Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Patio Stone Layer that Could

I read over my "Year in Review" post from February and was amused. I managed to get a lot done last year. So far, this year has been pretty low key and laid back.

I did end up taking ukulele lessons. I have been for about 3 months and have been working on a few songs. it's tough when you really have no singing talent - or at least haven't figured out how to play and sing at the same time.

Here is a list of the songs that I hope I will be proficient enough to play and sing some day.

  • Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World medley - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version
  • Three Little Birds - Bob Marley
  • Sittin on the Dock of the Bay - Ottis Redding
  • Lazy Song - Bruno Mars
  • Shame and Scandal (in the Family) - Peter Tosh version
 I found I am practicing a lot. Way more than I used to, during those dark days of accordion lessons. It is actually very fun and relaxing. What is giving me a some difficulty is understanding or being able to pull off the different rythyms. My teacher, Andrew Hill has been working on helping me with my inner black.

I have also been spending a lot of time in my yard. I put a vegetable garden in again this year. Last years lapsed due to the chaos that happened. This brings me to the reason for the title of this article. Last weekend I laid 60 patio stones in my yard. I put 32 up the side of the house between my house and my parents house. Due to the crazy amount of snow that fell last winter I found that a lot of snow was piled up there. Which may have contributed to my son's room having a bit of a flood when it melted. This allows me to snow blow out the enter area which should limit the flooding potential.

The remainder were used in the backyard. The Toast has been causing havoc on the yard by digging holes in the only areas where the grass is half decent. These holes are in an area of the yard that my parents may traverse when coming over. So in order to avoid them falling into a hole and breaking a hip, I decided to extend the patio (which will also facilitate the acommodation of persons at the 2nd Annual BBQ for the Sake of Having a BBQ BBQ). Unfortunately, I under estimated the number of stones required so another skid of 60 is arriving this Friday.

The laying of patio stones is tough. I don't think I am totally recovered and I get to do it all over again this weekend. It will be glorious when it is done. It will also provide the eventual base for the installation of a hot tub in the future. Yup - mid-life crisis part II, maybe next year.

Did you know?

Apparently in the "old" country, one would dig a hole, deposit a seed then pour in a bucket of shit and that's how they planted a garden. My dad cracks me up with his garden planting wisdom.

I also have my mom convinced that I need a pair of tear away pants for fathers day. You never know when you might need a pair.

That's it - Can't think of anything else to say.

Cheers


Monday, February 3, 2014

2013 Year in Review

It just turned February 2014 and I have been meaning to blog for the last 6 weeks. It's amazing how time flies apparently when you are having fun. So here we have it, a new year. I looked back over my blogs and realized I have never done a, "Year in Review" article. Maybe it's because all of my previous years haven't been as tumultuous as this past one.

I am assuming January 1, 2013 started pretty much the same as all the others. Waking up at noon after watching a Mr. Bean marathon on the television to ring in the New Year. After that, 2013 became a cacophony of crazy. Cacophony by the way means, "a harsh, discordant mixture of sounds.", but I am going to use it for the series of events that had been apart of my life for the remainder of the year. I am sure there were plenty of sounds associated with these various events.

Oddly enough, I can't remember anything previous to March 21, 2013. That was the day my wife and partner of almost 20 years decided to call it quits, apparently after planning her exit for the better part of the past 10 years. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, that one must be happy, if not one should make changes, and there is really no ill will towards her. Though communication may have been nice because it seems, I was the last to find out. However; I am not going to dwell on this. This event set the ground work for the remaining 9 months of the year and the crazy that ensued.

The break up was hard, I would have to admit. I descended into about 3 weeks of seriously thinking of suicide and as pathetic as it seems, I couldn't find a way to do it where my estranged wife and kids would still benefit from my life insurance (It seems that the life insurance companies frown on selling you insurance and then offing yourself to cash it in.).

So I went to counselling, had a candid conversation and came away with a new outlook and a homework assignment. He wanted to see me again in a month. He wanted me to go out and do some things for myself, as well as, with all break ups, you end up loosing a group of friends, he wanted me to go out and meet some new people. Above all, he didn't want me to enter into any relationship that would result in another marriage.

