Robot of Meloncholy

Practicing Radical Acceptance

Go into the world, showing how much
He loves you
Walk in the world, in meaningful ways
He loves you

Every year at this time of year, without fail, I come back to LiveJournal. I keep thinking, “I wish I had done a better job. I wish I had catalogued my life more purposefully.” At least this year I had a few more months where part of what I was experiencing got posted at the time. 

But then, the other more practical part of my mind often chimes in that my calendar does a good enough job of sparking my memory about all the different experiences that I have had.  

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holy holy holy


 Morning has broken, like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the Word

Most days now I wake up to the sound of a robin singing in the tree near our bedroom window. Sometimes, if I'm up either late or early enough, I'll hear all the birds in chorus. This is an actual recording of that sound.

Speaking of sound, I finally finished the stereo install in the car, and man is it nice to have great quality sound in there for all these long trips...
Yesterday I was planning camping trips for two different weekends, and recently I was planning for a third weekend, and I’m just thrilled to be going out to celebrate water and fire and food and family and friendships this summer. It feels like a return to my Emma Lake days. When I’m at the lake, I sleep better, my mood improves. Cities aren’t particularly good for humans. Perhaps there’s a genetic component to that as well, since I’m from agrarian stock mostly.

Saviour I come, quiet my soul, remember
Redemption's hill where your blood was spilled
For my ransom
Everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss

The Family Life Conference we attended this weekend was a wonderful chance to enjoy campfire conversations, excellent speakers, and lake life at the same time. The weather was hit and miss, with a storm on Friday, Saturday during the day, then a beautiful evening - finally a lovely day on Sunday all day - then to end things off, high winds and pelting rain for the camping takedown. I was exhilerated and called it an adventure. Paul was cold and wet and miserable and grouchy and protested that it was not an adventure. I asked to go out to the lake shore because the waves from the whitecaps were as big as an ocean, and “We’re never going to hear the ocean in Alberta again!” He humoured me!

The biggest difference from the last few years, when Paul has gotten really seriously ill from allergic reactions to something, was that this year we stayed with Paul’s former co-worker Yvonne, who has now retired out to the lake with her husband Lance. They have a gorgeous lake house with an actual lake view (not just a view of another lake house across the street) and she has a very big streak of hospitality - so we stayed in a King-Size bed bedroom with ensuite washroom and a lake-view window and got fed crepes and fruit and fresh whipped cream every morning, and Yvonne and I traded stories about thrifting and fixing things. It was a joy to get to know her better and she reminds me of my Grandma (and you all know how much I love my Gran!)

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

Hmm, what else has been happening... I hosted a Plant Afternoon (as opposed to a Plant Night) at my house with several of my girlfriends attending. I now have a large selection of succulents and other desert plants that I need to find time to pot.

It has been raining quite a lot, and one day in the evening after a lot of rain I went outside and spent nearly two whole hours weeding. I paid for it in exhaustion, but honestly it was a great accomplishment! I’m not quite done (when is one EVER done weeding honestly) but I got a ton of work done to help my perrenials thrive. I found out recently that hollyhocks are biennials - they grow one year with a crappy little plant, and the next year they shoot up 5+ feet and bloom beautifully and seed. I’m glad to know that now, but I really set myself back a few years ago pulling the “crappy” ones out. You live and learn.

I went out to Red Deer on Monday to help a friend deal with some anxiety - and to review my own information about it. I got there too early so I ended up taking a long stroll through Costco to check out all their offerings. Also, their Costco is laid out exactly backwards and upside down in comparison to all the main ones I have used, so it felt sort of fresh in a weird way. I'm trying a new giant towel and bought us a couple more completely normal dishtowels (not microfiber or rags, just basic, the kind you can leave hanging around to dry your hands or dishes easily.)

