Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 - a year of resistance...

Well, what a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year that was, thank the lords that hellish twelve months is over. In a year when decency and democracy in America were threatened by the orange buffoon and his corrupt regime, only the signs of resistance, friends and family kept me sane and hopeful for the future.

Goodbye 2017 it's time to wipe the slate clean
2017 in the sand
Just like many people lulled into a false sense of security and complacency we realized we had to act to make our voices heard in 2017, especially as Green Card holders you pay your taxes but are not allowed to vote in any elections.

Women's March in Downtown L.A. on January 21, 2017
Womens March Downtown LA Jan 2017
In January a day after the inauguration of the new president, we ventured Downtown to join literally hundreds of thousands of women, men and children at the first Women's March, to peacefully protest the outcome of the election and the threats to women, the LGBT community, the disabled, to healthcare, freedom and democracy itself from racists, misogynists, homophobes, bullies, religious extremists, corporate fat cats and Russian colluders.

Huntington Botanical Gardens in Pasadena at the end of January
Huntington Botanical Gardens cacti
At the end of January we were joined in L.A. by my parents after they'd been on a three week cruise from the U.K. and showed them the sights of Southern California again, including Huntington Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica and the Huntington Botanical Gardens.

Cheering on friends and 2017 L.A. Marathon runners
Cheering 2017 LA Marathon runners
Sadly my running has been scuppered of late by a bad back and multiple bulging discs after running too many marathons too quickly, so I've spent most of this past twelve months trying to recuperate and rebuild my core. Whenever I try to run it just makes things worse, but that didn't stop me cheering my friends on as they ran this year's L.A. Marathon in March.

Mirage House Palm Springs at beginning of April
Doug Aitken Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
At the end of March we took a trip to Palm Springs and rented a house with friends, and aside from the usual fun and sun we got to see the fantastic mirrored Mirage House installation by Doug Aitken.

Downtown L.A. Tax March on April 15 to get
Donald Trump to release his tax returns
LA Tax March Sesame Street protesters
By mid-April we were hitting the streets again for another protest in DTLA, this time for the Tax March. Even with the latest GOP tax scam we've still not seen any sign of Trump's tax returns, so we don't know the extent to how much he profits from it and who he owes money to. Again we marched with thousands of people and chose Sesame Street t-shirts because of the current administration's desire to defund PBS (and arts and education in general).

Visiting California's Poppy Reserve in Antelope Valley
California wildflower bloom Antelope Valley
The next day after the rally we decided we needed some beauty in our lives and went for a visit to Antelope Valley to see the orange poppy bloom.

Cooper turned 9 years old on April 18, 2017
9 year old Labrador Cooper
In April we celebrated our boy's ninth birthday and here's the obligatory party hat photo, for which Cooper was handsomely rewarded a special birthday chew. This year our aging Labrador has become our very own therapy dog to get us through all the daily trauma. There's nothing a smile or tail wag can't solve, and when he deigns to snuggle up to you, your troubles seem to melt away for a time.

La La land in concert at the Hollywood Bowl on May 26, 2017
La La land concert Hollywood Bowl
In May we joined thousands of people at the Hollywood Bowl to enjoy La La Land in concert, accompanied by the film's composer, an orchestra and singers and dancers from the Oscar-winning movie.

L.A. Resist March at LGBT Pride on June 11, 2017
LA Resist March LGBT Pride June 2017
We continued resisting and showed our LGBT Pride with over 100,000 protesters at L.A.'s annual Pride festivities. This time the usual parade through West Hollywood was cancelled in favour of a march to show that gay people will not be silenced, hung by our necks, or erased from history (even if you remove us from the 2020 Census) and that we will continue to fight for equal rights no matter what this homophobic administration does to oppress us, or remove support for our community by firing the HIV/AIDS advisory council.

Cotswolds countryside sunset in June 2017
Cotswolds countryside sunset uk
Also in June we ventured back to the U.K. for our annual trip to see friends and family and got to enjoy, or suffer, a very British heatwave on our travels from London to the Cotswolds and to Wales and back. We arrived back just after the horrific Grenfell Tower fire in West London, which highlighted the widening gap between rich and poor in the U.K., so the U.S. isn't the only country with problems, especially with Brexit creating turmoil in Europe.

Mamma Mia: The Musical at the Hollywood Bowl in July
Mamma Mia Musical Hollywood Bowl
As is often the case we didn't plan to go to the Hollywood Bowl as much this year, but somehow we managed to get invited to several additional events this year starting in July with Mamma Mia: The Musical, which was a fun night under the stars.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
at Hollywood Bowl at beginning of August
Indiana Jones Raiders of the Lost Ark Hollywood Bowl
In August we returned to the outdoor amphitheatre to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark accompanied by a live orchestra soundtrack. As it had been so long since I'd seen the 80s movie, I almost forgot how handsome a younger Harrison Ford was and what an entertaining film it was, back in the day when we knew what Nazis to punch.

