Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Miserable Hike

Holy shit, 2020.  Amirite?  

This year was one for the books.  In fact, so many events from this year will be in the books. The ones that chronicle history. Some might say the hits kept coming like a freight train that went on for as far as the eye can see.  Or a bit like the hike my friend made me do - all uphill, through dirt and rocks, for a mile, just to turn around and be greeted with a view of dead bushes.  See photo above - the arrow points to where the car was parked, our hike starting point.  

Let's go over a few things that happened:

Australia burned, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle left the Royal Family, Kobe Bryant died, Donald Trump was impeached, the summer saw Black Lives Matter protests all over the country as a result of George Floyd being killed by police, murder hornets descended upon the United States, Beirut exploded, the west coast lost millions of acres to wildfires, even the mountain in my own town was on fire.

Civil Rights Activist and House Representative John Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died (what great losses for our nation), COVID-19 swept the world, people sheltered in place for months, bread baking became a thing, Eddie freakin' Van Halen died, Alex Trebek died, we had a toilet paper shortage (what the hell??), people balked about wearing masks used to help temper the nationwide pandemic, Joe Biden got elected, and by mid-December over 300,000 people in our country died from the coronavirus. 

But it wasn't all bad

Ed and I feel very fortunate to be working in a field that didn't feel much effect from the pandemic.  Our work went on as normal.  We were able to make money and isolate at the same time - our truck was like a rolling solitary confinement cell.  Although, we did get out for good behavior every couple of days.  So maybe not necessarily like a cell, per se, maybe more like a modified isolation tank on wheels.    

Overall, I personally didn't have a bad year.  I'm a homebody, so staying home wasn't a big deal for me, I just did what I needed to do. The social distancing and self-isolating weren't that bad.  It gave me an excuse to say no to things I would normally say yes to just so I don't look anti-social.  I kinda hate to go out, anyway.  Well, to events, or bars, or get-togethers with people I have to make awkward small talk with.  I think it was a smidge harder on Ed because he gets cabin fever quicker than I do. 

The year is over, and I'm thankful that the friends and family who did contract the coronavirus did not die from it.  But I cannot get out of my mind all the people who did.  What a sad year for so many people, for so many families.  I hope 2021 sees that the vaccines work and that a lot of people have access to them so we can control this terrible virus and prevent more people from losing their lives.

Let's see what I've rounded up for my end-of-year meme.  I will warn you in advance - it's nothing that exciting.

1. What did you do in 2020 that you’d never done before?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind - hoarding toilet paper.  Who would have thought? You think you had a hard time finding it in your town?  Ed and I were on the road and no one had any.  I was thisclose to stealing rolls from highway rest areas. 

We had to wear a surgical mask to go shopping, which we were happy to do but it felt weird nonetheless.  We couldn't go out to dinner or to a movie theater, and we didn't travel for pleasure. I also bought hand sanitizer in 60-ounce bottles - prior to 2020, I could count on one hand how many times I bought hand sanitizer.  Of any size.  

We always cook a lot at home, but in 2020 because we couldn't eat out, I cooked at home even when I was wishing I could just give someone my order, have my food brought to my table, have my Diet Coke continuously re-filled, and then have the dishes whisked from my view. 

We didn't bake bread (tackled that in 2019) but we did make fresh pasta which was pretty delicious.  And easier than I anticipated. 

We had a lot of homemade pizza which of course I've made before so that's not a new thing, but I did make pan-fried rib eyes that rivaled any steakhouse, and a ramen soup with the most amazing panko-crusted pork cutlets (I never did pork before, I always do chicken).   

Ed discovered sous vide and made filet mignons.

And I made Dalgona coffee - never heard of it but it was sweeping the internet, so I had to try it.

We eventually caved and decided to get takeout food, even though in this post I railed against it. We figured after months of staying away and not hearing multiple reports about people dying because they had Chipotle delivered, we'd risk it.  We're still here.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year? 
I shouldn't even answer this question anymore because I never resolve to do anything.  I'm not much of a goal setter - that's Ed's department - I do more of what I want when I feel like it.  Needless to say, Ed has a means of measurement for his success, whereas I have to rack my brains and go over the entire year in my head to try to remember if I did anything I said I was going to.  Usually, the answer is that I did not.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not anyone super close to me, but a couple we met on our cruise five years ago - two very talented artists who were part of the cruise line's entertainment lineup - had a pandemic baby in September.  And he's freakin' adorable!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no one in my immediate family, but my lifelong best friend lost her mother two days before Christmas and another friend's mother unexpectedly died just a few days before the end of the year.

5. What countries did you visit?
None.  Because of Trump's poor pandemic management, we've been banned from visiting any other countries.  Hoping to have some relief in the coming year to 18 months.  

Hey, 2020...look over there!
6. What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020? 
Discipline.  I need to develop a way to start the tasks I want to tackle, follow through to completion, and then check them off my list for the day.  Even if it's an everyday task.  I get so easily sidetracked by doing nonsense stuff that I am letting the important stuff I really want to do, fall away. 

7. What dates from 2020 will remain etched in your memory, and why?
November 3, 2020.  The day Donald Trump lost the election.  The happiest day of my year.  

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Not (officially) getting Covid-19.  I say officially because I'm pretty sure I had it when I was sick from December 2019 to March 2020.  The virus wasn't on anyone's radar but I had every single symptom and no one knew what to do for me.  If the same thing happened now, I'm certain I'd be on a ventilator, that's how bad my breathing was at the height of my illness.  

9. What was your biggest failure?
Lack of persistence.  I read something a few years ago that said "Persist in what must be done and resist what ought not to be done."  I wasn't persistent in my vow to incorporate more exercise into my life.  I started, and then I just fell right back into my sedentary lifestyle.  I needed more discipline and focus and I didn't have it.  
Me, on a nebulizer, at Urgent Care. Little did I know I was likely steps away from a ventilator.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Regarding illness, there's the possible bout with what I think was the coronavirus earlier this year.  As for injury, I discovered I have a complete tear in the rotator cuff of my right shoulder.  Happened from an injury in 2019, but was just discovered by the orthopedic surgeon this year.  Surgery is an option but after what I've heard and read about rotator cuff surgery and recovery, I don't know that I'll be able to a) take that much time off work and b) want to endure that much pain.  Still thinking about it, though. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

These earrings (the 2" ones), this pillow, and these plant stands.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Dr. Fauci.  For being steadfast in his desire to provide our nation with lifesaving information rooted in science.  

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? 

Almost every elected member of the GOP.  Led by the most incompetent person to ever be elected to the oval office, they debased themselves in ways that hopefully, will not be forgotten.  Of course, they're mostly elected by cult members so there's likely no chance of being punished for their lies and unpatriotic behavior.

14. Where did most of your money go? 
To bills and retirement investments.  

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Whatever was on television.  I watched so much TV in 2020 (well, 2019, too) that I was excited to get to the next movie or next episode of whatever series I was watching.

Among everything I watched was "The Queen's Gambit",  "The Americans", and "Virgin River".  The first I loved, the second was great, and the third a waste of time...even though I will watch Season 3 because I keep thinking it'll get better.  There were so many movies, I lost track.

On-the-vine-tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic on my kitchen counter.

16. What song will always remind you of 2020?
Liberty, Liberty, Liberty.  Liberty.  The jingle from the Liberty Mutual Insurance commercial.  How sad is that?  See?  I told you I watched a lot of TV.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
I'm usually always pretty happy (sarcastic and critical, but happy) so I'm still happy, I haven't lost an ounce this year so still fat, and I wouldn't exactly say I'm poorer, but I'm definitely not where I'd like to be. 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Read.  I haven't read a real book in years.  I did listen to a couple of audiobooks this year but because I'm obsessed with my phone, I can't get off of it long enough to get an actual book in my hand.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eat tacos.  No, I'm kidding!!  I can never have enough tacos.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We were home but celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with only my mother since she's in our bubble.  The rest of the family is out and about without masks, and I just didn't think it was a good idea for all of us to be together in the house.  I made Shrimp Scampi for Christmas Eve (see photo below) and Chicken Parmigiana for Christmas Day.  I also made a spectacular tiramisu because I lost a bet with Ed and that was what he wanted if he won.  

21. Did you fall in love in 2020?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Well, as I said, I watched "The Queen's Gambit" and loved it, but I guess that's not really a "TV" show, but rather a short series.  And "The Americans", another series.  Loved that.  On regular TV I watch "Yellowstone" (which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!), "Grey's Anatomy", "Station 19", "A Million Little Things", "This Is Us", and "The Rookie".  That said, I think my all-time favorite TV show is "Everybody Loves Raymond".  Every single episode makes me laugh.  Oh, and I re-watched a lot of "Friends" this year.  That makes me laugh, too.    

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

24. What was the best book you read?
I haven't read any books with my eyes, but I did listen to Michelle Obama's book, "Becoming".  She read the book and as I listened, I felt like she was sitting at my kitchen table telling me her life story.  Fabulous woman. Loved the book.  

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Yebba.  I first discovered her through a movie I watched.  

Our truck with a fresh swag, a gift from my New Jersey cousins.

26. What did you want and get?
I wanted supplies to start painting rocks, I wanted sewing components for my sewing machine so I can sew leather, and I wanted a wok and a fake tree.  And I got everything I asked for.    

27. What did you want and not get?
A pedicure.  Can you believe I went a whole year without a professional pedicure from a salon?  I had to do MY OWN FEET!  Not happy.  

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Weirdly, the film I liked the most this year was Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.  It's a little corny but I actually loved it.  And the song at the end was a fabulous way to wrap up the story.  

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 53 this year and I didn't do anything special, but I do remember getting a wicked case of hives.  Happy Birthday, Spot. I also spent the week before and a few weeks after my birthday in New York and up and down the east coast, which is a gift in itself, and saw some of the most spectacular Fall colors I've seen in years.  I was absolutely thrilled by this as Fall is my favorite season and the leaves changing colors delight my eyes.  
Ed standing under a spectacular display of nature.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Sneakers.  Seriously, I cannot for the life of me, find a casual pair of slip-on sneakers that I like or that fit comfortably.  I do almost all of my shoe shopping via Zappos, but I haven't been home long enough to get deliveries to do try-ons.  I need a lightweight slip-on that has a cushy rubber bottom.  Why is it so difficult??

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2020?
I really have no fashion.  My wardrobe consists of pajamas, leggings, and stuff that's black.  I did buy a cool tiered dress to wear with leggings, and a pair of linen palazzo pants (in a light blue, not black...shocker), but really, I just have clothes that aren't hot, aren't tight, and that don't need any special care.  Basically, I just wear the same thing over and over.  The whole capsule wardrobe thing is genius.  

32. What kept you sane?
I don't really get insane about things.  But I do like TV, magazine reading, and surfing the internet when I'm feeling a bit annoyed with everything or everyone.  

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Paulina Porizkova.  I have loved her since the moment she exploded onto the modeling scene in 1984.  She was married to Ric Ocasek (who I didn't really like and who died in 2019) and has had a rough couple of years.

Her husband died, left her penniless, she had to sell the house they shared in New York City for more than 30 years, had to deal not only with grief but moving and packing up her whole life which we witnessed part of, got through that only to have a bit of a public meltdown on a recent trip to Costa Rica when she had an expired passport so was denied entry to the country and had to turn around and come home, had to shop for a new apartment, and then deal with moving again.  It’s a lot. 

She's on Instagram now and shares herself like no model I've ever known.  She's beautiful inside and out, intelligent, thoughtful, involved, aware.  I now know so much more about this woman I have admired for years. Her country home is near where I used to live in New York, which I didn't know until I started following her on Instagram, and once I found out I wondered if I had ever been in the same mall, or grocery store as she was for all those years. I've always been interested in all of the original supermodels but this one I've become a bit of a groupie for.   

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

Healthcare, immigration, and racial equality are always three of my biggest concerns.  

35. Who did you miss?
I missed my dad this year.  With my best friend losing her mom and my mother's friend losing his mother, it just made me think about him in ways that I haven't for years.  He died in 2006, but when I'm cooking a lot - which happens around the holidays - I think of all the foods he made, how effortlessly he cooked large amounts when we entertained, and how he did everything without a recipe.  He was the best cook in our family and I wish he was here to do it with me.   

36. Who was the best new person you met?
My cousin Catherine and her family.  I know it sounds weird to say the best new person I met is a cousin, but she's a second cousin and someone I didn't grow up with.  She's only two years older than me but I have no memory of ever meeting her.  We connected through a family tree program when she contacted me after finding family photos in my profile.  She is an absolute DELIGHT!  We have been communicating via email and text and have shared family photos, memories, and stories.  I don't think anyone in my entire family is as positive and uplifting as she is.  She exudes joy, even through texts!  We have yet to reunite in person but I can't wait for the day that happens.  Gaining family members who share an interest in our family history and roots, far outweigh any annoyance brought on by the great toilet paper hunt of 2020.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2020.
I'm often told that I try to control everything. And it's true. I have a "way" I think things should be done and I'm a little overbearing when it comes to imposing my way on others. This year wasn't any different.  So although the life lesson I need to learn is "You can't control everything", I can't say I really grasped, let alone mastered that mantra in any way.  I suppose I'll have to continue to work on this part of my personality, but my control freak gene is screaming at me as I write this, so keep your fingers crossed for me.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. 
This is mostly because I only needed Ed, me, and my home.

