Saturday, January 14, 2017

December 2016

I'm not usually a fan of the 12th month of the year.
But my bloggy silence wasn't because I was being broody.

This time 'round? I filled it (December)  with as many good things and I could.
Plus there was The Snow. (Which, yeah, OK, it was beautiful n all, but if you're the one who's responsible for keeping a 9-car driveway clear, It Is An Issue.)
(And we received more than our fair share of snow. It never melted. And it just kept falling. EVERY weekend.)
(Ok. so maybe I AM a little whiny.)

Mostly for my own sake (it comes in handy when preparing for weddings, to have a pictoral and written reference, of past activities...) I am going to do a December round-up:

I've seen a few movies, attended a few events, caught a few Pokemon, walkedntalked, drank some tea, ate a lot of food, learned how to operate a snow blower and a snow shovel, cheered on our Canucks, managed a crippled creative department, looked at every home that came on the market, made 12 photobooks, (one per evening, most weeknights between 11 pm and 1 am) worked right up til Christmas and then again in between Christmas and New Years and took a million pictures. All things considered, it's been an outstanding month. And these are the highlights:

  • Walking through Tynehead Park with Sandra in early December, before the snow, and finding a random tree, decorated with ornaments. Reminded me of the first time we saw teapots on Teapot Hill. 

  • Dinner with Val at Mr. Mike's. I'm glad she's my cousin-friend-twin-who-is-tinier-and-darker-and-younger. There's just a whole lifetime of history, isn't there? I love that she knows my whole story. 
  • Tea with Maureen at The Clayburn Village Store; so delicious and cozy/inviting/unique. (So English and civilized and I'm glad she suggested it.) Then praying in my truck afterwards. Haha. She makes my ride holy.
  • And that same weekend (as the walk, the dinner, the tea, as well as a night at the lake), was the Annual OFam Bake Off:
They look like models to me. 

My heart.

  • Supper with Donna in White Rock. I am grateful for her friendship; she just turned 69 and these are her remodeled bathrooms. She believes in the power of wall paper. This woman has more style that I will ever have:

Those round mirrors are the bomb. 

  • And even though it was still the tail end of Autumn at the beginning of December, it felt like winter. We had our first snow fall on Dec 5. 

  • Then on Dec 9, alot of snow fell, and we had a SNOW DAY (meaning the office was closed).

(And, this day, Dec 9, also happened to be the day that I did all my Christmas shopping, from my bed, at 3 am. Everything arrived 40 hours later, on Sunday afternoon. I may never step into a mall again. Amazon for the win.)

  • A day later, Heather asked if I'd pop by with my camera to take some pics of her grandbabies. Nothing formal, just some shots of them playing. I LOVE doing this. With all my heart. 

(More snow continued to fall.)

And I learned how to use this:

This is the 'empty' bay in the garage. My stuff is boxed at the back. The middle is filled with remodeling materials and the front is a collection of Drew and Danica's things. 

It took awhile to learn the ins n outs of actually firing it up, (what did we do before cameras on phones and text messaging?) but Julie walked me through the process. She learned me about chokes, starter keys, pull cords. (Now? One month later? I can get that beast started in 3 pulls.)

Sadly, knowing how to start a snowblower, and being able to push it around, does not mean you know how to actually remove snow from the driveway. I mean, it blows the snow. Over to either side, or right in front. But the driveway is wide. And from the centre, it doesn't blow it off the edge. So an engineer should really operate this puppy. Not me. Because it was very trial and error to determine an efficient way to clear the driveway.

I am better at sidewalks:

  • And then the next day, Dec 13, on the one year anniversary of their engagement, Dani and I met for a spontaneous 20 minute photo shoot in the snow. This day? Was pure awesomeness.

I love, LOVE, l.o.v.e! taking photos of happy people.
I am so thankful that she was OK with me snapping a million pics of her.
(I blogged about this here.)

I am so thankful that she is a part of my family.

  • The next day? I took the morning off work and drove out to the lake to make sure the roof hadn't collapsed under the weight of the snow and that the pipes in the basement hadn't frozen and burst. Now that I can operate a snow blower, I am a handy-man too. 

If the cabin is my favorite-ist place on earth, it's basement is my least favorite. When I hopped out of my truck, the snow was deeper than my boot-tops. I creeped in, banging and talking loudly so the rats, mice and raccoons would know to scatter. I checked the pipes, set up a space heater, noticed the burnt out plugs, took note of the insulation and wiring, then drove back to work, confident that the cabin wasn't going to fall apart under my watch.

Then? That very same evening? The Christmas season officially began.
I drove four of us into Vancouver to the QE theatre for a Chris Tomlin/Matt Redman concert.
Seriously a perfect evening.
So much awesomeness; from the seats (15 rows from the front) to the music (I love their songwriting) to the friends I was with - it was all so very good.

And yes, if you're keeping track, I put a lot of miles on this day. To Cultus and back, then into Vancouver and back. So thankful I have a 4WD.

