When Is Summer Arriving?

The sun appears briefly and I want the warm weather to be here. Sure, there was a Wind Storm the other day, but come on- spring is here… yet I want summer weather!

Our patio is slowly getting set up for visitors and entertaining. We removed the dining sets and loungers from winter storage. Now we are in the process of deciding the best layout, while keeping it looking spacious.

The Gazebo went up three weeks ago and has proven to be sturdy as well as keeping the furniture dry. That is a great feeling. I have been out on the patio set now at least two to three times a week. Even on an overcast day like today. I am imagining what it will be like in a month once we open the pool!

Gardening has also commenced. The front is looking spectacular (patting myself on the back). That curb appeal is really something now. Periodic mowing, watering and weeding is all that’s needed now.

Soon I’ll share about the vegetable and herb gardening. That’s more my wife’s project. But I am totally going to benefit from the fruits of her labor!

Are you as impatient about summer arriving as I am?

Is It Spring Yet?

Here on the West Coast we have been getting teased with sunny weather. It doesn’t help that the stores are also bringing out the summer stuff. Displays of lawn furniture, planters and BBQs make it feel as though winter is over.

So I’ve been actively getting the yard ready. Got some pressure washing underway and will complete it tomorrow morning. As zen-like as the activity is, it really hurts my back and I feel it for a few days afterwards. We have a large 75’ deck and poolside concrete that I’m about 2/3rds done.

I also assembled most of the patio set that I picked up last week. I figure with the sun out tomorrow, I may sit out there and enjoy the upper deck for a bit. This seating set will be going on the large wood deck when spring officially starts.

On Saturday I will be having a new gazebo delivered from Costco. Unfortunately it is too much for just me to assemble and I will be doing a shoutout to a few friends and ask for help. Pretty sure some beers and pizza will be a good payment for a few hours of work.

Are you getting excited for winter to disappear?

Daffodils

Daffodils have started to sprout in our gardens. They are a lovely sight and we haven’t had these flowers at our previous home. We did have daffodils around a Sakura tree at our first house.

The flowers are vibrant, as I’m sure you know. Even though we are still in winter- I love that the bright yellow is a foreshadow to spring. Unfortunately, the flowers also make me sad.

The flowers at our first home were planted to remember my father. He had died from cancer. Daffodils are a symbol of hope for those suffering the effects of cancer.

Now that I am seeing daffodils in our current garden, I think of my father. I’d like to think he’d be proud of who I’ve become. Perhaps he would admire my parenting skills or career path. But that’s not the case. Cancer took him away in the year 2000. My children never had an opportunity to meet their grandfather.

As I walk around our home for the next few months, I will be thinking of my father in a positive way. The daffodils bring a new lease on life, and I love the yellow.

Snow Joe Blows

Overnight we had a healthy dumping of snow again. This time, my wife was ready for it. And she was excited too. Not like her considering how she prefers warmer temperatures.

Two days ago- a small electric snow blower was delivered from Amazon. My wife was so excited about it that she didn’t let me get any unboxing photos. She also assembled it herself with great glee while I was at work. I think she bought it because it was called a “Snow Joe”.

Again, she was so excited to use it that she asked me to call her when I was off work at 6am. That way she could clear the driveway before I got home. The foot of snow was gone for my car to back into the driveway. She demonstrated how amazing the “Snow Joe” was and I quickly finished the rest of the driveway before the neighbors were even awake. That’s right, I finished after my wife was satisfied with herself.

For the amount of pleasure this blower brought my wife, and the ease at which we cleared the driveway, I’m surprised we hadn’t bought one sooner. Although in our last home, the trees helped keep our driveway clear. (I’m pretty sure all those pine needles and small branches would’ve damaged this machine.)

I also think the neighbors are a bit jealous now at how quickly our property cleans up. Sweating with a snow shovel is no more! Do you use a shovel, snow blower, or private company to do the dirty work? Let me know in the comments.

Icicles Thaw Out A Memory

The other morning I was outside in the backyard admiring the peace and tranquillity that the snow had brought for New Year’s Day. Something astonishing happened to me though. An icicle came into view.

This surprised me because I rarely see icicles in the Lower Mainland. I am aware that they have been known to occur. But I don’t notice them to ever be this size. Usually they are small and are gone in the blink of an eye. That warm weather and rain thing normally diminishes their existence rather hastily.

