Last month my brother's family evacuated from Nola (and Hurricane Ida) to our home.
This September, Hurricane Nicholas headed towards Houston. Don and I headed to the Hill Country.
We were lucky. It was peaceful at the cabin.
There was no rain.
We returned to Sugar Land to find a lot of sticks in the yard. But we also found happy plants.
And pretty sunsets.
I haven't been able to volunteer with my Quilt Groups in 18 months. But in mid September, I was able to help out with families who have evacuated to Houston from Afghanistan.
There were 20 families living in a Houston hotel. The children had opportunities each day to gather with other kids for games and art, in the hotel conference room.
I've worked with kids before, who don't share my language. But I've never volunteered in a mask before.
It was tough communicating with only half a face. But the kids were gracious and appreciative. Their drawings were brighter and happier than I would have imagined, from kids who recently fled their country. The word LOVE was written on many of the papers.
Sadly, the pandemic continued to interfere with our world in September. The Delta variant... Anti-vaxers... break through cases... led to some changes in plans. I cancelled a trip to Montana. We stopped dining in restaurants. We stayed closer to home again. Not a bad thing.
There was lots of good scenery in the old 'hood.
Towards the end of the month, we found a little something else, that would be altering our world along with Covid. A stress test led to more... and now it looks like this guy will be having a bypass, next month.
That's not great stuff for a Happy Blog. But look at him in this pic! Don was feeling happy, because the decision was made. He was lucky to have a good team of doctors helping him make the best decision. Don is also lucky to be in good health otherwise. Good bye blockage, comes next month.
Cheers for science and living in one of the best medical communities in the world!
We spent pretty much all of August, at home in Texas.
But on the first day of the month, we spent time with this little one in Portland. We flew home on the second.
We were forced to enjoy Charlie's half-year birthday from afar. It seems so long ago that this little girl joined the world on Valentine's Day.
House and Yard
Most of August was centered around home chores.
We finally faced facts that our palms weren't coming back to life.
After 22 years, these tall friends left us. It was at least very entertaining to watch.
Also after 22 years, we decided it was time to face the aging kitchen.
I don't love shopping and I don't like big home improvement decisions. But Don and I spent some time educating ourselves and we are beginning to make some changes.
We had no travel in August, but we headed to the cabin and faced more plants, that died in the winter freeze.
We dealt with spiderwebs and plumbing issues and celebrated over the palm that survived.
It was sizzling hot during the day, but we managed to sit outside and enjoy the quiet evening. Popcorn and martinis! Classy.
After a few months of feeling safe with our vaccines, we were back to worrying over surging Covid cases, in August. More news of the Delta variant and breakthrough cases, made us go back to wearing masks and avoiding indoor dining.
We haven't really done much socializing since Covid began. But we did safely enjoy a few friends in August.
Cheers to friends who are vaccinated and cautious.
On the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Ida made landfall in New Orleans.
A few days before on Friday, Don and I stayed up late watching the news. That's not stuff for a Happy Blog...
But these dogs made us happy. My brother and wife, their niece and the two bulldogs arrived at 1 am. They made a last minute decision to evacuate from New Orleans, on that Friday afternoon.
Waiting and Watching
We spent a few days watching the TV and hoping for the best. On Saturday we toasted to my bro and sis-in-law's anniversary.
On Sunday, Ida made landfall and by evening all of New Orleans was without power. Again, that is not "happy" news, except that we were so glad they had chosen to come. When you have family spread out over the country, it's hard to help during a crisis. It felt so good to have them safe, in our home.
Last Day of August
Here's a photo taken on the last day of August. It's not my most flattering portrait, but I'm smiling behind that mask.
When I met with my oncologist he pointed out the good results on my labs. He looked at my records and said it was time for me to stop seeing him so often. Yay for ending the quarterly visits! What a good way to end the month!
In the beginning of July, we flew to Portland.
Don and I spent 10 days hanging out with Heidi, Jamie and our grandbaby.
Charlie couldn't have been more fun.
5 months is a pretty perfect time to enjoy this little one! Good sleep schedule and no crawling!
