4am and I can't sleep, so I figured I'd do an update.
Christmas has come and gone. This year was a big to do with
Jim & Karen kindly organizing a trip to Jasper Park Lodge
for all the family. Unlike the rest of the out-of-towners,
Chris & I flew up to Edmonton so we didn't have to deal with
traffic and any possible weather woes. Once everyone was
there, we all climbed aboard a chartered bus for the trip to
The last time I
was there was for my Grade 9 ski trip, almost 30 years ago.
Sigh. I'm so old. From what I remembered Jasper was like
Banff but not as touristy and a bit more rugged and remote.
We didn't stay in the town itself, but at the Fairmont
resort instead. It was pretty nice. There is a main
lodge and then various cabins and cabin complexes scattered
around the grounds. At the lodge they have a great big
common area with a massive fireplace and lounge with a
number of restaurants. There is also a heated outdoor pool
and spa and a number of shops and galleries. The staff were
also exceptionally friendly and helpful. We were also graced
with various wildlife during our stay including elk and
deer, often hanging out just outside the cabin. About the
only downside was the weather which was quite chilly, at
times below -20. Some of the more outdoorsy types in the
group loved it, but Chris & I would have been happier had it
been a bit warmer.
was good, although with all the kids opening presents turned
into an all day event. We also did the usual gift exchange
which is always fun as people go back and forth stealing the
most desired gifts from one another. I ended up with a small
batch white Whiskey from an Ontario distillery so I was
quite happy and Chris got a really nice blanket.
illness put a damper on this year's festivities with Michael
unable to attend after ending up in the hospital with an
infection and Hailey and most of the kids being sick. I also
found out my friend Jay was in the hospital with some weird
bug. Luckily I've managed (so far) to avoid the Petri dish
of childhood sickness and stay healthy, but Chris wasn't as
lucky and now has a cold. Despite all that we still had a
great time. A big thanks to Jim & Karen for hosting this
year's get together.
Work on the
basement continues. The cabinet and shelves didn't get
installed as expected as I wasn't happy with the work that
had been done to date and the installer paused to address my
concerns. We did however get a large shag rug and most of
the window treatments done. The couch is in country (sort
of) but hasn't been offloaded at the Vancouver port yet.
Hoping everything will be done within the next couple weeks.
And thus the
year comes to a close. We plan on going out for a nice
dinner with friends on New Years eve and then having some
bevvies with the neighbors. Overall it's been an ok year. We
got to go to Europe which we love, although considering the
cost/enjoyment ratio we've had better vacations. Financially
this was my high watermark even though I feel like I really
squandered such an opportunity. Health wise things started
out on a shitty note for me but I'm coping. Chris also had
her ups and downs but all things considered is doing well.
to next year the economy looms like a black cloud over
everything. To their credit, the higher ups at work are
doing everything they can to avoid laying off people. How
long they'll be able to avoid that is anyone's guess
however. Not helping matters is the Tweedledee and
Tweedledum of our provincial and federal governments. Never
underestimate the propensity of simpleton voters to
purposefully shoot themselves in the foot and for certain
regions to engage in Schadenfreude.
It's now 5am and
I need to decide if I should go back to bed or not.
hoping everyone has a safe and fun New Years and that 2016
brings nothing but happiness.
I hate December.
I hate the lack of sunlight. I hate that I'm reminded of my
Dad's death. I hate Christmas. What used to be a most joyous
time of year is forever ruined with the pain of adulthood. I
thought I was doing good a few weeks ago, but it was an
illusion. This year is not to be different than any before
it. It's a struggle to just not get shitfaced every night.
though. And I finally have the elliptical back in it's place
and with the TV installed in what is the gym area of the
basement I am once again working up a sweat on a regular
basis. Of course I could have simply continued going for my
regular walks - like most normal people and just bundle up
when going outside. But no, any hint of overcast and dismal
weather is enough to keep me inside. It's pretty sad I
actually just got emailed my November Fitness Report from
MapMyWalk which is the app I use on my iPhone to keep track
of how far I've gone when on my walks. Apparently I worked
out for a grand total of 1.5hrs last month. Oh well, it's
only 19 more days until the Winter Solstice and the days
start getting longer again. The return of the sun shall
boost my spirits and my outdoor activities.
celebrated her birthday a few weeks ago and we all went out
for a yummy dinner at the new watering hole which finally
opened up. We've been there several times now and love that
we have a different place we can go to when we want that pub
experience. One of the gifts she got was a 21 days of Tea -
a flavourful take on advent. It contains different samples
of tea from David's Tea. Such is our lives now that we
actually get excited that we get to try a new one each and
every night. Thanks to Tracy for hooking us up!
was of course Halloween and we did our annual? semi-annual?
party. It was a lot of fun and I think we had the most
people we've had in at least several years. Chris dressed up
as a Greek Goddess and I was a Grumpy Clown. We partied into
the wee hours of the morning so I guess we can still
occasionally party hard. Thanks to everyone who came and
made it such an enjoyable night.
