Year Under Review 2008 (Diane)

Let’s face it – for me, the thrill of posting is far outweighed by reading all of Wikipedia (all!) and finding a half decent banana bread recipe. This is why I can never have a blog of my own. It would suffer the same fate as so many other projects that have fallen by the wayside. This year and every year… But hey! It’s only April.

The beginning of last year seems so far away. I spent a little time with my mom here and there and saw my favouritest show ever, the PreTenors. I signed up for a capoeira class, which turned out to be a ton of fun. I got to try out my Christmas skis twice: Morgan and I took in our last Jasper in January AND a super fun Sunshine/Lake Louise combo. (Note: Grizzly Paw >>> Smitty’s)

In those days I was still working and going to garden club meetings. We had some high school students into the lab, we harvested the greenhouse plants (always good teambuilding) and I even managed to make it to a safety session.

I took a trip out to Vancouver to visit my sister. She introduced me to her friends (and a great little place for hot chocolate). We dined in style on cupcakes, pea soup, MEAT, Vancouver sushi <3, and crab cakes. We brought our style to the beach, Granville Island, and an awesome improv club. Morgan probably got socks for his birthday. (I took him for granted even then.) My dear coworker gave me a tip about a great dressmaker in Chinatown, and I gave up pretending I was going to sew dresses for me let alone for my four lovely bridesmaids.

Then there was March. Last March that is. It was off to Rimbey, Alberta where Morgan’s grandparents celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary (!) and Morgan’s grandpa turned 80 years young! I believe Darse was back on campus for a surprise visit, and by that time I guess he’d poked us enough that Morgan applied over here. And I was invited out for interviews too! Yays! Morgan and I had a whirlwind weekend in Dublin in April, and I learned the secret of a shot of blackcurrant syrup to sweeten your Guinness. Xan showed me around while Morgan was in the office, and we braved the wind in Dalkey and Bray. While in Dublin I also scoffed at Christine and swore up and down that I would get a job as soon as I landed, and here I am – it will be a year off soon enough!

Also in April, I tried getting tickets to see Natalie MacMaster, but instead I discovered Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul, who rock the Queen’s socks by the way. Morgan and I went with our parents and everybody had a great time.

May was especially great because once we decided to come to Dublin, I did my best to use all the massages for the year’s work benefits. Even though it was high time to panic wedding-wise, there was somehow lots of fun to be had with the girls before moving away to enjoy married life across the pond. We saw Terri Clark play at the Rainmaker Rodeo in St. Albert, we had a wedding favour work bee, and the girls treated me to a very creative “hen party” as they say here, complete with fancy coffee, karaoke at a sketchy bar, a cookout, and certain calendar models on duty at Fire Hall 1! Don’t tell Morgan though ;-) There was a garage sale at my parents’ – it turns out you collect stuff after so many years of staying in the same place, and it was time to get rid of some of it (but still keep too much), move it to Morgan’s, sort out what to take and what to store, and then try to prune some more.

And then came the day when Morgan got stuck with me for good. I have to congratulate myself on my great taste, and for keeping him convinced that he’s a lucky guy. I won’t tell him if you won’t! Morgan’s grandpa married us at an old church of mine, which was awesome. I think my favourite moment of the day was when Morgan’s grandpa presented us and the music was queued but we hadn’t sealed the bargain with a kiss. Morgan would not go a step further until all boxes had been properly ticked, and our friends and family got a good chuckle out of it too. It also happens to have made my favourite photo of the day, even though everyone loves the waltz pic. Thanks, photographer Jason! And friends and families of course! It was great to catch fleeting glimpses of all of you!

June also held Megan’s grad, and my last day at work. Possibly forever. Just kidding. Kind of. We were able to squeeze in one last trip to Rimbey and a family dinner or two, and then it was high time for the good times to roll!

July was filled with fun, at home and away! While Morgan went on a photo walk, I hung out at the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market with my mom and sister and took in a pair of matinées at the theatre. Every time I see live theatre, I recall how much I enjoy it. I swear not to wait so long again, and inevitably I forget.

Off we went to Las Vegas for the second Man v. Machine match at the World Series of Poker Expo. I got to be the home movie crew and felt very important. I did my best to be the U of A’s booth babe too, but I think I may have lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. ;-) We saw Cirque du Soliel’s “O”, and a performance by Penn and Teller, and the good people of Vegas’ Fourth of July fireworks from a room in the Rio. Also, the thing I love best in Vegas is the Bellagio fountain display. I took way too much b-roll of that.

