Hindsight’s Always 2020

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021

Well, it certainly has been an intense year. I won’t go into all the specifics, we all know it sucked in so many ways. Despite it all, there was a lot of good. I’ve decided to compile a year in review of all the good 2020 has brought me and I invite you to follow me down this memory lane.

January

We started the year out hopeful. My husband worked on our cabin in the woods, in it’s never-ending modified state (cabin life). Living in a cabin means that it is continually in a stage of being developed. Little things like adding storage or a staircase, cabinets, insulating, etc. Generally modifying our living space to fit our needs.

We managed to get a decent snowfall in January and rode our RZR for a fun snow ride. Up in the hills it was even deeper, causing us to eventually have to turn around. When we go on these rides I make sure to wear so many layers! It’s no fun being cold when you’re trying to have a good time. I also brought my handy 32 oz thermos mug filled with a toasty hot beverage (Irish coffee).

February

In February, I finished the cover design for a novel I wrote, Trail of Blood, the first in my Agent Valor Series, a sci-fi thriller, think X-Files mixed with Nora Roberts. An FBI team investigates after a possible sasquatch attacks a logger, resulting in the creature’s death. The agents narrowly escape an attempted car bombing, throwing them down a trail of murder, corruption, and government coverup. (yet to be published). You can read an excerpt here.

I also finished a design for the map for another novel I’ve been writing, Catchfly, which takes place in the Pacific Northwest, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy similar to Margaret Atwood’s Maddaddam Trilogy with a little Mad Max mixed in. Silene must complete her Healer training and walk far to the Southeast, into the forest of the Scab Lands where her Aunt lives. The Nomads, a vicious band of highwaymen, capture her, imprisoning her in a hole in the ground, and she doesn’t know if she’ll make it out alive. Armed with only her wits and willpower, she must free a small girl also trapped with her, saving them both from a life of cruelty. You can read an excerpt here.

That month I also came down with Influenza A and was so super sick. It forced me to take some time to recover. I binged watched some incredible movies, Solaris by Andrei Tarkovsky (the 1972 version; it was remade in 2002 with George Clooney, but the original is so much more interesting), and Brazil and The Zero Theorem both by Terry Gilliam. Like I said, I had a lot of time on my hands and it was nice letting my brain go off down it’s own rabbit hole. This in turn threw me into a frenzy of creativity and I wrote several poems. Sometime I’ll share them. I have a couple poems posted in my Writings.

March

I procured Tool tickets to see them in concert for the second time, this time in Portland, OR (the year previous I had seen them with my friend Marci in Denver, CO. THAT was a fun trip, I’ll fill ya in later!), March 11th at the Moda Center with my sister-in-law Athena and my cousin Amy. What an amazing show!!! It was interesting how at that point, Covid was just beginning to affect us here in Washington State, things were just beginning to be cancelled. This was the last concert before the world shut down.

As we stood in line, there was a super anxious air about everyone, worried the show would be canceled, as we had just gotten word all other concerts had been postponed. A TV station crew had shown up and was standing by while we all waited to enter the building. One guy ahead of us in line shouted at the camera crew, “Are ya here for the virus or the show?” The anchorman answered, the virus. The guy in line shouted back, “Well that’s a shame, the music’s pretty damn good. You really should stick around to check it out.” I wonder if they even knew what band was playing, not to mention who Tool are. Their official site is here.

One of the entrance rules was no poster tubes, which was a shame because the poster trade is HUGE and it’s difficult to keep posters wrinkle free without the protection from cardboard. They merely provided a condom-shaped tube of plastic to cover the tightly rolled poster for “protection”. It’s a shame people ruin things by smuggling dumb stuff in things like poster tubes. One guy in line had to hide his poster tube amongst the shrubbery outside. I hope he found it afterwards.

We got awesome floor seats. The people around us were so friendly and as excided as we were. Everyone chatted happily, discussing the world’s events and the uncertainty of the future. We all seemed to instinctually know we needed to enjoy this night to it’s fullest. The opening act, Author & Punisher, was so cool to see live! The one man band uses an array of machines he’s built to perform industrial, apocalyptic musical sounds that are just meant to be witnessed. Half of the entertainment is just washing him push and pull different levers, pullies, switches, and sliding rails. It’s almost like watching a man working in a nuclear reactor undergoing a criticality accident, tweaking all the settings, keeping everything from exploding. Quite entertaining!!!! Especially for mechanically minded folks. You can check out his website here.

