Traveling during Covid is worrisome. But we learned how to make it safe, last August. Now, we're traveling during a pandemic, during the most worrisome time since 9/11.
Two days ago, I woke at 5 in our hotel and turned on the news. Only a few hours earlier, Congress officially certified Biden's victory.
Thinking on the Road
On that Wednesday morning, we were on the road before sunrise, headed for Arizona... brains swimming with all that took place less than 24 hours ago. So many questions.
How has our country reached this point? Why was there so little security at the Capitol? Why didn't Trump speak out right away, against the attack? Why hasn't he spoken at all to Pence or shown concern for those who died? Will they invoke the 25th amendment? How safe will our country be on Inauguration Day?
Also, there's still a pandemic in our world.
We're traveling like we did in August. Picnics instead of restaurants. Lots of spray sanitizer for restrooms and hotels.
The scenery was refreshing when we hit southern California. The southern route helped us avoid risky winter weather. It also took us right through L.A., which is ahout the worst place in the country to be right now, after the post holiday surge of infections.
I had to force myself to stop thinking about all the what-ifs. I've read reports of overflowing hospitals in Los Angeles. Patients lined up outside, while workers find bed space... No car accident in L.A. please!
But we made it to our family oasis in Sacramento and all worries melted away.
Scott and Chali have stayed in their safe bubble for weeks, knowing that we were coming. They kept their tree up, so we could feel festive. We saw our silly grand-dog, Lola!
We had 2 heavenly days together. Don helped with a roof project and I helped Chali with some virtual shower planning... for her sis-in-law, Heidi.
We went on walks and ordered food delivery and drove around Sacramento. It's still a pandemic gathering, but we enjoyed each other!
We did talk about the current mess in D.C., We all need to vent a worry together. But we kept it to a minimum. Mostly we enjoyed this brief visit and planned for the excitement ahead in coming months.
I'm so grateful that we've all stayed healthy.
On the Road
It's been less than a week since I griped on this blog. On Jan. 1, I vowed to stop my obsessive daily posts. But today, I need to rant.
The day actually started well. We left our cabin, in a car jammed with 2 months worth of stuff. So excited to see our kids out west! I spotted a sweet church in Mason. We stopped in London, TX so I could mail a letter to my dad. All felt good.
After lots of logistical planning, we were on our way. The scenery was drab but my thoughts were nice. Our grand baby is due next month...we'll be seeing CA kids soon... then OR fam... 2021 is going to be better!
I stared out the windows and let the signs amuse me.
I chuckled at the sassy message, to drivers in Texas. I rolled my eyes at numerous Trump signs, proudly displayed near ranch entrances. Then, I grinned as we passed the exit for Warnock Road. Warnock! Hours earlier we had learned, the election runoff results in Georgia. Reverand Raphael Warnock, became the first black senator in Georgia.
Counting Votes at the Capital
By noon, we were out near Ozona, Texas with spotty cell service. I was able to pull up NPR's live coverage of congress, counting the Electoral College votes.
I had no idea what was just about to unfold, at the Capitol.
Pence, then Biden...
I squinted at my phone and watched Pence preside over this extra stressful process... due to numerous objections. The vice president looked anxious. (Trump has not been pleased, since his VP essentially denied his demand to help overturn the results of the 2020 election.) The comments below the video were flying, along with emojis. My eyes grew weary after a while.
But I ended up being glued to that cell phone for hours, when I learned about the horrifying happenings at the Capitol. After hours of texting, I returned to NPR Live and saw President-elect Biden addressing the nation. "...our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we've seen in modern times,"
Calm Before the Storm
Earlier in the morning, it had felt so peaceful driving along in the middle of Nowhere-Texas. I'd been texting with friends about the surprising election results in Georgia. We joked about the tedious coverage of the vote count. Suddenly, Shari texted, "The Capitol is on lockdown! Protesters are breaking down police barricades... scaling walls, tear gas..."
I scrambled to find news on my phone. Were these pro-Trump protesters? They were in the building? The news was happening so fast, I couldn't get updated info on my phone. But, all our friends and family are at home, during these pandemic days... near TVs. So we got nonstop text reports.
The Rally Before the Storm
I barely took note earlier, when I heard that Trump was expecting to have one more rally in D.C. this morning. No surprise that he would make one last attempt, before Congress gathered at the Capitol. But when I heard what he told thousands of supporters, it suddenly made sense what happened later.
"We will never concede... We will stop the steal...You will never take back our country with weakness..." He made it clear he was furious with Pence, He encouraged the crowd to walk with him to the Capitol to overturn Biden's victory. Trump of course did not march. He returned to the White House and watched his supporters storm the Capitol on TV.
Don and I finally reached our hotel in New Mexico and turned on the TV. It was close to the 6 pm in D.C. Crowds still filled the streets, despite a 6 pm curfew. Eventually the live coverage paused, to share images and footage of what had unfolded, hours earlier.