Our time felt so different, than the time we spent together last winter. It was cold and none of us were vaccinated, then. We enjoyed those special 2.5 months in a family bubble, but activities were obviously restricted.
What a treat to be together this July. We were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful Oregon weather.
We enjoyed a couple wineries, without sweating!
And we sampled craft beer in the city. Mostly we just enjoyed being together.
After our stay in Portland, we rented a car and headed south towards Sacramento.
We meandered along the coast driving to California and back, staying at 9 epic hotels. We slept in a riverboat and in a few 100-year-old hotels. A couple vintage motels, balanced it all out!
In Sac, we stayed with Scott and Chali. The 4 of us enjoyed cooking and hanging out, just like we did during our last visit. But this time we had fewer restrictions. We got out and explored!
It felt like we'd gone to a tropical island, when we had drinks at Shangi-La.
I felt like we'd stepped back in time, when we wandered the small rural Chinese town of Locke, 30 miles south of Sacramento.
We spent a peaceful morning exploring the historic community, that has changed so little since it began, in 1915.
We had a nice surprise before leaving Locke. We met the photographer of the book, Bitter Melon.
James Motlow lives in Locke. Chali and I each bought his book, which features his photographs from the 1970's. Such a special community.
Don and I soaked up some stunning scenery, in both Oregon and California.
We appreciated it even more, after stopping to buy warmer clothes. Our Texas blood is too thin, for the cooler temps at the coast.
On our trip back to Portland, we had a 2-night stop with my sister and family.
Jennifer and Kate served up some amazing meals. Aly, got us laughing with her "Cards Against Humanity" game.
A heatwave annoyed the locals, but Don and I loved it. We took off with Jennifer and her pup, Charlie. Nice to get out hiking!
Back in Portland we had a Sunday picnic, the day before we left town.
Charlie got to meet her second cousin and all of Jenni and Kate's family. I got to do little more baby holding.
It was wonderful to spend a few hours visiting and feasting on a lovely day. A good ending to a good month!
Friends, Family, Travel
A year ago, Don and I were only Zooming with friends and family. This June felt very different. We drove to Missouri to see Dad and we were able to gather with my Meyer relatives... in person.
We also spent time in Oklahoma, with our old neighbors Kim and Dan. We toasted to good health and to the fact that the 4 of us became grandparents, during the pandemic!
We began our 4-state road trip on June 19th. We learned about Juneteenth when we first moved to Texas, 23 years ago. This year it was declared a National holiday.
Our first stop was in Carthage, Texas where we lucked into a Juneteenth fundraiser celebration. The mood was festive, but the history of Juneteenth (and shirt messages) is sobering. "Juneteenth, Free-ish since 1865"
We met some wonderful people and sampled our first goat sandwich!
In Springfield, we had 4 days to do some catching up and exploring with Dad.
I'm so grateful that Dad and my relatives are vaccinated. After getting home, Dad's facility went back on lockdown, due to 3 residents getting Covid. The covid case numbers are spiking in his city. This is the Happy Blog, so I'll only say... I'm feeling lucky for our 4 days.
We had a few fun overnight stops, on the way to and from Missouri.
It was fun to be back on the road, stopping and exploring.
Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma
The weather was mostly sunny, during our week away.
We explored a few small towns, on foot. Mena, Eureka Springs, Pawhuska... and the small city of Springfield.
We had beautiful weather in Arkansas and Missouri.
We took advantage of the cool temps and sunshine.
We stretched Father's Day weekend, with a couple visits to craft breweries. Don loves them, so I was happy to go along... especially with a lovely outdoor patio.
A brewery in Mena, Arkansas had no outdoor seating. It felt oddly normal to be back inside again. I'm glad we have choices now. Plus, they had some tasty non-beer options for people like me! Cheers to Hard Lemonade Slushie!
After a year plus of hiding behind masks, we found ourselves opening up to strangers again. I enjoyed a converstaion with the owner of our Missouri motor court motel. We discussed our relief of getting vaccines, especially with worries of the Delta variant.
