It's pretty hard to believe that it's almost the end of October already. Sometimes I don't really know what to say. In this case the main reason I don't know what to say because it's been a really long time and so much has actually happened in my life. So much in fact that I’m honestly going to split this post up into at least two parts, and check my calendar for anything I might have missed...
My September was pretty nutty. I had a lot of photography inquiries and I'm still getting at least one a day. Over the course of September I did quite a bit of coaching for CPC, and it was a really excellent experience to be able to help so many people with their lives and businesses.
One of the biggest highlights of September of course was my friend Kori’s wedding in Saskatoon. It was, hands down, one of the absolutely most hilarious and most fun wedding parties, and since I'd had a chance to get to know a lot of the ladies while I was at the bachelorette party, it felt like being among friends even more so than usual. To top it off I met an old friend from high school who I hadn't seen for over a decade, and not only did we rekindle the friendship I found out that I might be able to get some work from his company in Edmonton, even though we met in Saskatoon! Serendipity is a fantastic thing…
One of the cool things that I did in September was schedule a phone call with someone who was planning a new business, I won't share much about what his plans were here just on the off chance that someone else decided it was a great idea but I do think that he has some interesting ideas about saving memories and his questions and conversation were really interesting. There's a creative energy that comes with planning a new business that I find a little bit addicting! It’s cool to have been a part of this person’s story, however briefly.
Paul and I went to the Edmonton Comic EXPO again this year and as usual my very favorite part was just to go through all the artist’s tables and see the different kinds of drawing, painting, sculpture, and all sorts of other cool things. I had the pleasure of going to see a concert by one of my favorite web comic artists, Rock, Paper, Cynic. it was my second time meeting him in person and this time he created a little drawing for me of a space puppy on the cover of my fresh copy of his new book. He's currently launching an attempt to work as a full-time artist which is exciting. (check him out if you think that you might like a nerdy webcomic!) As usual some of my friends were attending but the only one that I actually got a chance to see was Erin, and briefly her fiance as well. This particular visit to the Expo felt a lot less rushed and a lot more interesting than some of the previous times. I did get to see the star of Arrow as he walked past me, and I was struck by just how piercing his eyes are, just like they are in the television series. He was definitely a good superhero casting choice. Here's hoping for Daredevil next year though!
In a completely different form of nerdy entertainment, Paul and I and one of my friends and some of their family went to Mars a few weeks ago… or at least we went on a mission to Mars in someone's appropriately red garage. I think I’ve talked before about how much we LOVE escape rooms - well someone and some of their friends created one as a prototype and ran it as a by-donation experience. The whole experience was absolutely fantastic! Though, as I have discovered, I don’t think I’ll ever get through an escape room experience where Paul and I don’t have a small tiff over me giving him bad directions. Whoops.
Long story short, our pod succeeded (80% of the teams don’t!) with less than a second left on the clock, but a few brain cells missing since we hadn’t properly repaired the air filtration system… It was a wonderfully fun and appropriately difficult mission, and the puzzles and clues were excellent - as was the beautiful set that we were playing in. There’s a cool interview with a couple of photos from the room I found online, and a video special on CTV news, likely by the same people who interviewed me awhile back for my dudoir work.
I see that look on your face
I had a brief (and I stress the word brief!) love affair with Amazon reviews before controversy and bad press* forced Amazon to discontinue the practice of sellers asking for reviews in exchange for discounts or free merchandise. *Actually to be honest I think Amazon mainly did it for its own financial gain, as it could help businesses other than Amazon to make money! While it's a smart business decision for Amazon, taking a broad view, it's not great from a consumer perspective. I saw a lot of press accusing these reviews of being positively biased and skewing the norm but unfortunately there's plenty of data stating that the majority of people only really review things when they're unhappy so I personally think they actually provided a much more balanced reviews landscape. Nevertheless, Amazon the giant has made the decision and unfortunately that leaves me with many items that I received in response to requests through reviewing sites. I'm dabbling in video lately so I'll probably be putting up some YouTube reviews for several of the products I received. I am very pleased to have purchased many necessary and useful items in the process of looking into becoming an Amazon reviewer, things that I was hoping to purchase anyway and then I might have had trouble finding. In the end I think I'm quite happy that I had a chance to do it even for a few weeks, and I have an assortment of products that I use on a daily basis and a few that I use a little bit more rarely but are equally necessary to the various pursuits that I want to spend time on.
