Sunday, 19 May 2013

Life Ain't So Bad

As I sit here at the computer on this fine Sunday morning, I am deep in contemplative thought.  The sun is shining brightly through the window, something I just became aware of when I pulled the string to raise the blinds.  The weather man couldn't decide what today was going to be like ahead of time, waffling between sun and cloud like a toothless old woman trying to chose which of her cats she prefers.  It looks nice right now, and if the weather holds for another 8 hours, Jasmine, Sheila, Asher and I will probably spend time this afternoon beautifying our yard.

Our home is quite modest, and I am not one for going overboard with yard upkeep, but I do feel a certain level of pride when it comes to the appearance of our place.  In the front yard we have a small garden plot, with a lilac bush in one portion of it.  We will pull the weeds, rake the leaves out and plant a few new flowers in hopes that they survive the season.  Sheila loves lilacs, they were her dearly departed mother's favourite flower, so in honour of her mom, Jasmine and I planted a second lilac bush in the front yard, near the road.  We made a tiny circular garden space around it, and once again this year, we will add a few annuals to this little space.  The flowers were safe from the Asher man last year, but he is another year older, and somewhat more destructive.  He is smart little 2 year old, so I am hoping that an explanation from Dad will stop him from pulling heads off of flowers, or squashing the plants flat.  We will have to see.  We also have a small plot of gardening space in the backyard.  Unfortunately, its located near the high wooden fence, and is partially blocked by a tall evergreen tree so we had limited success with the vegetables last year.  With a bit more forethought, and a bit more attention from Jasmine and I, maybe we can see some better results.  Ever year I get a little excited about gardening, though I wouldn't call myself an avid gardener.  It's kind of fun to see if you have what it takes to grow a successful garden.  As it is, we are about 0 for 5, but we will give it a go again this year.

The title of today's post is in reference to this past Tuesday's Provincial Election.  The line above is one of a few different coping mechanisms I have been falling back on after the election resulted in a less than desirable outcome for myself.  It truly is a bizzare feeling to support a party that was ahead  in the opinion polls for 2 full years prior to the election, not once in that entire time were they behind, then have them fall soundly come election day.  I was nervous coming into election day for a few reasons, and most of all, it's the power of the older crowd.  Old people get out and do things when they matter to them.  And when it comes right down to it, if you have the support of senior citizens, you can count on that support in the same way you can count on death and taxes.  I am disappointed in the outcome of the election, I am disappointed in the younger crowd who simply didn't turn out at the polls, and most of all I am disappointed with the state of the political world as a whole.  I have lived in Prince George for more than 10 years now where the municipal government, the provincial government and most certainly the federal government all lean heavily to the right of centre.  I didn't cast a ballot for any of the people currently serving as my representative, save for 1 or 2 city councillors.  What I see as a significant silver lining though, is that despite the fact that I don't care for the political ideals of these people who represent me, I am lucky enough to live in one of the best countries in the world.  A country where even the politicians who represent the "right" are reasonably progressive.  I am not going to get carried away, the federal Conservatives are far from proactive, but due to the culture of Canada, they are forced to move away from their most extreme ideals towards a more acceptable right of centre stance.  Canada's version of right is actually left in many places in the world.  We are so very lucky here in Canada to have the freedoms that we do have, so for me, despite the disappointment I felt earlier this week, I am just happy to have been born in a place and time where I am free to do or say almost anything.  Will the Liberal Party do and say things that I don't agree with?  Sure.  Will they put economics ahead of people?  Sure.  But, I believe that while misguided, their intention is to do good.  To improve the province that we live in.  Time will tell, and if their track record is indicative, I will likely by let down, but even a let down in British Columbia is better than most places in the world.