  • Dec 15: Because my inventory bag of Pokeballs was empty, I picked up Heather after work and headed back into Vancouver, where we walked along the seawall (it was -12 degrees. I was wearing t shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a baggy knit sweater, and two hoodies. She gave me my Christmas present early (fingertipless gloves with a mitten flap. So I could keep my Pokemon catching fingertip exposed, but all the rest of my digits cozy). A very thoughtful gift.

The background music that evening was ambulance/emergency sirens.

Turns out that there were 9 overdose deaths that evening.
(Please don't stop praying for people struggling with addictions.)

After our walk, we drove a pot of soup over to Clint, who was working late. Then tried to get in touch with Amy to drop some off at her place too. While we waited to hear back from her, we drove around Stanley Park, which is beautiful in the summer daytime and the winter nighttime. And has lots of Pokestops.

Vancouver at night is a jewel.
And has such creative art installations.

Not all of us where amazed by the art.

  • The next day? Friday Dec 16? My designer's 34 yr old healthy, fit, active husband had a heart attack. It sucker-punched me in the gut. How could this be? 

(My dad had his first heart attack a week before Christmas, in 1990. He was 54 years old. Tyler's heart attack caused all those old feels to come back with a whoosh.)
He's going to be fine; he called 911 from his work truck at noon and was operated on immediately. But. Whoa. Still. What a thing.

Then at 5, Kim met me at work, and I drove us into Vancouver.
We'd read the book in bookclub and thoroughly enjoyed it, so we were looking forward to seeing the movie version of A Man Called Ove. It was playing at the Vancouver Internal Film Festival, and was entirely in Swedish. (With English subtitles.) So we read the movie, just like we read the book.

  • On Saturday I drove back out to the lake to check on the heater and the roof. Because if there was a problem, I am uniquely equipped to handle such emergencies, what with having a cell phone n all. 

On my way back into town, I stopped in at Val's to pick up my Purdy's order. Then dropped by Amanda's house to leave some groceries and a meal and some toys for her family.

  • It snowed again on Sunday; like alot. Much snow felllll and kept falling. I was supposed to pick up Kim from the airport, arriving home after 6 weeks in Vietnam, but the roads were dicey. So she took the skytrain home and I fired up the snowblower. Mandi, who's been living in Alberta since October was coming home for Christmas so the driveway needed to be cleared for her vehicle as well as mine. 

I worked for an hour until I ran out of gas, then used the shovel until it was time to leave.
This? Was a day I'd been looking forward to all month. This? Felt like my Christmas Day.
The Ofam and the Stapes were meeting for supper at the Spaghetti Factory, then all seeing Star Wars (Rogue One) together. With Lorne on one end, and I on the other, with our families between us, this just felt lovely.

When I got back home that night, my heart was full. Regardless of how the 24th, 25th and 26th played out, I'd made enough memories this month to carry me through. Those are just 3 days on the calendar... If the kids had other plans and obligations, I was going to Be Fine. And to be honest, it had been a busy month thus far, and if I was alone on The Three Big Days Of Christmas, I was going to totally enjoy it.

  • I had book club on Mon Dec 19, but wasn't able to go. With my only two designers out of the office for personal reasons, I had a bit of timeline juggling to do. So I worked late then, with more fuel for the beast, I tackled the driveway again. (It had snowed all night and whatever I'd cleared during Sunday afternoon was totally covered again.) 

  • After work on Tuesday Dec 20,  I hung out in Maxine's kitchen. Only good things happen in her kitchen. 

  • The following evening, after work, and after a bit of shopping, I picked up Heather at 9 pm. We were going Pokemon catching in Fort Langley for a few hours. We had snacks, charged external batteries, and much enthusiasm for this brainless but fun activity. It was cold. And the roads/sidewalks weren't cleared, so mostly we just sat in my  truck and talked while we waited for the stops to become blue again. (That's a secret code for Pokepeople only.)

  • I had tickets for the Dec 22 Canuck's game, so after work, we met at my mom's and I drove the four of us into Vancouver. We lost. But we also laughed. So I'd call the evening a win. 

  • And then, just like that it was Dec 23. Our office was closed, so I made an appointment to get my face threaded, then use up a gift card and have a mani/pedi done. I spent the afternoon going back and forth to Costco trying to get some photos printed. By some, I mean 5,000. No really. I finally got them all uploaded and ordered at 7:30 pm, just before they closed. I did laundry and cleaned my room. And looked at the driveway and the weather forecast a million times. 

  • I woke up on the 24th to more snow. And the need to get out to Costco to pick up some pics. And by some, I mean 5,000. When I got home, I snowblowed the driveway. At 3 pm, I drove Kim and I over to the Village Church's afternoon Christmas Eve service where Drew and Danica were saving us seats. My kids were spending the evening at their dad's; celebrating Christmas together, so Kim and I went to White Rock, where we walked along the beach and had a traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Fish n Chips served by an Asian man. We were his only customers, and he was the only place open on the strip. I guess not so traditional then. Haha. 