We hung around in Vegas for a few more days and headed off to San Diego. The zoo and wandering around the dock in the perfect weather are what I remember as making me the happiest on the trip. Then we went on our cruise – oh, 24h soft serve! I loved the food! Our dining room staff were excellent, and between the meals and the entertainment they nearly made you forget how queasy the motion of the boat made you feel. I heartily enjoyed the shore excursions - ocean kayaking and hiking/zip-lining in a canyon. I loved the towel animals and the wine tasting instruction, but I won’t be easily convinced to cause that much pollution again!

Well, we made it back to shore and back home to pack up, and our friends came over to give us a memorable send-off. Morgan’s mom and sister helped us with the storing and cleaning, and after one last dim sum, we were off to the Emerald Isle!

It was so easy setting up shop here! Darse and Xan were there when we arrived to make sure we made it into our apartment okay, and the experience has pretty much continued in the same tone. We found a lovely apartment by the tram, got our paperwork in order, opened a bank account – all that stuff. And so it was that I began to wonder how I was going to spend my time in between running errands and answering the door for repairs. Everyone has been very friendly and helpful (if occasionally unintelligible), and by this stage I’m even growing fond of the weather.

August arrived, and I met the other expat wives. I must confess that meeting up with the gals has given me that much-needed something to look forward to as the months fly by but the days occasionally feel long. My grandmother passed away in August, after a good long life. She was well-loved and cared for, particularly by my aunt, but it’s still a little sad. I still have her name though, and I’m not the only one.

My massage course at Holistic College Dublin started in September, and finishes this April. It’s a fun group, and the gal who gives the anatomy and physiology talks is excellent. This has been another highlight of the week, with classes every Wednesday and every second Saturday. And speaking of highlights, I got out to the Dublin Fringe Festival a few times with Morgan and the usual suspects, and I went sailing back and forth in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in a one-man dinghy in the fall, because it is so OMGWTFBBQin’ cool to live this close to the ocean!

Darse and Xan took us along to Kildare in October to see the Irish National Stud and the Japanese gardens there. We also travelled together to Kinsale during the Cork Jazz Festival. We stayed at a wonderful B&B, and saw pretty little towns by day, and enjoyed music and food by night. We also saw a stone circle, the Rock of Cashel, Cahir Castle and Blarney Castle together. I took the train back to Dublin to volunteer at the Dublin Marathon and let the others explore the coastal forts, and I have to say it’s pretty inspiring (well, alright, it’s infuriating) how quick some people can move. It was also Thankgiving (in October or November, depending on where you hail from in N. America) and we expats attempted our own celebrations. This was especially fruitful endeavour, as it gave rise to some very nummy turkey paddies and pumpkin pie.

JR was out for a surprise visit at the start of December, and we took pictures and toured the Guinness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery together. I dragged Morgan to hear Handel’s Messiah (yes, the whole darn thing) at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and hunted down an elusive rental tux at the cutest little downtown shop. The company Christmas party in Kilkenny was opulent. I played a hand or two in the team free roll, watched the Cuban cigar rollers and enjoyed a bit of wine and whisky. We walked around Kilkenny town and the castle there, as well as a little church with lovely stained glass windows. Over the Christmas holidays, we visited Morgan’s cousins in Austria, and we treated to a lot of food(!!!) and sightseeing. We saw the oldest town and the fortress at Salzburg, spent two memorable days in Vienna and enjoyed some authentic wiener schnitzel.

I think that about takes us to the end of `08. Here’s a brief preview of `09…

January, there was no posting, in February, no posting either. We had a quick trip home, which was cool. We got a few errands done and saw our friends and families. In February, I started volunteering at Airfield Trust, which is a whole new post. March has been very spring-like, full of wonderful weather and baby lambs! It’s also time to be finishing up case studies for my massage class. Exams for that are in April. May holds a weekend vacation to Budapest, and Stratovarius is coming to town. In May/June/July, Morgan’s folks are here and touring Europe. In August I guess I should be looking around for some work(!) and/or perhaps another course in September. Actually, my family might visit in September, plus we’ve got some friends of ours getting hitched back home. The 30th anniversary of the Dublin Marathon is in October, and I’m tempted, even though it’s a bloody long way. But we’ll see. Can’t be as hard as writing the post in January 2010, right?