twenty twenty-one: from insurrection to omicron

Twenty twenty-one was:  A year of insurrections, the inauguration of a new president, and the impeachment of an ex-president, sadly without a conviction. A year of justices, injustices and utter lack of justice. A year of glimmers of hope that we were emerging from our pandemic due to availability of a vaccine and a booster, thwarted by two Greek letter variants: Delta and Omicron, and by people who either refused to do their part for the common good or were unable to access the vaccine. A year of continued attempts to heal my laryngopharyngeal reflux including some unpleasant tests and a partial laproscopic fundoplication. A partial year of working on the mind-body connection with The Cure for Chronic Pain and Curable. A year of a molar implant and a crown. A year of walking outdoors and yoga practice. A year of a “Great Lakes Road Trip” through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan; a two-week trip to Croatia; and a long weekend in Boston. A year of our eldest son coming home to live with us and returning to college in data science. A year of my daughter making prepared meals for a market, a long-time dream of hers. A year of our youngest son continuing to live in Nicaragua. A year of flags commemorating those dead from Covid, a lavender farm, and “Les Colombes” (The Doves) at the Cathedral. A year of continuing to wear a mask everywhere and to keep the requisite social distance. A year off from blogging, a much-needed break, but still not accomplishing much. A year of favorite movies: The Dig, Nomadland, Minari, Summer of Soul, Mama Weed, Stillwater, Coda, Belfast, King Richard, and Don’t Look Up. A year of favorite books: A Reckoning by May Sarton, The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna, The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, and Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose. Read 57/52 books for the year (My Year in Books: 2021). A year in which the word of the year was vaccine, or “vax.”


My year in books

January was: A month of three “I”s: insurrection, impeachment and inauguration on three consecutive Wednesdays. A month of dark energy, white supremacy, hatred, violence – all an inflection point in U.S. history, outcome as yet unknown. A month of fires in the fireplace and games of Scrabble, Ticket to Ride and Yahtzee. A month where snow fell on the last day after a two-year snow drought. A month of walks in the neighborhood, around Reston lakes, in Eakin Park, and along the Glade Trail. A month where Poonam tripped on tree roots and couldn’t get up. A month of coconut water, chocolate, hot cocoa and hot water with honey. A month of lobster rolls, chili dogs, and Vietnamese food. A month of haircuts, hair straightening, and pedicures. A month of Adam breaking up with Anna and getting baptized in the name of Jesus in Nicaragua. A month of Luxor and The Dig. A month of Sarah beginning to create dishes to sell in Shields Market and working more at Soul ‘n Vinegar. A month of the Wolf Moon and bitter winds and sunshine. A month of hiking boots, umbrellas and warm woolly sweaters. A month dreaming about Minnesota, and reading Educated and The Coast of Good Intentions. A month of frantic tweeting, doomscrolling, celebrating Trump getting suspended from Twitter, and getting myself suspended temporarily from Facebook. A month of dreams about caravans of actors in a lost world after a “Georgian flu” pandemic. A month of signing up and waiting not-too-patiently for the ever-elusive COVID vaccine. A month of new coronavirus mutations from Spain, U.K., South Africa and Brazil. A month of Bernie memes with woolen mittens. A month of normalcy restored in our government.

