Throwback Thursday: 1 Month From 1 Year

One month from today marks Chris’ and my one year anniversary (married… it’s unfortunate that the four years together pre-marriage get thrown aside for tracking)!

This meant that today’s throwback thursday post was an easy choice. The above photo was taken the moment after Chris and I had officially been declared husband and wife. I had just finished crying after going second in reading our personal vows and Chris had kissed the bride. We walked back up the aisle to a major Chris song (that I also like) called You Make My Heart Beat Faster by The Distillers, you should give it a listen and then take another look at the featured photo above. We had so much fun at our wedding and it was very us – thrifty and quirky!

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Another one of my favourite photos from our wedding!
They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but I wonder if that’s changed since people have started living together more commonly as unmarried couples. Chris and I had two years or so in the house before we got married so it’s not like we needed to get used to each other or were learning about each others’ habits. Our wedding was less like a new beginning to an adventure and more like the third chapter in a novel that has already built a foundation to build a story around.

Wherever we are in our unwritten novel, we’re doing really well. We are just as in love as ever, but what’s more important is that we’re still best friends who watch comedy

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Photos were taken by friend/singer/photographer Caitlin Currie.
specials while drinking bourbon or play board games competitively together. We have fun and appreciate our time together – we also know that no ones perfect and that honest communication is key.

We’ve known each other for almost five years now and expect to continue to learn from our shared experiences (especially mistakes). Just because we’ve been married for a year doesn’t make us experts, but who’s to say that we’re not doing it right? We’re doing what’s right for us and that’s all I hope my loved ones do for themselves too! 

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Sick, yet Satisfied: Appreciating the Little Things

(Suggested song to listen to while reading [mentioned later on]: Brandy Alexander -Feist)

There’s a bad cold going around right now and it seems that I’ve caught it.

This past Sunday, I woke to the two glands below either side of my jawline being swollen and my throat hurting quite badly. I had that taste in my mouth, the taste that was less ‘last night’s dinner party wine’ and more ‘uh-oh a cold is developing.’

I soldiered through Sunday’s baby shower festivities and Monday’s hours of working on a commissioned painting that I still need to finish. Chris and I ran errands on Tuesday and the whole day slipped by.

This morning, Wednesday October 19th, I opened my eyes and realized that I actually felt much worse than the first few days even though I’ve been taking medicine regularly since it started. I took some daytime cold and sinus pills and crawled back into bed with a still sleeping Christopher. Unlike most days, I fell back to sleep quickly with heavy eyes, a stuffed nose, and my face feeling the fiery heat of what might’ve been a mild fever.

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Battlefield 1’s female protagonist (there are multiple protagonists that you play as) is actually really cool!

I woke at 11:49am. This was a very late morning for me, but my body obviously needed it. I told myself that today was a mandatory rest day, which worked perfectly in terms of timing because Chris had just gotten a new videogame that he was dying to play called Battlefield 1.

I remind you that yes, we are married adults, but that we have an odd schedule right now. You see Chris’ job as a commercial pilot for the mineral surveying industry keeps him out of the country for a month at a time. He has been home for almost two weeks now and when he’s home, he’s really home. We get approximately a month to spend as much time together as possible. This has been made ‘easier’ this fall by me not having to go back to school, but also currently remaining unemployed.

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Editorial cartoon by Gary Varvel.

I graduated this past spring and have been applying to jobs like mad. A handful of interviews have come and gone to some dream jobs. I pick myself up after each kindly written rejection to keep moving forward, reminding myself that something else will come up (I’m currently hopeful about a promising prospect).

The constant frustration with unemployment and the full-time job of applying to full-time-jobs occasionally lifts and I appreciate what I do have. I try to really focus on these positive moments to make up for the negative thinking that comes with new-grad-stresses.

This unplanned time off in my life allowed me to spend valuable time with Daq before I had to put her down. I would not have been able to take care of her the way that I did and spend whole days by her side if I had a full time job. This time off also gave me room to grieve for her, a family member to myself and many others.

I was struck by the luck of my unlucky unemployment once again this morning. Thankful that I got this bad cold/flu before getting a new job so that I can take a rest day without worrying about who I might be letting down somewhere else.

After I slept in, I didn’t have to rush out of bed. I took in the beauty of the way that the light from the bedroom window danced on the wall that I lay facing. My sweet husband had gotten up, let me sleep, and closed our bedroom doors so that his videogame didn’t wake me. I brought my bedroom pillow to our only couch on the main floor to spend some time with my guy. How many grownups get to have their spouses take care of them when they’re off sick?

I laid next to him while he cheered about not being the worst player on his online team (a victory for him) and I read a good book all day. I drifted off for a couple minutes at a time, waking here and there to the sound of Battlefield 1 machine guns. Being sick when he was home with me was so much better than when I’ve had to take care of myself in an empty house.

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Our receiver, globe, and a wedding photo.

When Chris made his afternoon coffee he also made a ginger-mint tea with some honey for his sick wife. We had a wonderful lazy day together where he enjoyed something that he doesn’t play nearly as often as some people I know and I was able to rest properly.

We were happy to have our leftovers for dinner, an easy dinner for an easy day. I slouched comfortably in my chair and we talked while sipping red wine. I admitted to him how content I felt even though my nose was on fire and my right ear popped whenever I swallowed. I explained that sometimes I experience these moments of recognized bliss that I never could have imagined earlier in my life.

What sparked one of these moments this evening?

Sitting at our vintage walnut mid-century dining table, sipping wine, and talking with my best friend.

The sounds of Feist’s soothing voice singing Brandy Alexander on vinyl while the taste of red wine still lingered on my bottom lip.

The vibrancy and beauty of the red leaves covering our back fence that I could see out of our dining room window – leaves that so often annoy me because they are the result of our backing neighbour’s creeping vines that we involuntarily maintain in our yard. Today they make me happy.