So here I am, pseudo single - what do I do? I buy a Lazyboy recliner and totally convert two thirds of my attic into a gym. Let's just say I have not used my Lazyboy nearly as much as I thought I would. I hardly ever watch television. The gym however; I have been using regularly (oh, OK not so much in the last couple of months). I am down about 15 - 20 pounds. I need to get back on my schedule because Speedo season is approaching and I want to get down to 220lbs (currently at about 240lbs).

I reconnected with some old friends, established more contact with current acquaintances and met new friends. I have come to the realization that I suck at anything music trivia related. I am thinking of taking ukulele lessons just so I can help out at the 2nd Annual BBQ for the Sake of Having a BBQ, BBQ. Andrew - I will be talking to you about this. I also met some new friends due to an unfortunate car accident. My Jeep nor myself were injured. I want to thank my new friends for helping me feel what being loved again is like. Did some camping at a period re-enactment and drank a lot of grog - totally looking forward to going again this year.

I have discovered that you can do more in the middle of a road than just play hockey. My chiropractor is in a Blues Band (the name of which escapes me - I am sure he will give me shit about that), I enjoy Celtic music because every so often you can scream, "Up yer Kilt!!", and I love quiet walks on the beach (just threw that in).

The aforementioned, "BBQ for the Sake of Having a BBQ, BBQ" was an awesome event and I am looking forward to an even better event this year. We had live music played for almost 5 hours plus a ton of food and drink for all those that attended. Plan to attend this years event which will tentatively be held on June 29th, 2014. The date may change once I know how that weekend works out. I want to make sure the guests have time to recuperate.

I turned 50 this year, a milestone and I wanted to have a birthday party. I never have birthday parties. The last one was a surprise party for my 30th I think (Thanks Fran). So this year I wanted one for my 50th. The party started on the 19th of October and ended on the 28th. This could be where the cacophony comes into play. The first event was held at The Irish Harp Pub in NOTL on the 19th, a series of interesting activities involving cupcakes during the week, and a birthday weekend of drinking and machine guns in Las Vegas with Bob and Jake. While in Vegas we ate at the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas where I had a large number of shots and accepted the resultant spankings. I think this may be why am currently having treatment for a nerve issue in my ass. Totally worth it though.

I had to declare pseudo bankruptcy since I conveniently ended up with all the credit card debt. Should have done it sooner, I actually have a savings account now with a few bucks in it. My Jeep is totally mine due to a bank mistake and I am on a pretty tight budget which has been going pretty well. It put a bit of a damper on Christmas but it helped me realize what the season is all about.

Christmas as I mentioned was on a tight budget. I would have to say it was tough (mentally and financially), considering I really didn't have the "usual family" to celebrate it with. We ended up having turkey in a box with all the fixings. It was sort of like Tim Allen in the Santa Clause, except there wasn't an elf name Bernard helping me navigate through it. Not sure how I will celebrate it in 2014. Maybe I will just go away for the week.

Near the end of 2013, I started to have an appreciation for baking, "Spoon!", "Bowl!", "Slice!". That's all I will say about that.

Well, here's to 2014, the drinking, the sites and sounds, the chaffing. Can hardly wait.

A special thank you to the following for getting me through this past year - Kaycie, Dustin, Fran, Barb, Bryan, Bob, Jake and the ladies from work. If I have forgotten anyone, sorry.

Cheers


Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Weekend Prophets

First off let me apologize for not making it down to help out with the Air Cadet Santa Claus Parade float. My back was totally not happy with me this morning. I should be good to go, for tear down after the parade. That being said, you may find the following somewhat amusing.

Saturday November 30th, 2013 ~8:00am - Alarm rings (said wake up call for the parade float preparation).


I run an internal systems check:

"Whoooop, Whoooop, Whoooop, Systems Failure, Systems Failure, Back OFFLINE!!!"

I get up, grab an Ibuprofen and get back into bed. A couple of hours and I will be fine.

~9:00am

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, Heathen.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, Heathen.
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK, Heathen.

Dog does nothing (he's sleeping)

I go to the door and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniture sleigh and eight tiny reindeer?

Nope, two clowns that look somewhat like the above photo (but with winter coats on).

Ah yes, the Weekend Prophets

"Morning", I says.

In unison, "May we have a moment of your time?"

