Archive for Family

DIY on a Saturday

It’s nice to get to the weekend and take care of a few things that you’ve been meaning to get to.

I’ve been playing around with earlier wake-up times lately. This week, I did a couple of 5:30am wake-ups and found that the extra hour in my day didn’t have a negligible impact on the state of my affairs during the later parts of the day. If anything, I was actually *more* ok than most days (I tend to suffer from energy dips at around 10:30am, 1:30pm and 4:30pm). The energy dips I used to chalk up to those being times when a) breakfast runs out; b) when lunch lands in my stomach; and c) my brain quits because it’s 4:30 and it’s naptime). The 5:30 wakeup seemed to negate all of that. I didn’t have to back my bedtime up that much — I racked out at 10:45 or so, but 5:30 really seems to solve a lot of my inertia problems during the day.

But that wasn’t today. Today, with no alarm, and with a head full of shit that’s happening at work, I woke at 6:30. Spent part of my morning just laying in bed, finishing off the book I’ve been reading, and then getting on with my day. Saturdays can be busy, but I took advantage of things right off the bat. Levi and I took care of some yard work, and then made a couple of pit stops. First one was to Salvation Army, where we got a pair of ski poles, and then to Canadian Tire for some ABS pipe, machine screws and street hockey balls. More on that in a minute.

T has art class out in Langford for two hours right around mid-day, which isn’t really worth the trip back in to View Royal, so after dropping her off I decided to grab a coffee and go for a walk in Havenwood Park. A nice walk, and I spent a little time talking with one of the ladies who resides near there. She tipped me off to the best vistas in the neighbourhood.

Once we got home, Levi and I got down to some serious business – the manufacture of two bike polo mallets.

Thanks to teh interwebz, we had a really easy guide to follow – Remove the handles from the ski poles, cut the bottoms off, cut 4.5″ of ABS pipe, drill through, make a pocket on the inside of the pipe for the ski pole head, drill a screw through the side of the pipe and the shaft of the ski pole, bolt in, plug the ski pole end (no core sampling!) and tape like a hockey stick. Repeat with the other side.

Levi worked on a little bike maintenance on his ride while I put the mallets together, and then we headed for the tennis court at our local rec centre.

Now, I can get pretty excited about stuff, and when I find a new obsession, I tend to go all in. Think commuter cycling. Or brewing. Or hockey. I tend to not do half-measures. Bike polo, I’m afraid, is going that way. I think I’m in love.

Levi and I figured out pretty quick that bike polo ain’t exactly the easiest thing to do, but at the same time, it’s so RIDICULOUSLY fun. We hit the court around 2:45. Levi was hooked right from the start. We even got to show our neighbour, Geoff, what it was we were doing. The look on his face said “you’re crazy, but I see where you’re going with this”, and after a while longer, I headed back to the house. I urged Elijah out the door, put him on his bike, gave him the mallet, and he took to the game like a fish to water, too. His comment was that bike polo was “weird” but that he liked it.

I headed back to the house to start to get dinner ready, but Levi stayed out on the court for over two hours in the light drizzle, just working on his shuffle and his shot, not to mention trying to keep his feet off the road. Tomorrow, he plans on eating breakfast and getting on the court right away.

This week might be the first week I head to Victoria Bike Polo.

 

 

2018 Preview

So while folks are off recapping what they did in 2017 (and my list is, by all measures, fairly epic in what I did), I’m going to spend a couple of minutes talking about a few things I intend on doing for 2018.

Music. Lots and lots of music.

Kristy and I had several long talks as 2017 came to a close. New Year’s Eve was no different, but we both expressed again our interest in creating music together. We had a couple of moments over the dying days of 2017 when we were both laid up with the flu where we made music. Some of the results were epically hilarious (such as the moment when I questioned my abilities as a professional musician while we tried to play melodica Christmas duets), and another where she got her hands on my Wurlitzer and we improvised together for a short span. We both have a deep love of a lot of music, and a lot of that coincides with what we do. We’ve talked about it before, we’ve even gone so far as to jokingly have a band name together, and now, I think this’ll be the year where we go out and actually perform music together. I’m pretty excited.

Volunteering.

It’s something I’ve talked about a lot, and it’s something that I need to both make time to do as well as commit to doing. So I’m going to volunteer. The two likely targets are Recyclistas, siding well with my love of bikes and bike culture, and the other is with Victoria Tool Library, which appeals to my side of all things DIY and wanting to fix all the things using my own two hands.

Travel.

2017 taught me that I need to spend more time seeing things. 2018 started things off right by spending a couple of hours on my feet at a time when my body was so weak from being sick for so long. The results were nothing short of magical – being in the trees close to the water, feeling the sunshine on my face, this is what helped bring my life force back into being. I’ll be going into this year with the intention of traveling and spending much more time in the outdoors. So far, Kristy and I have plans to go camping in January, a trip to Tofino, going back to Whistler, she’s off to Japan, and we now also have long-range plans to head over to Port Angeles for a week of adventures this summer. On top of this will be plans to do even more camping with the kids, more trekking about local hills and paths, and generally finding ways to spend all the time outside. It’s totally doable, and it’s time.

The rest, like usual, I’ll make up as I go along. A lot of it will involve wanting to lead a simpler life, to spend more time with my kids, and to do more of the things that matter to me. It’s not new years’ resolutions – these are just acts and actions I’ve been working towards that I’m actually seeing through to completion this year.

Time to get moving…

Sustainability

Coming back to BC made me realize that I’m a little more crunchy granola than my job would indicate. Ok, maybe a lot more.

