out over fashion sense.

My wife gets very animated when playing video games. After an intense round, match or level- she usually flails her arms. She tries to grab at me, pinch or punch my arms in frustration if she loses. Today I earned quite a few bruises.

It’s all in good fun mind you. I’m often laughing at her failures in the games. So I do kind of deserve her little attacks.

I’m going to miss her this weekend. But at least it will give me time to heal. And practice at our games.

Fifty Eight

If things continue the way they are going, I should be able to retire by age 58. To me, that’s a big deal. Because my father passed away at age 58. He never got the luxury of retirement.

For most of my youth (until age 17 maybe) my father worked long hours for a computer company. We hardly saw him. On his days off he spent it golfing with his friends. He wasn’t much of a family man nor did we do many vacations with him. But when he was let go from his job after fifteen years, he took his severance pay and enjoyed almost a year of golfing. Then he needed to work again. He put in long hours and wasn’t around once more. Then he was diagnosed with cancer. A couple years later- he was gone.

Not the life I want.

If I am still with CN Rail, it means I only have to work for a little over 15 more years to receive a decent pension. I’ve already been working here steadily since 2007 (minus layoffs at the start). Considering I have been in the work force for 30 years so far give or take, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And I’m already getting excited about it.

Since My father passed away, I have focused on time with my family. Only on a rare occasion have I worked long hours and put in extra time. At one point it was to pay for my wedding. Another was to afford a down payment for our first home. Now my time off is as valuable as the time I put in to work.

Knowing that I have put in 2/3 of the work towards retirement is exciting. It’s time to start planning what to do with the time off. I look forward to sharing that next chapter with my wife. Her and I are getting started on those long term goals. But first, it’s time to create a countdown. 5544 days to go.

Sing Away the Stress!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years- it’s that stress can trigger a multitude of emotions from people. Especially in a work environment. I’d like to think of myself as a calm individual at work. Which is great and relatively true. I tend to walk away from situations if need be.

But sometimes at home I lose it. Which really isn’t fair or fun for the family. I hate the fact that I lose control for even the briefest of moments. Losing my cool happens every few weeks or months, which is far too often by my standards. It’s usually because I have set high standards for my vision of my family. That sounds odd, but it’s true.

I need to let my children grow and make mistakes. I can only guide them so far before having to let them figure out the rest. Even if it means they don’t do things the way I expected.

It’s hard to remember that life isn’t a race to the finish line. We’re all going to get there at some point. No need to allow stress to get you there faster. It’ll make a person crazy trying to control everything in their lives. Especially if it means trying to control other people.

I think we should all sing away our frustrations. I enjoy writing nonsensical songs and singing out the lyrics in order to keep calm. Maybe it could be the start of a new musical.

I shall call it “STRESS“. Maybe I could steal some music ideas from “STOMP” and make a ton of noise with office equipment. Smashing of staplers, the hard slam of the photocopier door as you try and figure out what is wrong with the toner, the sounds of twenty people clicking pens in harmony… Who wouldn’t want to sit in an auditorium after a hard week at work and hear those types of sounds set to songs?

Million dollar idea right there.

Day 1 Bridge Lake

We arrived at Bridge Lake at around 4pm. It is an awesome place. The kids settled in and my buddy and I enjoyed a beer.

We got drunk.

Yup.

Drunk.

So we made rules. Rules that my oldest enforced. Hahaha. She loved it. She enforced the rules quite well with the other kids. She is giving out strikes for every infraction.

My buddy and I went back to talking about life over beers. We threw some steaks on the bbq and roasted some potatoes. We ended the day by sitting around the gas fire pit with the kids.

It was a good night.