How could this be our country? Angry crowds with in MAGA red, carrying confederate flags and Trump flags... scaling walls and breaking windows.. spraying tear gas...ransacking..looting...occupying offices. Congress and staff rushing to safety.. hiding under furniture... putting on gas masks... Chaos!
We ate dinner in our room and tried to absorb what had happened on this day, that had started well.
I felt anxious just watching the news in a quiet hotel room. How did it feel to be inside the building, when the mob's voices and shouts were heard? Confusion and panic. How may thought they might actually be killed? Was it like a plane going down, with people texting families? I can't imagine the horror. Yet, after hours of enduring the terrorizing invasion, Congress returned to their jobs, to finish counting votes.
Words of Comfort?
I'm ready to go to bed and try to sleep. It's hardly fair that I will sleep safely, while lawmakers work through the night, in a space filled with broken glass and violent memories.
It's even less fair, that the president has been safely tucked into the White House for hours... tweeting his helpful words.
But no more tweeting now. Evidently he's been cut off.
First Day of 2021!
I woke at 7 on New Year's Day, fretting about all I needed to do. It looked cold and wintery out the window. A good day to finish putting away Christmas decor and packing for our trip.
Before I started, I read a Happy New Year text from my brother who lives in New Orleans. It's fun to know that we all are waking up to a new year, wherever we are!
My brother shared an amusing photo, revealing some sidewalk litter from the night before. No beads, no confetti. Just a discarded Buc-ees face mask. NYE 2020!
Boxing up Xmas
I headed upstairs to box up decorations. My phone lit up while I worked away. More people are wishing "Happy New Year!" this year, than ever before!
I stopped to text with a good friend and learned that her family dealt with Covid (as in very sick) over the holidays. For so long it has only been friends of friends. Now the pandemic is everywhere! Vaccinations are in our future, but not soon enough.
Back to Work
I put the phone aside and went to work on mugs. Why so many for 2 people? Because I love having options during these pandemic times!
While I wrapped up the mugs, I thought about our trip ahead. In 3 days we'll head west to help our daughter and husband move and prepare for their baby. How can we make this trip safer than safe?
I finally got all the Xmas boxes into the guest room closet. Then I suddenly remembered I have a box under the guest room bed...
I've been meaning to get to these old clothes! It was the best interruption, thinking about when baby Heidi wore these, years ago! Will Heidi and Jamie even want these for their baby girl? I don't know, but I'm going to wash them just in case.
After a fun distraction with baby clothes, I got a text from another friend and learned she'd received the vaccine! I was thrilled for her! She's been one of the most cautious and concerned people I know.
But I'm also confused. My friend isn't a frontline worker and she's younger than me. She heard about a local center with vaccines and simply made an appointment online. We texted back and forth and then I got back to work. My mind is boggled with how this whole distribution thing is going to work out. Different states with different plans. And it's extra complicated, since Don and I will be leaving our state, soon. Oh man.
Then it was time to do a little more packing. How do you pack for 2 months? We've never been gone more than a month. Since we'll be quarantining for a while, I figured I will need a few books.
How to decide? I got all these wonderful books for Christmas!
I stopped and studied the cover of "The Human Comedy", That reminded me that I hadn't called my dad yet. (I gave Dad the very same book for Christmas)
Our daily phone chat was a nice distraction. We talked about the book and and the author. Dad remembers reading short stories by William Saroyan in the Saturday Evening Post, when he was a kid.
As we talked, I had an idea. I asked Dad, "Do you know what we did on New Year's Eve in 1967?" He of course didn't. I dug quickly and found my diary from 5th grade.
I haven't heard my dad laugh that hard in a while. I started reading about our 1967 celebration with the Betts family. Then I jumped around to different dates. My writing was awful, but Dad and I could visualize every silly thing I wrote about... we stopped at Krispy Kreme after church... David made me laugh so hard, I spit out my milk all over the table... it was a rainy day, so Dad put a big carpet in the garage so all the kids could play...
It was much more fun reading my lame diary, than talking about vaccines and being on lockdown.
My day was full of stops and starts. At 5:30, Don and I sat down to have a glass of wine. Then we both looked out the window and the sky distracted us!
We left the comfy couch and headed out to see the first sunset of 2021! It was a beauty.
So the new year has begun and I will slow down with these ridiculous daily blog posts. I'm going to stop documenting every single day. I'm going to enjoy a sunset or two without interrupting the moment, with my camera!
That's it for now!
Anxious to End 2020!
Everyone has been eager to be done with 2020! It would actually be fun to celebrate with others, this year. It's a big one. Kind of like the countdown to 2000!
But this is the year of all year's to stay put. We celebrated at home, like most people. Later in the evening we watched the "surreal" New Year's Eve celebration on TV. There were no crowds.