As I walked up to the shed to take a closer look, there was an entire row of icicles hanging down. The sight reminded me of my youth and living in Edmonton. I would lay in my bed and stare out the window at the edge of the roof. Numerous icicles would be growing there over the winter. Their size increasing as winter went on. Then decreasing as spring would roll in. Icicles in Edmonton lasted much longer than they do in Vancouver.

Those memories of watching icicles form and vanish triggered numerous other youthful memories. Snow banks blowing into the corners of the yard against the fences. The way those banks would freeze on top and become strong enough for a five year old to walk on. We would dig out small tunnels and little caves inside. Keeping the smooth top as a roof.

The fences would also create a row of icicles. So would the deck railings, sheds and rooflines. As kids, we would break them off and have sword battles. Or we would throw snowballs at them, trying to knock them off. We kept ourselves entertained in the snow.

The icicles that were here the other day are already gone. Melted away. As quickly as the memory I just shared popped into my head, it faded just as quick. The weather is turning and changing so rapidly these days, I may not see more icicles before next winter.

As an adult, I’m totally fine with it.

Half Day Gone

Today was the first day all month that I slept in. So I took it to the limit! I got out of bed at 12:15 to start my day. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even want to start the day. But I’m glad I did.

The snow made the views from our home even more magical than before. It’s moments like this that make me appreciate the world. I just stood at our window in awe and stared out into the distance.

The sky, the snow, the trees, the mountains, even the skyscrapers shone in an icy blue. I’ve said it numerous times before, but I don’t think I’ll tire of these views any time soon. The fact that it’s what got me out of bed is impressive on it’s own.

What gets you up from bed when you really don’t want to? Share that inspiration with me!

It’s A Nice Cold

Yeah, the weather is colder than we are used to up here in the Vancouver area. We like our sunny warm summers and rain for the other three seasons. This winter blast has been usual and a bit chilly.

I like the nip in the air and the briskness of each breath. It reminds me of my youth when I lived in Edmonton. This winter doesn’t feel like the “wet cold” that we are used to. It’s a bit sharper and you can feel it on your face. I enjoy this sort of winter.

I can appreciate the -14 and -20 with windchill because I know that inside my home I can warm up after. Sitting on the couch with a fire going while I take in the view of a slightly grey sky takes me back.

I don’t want to move back to the frozen tundra of central Canada mind you. I’ll take these little snippets of winter so that I can enjoy the summer equally as much.

Winter Solstice 2021

At 7:58 today the Winter Solstice occurred. Officially it is the darkest day of the year with the least amount of sunlight. After today, the daylight peaks out more and more until the Summer Solstice.

Every year, we have a Winter Solstice Party. This year it is being limited to a select few friends. Mostly because of lockdown procedures requested by the government to curb the spread of Covid-19. But having a party on a Tuesday is different as well.

My wife and I use Tuesday as a special day throughout our lives. We were married on a Tuesday. Our son was born on a Tuesday (not much choice there mind you) and we bought our dream home on a Tuesday. The Winter Solstice falling on a Tuesday is great. Not everyone wants to hang out at the start of the week. So it makes it extra special being around those who do make an effort.

As much as I love Winter Solstice and feel it is a worthy celebration, my wife has requested that we have a Summer Solstice party in 2022. That just so happens to fall on Tuesday June 22. It’s as if the universe is telling us something.

Happy Winter Solstice everyone! May us all look forward to our lives getting brighter as each day comes forth.

Not Everyone Is Happy To See The Snow

Last night we had a bit bigger of a snowfall than there was earlier in the month. I saw a ton of pictures and videos on social media about it. So I had to share mine.

Our backyard gave me the perfect emoji. The pool is showing the emotions that many adults feel. Sure, the snow is pretty. But it’s still snow.

I love the white dusting on the ground. It always makes me happy inside. Even driving in the snow is fun. In January 2020, we had a big snowfall, so I took the kids out and we did donuts in the snow in the Honda Element: Read about it here Snow Day Snow Way!

Not everyone like the snow. Many people live in the Lower Mainland BC because of the mild winters. Normally we get a few snowfalls throughout the winter, nothing major. So when the snow happens, I thrive in it.

How do you feel about the snow?