Creepy Crawly alert: I spent some of last night and this morning dealing with an infestation of warehouse beetles in Murphy's stuff. Sadly it means I've had to say goodbye to a bunch of nostalgic toys (his blueberry, pizza monster, and Grumpy Cat toys to name a few.) Happily, we caught it before they infested our food! So yay to early interventions and I'm going to try my best not to feel like things are crawling on me for the next few weeks.

How beautiful the radiant bride
Who waits for her groom, with His light in her eyes
How beautiful when humble hearts give
The fruit of pure lives so that others may live

I shot a last minute wedding on Friday night at the Muttart with a crowd of awesome nerdy people. I found out that the Muttart Conservatory is closing for several years for renovations - I fully intend on being high on the list if anyone Googles weddings at the Muttart, haha.

I've been getting a pretty steady stream of inquiries lately actually, which I greatly appreciate. 

Here's a collection of things I've done recently:

I did my first oil change at home after having picked up a new but cheap oil pan and old and therefore cheap but indestructible ramps. It's going to save me a boatload of cash.

I met with some of the other Young Adult leaders for a casual chat about our community and how to continue to connect people. It was a great chat and we are planning to do it on a more regular basis. We've decided to open the invitaion to the community at large to come out camping later this month, and to start having brunches or potlucks on Feast Days!

We attended two lovely housewarming parties! We went to Saskatoon and got to see both of our baby nephews - and to finally play board games with Ricki and Philip at King Me, which we had been trying to do for over a year! We also had a giant anniversary dinner, and it was a great experience. The bad thing that happened in Saskatoon is that Murphy somehow got a paw-nail caught in his crate, and ripped it out (shiver) and we had to take him to the Small Animal Hospital in Saskatoon for care - a big orange bandage around his paw - and subsequently a few days later to the vet here to take that off and check him out. Thankfully he's back to himself and ready to go running these days. Actually he's been whining at me most of the afternoon, but I honestly have a fair bit of work to do so I might have to get someone to walk him... or bite the bullet myself anyway.

Early in June I had the opportunity to walk through Confirmation on the Feast of Pentecost with one of the young adults, and it was a great experience! I've also been steadily having coffee or meals individually and getting to know people, which is fantastic. 

That actually brings me back to my last post! Hurray!


Concerts and Photoshoots and Eggs, Oh My!

Could everyone agree that
No one should be left alone?

I did something a little different to start last week, I went to a nifty little greenhouse/art store/coffee shop to try out my friend Sonia's paint markers on Dollarama canvass. I was telling Sonia that it was like going on vacation after a crazy weekend, because she picked me up and drove me there and back and brought all the stuff we needed. All I had to do was enjoy my relaxation time for nearly three hours. We traded canvasses at one point and both of us now have a piece of art we both worked on, which is pretty cool. I actually gave Paul one of the pieces to put some art in his office, since he doesn't have enough office art yet.

Tuesday last week I went to the dietician and got a massive list of alternatives to deli meat sandwiches. On my next grocery trip I got a few new things to try, but the biggest breakthrough was figuring out that I could make egg salad sandwiches by just slicing up boiled eggs and putting a little lettuce, salt, pepper, mayo and mustard on them. It's so fast and tastes so much like chopped up, proper egg salad - but with less mayo and more time saved! I also realized that a single slice of smoked gouda cheese makes any sandwich so much better, and I should try that more often. I have lots more to try in future, but for now I'm glad to have made one more easy food discovery, since I'm a huge egg salad fan.

My every-other-Tuesday D&D Pirate crew is one of my very favourite things. Like others there, it doesn't even matter how hard or easy life stuff has been the rest of the week, going to play pirate for a few hours is like hitting the reset button on life. I needed a reset, because my busy week continued with a heavy conversation about life at LOVEPIZZA downtown, followed by picking up my long-awaited copy of This Is the Mass from St. Andrew's and praying the rosary there with a friend. The book was a real highlight, because my favourite portrait photographer, Yousef Karsch, collaborated with Fulton Sheen and a talented writer to create a wonderful walk-through of the Latin mass, and I am looking forward to studying my way through it. The photos are incredible, and just make you FEEL the Mass, and that's the level of art I want to aspire to. It was pretty cool learning that Karsch was Catholic, I had known he was religious but for some reason (probably his name and heritage) I thought he was Jewish.

