Thursday, December 31, 2020

That's a Wrap!

I'm one to never "wish days away," knowing the older we get, the fewer days there will be to enjoy, and never more so than this year, when we've been all the more aware of the fragility of life.  But I suspect just about everyone in the world is eager to kiss 2020 goodbye and welcome a new year of hope. 


A vaccine for Coronavirus-19 may not completely prevent and not cure the virus, but if it helps makes it easier for us to become less sick and return a bit more to normal, then that's a huge gift and a great deal of hope.


 For some, 2020 has been especially tragic with loss of loved ones or income because of the worldwide economic situation due to Covid-19. I know several who have been sicker than they have ever been before, but who have made it through. Others are not so lucky. The constant vigilance -- remembering masks, extra handwashing and sanitizing, disinfecting food, keeping distance -- is critical -- but wearing thin.


We've had tremendous trials this year, beyond the virus.


These and differences of opinion on restrictions during the virus have torn relationships and cities apart.


But I have found certain joys during this year and it would be remiss not to look back and acknowledge those things for which I am grateful, cherished moments, and the things that makes every second of this life I have worth fighting for.

In January, Rick, Kevin and Molly redid my kitchen -- a deeply loved holiday gift! And in February, the new stove arrived! Yes, I'm grateful!

We also were able to see all of Rick's extended family on his Mom's side when we celebrated her 80th birthday in Dallas. (And I got to connect with Laura from Decor to Adore, too!)


 March brought a celebration of 23 years together for Rick and me! 


The next day, we visited friends Suzanne and Jim in Canada. Rick took off for a trade show which was canceled while he was enroute due to Covid. He headed home; I stayed in Canada for a few days and so grateful for those last few days of semi-normalcy! This was my last dinner out, in mid-March.


I'm grateful for these little guys. We didn't get to see them nearly often enough but I treasure every one of those more carefree times in the spring before Covid hit...


...and in the fall before we locked down again.


I became more in tune than ever before with nature and truly appreciated walks to the Ditch and savoring the beauty of nature, feeling relatively safe in my mask outside. Seeing the water birds, deer and new life in the spring was such a gift.


We were lucky -- we had food to eat....


....and a cottage to escape to, which offered spectacular sunsets to take my breath away. 


The change of seasons and the beauty those changes brought with them lifted my spirits in every way. From the first blossoms of spring...


....to the dazzling color display of fall, I was in awe.

Could we have made it through 2020 without the kindness of others? Those incredible doctors and nurses who kept going when feeling both exhausted and hopeless? The scientists who steamrolled through several vaccines? The grocery store workers that allowed us to be able to get food? The other "ordinary people" who helped out in any way possible? Early on it was those who made masks -- not just for those who were desperate for them in the early days of Covid (they did astounding work) but also for sharing them with us.


I appreciated those who offered curb side delivery (and still do!)


And simpler things, like my neighbor taking care of the weeds on my beach at the lake, saving my back!


How could I ignore virtual doctor visits and house calls from my vet who turned Lizzie's lethal paws into carefully manicured, talon-free feet.


We had two occasions for which to leap for joy -- the engagement of one cousin's son, Jeff, to the lovely Lauren...


...and the wedding of another cousin's daughter, Heather, to the handsome Mike. We had to enjoy that on Zoom, but that was OK -- at least we got to see.


Zoom. One of the best things to come from all this was the rise of Zoom so we could connect with friends or attend board meetings. For those who worked, it meant the difference of being able to function while working at home.


I accomplished a lot this year. I completed my 300+ page family history book (or at least the first draft -- I have a few revisions to do!)


I painted loads of watercolors, read lots of books, and paid off my mortgage, which we celebrated with friends at Southern Exposure. Safely!


 I was grateful that I could vote by mail.


And by the results.


And would I have made it through 2020 without this guy?


I don't think so. His January concert was nicely attended and his passion for his music and bicycle makes me smile. No one could have been more supported or aware and conscientious in keeping me safe this year. We have more or less distanced for 10 months. Hopefully the vaccine will let us be closer.

And then there was this one -- the Secret Keeper, the Bed Buddy, The Girl with the Motorboat Purr. She was the one who made me get up every morning because she does not like to start her day on an empty stomach!

It wasn't a perfect year, to be sure. But we're turning the page. It won't fix the losses of last year. Loss of life, loss of experiences, loss of precious time. But pretty soon we will be able to get more of these.


And I can't wait.


 Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Holiday Aftermath

 We prepare, we decorate, we eat, we play, we celebrate. And then we crash!


These post-Christmas days haven't been terribly productive. (The dishes are finally done!) But the holiday leading up to them was wonderful. Different. But wonderful, nonetheless.


We spent Christmas Eve at Rick's. We decided to do something we'd never done before for dinner -- make a tourtiere, a French Canadian meat pie, traditionally prepared in Quebec homes, eaten on Christmas Eve. Ours wasn't the prettiest (we could have used more crust!) but it was filled with marvelous spices. We used Marie's recipe, more or less, but took advice from Monique, who said the spices are what makes it smell like Christmas! It did!


While Rick was doing the lions share of the cooking, I read our Christmas journal with notations from 2002 through last year. 


We recalled current events of those days, those who left us, and were reminded of fun and parties, good recipes and great times. We were also reminded of Christmases that were more challenging, with someone missing because of illness or the year both of us were sick on Christmas day! 

After dinner, Rick made a wonderful bread filled with apples that would be part of Christmas breakfast.


Then we took a drive through our old neighborhoods to look at Christmas lights. There were lots of pretty ones, but this message said it all!


When I went to bed on Christmas Eve, the lights on the "Dad" tree and carols keeping me company until I drifted off, it was a good, peaceful sleep and when waking Christmas morning. I was almost as excited as my first Christmas. Yes, a different Christmas for so many of us. But that didn't mean it was bad. It was calm and lovely. There was time to "be" with it all, whether I was by myself or with Rick.

I headed down the street and before breakfast, we opened one present, from Rick's son, Greg. He had taken cuts from an already downed tree he found in the woods and turned it into the most magnificent centerpiece. 


It's about two or three inches thick, sanded many times before getting varnish and poly. It was a most remarkable and surprising gift.

That went on the table and then Rick made French toast from that wonderful loaf of bread. 

 After opening presents and hanging out, I headed back home. I had a table to set!


This time I went for the more formal tablecloth, one with loads of golden threads. 

 

A few cedar branches, red ribbon, fairy lights and my mom's Royal Doulton winter girl and I was almost ready to go!

 

I just needed plates and yes, party favors. Did you see Patti's candy bar snowmen? Well, those went in Rick's stocking AND on the table!


For a little hint of spring, my paperwhites offered me a special Christmas gift -- lovely, fragrant blooms!

The afternoon was filled with Zoom meetings, first with Rick's family, then with my cousins. 


Rick picked out a beautiful bottle of wine for my stocking. It didn't stay in the stocking long!


And finally -- after the roast should have been done an hour before -- we ate!


We capped off the evening with a Zoom with Kevin, Greg and Molly. Occasionally the toddlers flew by in a state of overtired, over-sugared energy! That, and a snuggle with the resident cat-girl made for a wonderful day.


It was different, yes. We would have loved to see those babies in person (Well, maybe not after the sugar!) or had dinner with the friends we often see on Christmas. But we couldn't. And it was fine.


Now, on to the end of the year! Books to read, things to do!

 

 May the rest of your holiday season be filled with light and love.

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