Covered

Today was the final opportunity for us to see the blue of our pool. The final objective we needed to deal with in our backyard to prepare for the winter, was to throw a cover on the pool. All of our furniture is stored away, and the other day we Wrapped The Palm Trees for winter.

It was a sad moment having to say goodbye to the pool for the season. But we haven’t gone swimming in it for about a month now. What’s great about the cover is that it attaches right to the concrete all around. There are sunken pegs that come up and hold the straps in place keeping the cover taught.

Each spring will be filled with a glorious moment as we view the pool once more. The joy will extend through the summer. For now, we will protect the pool from the winter elements with the cover. Until next spring…

That’s A Wrap

The weather was sunny and the temperature was decent, so we decided to take advantage of it. My wife and I went for a 5km walk at the Tynehead Park. It’s a short drive away from our home, so it was nice to wander an area that wasn’t quite at home. Since it’s autumn, the leaves have mostly left the trees and the bare bones of the park remains.

Later in the afternoon as the sun crested over our house, my son and I ventured into our backyard to wrap our palm trees. We used some burlap and created a blanket around the trunk. It was easy enough to do, and I know it is better to do this while it’s nice instead of when the cold snap hits. Hopefully the winter is mild and doesn’t hurt the palm trees.

After wrapping the trees, my son helped to run an extension cord under our back deck so that we could spin some rope lights around the trees. Besides a fun look, this will also keep them warm in the winter months as required.

Next spring it’ll be nice to see everything come back to life and spread some colour in the world. For now, gardening isn’t over- that’s a wrap.

Watching Winter Fade Away

As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.

My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.

At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.

In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.

Weather or Not

The past week’s weather has been bonkers here in the Lower Mainland. We experienced a Polar Vortex just days ago. We even had to dig out the winter parkas just to get from the front door to the car.

This afternoon I was out in my yard with a hoodie and jeans playing with the dog.

The sun and mild weather is a welcomed change. The sunshine brought my spirits up. Even our yard was looking a bit more vibrant than usual. I watched the neighbors wandering around the streets- all of whom seemed to have a pep in their step.

I like that we received a brief taste of spring already. Some of our plants are starting to bud. Now if only the little bits of snow would vanish, I’d be really happy.

Polar Vortex!

I thought the other day was cold. The universe proved me wrong.

Today the sun was out but so was the wind. I had a few things to do in the yard, so I threw on some gloves and a hat thinking that would be enough. Nope. I rushed around quickly and headed back into my abode. The wind was bringing with it a very cold Arctic air.

I know, I know… I should just be quiet as the rest of Canada and Russia are getting hit harder and colder. But that’s why I like living where we do. Our weather is far warmer. There’s a reason Vancouver is called Hollywood North- we are trying to be more like California than we are trying to be like the Yukon.

All I want to is stay warm. This winter stuff can go away any time now.

Shiver Me Timbers

As we were hanging out last night near our home at the local park, the temperature dropped quickly. The subzero temperatures carried on into the day today. We are finally feeling winter here folks. But that’s okay…

We are getting a look at that sunshine out there. I’m seeing a ton of my friends sharing pictures of walking bundled up outside, enjoying the vitamin D. Because of the sun, we are not experiencing the heavy rainfall which is nice. Next week shows a chance of snow. In all honesty that should not be too bad.

It seems everywhere else in Canada the temperatures are far lower and drop quickly as darkness falls. So I’ll enjoy the Lower Mainland and this beautiful weather.

Do you enjoy the sun even when it’s cold outside? I know I do.

Solstice Chaos

Yesterday was a heavy dumping of snow that came out of nowhere. As beautiful as it is, it caused havoc and carnage at our home.

The power line is hanging off the roof onto our driveway.

As our kids were out front playing (and sort of shoveling the driveway) a large branch fell from one of our trees. It came down and took out the power line to our house from the street. At this point, my wife told our teenagers to come inside. Which was a good idea as more large branches throughout our yard, and neighbourhood, continued to snap off and fall.

Not covering much anymore.

The carnage in my yard is pretty extensive. Besides the thuds onto the roof (which I will need to inspect for damage just in case) a massive branch went through our storage shelter. Now there is a large hole which I will need to repair, or at least cover, once I remove the branches. It also looks like we may lose our rhododendron bush and some boxwoods in our front yard. I haven’t even ventured out to the backyard yet.