On Thursday I met with a friend from church who I hadn't had the chance to get to know very well before, a lovely woman who, back home in Nigeria, Africa is a doctor, and here is busy with her five wonderful sons while her husband heads back to Africa to get his final ticket as a Doctor himself. It was a joy to get to know her better, and I greatly appreciate her strong faith and pragmatic approach to life and networking. I am looking forward to spending more time with her in future. Thursday was the first day that the apocalyptic smoke starting rolling into Edmonton, and I had to wear a mask to keep the smoke from invading. It felt weird to, but honestly my main takeaway is that I should probably go full gas mask in future if we're going to keep dealing with so much smoke every year. I'm just sad for all the people who need to be evacuated and all the damage the fire is causing to their homes and livelihoods... if all I have to deal with is smoke I'm not dealing with much. I did a quick grad shoot for a lovely young man that evening, indoors, thankfully, and then did not manage even a little bit of focus to get work done, though this week is already better, thank goodness. (I know, I know, I'm typing this out now, but I'm just doing it to space out the editing, not to avoid it.)

Yesterday I shot my final shoot of four days of shooting in a row. Granted, each day was only one shoot and I have had way crazier times as a photographer, but I started that stretch tired, and I'm so grateful to have gotten through it with an amazing set of images and some great shooting memories.

During this crazy week, I shot a boudoir shoot which unfortunately for me is fully private,  because I did some of my very, very best work. Maybe she'll let me have just one silhouette!? But I don't want to pressure anyone into giving me their images as much as I do, sometimes. I nearly teared up at the end though, because it was exactly the kind of session I love very much - the kind where I know that the woman is feeling empowered, losing her lifelong sense of body shaming, and finding sides of herself she hasn't explored yet. That's what boudoir is about for me, and I love seeing the success of it.

I also worked with two grade 12 grads and their families, they were both great to work with and I love the photographs we made together. I'm excited to have so many great photos from last week, but I confess that editing everything I have on the docket is a shade daunting.

I envision the third ghost from the Muppet Christmas Carol, in a fogged version of my office, with slanted pen cups and piles of paper:

Me: But I don't have to do ALL this editing right NOW, right?

Ghost of Editing Yet To Come: *silently points to my computer*

Me: I will live a virtuous life! Anything but that!!

We cry out
For your love to refine us cry out
For your love to define us cry out
For your mercy to keep us blameless until you return

On Saturday I was having so much fun getting groceries with Paul that I just about forgot I had a concert to go to... and subsequently at the concert, I was so tired at intermission I contemplated just going home to sleep. Teenage Twyla would have been SO horrified. Though, I did stay, and it was worth staying, as some of my very favourite songs were played after the break...

On Sunday I slept in and then spent most of the day binge-watching Brooklyn 99 because the next season came out... and then my last session of the four in a row...

...and here I am on Monday. I'll be on the computer pretty much all week, which is good, because Paul needs the car 3/5 days. I just need to focus enough to get several zillion hours of editing done and earn my keep!
YAY kermit flail

The Benefits to Descreensitizing

Must've done something right 'cause all these
Lights are green, man, they look like palm trees
And every time that song comes on it's about me

Man, yesterday was just the best. And so was today. And this whole weekend was great. And last week was good too. I am so blessed to have so much good to report.

And so much of the last few LJ entries were about being depressed, and having mental health issues, and just being sick in general. I mean, a few weeks ago I was sick for the third time in a row and I was just SO done with being sick (I think I still have a sinus infection but I'm dealing with that by going to the doctor ASAP, so...) but I'm finally well and starting to make positive life changes... And then there was a big job scare with Paul... and it turned out alright, thank God. So it hasn't been all rosy since the last time I posted, but the last little while has been great.

