Grilling on a Long Weekend 

This weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday. So naturally people have a long weekend planned.  Either today or Monday off.  I’m planning on enjoying the time with my family tomorrow during the day.  An old friend of mine will be visiting in the evening for dinner.  Pretty subdued and relaxed. My favorite part of the weekends in the summer? We are going to BBQ!  

I forgot to Instagram my dinner tonight.


Smart shopping and preparing meals is another aspect of my father that I took away from him.  Sure, when I was younger I just wanted to take off instead of help.  But I did learn a lot about being a savvy shopper when it come to meat.  I learned to buy in larger quantities and separate the meat into meals.  Today I bought some grilling steaks and divided them into three meals for the five of us.  As I trimmed the fat off the meat, I remember clearly my father explaining the easiest way to do this to avoid waste.  

I also recall late afternoons on weekends, my father would come home from his morning golf game and we would watch PBS.  Sometimes it was “This Old House” or “Fawlty Towers”, usually it was “The Frugal Gourmet”.  I would sit on the floor and play with my Transformers or Lego and the show would be on as background noise. The room we had was segregated from the kitchen with a half wall. When cooking at the stove, you would face the tv.  My father would be in the kitchen preparing our weekend meal and talk to no one in particular about “what a good idea” when he saw something on the tv.


Maybe it was subconscious.  Maybe I took my father’s acknowledgement of the show as intelligent.  Whatever it was, I have become a great chef in our home.  I can make some of the most flavorful meals around with some of the simplest ingredients.  I love experimenting with foods and spices.  Not to mention accompanying sides.  This summer, I look forward to all of the meals that we can cook and enjoy outside.  Hopefully I can convince our children to help out.  Maybe they could learn a thing or two.  Sort of how I did- even without my father being aware of it.

Penzer Parkour Park

Our children only had a half day of school today. So this afternoon we went out for some “Screamers” to celebrate the start of summer. A cold mix of slushee and soft serve ice cream.  I did a mix of Crush soda flavors to make a cool rainbow chilled awesomeness.


The place we went to was “Ed’s Market” in my old neighborhood from when we first moved into Langley.  The market itself has barely changed, neither has the nearby neighborhood. A few upgrades over the past thirty years- some new buildings, some torn down. But the neighborhood remains familiar to me.

After grabbing a cold drink, we got back into the car and we were going to head to a park to relax.  It dawned on me that we were close to where a new Parkour Park was opening today.  So we drove over to check it out.  I’m glad we were there before the Grand Opening.


We arrived before the crowds- found parking easily and we were able to experience the park with hardly anyone around.  A few races through the park against my son and I was breaking into a sweat.  

My height gave me an advantage of jumping further distances with ease. But his spry little body had me left in the dust as he jumped through bars and holes.  He clambered up walls with ease.  I had to practice a few times to get it.



There were plenty of signs around offering tips and advice.  Very handy considering I’ve only ever seen a few YouTube videos and never tried it myself. In trying out this Parkour Park, I realized that it’s a workout that I can enjoy. Under the hot sun, perhaps we should’ve had water to drink instead of Screamers.  Next time…


Since hardly anyone was there, the embarrassment factor was minimal.  I was as graceful as a tall guy who never did this before could be.  A couple misses and falls, but nothing major. We walked away injury free.  All of us vowing to return and create course challenges with each other throughout the summer.


Parkour may be the activity that gets me moving again.  Challenging myself to push my limits. Perhaps we can hit the park once a week this summer.

Bossy Time

Yesterday I was freaking out about work today. I thought that it was going to be one of the hardest days I’ve had to date as a supervisor. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what my boss expected of me. Turns out- it wasn’t so bad.


Even though I left “the ranks” and became a manager, most of my former coworkers have been really receptive to it.  In part it comes from the fact that I know the job they have to do because I did it myself for nine years.  Being a switchman, conductor or Yardmaster- I always took pride in my work.  Most of the guys at work respect my work ethic and can see that I haven’t changed since moving to management seven months ago. But today was a day that I was meant to be seen as “the bad guy”.