"All I need is you and me and my home."
  ~ From the movie, "Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga"

Full Lyrics here for the song "Husavik (My Hometown)":

All by myself
With this great big world before me
But it's all for someone else
I've tried and tried again
To let you know just where my heart is
To tell the truth and not pretend

All I needed was to get away
Just to realize that I was meant to stay

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live 'cause they're gentle people
In my hometown, my hometown
Thought I made it clear, do I have to say it?
It was always there, we just didn't see it
All I need is you and me and my home

Vera með þér, með þér
Í Húsavík við Skjálfanda
Í heimabærinn minn

You want the world (want the world)
All the neon lights and billboards
To be seen and to be heard (heard)
And I followed you (Ooh-ooh)
But now I know what makes me happy
And I can tell you feel it too

Where the mountains sing through the screams of seagulls
Where the whales can live 'cause they're gentle people
In my hometown, my hometown
Where the northern lights burst out in colors
And the magic nights surpass all others
Það eina sem ég þrái er, að vera

Vera með þér (Vera með þér), með þér (Vera með þér)
Í Húsavík við Skjálfanda
My home, my hometown

And my slogan for the New Year...

Five At A Time

This comes from advice a cousin gave me about weight loss.  I don't make this a new year's resolution anymore, but I'm still always trying. January 1st always seems like a good time for a fresh start.  Sometimes I have success, but honestly, most of the time I don't.  My cousin lost 185 pounds and said that I should set goals of five pounds at a time.  That five is easy enough to do, you feel accomplished, and you're inclined to go forward.  So that's what I'm going to try in 2021 - five at a time. 

Wish me luck!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2019: How 2019 Fell Through The Cracks
2018: Galloping Into 2019
2017: 2017 Saw A Snowstorm, A Penitentiary, And A Wedding
2016: 2016 Has Ended And It's Time To Breathe Again
2015: The Sun Sets On 2015
2014: Thanks, 2014. For Everything.
2013: I Am Gonna OWN You, 2014!
2012: Wrapping Up A Year Of Making My Own Sunshine
2011: Later, 2011!
2010: That’s A Wrap!
2009: Out With The Old
2008: Another Year, Another 365 Days
2007: All Good Things Come To An End
2006: The Symphony Of A Thousand Saws
2005: Suicidal Firewood

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Standing On A Corner

Took this drive-by photo from the window of our truck as we were cruising along Interstate 40 through Winslow, Arizona. 

I love seeing trains all across the country.  This one was laden with ocean containers - which actually take away freight from truckers since they often move these cans - probably heading to the port in Los Angeles, or somewhere else to be put on trucks and transported to their final destinations.  

My favorite trains are the super-long ones, usually pulled by two or more locomotives.  Sometimes, when the tracks are parallel to the interstate, I pretend we're racing.  And when I finally pass the locomotive at the front, I get a little jolt of excitement and then deem myself the ultimate winner.  Yes!

This is what keeps America moving, those who transport goods to all areas of our country.  I feel very fortunate to have a job doing this, especially this year with so many people out of work due to Covid.  Shout out to the other people in our industry.  I'm thankful for you, too!  And definitely the Amazon drivers...because this year I ordered 90% of my Christmas presents online.  

Whether a track is guiding you to your destination, or you're behind the wheel like me, Ed, and so many other drivers, safely getting to the other end is all that matters.

Snaking trains are one of my favorite sights.  And when they're colorful like this, it's even better.  

See you at the other end!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2019: I Grew A Mater
2018: A Delicious Treat On My Day Off
2017: Getting Used To It
2016: Really Old School
2015: Christmas In The Sonoran Desert
2014: Boxing Day Mani-Pedi
2013: Racing Toward The New Year
2012: I Need A Support Group
2011: No One Mentioned The Elephant In The Room, But The Zebra Was A Big Topic Of Discussion
2010: White Chocolate Melts Away
2009: An Appetizer With Heart 
2008: Angelic Eddie Friday
2007: Would You Like A Fried Egg With A Side Of Influenza?
2006: Cerrado
2005: The Best Gift Of All 

Sunday, December 13, 2020


Last time we were home we had lunch at Percheron Mexican Grill, a small restaurant known for their bacon-wrapped burritos, served from a container in The Box Yard, a unique eatery (and drinkery!) located on 4th Avenue in Tucson, Arizona.

Next time I plan on checking out the Vietnamese place or the coffee shop.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2019: Sorry, no post on this day.
2018: The Most Exclusive Rooftop
2017: Cell Block 8
2016: The Price Of American Made
2015: Sunset In The Brick City
2014: The King Of Light
2013: The End Of WiFi???
2012: Through A Canopy Of Oaks
2011: Clap Your Hands
2010: Wishing For A Blizzard But Will Settle For Flakes
2009: A Hideous Thief Exposed 
2008: Southwest Sunset
2007: Subtlety Is SO Not His Middle Name
2006: Bridging Chicago
2005: Oxymoronic Holiday