The basement is
essentially done. The stereo cabinet and display shelves are
getting installed next Thursday and the couch should be here
in a couple weeks. I know I said in my last post I'd throw
up some pictures but I'm going to wait until it's all done.
My man cave is so close to being a reality after all these
Just got back
Chris, Kim, her
friend Lisa, and I all went to Vegas with Hailey and a bunch
of her friends to help celebrate Hailey's 21st birthday. It
was a fun few days in Sin City. Although being the only guy
in a group of eight made me feel a bit out of my element and
some of the conversations with Hailey and her friends made
me a bit uncomfortable. I know they're technically adults,
but I'll always see Hailey as my young niece - and I mean
that in nothing but the best way.
We stayed at
the Mirage again, in the same type of suite we had the last
time we were there. We like the room, it's comfortable and
familiar. However once again there was an issue with the
room (it wasn't totally cleaned), and some glitches on check
out made us decide it's likely the last time we stay there.
Chris & I did manage to check out some other hotels we
hadn't been to before - the Cosmopolitan, Aria, Vdara, and
Planet Hollywood. We also spent more time at the Venetian
having only briefly been there before.
A few years
ago, when they were being built, we were somewhat interested
in the condos in Veer towers. There was always that 'hey
wouldn't it be cool to have a place on the Strip' idea
floating around in our heads. This time we went and actually
took a tour of the place, went through a model suite, saw
the facilities etc. I'm glad I did as I'd have to have my
head checked for us to pay what they were asking - for what
you get. Plus the condo fees were $1200 a month and that
didn't even include your electricity or internet. So even if
I just happened to have $900k for a cash deal, I'd still be
paying the equivalent of a monthly mortgage for a place we'd
only visit a couple times a year - and renting out
realistically isn't an option as they specify you can only
do long term rentals of six months or greater. So it looks
like we won't be getting a vacation property in Vegas.
We had a fun
time, but other than tying one on the first night on
Freemont Street (as we usually do) I was well behaved. In
fact, this is probably the least that I've drank on any of
our visits there. Gambling wise we did our usual - mostly
slots and a couple games of Blackjack. I'm sure we lost
money overall but had fun doing so. The only show we saw was
the Zombie Burlesque show. It combined our two favourite
things - zombies and naked girls. It was moderately
entertaining, not exactly a replacement for a Cirque show,
but not exactly as painful as watching some cheesy magician
at one of the budget hotels either. As for the flights, we
flew in and out in the morning which was a first for us as
we usually arrive late and get home late. Having done both now I much prefer
the earlier options. And thus ends our latest Vegas
adventure. Happy 21st birthday Hailey!
the basement continues. They've finished painting and
installed most of the lights. We just need to finalize the
type of recessed lights we're going to use for all the
poster niches. Then it's just a matter of cleanup, having
the AV guys come in and install the TV and speakers, and do
all the programming for our Control 4 system. It's been a
stressful few months but now that it's coming together and
near the end I'm happy we decided to go ahead and get it all
done. I can't wait until I can kick back and enjoy watching
movies and listening to music in my retreat from reality.
I'll throw up
some pictures the next time I post!
event in our lives currently is the basement reno. The
framing, plumbing, electrical, and drywalling is all done.
It's been an interesting process, but we'll be signing off
on the first stage of work soon which means a huge chunk of
money will be coming out of the bank. Suddenly this reno has
become very real.
things have....well....progressed. I'm a bit frustrated with
the company as I've had to be home several times,
essentially acting as the general contractor. Almost every
day I'd come home and something would be wrong and I'd have
to inform them which they've always said don't worry, they'd fix it.
Fine, but after awhile it gets quite tiresome. I literally
cannot even begin to remotely fathom people who sign up for
a reno and then go out of town until it's done. It blows my
mind as I've caught so many things that were wrong by my
being here. So while that's been aggravating, at the same
time they've been very accommodating to my ad-hoc requests.
I know it'll be all worth it when it's done.
that, everything has been pretty much your typical lazy days
of summer. Sadly, the post vacation bliss didn't last long
as we came back to the economy going to hell and once again
having to worry about my job. But you can only worry so much
otherwise it'll just eat you up inside.
spirit we're off to
X-Fest this weekend. Our annual two day
music festival with friends where we imbibe copious amounts
of spirits and rock on until the wee hours of the morning.
Then get up and do it all over again. We're really looking
forward to this last blast of the season. Soon it'll be
snowing and miserable out again and I'll be forced to
hibernate for six months. But the difference this year is
I'll be able to retreat to my newly finished basement.
Bring it on!
