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.

Bed Neglect.

The age old question, “Why make your bed if you’re just going to sleep in it again?”


Our bed is rarely made up. But it’s not my fault. Usually for a day or two after clean sheets are put on, I tend to straighten out the bed and try to keep it looking fresh.  But then it happens.  Not even slowly.  Seriously, on the third day after clean linens are on- the caring just stops. By the third night’s sleep, the softness of the blanket and the fresh laundry smell is gone.  So is the desire to care about the one thing that brings me great joy after the end of the day. 

Neglected bed.

It lays there in wait.  It doesn’t know what it did wrong or why you just stopped caring.  But it welcomes you anyways.  The disheveled blankets quickly wrap you with the comfort and warmth you need. But it’s not the same as that first day of clean linens. It never is.

“But Josef, why don’t you just make the bed?”

Two reasons. 

1. I’m not the last one out of it and I’ve gone to work already.

2. I’m too lazy to care.

“But Josef, why doesn’t your wife make the bed?”

Two reasons.

1. She claims that the bed needs to “air out” to prevent germs or bugs.

2. Or she claims that I was the last one up, so why didn’t I bother to make it?

The bed remains neglected. After every sleep, you just get out of bed, leave your room and start your day. And you don’t turn back for 12-16 hours. 

But neglected bed remembers your curves. 

Neglected bed will bring you comfort.

Neglected bed won’t neglect you.

Just What I Needed

Nine days ago my wife and I attended the wedding of some old friends. It was a small intimate wedding about the size of ours.  I knew about half of the people there from meeting them over the many years of friendship with the groom. It was great to socialize and laugh. In fact I had the most fun being sober at this wedding.


Those who know me know that I enjoy having a few drinks at these types of events.  Even more so if the booze is running freely.  This time around, I agreed with my wife to give her a chance to let loose.  So she did and had a great time. We sat with some friends and laughed.


Throughout the night music played and people sang.  They sang quite well in fact.  It was a lot of fun. I began having some intense discussions with the non-sober people about music.  Turns out, everyone knows songs from The Cars and Kenny Loggins.

So as we sat at the table singing “The Cars Greatest Hits” over dinner, I realized that I enjoy sobriety as much as I enjoy intoxication. “Let the good times roll.”  We discussed Kenny Loggins impact on the films of the 80’s and how each of the songs he wrote that appeared on sound tracks helped defined the movie.  

The topics we had throughout the night kept everyone in great spirits.  We joked about drugs, dildos, and dinosaurs. At one point, one person was writing a song for my wife and I.  I believe it was called “Pound Town”.  

The night was a riot.  For the car ride home, I drove a couple of other friends home as well who had been enjoying the drinks.  My wife really let loose at the wedding and people began to question who was the more “adult” person in the relationship.

That’s a good sign.  It means that we both still enjoy life and all it has to offer. Be it sober or a bit tipsy. Or a lot tipsy as was the case for my wife and our friends. Like Kenny Loggins once said, “I’m alright, nobody worry about me.”

Where Was My Father Figure in those 1980’s Movies?

I am often nostalgic for my youth.  Mainly sharing with my kids the films that I grew up on.  For the most part, the films were goofy, adventurous and fun. But upon reflection of these 1980’s classics- there was something usually missing…  A father.

I’m not sure if this was the norm in the 80’s.  Perhaps it was because divorce and working mothers were on the rise in society.  It made it seem like no parents were around in these films. It was also very popular to have child actors go on big adventures well outside of their comfort zone. But I loved these films nonetheless. Often watched and rewatched on VHS until the lines of static over came the images.


E.T. was one of the first films that I can remember.  Boy finds an alien and becomes the parent figure trying to get E.T. home. To this day, E.T. scares the crap out of me.


Annie was about a bunch of orphans without parents in search of hoping to have a family one day.  Plus singing! This movie made me fall in love with musicals.


Goonies where the only adults in the movie were the villains trying to hunt the kids down. Even at the end the parents weren’t listening to the kids. “Hey you guys!”


The Neverending Story had us following two separate boys on adventures without adult role models. Only at the start of the movie is the father shown, and he basically tells his son to grow up.


The Last Starfighter was about a teenage boy living with his mom in a trailer park who played an arcade game so well, aliens took him away to protect the universe. Videogames leading to space travel?  Every child’s dream…


Explorers had three young boys traveling into space.  Again, no parents. How did they get out in the middle of the night?


