Friday, January 27, 2012

Norman & Jessica's Destination Wedding + Photography Adventure (Part 6)

First of all, my deepest apologies for being so delinquent over the past couple of months - life sometimes gets in the way of blogging ;) So - without further ado - the much anticipated continuation of our adventure around Ireland with a wedding dress and a camera! (Need to catch up? Here's Part 1 - The Proposal, Part 2 - The Wardrobe, Part 3 - The Adventure Begins, Part 4 - The Ceremony, Part 5 - The Awesome Place We Went for Lunch After the Ceremony)

I know it's been a while, so I'll refresh your memory - in a nutshell, Norman proposed to me a month before we were to be married at Belfast City Hall, we decided it would be a great idea to do our own wedding photography - and to do it all around Ireland on our honeymoon road trip and in Spain while we were there for a week. Crazy? Yes. Awesome? Double yes :)
We arrived in Northern Ireland the evening of May 3rd (after very little sleep in the previous 24 hours), spent the following day running around taking care of last-minute details, and then got married May 5th at 11am (for those of you who love jet lag as much as I do, that's 6am to our Toronto-adjusted selves). In spite of the fact that I think we were running on pure adrenaline (and Love!), it was an awesome and perfect day :) Our plan was to leave the next morning to start our 8-day road trip around Ireland...

Part 6 - Dublin - The Honeymoon Begins

Of course, by the time we went for a walk with Elaine and Yogi in the morning, took a few pictures of my beautiful bouquet - made by Norman's lovely cousin Joanne - 

finished packing, went to Tesco (again!) for groceries, had a lovely cup of tea with Elaine in her sunny back garden, and loaded up the car, it was 3pm (!) so it was almost 7pm by the time we found our hostel in Dublin. This experience of trying to navigate a new town while sleep deprived reminded me of all my attempts to get through Montreal in less than two hours. 

The highlight of our arrival in Dublin was this sign (which is totally real):

The hostel we stayed in was a converted church, and the dining hall looked like it was straight out of Hogwarts :) Notice the backpacker stained glass window..

While checking out the map of our neighbourhood, I found this awesomely appropriate little street nearby:

This is the famous Ha' Penny Bridge in Dublin - getting this shot involved parking illegally and sprinting down the street to do a few quick shots on the bridge while people stood behind Norman looking at me like I was crazy..

... and then sprinting back up the street to the car before it could get towed (not the way to start a road trip!), pausing briefly to get a shot of us together with the bridge in the background. "Ha' Penny" is a quick-talking way of saying "Half Penny", which is what the toll used to be on this bridge many moons ago.

After much meandering, we made our way up to Phoenix Park which is a massive and beautiful park in Dublin. Norman took me to see this field where the deer hang out (we joked that it looked like they were at deer-church). There were tons of them, and they were pretty used to having people around, so we were able to get pretty close before they scampered off.

In case you are looking at this picture below and thinking - as I am - "Jessica, you look very awkward and like you've never had your picture taken before" haha - THIS is why I strongly encourage all my couples to have engagement photos done, so that they don't look this uncomfortable in their wedding photos ;) 

Whereas my lovely husband is totally used to having someone point a camera at him all the time :) Pictures like these next two are exactly why I wanted to do our own wedding photos (apart from the awesomeness of being able to choose our locations as we went and spend the better part of two weeks doing them!) These are two of my favourite pictures that I've ever taken of Norman..

What we don't have pictures of (thankfully!) is the part where we changed back into our driving clothes at the side of the road that runs through the park - of course as soon as you think the coast is clear, random cyclists appear from out of nowhere LOL.. there was of course comfort in knowing that we'd never see them again ;)

It took us another couple of hours to find our way out of Dublin and on our way to Cork - stay tuned for the most hilarious road sign I've ever seen! {click here for the next installment!}

Jessica + Norman

Planning a destination wedding? We'd love to come along to capture your adventure too! Email us to tell us about your plans :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Fuzzy Little Life Remembered

I brought Baby Gertie home to my first apartment the October that I turned 20. She was three months old, and fit easily in one of my hands. I hadn't put much thought into the decision to adopt a kitten (or any other decision I made at that age), but it wasn't long before I couldn't imagine my life without her.
For such a little thing, she could really make her presence known.

She was always very chatty - like her mama - and had a purr you could hear from across the room. She used to sleep on the pillow next to my head, and lick my eyebrows when she thought it was time for me to get up and feed her. Although she looked like a little angle, she had her share of devilish little kitten habits - the ones I remember best are that she would dig all the dirt out of my potted plants every day while I was at school, dart out the door every time I went in or out (so that I had to chase her up and down the hallways and stairs of the building I lived in), and use her sharp little claws to climb up the window screens. If she thought I wasn't paying enough attention to her, she'd hop up on my bookshelf and start knocking things off while looking at me to see my reaction. But man, was she cute.

