2017 Year in Review - Part 3

I feel glorious, glorious

Got a chance to start again

I was born for this, born for this

It's who I am, how could I forget?

I made it through the darkest part of the night

And now I see the sunrise

Now I feel glorious, glorious

I feel glorious, glorious

SEPTEMBER

I spent quite a bit of time in September working on photography sessions of all kinds, from portraits to architecture, and editing - Admire Studios was very busy that month, but I did remember how to play. We started off our September by visiting my friend Jackie's wedding which was a great deal of fun! I had lent my photo props to the wedding, and tons of the guests enjoyed using them. Then, the second weekend of September, Paul and I went on a retreat where we met some wonderful people! It was a Catholic retreat out at a Polish campsite organized by the folks handling the World Youth Day group for the next year. They were super gracious and let us bring Murphy, and he became a favourite of many of the animal-lovers on site. The campsite was calm and beautiful, forests and fields and the best the prairies have to offer - Murphy enjoyed the wide wilderness as much as we did. There was a beautiful lodge with an adjoining cabin space, and we all slept in the same set of bunk beds made for kids - at least they were full size! We made tacos together, sat by the fire and talked about spiritual questions with the priest who came out with us, there was a soccer game, we prayed the rosary together - it was a special time where we each got to know new people. I spent time in adoration, and it was a special spiritual time for me. It was also where I met the priest who was to become my official spiritual advisor, so I suppose that makes September very pivotal moment for me in the year 2017, because later that month I had my first meeting with him.

There was a kick off barbeque for YAM (the group we're in with other young adult Catholics) in the middle of the month. Again we brought Murphy along and everyone enjoyed a lot of great food, especially junk food together! A few days later, I had the privilege of going to brunch at a new friends house. I met her sister and some of her friends. Promptly after that brunch, I went to a lunch at the farmers market with the ladies for my board game group. Our friendships have now expanded beyond board games and the ladies have started to go out together as well! With that group's normal monthly meeting though, we had a very fun board games night which we played some form of Cranium at. I ended up in a Fort in the living room somehow, and at a different point of the game I had a collander on my head... it was very silly and there was a lot of laughter!

Later in September, my friend Erin and I had the privilege of seeing The Sound of Music as a live show.

The biggest change that happened in September in my day to day life was getting a new iPhone! Finally, I have one with enough memory, a slightly larger screen, and it's nice and fast and new - so I can start using it for the 360 photography I'm planning on devoting some time to pursuing as a part of Admire Studios.

Paul and I went on a special date night to a place we had been wanting to go to for ages, the Sambusa Hut, which has African cuisine. Mostly we ate samosas - the titular Sambusas in Africa apparently -but there was a desert I ate that had honey and coconut that blew my mind and I had to go get seconds because I liked it so very very much. Anyway, all of the food there was delicious and I'm looking forward to going back. Paul and I spent a little bit of time playing PokémonGO and we tried to catch legendary beasts with strangers, which is often quite difficult.

In keeping with my goal of learning to cook with ingredients new to me, I've been finding new recipes for things like honey - I made a wonderful honey butter and raspberry spread for scones that Paul and I have decided is the best thing since sliced... scones.

Late in the month I started trying to figure out who to vote for in the upcoming civic election, which was not fantastic because despite the fact that I'm not completely sold on the incumbent mayor, he was certainly better than the competition, whom I saw at a Mayoral panel. The view of the river valley I saw that day was much more pleasant, I can assure you.

Finally, the last Saturday of the month, Paul and I went on a nice visit to one of the private bicycle shops in Edmonton, where I settled on the Liv Flourish city bike as the bicycle I'll be investing in when spring comes. (An odd but also pleasant thing to be thinking of as I write this in the dead of January winter, when the sun sets dreadfully early and rises rather lazily as well.)

At some point this month I installed a new doorbell, and after a third of a year I am equally happy and sad about it, as I have to deal with more solicitors peddling alternate religious paths and other more concrete security systems in equal measure with welcome guests and the ever-joy-filled Amazon packages.

OCTOBER

I did a lot of cycling with Murphy in late September and early October. Fall is still my favorite season.

The most fun I had at work in October was early in the month when I had the joy of capturing a very beautiful and heartfelt proposal! I had less fun working the civic election, but it wasn't a total bust by any means. I can now tell the story of working beside one of the most inane conversationalists I have yet had the privilege of meeting for nearly an entire day... My civic duty done as I watched precisely nothing change in Edmonton City Council (in my ward at any rate, and in the Mayoral race) and lost yet another grain of hope in any democratic systems known to me, I did make a few hundred dollars and earned several interesting memories.

My favorite conversations with the woman to my left for approximately 12 thousand hours went something like this:

Her: "How long have you been married?"

Me: "Seven years."

Her: "Do you have kids?"