The dim light of the sun already having gone down and few lights being on in the room.

Chris’s smile as he agreed that he was also happy.

That we love each other very much.

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Our vibrant coloured backyard after some rainfall this autumn.

So although things might not be perfect in terms of: me still looking for a job six months after graduating at the top of my class in university; recently losing a best friend who Chris and I consistently miss in the house; a cold that has my body in a lot of pain; and that god awful arrival of the first of many student loan collection notices – it’s important to remind myself that I have a really great life.

Try to think of some things in your life right now that make you happy (as small as they may be). Here are some helpful questions and tips to get you started:

  1. Do you have a loved one or a close friend that makes you smile?
  2. Put on a favourite song and try to enjoy your surroundings with your own personal movie soundtrack.
  3. Tell someone that you appreciate them (this makes you feel good for making someone else feel good and everyone wins there).
  4. Watch the show “Life in Pieces” (It is currently a Netflix favourite and it makes me laugh.
  5. Did you see a dog today (if so I’m jealous, but also happy for you)?
  6. If you feel all alone, think of one nice thing about yourself and try to believe it (I’ll help you and tell you that you have good taste in blogs because you’re reading mine [yes I think I’m funny])

Let me know some positive things going on for you, leave a comment.

Grieving Goodbyes – Putting Down My Dog Daq

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that I had to put my dog Daq to sleep last Wednesday, September 28th, 2016 – less than two months away from her 13th birthday.

I thought that I would write something here as a follow up to last month’s post titled “My Dying Dog and the Love that She Inspires.” In summary, that previous entry explains how Daq came to be a part of my family, my best friend, and the details of her failing health that the vets believed was likely bladder cancer.

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Daq and my mom’s dog Deeks were being kept out of the kitchen during painting, but Daq pushed through and got paint all over herself.

I was painting my mom’s kitchen two weeks ago when she and I started talking about Daq’s worsening condition. For the first time, I admitted that if my husband Chris was home from overseas I would put her down. I started to cry as I had the crushing realization that I needed to put Daq down now, before Chris got home.

My husband works internationally for a month at a time, it would have been a two-week period before he got back and we were able to put her to sleep. I wanted so badly for him to be home, not only as emotional support for me, but because his connection with her had grown so strong and I knew he wanted to be there with her at the end. Something that other pilots/pilot’s families know all too well is that working in the industry means that you miss a lot of things at home – no matter how important they might be.

Many people had confessed to me about how hard it was for them to make ‘the decision,’ but it still hadn’t really prepared me for saying goodbye to Daq. What made it even harder was that I kept a very active social media presence that featured Daq more than regularly and that on those social feeds I posted Daq at her happiest, silliest, and most beautiful. This meant that her death may have seemed sudden to some online-onlookers, but our reality behind the social media veil allowed me to be sure that I was making the right decision.

This was our typical day:
-Wake up at 3:00am after going to bed at 1:00am to go pee (with blood)
-Fall back to sleep by 4:30am
-Wake up at 6:00am to go pee (with blood), she wants to sit and enjoy the backyard for a half hour
-Fall back to sleep by 7:45am
-Wake up at 9:00am to go pee (with blood), hang out in the backyard
-Daq sleeps throughout the day with pee breaks as well as many bloody leaks which I then would clean up off the floor and comfort Daq because she’s embarrassed.
-Gets dark outside and Daq can’t see well – she gets scared and barks so I need to go out with her with a flashlight.
-Daq wants her independence to lay outside on the deck, but also barks at nothing so I need to sit with her and the flashlight
-Goes in and out to the backyard many times from 6:00pm-1:00am together
-Repeat from beginning

This also included me watching her strain to pee drops of blood at least five times each time she went out and petting her as she cried a lot more often.

 

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Purple Woods with Harley and Daq.

Aside from her daily struggles, Daq was still eating (she loved food) and she almost always had a smile on her face. The thing is, that it’s hard to tell when your dog is in pain, because they often don’t show it. Her quality of life was worsening and I couldn’t personally put her through that any longer.

I gave myself and Daq time together before saying our final goodbye, I made the decision Thursday and her appointment was booked for the following Wednesday. During this period, I took many happy photos as my friend Harley and I took Daq to Purple Woods for a nice walk, my friend Ian and I took her for a tractor photo shoot, and she had plenty of other hangouts with visitors at home.

I was and still am completely overwhelmed by the number of people who wanted to say their goodbyes to her – I thank you.

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Ian, Daq, and I taking tractor photos.

Eve of Destruction

On the eve of her final morning, I had a few hours to spare between my last visitor and my mom arriving. My mom was coming to spend the night with us and help me bring Daq to the vet in the morning.

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During those few hours that Daq and I were alone together we went for our last walk at a nearby soccer field and we cuddled. I started to break down on the walk, the reality had begun to set in that this was the last one. When we got back, we went outside and laid on the backyard deck. I hugged her again and again, holding her tight. I tried to remember the feeling of her soft wavy fur between my fingers and I continually took in her scent. I cried into her fur and spoke about my love for her.

It was sad, but I needed it and I think she was just happy to cuddle and be petted in the cool fall air of our backyard, oblivious as to why I was upset.

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Daq’s pasta, see the video at the bottom of this entry.

That night I made her pasta – Chris and I always discussed giving her a great human meal for her ‘last dinner,’ she loved it and was very happy. She was excited to greet my mom at the door and to hang out with us all night. We cuddled with her, took photos, cried, but I mostly wanted to try to get through the night and try to distract myself from what was to come so we watched comedies on Netflix.

