Monday, May 03, 2021

A Grand Old Visit

This past weekend we made a trip to the Grand Canyon.  And camped in the park, just a mile from the rim.

It was Ed's first time ever to the Grand Canyon - my first visit was 28 years ago - and it was my first time camping.  

I slept in a tent.  On the ground.  Every single person who knows me said, "What??" and "What magical powers does Ed have to get you to go camping??" and "Who are you and what have you done with Salena?"  Even people who only know me through this blog were like, "Whaaatttt?"  

It wasn't entirely unpleasant but it required a lot of stuff and the ability to deal with being dirty.  I hate to be dirty.  We brought a 3" foam mattress topper which made for a comfortable sleep, and the weather was perfect - I couldn't have asked for better temperatures.  I don't love the smell of campfire smoke permeating everything but if it's not your fire stinkin' things up, it's everyone around you burning wood in their fires.  Nothing you can do about it.

We were close to the bathrooms but did have an emergency pee bucket handy for the middle of the night.  It's bad enough I had to get up, put on clothes and shoes, just to step into the cabana tent, there was no way I was walking to the bathroom with a flashlight to do a piddly little pee. I'd rather just stumble from one tent to the other.

The first morning in the canyon we woke at 4:30 am to catch the sunrise at Mather Point.  It was chilly and people were already lined up when we got there but it was worth getting up early for. 

Let me tell you, when you get up this early, there's a whole lotta day to fill moving forward.  By 9:30 (the time I normally get up when I'm home) I felt as if I'd worked an entire day already.

We went to see El Tovar Lodge and the Bright Angel Lodge, taking more photos at those locations, and then drove around to check out some of the other campground areas.  We attempted a bike ride but I fell off my bike (don't even ask) and skinned my knee and elbow so we shelved that for the rest of the day.  We visited the little general store to check out their merchandise. 

But mostly, we just chilled out. 
Ed, chilling.
I am not a camper, let alone a hiker, so there was no hiking happening.  Ed was eyeballing the people walking the Bright Angel Trail - a nine-hour hike from start to finish - and I know he wishes he was one of them, but that'll have to be something he does on his own.  I will never ever ever ever ever hike any trail in the Grand Canyon, or anywhere else.  I always love to do everything with Ed but that's just something I can't agree to and he is perfectly fine doing it by himself someday. 

He said, "You could ride one of the mules down."  Um, have you met me?  I am NOT riding a mule.  Especially on a trail.  For nine hours.  Just stop.

I'm pretty sure this will be my last camping trip but under better conditions I might be persuaded to try it again.  I'm thinking I'm more an RV camper.  We can still do marshmallows over the fire, still have a picnic-like dining experience, and still sit around on those collapsible camping chairs while shooting the breeze.  But I really think the whole sleeping thing needs to happen in an RV or cabin with a bathroom and running water available on demand.  I'll prove once again that I can commune with nature.

I'll even get up early for it.

See my Instagram for more photos.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: Now You See It, Now You Don't
2019: Green Sticks Everywhere
2018: Designated Office Space
2017: Desert Garden In Bloom
2016: Agile Cat
2015: Future Steak
2014: What Should Have Been Paul's Place
2013: At The Drop Of A Hat
2012: Passing Up A Little Afternoon Delight
2011: Annnnnnd…It’s Back On!
2010: Rise Early. Work Hard. Strike Oil.
2009: It’s All Connected To The Pigskin
2008: The Sorriest Team Drivers You’ve Ever Seen
2007: Ooooooo, A Contest!
2006: Modern Convenience
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, April 23, 2021

It's Baby Season!

 This is a saguaro cactus (on the left) and an Ocotillo Cactus (on the right) that graces the entrance to our driveway.  Ed walked me over to it, pointed, and said, "Look!"  I didn't see what he was referring to so we moved a little closer.

It was only when I got a little closer that I saw what he was trying to point out - a Mourning Dove in its nest.  It's that time of year.  Everyone's having babies!  

We have one nest just above our front door - the dove eyed us warily with a manic eye whenever we'd go in and out.  But she - or he, as we just learned that the males also sit on the eggs and man the nest and because the male and female dove look very similar, it's easy to assume it's only one bird protecting their young - just left the nest last week after her babies were big enough to venture out on their own.  She'll be back.

Wikipedia says, "It is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also a leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure is due to its prolific breeding; in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods of two young each in a single year.

We've seen her in the same spot above the door in the past, but the saguaro nest is a new sighting for me.
As I zoomed in, I was able to get a better look at her setup.  In the location above our door, I can't see the nest.  Here, the nest is pretty visible.
In our other saguaro, there's a woodpecker nest, but they make a hole IN the saguaro and wiggle into it, laying their eggs inside.  I cannot see those babies but we can hear them peeping.
Pretty soon we'll be seeing quail babies running around - the quail, unlike the doves who only have two babies per brood, often have twelve to fourteen little chicks running behind them. 

