Sunday Stills: 2021 In the #Rear-View Mirror, Nothing Like the Present, The Future is Ours

Winter Wonderland neighborhood view

What a year 2021 has been! When we anticipated 2021, most of us thought we would be done with Covid and our hopes for a healthier and stress-free new year were, well, … dashed? Postponed? Maybe never existed?

2021 was a truly eventful year for my family as we spent our first full winter living in Spokane, WA, having moved mid-December, 2020 from Sacramento, CA. In a nutshell—huge changes as we moved twice between January and March, from a family member’s home to our RV, then to our brand-new home in Nine Mile Falls, 20 miles north of Spokane.

As I share my thoughts and photos that made the most impact on my year, I’ve selected a few of my favorite images for each month of 2021. You can create your own narrative to describe how you lived a year full of change, surprise, or … you fill in those blanks!

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.”

Taylor Swift

Justifiable January

Did you know January is the best month in which to purchase furniture if you want to save money? Anticipating a 6-8 week waiting period for delivery, we spent several days shopping for new furniture and some appliances. Lots of money changed hands but it was justified in order to furnish our larger home. We expected our home to be ready by March, so the timing was right.

After a loo-oo-ng month living with my hubby’s twin brother and weird roommate, we gritted our teeth and pulled our 30-foot RV through the snowy roads to an RV campground where we lived until almost the end of March.

Freaky February

RV Campground home

February was a COLD month with temps dropping to 9 degrees Fahrenheit for several days. Always fun, when the propane tank runs out at 4 am when you have to get up to use the facilities! February 14, a traditional day of love, marked the day that my dear mother-in-law, Hella Blumenbach Schrandt, peacefully stepped into eternity.

Another March Madness

Similar to March 2020, 2021’s March was a MONTH! Compared to life in 2020, while we were locked down and dealing with the uncertainty of a pandemic, I also lost my mom in early March, 2020 just before everything shut down.

Not only did we get the keys to the house on March 22nd in 2021, and begin the torturous, but super exciting move-in process, we also attended the wake and celebration of life for my mother-in-law who passed in February at the age of 89.

An Abundant April

If finally belonging to a local church and getting a “new-to-me” car doesn’t define abundance, I’m not sure what does. Getting the first of two Moderna vaccination shots gave me the feeling of good health again, if not as abundant as in prior years.

May’s Momentous Moments

With a Pacific Northwest spring in full swing, May was a busy hub of beautiful views, hikes, whirlwind construction, and family visits to our new home.

  • When I discovered I could enjoy sunflowers again, and wild ones at that, which grew on the property, I was in heaven.
  • We finally got all of our vehicles registered in Washington and corresponding plates were handed out at the Department of Licensing. Same-day service…incredible!
  • My daughter and fiance traveled on Memorial Day weekend to spend a few days with us. We took them to the Bowl and Pitcher State Park and to downtown Spokane’s Riverfront Park.
  • In the same month, the contractor began construction on our pole barn/shop/shed/garage.
  • My first stand-up paddle on Lake Spokane!

June’s Journeys

Hmmm, June. An emotional roller coaster of life events and road trips. In May we learned the sad news that my cousin’s beloved husband died of cardiac arrest.

Miraculously, the entire set of families were all vaccinated and we could gather safely in Portland, Oregon, to celebrate his incredible life in early June.

During June’s long days, I witnessed a fantastic lunar eclipse just as the sun rose.

Pink moon in eclipse

“All great beginnings start in the dark, when the moon greets you to a new day at midnight.”

Shannon L. Alder

With one road trip (Bloganuary theme for Jan 2) to Portland under our belt, hubby got ready to take a trip to Sacramento to pick up the rest of our belonging from the storage unit. As he departed from the extreme heat here in the PNW, he headed south to equally hot temps, coupled with crippling smoke from west coast wildfires. How does the Spokane area get to 109 degrees Fahrenheit??

A Truly Emotional “Journey”

Bluebell Court Eagles ©Diana Gigler
Bluebell Court Eagles contemplating their nest in February (image by Diana Gigler, used with permission)

Many of you followed along as I grew emotionally attached to “Journey,” the local celebrity eaglet whose eagle family resided in their nest in a neighbor’s backyard. Diana created a Facebook group “BlueBell Court Eagles,” chronicling the magnificent eagle family with her incredible photography. Thousands of folks followed along daily watching Journey grow into a stunning juvenile eaglet. She graciously allowed me to use her photos.

With June’s unexpected and oppressive heat, Journey fledged too soon and leapt out of the nest, and was rescued with a call from a neighbor to the Birds of Prey Northwest who promptly took Journey to the center for 6-weeks of rehydration and recovery.

Jaw-Dropping July

Expecting cooler summers in the Pacific Northwest, I never dreamed we would experience such devastating heat. The excessive heat that engulfed the west coast sparked hundreds of wildfires that not only devasted hundred of thousands of acres of land and burned homes and structures, but created enough smoke that could be seen from space!

Smokey orb over pine trees
Smoky sunrises were the norm in Summer 2021

In 2021, Spokane also saw the most days with 90-degree temperatures and tied the most days with 100-degree temperatures. Keep in mind that most homes don’t have air conditioning because it is usually not necessary. When we finalized the orders for our manufactured home in September 2020, we added the heat pump/AC at the last minute. I’d spent enough years in hot, smoky Sacramento to know that I didn’t want to endure that again. Thank goodness!

A Little More Journey

Journey was released back into the wild, healthy and strong. During this process, I learned so much about eagles and other raptors and the Birds of Prey Northwest’s efforts of its volunteers. During the unprecedented heat, over 20 bald eagles were rescued in three weeks’ time, compared to other years when the volunteers rescued 1-3 per year. Jaw-dropping indeed! Images by Diana Gigler and used with her permission.

Although Journey did not fly back to his nest, we believe that his parents cared for him out on the lake and continued to teach him how to hunt and fish. We eagerly await the new nesting season and hope that the Bald Eagle pair will return to the nest and lay a new clutch of eggs this spring.

Exhausting August

August was a dizzying month for a variety of reasons. The weather was still very hot and smoky, making me pinch myself to check that we didn’t dream about moving here and were still living in Northern California where heat and smoke were the norms in summer and fall. We stayed mostly local during the first part of the month as the construction on our outbuildings was near completion. I enjoyed driving around and stopping for photo ops.

But then… with upcoming air travel to San Diego, CA, and Phoenix, AZ, I needed a blog break to survive the rest of the month. Many thanks to Natalie for guest hosting Sunday Stills for three weeks!

August highlights included:

  • Kayaking on the Little Spokane River with friends where I saw two moose!
  • A fun stay-over with Marsha in Prescott to see their lovely new home and area, which coincided nicely with our 8th wedding anniversary.
  • My step-daughter’s wedding in Sedona.
  • A visit by a dear friend from Sacramento.
  • Shop doors were FINALLY installed!

Sanguine September

Where August was the whirlwind, September was downright sluggish but sweet and serene! After the Labor Day holiday, summer ends, kids head back to school and normal weather returns. Signs of Autumn showed themselves early here in the PNW. As the pace really slowed down, and I had time for local hikes and more photo ops. Toward the end of the month, another good friend came up for a visit!

We also finalized and converted our construction loan to a mortgage loan at a nice, low percentage rate, which had been another source of stress and uncertainty.

Overjoyed October

I checked a bucket list item off this month. I got to witness the Northern Lights from my front porch! To the naked eye, the lights looked gray and misty, but the camera picked up the green bandwidth of color.

Aurora Borealis from my porch
Aurora Borealis from my porch

As Autumn progressed, we had the opportunity to volunteer for the local nursery each weekend in October and gain 8 free trees in the process! Hubby turned 62, a milestone birthday, which usually marks retirement…what’s that supposed to look like?

A Northwest November

With Autumn still hanging in there, November found us beginning work as substitutes for the local school district; Hans, as a substitute for custodial/facility maintenance, and me as a substitute teacher. Below is a rare moment in between classes in the library resource room.

I also discovered the yellow pine tree, known as Western Larch to add to my collection of amazing things to see in the PNW.

Golden rural street
Western Larch on left in its yellow splendor

In late November, we drove back to Lake Coeur D’ Alene at Higgens Point to hopefully observe the Bald Eagles fishing and hunting for Kokanee salmon that spawn there. Many of you saw these beauties already on social media. These were captured with the Lumix FZ-300. The image on the right is currently being printed onto a large canvas!

December Defined

December Highlights:

  • December 2021 was our first December in our home.
  • Winter Mule Deer Buck
  • A Winter Moon
  • Old-fashioned Christmas tree lighting living in a winter wonderland
  • Thirty-five family members gathered for Christmas Eve at another relative’s home. My sis-in-law is a spectacular decorator and chef!
Christmas Eve Table Decor

Redefining traditions, spending time with extended family, and discovering the jewels of the Pacific Northwest, where every day feels like a new adventure, are some of the reasons we left Northern California. I get a thrill seeing wildlife daily just walking in my own neighborhood or a few miles away.

In this last image, you can see our compound off to the left. This angle was taken from the street looking toward our neighbor’s front yard.

Winter Wonderland neighborhood view
My winter wonderland (last on the card)

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

L. Frank Baum

I leave you with these thoughts for 2022.

Dare to dream. Take the road less traveled. Just do it. There is no try–just do! Life IS short.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This motto/meme graces most of my social media images.

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”

William E. Vaughan, journalist and author

Photo Challenges this Week

Each week I am inspired by my fellow bloggers’ photo challenges. I find it fun to incorporate these into my Sunday Stills weekly themes.

If you have already published a 2021 “retrospective” post, please feel free to link it to this post so we can see how the year went for all of us. I will be adding your links to each, current Sunday Stills post while it is still live, rather than waiting until the following week. Doing it this way is actually easier and a bit more efficient!

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

Sunday Stills weekly photo challenge is easy to join. You have all week to share and link your post.

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Tag your post “Sunday Stills.”
  • Title YOUR blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.

My humble and sincere thanks to all who participated in 2021! Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another.

To see more of my images and other news, consider following Terri on Social Media by clicking the icons:

Have a great week and I wish you:

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