I remember now
why we only go to Europe every few years (beyond the
financial cost). It's exhausting! We'll need a vacation for
our vacation. We left London yesterday and through the
miracle of time travel, got home only a couple hours later.
We tried to stay up as late as possible last night but 8
o'clock was as far as we got.
While I find
jet lag much worse going there than coming back, I'm sure
it'll take a few days for us to get back to normal. It was a
great break from reality and I'm glad we got to go with Kim
& Hailey on their first trip to Europe. It wouldn't have
been the same without them. And as always, thanks to all who
helped look after our brood of pets. We won't have much time
to rest as it's back to work and I'll be busy emptying the
basement so that the renovations can begin in a few weeks.
The day we left we found out our designer had quit/got fired
so there's still a bunch of stuff that needs to be
straightened out. It should be an interesting experience.
Details of our
whirlwind vacation can be found here.
year older, not sure I'm any wiser though. Time definitely
seems to be speeding up as I age. When I was younger I used
to have all the time in the world. Now, before I know it I'm
having to head to bed. Such is life.
We went up
and spent the weekend in Edmonton to celebrate by seeing
friends and family. Unfortunately my Mom was sick so that
put a bit of a damper on things. Chris & I put our expert
medical knowledge to good use though and made her some
chicken soup to get her back on her feet. While she was
recovering we had a yummy dinner with Jay, Betty, and
Nathaniel and with Jim & Karen. We also managed to squeeze
in lunch with Deb that weekend who we hadn't seen in a long
time. So it was a short but nice visit.
that it's been the regular routine. We're just counting down
the days until we leave for Europe. It'll be a much needed
break from the various stresses. I'm worried about my job as
a bunch of people I know have been laid off. This is the
worst that I've seen it, even worse than the apocalyptic
worldwide economic crash in 2008. As horrible as it sounds,
there's a part of me hoping another manufactured crisis
in the Middle East comes along and drives up the price of
oil. To a lesser but more immediate degree I'm also stressed
about construction going on down the hill from us. As
usually happens, you get suckered into buying a big house
with an awesome view and they neglect to tell you that in a
couple years they'll be building a brand new community
literally a stones through away. God forbid there be one
single square meter of land in this city that's not
At least I
can focus on getting my media room done where I can
hibernate away from the world. That said, things are
continuing to drag. We still don't have pricing and I'm
starting to get frustrated with the delays. We've picked out
everything we wanted, given links to the products and
suppliers, so we're not sure what the holdup is. It's
obvious now that nothing is going to happen until at least
the summer. But on the plus side that means that I'm
delaying having my bank account drained.
can't believe it's spring.
As with my
last post, there's not a lot that's been happening. It's
been pretty much the same for awhile. Get up, go to work,
come home, eat, go to bed. Repeat. Chris and I are both
coming off bad cold/infections. I came down with it when I
was still up in Edmonton and it took two weeks for me to
finally get over it. Not sure what it was, but I had some
kind of chest infection. There was no point going to the
doctor as they'd just tell me to come back in a week if I
wasn't better. Then despite our best efforts at prevention
Chris also got sick not long after. But she's almost back to
We figure we
might as well get the usual being sick at this time of year
over with now and before our vacation comes. Amazing that
it's only a few months away. We just finished booking the
last of our planes, trains, and ships travel odyssey a few
days ago. We have some ideas as to what we want to do in
each location, but we'll have to narrow the choices down to
fit our timeline and spending budget. From there it's just a
waiting game until we board our flights. As mentioned, I'm
in a bit of a funk lately and I think that usually happens
when it's been awhile since I've travelled. But a few weeks
in Europe should get me back to my perky self.
wondering what the contract picture is all about, we
recently signed with a Reno company to get the basement
done. So it's official, we're going ahead with it despite
all the economic warning signs. In the end we went with the
same company that did our garage. We were considering going
with someone else and we used them to get the drawings done
up last year. But in the end we just found their process to
be frustrating. Essentially they were giving us a fixed cost
amount but weren't willing to break those costs down. So
apparently it didn't matter if we went with Delta faucets or
Dornbracht. If we went with Danby wine fridges or Sub-Zero
etc. We get that you're going to have a ridiculous mark up
but we can't determine what areas we can scale back if you
can't give us a break down of the costs. So we're meeting
with the new designer next week to go over what we want. As
we already have the drawings and already know what we want
that part of the process should be easy. Then it's just a
matter of getting everything out of the basement and waiting
for the trades to start.
that we'll be purging a bunch of stuff over the next few
weeks. We'll either be giving stuff away or trying to sell
it on Kijiji or eBay. If anyone is looking for some
previously enjoyed treasured items let us know and we can
hook you up.
give a quick update...
exciting has been happening lately, but that's a good thing.