Earlier this week, I finalized my plans for the summer in regards to sports and fitness.  I had signed up for summer hockey a few weeks ago, then last week I committed to playing recreational soccer.  I didn't play soccer last summer because it conflicted with Jasmine's soccer schedule.  I also had written off playing in the open league due to frequence of weekend games that conflict with my work schedule.  Saturday, as I haphazardly coached the opening game of Jasmine's soccer season, a friend of mine approached.  His daughter is on our team, and I have been a soccer teammate of his in the past.  I had asked him to help me out and coach the team for the next game while I was busy.  Instead of asking about his coaching gig, he isntead inquired about my interest in playing with his soccer team.  My reflex reaction was negative, as I knew the obstacle of scheduling would make things difficult.  Also, I knew he was playing in the "30+" division, and I am stubbornly holding onto my twenties card, at least until my birthday in October.  I asked my friend about the age thing, and he thought it was okay, as I will be 30 this year.  We decided to wait and see, pending the schedule.  It was released the next day, and it a happy twist of fate, many of the games fall on Wednesday and Sunday evenings, and I can play most of them.  I was officially drafted last Wednesday and the first game is in 3 days.  I have abandoned a few buddies who are set to play in the recreational league, but the chance to play a higher level of soccer is one I want to take.  I didn't play soccer at all last year, and spent the season before in the recreational league.  Prior to that I played 2 seasons on a very weak division 2 team.  Needless to say, it is likely that my new team will be the best team I have been a part of in a long time.  My friend is the reigning "Top Defender" in the league, and he is the only member of my new team that knows my game.  On his word, the team signed me up.  It adds a little pressure, and I am admitedly a little nervous going to the first game.  My love of fitness and exercise is continuing to grow and one of the fun things that comes with it is my ability to challenge myself.  I look at this as one of those opportunities to put myself out there and go for it.

I spent some time the other day figuring out which days I could book off that would allow me to have a few extra free days with Sheila and the kids.  The residual effect of this is that it frees me up to play a few more soccer games that fall on weekends, and it also opened me up to add another running race to my plans.  As we stand, I am going to run 5 races this season, starting in 2 weeks when I run the YMCA Road Race.  Adding soccer to my summer plans, to go along with the running races and the hockey games will lead to a few interesting tests of my stamina and fitness.  One such situation falls of the weekend of June 14th and 15th.  I have booked the days off, and will play soccer on the Friday night at 630.  The next morning at 10, I plan to participate in the "Beat the Bugs" 10 km trail run.  I really like to challenge myself, but this will likely be my biggest test yet.  I'll let you know if I survive, a discontinued blog and you can draw your own conclusions.

My rekindled love of sports has shown up in Asher in spades.  His favorite things are his "truckies", his potato heads, and his growing collection of sports gear.  He has his set of plastic mini "gicks" and his mini hockey nets.  He has a handful of hockey balls, hockey pucks, 3 or 4 "buuballs", a couple "gocker" balls, a "baaball" glove and bat to go with the balls themselves, and it goes on from there.  On Thursday morning after we had roused ourselves from bed we went outside to go for a walk.  Asher found his glove and ball, and we got distracted.  Asher handed me the bat, and before long we were all set.  Asher was the pitcher, and yes, he can throw.  Standing about 15 feet away from me, he was able to throw a hittable pitch time and time again.  I crouched down to his size so that he didn't have to throw it high, but nonetheless I was blown away by his accuracy.  When I hit the ball, I would run across the yard to the fence, and he was able to figure out the idea of tagging me out.  He would laugh hysterically as he chased after me, and when he caught me he even threw in the "you're out!" for effect.  I snapped a couple of pics of the little guy and his gear, then when I attempted a video, hilarity insued.  I wanted to show off to Sheila just how good he can toss the ball and I start to record.  I provide commentary, then realize that Asher won't have me crouching down as a hitter to provide a target.  I say "throw a pitch", while standing safely off to the side with the record button down.  He winds up to throw straight ahead of him, but I had obviously caused some confusion.  The throw came straight at me with perfect accuracy.  I jumped out of the way while hollering, shocked that it was so perfectly thrown.  I will have to rethink my videography plan before attempting it again.