Gertie was there when I realized photography was what I wanted to do with my life. She was there when I first moved in with a boy, when he and I got married 7 years later, and when he and I got divorced 5 years after that. She was my only office mate when I quit my job and started freelancing, working from home most days. She understood - I think ;) - when I had to leave her with close friends while I went to Northern Ireland to follow my heart. And when Norman moved here from Belfast and we bought a little bungalow, she was very patient (as were Dave and Julie) while she stayed with these same friends during our renovations.

When we were finally all under one roof, she settled in quite quickly - found her favourite chair, figured out the sunniest times to lie in the front window, taught us her favourite game. Almost every day, she and Norman would play "string" which looked a lot like fly fishing and which she was very entertained by until she'd had enough and walked away.
For years, Gertie had been quite shy - hiding under the bed whenever company came over. She never hesitated to let anyone know if she didn't feel like socializing, and taught more than one cat the precise art of hissing. But whenever I picked her up, she purred. She purred like it was possible to be completely content and fulfilled in life just by being picked up by one certain person. In case that wasn't convincing enough, she would start with the little sandpapery kisses that tickled like crazy. I've been very fortunate with having amazing people in my life, but I'm not sure that anyone has ever made me feel as important, unique, and necessary as my Princess Gertie did.

In her "old age" (15 1/2 people years = about 84 years old for a cat), she mellowed a bit with other people, and started coming to check everyone out when they came to visit. She had a croaky old lady voice, and still had plenty to say. If you met her this past year, there's a good chance she even let you touch her before she hissed at you ;) She always knew where the treats were kept, and trained my sister to fetch them every time she walked in the door. She hated car trips, and wouldn't waste any time in telling you how much she hated it - the whole way there.
There was never a time that I unrolled my yoga mat that she didn't take it as an invitation to flop down right in the middle of it. There was never a tin of tuna opened that she didn't think was opened just for her. There was never a cardboard box that she didn't love like it was the best thing ever invented.

If you've made it this far, I assume that you knew Little Gertie. I'm sorry to say that her fantastic little cat life ended the morning of December 29th, 2011. Her death was sudden and quite a shock, but happily the vet told us she didn't suffer. Always very proud of her pretty fur and tail, I'm sure she would also have been happy that she went out looking as if she was in the prime of her life. She stuck around for the party that Norman and I had this past fall to celebrate our recent wedding. She got to visit with my Moms and my sister and her husband over Christmas, and got spoiled with treats and catnip. The last two things she ever ate were her favourite two things - yogurt and tuna juice.
I've had to deal with my share of sadness and loss, but nothing quite compares to the last few days. I keep hearing little noises or seeing things out of the corner of my eye and it takes a second before I realize it's not Gertie. That it will never again be Gertie. It's a strange type of sadness though - the kind of sadness that just makes me so grateful that I was ever lucky enough to be owned by such an amazing little creature. I just keep thinking of things I'm so glad she was here for, and the top of all those things is that I'm so glad she and Norman got to know each other. She was the first pet Norman ever lived with, and they both changed each others' lives in a way that was beautiful to watch.

My heart is full of thanks for many people and the part they played in Gertie's little life - my first husband Peter, for teaching her some much-needed rules and manners and for many hours of playing; my Moms Kezia and Joanne who babysat many times in spite of Gertie trying to trip them at the top of the stairs and other murder attempts; my dear friends Dave and Julie for long-term babysitting (of both me and Gertie); and Kym and Adam for more recent babysitting. My sister Amanda lived with me and Gertie for 4 years with her little cat Benzo who was very patient with Gertie's bossy behaviour, and I thank her for being such a great Auntie.

Most of all, I would like to thank my husband Norman - the self-proclaimed "non-cat" person that he is - for letting Gertie into his heart and for all the hours of playing and learning that she enjoyed with him. He made a video of Gertie and I doing yoga together that seemed a bit crazy to me at the time, and which is absolutely priceless to me now.

And of course, thank you from the bottom of my heart to Whoever it is that matches people up with exactly the perfect kitten, and who made sure that Gertie found me.

Gertie loved life. Most of her days were pretty simple - eat, sleep in about ten different locations, lie in the sun, purr, eat more, play, hiss, sleep more - but she seemed to enjoy it all like it was one big vacation. She was my little shadow, and I hope that even though I've lost her I might keep the lesson of enjoying the simple everyday things. I'm not sure that "regret" is a concept known to cats, but I'm sure that Gertie wouldn't have regretted anything. She got exactly what she wanted out of each day, which is an example I hope to follow as much as possible. 

A friend once told me his theory that the more nicknames a pet had, the more loved he or she was. If that's any indication, "Miss Gertie" aka "Go-Go", "Fuzzy Bum", "Pretty Girl", "Princess Gertie Pants", "Little Gertie", "Boadie", "Baby Gertie", "Gertle", "Gert", "Mama's Girl", "Kitty Kitten", "Gertroot" and "Wee Rascal" was very loved indeed :)

If you have any memories of "wee Gertie" to share, we'd love to hear them below in the comments section...

xo Jessica