With the young cowboy in Oklahoma, I did not discuss the pandemic. I guess I should feel pretty embarrassed by this photo. Giddy expression and zero social distancing. I'm excited about the near future when I don't feel guilty about spontaneous moments like this.
There's one more sweet moment, I'll remember from June. We made a stop to Maple Park Cemetery, before leaving Springfield.
I forgot to plan ahead, so I had no flowers for the graves of my mom or grandmother. But I found a stray piece of flower in the grass and I built a silly stick structure. I have good memories of stick building with Mom, on summer days of my childhood.
June was a good month. I visited Dad and I visited Mom.
Color Field Exhibit
Don and I started May off with lots of color!
We finally got in the car and drove down to University of Houston, to catch this temporary exhibit.
The weather was lovely and we wandered the campus, spotting bright and mostly happy pieces of art.
Cinco de Mayo
We celebrated May 5th, pretty much like we did in 2020.
We could have gone out this year, but it was more fun enjoying the good weather and fun colors, at home. Green Margaritas and guacamole! Red salsa!
The month of May didn't start well for my daughter. She came down with a case of Shingles. Not easy for a new mama.
I made a quick trip to Portland to help out. It was odd to get on a plane after all these pandemic months. I've never been so grateful for my vaccine. I wouldn't have done this a year ago.
I flew out on Thursday before Mother's Day. Luckily Heidi's illness took a good turn and we had a short and enjoyable visit.
This sweet little girl kept me sighing and laughing. I got in lots of holding time, before heading home on Mother's Day.
Travel for Travel's Sake
For the first time in 15 months, Don and I traveled just for the fun of travel.
We took off on a 4-day Texas road trip and stayed in historic hotels. Port Aransas, McAllen, Gonzales, Castroville.
We had our first inside dining experience since the pandemic started. We ate oysters and burgers and crepes and pasta.
We wore our masks coming and going, since this pandemic is not over. Navigating this partially vaccinated world is odd. I chose to just enjoy the fact that we feel safe and tried not to overthink it. Food tastes so much better on a plate, than in a carryout container!
Our road trip took us to some great hotel porches.
We may be easing back to normal, but we're still very content with a little isolated porch time!
What We Saw
It's kind of amazing how refreshing a 4-day getaway can be.
Change of scenery. That's really all it takes sometimes. Here are just a few little images that are sticking with me, from those few days.
Chores and Rewards
The rest of May was filled with catch up chores. Don continued working with the chainsaw. The oleanders began coming back! There's still so much yard repair, from the damaging winter.
But we've given ourselves rewards and the last was on Memorial Day weekend. Let the summer begin!
I love April
I've always loved this month. This April feels so much lighter and brighter, than the April a year ago.
Since we were vaccinated in March, the world suddenly seems safer. But Don and I are still easing into this world. We spent some time at the cabin. Isolating by choice, is a good thing.
On the day before my birthday, I met up with two friends for a picnic. It's been way over a year since Christy, Shari and I have been together.
We wore our masks when we greeted and hugged. Then off came the masks! We've all been vaccinated. It's amazing to suddenly be together and not worry about safety. Our picnic lasted for hours!
A year ago, I chose a birthday picnic. Even though we brought our own chairs to the park, I remember feeling guilty or stressed. Were we supposed to be staying home? Was it okay to even be in a park?
This year, Don and I had a glorious courtyard lunch at Brennan's, in Houston. What a great way to celebrate my birthday and being vaccinated.
This was our first TX dine-out experience, in 13 months. I was giddy! Or maybe it was the 25-cent martini and Cosmo! You have to love a Friday lunch gimmick like that!
Just like last year, the best part of my birthday, was Zoom. It felt wonderful to see the faces and hear the voices, of our CA & OR kids! But this year, there was an extra Zoom voice! Baby Charlie made adorable squeals and coos!
A week after my birthday, I celebrated by visiting my hairdresser! What s treat to see some of that straggly, discolored hair disappear. It was still frustrating, having to communicate through masks. But the post vaccine world seems so much more relaxed. Masks seems less bothersome!