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Her Final Mourning

Her appointment was for 10:00am so that Chris could Facebook video chat in live (Indonesia is a twelve-hour time difference so it was 10:00pm for him). Getting the technology to work during the appointment was an added stress, but I do not regret it as it provided some closure for my husband who I love very much. We were both able to see her go peacefully, and we cried, which was necessary.

Watching my grandmother die last year in a hospital bed for almost 6 hours was hard. Her death seemed painful, sad, and frustrating. That experience was so exhausting and difficult, but it helped me during this situation with Daq. Putting Daq to sleep was humane; it was peaceful, quick, and almost beautiful. I held her as she laid on a blanket and I watched her slowly fall asleep from the injection. The vet was incredibly empathetic and cried a little herself, she also allowed us to stay with Daq for as long as we needed. I hugged and kissed her soft greying forehead more times than I could count, letting my tears fall into the fur around her own eyes that would cry no more.

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Photo from our last morning.

Daq is gone, but I still love her. I feel like putting her to sleep was the right thing to do and she lived a very long happy life. Thank you to everyone who has supported me during this process and to those who have shared kind words with me since.

At this point the surreality is wearing away and I’m starting to finally feel like she won’t be coming home, but things get better with time. I will get better with time.

Daq was an amazing friend who had so much love to give, was loved by many, and will be thought of often. I am currently grieving our goodbyes, but will revere our relationship.

Video of Daq loving her pasta:

Budget Bride: How I Won My Dream Dress

(Summary of my wedding can be found on an earlier post here and stay tuned for a future entry explaining how we kept our wedding budget to under $8500.00)

Fact: I am a crazy contest lady.

What does that mean exactly? It means that I am a strange human being who actually enjoys spending hours on the computer filling out online forms from reliable entities in order to have a chance at winning a prize. We do exist.

(Sites I like to use are: Contest Canada, Contest Girl, and a variety of others)

I haven’t won an insane number of things, but when I do win something it’s fun and exciting. Someone has to win and you never will unless you take a chance and enter.

Contest Tip #1: Always enter, someone has to win.

Winning my wedding dress was the best prize that I have won to date (next to Chris’ heart [Ba Dum Tis]). It started with winning a much smaller contest – the entire process was very lucky.

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You can see my easy Instagram entry in the comments.

I first saw a random post while searching for #weddingcontest on different social media forums, this is why some contest entering can take patience in research. I found a post by the National Bridal Show (@ntnlbridalshow) on Instagram that was giving away two free tickets to their upcoming convention. The show was in Vaughan, Ontario, which was approximately an hour drive from my house and it happened to land on the weekend of my 25th birthday party that I had been planning for a long time (Cassy-con: everyone had to dress in video game, anime, comic book, sci-fi, or fantasy costumes and I made a lot of DIY decorations).

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Cassy Con event photo I made (yes that’s my face on Leia’s and yes that’s master Roshi’s house from Dragon Ball).
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Photo of me wearing my DIY Saria costume from Zelda: Ocarina of Time with my fur-niece Sidney who I can no longer pick up! 

I entered the contest just in case.

I was happy to win the tickets, but unsure of how I was going to make it work! I decided that I would go on the Sunday, luckily I drank a lot of water during my party and wasn’t hungover. I brought my mom and my future (now) stepmom which is an odd mix, but they got along great and it we had fun.

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Left to right: mom, myself, and my step mom. Having fun trying out one of the bridal show photo booths.

I was excited to be there for mainly one thing – contests. Bridal shows, especially big ones, have a lot of contests with really great odds. I had hoped to have a chance at winning some stuff for the wedding since we were on a small budget, but I never imagined winning my dress.

After entering every contest in the building, sampling food, and collecting too many heavy items in our bridal shower tote bags, we headed home.

Sometime later, I got an email that I had won the chance to choose any dress from a bridal store and I almost didn’t believe it was real.

Contest Tip #2: Always research; do your homework on who is hosting the contest to determine the legitimacy of the prize.

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My Instagram post about winning my dream dress!

The store was legitimate, beautiful, and the prize was better than “you won this specific dress,” it was “come to our store and choose any dress that you want!” I was over the moon excited. My original budget for my wedding dress was $500, but I would likely get to wear a real wedding dress now and all I would have to pay for were accessories and alterations. The boutique sells dresses at discount prices similar to Vows [check out PHD and Pie Filling’s experience there] on I Found the Gown so their prices are quite reasonable for brides on more traditional budgets!

The wonderful dream-granting store was Revival Bridal Boutique in Vaughan, Ontario. The two women who own the store are incredibly sweet, friendly, and accommodating. I recommend supporting their small business not only because they gifted me a gown, but because they have great prices for really beautiful dresses that work within a wide range of budgets.

 

Once the shock of winning died down, I figured out a date that worked for my bridal party and waited with anticipation for December. My bridesmaids (minus my now sister-in-law who lives in London, England), my mom, and Chris’ mom (my stepmom wasn’t able to make it this time) excitedly drove to Vaughan one cold day. The two moms and I met my sister at a nearby hotel where we were going to have a girl’s night after because my sister lives four hours away, this worked out too because my sister is 1000x better at doing hair than I am and helped finish my look before trying on dresses.

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Dresses I loved, but didn’t choose!

Vanda, one of the co-owners from Revival Bridal Boutique, was a joy to work with. She made sure that even though I wasn’t buying the dress I was getting the regular bridal appointment treatment. My support group sat around the dressing room and Vanda helped me try on dresses, she had picked out some gowns that were similar to what she saw on my pinterest board.

The first dress was beautiful and I joked about how on TV women often end up choosing the first dress they try on. It was really gorgeous, but I didn’t have a “moment,” I didn’t cry or anything. I was excited to try on the next one. I tried on around ten gowns that day and loved most of them, but I’m actually a really good decision maker and picked the top three quite easily (ability to do the twist was a priority). From there we tried them on again and it was clear to me… the first dress was my dress.