I've been busy gardening and planning my garden. I've got a gorgeous perrenial lily in this year, all my perrenials from last year came up. I was joking with Paul that Perrennials Provide Prolific Production. It really stretches one's gardening dollar to plant them, that's for darn sure. I'm not sure how much more garden I'll be able to put in this year, though I am going to attempt to plant some pea plants, since we were eating peas that sprouted and I figured I might as well go ahead and make the best of that, so they're on the windowsill with damp paper towel until I can get around to planting them in the plugs. (That's what they call the plants you grow in the little four or six-pack things, for the un-initiated.) My tomatoes are in, I've tried to

My big accomplishment from last year is that we had some really big bald spots on our lawn, and I did a bunch of work to get the grass to grow in, and boy did it ever. Unfortunately the weeds are back in full force in the front lawn, despite last year's landlord-provided pesticides. But then most of you have heard my rant about lawns... Since we're renting I put lots of work into them as a repayment for all the amazing things our landlords provide us with. They're pretty fantastic. (We just got a new range hood recently when the fan gave up the ghost, for example.)

I've realized that I'm not getting anywhere with meal planning at the moment, so the fridge is full of vegetables, the fruit plate on the tea cart is packed with fresh stuff, and the pantry has all the easy stuff like rice. And the biggest reason for that this week is that I have FOUR consectutive shooting days, which hasn't happened since the year of the crazy sales. I can tell by my work trajectory that I'm definitely on track to do better than last year financially, which is desperately needed. Thank God for that, too.

This weekend was a Catholic Retreat that I co-ordinated at Pigeon Lake with the help of Sister Mary Clare, who graciously ensured the cabin was available for us. The bugs were a little thick, but the lake was beautiful and I left feeling like all the work I had done to provide meals and reflections was appreciated and made a difference, which is an amazing feeling.

It's like, ooh
Maybe I should bottle my moves
Sell 'em for a dollar or two

Furthermore, the following day was the freezie sale day at the giant church festival, Pentecost Feast to celebrate Easter coming to a close and summer opening up to great things. We had purchased 120 freezies, which we ran out of in two hours, and then when I bought 60 popsicles, we sold out of those in less than 20 minutes. I've never felt like any booth anywhere has had that level of success, and it made me feel like it was summertime! I spent several hours making VERY colourful neon yellow signs with sticky letters, which did cost a few dollars, but should be reuseable (once I get a few more letters to replace damaged ones and mactac the whole thing - years of use!) and since this is now very definitely an annual affair, I'm happy to report that our booth is one of the most popular with the kids. I had a really great day despite some lack of sleep, too.

Recently I've been resolving to de-screensitize myself. More specifically, it's actually less about the computer than about the constant need I feel to be entertained. I always want something on in the background, YouTube or Netflix or even music, though that's not so much of an issue. I really need more downtime from that. It's time for a summer of entertainment provided mainly by D&D in person, board games, books, and other humans, amazing as they are!

Better yet, I have a busy summer of camping, cabins, and couples time ahead. We're going to spend a total of five weekends away camping or at a cabin, and one at a marriage retreat. It's busy but really good. I'm praying for good health and weather!

Fiesta, forever!
  • Current Music
    Cool - Jonas Brothers

Nifty Thrifty

I'm gonna pop some tags
Only got twenty dollars in my pocket
I'm, I'm, I'm hunting, looking for a come up

For the first time ever, I managed to go full out thrifting in the good ol' U S of A. Matt's Mom picked us up in her black Cadillac and we headed right over to the first stop on our agenda, Thrift Giant, whose 50% off sale put everything from affordable to amazing deals. We were there for two solid hours, thrifting through the whole store.

I had a delicious mushroom swiss Whataburger and fries (with Sweet Tea) and felt sustained enough to take on our second location, Thrift World.