I hate having no family in town, with holidays. But Don and I still put out the goofy china and threw some jellybeans on the table.
In person is better, but pictures and FaceTime helps! Baby Charlotte made some comical faces on Easter!
Trailer Park Oscars
We didn't celebrate the Academy Awards with champagne this year. We dressed down and had popcorn and Cheetos.
Don and I had only seen one movie, (Nomadland) so we let that be our theme. We wore some of the bling that we recently purchased in Quartzsite, Arizona. Since that curious little trailer town was featured in the film, we cheered on the town and movie, with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer.
Simple celebrating, is something we learned to do well, during the pandemic months.
We had some pretty days in April and some good walks.
We started walking this route during the pandemic. No need to stop that habit ritual.
Don and I spent a lot of time this month, doing yard repair. So much was damaged and killed during the TX freeze in February.
Don put the chainsaw to work on our Oleanders and I've chopped away at the Sago Palms. Then we had a nice surprise at the end of the month!
I never knew that new Sago fronds were so sweet and curly and soft!, Cheers to yard surprises in April! Yay for getting a little closer to normal!
The most memorable happening of this month, had to do with getting vaccinated. Don and I finally got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, when we returned to Texas.
But it wasn't just that Don and I got the vaccine. It was that our kids also ended up getting their first doses as well. After a year of worry, things are lifting.
We began March with chilly weather in Portland. Don and I spent a lot of cozy time with this little one.
Scott had to jump through a few hoops to make this visit from Sacramento. Flying didn't seem like a wise idea, with the pandemic.
Quarantining, Covid testing, juggling work and a long drive both ways! Scott's face looks like he thought it was worth it!
It took forever, but we finally saw signs of spring.
We made good use of the sun a few times. Little Charlie had her first visit to Laurel Hurst Park.
One afternoon, we were able to get the last reservations at the zoo. With one way paths and limited guests, the visit felt very safe. Even with masks on, it was easy to forget the pandemic!
Hardest Part of the Month
The hardest part of March, was saying good-bye to Charlie and her parents.
These are some of the photos that Heidi and Jamie sent in the 2 weeks after we left. Photos and FaceTime helps!
After a year of being isolated and planning cautious visits with our kids, we opened up to more family. After leaving Portland, Don and I spent the night at Jennifer and Kate's.
It was St. Patrick's Day, so we had beer...
And we feasted on Corned Beef and Cabbage... inside with no masks! Both are vaccinated. This is such a new world!
Jennifer and Kate have been grandmothers for over 2 years, but we haven't been able to meet Remy. Before we left Portland, I was able to take advantage of nice weather and drive to WA for an outdoor visit. What a cutie! I can't wait for Remy and Charlie to meet!
Sacramento with "The Kids"
Before the long drive back to Texas, we spent 3 nights in Sac, with Scott and Chali.
We picnicked on the first day of spring. We tiki-ed in the evening, with flowered shirts.
We took a little day trip to the (now somewhat touristy) town of Folsom.
We did lots of walking and little photo posing.
We also squeezed in a little winery visit, which seemed downright decadent after a year of isolating and steering clear of restaurants.
Not only that, we had one more family meet-up.
Our nephew and his family drove up from the Bay Area and we had our first visit in 2 years. It seems mind-boggling after a year of extreme caution. But again, we took advantage good weather for outside visiting.
The Long Drive
Eventually, Don and I were on the road for Texas.
After nearly 3 months of Oregon winter, we traveled through California and Arizona, New Mexico and finally, we reached Texas in time for Bluebonnets!
The Texas Freeze
We pulled up to our cabin on March 25. The Big Texas Freeze of February did a number on our palms and our pipes. We discovered a leak, but chose to save that repair for another time. We headed to a nearby historic hotel and forgot about it... isolated porch, wine...
The next day, we found more busted pipes in our Sugar Land house. Luckily there was minimal damage and we focused on the good news... of getting vaccine appointments.
Ending the Month
There's so much to be grateful for this month. We spent so much of March, with family! Getting a vaccine at the end of a good month, was the the icing on the cake.