Stand By Me had four boys searching out a dead body and just wandering around. This is an excellent “coming of age” style film about boys becoming men.


Big was a strange film about a boy turning into a man. Besides a brief moment of the mother freaking out, they kind of forget about that aspect of the story as this kid is on his own to explore the world in an adult body.


Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was kind of the opposite of Big. It was a grown man acting like a child.  Maybe PW needed a father figure growing up…


The Secret of NIMH is the only cartoon that I’m going to add to this list. The father was long gone, but constantly referenced as a good man, er, mouse. Plus, Don Bluth animation is my favorite of all time.

Moving on from the lack of actual fathers in these films, there were a few films that had “Father Figures” in them.


Back to the Future where Marty looked up to “Doc” as a father figure since he regarded his own dad was a wimp at the beginning of the film. Plus Marty’s mom was hitting on him in the past.  Creepy.


Beetlejuice did have parents in the movie, but they never listened to Lydia, so the dead couple tried to take care of her and protect her from Beetlejuice. My love of Tim Burton films keeps this as re-watchable to this day.


The Wizard was about three kids running away to go to a videogame competition. At least this film had the father trying to find them and he developed an understanding for the video game fascination.

There are plenty of other films that fit the genre of “1980’s Children Adventures” but these were some of my favorites. There is nothing wrong with the lack of parents to push the story forward.  Maybe it was the fact that I was a child during this era and  that I felt I could relate because my father was constantly working long hours and weekends. It was my father’s way of doing things.  He loved to work.

In the long run, I think these films helped to mold me into being the father I always wanted around.  I’d say I’ve successfully gone on many adventures with my family and hope to have many more.  Sure, none of them have been magical or going into outer space, but who knows what the future holds for us. I’m just happy to be their father.

The Day Drags On

Today is one of those days that just seems to be going on forever. This is the kind of day that just passes by until bedtime.  No ambitious projects.  No plans to go out.  Not a lot of anything. It’s as if I’m just waiting for something to occur. But nothing will.

I started dinner a few hours ago. We are going to be enjoying a smoked brisket and potato salad in a few hours.  Perhaps that’s the reason it feels like the day is just sauntering along.  I am checking the meat about once an hour as it slowly cooks. The red potatoes for our potato salad have been boiled & peeled and are cooling off. Now we wait.  And wait. Then wait some more.

My wife is planning on doing some gardening over the next couple of hours.  I don’t feel like getting dirt under my nails today, so I will be avoiding this.  Most likely I will either nap or play some video games. I may even do both.  Those are my plans.


It’s just another lazy Saturday for me.  I enjoy these.  It’s been a while since I had a Lazy Day.  I’m going to relax and just float through the rest of the afternoon and evening. Then suffer a meat coma and pass out.

It’s good to be an adult sometimes. You can make these choices and not feel guilty.

Am I a Writer or a Plumber?

I procrastinated for about two days before finally starting on a home repair project.  More Plumbing issues.  Old house- new problems.  It seems to always be plumbing issues in this home.  It’s the one thing that drives me to want to throw in the towel and sell.  Today, I didn’t want to even start this project, just in case.


Today was a repair needed for the pipe connection that goes directly into the hot water tank.  It seems the water from our well is rather rough on the pipes.  The hot water tank was new in March 2012, so I can time the corrosion to about 5 years.  Which seems about right for each repair I’ve had to do.  

So this morning, I took a shower, then washed dishes, filled the kettle, and filled a couple of jugs & pots with water.  (You know, just in case I really eff this one up.) Then began the water shut off followed by a draining of pipes and hot water tank.  After some internal debate with myself “You can do this Josef! Nope.  Better call a plumber!” I finally pulled out the hacksaw and cut the pipe. 

Some elbow grease and the part was removed.  It was off to the Home Depot and search out the replacement part(s). I found what I needed to make the repair work.  There are these fantastic parts called Shark Bite that are amazingly easy to use and haven’t caused me any grief in the past.  Within a few minutes of getting home, the repair was completed. Then the moment of truth. Turn the water back on to the house.


Success.  No more leak. I was so happy that I decided to write about it.  I’m not a plumber, but can make do.  I’m not quite a writer yet either.  I enjoy writing way more than plumbing that’s for sure. Having a basic knowledge of both skills has gotten me this far in life.  Heck, I even understand electrical work and other home improvements.  I have also studied books on writing and taken courses on the subject.  Yet somehow, I can’t get myself to write the novel I want people to read. It’ll come to me eventually.  When it does, the creative waters will flow!