1 - The writers' retreat organized by my local chapter of Romance Writers of America is a huge highlight of my year.
2 - A visit to my friend Donna's in Toronto. What could be more lovely? I used to be her daughter's live-in nanny, and now her daughter is 23. Time flies, doesn't it? But it always feels good to sit and catch up, enjoy coffee together and eat her homemade cookies with edible gold.
3 - One of best things when we lived in Toronto was the availabilty of cult movies. On a recent trip to The Big City my husband made sure he stocked up on the essentials.
4 - Hanging out on Queen Street West is also a must when we're in Toronto. Especially because my good friend Chris manages Bakka-Phoenix Books at Queen and Spadina. The city was tearing up the intersection during that visit.
5 - Is there any place I'd rather be than in the lobby of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, a glass of champagne in my hand, my dear friend Jacquie by my side and a performance of the Sleeping Beauty ballet just moments away...?
Not really, no.
6 - Well...there's always meeting friends at a funky coffee shop and whiling away an hour or two over cafe au laits and delectable yummies. That's good, too.
7 - It's always exciting to discover the creative things my friends get up to. Like these fun tea cozies my friend Pam knitted, as well as little hats that looked like pumpkins and strawberries.
8 - Since I haven't been invited to the Oscars yet, last year's evening on the town at Haliwood - a Halifax Oscar-themed fundraiser - felt like the next best thing.
9 - My gram's funeral was held this summer in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. This was a beautiful angel candelabra behind the altar. It was a perfect service officiated by a handsome young priest of whom my gram would have heartily approved. A clear, blue-sky day, surrounded by family and uplifted by love - no one could ask for a better farewell.
10 - My dog Xena is a light in my life that can't really be explained. I just love her.
11 - Last year was a particularly sad year for saying final goodbyes - but it was also an odd dream-come-true year where so many things on my wish list came to me. I'm a life-long horse lover without a horse. But I had a serious Barbie horse with a horse trailer and realistic tack, and I had pretend horses I rode whenever we went for a family walk in a park or in the woods. I even groomed these pretend horses in their pretend stable in the backyard.
I've always wanted to go to Vienna to see the Lippizan stallions at the Spanish Riding School. And what do you know - the Lippizans came to me, here in Halifax!
12 - Another thing I've always longed to do was see the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride. Once again, who showed up right here in my fair city? You guessed it!
I've always had a thing for war horses and cavalry, and both the Lippizans and the RCMP Musical Ride are basically cavalry maneuvers.
The RCMP unit even did a charge at the end. A total thrill! In this next clip (which has no audio) the Charge comes at the 1:15 mark.
13 - I took this shot of a sunset at Lawrencetown Beach in very chilly November, a year ago. This is a beach on the Atlantic Ocean, 20 minutes' drive from my house. I played here as a child, and I head out there as an adult because it's one of my favorite places on earth. Ten minutes of walking this beach, and I promise you - all is right with the world.