We had lots of house issues. (2 days of plumbing repair and a broken washing machine, dead bushes and palms) But we were more excited about celebrating the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel!
March ZOOM Celebration
On March 28, we Zoomed with the kids.
We toasted to the amazing news that we had all had at least one vaccine shot in the month of March.
March 26, 2020
Later, I realized that almost exactly a year ago, Don and I had our first Zoom ever. It was a tiki-themed Zoom with the kids... an attempt to distract from pandemic worries.
What an odd reminder! 12 months ago, we had no idea that we would be celebrating vaccines in a year... or that there would be a baby named Charlotte, added to our group. What a year this has been!
I will always remember March '21, as the month when the fog began to lift!
The month began with waiting. Happy waiting.
Heidi's due date of Feb. 6, came and went.
We had interesting weather while we waited.
A rainbow gave a little hope! (we saw 3 in Feb) The ice/snow started just before Heidi and Jamie headed to the hospital.
While we waited, we distracted with a little some "celebrating". We had some Mardi Gras fun a week early. I wore King Cake BABY earrings to encourage the baby's arrival.
We had a festive feast and watched the Super Bowl, in our ridiculously luxurious Theatre Room, at the Airbnb.
Time For Baby
On Thursday, the doctor decided it was time to get things started. Heidi and Jamie packed up that afternoon. Don and I got to enjoy an early dinner with them before they headed off for the hospital... as the sleet came down.
By morning there was no baby, but there was snow and ice. We waited for news in our Airbnb, since no visitors were allowed due to Covid. H & J texted when they could.
The baby wasn't in a hurry, but we were glad the parents-to-be were safe, at the hospital. The ice storm caused power outages all over Portland. Fallen trees and iced streets made driving impossible.
Don and I couldn't leave if we wanted. Our car (at the top of a hill) was covered in over an inch of ice. Our power went out for a day. The baby was smart, not to hurry things along.
Happy Valentine's Day!
After 3 nights in the hospital, Little Cupid Baby arrived!
After days of scratching out the expected birthdate in the snow, I was unable to make a dent in the ice, by Valentine's Day. I grabbed some branches and candy kisses to capture the date.
Charlotte and Her Parents
Charlotte arrived around noon. I cried happy tears, when Jamie sent the "family photo".
Don and I (and the rest of Little "Charlie's" relatives) were excited to get texts with first photos! The worry of ice storms added to the Covid stress. The fact that we were iced in, made it easier to accept the "long wait" to meet our grandbaby.
After 3 more nights in the hospital, Charlie came home.
Josie, was surprisingly good about the whole thing.
Grammaloon and G-Pop were pretty giddy to meet and hold this little girl! I'm so glad we were able to be a part of this quarantine bubble long enough, to hold our granddaughter safely.
Charlotte has family all over the country, eager to meet her. I'm so happy that on her homecoming day, she was able to make a FaceTime appearance with her Aunt Chali and Uncle Scott. Scott tried to tickle her feet through the cell phone!
The first week was wonderful. Sweet sleeping poses. Sweet baby clothes.
Adorable waking moments and lots of holding!
Don and I reminded ourselves to give space. We planned a long stay so that we could help as needed and give space as needed.
We brought some meals and did some laundry and we visited and cuddled. We spent some of the cold gray "away time" with books, at our Airbnb. We finally had one sunny day and headed into Portland to see the bridges. I pictured Charlotte at 2, watching the bird man, feeding the ducks and gulls.
Last Day of Charlotte's First Month
The sun came out on the last day of the month. We met up with the new parents at Happy Valley Park, which is still in the process of opening after Covid closure.
We walked and talked and even picnicked, while Charlie slept in her stoller. I begged for a 3 generation pic. So happy!
Having a new grandbaby made this cold, pandemic month, so incredibly happy.
But suddenly seeing Heidi and Jamie happily easing into parenthood, is just as wonderful as having a new baby. It's not an ideal time to become parents for the first time, but they have adapted beautifully. So proud!