When Tool took the stage, everyone stood up, so our once awesome view was now just the back of everyone’s heads. It didn’t matter. The lasers reached the ceiling and the music surrounded us like a swaddling blanket. I had to constantly be reminded by the venue staff not to step past the taped aisle boundary. It became a silly rule, watching everyone else test it like a curious kid and an electric fence. People also tried breaking the no-cellphones-during-the-show rule. The staff were firm on their boundaries. Nevertheless, it was an incredible show, leaving me feeling healed and spent. It actually was nice to not be distracted by a bunch of people staring at brightly lit screens instead of the show before us. At the last song, we were told we were good enough and allowed to take out our cellphones and do what we wanted. Selfie it up. We wandered back to the hotel and crashed.

My cousin Amy had to get back to her kitties so she left early on the bus. One reason for the trip was to give my cousin some respite after her mother’s passing from cancer. My Aunt Kathy was really funny and I will really miss her. Because of Covid, we’ve had to postpone her memorial a few times and I hope we get to gather soon. Growing up we all hadn’t a ton of opportunities to hang out, living in the next state over. I was glad to get the chance to spend time with my cousin. We plan to go on more concerts when the world opens up again.

This was a super fun road trip! I was so thankful to have Athena to drive us. It was great to get to know my sister-in-law a little bit more and share a common love of music. On the way home I managed to meet up with an old schoolmate who opened her own coffee roasting house in Portland with her husband. Oblique Coffee Roasters. They super rock! Super friendly family business with delicious beans! The building they live and operate out of has a fascinating story you can read about on their website. Seriously, you need to check them out.

April

In April, I took a serious step in my writing by attending a conference, the 2020 Writer’s Workshop, a Writing Day Workshops event. This was supposed to be an in-person conference, but because of Covid, it transitioned into a virtual conference, like so many other events. I learned SO much, and realized how much I really did not know about the world of writing and publishing. I’m still learning. This gave me so many invaluable resources I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. It was an excellent introduction into the industry.

May

In May, work was getting intense. My coworkers and friends and I decided we needed a respite at the beach. Salt Creek isn’t too far away, about a 45 minute drive from Sequim. Jaimi, Marci, and I didn’t even mind it was one of those questionable PNW days where the rain is never too far away, but the sun breaks seem even more vibrant. Once we got there, we decided we should invite Heather to join us. After a brief flex of peer pressure, she was soon sitting with us on the beach. As we talked, we found we all needed each other for various reasons. We all balanced each other out to make a cohesive band of minds. Despite the liquid sunshine, we explored tidepools, looked for shells and other beach detritus, and enjoyed just being in Nature’s domain. It was here that we realized we needed to schedule a girls’ weekend, as a few hours on a Saturday aren’t nearly long enough.

June

Work was steady. I transitioned this month into the Respiratory Clinic, adventures with new PPE (personal protective equipment), and learning new workflows. Lots of snuggling with kitties on my time off. I befriended a bee. There were a few beautiful sunsets, that of course, a camera never does justice. Micah had fun testing out his work’s new excavator on our lower property. It needed to be broken in, so… ;c)P

July

For the Fourth of July, my husband and I got away from it all camping up at one of our favorite spots in the woods that makes up our backyard, a short drive up old logging roads. It was nice to soak up some nature and get some fresh air, away from people. The Covid fatigue had already been setting in, the previous months had been extremely taxing at work, especially after having transitioned into the Respiratory Clinic. At our campsite, I read and wrote with abandon, enjoying the lack of a schedule. In the morning we woke when we felt like it, adjusting to the rhythm of nature. Birdcalls filled the spaces we left open. Nights around the campfire were entertaining with Mad-Libs, which we get pretty silly with. ;c)P

This last summer I spent a lot of time in my hammock, hanging out with my kitties. It was my Zen time after the frenzy that was work, or as soon as I got up weekend mornings. I took this time to read or write or just observe nature at work around me. A bird had built a nest in the eves of our house and I watched as it flew back and forth, bringing food and whatever else home to a chorus of chirps. My cats were especially attentive to them when they made so much noise.

August

In August, a small group of girlfriends from work and I (the same group that went to Salt Creek and hatched this plan a couple months prior) rented a vacation home in Ocean Shores, WA to get away from the craziness at work and for some much needed comradery. Shorebirds Villas was a beautiful and fun experience! Heather had reserved the place and offered to drive us in her new schnazzy rig. Road trip! Jaimi had just found out she was pregnant and we all celebrated with her. Marci and I alternated between giggling in the back seat, holding serious philosophical conversations, and staring reflectively out the windows.