Me: "No, none yet."

Her: "So you hate kids then?"

Her: "Ooooh a manager! How much money does your husband make?

Me:  "... ... Not as much as his boss does."

Her:  "I wish I were rich. I'd live in a BIG house."

Me: "One long staircase just going up, and one even longer coming down?"

Her: Huh? I'd rather have an elevator.

Me: *helping Voter with their forms*

Her: loudly continues chatting "... Cheese is basically congealed mucous."

Voter: *makes horrified face*

Me: *raises eyebrows at Voter and makes the face that says my head is about to explode*

Voter: doubtfully  "Good luck today!"

That wasn't much fun (well, telling stories about it has been I suppose!)

What was fun was planning and executing a surprise birthday party for my accident prone friend, Ashley. A party involving an antique wheelchair with balloons and hard hat, a giant card featuring "Pin the Injury on the Ashley," a parade towards and demolition of a Drama Llama Pinata in a back alley, and kareoke at a homey bar neighborhood bar that's our usual kareoke haunt. Not to mention us giving her Operation as a gift in addition to our awesome group gift of a new Kobo reader. 

It was awesome having friends to create amazing surprises for this year. Between this party and the ERINOPOLY extravaganza and the dress I made for Janta I really felt that I was able to be totally creative and amazing for my friends - not to mention my backyard mural project, and finally my next amazing thing to share about: the black paint Trash the Dress... 

I was absolutely thrilled to direct another creative Trash the Dress shoot with colour this year - this time with black paint, a darker more moody vision culminating in an escape to freedom - at least that was the grand vision! I'm so proud of how the photographs turned out.

Aside from the large amount of work I did in October, I spent some time doing plenty of homemaking. This involved projects like cleaning out the bathroom drain with a coat hanger, which resulted in a fabulous amount of disgusting hairballs coming out and a much nicer draining experience. Conversely, I also made a full turkey dinner complete with stuffing for our personal Thanksgiving thanks to turkey being on sale. I got really into Simbi, and enjoyed several interesting projects for the site.

We played quite a few board games that month, including board games with our usual gaming group, our Young Adult group, and just gaming at home. The reason for all the gaming though was that October was the hardest one to date of my monthly projects - a no TV month. We could watch movies, we could watch anything on Formed (the service to provide Catholic content)  and we could watch non-serial YouTube, but no TV series. This proved to put us in major withdrawl. 

My most exciting moment of October was buying some boots that zipped up my entire calf and fit so well that I've been wearing them constantly. They are a beautiful velour black. Another great moment was breakfast with Ken, who as a result of his residing in South America I see once every 2-3 years, and only a few days later I saw my friend Cathleen at the YEG airport for a heartfelt talk (and service dog pets, the rarest kind) with the grand view of a closed Booster Juice and a busy baggage carousel.

We took a trip to Saskatoon, where I had the good fortune to get to the Bag Sale at Better Off Duds, a clothing consignment store who has a big sale once a year for $20 to Fill a Bag. I found several awesome items including a pink maxi dress, a lovely pair of jeggings (I hate the word, but alas, it's what they are) a brown leather purse that's somewhat larger than most of what I have, and a few other gems.

Near the end of the month, I started work on a puzzle of a lake scene that I had picked up at Value Village years ago, and I was pleased to enjoy it over the next few weeks.

I again had a blast at Halloween, and even more so this year as it was unexpectedly our busiest year yet!

NOVEMBER 

My first act in November was, as usual, to collect an assortment of Halloween toys on sale for 75% off at Wal-Mart. This time I was there late in the evening and they were in the middle of hauling everything to the back of the store when I ransacked a cart full of Halloween items just in time.

The next major thing that happened was that we got a new toilet. The last one was terribly hard to clean and the flusher kept breaking because the internal mechanics were bad, so a new one it was. It's nice and cleans easily!

I took Murphy to a new dog park after a photoshoot one day after my birthday - his present to me was jumping over a log enough that I got a photo of him doing it! I also started taking him for walks in the dark, which prompted me to try and get a clip-on light. As the days waned towards the darkest time of the year it is very necessary!

My present to myself was to go to Calgary that weekend, ostensibly on a work project, which actually didn't work out, but mostly to go visit my friend Jen, who was just starting to get sick with a cold and graciously allowed me to buy some firewood and cut vegetables for her so we could share hot beet borscht and songs in front of a freshly-stoked warm fire. I also had the chance to talk shop with a friend of mine, Boon Ong, about boudoir photography and how to overcome some of the "blah" feeling of images I felt I was facing. A subsequent session that month turned out fantastic and I was able to use some of his excellent advice to create better work than anything I had done previously.