Now they are the cutest things ever!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: Fanned Out Cables

2019: Three Years Later...

2018: A Spring Moment
2017: In The Heart Of Amish Country
2016: A Spark Of Male Bonding
2015: A-MAZ-ING
2014: Ghosts Of Retail
2013: Orange Is The Devil
2012: Sixteen Hundred Miles Makes All The Difference
2011: In Need Of Some Color
2010: 122 Years And Counting
2009: Sixteen Days Old
2008: Racism Comes With A Convenient Handle
2007: Evening Tide
2006: Glittering Pasties And Swinging Tassles
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Dignity Of Earth And Sky


"Standing at a crossroads, Dignity echoes the interaction of earth, sky, and people.  She brings to light the beauty and promise of the indigenous peoples and cultures that still thrive on this land.  My intent is to have the sculpture stand as an enduring symbol of our shared belief that all here are sacred, and in a sacred place."  ~ Sculptor and South Dakota Artist Laureate Dale Claude Lamphere

I stopped at a rest area in Chamberlain, South Dakota, on Interstate 90, perched on a bluff above the Missouri River.  This sculpture, a Native American woman named Dignity, sits on the edge of the rest area with the river to its back.  

There is a plaque at the rest area that tells the making and meaning of Dignity.  It reads as follows:

"Norm and Eunabel McKie of Rapid City, South Dakota, announced their gift of Dignity to the State of South Dakota in 2014, in honor of the 125th anniversary of South Dakota statehood. 

The statue was erected in September 2016 at this site, where it overlooks the Missouri River.  The statue measures 50 feet (15.24m) high, 16 feet (4.88m) deep, and 32 feet (9.75m) wide.  The star quilt held by the woman has more than 100 blue diamond shapes that move in the wind "like an Aspen leaf".

Three Native American women from Rapid City, SD, served as the models for the sculpture.  The artist, Dale Lamphere, began by first drawing the form and then sculpting a one-eight-scale model.  The sculpture was created in an isolated area near the Cheyenne River, east of Rapid City, SD, and later moved to the installation site.  The statue boldly proclaims that South Dakota's Native cultures are alive, standing with dignity.

The permanent collection of archives to expand on the story and impact of Dignity resides at the South Dakota Hall of Fame Visitor and Education Center in Chamberlain."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When Life Gives You Lemons
2019: Istanbul Cobble

2018: Circulating The Morning Air In The Lonestar State
2017: It's The Real OLD Thing
2016: Stopping In Style
2015: Patiently Waiting
2014: Find Out Where You Can Dine With Giraffes
2013: Sputtering With Excitement
2012: Water May Not Be The Only Liquid Nourishing These Flowers
2011: Nappy Time
2010: Dick. Not A Dick. Which One Are You?
2009: First The Poultry, Now This
2008: California Moon
2007: Ryno And Rob
2006: Living The Dream
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn't start until May 2005!

Monday, March 08, 2021

Room For Waiting

When we go to shipping ports around the country, some of them do not allow passengers.  Even if that passenger is the other driver.  It's crazy.  Especially since, in our case as with other people, we hold a TWIC card for the specific purpose of proving you've had a background check and passed the clearance checks required to actually enter the ports.  

Once, many years ago in New Jersey, the security people at the port check-in booth threatened to call the police if I didn't get out of the truck and wait outside the port.  And they meant OUTSIDE.  I sat on a shitty concrete wall in a dusty parking area.  A woman.  Alone.  In a port in New Jersey.  I was pissed and we complained.  After we delivered the container, they called us into the office and the manager of the facility personally apologized to me. 

And that's when I learned to hide in the truck for any future visits to ports.  

The most recent port we visited was the Norfolk International Terminals in Virginia.  We had been there before and they let me in without an issue.  I had a TWIC card and they allowed me entry.  But this time, even though I explained that I wasn't a passenger, I was a driver, and I showed them my TWIC, I still had to wait.  For TWO hours, while Ed went in and retrieved the container.  

I can't really complain though, as the facility was very nice.  I was the only one there, so it was quiet, and there were at least 40 feet of benches on either side of the room - I could have spread out and napped if I was inclined.  They had a bathroom (clean!), vending machines, air conditioning, accessible power outlets for my phone charging cord, and very friendly staff.  

I sat and read the news, played Words With Friends, and practiced my Italian on the DuoLingo app.  The time flew by.  

But as nice as it was, I still think I'm going to go back to being a stowaway.  I'd rather nap in my own bed, eat my own snacks, and pee in my own bathroom.  