As beautiful as our home and property is, moments like this making it frustrating to live where we do. And with Hydro telling us we may not get power until Christmas Eve- going days without power is difficult to say the least. It means we have no way to cook or use water (our well has an electric pump). The generator we own will give us enough power to light some lamps and a couple of space heaters. So at least our dining room and family room will be cozy.

With Covid precautions in place, we also don’t feel comfortable going to visit friends or family. I guess that means that we are “off grid” for the time being in hopes to become civilized once more for Christmas.

Fireplace

I love our wood burning fireplace. It gives off a great ambiance to the home. Recently I tried to figure out– How do you build a good fire in a fireplace?

With winter in full force for the first time in years, we have been using our fireplace to heat up our home more often. Here is what I was taught to do when building a fire:

  1. Crumple some newspaper and place under the grate and on the grate.
  2. Place wood kindling lengthwise with the grate. Put on two pieces of wood on top.
  3. Put two more pieces of wood perpendicular to the first two.
  4. Ensure the damper is open.
  5. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
  6. Light the paper under the grate.
  7. Enjoy the fire.
  • I have been lightning fires like this for decades. I found that I kept adding wood and burning faster thinking I needed flames to create heat. The other day I discovered a new technique and it really made the house much warmer.
  • Essentially you build the fire upside down compared to what I had been doing for years.
    1. Start with two or three large pieces of wood and lay them lengthwise and tight together.
      Lay three more pieces perpendicular on top of the first layer. Again making sure it is tight.
      Now add the kindling on top along with crumpled newspapers.
    1. Ensure the damper is open.
    2. Twist a long piece of newspaper and light it. Hold it carefully into the flue in order to create a draft.
    3. Light the paper and kindling that was stacked on the top.
    4. Enjoy the fire as it burns from the top down making more of a hot ember base.
  • The six or so pieces of wood burn slower and last much long than the old way. Going for ambiance- I’ll still light a fire my old way. But with negative temperatures- heat is the priority.
  • Here is a video that I found that explains the new way: Perfect Fire. I’m in no way connected with the YouTube video- I just found it very helpful and wanted to share.
  • I love living in the country and the lifestyle that comes with it. But one day we will move and I’ll have to enjoy a gas fireplace instead.
  • Are you keeping warm the winter with a wood burning fireplace or do you prefer gas?
  • N’Ice

    Oh man. It’s been cold in the Vancouver area lately. An unpleasant type of cold. The kind of cold that only the rest of Canada experiences. Hey Winnipeg-come get your weather, it appears to be lost.

    For the first time ever, the water on our downspout chain froze. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen ice formed from our roof or eaves ever. It’s not right!

    Someone can come and take this snow and ice away any time now. Our two days of winter are over. I really hope it doesn’t last much longer. Not experiencing snow and ice is the main reason we stay living in the Lower Mainland.

    Frosty

    I find the biggest downside to winter is warming up my car. I can deal with snow and even ice. I just hate waiting for my car to get warm and de-fog.

    This morning I decided to sit in my car and write this blog as I waited for my windows to clear up. I did my best to wait for complete visibility, but I’m cutting the blog short so I can start driving as the rest of my car warms up. My seat warmer works really well and I just feel like getting going.

    I can’t wait for warmer weather to return.

    Cold Room Warm Bed

    The weather has been getting colder these days. So that means time for warmer blankets and sheets on the bed. We’ve done fleece or flannel to keep warm and cozy while we sleep. It’s nice to crawl in to bed and feel the weight and warmth of the bedding as the room chills out.

    As I prepare for sleep, I try and burrito myself up like e.t. about to go on a bike ride. Turn up the heat? On the really cold nights we will add another blanket.

    I hate waking up and being uncovered. I can’t sleep if any part of my body is exposed. Especially my feet! I don’t want those monsters stealing my body parts. They don’t hibernate in the winter- instead they’re always waiting under the bed and in the shadows for an opportunity to grab you.

    So anyways, we have our winter bedding out and it was really nice to slide in and feel the warmth on my feet for the first time this season.

    Winter Won’t End

    It seems winter isn’t over quite yet. At least here it isn’t. I’m really happy about it as well.

    What is funny was our oldest daughter wanted to shovel the driveway after this afternoon’s snowfall. I didn’t want to stop her, so I didn’t. This snow may last only a day or two before thawing into spring. For my family though- this winter will continue for another couple of weeks. We just received some good news.