The items that were involved in this foray into internet reviewing include a Phone mount and head and tail lights for my bicycle, a wireless mouse for ye olde TV computer in the living room, a brand new set of nice laundry bags since mine were cheap and falling apart, some photo reflectors that I haven't had a chance to use in a session yet - but I had been thinking about purchasing anyway to use for fill light in backlit evening outdoor portraits instead of a flash. There was also a high quality, compact USB charger for the car to keep both of our phones and other electronic gadgets charged while we're travelling and a large and Powerful battery pack for our smartphones - again, mainly for travelling and playing Pokemon Go, and finally, a computer adaptor for HDMI, which was the first thing I ever ordered, since my current adaptor was old and fizzing out, and I use it every day. So electronics and household items basically. All stuff I’m very excited to own and paid VERY little for - most of which I wouldn't have been able to buy without the review sites. Well, at least I caught the tail end.
On a completely different note, I've been trying to host lots of little events in Edmonton, and unfortunately we rarely have more than a couple of people show up to our little tea parties. On the other hand I have a semi-regular kareoke night at a friendly little bar (that serves the best shirley temples and the stickiest honey garlic wings and the waitstaff already knows my order) with one or two Edmonton friends who sometimes invite others, and on Tuesday night I finally sang “Rolling In the Deep” almost perfectly despite the fact that you really only breathe three times the whole song, and they’re all catchbreaths. I was proud! And the kareoke host complimented my voice which made me happy.
That’s not all either! I started a board gaming group with people I met from the internet whose only definite shared interests were both frequenting Reddit and enjoying board games - but after several months it's still going strong and all of the people in the group like each other quite a bit and love coming out. I routinely laugh until my gut hurts whenever we get together - our latest meeting was actually tonight and my gut literally does hurt from all the belly laughter from our game of advanced adult telephone pictionary. On yet another social note, Paul and I together also joined a small youth group at one of the Catholic churches in Edmonton, and we've actually found that we really enjoyed the people there as well and we're developing great relationships with them. Slowly and steadily I'm starting to feel like Edmonton is not isolating anymore.
On another related note, having many new guests over to our house as we've tried out AirBnB for the last year or so has been a truly interesting time for me. There are things to love and things we don’t love so much about sharing our space with others, but in general it has been a socially rewarding experience, as I have had some amazing conversations with some amazing Canadians and Americans.
I have met a teacher at a middle-class school in the USA, a woman who teaches piano and composes, a man who spent quite a few years as a businessman in Dubai and gave it up to seek a more meaningful life. I met a man who works as a social worker, a young girl who was delighted to stay in our fish-themed room because of her degree in aquamarine biology, and a very tall man who talked little with us, but who called his wife and children every night, and as I would pass his door in the hall, laughter came through the thin walls of his room. What an amazing cross-section of people, and an amazing opportunity. We’ve hosted so many people in fact that just a few days ago I got the news that we’ve been declared AirBnB Superhosts - which means that people see a stamp of excellence on our place. What a great honour to be officially declared a good host.
Your words are spirit and life, oh Lord,
Richer than gold, stronger than death
I have set up a small space in my home for prayer and contemplation. I remember at various times in my life wanting a prayer closet, and being most recently greatly inspired to do this when Paul and I went to the church art museum in New York, and there were hundreds of personal devotional items on display from the tiny carved triptychs to the grandest multi-panel pieces commissioned for the homes of the rich. Catholics and the Orthodox often have spaces like these in their homes, often called a home altar, or a prayer table. It is common to many types of Christians who don’t have a problem with imagery.
I created this space originally to deal with a specific problem - that I had on some occasions, and once was too many times, promised to pray for someone’s specific intention or request and completely forgotten them. Creating a specific spot in my home to go to when I had a prayer to offer helped me to make sure I wasn’t neglecting something important. As I was thinking about this, I discovered a stunning white ceramic candleholder shaped like a cathedral at a thrift store, and I immediately snatched it up as the centrepiece of my prayer spot, beside a candle featuring Mary. My favourite chair, the one my Mom made for me, is in that spot, and the dog’s bed is there too. Sometimes I use it as a place to sit, or alternately, it could be used to kneel if one felt the desire for that. It is in a corner of my house that otherwise had no purposefulness, and is now wonderfully meaningful, and a great space to retreat to.
Little did I know how important that space would become, as I had one of the busiest weeks of my life, found out a close friend was going to require open-heart surgery, another friend’s parent was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers, and generally had an awful lot of happenings.
Skip to my next post for the main event.
My lover's got humor
She's the giggle at a funeral
We were born sick, you heard them say it