The second that I realized this I started to cry – which is so silly, but it happens sometimes when you start to get older and you cry about a lot more things than you used to (this is coming from a girl who’s favourite parts in The Lord of the Rings movies were once when people’s heads got cut off with swords – now I’m a sap who cried three times during a Disneynature chimpanzee documentary narrated by Tim Allen)!

I never thought that I’d wear a veil, but I loved the cathedral length one. That day, I purchased a belt and a veil that came to $300 together and placed the order for my Lillian West gown #6349 in Alabaster/Ivory.

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When I chose my dress with the help of Revival Bridal Boutique co-owner Vanda.
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My team on dress-picking day!

A month before the big day I drove to pick up my dress with my bridesmaid Natalie in terrible Friday afternoon traffic on the 401. The gown was exactly how I’d remembered it and fit almost perfectly, it just needed to be hemmed and for a bustle system to be put in. The owners were very understanding in my wanting to have it altered closer to home and were happy to make my dreams come true.

I had it altered by a very sweet lady in Oshawa who also altered my stepmoms wedding gown earlier this year. I really recommend Shimmer Alterations for price and professionalism in Durham Region.

My alterations came to $316.00 making the grand total for my dress, belt, and veil $616.00 which I am VERY happy with.

Collection of dress photos from the wedding taken by Caitlin Currie:

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My Dying Dog and the Love that She Inspires

Firstly, you should know that my dog is the black female (and currently a little shaggier) version of Dug from Up

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The photo of Daq was taken just this morning!

I wanted to properly introduce my readers to my dog Daq. Her full name is Daiquiri and we didn’t name her. She was my family’s dog who Chris and I have been taking care of full time for almost a year now.

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Photos from 2008 are the earliest I can find without search through a million family photo albums.

Daq’s story intertwined with mine when we got a call while being on the waiting list to adopt disqualified guide dogs from the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides in Oakville, Ontario. The foundation thought that they found a good match for our family and asked us to visit their facility to meet her. We knew that she was a black labradoodle, but that was about it. I remember thinking that she was adorable, but that she definitely didn’t look like the labradoodles I’d seen before. She was a bit shorter, rounder, and had wavier hair. The fact that she didn’t look like ‘typical’ doodles didn’t bother any of us. She was a sweetheart and we fell in love with her quite quickly.

I was approximately 15 at the time so my memory may be different than my siblings and parents. I remember thinking that she was so incredibly jolly, loving, and cuddly. We had lost our flat-coated-retriever to cancer at the age of 9 just over a year beforehand and I didn’t want to love another dog again, but Daq made it impossible not to.

At two years old, Daq had apparently been disqualified as a guide dog because she had a chance of hip dysplasia, was too fat, and too friendly. She had been on many diets, but she was always a beautifully stocky girl (more to love). The ‘too friendly’ bit had to do with how social she was and her innate desire to love everyone she meets rather than work and ignore distractions. These, of course, are amazing qualities to have in a family pet and I couldn’t be happier that she is my lil’ failure!

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Photo of Daq this year at age 12 taken by Natalie Wels.

Now, Daq is almost 13-years-old and we’re so in love, I like to joke that our connection is similar to Elliot and ET’s; if one of us is in pain the other is too or if I’m drunk, she’s drunk (refresh your memory of the scene here, also look at the cute doggy in the clip!). Chris and Daq compete for absolute best friend-status with me which Chris doesn’t seem to mind. When I moved in with Chris I would often have Daq come stay with me while he was away working internationally for a month’s time. I missed living with her and loved having the company. This past December, my mom asked Chris and I if we would like to take care of her full time since they had a full house with a Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, my brother, my niece, and occasionally one of my mom’s boyfriend’s sons. Chris had told me he’d been thinking that Daq should live with us because she was getting much older and he loves to see how happy she makes me. That is when our household went from two to three.

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My favourite photo of Chris and Daq from a couple of years ago.

Since then, Chris has fallen more in love with her than I ever imagined he would (which makes me love him more) and we’re a happy family. Even though he’s a bit of a clean freak, Chris was actually the one who invited her onto our bed! She is our friend, our baby, and our cherished pet.

Two months ago she started having accidents in the house, we thought that it must have been a sign of her aging, but that it would be more than manageable. Things became harder when I discovered that she was bleeding each time she urinated. The blood combined with the frequent urination could have been a bladder infection, but with her age it could also have been much worse. Through vet visits with urine tests and antibiotic trials we unfortunately ruled out the infection.

The vets say that she likely has bladder cancer and that it’s a tumor that is causing the blood. Without treatment, she will likely need to be put down sometime in the coming months and I will be there to hold her as she goes. Chris and I hope he will be home too, but know that we wouldn’t wait for him to get home if she was in pain. As long as she seems happy, is eating, and is still able to urinate we are keeping her comfortable and giving her a lot of love.

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Daq the deck builder extraordinaire.

Her ODS (Old Dog Syndrome) is making the process that much more difficult because she barks more (louder and about everything), is grumpier to other dogs, and in general can see and hear less. She has lived a long happy life, and I know that I will miss her so much when I have to say goodbye. Until then, she continues to surprise people with her smiles and personality. As I finish writing this entry, she is asking to go for a walk and being the cute babe that she is.

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Daq doing Sudoku in her old age.
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Sexy back leg that she sticks out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Facts about Daq:
1. She has expressive human/gorilla eyes
2. She loves posing for photos and will sit in front of people if they’re having a photo taken (without being asked)
3. She sometimes (most times) eats and drinks while laying down
4. She lounges across the stairs and shows a sexy leg
5. She does daq-crobatics while rolling around on her back
6. She smiles a lot and has a sense of humour
7. She walks like a dinosaur when she pees and poos
8. She loves to dance to music with Chris and I in the kitchen
9. She refuses to look directly at any piece of electronic technology
10. She’s the absolute best

Life Lesson: If a dog has died in your life and you feel that you could never love another dog again, don’t worry you will. Dogs are innocent, loving, and loyal. Dogs are better than people.