Upon leaving Calgary I was feeling a bit under the weather, so we postponed my birthday party to mid-month. When it finally did happen, it was unfortunately planned rather ignorantly assuming that on a Saturday night an entertainment venue might have spots open... If I could do it again I would do it differently, but alas, it turned into a very disappointing evening - I did not try VR for the first time. I did not get to go axe throwing. I did not get to eat at the on-site restaurant. We ended up at Five Guys instead. Not that I didn't enjoy that - it was delicious. My friends were very understanding, especially when, at the end of the evening, I crashed a little. At least, I don't think anyone saw me punch the wall on my way to the bathroom... I don't think I've ever had a party ruined like that. However, my awesome friends were awesome, and I really appreciated their presence and the fun times we did have at the arcade. I actually have some more credits to spend at that arcade sometime... Looking forward to it.

That night I watched the replay of the live feed as someone I care about got engaged, so that was a nice redemption of the evening. 

A few days later, Paul and I took up our tiny plastic spittoons and spit a great deal and then sent our spit in the mail. It sounds like a ridiculous pasttime, I know. But we did it for the DNA results! Which came in December. 

A large assortment of new things happened in November. We went sledding with friends (well, Paul went sledding, I walked up the hill and sledded down...) I continued working on my puzzle intermittently for the first two weeks of the month, finishing it on the 15th. I dyed some corn with easter egg dye, which worked well, but when popped did not give me the results I was hoping for - so instead the festive red and green kernels have been put to use as a decoration in some vases. Paul got new glasses and we both got new prescription sunglasses, which have been fantastic on road trips. We dogsat a friend's dog for a whole weekend, which was like babysitting an intermittent, food-obsessed tornado... Speaking of food, we tried out the buffet near our place, but everything was cold, so that was a bust. At least the other place we tried out earlier this year, JayBee's, was fantastic. It's name does not tell you how delicious the food is, nor how upper class the interior design is, for a place in the North end of Edmonton! We're definitely going back. We were invited to a wedding ceremony which turned into being invited to the reception since they had last-minute guest cancellations! It's always so interesting to me to experience weddings where I'm not shooting - and this one was lovely. We'd only met the bride and groom at the September retreat, but we really connected with the bride and her sisters, and we were so pleased to share this amazing moment with them as we develop our friendship together. Their kindness and love overflows, and we're proud to know them! 

Towards the end of the month I started a project that I think I am almost ready to call completed at this point - the transformation of the box that my computer tower came in from mere box to a multimedia center entirely designed for enjoying the crackling sounds and visual beauty of YouTube videos of fireplaces - without fire or wood. The only things I'm missing are the smells and the heat - which I'm hoping to remedy with a small space heater and a scented candle.

DECEMBER

After many years of being told that Die Hard was a must-see Christmas movie, I finally had a chance to see it. It was better than I expected, with a great plot for an action flick. I enjoyed it.

I did a ton of cooking and baking in December. I made my Mom's Banana Blueberry muffins, which we've greatly enjoyed, my Grandma's old burger recipe, which helped me turn a huge tray of beef into many, many burgers, and both Paul and I baked multiple batches of cookies and Christmas desserts. It was rewarding, but I don't think I'd want to bake on quite that level again.

One of the big highlights of the month was going to see Frank Warren from PostSecret and having a chance to meet him after the show and tell him that he was part of the inspiriation for my art show! I sent him the gallery of images from the show and some information about it and he shared it out on Twitter, which made my day.

We went to Edmonton's Festival of Trees, which I unfortunately found a little too... commercial for my tastes. I've always known that companies used the trees as a way to advertise their services, but it always felt (in the Saskatoon version, at any rate) that these trees were also a way for the employees to get together and have fun. This time it felt more like wandering through a bunch of tree-billboards, and I'm not sure if I would go again. The most festive tree I saw all season was the random pine tree at the dog park crossroads which some kind souls chose to festoon with classic, timeless ornaments. It made me smile every time I took the dog to the park in December.

A lot of small accomplishments happened in December. We finally got a second car key, after several mishaps. Paul got new glasses, and we both got new prescription sunglasses. We got a ton of Black Friday stuff in the mail. I found a bunch of presents for Christmas at IKEA, and for maybe the first time ever went there twice in the same month. Speaking of gifts, I was part of three RedditGifts exchanges this year - Christmas cards, Christmas Ornaments, and Secret Santa - and it was a really fun exchange.

Our various Christmas celebrations were so warm and fun. We started by going to Friendsmas for a big turkey dinner, and then had our amazing family Christmasses. This year I took family photos at all our Family Christmas events since there are precious few group photos around. At Paul's Mom's hosted Christmas we ate pulled pork, made Gingerbread houses, and played The Resistance. It was a really special time of love and family this year, but it was also really exhausting despite us trying to have at least half a day of rest in between everything.

December was over in the blink of an eye, and it was a new year once again.

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