February was: A month of snow mixed with rain and ice, a month of messy whiteness, slippery paths and bitter cold. A month of drab landscapes, naked brittle trees, biting winds, misery and gloom. A month, too, of hope, with the Lunar New Year, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Darina’s birthday, Mike’s birthday, and getting the first shot of the Pfizer COVID vaccine. A month when the groundhog saw his shadow, foretelling six more weeks of winter. A month of winter storms and a deep freeze in Texas with millions losing power and water, while Senator Ted Cruz took off for Cancún and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) went to Texas and raised millions of $$ for suffering Texans. A month of reading about Wisconsin: thousands of small lakes, Great Lakes, cheese curds, fish fries, fish boils, hiking, biking and canoeing. A month of getting exposed to COVID, but NOT getting infected (I always wear a mask indoors). A month of movies including Sophie Scholl, where the heroine was loaded like a torpedo into a guillotine; Hemingway and Gellhorn, where writers immersed themselves in the Spanish Civil War; of Two for the Road, The Song of Sparrows and Nomadland, which reminded me of Adam and his “van life.” A month of Yahtzee and Ticket to Ride and fires in the fireplace and sushi from Ariake and chili rellenos from Anita’s Mexican. A month of Sarah getting exposed to COVID at Joe’s (but testing negative) and enjoying creating meals for Shields Market. A month when Adam moved to Managua and drank too much over Anna, with whom “things are complicated.” A month of chili dogs and Pad Thai for Lunar New Year. A month of Republican senators failing to hold Trump accountable for inciting insurrection on January 6, by acquitting him in a “mock” trial. A month of French toast with brioche, triple sec and blood orange for Shrove Tuesday. A month when I met virtually with a new gastroenterologist, Dr. Emil Valle, who ordered some unpleasant tests. A month of a physical, an eye exam and visits to my dentist and oral surgeon. A month of slogs through the muddy trails at Mason Neck State Park (the Bay View Trail), where we talked by phone to Alex, saw Belmont Bay and crossed boardwalks over freshwater marshes. A month of walking on the Woodmarsh Trail at Elizabeth Hartwell Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, where we saw migrating tundra swans in the Great Marsh off the Potomac River on a rare 50 degree day for Mike’s 67th birthday. A month under the Snow Moon. A month where we finished Normal People and Crash Landing on You. A month where I had my first Zoom chat with Darina and a Zoom chat with my friend Jayne in Jersey. A month utterly absorbed in Station Eleven, and also enjoying Vinegar Hill and Cruising Paradise. A month of finishing 5 books, making my total for the year 12/52. A month of the U.S. hitting and surpassing 500,000 COVID deaths.

March was: A month of lengthening days, greening grasses and leaves, rain, sunshine, wind, warmth and cold. A month of daffodils, forsythia, crab apples, weeping cherries, grape hyacinths, & cherry blossoms. A month under the Worm Moon. A month of a successful molar implant & crown (#30). A month of fires in the fireplace and games of Scrabble where I chalked up one victory. A month where I endured a horribly uncomfortable Esophageal Function Test and a 24-Hour Ambulatory pH and Impedance test. A month where the Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill. A month of getting my second COVID vaccine (Pfizer) and Sarah getting both of hers. A month during which March 11 marked one year since COVID was declared a pandemic. A month commemorating Japan’s tsunami, earthquake and nuclear disaster of 10 years ago. A month of outdoor dining at Kalypso and Ariake. A month of walks around Burke Lake and too many other walks to count, several with Poonam. A month of an ultrasound on my thyroid, which was normal. A month of searching for and buying bedroom furniture after 32 years of marriage. A month of take-out from Cafesano & East Wind Vietnamese. A month of mass shootings: Asians in Atlanta and grocery shoppers in Boulder. A month where we finally finished Mad Men and watched the Turkish movie One -> Way to Tomorrow (Yarina tek bilet). A month exploring with Lewis & Clark in Undaunted Courage, learning about the Balkans in Café Europa, traipsing through Vietnam with Tim O’Brien in The Things They Carried, and climbing trees in The Overstory. A month of finishing 8 books, making my total for the year 20/52.

April was: A month of Riverbend Park bluebells, cherry blossoms, redbuds, dogwoods and turtles. A month under the Pink Moon. A month when our son in Nicaragua wrote a ranting text revealing he’s hopelessly mired in conspiracy theories and drinking again. A month when he went silent after we sent him a harsh and brutally honest message. A month of celebrating Easter with a take-out Thai meal on our screened porch with Barbara. A month when my son Alex came from Denver for a month-long visit and finally made the decision to go back to school in data science. A month of dining: inside at Artie’s (twice), Seasons 52, and Maru Korean Cuisine & Sushi; in a parklet at Los Cuates in Old Town Alexandria; on decks at Little Nickel & Stella’s Market in Richmond with Sarah; and under a parking lot awning at Vienna Inn. A month of day trips: to Old Town Alexandria for an art walk with Mike and to Historic Annapolis with Poonam. A month of an overnight visit with Sarah in Richmond for her 37th birthday. A month of take-out from food trucks at Oakton Swim & Racquet Club. A month of a CAT scan on my sinuses, which showed a mucous retention cyst in my right maxillary sinus and a nasal septum deviation, all of which are considered minor. A month of more doctor visits and a new medication regimen to deal with my LPR. A month when Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in the death of George Floyd, the first police officer to be convicted of murder in forever. A month beginning a revitalization of our front lawn under the direction of Betty’s Azalea Ranch. A month where we finished watching Schitt’s Creek, Not Safe for Work, and Unorthodox. A month mired in Wisconsin’s & Michigan’s rigid Catholicism with Midnight Champagne, Read This and Tell Me What It Says, and Pears on a Willow Tree. A month of living in besieged Sarajevo in The Cellist of Sarajevo. A month of finishing 6 books, making my total for the year 26/52.