The year started well. It was a relief to be done with 2020! Don and I left Texas and headed for Oregon, on January 6.
That day was not a good one. This blog is about happy stuff, so I won't share much. We were on the road when we learned from texts, about the tragic happenings at the Capitol.
A few days later we were in Sacramento. I felt extra grateful to spend time with our son and daughter in law, during these troubling times.
We've all been isolated, so it felt wonderful to be together in their home. Don helped Scott with roof work. Chali and I prepped for a virtual baby shower. It was hard moving on, after only 2 nights.
Safe Stop in Eugene
Last summer we were in Oregon, but didn't stop to see Jennifer and Kate. We're still dealing with a pandemic, but we made a safe stop this time.
It felt so good to see these 2! They fed us lunch and we all wrapped gifts... for the virtual baby shower. (J & K offered their address for this complicated shower)
On Jan 11, we arrived in Portland. A month before baby's due date!
There was more to do, than sit around and wait for our first grand baby.
Luckily, the house that Heidi and Jamie expected to move to in October, was finally ready.
We helped them move from an Airbnb rental in the city... to the quiet burbs.
Days later, it was Shower Time. Thanks to some special coordinating by Heidi's sister-in-law and some very special aunts, we enjoyed a cozy day celebrating.
Preparing for a baby is hard, when you live far from friends and family. During a pandemic it's even trickier. But the pandemic brought on a few good things like Zoom. This virtual shower was perfect for these isolated parents. So much support from afar! Plus, it didn't matter that the house still had stacks of moving boxes!
Over half of January, was spent at our home away from home, Airbnb.
We're in the basement of a very nice home. Cooking has been tricky, with only a microwave and crockpot. But we have a mighty fine theatre room.
I feel like we sort of need to whisper half the time, but the view makes up for that inconvenience.
Heidi and Jamie only took a day or 2 off for their move. We've tried not to intrude. Luckily we entertain ourselves well and we packed a lot of books.
And when the weather has cooperated, we've enjoyed some great exploring!
We did have a snow surprise for only one day in January.
The new house got a dusting and the pathway to our Airbnb looked mighty grand!
No Baby Surprises
No early baby arrivals in January.
But that's okay. We've learned one thing after nearly a year of pandemic. Patience. We're just happy to have made it through Jan 2021... all healthy!
The last day of December felt good!
I've never heard so many people cheering about the end of the year!
No parties and no traveling in December. At least for us. Pandemic concerns kept us home and at our cabin. We had fun decorating at least.
All those old favorites were extra comforting this year!
Keeping it Simple... and Odd
We kept things extra simple and didn't bother with a big tree.
I had some fun decorating a stick that fell after a storm. Very classy.
Actually we did take a tiny travel, 2 hours away, for 2 days.
We "camped" in our little Bambi Airstream. Our site was a minute walk away from the an old Spanish mission. Lovely.
I mailed a total of 16 packages this year. Even though all our shopping was online, I wanted to wrap and mail, myself. Next year, I'll rethink that!!
We stayed connected with the kids and other family, with Zooms. It wasn't quite the same as having the "kids" home this year, like we'd expected. But I'm so grateful for these virtual gatherings!
It did feel extra quiet this year.
But we had some extra fun surprises and some extra yummy beverages!
Don kept things stylin' on Christmas morning. By evening he was working with the ham! Very yummy glaze creation!
Lots of people have been drinking more during the pandemic. We just drank more festively during the holidays.
Every year I buy eggnog and every year I throw most of it away. When will I learn?
December Houston Adventure
After Christmas, I made a trip into the city to see it one last time in 2020. I visited Graffiti Park and took photos.
I took off my mask for one photo. Hopefully this time next year our masks will be long gone!
Cheers to seeing faces eventually. Cheers to 2021!
What a treat to finally have the election behind us! So many months of election stress and suddenly on November 3, it was over.
Well, not really. The president continued to fight the results all through the month. But we celebrated! We cheered with the kids on Zoom...
We cheered in the backyard with tiki drinks. We are ready to start healing this country. Ready for change.