August heatwave in L.A. led to some amazing summer skies
LA Summer sky
The temperatures soared over the summer and even though we got to enjoy spectacular sunsets, it's no wonder we've had so many wildfires at the end of this year following all the rain at the start caused new foliage growth and it all got dried out.

Watching the U.S. solar eclipse on August 21, 2017
Solar eclipse watching
In August I was one of many who got some special viewing glasses to enjoy the solar eclipse in America from a neighbour's rooftop.

Giant-hunting in Huntington Beach at the end of August
Clash of Clans Giant Huntington Beach
Throughout the year I continued to build my billboard, costumes, props and photography business and even ventured down to Huntington Beach on assignment to hunt for giants that had washed up on the shore.

September visit to Palm Springs
Palm Springs retreat
In September we ventured back to Palm Springs for a long weekend break with visitors from Europe and started house-hunting in the desert town for our own getaway pad.

Victoria & Abdul Q&A at ArcLight Hollywood
with Dame Judi Dench and director Stephen Frears
Judi Dench Victoria Abdul Q&A ArcLight
This year I've continued to see as many films on the big screen as possible, over thirty at my count, plus enjoy Q&As with stars and directors at ArcLight Hollywood, like seeing the wonderful Judi Dench after her latest historical drama, Victoria & Abdul.

Beach visits, BBQ's and wine-tasting in wine country
Fess Parker winery vineyard
In addition to summer weddings, we also went wine-tasting at Fess Parker winery on the Foxen Canyon Trail and had a BBQ with a big group of friends in Los Alamos Park, preceded that same day by a visit to Hendry's Beach in Santa Barbara with Cooper along for the ride to meet everyone.

We installed a new kitchen in our Chiswick flat in London
Kitchen renovation
New gloss grey Kitchen
Whilst all this fun and games was happening stateside, back in Britain we were having a sleek new kitchen fitted in our Chiswick flat in West London. It was nice not to live through all that mess and dust personally, and the end result looks great.

Having fun as a Liberal Snowflake
at West Hollywood's Halloween Carnaval
West Hollywood Halloween 2017 costumes
For Halloween I took my resistance one step further and became a literal 'Liberal Snowflake', it felt more appropriate than being a basket of deplorables (my friend was inspired by this year's Twin Peaks TV revival). Be sure to also check out all these other fab costumes at West Hollywood's annual Halloween festivities.

Experiencing Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrors at The Broad in November
Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrors Broad
In November we took in some culture, and ventured to The Broad in DTLA to see the visiting Infinity Mirrors exhibit by Yayoi Kusama.

Celebrating Thanksgiving with our first time to the Big Island
Waialea Beach view Puako Hawaii
For Thanksgiving we jetted off to the Big Island in Hawaii and stayed at the Lalamilo Bungalow right on Waialea Beach in Puako.

Snorkeling at Two Steps in Hawaii
Two Steps Honaunau
Staying with a group of seventeen people we enjoyed great food, fun hikes and several excursions around the island, including snorkeling at Honaunau Bay which was teaming with a huge variety of colourful fish.

Visiting the green sands at Papakolea Beach
Green sand Papakolea Beach Hawaii
Another day we ventured even further south and enjoyed a wild, windy shuttle ride in the back of a rusty old truck, which could have tipped over at any second, to see the infamous green sands at Papakola Beach and swim in the ocean with fantastic waves.

Enjoying the gayest of Christmases in West Hollywood
Rainbow Christmas Tree Mickys WEHO
In December we were back in West Hollywood for a gay old Christmas, although it's always hard to be festive when the temperatures are soaring and the raging California wildfires are filling the air with soot and smoke. Plus knowing that people are still being evacuated and fearing for their homes.

Celebrating Christmas Day as always with Cooper
Christmas Labrador presents
Even though I seem to have had a perpetual cold ever since Thanksgiving, we had a lovely Christmas with Cooper and friends once again.

At the end of every year I like to look back and see just what I've been up to for the past twelve months, to take some time to reflect, and gather my strength to face another year.

To infinity and beyond in 2018
Hapuna Beach Hawaii
In 2018 new challenges like the end of net neutrality could really hamper my blogging business,
which I've built over the past ten years, severely jeopardising my income, so much for championing entrepreneurship and small business.

Therefore it's all the more important that we get better representatives in power that actually care about people's lives and not just giving tax breaks to big corporations and the rich to help them get even richer (including the Liar-in-Chief himself).

On a brighter note in March we'll celebrate ten years of being here in L.A., so there's that to look forward to, plus a visit from my niece who'll be 20 and last visited when she was 11.

I'm thankful I live in 'liberal' California and I hope that in 2018 more Americans in every state continue to stand up for freedom, liberty, decency, equality and sanity (and that toddlers fighting don't get us all nuked).

Let's raise a glass to the New Year and hope that the next twelve months don't cause me to drink as much as the last...
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