I tell them I can save them some trouble by just going through my check list and they can let me know if these activities are ok in their religion. Their responses are in red.

  1. Do you celebrate Christmas? - because if you don't my boss will make it an excuse for not letting me take the time off in a couple weeks. Loosing vacation would be bad. No we do not celebrate Christmas.
  2. What about birthdays? I had a milestone one a month ago and I got autographed underwear out of the deal. No we do not celebrate them.
  3. So, I treat Commandments 3 and 10 more like a guideline. You ok with that? No we wouldn't be.
  4. What about Commandment 6 - Thou shalt not kill weekend prophets when they come to your door at 9:00am on a Saturday. How are you guys with that one? They turned around and left.
The dog now wakes up (better late than never I guess).

I return to bed only to be awoken by the girl asking if I can go get the boy. They want to work on their uniforms prior to the parade. I think there is a diabolical plan being executed here. I can't catch a break.

Well I am up, oatmeal pancakes in our bellys and coffee in my hand. See everyone at the parade in a few hours.

Cheers

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My 50th Birthday

It has been a week since I turned 50 and it hasn't really been any different than before. However; the week of October 19th to October 26th was absolutely crazy. I want to thank everyone who participated in making my 50th birthday a whole pile of fun.

There was the party at The Irish Harp Pub on October 19th with Ceol Cara playing, There was approximately 25 persons in attendance in addition to the regular patrons of the pub. What a night - the autographed tighty whities are getting framed and will be mounted in my recreation room for all to enjoy.

On October 25th, a couple of good friends took me to Las Vegas which was a trek in itselft - having
connection flights messed up and eventually getting to Los Angeles before making to Las Vegas. Finally making it, we celebrated my birthday on October 26th at the Hofbrauhaus. Great food and the bonus of getting spanked after drinking a shot. Thanks Amanda (my butt was only sore for a couple of days). The next day we spent a few hours at Machine Gun Vegas. I shot an automatic shot gun, 1911, 1919, Sten and Thompson. Most awesome.

Of course there was the other craziness that is Vegas. One should go their at least once in their lifetime.

Thanks all - Wink, Wink

Monday, September 30, 2013

Really Makes You Wonder

There has been a few things over the last couple of months that really make you shake your head. Now the things I list here made me say, "Really" or "WTF", they may not do the same to you. Which is fine, my brain is a scary place. Most of these things deal with driving or many peoples inability to drive.

Not that any of you would understand, especially since you don't have a Jeep, but the number of persons I see with Jeeps not participating in the Jeep wave is alarming. The problem seems to stem from the guys/gals that buy those four door Jeeps, or what I affectionately call the "Mini Van Jeep". The guys that couldn't put their foot down and get a real Jeep. To everyone planning to buy a Jeep or currently have a Mini Van Jeep, understand the culture before getting into it. Would it kill you to give a bit of a wave when you pass another Jeep.

Staying in your lane. I am sure many of you have been cut off in St. Catharines as you go south on Niagara Street and turn right onto Church Street. Kids - if you are in the curb lane you turn into the curb lane. You DON'T turn into the centre lane or for that matter the left lane. If you want to turn left eventually onto Geneva Street, make the turn from the centre lane and do a proper lane change from the centre lane to the left lane. You have those direction signals for a reason.

Speaking of left turns. Our city has recently been inundated with centre turning lanes. How many of you have been driving down the road only to have an idiot stop in your lane to make a left turn, when a perfectly good left turn lane is next to them. PLEASE PULL COMPLETELY INTO THE LEFT TURN LANE TO EXECUTE YOUR TURN - AAAAAACCCCKKKK. People should be happy I am not a traffic cop because you all would be getting tickets. The budget problem that the Region has would be erased if the cops promoted driving skills for a few days.

I was hired the other week to present a seminar to 20 school science teachers on how to be a Responsible Science Teacher - enough said. I drank a lot that night.

The Wine Festival ended this weekend with the grand parade. I haven't been to the parade in about 30 years because it isn't worth the aggravation of getting downtown to watch it.This year was different, this year my daughter was going to be in her high school junk band. They were awesome. Additionally, I got more material for todays blog.