As I had been packing for the trip, I had procrastinated doing my laundry (like I do with everything), which had resulted in me taking the damp laundry in a garbage bag with us to find a dryer either at the resort or in town. We saw a laundromat as we drove into the city limits and noted its location next to a strip mall with an arcade, wanting to get checked in and settled first, after the nearly four hour drive. The town itself has an odd gridwork of streets and lanes in almost a plaid pattern that GPS has fun trying to direct. Finally we found the cute little resort, several A-frames surrounding a seated courtyard. Each little A-frame has it’s own theme and this one had an Egyptian theme that was really fun. Next time we’re going to try for the Pirate theme! We all chose our bedrooms. I took the top of the A-frame’s little window bed. It was the perfect little nook for me to snuggle up and read. The window opened, too, so a brisk sea breeze kept the little curtained area fresh. The vacation home didn’t happen to have a washer or dryer, so we found our way back to the laundromat with my soppy bag of laundry. Each of us digging in our pockets, we gathered all our quarters. Okay time to dry my clothes! As I tried opening the door, however, I found it to be locked! The hours posted stated it should be open. WTF?! As we were trying to formulate a plan B, the door suddenly opened. A stern lady held the door just open enough to peek her head out and asked if we were trying to get change. We told her we had change, just wanted to use a dryer. A big smile replaced the frown and she warmly welcomed us in. Apparently, people from the neighboring arcade kept stealing all the laundromat’s change, making it so actual customers weren’t able to get the necessary admission to use the equipment. Drying the laundry didn’t take too long and we loaded back up to find some food.

We had driven past an Irish pub and decided to try that for dinner. There was a long wait, so we perused the neighboring Irish-themed gift shop within the same strip mall. There was so much to look at, so many interesting signs, t-shirts, glassware, foods, drinks, and Guinness everything. Before we knew it, it was time to check back at the pub. They were ready to seat us. The inside was decorated with all sorts of Irish themed memorabilia. We were starving. The whole road trip we’d only eaten snacks and our tummies were ready for a real meal. Everything was more delicious than we’d anticipated (possibly more to do with our blood sugar levels) and gobbled everything down with abandon. Our choices had been hearty and filling so we all left with something to snack on at a later date. That night we watched Rocky Horror Picture Show and enjoyed discussing the film as we watched it. Some of us watched it for the first time.

The next morning we had a leisurely wakeup, each doing our own thing until we were ready to hang out together. It was a beautifully sunny day. We planned to go to the beach, but we wanted to eat breakfast (or brunch by that point) before we headed out. There was a small café nearby, so we drove the confusing grid pattern to finally find a parking spot. Heather had coordinated matching masks for everyone out of a swath of retro fabric she had found at a second hand store. We stood in the line that went out the door for our order. Every pastry you could think of was waiting enticingly behind the counter to be chosen. We satisfied all of our cravings and left with even more to go. We also wanted to stock up on some grocery items, and safely did so with full bellies. It’s always a bad idea to go shopping when hungry.

Needing to nap after such a rich meal and the crowded grocery store, we all relaxed for a bit before venturing to the beach. It was way more crowded than beaches near home, so we picked a spot that seemed a little more private. It was nice sitting on the sand, enjoying the sounds and smells of the beach. We all slipped into our own worlds, randomly returning to earth to check on each other. Some of us read, I alternated between reading and writing, and mad libs entertained us all. Small groups of us took turns walking to the edge of the water, dipping our toes in. People with kites, dogs, and frisbees lined the beach disappearing in both horizons. This was August, months of Covid had made everyone spill out into nature, the only safe places to gather where the wind wiped the virus away.

That evening we had a fun game night giggling into the wee hours. We all bonded a little more.

The next day was the day we had to take off. Marci had planned a double vacation, so we met for breakfast at the same café to see her off. After we parted ways with Marci, Heather, Jami, and I headed home, stopping at Granny’s Café near Lake Crescent for their delicious soft serve cones. It’s pretty much local custom to stop by Granny’s Café either on the way to or on the way back from Lake Crescent. It makes for a good post-swim treat. This day was particularly hot and sunny so the ice cream was a welcome respite from the heat. We made it home safely to our families. Maybe we’ll do it again this year?

September

My husband and I rented a cabin at Kalaloch, WA in September as a late anniversary and just general fun getaway together. On the way, we stopped by the Odyssey Bookstore in Port Angeles, WA to load up on books to read on the beach. They had some fun mystery grab bags of random books in paper bags sealed with staples. It was fun to buy two and wait until we got to the cabin to open them up to see what we got. It was almost like Christmas!