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She made it to my wedding day and it meant the world to me.

A million photos of Daq being awesome:

Our Meet-Cute and Our Partially Chaperoned First Date

(Featured image is December 2012, the first Christmas after we had met)

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Photo by Caitlin Currie.

I married my best friend August 13th 2016, but we’ve been living together for a couple of years now so the newlywed stage doesn’t feel relevant. I tend to believe that I live the life of a Rom-Com as my life is never boring and I sometimes get myself into silly situations.

 

Here is the story of how Chris and I met as well as our first date:
(Chris added his perspective and those comments are featured in bold/green)

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One of my best friends, Lori Anne and I from the wedding. Photo by Caitlin Currie.
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Lori Anne and I singing as our folk duo Darling and the Fox at our local art gallery in 2015.

Chris and I met through friends just over four years ago. I had just gotten out of a two-year relationship and went out to a local open mic that I had once frequented at a pub called The Thirsty Monk. Lori Anne told me that her friend Alex was meeting us there with his friend Tanya, and we had planned on singing that night. As soon as we had arrived and I’d been introduced to Alex and Tanya, I was asked if my friend Mike was my boyfriend (he’d come to hang out too). I told Tanya that he was not and that I’d actually just gotten out of a relationship, she immediately responded with “Good because you’re perfect for my friend Bowman!”

 

 

I hadn’t even had a conversation with this barely made acquaintance yet she thought that she knew I was perfect for some random guy who wasn’t even at the bar? I nodded my head politely and smiled, “Oh yeah?” Throughout the night she continued to rant about him, she showed me pictures from Facebook, and told me stories. She told me that he was a pilot (admittedly a very sexy career) who goes away for a month at a time, but he’d be getting home anytime now. I admit that I was listening, but not taking her too seriously as I wasn’t sure if I’d see Tanya again let alone meet the mystery man “Bowman” (almost everyone calls him Bowman, but I call him Christopher or Chris).

When the next week’s open mic night arrived, Lori Anne and I headed to the pub. Her friend Will was supposed to meet us there, but when we got to the backroom I was surprised to also see the familiar face of a stranger – the Bowman to which I had heard all about one week previous. I remember that he had a big smile when he saw me, he had obviously heard about me too.

I was intrigued by what Tanya had said about Cassy, as she had mentioned that I had to meet her.  I was happy that I went. She had a great smile and was talkative, which helped because I am a quieter person. It made for no awkward pauses.

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Chris with a penguin in Antarctica B.C. (Before Cassy).

Chris is the kind of guy who doesn’t use social media all that much and had a lot less photos online B.C. (Before Cassy), (a good 98% of the photos of me on FB are posted by Cassy and other people) this led to me seeing some distant shots of him in Antarctica wearing a large winter coat, sunglasses, and standing next to some penguins. Impressive, but not a good indicator of what he looked like. When I first saw Chris in person I remember thinking that he was so handsome and I was immediately attached to his gaze.  We didn’t leave each other’s sides much that night as he bought me drinks and I talked his ear off while getting to know him. I likely sang poorly as I was a bit tipsy, but he smiled the whole way through my songs so I felt pretty okay about things. Chris got my number and we had plans to ‘hang out’ the upcoming Monday night.

She thought she sang poorly, but I thought she sang quite well. It also helped that she was really cute. Maybe that skewed my perception of her singing, haha.


Our first date, was a memorable one.

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What I looked like at 21 in 2012 when we met.
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What Chris looked like at 27 in 2012 when we met (in Malaysia).

We met halfway between our cities to go for a walk along the shoreline and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was 21 at the time and my last boyfriend had been a year younger than me. Chris is six years older than I am and at the time, a 27-year-old man (emphasis on man) sounded refreshing. I was absolutely not looking for a boyfriend, but he had something about him that made me want to get to know him more.

We walked up and down a Lake Ontario pathway, talking and flirting, when he got an important phone call that he needed to take. He then explained to me that in the five days since we had met, he had seen a house, put an offer in, and that he was sorry, but he needed to meet his real estate agent tonight! I was so impressed – I later joked that it was a ploy to make him look good on the first date. I tagged along to meet the agent.

I swear it wasn’t a ploy to get her to like me more. I had actually felt bad about having to make this detour mid date, and was hoping that it wasn’t taking away from it too much.

It turned out that we needed to wait longer than expected on something from the homeowners so his agent took us to a nearby Tim Hortons for 40 minutes or so. We had found ourselves unintentionally on a bit of an oddly chaperoned date and Chris’ agent/friend likely felt like a third wheel.

(FUN FACT) Although I’ve been a barista twice in my lifetime, I don’t like coffee, which is why I ordered hot chocolate. To not look even more like a child on my date with an older guy, I decided against using a straw. This attempt at not seeming too young led to my clumsy demise of spilling my hot chocolate all over the crotch of my jeans (I have been known to spill hot chocolate often in my life and struggle to drink it without a straw still to this day). I was so embarrassed that this happened not only on my first date with this guy, but there was a witness – his real estate agent!

For some reason he didn’t call the date off and we went to a pool hall after leaving his real estate endeavors behind for the night. I confidently ignored my hot chocolate-stained denim and actually won the first game of pool, I am still unsure as to if he let me win or not because I have never won another game since. Even after seeing me spill on myself, how overly competitive I am, and how sore of a loser I can be, he stuck around. We parted ways without a goodnight kiss and I wondered if there would be a second date.