Shhhhh....don't tell anyone.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: A Year Long Carnival
2019: Four Balanced Women
2018: Five Spices And A Few Cuties
2017: Water That Saved The Life Of A Princess
2016: A Few Blocks From Fort Apache
2015: Única…Original
2014: Living The Examined Life
2013: Trucking Like We're On Fire
2012: Looking For A Coffee Fi
2011: Container Port, You Are No Friend Of Mine
2010: Encased In Plastic
2009: No Lifeguard On Duty
2008: Palm Sketches
2007: You Know Who You Are
2006: I Fear The Family
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Friday, February 19, 2021

Beautiful Freak Of Nature

I’m talking about this saguaro, not my husband. 

Ed wanted to go to the Grand Canyon for his birthday earlier this month. I nixed the idea because a) he sprung it on me the day before when I asked, “So, what do you want to do for your birthday this year?” and b) it’s winter in Northern  Arizona. I’m not driving 5 hours to look at a snowy hole. 

So we went to Sabino Canyon instead and took a tram ride 3.7 miles up into the canyon to look at rocks and cactus. Not quite the grandeur of the other canyon, but something to do. 

And there, on one of the trails, is where we found the crested saguaro. They are a 
rare mutation. And although not common, one Arizona man has documented over 2,200 of them as of 2019.  They even formed a society to tackle the task. Here’s a photo of Ed, in all of his glorious 46 years, standing in front of the crested saguaros we saw in Sabino Canyon.

This one is different than some I’ve seen. In other photos because this one has arms that continue to grow above the crest. Others just have the big crest at the top. 
I’ve been in Tucson for 40 years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen a crested saguaro. That should give you a good idea about how often I get outside. 

The Grand Canyon is still on the list. I think we’ll wait until Spring for that. It’ll still be cool up there, and there might be a bit of snow in The Canyon itself - which is like to see - but we’ll have a little more time to plan and can do a weekend in the area instead of a rushed day trip.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Ring The Bell For Tips
2018: Snacks & Bar
2017: So This Happened Today
2016: Agrarian
2015: Tied Off
2014: Seek And Ye Shall Find
2013: Frantically Trying To Get Back To Indonesia
2012: I’d Like Some Snow For Dessert
2011: Getting A Little Carried Away
2010: On A Need To Know Basis
2009: Something Has Gone Terribly Wrong
2008: Flying Into The Sun
2007: Riding The Rails
2006: Keeping Me Quiet With A Chocolate Snap
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

I Roll

I did a post in 2009 when we bought our last truck, a Freightliner Coronado, which we owned from 2009 to 2019.  This post is an update on that one, answering the questions we are often asked when approached by people who are interested in our truck, a Volvo.  

1. What kind of truck is that and how big is your sleeper?
Our new truck is a 2020 Volvo VNL 300 with a 132" ARI custom sleeper.  Truck sleepers are measured in inches, so the length of space we have in the sleeper clocks in at 11 feet (by 8 feet in width). It's like a tiny house on wheels.  

2. What kind of engine do you have in that thing?
We have a Volvo D-13.  It has turbo compounding, a diesel particulate filter system which makes it environmentally cleaner, 455 horsepower, and longer oil drain intervals, which means we can go 60,000 miles without an oil change!

3. How many gears/speeds does it have?
This truck has the Volvo I-Shift Automated Transmission.  This means we no longer manually shift - the truck does it for us - and we have 12 gears.  At first, I was disappointed with the automatic because I felt like shifting is what "real" truckers do and without shifting gears I'd be less of a trucker.  Well, I'm not really that much of a trucker, to begin with, and I realized very quickly that not shifting gears had its benefits.  No calf fatigue in traffic, no shifting when going up and down hills, and a much higher level of comfort while driving.  I've always said that driving a truck was like driving a big car, and now it truly is!

4. What kind of fuel mileage do you get and do you use more fuel since it’s heavier?
We get around 9 miles to the gallon, which in itself is pretty amazing, and 3 miles more to the gallon than we got in the old truck, even though this truck is about the same weight as our old one.

5. What’s inside the sleeper?
Inside the sleeper, we have everything we need to keep us rolling in comfort.  This sleeper has a taller interior than the last one - 8' ceilings - which makes it feel much more spacious even though we have the same length of space. 

We have a dinette table that when in the down position, turns into our bed.  There's a toilet/shower combo, a large refrigerator/freezer, convection oven/microwave, extra-deep sink, medicine cabinet, flat-panel TV with soundbar, DVD player, vinyl floors that look like distressed wood planks, a Fantastic Vent, rooftop air conditioner, two hanging clothes closets that we modified to be a pantry with shelves and additional storage, tinted interior windows, a back door with a window and a screen door to keep open when the weather's nice, a "porch light" over the back door, and a lighted grab handle outside the door to make it easy to find at night.  

These are not the best photos - I didn't take them and will replace them when I have my own photos - but it gives you a good idea of how this interior looks different than the last one.
View of the dinette table that when down, turns into a bed, and the door
on the left that contains the bathroom/shower. The curtains lead to the cab area.