We went for our walk, but not without the glove and ball that he wore the whole time.  Our destination was the park at Jasmine's school where we stopped to play basketball.  Asher wore his glove, and he tossed the ball at me while I shot hoops.  I would retrieve the ball and throw it back, kind of like a game of fetch.  Asher befriended a boy who was sitting on the park bench watching us.  He was about 7, and Asher went right over and sat beside him.  Smiling, waving and coaxing him into playing catch with him. Asher got his wish, but after a few throws his teacher hollered at him from across the way to sit back down.  As it turns out my little man got him in trouble, but I love the way that he will be friendly with just about any kid that comes along.  Asher is a lot more guarded with other adults, just the way we want him to be.  Asher was disappointed that his new buddy couldn't play, but he joined me with the basketball instead.  He dribbles the ball by slapping it as hard as he can, then when he is bored he passes it back to me.  He doesn't get upset with the fact that he can't shoot yet, even with my help.  We left the park and finished our walk.  Later in the morning Asher joined me in lifting weights, its pretty funny how much he enjoys being like daddy.  His 2 lb rubber dumbells get lifted up over his head repeatedly while he beams proudly.  That night, as if we hadn't had enough sports, Sheila, Asher and I bought a soccer ball at the store.  While we waited for Wawa while she attended a play with her Guide group, Asher and I played soccer.  He decided that 2 signs that were close together provided a good enough goal, and he jumped between the pipes.  It's really funny, but as a goalie he actively roots for people to score on him.  The ball almost dribble across the line on him, but he decided it was close enough.  He let out a big cheer for me, then ran to give me a big hug.  Then on his prompting we switched places.  He managed to get a few past me, he is already hitting a size 5 soccer ball with his instep, something I can't get some of the 9 and 10 year olds to do.  When his time comes, he will be ready.  If you are one who keeps track of such things, Asher played soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, swam and lifted weights this week.  And they say we are getting inactive as a society, obesity rates are soaring and all is doom and gloom.  Something tells me there is hope for us yet.

While Asher won't stop playing sports, Jasmine is a little different when it comes to physical activity.  She is athletic that's for sure, but she doesn't obsess over sports the way her little brother does.  Jasmine enjoys playing soccer and basketball with her teams and gets a lot out of her interactions with her teammates and coaches.  She wants me to be her coach, and it provides some great father/daughter time that we both have fun with.  While she has been gifted with an athletic body, and she is capable of great things, her desire to practice and work to get better isn't there.  She just likes playing, and that is quite alright with me.  Jasmine and I found a couple sports that she likes and it seems like she will stick with them long term.  She's not worried about being the best, and it's nice because she doesn't get discouraged either.  Besides her 2 teams sports, Jasmine has been an avid swimmer for her entire life.  She goes at least once a week, and would stay all day if she could.  This spring she has been riding her bike to school every day, and this has led her to going for more leisure rides as well.  Her dedication to her bike has me on the lookout for a bigger one, something I promised as long as the current one got regular use.  Hopefully the growth spurt is done for a while, and this next bike will fit for a while.  It will be an adults bike so lets hope it works for a few years.  Speaking of getting to big, she has also outgrown her soccer cleats, that she has never worn.  That's right, Sheila found a bargain at the end of last season and stored the shoes away for the spring.  Jasmine put them on last week for her first game, and found them to be too small.  Like, 2 sizes too small.  I took her to the mall to search for new ones, then we discovered with the sizing doohickey that she is actually completely out of kids sizes.  This shouldn't be a surprise, she has been borrowing her mom's size 8 shoes for a while now.  She needs a 7.5 in womens shoes, and dad had to go home to reformulate a plan.  The adult shoes are much pricier then the kids ones, but hopefully they fit for a while once bought.  Jasmine likes her sports, and I want to keep her comfortable while she plays.  In the past week Jasmine played soccer and basketball, rode her bike every day, and swam on Wednesday.  I am proud of both of my kids when it comes to the active lifestyles they have.