Starting the Day
We woke to a dark morning with gushing rain. My cell phone alerted me to a tornado watch until 3 pm.
Later I got a text and then a voicemail, alerting me that our county was in the RED level, for Covid risk. It seemed like a fitting New Year's Eve, for this unsettling year.
Instead of Resolutions
I could have taken the rainy day and reflected on our year. But it's depressing thinking of all the sad and the bad of 2020.
I could have thought about the things I've accomplished, but that would have led me to thinking about all the things that I did not achieve in 2020. So... I allowed myself to think for a moment and then I dragged out the dusty sewing machine. (I had to use the guide book, because it's been so long!) Then, I started the bib project I meant to start 5 months ago.
Champagne and Dancing
At 6 pm the evening began. Don shot the cork across the yard and we used my new tripod to capture our toast. We didn't actually get off the couch to dance.
Instead, we let Fred and Ginger do the dancing on TV. We turned off the TV sound and and cranked up some New Orleans jazz. That's the kind of entertainment we've grown to love during these isolated months.
Reverse Seared Filets
After some texting and phone chats with our kids, Don got to work with his cooking skills. Don has definitely become a better cook in 2020!
He did an amazing job. I love living with a chef!
At dinner, we toasted to the end of 2020.
We talked only a little bit, about our plans for 2021. The world is still uncertain and it's hard to plan. Suddenly we know more people who have recently had Covid. The distribution of vaccines is pretty messed up. Who knows about 2021?
We do know that we'll be welcoming our first grand baby in February! And we know that with careful planning, we'll be with our kids before too long.
A year ago, we dressed up and rang in the New Year at a party. But most of our New Year's are spent at home watching the crowds in Times Square.
We did the same old thing this year, but it felt a little odd. The public was obviously not allowed to gather.
Only invited guests were allowed to be present for the ball drop. I'm not sure how these frontline workers were chosen, but it was a nice reward for some.
There were so few people in the streets, that the cameras kept showing the same people. I started to feel like I knew some of these guests. Even with masks, I thought some of the faces revealed thoughtful expressions. What were these people thinking?
It was awkward and sort of funny, at midnight. A few couples attempted a "kiss" with masks. It looked like they forgot they were wearing masks. There was probably a lot more eye contact at midnight than most years!
We made it! I'm glad Don and I (along with our family) made it to 2021, in good health.
Don and I also made it (awake) to midnight! The anticipation wasn't the same as greeting 2000, 20 years ago. But it felt good to be awake to say hello to a new year!
I just wish the year could be a blank slate and we could start fresh, with no pandemic or political worries. But it will be better year! We'll step into 2021 with caution and lots of hope!
This is the news from yesterday. I heard the death count was actually much higher. Hurry up vaccines!
We're doing about 1 million vaccines a week. This could take 6 years at this rate!
This post is from early December. It's scary that yesterday, we lost more people than we lost on 9/11.
But what's really scary is that there are so many of these record breaking days!
There's little I can do about those numbers today. I will turn on music and start putting away Christmas.
A good distraction. I smile each time I pick up one of my favorites.
And I mope when I put them away in boxes. I've never put Christmas away, before New Year's
But we will be on our way soon. Heading off to help our daughter prepare for their new baby. Leaving our quarantine home and heading off to quarantine again.
Good things ahead... if we can stay safe.
2 Weeks and 2 Million
It's been 2 weeks since the first (non trial) American was vaccinated. We've only vaccinated 2+million.
We all wish this could go faster. The number of Covid patients across the US is the highest it's ever been. Things are expected to get much worse in January.
I was pretty jealous of Don's email this morning. It's starting to look like things are really going to change!
Don's eager to get his, but it's not really clear when. Distribution has become really complicated. I just hope my 92 year old dad can get one soon.
So Trump says it's up to the states to administer the vaccine. "Get Moving!" he says. I guess that's all the encouragement he has to offer. He's been in Florida, playing golf every day.
It's confusing as we talk to our family and friends all over the country. We're hearing different stories about who gets vaccines first. Luckily everyone in our family is eager to take the vaccine. It's mind boggling that many out there say they will refuse.
Or will they, when a vaccine is offered?
I'll stop with the sarcasm in 2021. I think.
Escaping the Burbs
In recent pandemic months, many people have been fleeing crowded city housing and moving to the suburbs.
Today, I was itching to leave my Sugar Land suburb and drive into Houston. I've been reading about the pandemic inspired artwork, that can be found around the city.
As I headed downtown I felt excited to get out of my safe little bubble-burbs and see some city color. "This is a safe adventure." I reminded myself. "I'm putting no one at risk.
Once in the city, I took a few pics from my car window. Then, I scolded myself. "Great. You'll get in an accident and go to the hospital and be part of the problem." Every safe outing is questionable these days.
Even before I reached my destination, I spotted lots of curious scenes out my window.
