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!
I had to work a little harder this month to find the positive things. After three months of pandemic worries, we added nationwide protests.
In June, our state and city began to gradually open, but Don and I kept close to home. We went on lots of walks and we talked... about our crazy world.
On June 8, I went for a little change of scenery, 20 minutes from home. From the car, I saw the flags lining Hillcroft. It was the day before George Floyd's funeral service and I felt drawn to see and absorb. It was peaceful and calm. I needed that.
We took a few days to go to our cabin, where there's no TV. Our deck is finally redone and I could sit and read.
We played games and ukuleles and did puzzles...
Don and I have obviously had more time to hang out. We've been making use of different spaces, like the balcony. Sweet rolls and bagels on Father's Day!
We've worked at a few new hobbies, like juggling. It's pretty comical when we attempt to add music to our fine performances! Ragtime... J. P. Sousa! Now, Don is teaching me how to use the speed bag. That's harder than juggling!
Laps and Lounging
The weather in June was perfect for swimming. I've been doing laps and kicking, with my 35 year old kick board!
Then I reward myself with some floating.
In June, I hardly ventured out. But when I did, I wore a mask. I've got some stylish ones to choose from.
I haven't been to a grocery store in 4 months, (thanks to Don) but I finally made the big step and had my hair cut. I had the first appointment of the day and we both wore masks. ( So tricky)
Skies and Water
It's been nice to just enjoy changes in skies and weather. One evening, I spotted a rainbow and that was a treat. I've studied clouds a lot.
We watched turtles underneath this bridge one morning. And I ran through the sprinklers another day. I'm easily entertained.
Connecting with Others
Best of all, we've stayed connected with family. Luckily our kids haven't gotten tired of Zooming!
And we've had a couple Zooms with my siblings and spouses. Everyone wore hats for our last gathering.
I'm eager for this pandemic to end, but I hope the family Zoom connections don't stop!
The month began with a nice surprise.
Even though restrictions began easing up in May, Don and I stayed isolated
We had a lot of backyard time, especially with Cinco de Mayo.
We snuck away to our cabin and isolated ourselves there as well.
Connecting with Others
A Little Nature
The kids' gifts reminded me that you don't have to go outside for nature.
I haven't had plants in the house for years. Suddenly I have these colorful, live things to tend to! It's a perfect time to care for plants!
Don and I had a our own silly holiday party on Memorial Day. We had no urge to go anywhere.
Many around the country were hitting beaches and pools. The idea of mingling crowds made me cringe. I didn't realize that something much worse was happening on Memorial Day...
In these last days of May, I've seen some beautiful sunsets and peaceful sunrises. But these images don't reflect what's happening around the country.
Outrage over the tragic death of George Floyd, has spurred peaceful protests in every state. Sadly, some of these mass demonstrations have led to vandalism and looting... Racism is not a happy subject for this blog, but it's an important one. Luckily I have the "Not So Happy" blog.
So as we leave May behind, we'll try to prepare for this new world out there.
Don and I have some new masks, ready to take on the month of June. We still plan on staying away from crowds, but we need to think about how to do our part. 2020 just got a lot more complicated and we all need to find ways to help.
April weather is usually pretty wonderful in Texas. We often travel this time of year and end up missing out. But, with stay-at-home restrictions, we got to enjoy every single pretty day.
We avoided others on early morning walks and runs. We dared to have a picnic with our own chairs...
And we enjoyed our balcony, which is something we haven't done in over a decade! I can't exactly complain.
Instead of feeling frustrated by my lockdown birthday, I felt a little bit special. Not everybody will get to celebrate a Covid-Quarantine-Pandemic-Birthday this year.
Don managed a funny birthday treat, with cookies and candy and candle. My neighbor surprised me with birthday torte! Very yummy!
I didn't ask Don how he managed to shop. I was excited that I had some goodies to open. The 1000-piece puzzle, was a perfect pandemic birthday gift!