No travels for us. The pandemic worries are getting much more serious. We did get out and enjoy a little rural Texas, though.
We found a curious park, with a very curious history. Cross Mountain Park sits high above Fredericksburg. The old cement cross has been there since the 1940's, but the history goes back much further. It felt good to get out and explore again.
Turkey for Two
The weather was lovely on Thanksgiving. We could have eaten outside. Gatherings were discouraged because of Covid, but outdoor meals were encouraged for those who felt they MUST gather.
All our family is far away, so it was a simple decision for us. We celebrated with ourselves. It was cozy, even if it was too warm and sunny for a fire.
I coordinated my colors with my pie baking. (not planned)
I made one pumpkin and a tiny apple. So simple.
Don smoked a turkey breast.
It looked pretty perfect for a turkey breast. The smoky flavor was yummy!
Champagne & Zoom
Our family is scattered across the country, so we are used to Thanksgiving phone calls.
We have to thank the pandemic for making Zooms a part of our lives now. It was the absolute favorite parti of the holiday, seeing family this year! We laughed and griped a little about politics. Then we got back on track and talked about thanks. We have much to be thankful for.
Our little feast wasn't the biggest or best, but it felt just right.
We ate in the dining room for a change. It felt good to be at the old table that I grew up with and our kids grew up with.
Feeling thankful as we end this month.
A Good Month
Even with the pandemic, October is just about my favorite month.
The weather was still warm enough for swimming (lounging) and cool enough for long walks. We spotted a Rosette Spoonbill!
Six months ago when I had my Pandemic Birthday, I never thought Don would be having one, too!
We celebrated kind of like we did last April. A breakfast picnic, then good food, drinks and gifts... and phone calls!
This will go down as the most memorable, important presidential election ever. We stood in line nearly 3 hours on the first day of early voting.
Luckily everyone around us was masked and cautious. Such strange times.
On October 20th, we celebrated our anniversary in mighty fine style. It began with a door delivery of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts!
We were actually in a Marriott Hotel, in Missouri. It was all a sort of quarantining, wait for perfect weather plan, to allow us a safe visit with my 92 year old dad.
Weather was rainy and cold in the days surrounding our Springfield visit. Then, we managed to grab two perfect days.
We also got to see a few fall colors, that we wouldn't have seen in Texas.
It was warm and lovely and Dad seemed relaxed and happy!
We had 3 picnics in two days! After 7 months of daily phone calls with my dad, we finally got to talk in person!
We looked through photo albums and did a little FaceTime. We ate and talked...
... and we just sat and enjoyed the trees and clouds and even a friendly kitten. After months of fretting about whether we should make the trip, I'm so glad we did. It was hard to say good-bye.
We were back in Texas in time for Halloween. We debated, then decided to "celebrate" safely.
I had some fun carving and then I set up my bell-ringing table... not that I really expected kids to be crowding on the porch.
Only a few kids came. I listened for the sound of the little school bell, and threw on my mask. Most kids, like this little butterfly, wore masks too. I scooped up candy with my tongs and it all seemed odd and fun and silly. But that's how Halloween is supposed to be.
Good way to end the month,
There were a couple moments this month, that nearly felt normal.
After a half year of staying secluded, it felt good to enjoy 2, distanced, get togethers. Kids in our pool and coffee at my neighbor's. No hugs, but lots of happy.
Don and I have continued to be overly cautious. We've gotten a few things done with all our stay at home time.
We laid some sod and rolled some paint... and thought about being grandparents, in February!
Drive By Shower
We are far away from Heidi and Jamie, who are expecting in 2021.
But we're only 2.5 hours, from Austin! We were able to participate in a Drive-By Baby Shower, for Leigh Anne and Alex! I joined in a Zoom gift opening, later in the afternoon.
On to the Cabin
We headed from Austin to the cabin for a couple of days.
The weather felt lovely, but the skies were eerie in the morning. Was it smoke? It was a tiny reminder of the many tragic fire worries, continuing on the west coast.
I usually share a "school memories" theme with my senior groups, every fall. This year, I just put my props on display. No volunteering yet.
