An update with too many parentheticals

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Taken with my phone because I am le tired. 

Well, November has slipped by, and I can’t help but say good riddance. Suffice it to say it was not my favourite month. BUT! I also experienced small wins among the “UGH, BOO.” portion of life.

I didn’t start NaNoWriMo until two thirds the way through the month (I changed my mind about sitting it out this year), but I managed 7k words on a  story* – the most I’ve ever written on one thing. I also wrote several shorts and posted those (under a pen name, and no you can’t see them.) Honestly, it is very reassuring after so long of feeling stuck, that like anything else writing is just work. Whatever it is you want to be better at, you just have to keep doing it until you improve.

I tried new things and did pretty alright. (And discovered that I really want to learn more about some of those things.) I made a tiny Jayne toque for my nephew and it looks adorable. (Of course, I forgot to take a proper photo before I sent it off, but hopefully I can get one while it still fits him!)

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I feel like you need a blurry front camera pic of me bothering Marty. 

And now we’re into December. This next month will be full in the best of ways, with friends and birthdays and dinners. (And filming a web series!) (And gift-making. We are so behind this year.) I hope to surface on here before the holidays, but I make no promises. I might just decide to keep creating off-screen instead (out of a sense of self-preservation. Ha.)

*How had I not learned about pomodoros before now? It’s so simple: you use a timer to block out chunks where you work for 15-25 minutes straight, take a 2-5 minute break, and repeat a few times until a longer break. I don’t use this for all types of work, but for certain “get it done” things it’s a lifesaver. Even boring things can be done in 15 minute chunks, and at least it gets done. 

Saturday

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A lazy morning. (The best blankets are made by grandmothers and mums).

Saturday Snapshots

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Short and sweet today.

On Saturday of this Thanksgiving weekend, we hosted an early birthday/Halloween/Thanksgiving party for a few friends. Costumes required, of course. The end of the month will be hectic with people moving and going on vacation, so this weekend was Party Weekend. We had an accidental animated character theme going on, with the Belcher kids, Archer characters, and Futurama covered. These people are the best <3

Goldstream Park and Koksilah River

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Bailey managed a visit this weekend, and since today’s forecast was good, we drove out in search of some adventure before heading to the ferry. First stop was Goldstream Park – thankfully sans fish. (Oh, the smell!) The leaves are just beginning to carpet the trails. The trails are flat and even, and perfect for sipping tea, chatting, and taking photos in the middle of walkways. (It wasn’t too busy today, so we weren’t in anyone’s way.)

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This morning I held my reflector in my hand and wondered if I would need it. After all, I thought, it’s only a quick drive. A very small adventure, really. Did I really need to bring it with me? (I did. Damn.)

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Next we headed up to Koksilah River Park. I only learned of the provincial park last week, and since I had an excuse I wanted to explore a little.

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My favourite photo of Bailey today:

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Maybe I picked the right day to go up, but holy cats is it ever pretty up there. Aside from the occasional BWAAAAA from the dirt bikes around the area, it was very peaceful. I almost wish I’d taken a blanket for a quick nap listening to the water and the frogs. I have some shot ideas that would involve a friend getting a bit chilly – maybe I can bribe someone with baked goods and a beverage? I will definitely be going back up there, hopefully soon.

Portrait Day at the Trestle

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Yesterday, a few of us drove out to Kinsol Trestle for an afternoon of portraits. There weren’t as many colourful leaves as we’d hoped for, but by the river was a pocket of colour – enough to make things interesting. A few hours of both silly and serious portraits passed quickly.

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I even let someone else hold my camera (thanks to Carly for this photo, and Eric for the one below). I also successfully balanced on a rock without falling in the water. Proof:

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Eric rested on a bigger rock. (Portraits and climbing up hills are tiring, dontcha know?)

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We even managed a shot of both of us together! (Hard to do on our own usually).

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I had so much fun taking photos of everyone (though next time we will have a better meet-up plan. Oops.) We found a few good spots, and rotated out so we all have options. Even Fenrir got in on the action.

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I think some of my favourite images are the outtakes, but I’ll leave those for others to post ;) (I hope they do!) I can’t wait till next time.

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Do it anyway

For many years now, I’ve had a block around writing. I would sit down and try to access the part of my brain that had flourished at the tail end of high school – the endless imagination that could create worlds in an instant. Instead there was a wall; high and thick and gray. It was immensely frustrating. The words that used to flow (not easily, but the trickle that wouldn’t die and sometimes poured out like a storm) were gone.

I’m not sure there was a single reason things stopped. A combination of well-meant pressure and a flood of depression were certainly part of the reason. In the end it doesn’t matter. The words stopped and instead I took up the camera. I found a way to describe without words. I could click the shutter and capture those thoughts and memories. I can look at an image and remember – cold air that fills your lungs and brings colour to your cheeks. The warm sunrise hitting the trees. The sound of gravel underfoot.
Elk Lake Morning

Images were how I spoke. They took the place of awkward sentences and blank walls and fear.

This summer, I decided I’ve had enough. I came across an interview with an actor who spoke of realizing he was making a decision based on fear, and realized he needed to do it anyway. Being afraid isn’t an excuse to say no. It’s a reason to say yes. (I have grudgingly come to accept that I am a Gryffindor at heart. Dammit.) So (with my heart in my mouth, ready to escape) I sat down and started searching. I found a free online course excerpt to jump start my brain and wrote. Oh hell it is so bad and those words won’t be seen by anyone else, but making that decision and opening those floodgates reminded my how much I fucking miss it. I’ve set a daily word goal for myself, a tiny 200 words. (As though I will scare the words away if I aim too high.) After a week I could talk about writing without feeling like I’m chasing away a wild animal. I posted some publicly, for the first time in a decade (no, you can’t read it. Pen names are my safety net.)

I realize this might not seem like a huge deal to people outside my head (the fictional folk inside are throwing a damn party). I am a fierce worrier and fearfully courageous dumbass. But the best thing I learned in my 20’s (the wordless decade) was to feel afraid but do it anyway. Don’t let it stop you. Own the nerves, feel your heart race, and jump.

Nephews are the best

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My nephew is only nine weeks old, but he’s got the whole range of emotions down. The way his face totally changes colour when he’s unhappy is impressive.

Today’s theme:

Can’t stop|Won’t stop. . . #learning #education #selfimprovement #write #create #teachyoself

A photo posted by Mel McNiece (@meljammin) on

So. Many. Tomatoes.

It’s early August, and I’m already fearing the tomato harvest. I have a feeling everything will ripen at once and I will be scrambling to freeze and preserve as fast as I can. Not that I really want to complain – the reason I dedicated half my garden to tomatoes this year is how delicious they are when picked perfectly ripe. I only hope I can keep up in eating them. Yum.

The floof couple

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Because sometimes you need to take a ridiculous photo with a cat.

Also I don’t know what’s going on with my hair today.