Only I wasn’t.  I did my job and powered through the work that needed to be done. Professionally and properly.  I may be a joker at times and have a relaxed attitude  but when the serious side needs to show- I outshine every time. At the end of the day, I think I did pretty good.  I even learned far more than I thought possible with the help of a coworker. The psyching out and mental games were all in my mind and for naught. I was turning into my own worst enemy.  I need to remember that I’m pretty good at what I do.

At the end of it all, today was a good day.

The Grade 7 Farewell

Tonight was the Grade 7 Farewell and dance for our middle child.  It’s rather interesting to celebrate this at the school they attend.  Since the school currently runs from Grade 1 thru Grade 12.  It seems there are certain milestones at every school that deserve celebration.

Awww Graduating Preschool.


Finishing Kindergarten and moving on into Grade School: That is a really special moment because it’s a real transition from baby to child in the education system.  It’s one of those years that you can see the development progress in each child.  And it’s as tough a moment at the start of that year as it is at the end.  But then school just goes on, year by year, with little parties at the end of each until they hit Grade 7.  

Grade 7 is filled with the start of growing into adults.  Real homework, challenging projects; throw in puberty- and the year is a roller coaster of emotions.  But they made it.  A part of me knows that our daughter is still a child.  She’s still the little girl who loves Hello Kitty and all of her stuffed animals.  But I know she is growing up.  She’s also the young lady already planning her university workload- still five years to get through my dear before that day.


Darwin is full of smiles and laughs today.  She enjoys hanging out with her classmates. She will see her friends over the summer. She will even see many of then again next year back at the same school.  The life and fun of being a kid in Grade 7 going into summer is everlasting.  It brought me back to my youth seeing the smiles and joy on all of their faces.  The kids did a great job, and we’ve done a great job.  There was joy and pride shining through on the parents as well tonight.

If high school for my daughter follows a similar path to mine- the next five years may contain the biggest challenges yet.  For both her and us as parents.  But I will be there proud as ever when she graduates Grade 12.  The same pride as when she graduated preschool.

So it turns out that today was another turning point in one of our children’s lives.  I’m really happy for her.  I’m really happy she isn’t embarrassed by my either.  She looks up to me for some reason.  And I look up to her as well.  Darwin is proving to be a very bright and talented hard worker.  

Total proud dad here. I’m doing an okay job being a father. She doing a great job just being her.

Life is Too Short

Sometimes you just have to take what’s dealt to you in life. Some things are out of your control. So why worry about it? Why freak out cursing and swearing?  It doesn’t help. Unless you are like me and enjoy over exaggerating the situation and pretend to really lose your cool. 


But I am usually pretty calm in stressful situations.  I have this uncanny ability to figure out resolutions to the problem. I can walk away for a moment, then throw my hands in the air, and shout, “Fuck this shit! I’m out!” Only I don’t mean it.  


There is often more going on than what you first see. It’s how you react to problems that defines what kind of person you are.  I am calm, cool and collected.  I can have a person yelling at me over the phone and losing their shit, and I’ll wait until they pause just long enough…. then I’ll ask if they are done and want to talk like adults.  I understand that some people need to vent.  I also understand that some people need to lie or manipulate.  I’m good at reading people even with just a quick phone call or interaction.  I’m the “People Whisperer”- just kidding.  But I don’t let things bug me.  


Like the graffiti I once read: Life is too short for soft core porn. That may not be relevant to what I am talking about. In fact it really has nothing to do with tonight’s post.  But it sure is funny. Life is too short to stay angry.

What a Tool.

This weekend was a scorcher in Vancouver/Lower Mainland.  The heat kicked in full force. After a fun Friday night with an old friend- did you read Grilled the other day? My Saturday consisted of pressure washing and chainsawing (that’s a word right?). The good thing was most of my work was in the shadows of the trees.  But I still overheated and broke out into a manly, musky sweat.  Oooo that smell..