May was a month of: farmer’s markets and a first time return to the movie theater to see what turned out to be a private screening of Together Together. Dining: inside at East Wind, take-out from Anita’s for Cinco de Mayo & Lebanese Taverna for a family gathering, a Mother’s Day brunch at Clarity with Alex & Mike. Wrapping up watching The Mess You Leave Behind and Behind Her Eyes. Finishing only one book, Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, bringing my total to 27/52 books for the year. Exploring Minnesota and Wisconsin on our Great Lakes Road Trip. Indiana Dunes, grottoes, and the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. Smoked salmon and trout, walleye tacos, cheese curds, chicken & wild rice soup, and cherry pies. Marine art, the birthplace of waterskiing, and a 16-foot-tall work boot. The SPAM Museum, flat endless farmland, Jolly Green Giant statues, Blue Mounds, Pipestone quarries, and invisible petroglyphs. German towns, waterfalls, reconciliation in Mankato, a bank robbery in Northfield. Strolling through sculpture gardens and across old stone bridges, driving through the University of Minnesota, bicycling around lakes in Minneapolis, and singing to musical murals. Browsing the Minnesota History Museum and learning about iron ore, lumber, the collapse of Interstate 35 in 2007, Minnesota weather, and Sinclair Lewis. Paying our respects to George Floyd, Prince and Bob Dylan, peeking into the On Being studio, and meeting Charlie Brown and the gang in St. Paul. Being charmed in Stillwater. Watching huge freighters go through the Duluth canal under the Aerial Lift Bridge. Railroads and rolling stock in Duluth. Hiking the Blind Ash Bay trail in Voyageurs National Park, having dinner at the Arrowhead Lodge, learning about Koochiching County and Bronko Nagurski in International Falls, and canoeing in search of pictographs on Hegman Lake in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Climbing up Palisade Head for sweeping views of Lake Superior, hiking the High Falls Trail at Tettegouche State Park, admiring the Split Rock Lighthouse, and stopping briefly at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Friday night fish fries and ice cream at Bridgeman’s after a seaplane flight over Duluth. Driving along Rt. 13 in Wisconsin, exploring Bayfield and Ashland, and cruising through Apostle Islands National Lakeshore on a cold and blustery day. Exploring waterfalls at Copper Falls State Park, climbing inside of a giant sturgeon at the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, stopping for a beer flight at Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. in Chippewa Falls, and stopping to pay our respects to veterans at the Highground, topped off by an old-fashioned Chinese meal at Shaw Lee in Wisconsin Rapids.