We spent about $175 US in total at two different stores, and man, the haul is just out of this world. Over 50 items of clothing/accessories/shoes, a couple of other items, and a nice teal-coloured four-wheeled suitcase to bring back with us as checked baggage. I bought a fair number of tops, dresses, skirts, jeans, flip flops, and real black pearl drop earrings in red and blue tones. Paul got dress shirts, casual shirts, casual shorts, and activewear shorts. We got Murphy an adorable little sheep stuffie as a trip souvenir.

It was a bit of a different experience. The first shop was having a 50% off sale, which is why we went today, and they close their change rooms during the sale - and the second place didn't have change rooms at all. Paul was super nervous about not being able to try on pants (way outside his comfort zone to try) and while I was alright with trying things on over my clothes, I hadn't 100% prepared for it, just made sure I brought a full water bottle - that much I know about thrifting days.

The camaraderie of deal seekers was wonderful. We were all commenting on one another's try-ons, making jokes across the aisles, and having an uproariously good time. Matt describes his Mom as "a bit much" but she was a wonderful person to thrift with and I hope she didn't feel like she had to tone herself down around me, I enjoyed her company and am looking forward to celebrating the special day with her and her family.

After our second store, we went to Amy and Matt's place for a quick tour, then headed out to go to Ramen Hakata, where we ate absolutely insanely delicious ramen. We played Settlers, which I hadn't played in ages, and horribly lost at, but had an absolutely fabulous time.

We're staying on a street called "Ramblewood" which is in an area where all the streets end in "wood" and some of the names are great, but Amy is endlessly amused by the fact that the last street before the main drag is called "Firewood." I made a crack about your fire insurance going up to live on that street...

Today was full of laughter and amazing times, and I'm sure it's a day I won't soon forget, no matter what else we get up to in this crazy state.

After we got back, despite being somewhat exhausted, Paul and I tried to plan more of the trip, which unfortunately made me feel a little upset, because the exchange rate makes everything so expensive for us - and some things are just expensive, period. We had hoped to rent some bikes, but bike rentals are ridiculous. We had hoped to go to a shooting range, but it might be prohibitively far and prohibitively expensive and difficult to go to as foreigners... but I think I might have found an alternative. It's all going to be great, we're just too tired for planning tonight I think.

Tomorrow is a little more relaxed of a day - we're planning to go eat at a suggested restaurant about six blocks away for lunch, find a nice warm park to relax in for a few hours, and take in a movie and some more good food in the evening. Friday to Sunday are all filled with wedding-related activities, meeting the families and having amazing home cooked BBQ. After that, I planned nothing for Monday because I assume I'll be exhausted, and then Tuesday to Thursday are touring days for Dallas before we head back home. SO many opportunities. I'm really excited.
No Loafing

Preparing for Vacation, and Flight Day

Your love keeps lifting me higher
Than I've ever been lifted before
Keep it up and quench my desire
And I'll be at your side forevermore

I'm writing really late at night and I don't want to take too long because I'm finally starting to get tired (after a solid 1.5 hours of Stardew Valley game farming.

Paul's vacation began (several days earlier than mine, ugh, taxes) last Friday, when we took off for Calgary to go to the Theology of the Body Conference. It was an extremely amazing conference, full of time with friends, making new friends, and learning about topics dear to my heart - St. John Paul the Great's incredible life's work of teaching on the human person. It reminded me, as I am reminded every year at Lent, of my journey to the heart of religious truth that led me to become Catholic.

Part of my Lenten resolutions this year is to be more open and honest about my Catholicity, which often feels difficult in a culture that rejects most of my beliefs as antiquated, and worse, discriminatory; and wants to put a muzzle on me and my kind. And yet, when you find purpose, direction, a better life, and answers to every single question about life somewhere, of course you'd want to share it. Especially when you see the suffering of those who aren't finding those things. This Lent, I will engage in more risky behaviour for my faith - but love first, always.