Now a parade in every city probably brings out the city's creme of the crop when it comes to trailer trash, this past weekend was no different. The couple of ladies that were standing in front of me were no doubt involved in the making of babies for welfare business since neither of the 8 kids they had in tow looked remotely from the same fathers. That being said, all they could complain about was the spending of $50 for candied apples and other assorted, over priced junk foods. Really, those 4 year olds were twisting your arm to buy that crap. Then they started to complain about the bees - no shit - you have 8 kids, 8 open candied apples, 8 open apple juice containers and 8 bags of candy floss. You really think the bees weren't going to be bothering you!

Ugh

Any ways, enough for today.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The FedEx Saga - by the way don't use them.

So a couple of months ago I was preparing for my epic BBQ, planning the menu, inviting guests, and arranging the entertainment. During that time I thought to myself, "I would really like a Margaritaville Neon Sign for my bar area that could then be moved to my recreation room after the BBQ."

Ebay, I turn to thee, but being a noob I didn't select Canada, didn't refine my search to Canada and therefore, purchased a sign from California. The supplier couldn't ship to Canada, so I had a problem. This problem was solved by having the sign shipped to my friend that lives in Chicago.

He received it, opened the box and plugged it in. It worked - perfect. He re-packaged the sign and took it to FedEx to have it sent on to my address in Canada. $97.00

It arrived, unpacked, plugged in, and broken. I traced the tubing and there was a broken tube. I called the manufacturer as indicated on the box if there was a breakage and the customer service department asked for the sign to be sent back. I took it back to FedEx and I sent is back to California. $34.00 (Why was it a third of the cost to go from Toronto to California than it was to come from Chicago to Toronto?)

The manufacturer stated at this time that technically they didn't have to replace it because it did arrive in a functioning state to the address that they shipped it to, but because of the circumstances, they would allow for ONE replacement. They sent out another to my friend in Chicago. It arrived, opened and tested. Worked perfectly. He again re-packaged the sign and took it to FedEx to have it sent on to my address in Canada. $97.00 (Hmmm)

Last night I came home from work and saw the box. Didn't even have to open it up to know it wasn't going to work. It looked as if it was used as a pinata. Not sure how they could have mistaken the packaging. Printed on the box on all four sides in 5" letters - Glass, Fragile, Do Not Drop. Additonally there were no less than 10 stickers on it stating the box contained glass.

This is where it gets awesome - The call to FedEx customer service.

Answer

Said, "English"

Said, "Broken Package"

Hi, insert story here

FedEx Customer Service: I am so sorry, did you have the insurance?

Me: So, my friend paid $97 to hire you to send the package to me. Part of the agreement with your company is to deliver it to me in one piece. So you are telling me I need to pay you extra in order for you to do your job properly?

FedEx Customer Service: Stunned silence... I will send you a form

Me: Provides email address

Four hours pass no email - Repeat the above.

FedEx Customer Service: I will send you the form while I have you on the phone. It arrives

Me: Thanks

So there you have it. Going to run with this. This should be fun.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Path Has Some Potholes On It

Well it has been about 5 weeks since our paths split and to be honest there has been a few rough days. I am taking medication now in order to sleep and I am seeing a counsellor. I have been suffering from depression along with some self esteem and trust issues. Everyone has been saying it will get better but on some days it is hard to see any silver linings - anywhere.

Along my journey so far, I think I have been able to maintain my sense of humour. Which I guess is a good thing. I have done a few small renovation projects around the house that turned out pretty good. IMO. I have started to work out a lot (I have all sorts of free time when I am not sitting around being depressed). I wonder if I have an inmate syndrome of some sorts. These issues are locked in my head and every so often I am "allowed out in the yard" and that is when I work out.

I have noticed a few things in the last few weeks that in my head are pretty funny, at least to me. I put most of them on my Facebook but apparently I had the settings set so only I would see them. So I figured I would share them with you again.

  • In the past few weeks I have been working out my AB. Can hardly wait to have two of them. Can't imagine what six would be like.
  • Few things what a German Shepherd cannot help you with
    • Putty drywall - he tries to eat it
    • Stain baseboard - he licks it
    • Assist you in doing sit ups - he thinks you are dying and tries to give you AR/CPR
 I guess I will continue to see how it goes. Oh and Cogeco - learn your jobs and listen to what your customer is telling you.