2017 Retrospective

Gather around for the great year-end wrap-up! Wherein we discover all of the stuff that we forgot happened during the year. 😉

This year was not as dramatic as last. Perhaps it was a matter of us getting our equilibrium back and adapting to the new normal. The single biggest mover and shaker was Tammy, leaving GEOS and starting her new job at Columbia House College. That’s a nice change: normally when I finish summarizing the year, I’m ticked off because I’ve got a grand total of two or three items for her writeup: birthday and Mother’s Day. It was a real shift to our entire family’s operation. She was working evenings Monday to Thursday instead of short days Monday to Friday. It also was a change in that the College is not downtown. It’s rideable, as the kids and I proved, but certainly not accessible by transit. But the job has been a really good change, even if it means her breaks between sessions are at weird times. She’s even getting to go to conferences.

2017 marked two major milestones for Tammy and I: August 27th was our 20th anniversary, and September 28th was the 25th anniversary of our first date. 😳 That’s amazing.

Tammy also got a new bicycle this year. To make a long story short, she never was comfortable with the drop handlebars and brakes on her Dolce, so now she has a Cannondale Quick with a flat bar. She’s much happier with it.

Which then leads us to Miranda, who immediately grabbed Tammy’s old bike and made it hers. She even joined the Bow Cyclist Club. (I promise, I’m separating the cycling news into its own post, but I thought that was a nice segue!) As a young woman who turned 13 this year, she was by far the youngest member but did amazingly.

She had a birthday sleepover party, with her friends Farida and Sierra. It was a bit painful on the old bank account to have Miranda start her second (and last) round of braces. The first round was mostly about expanding the mouth, and this time it’s getting all the adult teeth in place. She’s been doing crafty things all year, and she and I spent a day learning how to bind books. But I would say her dominant activity was reading, reading, reading! She is still reading lots of manga, but “real books” are being read at a fantastic rate. Good thing we don’t have to pay for parking at the library. 🙂 She continued her piano lessons, but this year switched to a different sort of program instead of the RCM. It is focused on musicality and playing the sort of music she likes. When Miranda’s playing what she likes, she is amazing. This year also had a milestone for her: her first real bank account (and debit card and Apple Pay, too).

Ian’s year was good. Perhaps not flashy, but solid. He started and ended the year with the same basic interests: Minecraft, Duck Life, bike riding and ferry boats. Speaking of ferry boats… there probably was no moment that was more triumphant in 2017 than Ian getting a chance to steer the Queen of Cumberland. It’s right up there with his visit to the top of the Bow in 2016.

He turned 10 this year, and his birthday party, while simple, was a big hit. He also got invited to his friend Ethan’s party. He’s growing, and while still the shortest in the family, he outgrew the Kona mountain bike. We toyed with getting him a junior road bike or cyclocross bike, but in the end got him a Cube mountain bike.

Ian’s interest in video games has led him to learn about the way that they actually work. He and I tried this year to work through a tutorial on how to code games for iOS. It was probably not the right time for it. Perhaps we will give it another go in 2018.

He also spent time at Antosz Orthodontics this year, but it was getting the expander and braces out of his mouth and getting a retainer. When he’s Miranda’s age, it will be time for round two, no doubt. The orthodontist isn’t all bad, though. We got to see a private showing of Star Wars: The Last Jedi courtesy of Dr. Antosz! Ian also got to see a movie showing of Hugo at the Globe theatre downtown with his class. Ian is also still taking piano, and he did very well at the year-end recital. He’s funny in that most of the time we have to tie him to the piano bench to do his homework, but there are times that every time you turn around, he’s at the piano, practicing. When those happen, his playing leaps forward. He was in one of those before Christmas. Since Christmas, it’s been more about Lego and Minecraft.

Myself, I’ve been doing a lot of cycling and cycling-related activities, but there’s been more to 2017 than that. Writing has definitely been a big part of 2017, participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in April and NaNoWriMo in November, as well as two solid months dedicated to editing previous drafts. Related was my restoration of the typewriter that Tammy found in the snow. The bronze medal goes to learning French. I have been using Duolingo regularly and have a copy of The Lord of the Rings (Le Seigneur des Anneaux) that I have been reading. I’m 270ish pages in now…

Speaking of deciphering, I did work really hard on a programming project to create an app to control my guitar effects pedal. In the end, the MIDI messaging stumped me. It bugs me that I failed at it, but it was fun. This Christmas vacation I have been working through the Stanford University CS193P course online, which has been more successful.

I turned 44 this year, and got an Apple Pencil. I didn’t do as much drawing with it as I’d like, but what I did do turned out well. Sister Stephanie has also been flexing her art muscles, with these painting drop-in nights. Tammy ended up using one of Stephanie’s pieces as my Christmas card this year.

We had lots of travel-related news this year. There were the trips to Nakiska, and my various trips for work to Toronto, Sarnia (2), Tech Trek, Toronto again, Brampton, Sparwood, Parkland County, Edmonton and Edmonton again. Generally all of these trips went well, but I did get sick coming back from Tech Trek.

But there was also Zachary’s visit in July. I didn’t expect everything to work out as well as it did when I first suggested it to Stephanie, but it did! The week was over too quickly, but then there was the adventure to Victoria for the Cycle of Life Tour and the trip back home with just Ian and I (where I lost my glasses).

We also had our friends Jeff, Katya and Alyosha drop in on their way across Canada, and Carol started posting pictures from their trip to Mexico this year.

And we did have our traditional trip back to Victoria this year. There was so much that happened on that trip (as usual), including the aforementioned ferry incident, a near-total solar eclipse, as well as a great trip to Pender Island and our 20th anniversary. The Tour de Victoria was not a solo endeavor for me this year, as Tammy and Miranda both took part. (BAD SIMON! No cycling stories!😁)

We’ve been in our “new” house for over four years now, and we’ve had a mix of repairs and improvements. The hot water tank got replaced and so did the roof, so we’re covered on those fronts for a few years. The Ikea sink’s plumbing decided to pack it in (one plastic bit broke) which then led to my best bodge ever. I have since finished the job with the real parts, but that held up for a couple months. The deck continues to be a source of work. Last year was recoating the deck itself, and this year was rehabilitating the pergola.

Miranda had been making noise for a while about changing her room. The final design and agreement on what to do took months, but it got kicked off with re-painting the loft bed for Ian, painting Ian’s room, then her room, then floors, trim, and finally furniture. It looks good.

Speaking of four years, we finally unpacked the china, and got a cabinet to put it in. Which led to a complete re-organization of the storage room. Two major improvements this year were the new wireless network access points and the new bicycle parking arrangement in the garage. Both have improved things around here immeasurably.

And this wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the newest Biickert: Twinkie. She had a rough first few months, but she’s an adorable addition to the extended family. Squeak is now 19, and has been flying solo for over a year now since Nochie passed away. She’s still yowling in the night, but c’est la vie.

I hope everybody had a great 2017. Ours was very full, and we’re looking forward to 2018.