We stood at the end of the dock and enjoyed the clear evening. Star and planets were in abundance and she showed me this phone app that names everything in the sky for you. Seriously, we live in a beautiful time; technology is wonderful.

I dropped her off at 8, then packed up the balloon bouquet I'd ordered earlier in the day and drove it out to Coquitlam. My friend Jenn had received some good news earlier in the month and I hadn't celebrated with her yet. So I dropped off the CONGRATULATIONS - I'M SO HAPPY FOR YOU card and realized OH MY GOODNESS, JENN LIVES RIGHT BESIDE LAFARGE LAKE.

I drove over, parked, and in completely inappropriate clothing, checked out the lighted walk for as long as I could handle the cold.

I got home a little after 10 pm and decided it was time to wrap presents. Kids were going to be arriving around noon the following day (Christmas day), for brunch, then leaving a few hours later for Christmas afternoon, dinner and evening with their other families.

At 11 pm I got a text from Max wondering if it was OK if he and Amy came over for night. Then an hour later, Clint said he'd be coming for night too. I abandoned the wrapping and went down to the basement to make room/change sheets/ get towels for the three of them. They arrived at 1, all full of youth and energy and Christmas spirit, looking for snacks and prepared to watch our usual Christmas movie; Jingle All the Way. I had a choice, watch with them, or go back up to my room and wrap presents.

I watched til 3 am, then wrapped the presents. Because sleep is for seniors.

  • Christmas Day:

I had no expectations for Christmas Day.
Not a single one.
I couldn't imagine how the day would go.

We all met in the living room at noon and opened gifts,
And then?
We made breakfast, together. Everyone helped.
It. Was. Awesome.
No, really.
It was the best feeling ever to have all of us working at preparing the meal.
I loved every second of it.

After we'd eaten/cleaned up, WE. PLAYED. GAMES.
Games bought by Max.
And enthusiastically played by everyone.

I couldn't have imagined a better day.

They all left at 4, and I had a nap.

At 8, Clint texted me: "Hey, want to see a movie at 10? Doctor Strange? And then, could we BBQ some steak afterwards?"

It was possibly the best Christmas ever. 

  • Boxing Day was at Julie and Daryl's for turkey. 

I just noticed that both Danica and I are in this pic, so Clint must've taken this shot.

This crowd played a game involving their phones and the TV screen.

This crowd played a game involving a board, chips and cards. And reading glasses all 'round.

  • Desperately needing to walk off the meals I'd eaten, I picked up Heather and surprised her with a new walking location; Lafarge Lake. It was magical. 

And unexpectedly, it was a great Pokemon catching location.

So we walked around the lake twice.

  • After work on the 28th, I met Maureen for dinner then we went to see Lala Land. Which was beautiful and romantic and fun and I don't know if I need to hear Ryan Gosling sing again.

  • After work on the 29th, I drove around, dropping off gifts at friends' houses, doing some banking/errands/shopping and got home at 10. I settled in to binge watch anything on Netflix. Sherlock was the final wise choice. 

  • Dec 30 was sunny and clear so I picked up Heather for a walk. In Fort Langley. With our phones and external batteries. Many Pokemon were caught on the way there.

While walking through town, we ran into some old friends:

To be honest, I'm probably more excited about capturing a pretty image than I am about capturing a Pokemon. But it's a really good day when I can do both.

I dropped Heather off at 5, then turned around and went back to Langley to meet Danica. We watched:

then went out for dinner. 

Some days? Are just perfect. 
Dec 30 was one of them.

And this year? One New Year's Eve? Unlike the past 10 years? I did something. Haha.
Usually I go to the lake by myself.

This year, in the midst of The Blizzard to End all Blizzards, after I snow blowed the driveway, I drove in Vancouver, picked up Kim and went out for sushi and a movie. 

Just like on Christmas Eve when we were the only customers eating Fish n Chips in White Rock, again we're the only customers eating Sushi in this lil dive across from the theatre...

Black rice. A new thing for me...

Downloading TimePlay app...

Oh my goodness, I loved this movie. 

Before we left the theatre area, we did a quick impromptu photo shoot of her in her (late) mom's fur coat...

I dropped her off at 10, then drove home on an empty freeway (no one ventures out when a blizzard has taken over) and arrived home at 10:30.

At midnight? 
As we moved from one year to the next? 
I was being kissed by snowflakes as I snow blowed the driveway. Again. For the millionth time in December. 

At 1:00 am, I got a text message asking me if I could pick them up from a party and drive them home. Seeing I was sober and alert, I was happy to. I got back home at 3:30 am. 

Happy New Year!
2016 is done. 

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Friends and family who shared time with me in December.
2. People who make movies and phone apps.
3. 4WD vehicles, snowblowers, and Spring on the horizon. 


No comments: