Sunday Stills: Your 2020 #Retrospective

Sunday Stills 2020 Banner
Sunday Stills 2020 Banner

I had originally thought to take a break until January 10, then realized I’m a bit bored, so why not jump back into blogging? Especially with this theme of looking back on our 2020 retrospective.

A retrospective shows our year in words, photos, stories, and other creative endeavors. Share your good and bad, your best and worst, and what your hope is as 2021 begins. I have chosen to share images, old and new, of the highlights of each month of 2020.

2020 was not all bad. Certainly, the pandemic was (and is) a game-changer and we lost friends and loved ones. Some of us tested positive. Our kids and grandkids are still struggling in a two-dimensional world of learning. Most of us cannot travel to the extent we prefer, and too many folks are struggling financially. However, if this was a sci-fi movie, the plot would demonstrate the resilience of humanity as we navigate through these unprecedented times. Many wonderful events happened to countless people in 2020. While we grieve the losses, let us stay positive and look forward to our blessings and futures.

Here is my retrospective written for each month in 2020. This is longer than my usual posts so please be warned!

January Joyrides

In late December 2019, we headed out on another winter road trip from Sacramento, California, to Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent time with Ingrid and her husband, then FINALLY got to see the Grand Canyon!

Winter in South Rim of Grand Canyon
Cold Winter’s Day in South Rim of Grand Canyon

My brother and partner lived for a short time in Vegas, so we all enjoyed a trip to Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park.

Entering the Narrows of Valley of Fire
Entering the Narrows of Valley of Fire

Later in the month, we made a trip up north to a nearby bird sanctuary to view the comings and goings of the Canadian snow geese that make their winter home in the Sacramento Valley.

looking up at snow geese

Canadian Snow Geese will cause you to look up abruptly as they fly in graceful formations, honking at each other to stay in line. Submitted for Lisa’s bird weekly challenge, birds with long wingspans. Snow Geese have wingspans up to 4.5 feet!

February Fantasy

The land hunt was over. In 2019, we started planning a life change and an eventual move to Washington State. We began the loan process of purchasing a half-acre of property in Nine Mile Falls, near Spokane, WA. We imagined ourselves making payments on the property for a year while fixing up the existing house in Sacramento at a leisurely pace.

Fixing a new deck

March Madness

On March 3rd, my 79-year old mother passed away from complications of age and pneumonia. Little did I know how blessed we were to spend the last days with her in the hospital and say our goodbyes.

Obituary Image

Covid-19 became too real as shut-downs in countries and local communities began just weeks later. Universities and schools began the arduous task of teaching online. We signed papers on our property the day before California counties shut down. Real estate prices fell and we got nervous about the future of the plans for our new home.

A toast to the future
It’s Ours!

April Angles and Angels

Church services were canceled or limited to online viewing. Our spirits were lifted anyway, especially when our pastor and his wife personally delivered the Easter lilies we purchased that were meant as memorials for loved ones.

Easter Lily Close-Up

During the shut-downs, the only fun we could have was going to the grocery store and various big box stores as people flocked to buy materials for home improvement, gardening, and backyard birding. Below, you can see the incredible siding job hubby completed.

Front of house completed

May We Begin Again?

Our delta campground where we windsurfed and paddled delayed its opening by almost 2 months. Honestly, we were lucky it opened at all. At that time, we didn’t know it would be our last summer.

Delta Sunset Painnted

In mid-May, we took a road trip to Spokane once Covid travel restrictions eased. I finally got to show hubby the land we bought! With some advice, we refinanced our property loan to include construction and the home itself and fast-tracked ourselves on the road to move.

Happy on our half acre

June Jubilee

Opening hydrangeas

This month, I reflected on what would have been my mother’s 80th birthday. She always had a garden full of flowers. Anticipating our move by the end of the year, I eventually rehomed my huge potted hydrangea to a friend in November before our move. My last crop of sunflowers began blooming.

sunflower

Joyful July

This month I celebrated Aeros’ 10th birthday.

Me and My Aero

Covid restrictions eased a bit and some travel was allowed. My gym opened for two weeks and I went every day. I had the absolute pleasure of visiting longtime friend and fellow blogger Marsha at her former home in Central Calfornia.

Two Bloggers

Then, to top it off, we got to see a black bear ambling along the highway near the south entrance of Sequoia National Park! Marsha recently moved to Prescott, Arizona and we have been checking in with each other about how our collective moves have been going!

Golden Black Bear

August Angst

Early August found me on my third road trip, this time to Mammoth Lakes on the Eastern Sierra Nevada. My family had originally made plans to stay in a large condo there and drive to Tuolumne Meadows on the Tioga Pass side of Yosemite National Park to scatter my mom’s ashes. Only myself, my daughter and her boyfriend, and my brother and his partner made the trip, so we saved the scattering for another date in 2021. I cried when I saw my family since we hadn’t been together since Christmas.

Near Mammoth is Mono Lake and we enjoyed a sunset stroll among the tufa towers.

Standing beside Mono Lake

Covid restrictions were well in place in Mammoth and people walked around in masks as if we had been wearing them our whole lives. Entrance into Yosemite was limited to pre-reserved permits. I stood at the Tioga Pass entrance to Yosemite wearing my mask—a sign of the times! Although we could not drive in, we could walk into the park through the nearby meadows. This marked my third visit to a National Park in 2020. Not bad for a pandemic!

Tioga Pass Entrance Masked

Sadly, we endured horrific California fires that engulfed the entire West Coast with smoke and hazardous air quality, along with oppressive heat. To add to an already eventful month, not only did we sell my mother’s home in August, but we also closed on our new construction loan…all in one 24 hour period! Whew!

August and September were unbelievably stressful months. If you haven’t had the chance, you can read more about it: Sunday Stills: Towering Turmoil.

Wake Me Up When September Ends

I started September teaching my university classes online. I gave up my third class to another professor because I did not have the energy or motivation to turn it into an online course. I was extremely sad knowing it was to be my last semester teaching after 10 years as a part-time lecturer and also disappointed to not be in the classroom with the students.

We spent the second weekend of September packing up and saying goodbye to the delta, where I had spent 11 summers learning new board sports and camping with new friends.

Sunset over wind turbines

Determined to continue packing and moving, we moved our travel trailer to Spokane a few days later, before winter set in…. Yep, a tire blew out on the trailer in central Oregon, but Hercules Hans (hubby) fixed it and we were safe!

I said goodbye to the last of my sweet sunflowers. Each spring, I grew them from seeds and their lovely blooms gave me three years of pleasure cultivating them, watching them grow, and taking endless photographs of them.

October Obstacles

I would categorize October as the second-worst month of 2020 (behind March) and the month where obstacles stood waiting for us. As we prepared for the last of the two-way road trips to Spokane, we experienced delays with the moving company. We finally had to drive the bumpy, noisy, 20-foot truck there loaded with 60% of our home and return the empty truck. By now we had packed and prepped to the point of exhaustion. As if that weren’t enough, we contracted mild cases of Covid from family members while staying overnight near Bend, Oregon.

super pink moon

Even the blue moon of Halloween was not enough to make the my month better.

Notable November

Once we got the nod from our real estate agent, all systems were “go” for listing the house. We made plans to take yet another road trip, this time to San Diego to visit our collective adult children and family and take some boxes of goodies to them. We timed the home listing and walk-throughs with this visit so we would be gone for a few days. Over 100 families visited the home in three days. My home of 32 years sold in four days, $16,000 above our asking price.

Japanese Maple Fall

Fall leaves finally made their appearance which gave me a sense of peace tinged with melancholy, knowing that this was my last Autumn at my home. We spent a quiet Thanksgiving as my two daughters came to visit and say goodbye to their childhood home for the last time.

We say goodbye to our family home

A December to Remember

December is traditionally a month of festivity and fun with Christmas and our annual road trips south. This month would be like no other December in memory. Mid-month, I said my goodbyes to fellow faculty on Zoom and farewell to my 10-year teaching career. Below is the last look at my walk toward the building and classrooms.

Sacramento State University

We spent two weeks packing the POD after Thanksgiving, filling it to the brim. Early the next morning, on December 13, I tearfully hugged my house goodbye and took one last look at the empty house as we drove away for the last time, me following behind my husband’s truck in my car.

Huggin my house goodbye

This would be our final, and one-way road trip through Oregon and onto Spokane for 2020. Although it rained all through Oregon, there was no snow, and we made record time on our second day with joy in our hearts as we reached our destination in Spokane. A few days later we visited our property and said hello to our new house!

New home selfie

Someone asked me what I learned from 2020. Like any year, I take away nuggets of wisdom from the choices I made. My husband and I walk in faith, understanding that both good and bad things will happen. The pandemic made 2020 a challenging year, but life went on in its usual fashion. This may sound weird, but the pandemic hastened our move out of California, and the timing for both buying and selling real estate was rather miraculous. Let’s just say, with two homes sold in 2020, Hans and I have enough money to live on for several years if we truly retire.

New Horizons for 2021

What is on the horizon? We are patiently waiting for our house to be ready. Within the next few weeks, it will be set onto the foundation, the two halves joined together, the utilities will get hooked up and the interior will be completed. I’m told this could take another 1-2 months. Meanwhile, we continue to live with my brother-in-law.

Once we get moved into the home, Hans will look for employment. His retirement pension from the City of Sacramento wasn’t as generous as mine, since he only put in 7 years. I am contemplating teaching as a lecturer at Eastern Washington University in their parks and recreation management program. But I prefer to wait until the campus opens back to classroom teaching. Heck, I may not work at all and be truly retired. Our only hiccup is we will have to pay our medical benefits out-of-pocket, at least until age 65 (4 more years). If he works, and he plans to, then our medical benefits will be covered.

I need to get my fitness level back to pre-2019. Between foot surgery in 2019 and gyms closing in most of 2020, I feel very out of shape. Once spring comes, I plan to visit nearby hiking trails and bike paths a few miles from the new home. For now, with winter in full swing, I bought a set of snowshoes and have already tried them. With the poles and 12 inches of snow, it is like an elliptical workout!

me and my snowshoes

As for writing projects, I plan to finish my fitness book, No Excuses Fitness, and get that self-published. I found it difficult to write about motivating others to be physically active when I was not. I am also reading more and have some review posts planned to highlight other bloggers’ books!

Did I mention I’m a bit bored? Living in someone else’s house limits a person. But as you read this post, we plan to drive to Couer D’ Aline, Idaho, just 30 miles away to watch the 100’s of bald eagles feed on the salmon in the lake. If I can capture an eagle with my camera lens, I can check off another bucket list item. Keep your fingers crossed!

I hope this post has inspired you to reflect on your own 2020 experience. The following photo challenges have inspired me as well:
Becky B’s Squares
Cee’s Flower of the Day
Lisa’s Bird weekly

Also linking to the Lens-Artists challenge this week Favorite Images of 2020.

I’m also linking this post to lovely Leslie’s at Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever After.

Won’t you join me for Sunday Stills in 2021? Thank you to all who have participated in Sunday Still these last three years!

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Sunday Stills: Back to #School

graphic for back to school

graphic for back to school

Last week I took a short break from Sunday Stills to travel to San Diego for my high school’s 40th year class reunion (1978).

Did you enjoy the break? I know a few bloggers posted a couple of Sunday Stills’ favorites!

By the looks of my e-mail inbox, I see more folks are posting more often now that summer is over, and we are back to our normal routines.

By mid-September, everyone who is going to school is back by now, even the universities on quarter system. The traffic on the roads has definitely picked up in my area!

This week’s theme is “back to school’ which can have the potential for a lot of ideas. As a university lecturer, I went back to school at the end of August. I mentioned before that I love the beginning of the school year where everything seems fresh and new as the Fall gets under way.

Back to School Ideas

I’m looking forward to what your posts will cover for the theme, whether you find a fantastic image of an actual school or write a poem or haiku about the subject or just reminisce about a topic related to school. I can see someone posting about adult education, online learning or a myriad of other ideas. Did someone in your family have their “first day” at kindergarten, or high school? Those are important milestones that I’m sure you celebrated to some degree.

The sky is the limit. Here are a couple of mine to get you started.

Nothing says “back to school” in the non-traditional sense than celebrating with fellow classmates at a class reunion.

Classmates at a high school reunion
Photo credit: A friend’s husband took the pic!