I was on a roll and just didn’t want to stop. I could’ve cut down another five or six trees if my wife hadn’t stopped me.  She only stopped me because I looked like I was ready to pass out.  I was dirty, oily and covered in sawdust.  Shortly thereafter my allergies went full force trying to kill me.


My macho manliness came to a crashing halt as quickly as it started.  I showered to try and cool off and clean my body.  Then, I endured the pleasure of using a neti pot to cleanse my nasal passages.  Imagine a skinny 6’8″ man hunched over the bathroom sink in a pair of boxers with a small plastic teapot pouring salt water into his nose.  I’m all that and more, remember when I talked about My Man Card?  In fact, this evening I was bombing down the road with my wife in the car with “The Village People: Macho Man” cranked.  Possess the strength of confidence, that’s the skill…

I am too cool- even during this heatwave.

Grilled

Yesterday I was hanging out with an old friend of mine. We have been friends for over 35 years. No matter what happens in our lives- we have always remained in contact. We have had many adventures together, dating back to our childhood. 

The first day we met was in Edmonton when his family moved into the neighborhood.  I went over to say hello and introduce myself. Within minutes, we were playing together.  We ended up going down his sloped driveway in a little wooden wagon. We rolled down towards the road where the moving truck was parked blocking the driveway. Two little boys had almost no control over the wagon. Just before we hit the truck, my brand new best friend of five minutes “steered” the wagon with the little metal bar, thus forcing the front wheels to turn sideways.  The momentum of the wagon initiated a sudden crash as we flipped over onto the concrete driveway.  Scraped and bruised we ended our first day together.  A friendship that has never faltered. 

Over the years, we had bicycle accidents together. We attended Boy Scouts.  We played Colecovision for hours.  We made Lego spaceships and had sleepovers.  We got caught by my mother as we recorded on a cassette a song we sang about our penises. We went tubing down a river and he taught me how to play D&D. He was in university and I came to visit. On that trip, we got “arrested” by mall cops for smoking weed in an underground parking lot. He was in my wedding party.  He’s The Godfather of our eldest child. Through it all, we’ve been great friends.  I gave him a nickname when we were in grade 1 that he is still called by my wife and I:

Willbum Pukus.


Last night our adventures didn’t stop.  What should have been a nice dinner garnered some excitement right before the meal was served.  I broke one of my cardinal rules but since we’ve been friends forever, I didn’t think anything of it. 

“Never touch another man’s grill.” 


I have adhered to this rule all my life.  I never BBQ at a friend’s place, even if I am asked to.  You see each grill is a bit different.  There are hot spots and cold spots.  There are places on the grill that meat sticks to or slides gently off.  My grill is off limits to everyone but me.  Even my wife won’t use it.  But last night, my lifelong best friend asked me to attend to the grilling of the pork ribs.

Everything was going smoothly until I was about to take the meat off the grill.  Suddenly a grease fire took over.  I shut all of the burners off and moved the meat to the edges.  My friend in all of his wisdom acted quickly and dumped his beer into the grill.  A huge cloud of smoke went up into the air.  With a sudden crash, the bottom of the grill fell out.


More flames remained stuck on the bottom dancing wildly under the BBQ. My friend grabbed my beer and dumped it on.  This time the flames went out.  Grease fire and beer- not the smartest plan.  I had no idea we were going to his place for dinner and a show.  

My friend and I have had numerous adventures and we have lived to tell the tales. We are only ten days apart in age (I’m older-therefore wiser). Our sons have become good friends because they are very close in age. It’s a lifelong friendship that is passing on for another generation.  Many more stories to tell.

Assuming we don’t burn the place down in the process.

Luxury Automobile?

Often when I am sharing stories about my father, they aren’t always in the best light.  But I have learned a few things from him that stick with me to this day.  The one that sprung up in my mind today was of how to properly wash a car.

1977 Mercedes Benz 450SL similar to my father’s car.

In the mid 1980’s my father bought his “Dream Car”- or rather, bought a car from an automaker that he felt portrayed luxury.  He bought himself a 1977 Mercedes Benz 450SL convertible in white with both a soft top and hard top.  He babied this car for the first couple of years that he owned it.  He taught me how to wash the car with care and diligence.  I was about 9 years old at the time and had washed cars before, just not very well.  

He explained the need to clean the car panel by panel, door by door, top to bottom.  He showed me how to use a shammy with a bit of water on it to dry the car in perfect swipes.  He explained how to care for the black soft top and how to properly clean the glass.  I learned the right way to “ArmorAll” the leather and vinyl interior by spraying on a rag first to avoid overspray.  This car was my father’s pride and joy.  The first summer he owned it, he drove it everywhere.  Every chance he had to take the top down, it was down. I associate automobile luxury with that white car.  A car that was about nine years old when my father bought it.  I believe he spent $20,000 on it and within five years had added another $12,000 in maintenance and engine repairs.  He finally traded in the car for $7,000 towards a minivan. The minivan was purchased because my sister was hit by a truck on my 17th birthday & suffered two broken legs.  This was the easiest way to transport her around. (Future blog post idea…)


I associate luxury cars with the color white now.  That’s probably the reason I bought my Nissan Rogue SLawd in Pearl White.  It was top of the line and luxurious to me.  I have babied this car since buying it a few months ago.  It is my Mercedes Benz.  

At least I don’t think of Yugos as a luxury car.  My father owned a white one back in 1981 that got in a bad accident.  

Customer Support


About a week ago I wrote about having a Spam issue with my blog: iOS Spam? I received numerous messages from friends and readers taking screen shots of the issue.  This was great for two reasons:

1. It showed me this was a problem with not just one or two people.

2. It showed me that I have diligent readers of my blog.

Immediately after posting that day’s blog, I contacted WordPress and told them the issue.  They responded quickly. At first they suggested my friends try rebooting their phones and using a different browser to read the blog.  Obviously, this tactic didn’t work and my blog continued to have pop up ads preventing readers.  So I contacted WordPress again.


This time they worked on resolving the issue on their end.  To much greater success. I don’t always commend companies or websites because oftentimes I’m just a little voice hardly worth hearing.  But I was rather impressed with how WordPress took the time to help me out and I had a direct responder who must’ve been assigned my case.  

Chrissie- You were very professional and prompt with the responses.  It may not seem like much, but I appreciated the time and courtesy you gave to me.

And to all of those who read my blog on a regular basis- thank you again!  I love writing every day.  I know that it’s usually nothing life changing or world altering, but it’s something I have grown to enjoy doing.  Having readership and excellent customer service just proves to me that I should still keep on writing.

Summertime!

June is almost over and if you are like me and have kids- they are super excited right about now.  This has caused a lack of thinking and functionality from our three beasts. The weather is nicer and the act of being stuck in a classroom is overwhelming. Getting home and the idea of chores or homework is forgotten.  Soon my children.  Soon it will all be over.  Summer is officially here.

And with summer comes the great scare. What do we do with kids at home for ten weeks??? 


Every one of my days off is slowly getting accounted for.  All my freedom is becoming locked down into day trips, nature walks and BBQ dinners with friends.  Long evenings sipping cold drinks are upon us.  Letting the kids run around the yard until the sun goes down for the day. I have realized that my summer can be broken down into four basic hang outs.

1. My family: beaches, rivers, road trips, long walks, drive in movies.

2. My wife: relaxing in the yard, watching tv, just being besties.

3. My friends: laughs, drinks, more laughs, discovering new beers, laughing some more.

4. My work: having the ability to work both indoors or outdoors on a regular basis is a great benefit when the weather is beautiful.


I am excited about the many adventures that we shall go on this summer.  I hope to share them all here in my blog.  I wish we could do more. If only work would stop getting in the way.