I had plugged "Graffiti Park" into Google Maps. I've never been to this large lot, in Houston's East End.
So many colorful walls and so much paint! I parked and felt comfortable getting out of my car, when I spotted a couple families taking photos.
Some of the murals were dated, but they hardly needed dates. It was clear that these images were inspired by the happenings of 2020.
This little star was way above my head. "Give me 50 feet." Hmmm?
I hate selfies, but I had to do at least one snap, with my mask and this wonder painting by Blanco.
I took the silly selfie, then walked over to the wall, with blue sky and wings.
A workman in an orange vest saw me attempting another awkward selfie. He laughed and offered to take my picture.
Oh dear. This is why I stay in my bubble. I didn't want to be a snob and say "No thanks." I didn't want to be unsafe and hand my phone to a stranger.
But I answered "Sure." and I stretched my arm out to hand over my phone.
Stupid? Maybe. He took some photos and handed my cell back. I thanked him and grinned big behind my mask. I went straight to the car and out came the hand sanitizer and wipes. My phone and hands have never been cleaner.
I can't wait for the day when I no longer cringe, over a friendly encounter with a stranger!
The Best Gifts
This is what I should have been sending this Christmas.
This is where my energy should have gone. But I made things complicated.
Post Christmas Mailing
Christmas is over, but today I headed back to the post office. It was quiet on Sunday and I used the self-serve machine. I paid $9.98 to mail a package to my dad. The gift to Dad was nicely wrapped and shipped by Amazon. But in my rush to order, I sent it to my house by accident. Oops.
This photo is from my first of 5 post office trips, this season. I hope in my rush, I addressed all those Christmas cards correctly.
"Slow down, Beth." (I can hear my mom)
I'm not the cause of all mail mistakes.
But, I'm trying to be patient. 6,000 postal workers were infected last week and online shopping is up about 40 percent. There have been weather delays. I'm so frustrated, though.
All my shopping has been online. I tried to shop early so I could receive purchases, inspect and wrap before mailing. Nice idea, but I made some bad shopping choices.
I didn't know these cute little lamps were coming all the way from China. 2 battered boxes in an envelope. Instructions in Chinese. I gave up fighting this one and sent the lamps as bonus gifts to the kids.
I sent boxes of wrapped gifts to everyone this year. I also ordered some gifts straight from Amazon. I've totally boggled my mind, trying to follow tracking! Way too complicated.
It wasn't until I mentioned something about the crazy Chinese lamp to my daughter, that I realized she and her husband never received our box of wrapped gifts. Waaa! I want my kids to have their goodies!
On December 6, I told my dad to keep an eye on his mail. I was sending him an early gift. Something to read during the holidays, while on quarantine lockdown. It never arrived.
On Christmas Eve I sent a whining email to the online book business. I thought I'd been burned once again.
The business owner wrote back a long note that made me stop and think.
Well, I felt a little guilty and wrote back.
"...I do apologize for not taking the time to think about what your world is like. I have been burned by a number of online businesses, since before covid, So I was a little afraid... After I sent my reply to you, I looked on your ratings and I saw right away that you have baby pleased customers. I should have done that earlier, then I would have just relaxed and known it was slow mail... can only imagine how busy... dealing with stressed and impatient customers... hope things change in our world soon... I hope you can finally rest! Stay well!"
Quick Reply on Christmas
So enough of all this. Done shopping. Done complaining. Done worrying...even over the packages still floating around!
We've had more Zooms than usual, with the holidays. Even after months of Zooms, I still fumble a bit over the technology. Then I have to find the right spot and light... and I have to think about what I'm wearing and if I have make up on. Even my ears have gotten lazy. They don't like it if I attempt to put on some earrings for a Zoom.
On the 23rd we Zoomed with good friends. I raced home from a doctor's appointment and struggled to start up the Zoom that I'd set up. Why do I make this so hard? But in one minute, we were sipping our drinks and enjoying our old neighbors, like old times. It was so worth it! It's amazing how lifted we feel after a good Zoom visit.
Sibs on Kwanzaa
The day after Christmas we Zoomed with my 3 sibs and spouses. It's never easy finding the best time, since we're in 4 different time zones.
My younger brother got on for a while, but the reception was poor and the delay made things comical! But oh how wonderful to see family and feel a little bit together!
All my memories of adult holidays, include phone calls coming and going. Wonderful, but complicated interruptions... lots of passing the phone around. So instead of lots of holiday calls, we had a few organized Zooms, this year. So much more relaxing when it's planned. What a treat!
It's been an odd year of feeling isolated and yet more together. For those of us who live far away from family, it's been a year of connecting.
I gripe sometimes, but I hope Zooms don't disappear, when Covid disappears.
Christmas for Two
It's really not that big of a deal. Don and I know how to do Christmas for two. It's just knowing that we were supposed to have the 4 "kids" in Texas this year.
Our tiny Norfolk pine looked kind of pitiful this year. But at least we went ahead and put up stockings. They look a lot plumper when the kids are all here, helping us play Santa.
I must admit, it felt pretty relaxing to just lounge around and open gifts slowly.
We had lots to open, thanks to online ordering. Besides an item or two from CVS or the grocery store, every gift was ordered online this year. It was a treat having an excuse to not join the shopping crowds. It was also a complicated mess of delayed and wrong orders.
We kept it simple I made a breakfast sweet from scratch. It wasn't great.
Omelets in the morning and ham in the evening and a delivery of cheese cake from Cheesecake Factory. That was some covid silliness. That dessert cost more than our other meals combined.
Christmas Covid Jig
We had "Alexa" playing Christmas music all day. Some Smoky Mountain Christmas music, inspired a bit of a jig.
I also needed to show off my new boots.
Cozy Zoom Time!
We had a nice gathering with the kids mid-day. We girls wore our polar pants, that Chali got us 2 years ago.
What a sweet time, remembering our last Christmas together in 2018!
By the time the sun went down, Don made us cosmopolitans and the house started smelling extra good.
Don made a special ham glaze and I made the sides. Dinner in the dining room at the big table.
We checked the mail later and discovered a small package we'd missed yesterday. Scott and Chali had sent bonus gifts for all. Masks and Christmas crowns!
We missed a fun Zoom photo with the 6 of us in our Covid Christmas attire, but we texted our toast later!
Christmas Eve in the Past
I love a lively Christmas Eve with "the kids", but that's not always possible. We are in Texas and they are on the west coast. Don and I still enjoy celebrating together, but it helps to get away from the quiet house.
We've avoided a couple lonely Christmas Eves, by traveling for a night or two. New Orleans last year and Galveston 5 years ago.
Three Years Ago
The kids were supposed to travel to Texas this year for Christmas. But we're all staying safe in our homes. Three years ago we were all together on Christmas Eve in Thailand.
Chali and Scott had their Thai Wedding ceremony on Christmas Eve. That will go down as the most memorable Christmas ever.
Christmas Eve Reunion
We know many people are traveling and gathering, this year. Some are being selfish and stupid about it. Others are taking lots of precautions with testing and travel safety. But it's easy for us to just stay put... and Zoom Away!
In the early evening we Zoomed with the kids in California and Oregon, as well as Chali's family in D.C. Some of us wore some Thai clothing. I drank from my Thai tea cup.
We reminisced about the wonderful time we spent all together. And we cheered about the future with vaccines and new president... and a new baby coming into the family in February!
A Christmas Reading
We had a special treat before we got off the Zoom.
Scott read us the Texas Night Before Christmas, with the appropriate twang. Only 2 of us were really in Texas this year, but it still felt like we were all together.
No Masks Needed
Don and I hardly needed masks, being tucked away in our own home.
But we had some festive ones, so we took a selfie while we made a toast.
"A Merry Covid Christmas Eve to All!"
Christmas Eve Eve
Today is the day before Christmas Eve. I only had the TV on for 5 minutes, this morning. I refuse to be reminded all day of Covid and politics.
In 5 minutes I learned that nearly 85 million are traveling over the holidays! I saw that Dr. Fauci got his vaccine and that covid death rates are soaring. And what's with about anti mask protests?
I also learned that Trump slammed the stimulus bill and granted clemency to 20 more people. Besides the turkey in November, I believe all these people pardoned, have some personal connection to Trump.
No TV News
So the packages and cards are mailed. Cookies baked. Time to enjoy books, music and movies.
There's more time this year. I finally get to read some old favorites, before Christmas.
We've been watching classic Christmas movies every night. This one has been my favorite for 30+ years. It's long, but I'm delighted and moved by this movie, every year. I know what's coming, but the emotions always surprise me. And I always see things I've never noticed before.
Each year I hold my breath during the scene when young George Bailey confronts his distraught boss, who has just received news of his son's death. I'm always glued to the intense emotions of these characters, but this year I absorbed something that I missed in the past. Mr. Gower's son died of Spanish influenza. New meaning, this year.
Jimmy Stewart's performance is alway powerful, but this year it seemed even more wrenching. Seeing his character suffer and rage and cry, seemed fitting for this stressful year and season. Seeing the joy at the end, offered a welcome lift. Hearing the voices singing Auld Lang Syne was a nice reminder that we're moving closer to the end of 2020!
Mostly it felt wonderful to see the Bailey's home, filled with warmth and smiles. Generous friends pitching in, offering support. Caring people, hugging and crowding close together. Lots of hope in the end of the movie and lots of hope at the end of this year! Light is at the end of the tunnel! A new year and vaccines coming!
Homesick at Home
Don and I are at home, but I feel homesick for the kids, when I play the piano.
When I play "Douglas Mountain" I think of the kids when they were small. Heidi started singing along when she was very young. After Scott was born, we had more voices! Lots of loud jingle bell times around the piano in December! The kids got wound up with Christmas music, but this song always calmed them.
Last night, Don and I watched Meet Me in St. Louis. It's our favorite. We met and married in St. Louis. The kids were born there. I love being transported back to 1904 and imagining how St. Louis looked, when my own grandmother visited the World's Fair.
The scene where Judy Garland sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, always puts a lump in my throat. Garland's character sings to her little sister on Christmas Eve, days before their family plans to move away from the city they love. The song's title doesn't suggest the melancholy feeling of this song.
I remember watching this same scene, the Christmas after we moved away from St. Louis... moving our kids away from grandparents. Even sadder that year.
The Song Today
But this year, the lyrics have even more meaning to more people. Having a merry little Christmas... sounds like the simple, low key approach that most of us are aiming for.
"Next year all our troubles will be miles away..."
I hope so! We've all been saying Next Year, an awful lot lately.
"Faithful friends who were near to us, will be dear to us once more... Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow."
Oh my. Next year...
World news is mostly stressful. U.K. is "halting Christmas" due to new coronavirus strain and Trump is talking about invoking martial law to overturn election results.
But there was some good news on TV today. On this day of Winter Solstice, we were told that we'll be able to view Jupiter and Saturn, overlapping! First time in 800 years!
It's being nicknamed the Christmas Star, even though it's 2 planets not one. At 6 pm, Don and I stood out on the patio and stared into the evening sky. We spotted the "double planet", just as a jet appeared to pass it by! I couldn't capture it well with my cell phone, but it was clearly spotted the rare "conjunction"!
We've had some fun treats in the sky during the covid months. We've spotted full moons and space stations and Blue Angel flights. It's been fun to spot sky moments with family and friends far away. I so wanted to share the Christmas Star with our kids out on the west coast, but they had clouds in Oregon and California.
Oh well, maybe we'll all catch it together in another 800 years.
It gushed all day long, yesterday.
The house felt dark and cozy. I liked that.
Yesterday, the news felt dark and eerie... instead of dark and cozy.
So now the U.K. is dealing with a new variant of coronavirus? And some people are having severe reactions to the vaccine? Well, you can always dig up bad news. I'm keeping the news off.
It was beautiful and cold this morning. There was steam coming off the damp bougainvillea.
We set up the new fire pit. Too cold to swim. Just right for a fire.
Water and Fire
There's something so calming about watching flames. Staring at water is also relaxing.
So Don tossed on some logs and before long we were staring at flames. Across the lake, Christmas lights were glowing over the water. Such a treat to have a little of both for our Covid Christmas Countdown.
I've sent more letters and cards in the last 9 months, than I have in years.
I've mailed off some of these goofy old postcards, that my mom used to collect. (but I'm keeping my favorites!)
Tough Cards to Write
As if the pandemic isn't heavy enough, many have lost a loved one this year. I've never written so many condolence cards in one year. Only one has been directly related to Covid, but it feels like they all are.
It's never easy finding the right words to support someone who has lost a family member. I've struggled over the words and ripped up many notes. "May you find strength in love of family and warm embrace of friends." Those words don't work right now.
I'm not the only one making use of snail mail, during the pandemic. I got a sweet surprise in the mail in the late fall. My dear friend Margie sent me a handwritten note and some scripture.
Miss Margie is in her nineties. For years, she has been a faithful member of my "Around the Quilt" group of seniors. After I stopped volunteering in March I worried when I could no longer reach her by phone. She used to always pass out little prayer notes to her friends. I grinned bit, when I opened up her pack of prayers!
Old fashioned mail has been fun... and frustrating. I've had numerous issues with returned mail! I'll admit, my scattered brain made a couple of addressing errors.
And there's nothing like pulling up to a mailbox wrapped in caution tape, to make you fret about the safe transport of your mail. This box looked like it had been pried open with a crowbar!
So, what about Christmas cards? I've been sending them for about 35 years. I've a good excuse to skip it this year. But more than ever people of 2020 could use a lift in the mail. So, I ordered up photo cards. And then I worried about sending.
I been overthinking everything this year. I looked at this card and I thought. People are going to judge. Bragging? Too happy? Making light of Covid, when some are suffering? I stressed over it, then decided to send regular cards to a few and photo cards to the others.
Usually I send about 70 cards. We usually receive about half that in the mail. Good enough to give us a card or 2 to open each day. This year, I'm judging along with everyone else. I fumed over one long Christmas letter. They bragged about renovating their vacation home, while entertaining visitors all summer. No Pandemic where they live?
Then we got this one! Made my day! It also helps that this card came from a college friend who shares a whacky sense of humor. No judging on this one. It is maybe my favorite card this year!
This photo reflects my stressed and disorganized wrapping. I snapped the pic, before it got twice as cluttered! How did I let myself get behind, when I've had 9+ pandemic months to prepare for Christmas?
If I'd been smart, I would have ordered everything online and had it shipped... and skipped this mess. But, I wanted gifts shipped here so I could inspect and personally wrap... and make Christmas more special. But I just made things insanely complicated.
So I tried to make things fun by turning the TV to some super corny retro Christmas specials. That of course distracted me a lot and made me slower.
I was so totally amused by watching this Andy Williams special. Look at all those Williams and Osmond brothers in their colorful sweaters! Too funny! No social distancing and mask-wearing, when you turn on the oldies.
Post Office by 4:30!
So I got gifts boxed up and made it to the post office by late afternoon. This was not my first trip to the post office!
I was glad to hide behind my mask, as I pushed this huge load inside and joined the long line. A few people glared at me, since there were only 2 windows open at the counter.
The Biggest Box
It was finally my turn to be helped. After 7 packages, my shipping was up to $124. Then the man lifted the last box onto the scale. First he told me $25., but then he measured the box. "Odd size. That will be $52.20." "What?!"
All the bored people in line watched me react. I did some very quick pondering, then paid for those first 7 packages. I asked for 2 flat rate boxes and took my big box over by the corner, where I squatted and went to work. I'm sure many were entertained as they watched me rip off the tape and unload 12 wrapped gifts into 2 boxes. Yay! They all fit and I saved $22!
Every year I do this crazy P.O. routine. When will I learn? This was the most stressful time ever, but it felt extra wonderful when I walked out to my car! I was felt giddy and light. Like I'd lost 30 pounds. Which I sort of did.
As I headed home I cringed. Yikes. I hope I didn't get Covid from this post office adventure.
I don't like waiting rooms, during a pandemic. But there was no one in this room, when I went for my annual check up.
I only waited a couple minutes before I was called in, to see my nurse practitioner. I was excited to ask if anyone in the office had gotten the vaccine yet. "Not until next week!" she said.
Waiting on Vaccines
Nursing homes and extended care facilities are supposed to be getting the vaccine soon. I'm so eager for my 92 year old dad gets his.
His assisted living community lost 4 residents, very early on in the pandemic. Right now there are 6 residents in his home that have tested positive. Waiting is a lot harder for those who work or live in more worrisome places.
Dad says he's on the list and he's eager to get it!
To Tree or Not to Tree?
A lot of people are going overboard with decorating this year. It makes sense, since most of us are doing less and trying to enjoy home more. But live trees are so expensive in Texas and we got rid of our artificial one last year.
I stopped by a local nursery to peek. As I wandered, my brain wandered.
"I refuse to spend 200 on a big tree when it's just the 2 of us! Maybe we can just do something little and cute. A Charlie Brown tree! We need to keep it simple and stress free."
But there was nothing simple and cheap. This 4 foot Fraser Fir was 80 bucks! The Lavender tree behind me was cute, but couldn't hold a thimble-sized ornament.
Keeping it Simple
I ended up leaving ing with a fluffy little live, Pine Norfolk, for 35-dollars. This year, I'm leaving the 3 huge boxes that hold all my favorite ornaments, in the upstairs closet.
I covered the plastic container in wrapping paper and Don put on some tiny lights. I put on a few tiny balls and I am happy as can be. I know. This is what old people do. But, I'm okay with that, this year.
I did go ahead and put a wreath on the door. And I growled and grumbled like I do every year, standing on the ladder and putting the lights and garland around the door.
But I did something a little different from other years. I used some plastic balls and a dead branch, that came down in a recent storm.
I stuffed the Charlie Brown tree/branch, in the mulch and I am the happiest person in the world.
I love this little Covid Christmas Tree!
Bells of Mourning
What a sobering sound this evening. We heard these bells ringing live, on TV.
I love the sound of church bells, but these were so sad. Each ring represented the loss of 1,000 people who have died from covid in the US.
A Sad Milestone
Yesterday, we passed the 300,000 mark.
So much happened yesterday in the news. It was easy to miss this sobering milestone.
But today is actually a happy milestone for me. Four years ago today, I rang a bell to celebrate the end of my cancer treatment.
This photo was taken at my radiation clinic. I posed with the staff that greeted me each day with smiles and support for 6 weeks.
Then I posed with this wonderful guy, who had accompanied me many months earlier to my surgery. He joined me at chemo treatments and shaved my head, when the time came. This was a big day 4 years ago, and how grateful I am that Don was able to go along with me and meet doctors and nurses and laugh with me... and we didn't have to wear masks!
I'm so glad my cancer was in 2016 and not 2020!
Thinking About Our Grand Baby
When I hear something on the news about Covid and pregnancy, I hold my breath.
I'm so excited about our first grandchild arriving in February. But I'm so worried, as the covid numbers climb higher each day. Will we be able to get to Oregon to help, as planned? Can Heidi and Jamie continue to be safe? When will Jamie finally be allowed in the office, to meet his wife's doctor?