    Our son has earned a spot at the Canada West Speed Skating Championship in Grand Prairie, Alberta in mid-March. He successfully competed in Prince George last weekend to earn this spot. This time, I’ll be taking our son. My wife is thinking she may join me in order to avoid Airport Goodbyes. This is really exciting for us. Our son has worked hard towards this.

    So it seems winter will be lasting a bit longer- and I couldn’t be happier.

    Snow Day 2019!

    Today our children, as well as many of my friends’ children, are getting to experience a “Snow Day“. The snowfall finally hit us in the Lower Mainland yesterday. So many schools are shut down for today.

    I can see why just looking at my yard. Our side street isn’t plowed at all and even though the driveway was shoveled, it’s already half a foot deep again.

  • Some areas are worse hit than others. I left work at North Vancouver this morning and the roads were pretty decent. But by the time I had crossed the river and drove into Langley, it was getting treacherous. I’m glad my kids are having a “Snow Day“.

    Having a “Snow Day” means four things will happen to my kids.

    1. They will play in the snow.
    2. They will warm up by the fireplace.
    3. They will enjoy a warm beverage.
    4. They will play video games.
  • It should be a fairly enjoyable day that will make the kids exhausted by dinner. Just in time for them to start complaining about shoveling the driveway again.
  • Hope everyone out there stays safe and enjoys the snow!

    Scarves or Scarfs

    Scarves or scarfs, however you want to spell it- it’s cold lately so time to wear them. All with that “Polar Vortex” thing- and it finally hit us here in Vancouver. Let’s bundle up!

    I love wearing winter scarves. It’s one of the fashion accessories I enjoy wearing. I usually wear it one of three ways. Yes- scarves can be worn in different styles.

    First is the once around and drape. This is a basic style that many people choose to sport. I like it because it looks casual and keeps you warm. Depending how cold it is also changes how tight you wear the scarf. If it’s windy, you can also drape the scarf down your back instead.

    My personal favorite is the Parisian Knot. This is easily achieved with a longer style scarf. You fold the scarf lengthwise in half. Put it over the back of your neck and tuck the loose ends into the loop. This look is stylish and classy.

    Finally is the simple drape. This is great for when you want to show off some colour or team logo. Just put the scarf around the back of your neck and let the sides drape down your chest. Pretty simple.

    That’s my “Fashion Tips” for men regarding scarves. As you can see, I also enjoy having fun scarves such as my Harry Potter one or my handmade fox scarf. I have a black knit one as well which is super warm. Something about wearing scarfs in the winter just adds to your look.

    What’s your favorite winter fashion accessory? Do you like scarfs? Let me know in your comments.

    Winter Wash

    I don’t like the winter at this moment. It means my car is dirty more often than it is clean. It feels like I’m neglecting Rogue One because I don’t wash it. But there isn’t any point to washing it.

    First of all- it’s cold outside. So I don’t want to stand out there with a bucket of water and a hose.

    Secondly- the sun is only out for a brief moment or two. That means cold nights and a possibility of rain or snow again. Which means dirty roads causing dirty car.

    Thirdly- I’m not the only one driving around in a muck-colored vehicle. So I shouldn’t show off my bravery/stupidity of a washed car.

    However, it is a gorgeous vehicle when clean. Maybe I could survive some frostbite and freeze my garden hose for another evening of joy until it gets dirty tomorrow morning driving to work…

    It’d be totally worth it.

    No Power? No Problem.

    There is a severe ice storm at the moment in the Lower Mainland. We’ve lost power a few times in the past 24 hrs. As you can tell, I still have cellular service- so I can remain connected to the world. Life isn’t that bad!

    Today, we arrived home from shopping this afternoon to discover that there was no power in our home again. My wife and children rustled up all of our candles and placed them on our dining room table and throughout the family room. We made sure our camping lanterns had spare batteries for later use.

    Our oldest started a fire to keep our house warm. I love living in the country and still having a wood burning fireplace. Besides creating a warm ambience, it comes in very handy at times like this. We have an abundance of dry wood ready to keep us warm.

    The Christmas season also means that we have decorative candles and candle holders. Moments like this are a perfect reason to light them again. Why not enjoy their beauty a little longer?

    So stay cozy this winter season. And let the power failures bring family/friends closer to you.