On morning runs, I passed Sartartia Middle School. The school has been quiet, with kids starting the fall with virtual school. The flag was at half mast for, Justice Ginsberg. That made me smile and run stronger.
Walks and Runs
The weather began to cool just a bit towards the end of the month.
Don and I were amused on one walk, when we found stuffed animals lurking from a tree. In Pecan Park a sign reminded us that beating trees to get pecans, will cost us a fine!
It's been an odd beginning to fall, with Covid and some crazy election behavior!
I relieved some stress by writing out 60 postcards to encourage early voting. I also made my own little donkey shrine. I happen to love donkeys anytime of year, but this year they're getting a big spotlight!
Pandemic Family Time in Oregon
August 2020 will never be forgotten. It was the month for gathering with our kids, after nearly a half year of pandemic worries.
We planned carefully, so that we could spend time together without masks!
We rented two isolated homes in Oregon. A week in the mountains and a week on the coast.
We figured it would be wise to change up the scenery, since our vacation gathering would be about hanging out together... not sightseeing and restaurant dining.
We ordered curbside groceries and cooked at both places.
Everyone pitched in, with some memorable feasts.
Since planning holidays is so uncertain we decided to do some early celebrating. One day we had our favorite Christmas casserole. Another day, we celebrated a sort of comical "Thanksgiving in August", around a too small, glass table.
Hikes and Walks
We didn't stay completely isolated at the 2 houses. We got out and enjoyed some pretty amazing scenery.
Oregon has a little of everything.
We had no birthdays to celebrate during our August reunion...
But we celebrated some even more exciting news! Heidi and Jamie are expecting in February!
On the first night together, we learned the news about "Baby Girl Hurst". A few days later, a kite at the beach announced it.
Till Next Time
After months of Zoom gatherings, it felt wonderful to spend time with the kids, in person.
On August 25, the kids set off for their homes in Portland and Sacramento.
Don and I headed back on the road towards Texas.
We're used to road trips, but pandemic road trips are very boring. No diner stops. No chats with curious locals. It's boring, when you take the fastest route home.
Tiny Tangent in Santa Fe
It was hard saying good-bye to the kids, with no idea when we'll meet up next. It made our dull drive seem extra long.
So we allowed ourselves one night in Santa Fe. It felt like a safe oasis on our long dusty drive. We felt safe and relaxed, at the luxurious La Fonda Hotel.
First Restaurant Meal since March 7
In fact, we were so pleased with how the hotel handled Covid-restrictions, that we dined at the outdoor, terrace restaurant.
After days of eating cheese & crackers in hotel rooms, our New Mexican feast was divine! Our very first restaurant experience in nearly half a year!
August was a good month. Hugging the kids was the very best!
Keeping it Festive
Pandemic worries only got crazier in July, so we kept our simple home routine.
Instead of focusing on current times, we channeled old fashioned July 4th celebrations. Lots of food and decoration and a cake in honor of my grandmother. She would have been 124 on the 4th!
Don and I cranked up some Sousa marches and practiced our juggling skills.
Thanks to Covid, we've finally learned how to juggle.
There were no fireworks in our community this year. We watched some on TV. Odd to see celebrations around the country... with no people.
We did step out after dark and spotted the "Full Buck Moon". Perfect!
Our biggest patriotic celebration, came on the day after the holiday weekend.
We voted in the Texas primary runoff election. I've never been more eager to exercise my right to vote, as I have been in recent months!
The hot July temps made it trickier to keep the yard and plants from shriveling. Let's just say, I haven't killed too many.
I had a hard time attracting the hummingbirds. Was the heat warming up the nectar, too hot? Finally the tiny birds came!
We had some cabin time, away from TV and internet. Yay, for ukuleles.
The pool got lots of use in July... probably the most use, since the kids moved away from home.
We've been missing family this summer, but we've had numerous Family Zoom times!
We didn't get to celebrate with this sweet gang in person, but we toasted to 3 birthdays in early July. Another family Zoom came a week later with a couple more birthdays.
Yay for birthdays! Yay for technology!