I can’t say I miss the teenage drama of those days, but fortunately, after 40 years, most everyone has grown up (I say “most” with tongue planted firmly in cheek) and become responsible, wiser adults who have proven to be good friends over the years. There were two events: a Friday night mixer at a San Diego bar and grill, then the reunion itself. I have to say it was the best reunion I have attended (I went to my 10th, 20th, & 30th). Lots of talking, dancing and catching up. Many thanks to the ladies on my immediate right and left who were part of the reunion event committee.

Sadly I’ve heard that class reunions are becoming a bit of an anachronism these days, now that social media keeps people together in some sense. But there is nothing like seeing your fellow classmates in person years later with glasses, wrinkles and extra weight to level the playing field of teenage angst and insecurity that defined high school.

Of course I am back to school on my university campus as the semester has gained a foothold into September. A variety of competing coffee shops provides much needed caffeine for overworked students.

Students walking through library breezeway
Spurred on by the promise of campus “Grumpy Mule” coffee, student pedestrians make their way to the library.

Last spring, I took my leisure education class out onto the campus bridge and had them play by blowing bubbles, but not without coffee!

In this photo, a group of youth tour the campus in hopes of becoming future university students.

Future students touring the university

Almost four years ago I wrote a post about The Haunting of Old Coloma School House, which is a historical look at a building where I worked.

Share your “back to school” themed posts and images for Sunday Stills. Link up below or simply create a pingback to this post!


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Sunday Stills: You’ve Got a #Friend

Woman with Dog

Who among us doesn’t have a friend? Some have a larger circle of friends, while others have a choice few.

Sunday Stills asks us to share an image of “friend.” The featured image above shows my daughter with her best friend Gideon!

Here are some of my examples of “friend.”

A surprise wedding shower for me hosted by my windsurf friends 5 years ago!

A surprise wedding shower demonstrates the optimism of a new relationship.

“Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It’s not something you learn in school. But if you haven’t learned the meaning of friendship, you really haven’t learned anything.”
― Muhammad Ali

Two friends out for a stand-up paddle session.

SUP-Sounds
No wind? No problem. Get out your SUP and enjoy!

Then there are our fur-baby friends who are also friends with each other. Aero misses Gideon (left) who lives with his mommy in San Diego (pictured above).

“Blogging introduced me to people from all over the world. I have met people who I now consider friends who live in Australia, UK, South Africa, Europe, Philippines, not to mention new friends in the states. My new friends, despite their distance, are as important to me as if they were my local neighbors.”  7 Ways Blogging Changed My Life

Bloggers became friends and spent a weekend sharing our tips and tricks for blogging.

We really do have fun while working!

 

“There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”
― Linda Grayson

Did you know today is National Friendship Day? according to National Day Calendar 

Link up here!

My continuing gratitude to those who faithfully post their photos each week!

Say hello to our new participants who shared posts in July for the first time!

Bushboys World
Indira’s Blog
KAMERAPROMENADER
Mama Cormier
Megakaos2013
The Nuthouse
Picture Retirement
Vintage Neon Signs
Wanderlust and Wonderment
Whippet Wisdom
Wind Kisses
Woolly Muses
Zombie Flamingos

Remember I gladly share your posts to social media! I just opened a new account with MIX, which replaced StumbleUpon. Check it out when you get a chance, as I will also share your posts to Mix via my Chrome Extension.

As always, I look forward to seeing your creative views of the theme for Sunday Stills this week.

Tiki signature

 

Canine Companions

Aero (left) really is a friend to Brodie.

Aero (left) really is a friend to Brodie.
Aero (left) really is a friend to Brodie.

The theme of the weekly photo challenge is Friend.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog.
You are his life, his love, his leader.
He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart.
You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
Author Unknown

Not only are dogs our friends, but they are friends with each other…canine companions.

Aero started with his brother Gideon (the blonde) as inseparable friends. They are actually brothers, one litter removed. Gideon moved away with his mom (my daughter) last year. This photo was included in the weekly photo challenge Partners.

Aero seemed content to just hang out with us, but we thought he needed something more.

We brought baby Brodie home so Aero could teach him a thing or two.