Passenger side of sleeper - fridge, convection oven, cooktop, sink, TV.

6. How much water do your tanks hold for showers, etc.?
We have two tanks - 31 gallons on the main tank, and 12 gallons on our backup. We do not use this water for drinking.  Our toilet water flush tank holds 7 gallons.  We don't drink that either!  As with the old truck, once we use up the water supply, we go to a truck stop or RV park to fill it with more fresh water and to dump the wastewater tank. We also carry 10 gallons of bottled water which is connected to its own spigot and used only for drinking.  

7. How do all of those electronics and appliances get power?
As with our last truck, we have a 7,500 watt Onan generator. It runs everything in the truck. 

8. Can I see inside?
If anyone even shows a whiff of interest, I always offer to show them the inside.  I often see people taking pictures, or walking around the outside looking at the truck, and many times I've popped open a window and called out, "Wanna see inside?"  I've yet to have anyone decline.  

9. How heavy is your truck?
The tractor weighs approximately 24,500 and the trailer is about 17,000 pounds.  That brings our total unladen weight to around 41,500 pounds. 

10. How much can you scale?
Legally, we can scale 80,000 GVW (Gross Vehicle Weight) total without permits. The heaviest load we feel comfortable hauling is about 38,000 pounds which leave us wiggle room. In 2020, the average weight of the loads we hauled as 14,102 pounds.  

11. What do you haul?
We can haul a little bit of everything.  See this post for what we typically haul.  

Ed, standing inside the Conestoga trailer.

12. How long is your truck?
Our total length is 75 feet.  And yes, I can parallel park this baby.  

13. Can you still go everywhere you used to go?
This question was originally asked because we went from a 48" sleeper on a traditional tractor, to the big sleeper truck.  People still ask if we have trouble getting in and out of places.  The answer is still no.  First, Ed can get in and out of a thimble if he had to, so maneuvering for him is never a problem.  In fact, this truck has a shorter wheelbase, which makes getting around a bit easier.  Plus, we've had our other big sleeper truck for 10 years and are better aware of where we can and cannot "fit".  

14. How long is your wheelbase?
Our wheelbase is 243" long.  Our last big sleeper truck had a 316" wheelbase. And our first truck, with the standard factory sleeper, had a 218” wheelbase.

15. What about going to Canada?
I'm so excited to say we can go to Canada again!!  With our old truck, which didn't meet the  Canadian wheelbase restrictions, we were unable to go to the Great White North. For TEN years!  Boy, how I've missed it!  But now, with the new truck having a shorter wheelbase - one of the reasons we chose a Volvo - we'll be able to transport loads in and out of any Province or Territory we want.  We haven't gone yet but I am looking forward to visiting again and even taking another load to Alaska. 

16. How much did it cost?
Because we need specialized equipment for the type of freight we haul, our truck and trailer both have components that cost more than your average commercial combination vehicle.  The price of the truck came in around $330,000.00 and the trailer at right about $100,000.00.  With the additions of automatic tire chains, thermal imaging cameras, digital video recording system and more, the grand total came to approximately $430,000.00.  

17. Are you saving money having this truck over your old truck?
It's going to be about the same.  We save money on dining out and hotels, and we're able to be self-contained when the situation requires us to be.  Dining out is one of the biggest expenses outside of fuel and maintenance costs.  I do a lot of cooking in this beast! 

18. What do you like most about your sleeper?
I'm still in love with all the conveniences of having a big sleeper - toilet and shower, big refrigerator, being able to cook a meal on a real stovetop and in a convection oven (which is also a microwave), having an in-motion satellite TV system where I can watch a show while rolling down the road, WiFi, and a dinette table with comfortable seating for when we're lounging around.  It's really the most luxury a trucker can have while out on the road.  

19. Would you ever consider going back to a smaller sleeper?
Never, ever, EVER.  I think I'd quit before going back to a standard sleeper.

20. And last, but not least, one guy asked Ed "How many women can you fit in that thing?"
I'll keep the same answer I had on the last post about this:  Ed looked at him like he was crazy, the thought in his head being, Why the hell would anyone want to cart around more than one woman at a time?? One is more than enough.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2020: Sorry, no post on this day.
2019: Gilded Tourist Attraction
2018: Dining Up North

2017: Promoting International Cooperation
2016: Truly A Man Of Leisure
2015: Beer Run
2014: Field Two
2013: We Are A Very Rich, Blessed, Lucky, Fortunate Lot Aren't We?
2012: Passion Creates Pure Art
2011: Reflecting On The Day
2010: Crunching The Numbers
2009: Looking Grand At The Grand Canyon
2008: Overshadowing Government
2007: Miami International
2006: Did You Check The Solenoid?
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005! 

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 possibly 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