Our dear friend Karen passed gracefully this week after a short battle with cancer. She was 59 years old, and damn, did we ever have some good times over the years! Karen was my oldest friend that wasn't invited to our wedding, because she and Nick had not quite started dating yet.
When I first knew her, I was hugely intimidated - she was whip-smart, opinionated and confident, which terrified me. Karen was fiercely intelligent, with a passion for argument and was not afraid to speak her mind (she and L got into some good discussions). Our men were and are best friends, so we were always hanging out together, but because I was very insecure at this point in my life, I kept her at arm's length - I liked her, but we weren't friends. That came later, and is my only regret: I wish we had been friends sooner.
I spent some time going through our pre-digital photos - actual photographs! - looking for all my pictures of her. I want to be able to share these and process my profound sadness at our loss, but also record some of the amazing times we had, and all of our wonderful friends. Forgive my indulgence; it's in the name of love.
Dates are subject to my admittedly erratic memory.
So! To set the stage, here we are in 1997. This is our Christmas party (L and I hosting) in December at our first apartment - I spy some Christmas decorations on top of the ginormous TV. L and I have been married since March, not even a year!
This is at Casey's divorce party, in the fall of 1997.
This is at my 30th birthday party, at L's and my apartment, in October 1997 - I can tell by the black crepe paper on the photo on the right. I threw a Funeral Party "for the death of my 20s" - we all wore black and it was quite fun.
Karen and I slowly bonded over being silly together. We were both game for any dress-up situation, as you can see here from Hallowe'en 1998. We are at an insane party at the Bay Street Armoury (we partied near actual tanks!), in the women's bathroom, which had water all over the floor and stank to high heavens. My costume soaked up a lot of that, but I was rather inebriated, so it didn't bother me overly.
L and I have now moved into our current condo - it's Christmas 1998, as I can tell by the silver icicles in my tree (this back when I used to own plants).
I love it when our friends make themselves at home.
|"Nicky, bring me that Premiere magazine."|
"And a glass of wine, your Indoors?"
I think this is at Kelly and Melanie's for New Year's Eve 1998.
Hallway shot, at the same party.
One of Janet's infamous parties at the big loft. Her parties were legendary, from the "Night at the Playboy Mansion" to the "House Swarming" of '98. This is from around 1999-2000, somewhere in there. I don't have a lot of pictures from this era, for some reason. I probably just never got around to buying film!
Same party, hanging out in the kitchen.
I think below is from L's birthday party in 2001, and oh my, that's our kitchen and wow, it's ugly! Note:
- Track lighting
- Original '70s cupboards (painted pale yellow) with original hardware
- Padded floral "tile" wallpaper
- I'm happy you can't see the sparkly "brick" linoleum and bright yellow counters
- It was like this when we bought our condo!
here (crank it and dance!). We played a lot of funk, mostly Parliament, that night. Andrew, Arnold and Karen in our galley kitchen. We call this the Gauntlet, as you have to go through the Kitchen Party crowd to get to the fridge.
Same party - this picture of Karen and Nick just makes me laugh. Oh, Nick, you are a scamp. Love those shades!
This is my birthday party in October 2001. The theme was Goth.
Same party - must have been a good one, judging from all the beer cans around.
One of many times we were at Swan's Pub on a Friday night.
Aw...I love this picture. This is at L's birthday party in 2002, I think.
I'm wearing a fake tattoo - this is many years before I got all inked up. I had red hair for a long time too!
Christmas party 2002 at our place (note the hideous green walls and wall-to-wall carpeting). I don't put my Christmas tree(s) up anymore due to Vizzini. I value all those beautiful ornaments too much to leave them with him for longer than a few minutes.
This is at L's birthday, in 2003, I think. Nick's getting grey on the sides there.
Same party, using a black and white disposable camera (remember those?). A few months ago, I found two CDs tucked into a box - when I checked, they had a bunch of pictures on them, and I remembered that when I got the photos developed, it included the CDs. Thinking I would never use them ("Why would I want digital pictures?"), I just set them aside. I'm so glad I kept them!
I think this is from our friend Chris' second wedding (to Tracy), back in 2003? This is at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel (the old one).
L, Karen and Steve at the October Birthday Party in 2004, for all of the many October babies we knew. L is doing another fez/smoking jaket outfit (with a shiny gold tie!), Karen is in a gorgeous halter-style flapper dress, and Steve (one of our people guys) is in his Team Canada hockey jersey.
(Not to mislead you: L and Karen loved each other dearly, but sometimes differed in opinions. I still will run from any conflict).
Chris (also an October baby), brought a literal October baby to the party: his third son, Owen. Karen looks dubious.
- Vintage (original to the building) pineapple chandelier
- Cat scratching post (we still have this - it's lasted through 3 cats)
- Another long-dead plant
- No curtains
When Karen and I finally clicked as friends, it was from our mutual deep vein of silliness. This is such a classic shot of us laughing our heads off. No offense, Chris, but neither of us were/are all that keen on babies.
|"And then the baby LOOKED at me!"|
I'm wearing a beaded cream sweater, a long black satin skirt and Nine West pumps (those were my dressing up shoes for years, back in the days when I only owned a few pairs of shoes!).
This is from one of our most memorable parties: the Lame Superhero Party, for L's birthday in 2004. Guests were requested to come as a superhero, and to come up with a name and silly ability - we gave our prizes for Best Lame Name and Best Lame Ability. I made all kinds of signs like that "Ka-Pow!" one and stuck them all over. It was hilarious.
Decor note: Yes, those are dragons on that shelf. L and I painted them.
For your amusement, here's me as The Full Minty.
Nick and Karen all gussied up - we met at St. Ann's Academy for our friend Zeb's wedding in 2005ish?
Another party in 2005-6, maybe? Goodness, that was maybe not the best choice of colours for repainting our kitchen, in hindsight. We renovated it again in 2007, thank goodness.
- Terra cotta walls
- Kraft Dinner yellow cupboards
- Malachite green counters
- Pineapple on the counter? That's a messy party snack.
Thank goodness Karen is classin' up the joint!
This is Christmas 2006, another houseful of our fabulous friends.
This is the evening of my big 40th birthday bash, in October 2007. Kelly's looking on while Karen peruses the very photo album that most of these pictures came from.
From our place, we all headed down to Swan's where I hosted a big gathering of our favourite people: family, friends, work colleagues. I'd just done the Victoria Marathon, a goal that I'd been working towards for over a year - the sign in the background is one that Casey held up to cheer me on.
After 2007, my life changed so much, all for the better. All of the fun women I'd been meeting and getting to know over the past year+ became a tight-knit group of friends (the Winesday Women). I started blogging in the spring of 2008, following the purchase of a digital camera. Going digital, I took far more pictures, and many more of our good times were recorded on on my blog (with dates!).
Well, there you go. I hope y'all enjoyed that - I'll be doing 1-2 more posts with pictures from the last 12+ years, later this week. Thanks for reading!