The best part of my day, was a Birthday Zoom with the kids! We like to add a theme to our Zooms... Western Theme for April! Don't ask why.
This month involved a lot more cooking and a lot more puzzle work.
"Alexa" provided us with lots of entertainment, while we cooked and puzzled. There was a lot of dancing in the kitchen in April. No photos.
Masks and Gloves
I wore my mask and gloves when I went out... all of about 2 times in April. (Besides walks and runs)
I wore a different kind of mask and gloves, when FaceTiming with friends.
It was quiet in our house on Easter. But it usually is. Our kids haven't been around on Easter for many years.
So we just invited a bunch of bunnies to our Easter dinner. They graciously watched us dine.
The ukes got played a lot in April.
I wish I could say I've improved tremendously, with the intrument. I have not, but we've had some fun. Don is a very patient ukulele partner. I so wish we could both sing!
This was the best Quarantine April, I think I will ever have!
Beginning the Month
The beginning of March felt pretty decent. Shops, restaurants and museums were all open in Houston.
Halfway through the month things changed drastically. I'm so grateful for those museum visits, in the beginning of the month.
Norman Rockwell: American Freedom
My visit to the MFAH wasn't exactly happy, but I was so grateful to see the exhibit. Reading about Ruby Bridges and her bravery, did actually make me smile.
Seeing the four paintings that represented FDR's Four Freedoms, was very moving. The image on the right, "Freedom From Fear" is very relevant for today.
At the Color Factory, I embraced my inner child with some hands-on exhibits with color.
Now, these happy photos make me cringe a little. On the day I visited, I was in heaven! The art installations were inspiring. Days later, I was worried that I'd put myself and others at risk.
Stay at Home Order
For the last half of the month, we were pretty much hunkering down at home. Spring weather made things easier. I pulled the canoe out for a little fresh air.
Houston didn't officially call for a "stay at home" order, until the 24th. I felt lucky for pretty weather and a home and husband.
We celebrated at home. Then again, we always do on St. Patrick's Day.
We worked on puzzles and painting projects.
We cleaned the garage and found treasures in there, that we didn't remember we had!
We made a little music. The ukuleles got dusted off and the piano music came out.
This has been an odd and eerie month, but we've felt connected with family and friends.
Thank goodness for technology! Emails, texts, phone chats... and Zoom! We had our first Zoom (Tiki-themed) Happy Hour with our kids! Smiles and laughter! Yay for that!
Valentine's & Mardi Gras
We did a little February celebrating at home.
I pulled out a few decorations. Always do.
Off to New Orleans
Then it was off to Nola for the real Mardi Gras festivities.
Don and I stayed with my brother & his wife. We spent a couple days visiting and soaking up the atmosphere at nearby parades. When my neck ached from the weight of beads, I knew it was time to turn in!
After New Orleans, we drove 4.5 hours to Alabama. We spent 2 days visiting museums and sights, focussed on the civil rights movement.
This blog is meant to be about happy things and these visits were sobering. But sharing the Rosa Parks museum with children, was an experience that made me feel hopeful. Seeing the church where MLK served as pastor and seeing statues and memorials being appreciated, made me feel glad for all that has changed in half a century.
Good Food & Good People
In February 2020, there was much to fret about... Coronavirus and election stresses. I can't just ignore the bad.
But I'm always grateful when I look back at a month and remember good things. It was a month of good food.
It was a month of good and interesting people. I'm always thankful for that!
Hanging Out in Texas
Don and I spent a little time in January, relaxing in the Hill Country.
I did some reading and a little trail running, at our quiet hotel...
I also acted like a kid and went down the windmill slide. Our hotel was wonderfully off-season-empty, but I still felt like I needed to sneak up those stairs before a worried staff member caught me. "Sorry, no one over age 60!"
We were close to San Antonio, but we didn't even drive into the city, to wander shops and restaurants along the winding Riverwalk.
Instead, we wandered backroads and found cafes and dance halls, curious shops and fun people.