Certainly a memorable and unusual first date.

Fun facts:
1. I met his mom on our third date
2. I met his ex-girlfriend of six years on our third date (accident, he hadn’t run into her in 2 years) (This was definitely not part of the plan)
3. The third date was a lot to take in
4. I was just starting university when he asked me to be exclusive
5. He had to ask me to be his exclusive girlfriend about 3 times
6. My mom gave me advice: you can’t control when you meet the right person, if he’s special you’ll give it a shot
7. We dated for 4 weeks and then he was away for work for 5 weeks
8. Dating and being married to a pilot can be hard, but Chris is worth it
9. We’re best friends

Life Lesson: you never know where or when you’re going to meet the right person and if things don’t go perfectly you’re probably just living out one of the most interesting stories you’ll tell in your life!

A collection of photos of us throughout the last four years:

Honeymoon Part 8 – Tuesday, August 23, 2016 – Day 7:

This is the eighth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


7465 Steps

I woke up feeling hopeful and excited that today going to the Picasso Museum would become a reality, but was still unsure of how big of a line there might be on a regular day. We arrived 15 minutes before the place opened and there were only eight other people ahead of us – this was extremely pleasing! By the 9:00am opening time, there were approximately 50 people in line behind us.

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Me in front of the museum before it opened.

The building was beautiful inside, very rustic and castle-like with modern windows and doors built into existing structures. First, we walked through the temporary exhibition which consisted of nearly 100 different Picasso ink prints, mostly dating from the late 1950s and onward. It would have been better if the temporary collection was to be seen last for Chris’ sake, I told him that once he saw what Picasso was capable of he’d respect his more simplistic cubism a little more.

The museum’s main collection is laid out chronologically with small bits of biological information told on the walls going room from room. Chris and I enjoyed reading each bio-blurb that added to Picasso’ life story. These facts definitely added to the viewing experience as we were able to then look for influences in his style within the paintings. Picasso’s artistic capabilities at age 14 were incredible, it makes sense that he got bored of controlled line and colour work and explored freer forms. As a much less accomplished artist myself, I admire his ability to stray from the ordinary and contradict normalcy.

The recommended viewing order of the collection flows as follows: first the rooms take you through stages by location of where he was living at the time, how geography and culture affected his style; then of course through his blue and rose periods; back to Barcelona; and lastly by differing subjects, muses, and series’. It was a really wonderful length and size of gallery that allowed us to see everything displayed without getting bored or tired. I was, however, disappointed not to see Guernica in person, but learned that it is actually housed in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain.

Chris and I left feeling very content and discussed Picasso’s different visual interpretations of vaginas, penis’, bums, and boobs. Chris and I are both adults with strong childish sides, so there was definitely some pointing of fingers and smiles when we looked at Picasso’s print work that resembles a cartoon-esque style of exaggerated nudes. We walked back to our apartment and had a nap.

This was the point in our trip where we had seen everything that we had planned on seeing and didn’t want to spend much more money. We loved loved loved Barcelona, but it was at this moment that we both admitted we were looking forward to returning home to Canada. Living ‘authentically,’ and by that I mean in a small fourth floor apartment with a somewhat shared space and no air conditioning, is seen as charming for a trip like ours, but our home in Canada is what we love more. We look forward to returning to suburbia, we miss our dog Daq most of all, but we also miss the smell of the air, our friends and family, our personal items that we spend our leisure time with.

 

After our nap we had a bit of normalcy, I lounged in bed re-reading Pride and Prejudice for hours while Chris browsed the computer and watched a documentary.

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We had plans to go to Messie Pizza again for dinner. We took the metro and walked the several blocks only to discover with a laugh that it was closed! A sign on the door said that they’d be closed until September 2, likely gone on holiday. Hungry and thirsty, we stopped at a convenience store to get water and a snack while we looked for another place. Many restaurants seemed to be closed and the ones we inquired about could not guarantee gluten free.

We took the metro back to our temporary neighbourhood and got McDonalds, brought it to the apartment, and binge watched Game of Thrones. I was perfectly content with how the night ended as it felt a bit like home, somewhere we would return to in a couple days.

Honeymoon Part 7 – Monday, August 22, 2016 – Day 6:

This is the seventh entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


14489 Steps:

We woke up a little earlier than usual, but still slept in compared to our normal routine in Canada. I had been awake for an hour or so earlier in the morning after having nightmares about Daq’s health, I felt a bit better when I saw that my mom had posted cheery pictures of her and Daq at a dog park from the previous day.

 

We took the subway to Glorias and walked the very short distance to a massive flea market called Encants Vells or Mercat de Bellcaire. It’s a great place to outfit your apartment or get fabric for making your own clothes as a local. As English speaking Canadians, the market vendors very obviously tried to charge us high prices. I also found that the items that would be able to fit into our suitcase were either mass produced or a collection of overpriced vintage knick knacks.

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Mirrored ceiling covering the multiple level Mercat de Bellcaire, photo by Chris Bowman.

I would like to emphasize the power of walking away at the first price. It is very common to be overcharged at these places even if they don’t think you’re a tourist and if you ask for a price, say no thank you, and start walking away – the price will drop almost every time.

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Arc de Triomf, photo by Chris Bowman.

After walking around, we took the subway to Arc de Triomf. Chris claims that the French version is much larger, but this being my first Arc, I thought it quite tall and quite beautiful. I suggest going to this area if you love parks. Around the Arc is a long stretch of plaza lined with palm trees and benches. We ate our lunch here in the shade. We saw a nearby park and decided to take a walk, some museums are in there as well, but didn’t seem to be open on a Monday. We realized we were closer to our apartment than we thought and walked the rest of the way, finding some interesting shops to look as we went.

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Arc de Triomf, photo by Chris Bowman.