Vaccine For New Mamas?
With all the latest news of vaccines coming out. Will pregnant women be expected or allowed to get a vaccine?
I guess no pregnant women were in the trials, so how do we know what is safe?
For a while we thought our Pandemic Grand Baby would be part of a big baby boom.
But maybe not. A lot of couples are worried about having babies for financial and health reasons. Hmm? Will our little grand daughter have fewer kids in her grade in school?
I'm actually not that worried at this moment. I'm just getting excited!
Cozy & Cold
It's finally cozy and cold. I want to get cards written and some presents wrapped.
I want to listen to Christmas music and think ahead to all the good in 2021.
But there's so much going on in the news! I had to watch as the first person (outside of trials) received the vaccine! This is huge!
The frontline workers in the medical field are first! I can't imagine the emotions that many of these doctors and nurses felt, after working so closely with Covid patients for nearly a year.
Yesterday, we learned that the White House would be offered the vaccine right away. Haven't they been ignoring the pandemic with all the huge un-masked Christmas parties? Why do they need a vaccine before others?
I'm hoping the longterm care facilities will be vaccinated soon. I learned today that my Dad's assisted living community has 2 more cases... 6 this week. We know good and well that the vulnerable folks in these communities won't be getting the top notch care that Trump and Giuliani got.
Electoral College Votes
In the evening, I turned on a Christmas movie and wrapped presents.
But I got a friend's text saying the votes were all in. I had to turn on the TV.
I'm relieved to think we can finally move ahead. But Trump is not conceding.
Just minutes after the electoral college certified Biden as winner, Trump tweeted that Barr was resigning. William Barr was once Trump's staunchest allies and now Trump is furious with him... since Barr claimed no evidence of election fraud.
I want to just laugh and know this will all be behind us. But I can't.
This was the scene in D.C. on Saturday. Trump's base is angry and this is not funny. I'm so worried about months ahead.
I'm excited about the vaccine. But the TV went off.
I'm just going to enjoy some simple decorations and feel grateful for my family's good health.
On Thursday my dear friend and nurse practitioner, became part of the Ensemble Study for the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine.
I have such respect for Janine. She and her husband are both in the medical world and both have participated in trials. They are paving the way!
It just baffles me still, how many are not eager to take a vaccine when we get the chance.
Today! On the Way!
On the news this morning, they showed hospitals in the Houston area that will be receiving the Pfizer vaccine tomorrow!
Healthcare workers at Methodist Hospital in Sugar Land will be getting the vaccines very soon! I have my doctor's appointment there on Wednesday, so it's possible my doctor may actually be vaccinated by then. This is mind boggling!
Back to News
We haven't watched TV in 2 days. It suddenly seems like there is so much going on!
These headlines are good! Pfizer vaccine is cleared!!
Look at the ugly way our president has pushed this! Ugh.
Trump and Supreme Court
Our president has hardly been focused on the vaccine. This is where he's really been busy.
He asked the Supreme Court to invalidate millions of votes in battleground states.
Unreal! We've missed some major craziness!
I think instead of all this, I will think of my friends who are celebrating Hanukkah today.
This is a better message for toady!
2 Nights Away
We left Goliad State Park today. It was a ridiculous amount of work, prepping the neglected trailer, for just 2 nights away. But so worth it.
Luckily Texas has been wet, so we could enjoy a fire. Staring at a fire is hypnotic and soothing and wonderful. Everyone should have some kind of flame to watch during these pandemic holidays.
Our campsite was just a 2 minute walk to the Mission. Every December, the state park decorates with lights. On a weeknight, there was no one there, but us.
It was peaceful and a little eerie, walking towards the Spanish Colonial church on our first balmy night.
After heading up the glowing path, we found the church lit with spotlights.
We circled the exterior, looking at all the shadows. Most of the images related to the history of the area, with ranching, missionaries and Native Americans.
Now and then we would hear a cow or two in the distance. There must still be still ranches in the area. We also heard the church bells from the mission up the road.
Presidio La Bahia
In the day, we walked up the road to this chapel and fort. That's the bell we heard from our campsite. The renovated site is lovely, but the history is pretty horrific.
Nearly 450 from the Texian Army of the Republic of Texas, were killed by the Mexican Army here. We were glad to be camping near the other mission!
I will always remember our escape to Goliad, during the pandemic.
So thankful we had 2 nights away from TV and all the reminders of covid and election chaos!
Cancer - Covid
I started this complaining list/blog, in May 2016. I posted 200 gripes about my breast cancer and then I was done.
On March 17, 2020, I started venting all over again, when another disease (starting with a C) interfered with my life. Only this time, it was affecting more than me.
Coronavirus and Cancer! Both are evil, but neither can totally get me down... if I vent! I hope with Covid, I run out of complaints before 200!