We were treated with a beautiful sunset the first night. It ended up being the perfect time for storm watching. All weekend long, huge clouds loomed overhead and huge waves rocked the seashore. We watched as the little stream below us that drained freshwater into the ocean carved different patterns into the sand, the current forcing it to change course every high tide. The storming waters inspired me and I began working on the second book of my Agent Valor Series, this one about the Agents having to investigate a possible sea monster. Stay tuned!

One night we were awoken by a violent thunder and lightning storm that rivaled all fireworks. Sheet lightning lit up clouds and gusts of wind carried spray from the surf against our windows. The gutter on the cabin was half hanging off and a window was leaking rainwater inside. Despite all that, it was a really fun time and I’m so glad we got the chance to enjoy it.

When we got back, my husband took me to go look at a new to me truck at a local dealership, Wilder Toyota. They set us up with an awesome 2014 Toyota Tacoma that I absolutely freaking love. It seriously is the best vehicle I have ever owned. Gotta thank my hubby extra for it! Chris Jilg made it such an easy experience and really took care of us.

October

In October, I took an offroad trip with my dad in his Honda Pioneer side-by-side. I also have one, a Polaris RZR 800, but left it at home to ride along with my pops. A few friends came along with their side-by-sides. We all met at Micah’s boss’s house, we commonly use it as a home base. The group of us took off together like a mobilized unit. We’re good about meeting up at intersections so that the group stays together and all are accounted for. We drove through mud, up steep hill climbs, down rocky slopes, and through heavily wooded brush. It was a blast exploring the hills above, seeing if we could get stuck, and observing absolutely gorgeous perspectives otherwise impossible to witness. It was much needed father daughter bonding time. There’s just something about being in the middle of the wilderness, either alone or just you and those you are with. Nature has a way of recharging the soul. A lot of our trails had been logged over, but that just means we’ll have to find new trails as the everchanging landscape continues to evolve.

That same month I also experienced my very first massage! It was incredible. I traveled to Spavia in Greenlake, WA, near Seattle (of course, all the precautions were taken, masks for everyone, hand sanitizer, one-time-use everything) and had a relaxing self-cation.

After work on a Thursday, I took a ferry across the Puget Sound and I stayed in a ritzy hotel, Hotel Ballard, and ordered room service. With the balcony to stand on, it was intriguing to observe the people below as they congregated in bars’ outdoor tents. People cheered and sang and laughed. It almost gave the area a festival type atmosphere, like it was Mardi Gras. Didn’t see any beads, though. I ordered a woodfired fancy mushroom pizza that was so delicious! The room included a fancy robe and slippers and there was even bottled water with a fancy top! So I absolutely pampered myself. I think it is super important to spend time with one’s own self, to recharge and repair. Something I need to be better at.

On the way home, I stopped by Half Price Books and found more books to add to our collection. Hehehe. :cD

Halloween was fun! Each pod at work decorated with their own themes. The pod I work in (Wolf Pod) had a very creative theme this year. Killer Spider Witches from Outer Space. The ladies dressed as evil alien witches who planned to release their spider children on Earth and the providers dressed as Orkin men, out to save the day by killing the witches and their spiders. We actually won the contest! My husband helped me decorate cardboard gravestones that I lined the hallways with. We had a great time coming up with pun names for the stones. My dad, Jimmy’s Burnin Art, contributed his skills and made an awesome graveyard sign for us. It was a really fun crafty family co-op!

We carved pumpkins, this year were some funny warty-looking ones. I retrieved an eyeball decoration from a cupcake at work and had fun using it for my costume, then repurposing it for my jack-o-lantern.

November

On actual Thanksgiving Day, Micah and I got our Christmas tree from a friend’s property. This year was a fun three-topped mutant tree! After decorating with lights, we placed the star inside between the three tops, making a unique tree for sure.

We had a fun Thanksgiving on the weekend after the holiday, hosting it at our house. I made the turkey and Micah made the ham. Because of Covid, we modified the celebration. My parents brought their trailer, pumpkin pie, and camped out at our house. Micah’s parents, since we live on their 15 acres, made the sides and we traded for a full feast. We had a nice roaring fire to stand around.

I’m so glad I had a chance to get together with another dear friend, Cee Cee, I don’t get to see often enough. We had fun watching movies and catching up. In years past, we’ve watched entire serieseseses of TV shows and turned each other onto new movies and music. She’s also the one who inspired me to pursue a career in Medical Assisting! I hope to see her again soon, we had to cancel our last get together due to Covid.

I also enjoyed savoring the beauty the change in season brings. Marci gave me an amazing gift of some fun cranky garden gnomes ;c)P