We relaxed and drank wine at the apartment. We dressed fancy for a dinner date at a place that we’d heard of called Tapeo, but when Chris looked up their location we discovered that neither of us had checked to see if it was open, and apparently they are closed Mondays.

This leads me to a helpful hint for Barcelona travelers: constantly research where you’re going. We learnt that many stores, restaurants, and most museums are closed on Mondays here. We didn’t want to change and decided to wander our neighbourhood to look for an intimate restaurant.

There are a large number of restaurants in Barcelona, but most weren’t as fancy or romantic as what we had wanted for our date night. We finally stopped at a less than authentic, yet upscale eatery attached to a posh boutique hotel. The restaurant was called Le Bouchon, it was decorated nicely, had delicious tapas, and moderately higher price tags, but we didn’t stay too long as most things were not guaranteed to be free of cross-contaminated gluten.

With some food in our stomachs we continued to wander in hopes that we would find another romantic tapas place that was also, as Chris said and I agreed, “not too big and not too full of people.” We gave up, with many places being closed on Mondays, we retreated to a random casual tapas bar, much too overdressed and tired. We ate a bit more and headed back to the apartment as we needed to wake up for 7:00am to get in line for Picasso!

Photos from our walk back to the apartment:

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Neat building that we passed on our walk to our apartment, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

Honeymoon Part 6 – (Barcelona) Sunday, August 21, 2016 – Day 5:

This is the sixth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


12530 steps:

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Read their policies on the bottom right! Photo by Chris Bowman.

We woke up late today not feeling 100%, but still planning on having tons of fun in Barcelona. The fun night we had was definitely worth it, but we were paying for it now (haha).

 

We got ready and walked to a café that we’d read about online. Chris, being a major coffee buff, was dying to try the place out. It was a quick walk from where we were staying and was very cool inside (not temperature wise, they didn’t have air conditioning). The place is called Satan’s Coffee. Our barista had a very awesome anatomical heart tattoo on her right forearm that had splashes of colour, she was also very nice. Chris enjoyed his coffee, I enjoyed two bottles of water, and then we were off.

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Satan’s Coffee, photo by Chris Bowman.

We walked to the subway, took two quick rail lines (green and red), and walked a little more than a block to get to a brunch place that we’d researched that provided gluten free options called Copasetic. The service wasn’t amazing, but the décor and the taste was to die for. I had a Benedict, Chris had fried eggs, beans, and veggies – both tasted incredible and we were very full when we finished.

Our plan was to head back to the apartment and go to the Picasso Museum. Every Sunday after 3:00pm this museum is free which is why we waited until today to go. I was so excited! We walked the 15-20 minute walk from our apartment and then we saw the line.

It was a line to conquer all other lines that have come before it. We immediately knew we didn’t want to stand in it, but walked along the way to see just how long it went on for – it was insane. The line was longer than any that I’ve ever seen at Wonderland, but about as equal to lines to get into Toronto’s FanExpo. It would have been at least a three hour wait so we decided to go another day and that the entrance fee would be worth a shorter wait. The museum is closed Mondays, but back open on Tuesday so we designated this to be our new Picasso day.

When we got back to the apartment I was annoyed at myself for just how disappointed I was. I researched into other local museums and had hoped that we could visit the National Art Museum (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya)– it has the most gorgeous entrance and a rooftop viewpoint on top of all the beautiful pieces of art inside. BUT the nearest metro stop was a 22-minute walk from the building which seemed a little ridiculous. We were going to make Picasso happen, I just had to wait a little longer.

My bad mood needed a reset, I was hungover and disappointed which made me extremely grumpy. I did not want to be this way on our honeymoon so we had a nap (we’re big nappers).

When we woke up, I was feeling a lot better and we decided that today would be a much needed rest day. We planned to get fast food for dinner and watch “Game of Thrones” (GOT), Chris had been catching up and then we were to watch the latest season together. We walked to McDonalds at 7pm and got our food to go. We laid out our spread and set up an episode of GOT on the laptop. I thought to myself “This is awesome, what an amazing honeymoon” with zero sarcasm.

We had another –entirely different – perfect evening, this time being a lot more realistic and homey. We hung out in a very hot apartment eating fast food, and watching a binge worthy show. We researched for a gluten free gelato place nearby and walked to it. The place was called Gelaaati De Marco and was a 5-minute walk from us.

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The sun had gone down, there was a breeze blowing through the streets and we held hands as we casually strolled through Barceonla. I got one scoop of banana and another of dulce de lece, it was insanely delicious. Chris got banana, peach, and caramel, he loved his too. We sat in a square, sharing a one seater bench and admiring the dogs who passed by. Again, I thought to myself “perfect, this is perfect.”

When we finished the gelato we weren’t ready to head back quite yet so we took a longer walk through the streets and although we discovered some new ones, it was comforting to realize that I recognized the area more (I’m better than Chris for knowing where to go even though he won’t admit it).

We climbed the four flights of stairs for the fourth time that day and were completely content with ourselves. I took a shower, washed my face and we watched a comedy. “The Eric Andre Show” is one of Chris’ favourites that I used to strongly dislike, but now I somehow fully admit to loving, even when he grosses me out. We then found a John Mulaney (my favourite standup comedian) audio on Youtube and listened to it as we fell asleep. 

Possibly for the first time ever, I fell asleep before Chris. It was a beautiful day.

Honeymoon Part 5 – (Barcelona/Girona) Saturday, August 20, 2016 – Day 4:

This is the fifth entry in a series of posts featuring our Barcelona Honeymoon Adventure!


24605 steps:

We woke up early to start our train trek to Girona and rode the metro to Barcelona Sants railway station. We spoke with at least three different miserable employees who didn’t seem to care very much about helping us. We lucked into finding our train despite the lack of assistance we had been given with our mildly confusing train tickets.