On the arts and culture front, my reading has stalled.  I have been in the middle of "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" by Carson McCullers for what feels like months now.  I've been busy balancing family, exercise, extra work, poker and yard work and reading has been restricted to work time.  I feel like I have been enjoying the book, but if I am going to be honest with myself, not picking up the novel is a sure sign that my interest isn't quite there.  Hopefully I can make some progress on it this week, and I can move on to something else soon.  The movie front has also been quiet.  The last few weeks at work we have been unable to attend the theatre for various reasons.  The last movie I watched if I remember correctly was "42".  It was well done, with sports and drama mixing nicely.  I think the last movie that Sheila and I watched at home was "The Adams Family".  It was mediocre, and as is typical put me to sleep.  Maybe we will find time this week to cuddle up and watch one, but with soccer season underway the schedule is filling up.

I have found a few great albums that I have been playing regularly in recent weeks.  Apache Indian has a style of music that is unique to him.  He is a British artist of Indian ancestry who created the genre "bhangramuffin".  Most, including myself aren't familiar with the "raggamuffin" genre either which is a sub-genre of dancehall or reggae music.  It relies more heavily on electronic instrumentation than reggae or dancehall does, and incorporates sampling quite often.  Apache Indian puts a unique twist on it, in that he provides reggae style delivery with his indian accent.  His sound is quite authentic as he practiced his craft, and recorded his albums with a number of different reggae artists in Jamaica.  I can't help but move when I listen to it, and it never fails to lift my mood.  The other new find is a dancehall group called Culcha Candela.  They are a dancehall group formed in Berlin in 2001.  The founding members go by the super cool names of Johnny Strange, Lafrotino and Itchyban.  What I most enjoy about these guys is their multiculturalism, which leads them to incorporate english, german, spanish and jamaican patois into their tracks.  The guys have German, Polish, Colmbian, Ugandan and Korean roots (there are now 7 members), and they move away from dancehall into reggae, salsa and rock genres as well.  I have been playing their one album very heavily, and will likely give the rest of the work a try soon.  Allow me to provide more info on both Apache and Culcha Candela, and a couple tunes as well.

Apache Indian Wiki

Culcha Candela Wiki

Last Sunday was a very nice day.  After work Sheila, Jasmine, Asher and I drove to Quesnel to celebrate Mother's Day.  We stopped at the municipal cemetary to visit Sheila's mom.  We brought tulips, and cleaned off her headstone.  Asher didn't really understand, but he was well behaved while we stayed.  After a few minutes, Asher and I wandered away and let Sheila and Jasmine have some quiet time to reflect.  Jasmine has some recollection of her Nana, but she was only 3 when she passed away.  Sheila had a chance to shed a few tears as memories flooded over her.  It was very nice that we had the chance to visit on such a special day.  We then went for dinner at my parents house, and had a nice visit with my Mom and my second Mom, Anna.  She is my mom's best friend, and just a wonderful kind hearted woman just like my mom.  My mom always loves to see the kids, and it was great to see her so happy on her special day. 

I really am quite lucky in life.  I have a girlfriend and kids that love me, and I also have a very supportive extended family as well.  My mom and dad as well as my sister Paulette have been seeing us regularly, and I think everyone has enjoyed the increased contact.  Rather than making excuses as to why we can't get together, we have all made an effort to see each other frequently.  We only live an hour apart, and it seems that excuse of distance has been cast aside in recent months and over the past year.  My mom has made a few solo jaunts to stay with us, something that I know is outside of her comfort zone, but once she arrives it seems that she quite happy for having made the trip.  Asher and Jasmine never fail to bring a smile to her face.  My younger sister Erin lives in Montreal, but we have also made a better effort to have regular contact.  She makes me very proud when I discuss all of the things she has accomplished in her short life to this point.  Erin and my brother in law Adam recently sent Sheila and I a lovely note to celebrate both Mother's and Father's Day and it was a nice reminder of how lucky we are to have such family.  My brother Ian lives in town here, and he and his girlfriend are expecting a baby in a few months.  We are all getting very excited to meet him or her, and I know Ian and Larissa will be great parents.  I am happy to be alive, and I hope all of my readers feel the same way.  Have a great week!

I teased you all earlier about this video, then decided I had to include it as well.  Watch Asher "Roger Clemens" Prosk nearly take out his Dad!  Enjoy!

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