This past long weekend was really nice. Chris and I
celebrated Valentines day with some bubbly and just hunkered
down and watched our shows. Yesterday the Grover girls came
by and we did some more planning for our Europe trip. We got
one train ride and one flight booked so it was a productive
day. I can't believe how fast this year is already going by.
Before we know it we'll be catching our flight and enjoying
our days in the Mediterranean.
A few weeks
ago I went up to Edmonton and spent the week there for work.
Jim and Karen were kind enough to let me house sit for them
while they were away which was much nicer than having to
spend all that time in a hotel. Chris came up the one night
and we hung out before I left to come home and she stayed a
few more days to catch up with some friends she hadn't seen
in a long time. I hate driving at this time of year because
you never know what the roads will be like. I managed to
luck out and the days I was on the road were fairly nice,
but unfortunately Chris had to drive up there during a
blizzard and so was all stressed out when she arrived. I'll
be going up there again next week so fingers crossed for
In my last
post I mentioned we were in the process of planning to get
the back yard done. Well that's on hold until next year. We
talked things over and have decided to get the basement done
instead. I was able to justify it as over the course of a
year we'd get more use out of it than we would the back
yard. Plus, with all the crap going on lately with the price
of oil, should the unthinkable happen and I get laid off and
we were forced to sell, a finished basement would bring more
of a return than the yard would. Plus I've been wanting a
finished basement since we lived in our old house.
So we met
with the same renovation company we dealt with
previously when we explained our vision and they came up
with all the required drawings and 3D renderings. We're
just now waiting for them to come up with a new price
list - we've scaled things back as a lot of the previous
cost was due to all the custom cabinetry we were going
to have installed. But with me finishing all the work to
have my gaming PC in the office and all the time I spent
over the winter installing storage in the media room we
no longer need them. So once we get the estimate and I
muster up the courage to sign we'll go ahead and
hopefully have everything done around the Summer.
this is a big decision with the economy being the way it
is, and I'd be lying if I said I haven't been going back
and forth almost daily with what to do. But I'm being
positive things will work out and the reward will be
worth the risk.
Well it's a new
Once again we
didn't do anything big and just went over to the neighbors
place and hung with the gang. As usual we hung out in
their garage where they had music and TV playing on a
projector. The only downside is most of them are smokers but
they kept the garage door open which helped. Chris and I are
thinking this might become a regular thing, with us hosting
the Halloween party and them hosting New Years.
also good. We went up to Edmonton to visit my Mom. We
didn't think Chris would be able to go up at all as our one cat
had a bunch of teeth pulled the previous week but had
developed an infection and had to have medicine three times
a day. But she flew up for Christmas day and flew back
that night. We had a nice dinner and played our usual game
that we play there, Tile Rummy. I got a couple cool gifts.
With the garage having been finished I was regretting that
we never put speakers in the ceiling. But the Grover girls
all chipped in and got me a nifty Sonus
player. It integrates into our existing system as a
separate source which means I can listen to music on it
independently of what might be playing in the house. Very
happy with it. And with the money my Mom gave me I got a
really cool set of headphones that I'll use for gaming. All
in all a great Christmas.
But sadly not
all is rainbows and unicorns. On my last post I was back in
rhythm and looking forward to being healthy again.
Unfortunately, it didn't last. Only six days later I dropped
back out. I rushed home and downed a massive dose of my
pills hoping that would kick me back, but to no avail. One
of those rare occasions where I was extremely positive and
hopeful and for my na´vetÚ I got a swift proverbial kick in
the nuts. So at this point I'm done with modern medicine.
I've tried both chemical and electrical conversions and
neither have worked. And throughout all of this they can't
tell me 'why' this is happening nor have they really tried.
Other than testing me for sleep apnea they've been content
to keep pumping me full of pharmaceuticals. No more. I've
done a bunch of research and over and over again I keep
coming back to a lack of Magnesium as being the primary
cause of Atrial Fibrillation. And I'm pissed off because way
back when all this started I brought that up but my doctor
dismissed it as being essentially junk science.
So I'm now
taking 500mg a day of chelated Magnesium. Hopefully it
works. If not, oh well. As long as I 'feel' ok I'm not going
to worry about this anymore. On to other things...
Awhile ago we
hired a designer to do up some drawings for us getting our
backyard done. He turned out to be a bit of a flake, but we
found someone new who so far we're extremely happy with.
Below is the latest drawing. There's a few small changes
we've asked to be made, but overall it's pretty
representative of what we will hopefully have in place
before the summer.
will everything going on with the economy you
automatically wonder if we should go ahead with this or
not. But you can't live your life based on 'what if's'.
Unless something dramatically changes in the next few
months we should have a new backyard this year. We also
plan on going to Europe as our big vacation. All that
said, we also do plan on paying down the mortgage.
So the year
starts full of uncertainty but also with the promise of good things