Before I leave the topic of Calgary, I made a pit stop at one of my favourite plus size consignment stores, Full Figure Fashions, which sells a little bit of new stuff in a brand I absolutely love of bamboo-lycra pants. Said pants were 75% off, one day only. I stocked up. I have a pair of those pants I bought seven years ago and wear nearly every week, and they aren't even worn out yet. I also got a beautiful skirt. With my consignment credit and the sale, I spent $65 on over $300 worth of clothes that I had been willing to pay full price for. (This could possibly be why the business isn't doing so well though... I really, really want it to survive, I love that place.)

I have been working insanely hard - trip prep, tax prep (gets easier every year, at least now), recording and editing two audiobooks (I have a third due shortly after my return); editing two big sessions and a wedding (of course, also a session and a wedding to edit after my return, since that's why I'm here) and so many other more mundane and lesser things that added up together to a ridiculous pile of work. Upon finishing the work on taxes, the very last of the work to do, on Monday afternoon, I blasted the tunes and danced in the kitchen. I couldn't help it. Paul had been on vacation for days, but finally, I was on vacation, too.

Tuesday morning, we left for the States.

There was some turbulence on our flight into LAX (Los Angeles, CA) and far more on our flight into DFW (Dallas, TX - our destination.) The latter made me more than a little stomach sick, and the 45 km/hr winds kept the plane rocking from side to side like it was being toyed with my a giant toddler the whole time we were waiting on the tarmac (at the back of the plane, too.) I was so ready to get off that flight. (We ate some delicious Chinese-American food in LAX. I was grateful for good, light food that didn't make me feel worse.)

All that flying today did give me time to read an entire book, however, set in one of my favourite fantasy magic universes. Minimum Wage Magic was a fun romp in the DFZ universe, and while I found the characters a bit too much like the characters in the previous novel for supposedly different people, the plot was a super fun time, featuring many of the same elements I loved about the first 5-book series in this universe. My favourite "character" or more realistically, force, is the spirit of the Forgotten Dead. Such a fascinating magical universe, I know I'll definitely be back.

I had taken a chance on new SIM cards giving us US numbers and access while we're down here with ROAM mobility, and it was super effortless and works great. Definitely saving us $16+/day which is a huge savings over ten days. Also, it's pretty rad that Murphy has bonded with our house sitter and basically ignored us the day after we returned from Calgary.

Amy and Matt took us to this restaurant that's a favourite of theirs (Matt's because it was near his old high school) and Amy because she's a foodie and it's one of the things we have in common. It's called Raising Cane's and features various different meals with chicken and their secret sauce. We had delicious chicken fingers, and the staple of all drinks down here: sweet tea. This was, unsurprisingly, too sweet for Paul, who requested half-and-half after we drank one of our drinks together.

Our AirBnB hosts have excellent taste in both books and decor (and in living just a few minutes from Amy and Matt, which is why we chose them, chiefly!) The shelf in our room has a small loch ness monster sculpture, The Brick Bible collection (the Bible in Lego bricks), XKCD's What If? and several other fantastic choices that we might have time to indulge in while we're here. We were also very excited to find out that in addition to a decent-sized room, we have a medium-sized walk-in closet, where all our stuff can go.

Tomorrow I am delighted to hear that we're going on a huge thrifting day, beginning with the one store that has a 50% Off Sale, one day only. (Unfortunately I hear they close the fitting rooms for those big sale days, so Paul might not have as much luck as I will...

Time to go to sleep and get ready for an amazing day of thrifting tomorrow!
  • Current Music
    Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher
  • Tags
made for greatness, greatness

STARFIELD - The Reunion Tour - Edmonton, AB

STARFIELD - The Reunion Tour - Edmonton, AB

It’s the highly anticipated return of STARFIELD, Canada’s best selling and most awarded Christian artist of all time. Founded by brothers Tim & Jon Neufeld in 1999, Starfield spent over a decade touring all over the world with one goal: to lead God’s people into worship. As an EMI (now Capital...

Posted by Twyla Lapointe on 11 Mar 2019, 20:30

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