Part of the deal in moving here was that I wanted to make a real effort to get local. I wanted to live in an area where I could walk to things – work, shopping, nature, etc, and still be close enough that I could ride my bike to everything else. I found a gem of a house in View Royal that does just that – 3km to work, right next to a park, a bike path, two beaches (one to go hang out and read and watch the sunset at and the other that you can swim in), plus I have a grocery store, liquor store, dollar store, pharmacy, and Canadian Tire all at hand. The net result? I don’t have to drive nearly as much as I did before. Hell, I don’t even have to do massive weekly grocery shops! I just grab the shopping bag, see which one (or all) of my kids are up for a little walk, and we go to the store and pick out the ingredients we need for supper. We always have a lovely time on the stroll, and my kids are getting much better about navigating the insides of the grocery store, and I do believe they’re starting to get the knack for picking out produce.

Food Beginnings

There’s a lot of trialling and tribulating that takes place in my life. Yeah, I’m thirty-********* years old, but at the same time, I’ve been in a position where I didn’t always have to fend for myself. So here I am, ostensibly in mid-life, learning basics about how to feed myself. Turns out I’m a voracious reader (and eater, especially during hockey season), so this works well.

I had seen posts on teh interwebz about Thug Kitchen. Always thought it was good for a laugh, partly due to the language, and also because they were making simple recipes using really basic ingredients that looked fucking delicious. Turns out, they really know what they’re doing.

I bought their cookbook sometime shortly after moving into my new place. Got down to the business of trying out some of their recipes, and wouldn’t you know it, they’re so simple they make me look like a fucking genius in the kitchen. I had always been labelled as someone who made a giant mess in the kitchen, and you know what, it’s all true. But I know how to make a pretty damn good soup now, or a stew that will keep your belly happy for a long, long time, or eggs Benny, or, or, or, or.

And meals weren’t just the end of it either. Much like I did with beer a few years back, where drunkenly I pledged to only make my own home-brewed beer for consumption at home (subject to minor caveats like having large gatherings, etc), I pledged to do my best to not buy snacks for my kids’ lunches — no more pre-packaged granola bars, or cookies. I’m making all that shit from scratch. Matter of fact, as I’m writing this, I’m just finishing off what I deem to be the best batch of chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. The recipe was one that I had gotten from my mother, and now, gentle readers, I present it to you:

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups porridge mix oats (mine include large flake, quick, wheat germ and flax seed, just for extra yumminess)

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Mix the sugars and the butter together until fluffy (I have a Ninja blender and use the food processor bowl with the dough blade). Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Next, add the flour, soda and salt and mix together. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.

Pan using two small spoons, a dozen per bake sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.

Makes approximately 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

So, take that recipe and examine what’s going on from a cost perspective. You get 2 1/2 dozen of the tastiest fucking cookies you’ve ever put into your pie hole, and if you were a savvy shopper, it didn’t cost you hardly anything. 3/4c flour is worth about 10 cents. 1c sugar is about $0.25. 1/2c butter is probably one of the more expensive things at about $1.00. An egg costs me around $0.25. Soda, salt, we’re talking fractions of a cent. Porridge mix (the good shit) is probably $0.60, same for the chocolate chips. All told, 2 1/2 dozen cookies for about $3.00. Sure, I could probably go buy a package of cookies on sale for the same or less. Truth of the matter is that I know exactly what went into those sons of bitches, and moreover, my kids will have the pleasure of using them as currency on the playground when they need a favour. I know I did when I was little.

Better still is that my 13-year-old has discovered a knack for kitchen life. For a while there, I jokingly referred to him as “Home Ec” and I would occasionally say stuff like “hey, Home Ec, go make some cookies” to which he’d go and take his iPod, source himself a recipe for something like sugar cookies, and fucking rock them. Then we’d sit around and drink milk and eat them.

And therein lies great joy as well, even so far as this very evening that I’m writing this post – happens that I’m writing this on Taco Tuesday (an observed food holiday in our household), which happened to coincide with National Pizza Day (who knew?). The end result? Taco Pizza. Ground beef, crushed tortilla chips, cheese, salsa, tomatoes, lettuce, all baked onto a pizza pie. Not bad, I daresay. Through and through, my kids were in the kitchen with me, helping out with walking down to the store, fetching ingredients, chopping veg, stirring things, etc. They see the value in the acts, and are learning in the process.

Hard Restart

After a long, long time without any activity here, and with some inspiration from a variety of sources, I’ve decided to get (back) into writing a little more. Suffice it to say that the path of my existence has been altered a fair amount over the last year, and so it’s likely time that we get reacquainted.

So who am I? Funny, I went through a mental health crisis in October 2014, and the wonderful social worker I saw handed me a 3″x5″ card in my first session. On it, on one side, was marked “Who Am I?” and on the other side, “What Do I Need?”

In the most basic sense, for the first question, I’m a partnered late-thirties father of three, living in Victoria BC. I could provide a laundry list of things I do, but for the most part, it’s irrelevant in this scenario. I make music for a living, I do a ton of things out of passion. And I curse like a sailor. Maybe because I am one.

My recent focus has turned to being more of a creator than a consumer. I’ve long had an urge to be less consumeristic and more being a producer, whether it be of food, music, fermented things, love, etc. Previously, these kinds of aspirations weren’t compatible with where I seemed to be headed, but with the aforementioned stark change in my life, I’ve been able to explore a great many things and have been able to better myself, and hopefully, the lives of those around me.

I’ve got some writing to do, so if you’ll excuse me…