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Exterior shot of the newer AVE RENFE train that we rode into Girona.

Our train was similar to those of Via Rail (Canadian) except that this train traveled a lot faster. Spain has a high-speed rail line, Alta Velocidad Española (AVE), which is run by RENFE – it made what was once an hour and a half train ride into merely 38 minutes. On the way to Girona, our train was shiny and new, but very hot inside. We took pictures of the train for our friend Ian who loves them.

Girona’s train station was gorgeous and obviously renovated within the last ten years. It was a lot less busy than the Barcelona station and the staff were much friendlier. Chris and I didn’t know where we were going, nor did we have a map of the city, but we assumed that the station must be moderately central and it turned out that the city had very helpful directional signs.

We walked into the city-centre and came across a set of old outdoor steps. We climbed them, and walked a few kilometers along what are known as “The Walls of Girona.” This upper path revealed a view of endless beauty in surreal cityscapes, but the walk itself looked as if it would never end. Chris and I went back down a set of stairs after some time and were still unable to see where it trailed off.

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At the top of the stairs before we walked the Walls of Girona, photo by Chris Bowman.
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I made Chris sit for a photo too, photo by Cassy Goulding.
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Chris with Girona houses in the distance, photo by Cassy Goulding.
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The Walls of Girona, photo by Chris Bowman.

My post-walk online research indicated that the history of the walls varies between websites. One site curator claimed that the walls were built “between the 11th and 15th century,” while another claimed that they were an “extension of the Roman walls during the medieval ages” and that they are remain as some “of the longest Carolingian walls in Europe (9th century).” 

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Beyond the walls, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Within the Walls of Girona, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Girona rooftops, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.

The picturesque rooftops with mountainous backdrops were incredible – I highly recommend pushing yourself to walk along the walls so that you can see the combination of old and new architecture that exists in breathtaking Girona.

The centre of town contained many community squares and a multitude of expensive boutiques, but we excitedly happened upon a small vintage store amidst a collection of tourist shops. This unique establishment sold vintage books, antique knick knacks, and hilariously irrelevant postcards from the 1950s to today. The shop was called Portal Del Colleccionista and was run by a woman and her toddler – perfect store-keeps for the charming boutique.

For lunch, we searched for a supermarket and bought water, prosciutto, swiss cheese, a peach, and an apple. It was just right for us! We ate under a tree in a nearby square next to a statue of books. We then wandered the city streets and crossed many of Girona’s bridges, but the most beautiful and most famous bridge that we crossed was the Eifel Bridge, built by the Gustave Eifel before he built the Eifel Tower!

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View from the Eifel Bridge, photo by Chris Bowman.
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Eifel Bridge in the distance, photo by Chris Bowman.

Our day trip to Girona was a success and definitely worth the visit, but it was exhausting – some of the most walking we’d done on the trip so far. We headed back to Barcelona earlier than planned, wrote our postcards at the Girona train station while we waited for our train, and tried not to fall asleep as we zipped back across the country by train to the big city.

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The funny post cards we bought.

The intimidating stairwell to our apartment seemed even more challenging after Girona. Chris labeled the daily activity of climbing four flights of stairs as our “Thigh Thruster, Butt Buster, Calf Crusher.” We then drank some wine and listened to music in our apartment.

Spain’s time difference compared to Canada’s forced us to choose between enjoying our cultural environment or waking up in the middle of the night to watch the CBC live coverage of The Tragically Hip concert in Kingston, Ontario. We joked about how horrible it was that we were on our ‘stupid’ honeymoon in ‘stupid’ Spain instead of at home watching the Hip – heavy on the sarcasm here as we were completely aware of how lucky we were and found out Chris’ parents had PVR’d the concert on their TV so that we could watch it at a later date.

We went out for dinner to a Gluten Free Pizza place that we had read about called Messie Sin Gluten. Pizza is my favourite food and the restaurant did not disappoint! They had 26 kinds of gluten free beer for Chris and every pizza was gluten free so cross contamination wasn’t an issue. If you don’t suffer from Celiac disease, Messie also has another location that uses regular dough.

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Feminist street festival on the left and me faux-singing with a paper mache version of the alien opera singer from The Fifth Element on the right.

We were having a lovely time and were ready for an impromptu adventure. The street festival extended to Messie’s neighbourhood and we wanted to see the festival nightlife in action. While Chris and I wandered around the Gracia area we found a feminist street festival that also housed vendors of the revolutionary cause to liberate Catalonia from Spain. Fittingly (activism-wise) a Spanish punk band was sound checking on the stage which struck our curiosity.

Fun fact about my Christopher: he is a pilot who is an excellent photographer, drummer, and he loves punk music. He proposed to me in his favourite Clash t-shirt that has holes in both armpits (I’m trying to convince him to let me make it into a pillow).

The band didn’t start the actual show for another half hour so we wandered through an awesome space street and also found a craft beer shop called The Beer-Ket! We drank bourbon and danced to Los Tronchos with a crowd of friendly Spanish punks.

On our way to the metro, we glided along in marital/bourbon bliss and met a wonderful New Zealander to whom we gushed about our admiration of his country – telling him it is at the top of our travel list. He laughed at us for being so in love with his home country as he was always getting away from it in his travels.

Before going into the apartment we went into one last bar near our place called Nevermind. It was a 90s grunge themed bar, yet they tended to play a wider range of 90s music than that. We each had a drink, enjoyed each other’s company, the music videos, the graffitied/stickered walls, and then went back home to bed.

This was our party night, we are not very wild partiers, but we had a great time!

Chris took a lot of really great photos in Girona, here are more of them:

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Photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.
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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

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Photo by Chris Bowman.

 

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Photo by Chris Bowman.