Aero coaching Brodie on the finer points of a dog's life
Aero coaching Brodie on the finer points of a dog’s life.

Now they are content to lay in the sun and just play!

Fast friends, Boykin Spaniels

In case you are wondering…Brodie is a purebred Boykin Spaniel, while Aero is a Boykin-poodle mix. Read more about Aero’s journey.

Note: 6 month old Brodie is already 36 pounds, while 6-year old Aero is a whopping 13 pounds (more obvious in the featured image). Aero knows how to take Brodie down when he gets too friendly…

paw prints

Surprise Victory

Celebrating my wedding shower

Victory

…the theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge! So many interpretations! This was taken in August 2013 a week before my wedding. My windsurf buddies threw me a surprise wedding shower at the delta and it felt like a victory for not only having my valued friendships, but the victory of a wonderful relationship culminating in marriage.

Celebrating my wedding shower
Image by fellow windsurfer.

My friends and I stand-up paddled to this location where the champagne awaited. That in itself was a victory.

Circles of Friends

Circle-of-Friends

Circle-of-Friends
Lake Tahoe’s paddleboat Tahoe Queen makes a circuitous route from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay

While at our retreat in Lake Tahoe, I captured this photo of the paddle-boat Tahoe Queen on one of its daily tours and I am submitting it for Ed’s Sunday Stills weekly photography feature. Since “circles” is the theme, you will see the circle of the paddle wheel as well as the circular wood structures on the pier in the foreground.

Not an especially amazing photo, but the theme of “circles” brought to mind something I wanted to share from my retreat experience.

I spent a beautiful weekend in Lake Tahoe at a ladies retreat sponsored by our church. In yesterday’s post I introduced the concept of Sobremesa, which was the theme of our retreat.

Spanish culture embraces sobremesa, the time where people gather for dinner, then spend up to two hours just talking and enjoying each other’s company. It is a concept mostly lost to us in today’s busy world, especially in the U.S.

After experiencing some wonderful quality time with the women of my church, I want to find ways to experience a little sobremesa! Family time is so precious, and having recently witnessed my youngest daughter’s college graduation, my time with her is limited before she leaves for her internship. After that, she will move on to her own adult life.

I want to encourage you to dedicate some family time at your main meal to simply talk about the day’s events and draw closer to each other. Believe me, finding time to sit down for 5 minutes, much less two hours, is nearly impossible. When the kids were young, we were always on the go and ate a few fast-food meals in the car on the way to somewhere.

No wonder so many of us are overweight and stressed out!

If you fall into this category, try committing to one family meal a week where you can all spend a few extra minutes talking about the day’s events. Gradually add a few extra minutes each week and make it something the entire family can look forward to. If you are someone who lives alone, think about other ways you can eat a meal with a colleague, friend or family member.

Our friendships may also suffer in our “hurry-up” world. Because we barely have time for our own family members, how can we possibly find time to meet with friends on a regular basis?

Re-connecting with my friends at the retreat and simply having conversations really fed my soul. Conversations connect us together and create new circles of friendships, or re-create former ones. I also made new friends at this retreat and would like to get to know them better.

While it may be unrealistic to have a two-hour lunch with a friend every week, make a little time to meet face-to-face.

I need to practice what I preach. I have a wonderful friend whom I have known since 1980. I consider her one of my closest and best friends and we get together for lunch and shopping every three or four months. We both have retired and have more time, so we need to meet more often. MC, if you are reading this, we need to meet for lunch again, SOON!

One of the songs we sang at the retreat was “Circle of Friends” by Point of Grace. I love the lyrics in this excerpt.

If you weep, I will weep with you
If you sing for joy, the rest of us will lift our voices, too.
But no matter what you feel inside there’s no need to pretend
That’s the way it is in this circle of friends.

During our weekends at the delta, our friends in our windsurf campground often gather spontaneously during the evening meal. They are likely drawn to my hubby’s wonderful BBQ and just bring over their meal to our large communal table. After a great sailing session, dinner can come late, and many of us eat quickly but linger long afterwards just talking about the day.

A wonderful circle of friends, indeed.

Who is in your circle of friends? Do you get the chance to connect on a regular basis?

Embrace the idea of sobremesa and see how it can enhance your time with family and friends.