Back in Sugar Land, I tried to let the new decade motivate me. I created the longest to-do list in history. (instead of resolutions)
At the end of the month, there were very few checks on my list. That's because I kept going back to the things I liked best on the list. Read More Books and Play More Piano!
A decent first month in 2020!
I love a little whimsical decorating at Christmastime! I knew the kids weren't going to be in town this year, but I had some fun making the house festive anyway.
The kids weren't around to help put up the tree... or to blame, when I knocked it over. Oh dear.
Reading, Playing, Baking...
It was nice having a lot of home time, this year. I actually got around to reading some of my favorite Christmas stories. Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" with a cup of coffee, on a balmy morning! Perfect.
I had a little fun playing some carols and baking cookies. I fumbled with graham crackers and a glue gun and invited the neighbor kiddos over to make candy houses.
It was nice to have a few toasts with friends at the house.
I shared some wonderful feasts, with old neighbors and new neighbors.
Christmas in Nola
Our quiet house felt cozy and festive, but we decided to shake things up and celebrate Christmas Day in New Orleans.
We spent two nights at The Monteleone, in the French Quarter.
On Christmas Day, we walked our bags a few blocks to stay in the ultimate Christmas Hotel!
Who does that? We do. Two hotels... twice the fun! At both places, I had to get up at 6:00 am, to get festive photos without crowds.
For someone who loves an old fashioned Christmas, it actually sounds awful to spend a 3-day Christmas, in a city known for partying and drinking.
But the city was as welcoming and happy as I've ever seen it. No bachelorette parties and frat boys were spotted. The weather was pleasant and the locals and travelers we met, were all pleasant to talk to!
On Christmas morning, we made it to Jackson Square just as the bells of St. Louis Cathedral were calling folks to 11:00 mass.
We spent Christmas morning enjoying the sounds of music and bells, church folk and street entertainers. We wandered and absorbed and best of all, talked and FaceTimed with our kids on the west coast. What a treat to hear their voices and feel connected on Christmas morning!
On December 26th, we headed back to Texas.
That evening, we had more Christmas and a few days later, we ended the decade!
Cheers to December and to 2019!
In mid-November, Don and I headed off on a visit to see my Dad in Missouri. We included Oklahoma on the route. Fun to see good old Tulsa, where our family lived in the 1990's.
We spent some time exploring with dear friends, Dan & Kim. We drove to our old neighborhood where our 2 families once lived. We took in Tulsa's latest surprise, the amazing Gathering Place! What a beautiful park on a lovely day, with such special friends.
In Missouri, we spent some time in the town where I have the deepest roots. I never lived in Springfield, but I have endless Christmas and Summertime memories of the town where all my relatives lived.
We enjoyed one evening with a cozy gathering of some of my cousins, aunts and uncles. We spent another day with my 91 year old dad, driving out Route 66 and taking in a little history at a local museum.
Curious Stops in OK, MO & AR
Our route to and from Springfield gave us some options for interesting overnights.
We stayed in a Frank Lloyd Wright "skyscraper", a 1912 Tudor hotel, an Ozark cabin and a midcentury modern hotel. All fun.
We sampled some local favorites at small town diners. Massive pancakes and spaghetti with pickles... hamburgers covered in gravy.
We had a memorable meal at 21c Museum Hotel in Arkansas, where we shared our table (and cotton candy dessert) with one of their penguin mascots.
In a few small towns, we found some wonderful stairs to climb.
I don't think they burned off many of the road food calories we consumed.
We found a few good chairs here and there.
But we never sat very long...
It was November, but it felt like Christmas in Missouri and Arkansas.
I used to complain about early decorations, but it was cold and the festive decor fit!
Thanksgiving for Two!
We made it home just before Thanksgiving. Our feast for two could have felt lacking, but we had lots to be thankful for.
We toasted to the fun we'd had in recent months with family and friends. Most of all I felt thankful, knowing our kids were sharing the day with family in Oregon and California. FaceTime and texts and phone calls made them seem closer.
One nice perk... the post feast clean-up was a breeze!