June was a month of: Exploring Wisconsin & Michigan on our Great Lakes Road Trip. Walking through Witches Gulch and watching a dog jump over an abyss to Stand Rock in Wisconsin Dells. Climbing the steep trail at Devil’s Lake State Park to the Devil’s Doorway. Enjoying a Bodega Bowl in the shadow of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, and wandering around the beautiful University of Wisconsin campus. Strolling State Street and enjoying dumplings at Chen’s Noodles & Dumplings. Cheese curds and beer at Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee. Walking through the “Streets of Old Milwaukee” and the European Village and learning about Nelson Mandela at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Glimpsing all-things-beer including Miller Brewing and the Pabst Mansion, then meeting “the Fonz” on the Riverwalk. Exploring the Public Market and the Historic Third Ward. Learning about maritime history in Sturgeon Bay and walking along limestone bedrock fronting Lake Michigan at Cave Point County Park. A conflagration and whitefish at a fish boil at Pelletier’s in Fish Creek. A stunning sunset at Sunset Beach at Fish Creek. Wearing cheeseheads and doing the “Lambeau Leap” at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Visiting the Sand Point Lighthouse in Escanaba and the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse in Marquette, Michigan. Watching The Sand Lot on a big screen at the Delft Bistro. Exploring Miners Castle, Miners Beach, Sable Falls, and the Au Sable Lighthouse Trail (accompanied by black flies and mosquitoes aplenty) at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. A 2-hour sunset cruise with Pictured Rocks Cruises after eating pasties at Muldoon’s Pasties. “Yoosta be a Yooper” in Munising, MI. Waterfalls in Munising and Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the Edmund Fitzgerald and other shipwrecks at Whitefish Point’s Shipwreck Museum and a ship moving glacially through the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie. Bicycling around Mackinac Island and then driving through the Tunnel of Trees to Petoskey. Enjoying thatch houses at Charlevoix, walking the Cottonwood Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and having a lovely dinner at The Cove in Leland, with views of weathered shanties on the Fishtown dock. Driving by Jim Harrison’s old home — writer’s cottage and all. Driving through cherry orchards and wineries up the slim Mission Peninsula, where we found another lighthouse. Coming face-to-face with the DeVos evangelical mission in Holland. Having a bad experience with our Airbnb in Detroit, which turned out to be in a derelict neighborhood, and losing most of our money. Wandering through Ann Arbor and watching In the Heights at the Michigan Theatre. Learning about the history of cars and American innovation at The Henry Ford in Dearborn. Learning about an obscure battle in the War of 1812 at the River Raisin National Battlefield Park. Visiting the Johnstown Flood National Memorial and learning about over 2,000 people who died in that horrible flood of 1889. Paying my respects to the 9/11 heroes of Flight 93 at the Flight 93 National Memorial. Having new landscaping installed in our front yard and new bedroom furniture delivered. Enjoying food from the Jambalaya Brothers Food Truck and welcoming Alex back home to live while he goes back to NOVA. A cookout for Father’s Day with Barb and Alex. Beginning my immunotherapy for allergies. Dinner at Barcelona Wine Bar. “Les Colombes” (The Doves) at Washington National Cathedral and a mediocre lunch at Cactus Cantina. Our first Uber Eats at La Ong Thai Bistro. Wrapping up watching Masterpiece Theater’s Us, Bless This Mess, and The Mindy Project. Finishing only one book, A Relative Stranger: Stories by Charles Baxter, bringing my total to 28/52 books for the year.

July was a month of: Allergy shots, haircuts, a massage, a pneumonia shot, pedicures in purple at Orchid Nails, and yoga & karma meditation at Beloved Yoga (& one yoga session at Holy Comforter). Pleasant afternoons here & there and at Blooming Hill Lavender Farm. Lunch at Kalypso and a couple of walks with Jayne when she visited from California. Solo weekend time when Mike took his annual trip to Ohio with his high school buddies. First shot of the Moderna vaccine for Alex. Losing to Alex & Mike at Ticket to Ride. Enjoying food out at Enatye, Artie’s, Tsunami Sushi, Season 52, and Maru Korean Cuisine & Sushi with Alex to celebrate an “A” in his public speaking class. Enjoying Food Truck Fridays at Roaming Coyote & Empanadas de Mendoza. Jiving to Summer of Soul with Mike and enjoying Mama Weed followed by dinner at Yama Chen’s on my own; watching Stillwater with Mike at Cinema Arts. Being probed by videostroboscopy with Dr. Steven Bielamowicz at George Washington University Hospital with his determination that sinus problems were NOT the primary cause of my LPR. Starting to feel better with my LPR. Finishing Hemingway. Wrapping up five books, my favorites being Virgil Wander, Siam, Evicted, and Girl at War, bringing my total to 33/52 books for the year.

August was a month of: Continuing allergy shots. Visiting Sarah in Richmond & dinner at Bacchus. Playing Exploding Kittens with Alex. Watching a family of deaf fishermen and their hearing (& singing) daughter in Coda at Cinema Arts. Enjoying a meal at Istanbul Blue with Alex to celebrate finishing his summer semester with two “A”s. Eating a low carb / high protein diet to shrink my liver in preparation for a laproscopic partial fundoplication. Having the surgery & staying overnight in Reston Hospital. Basking in sunflowers at the Van Gogh Immersive Experience. Seeing Dr. Whittington and finding my teeth are super sensitive to cold due to gum recession. Visiting the orthopedic doctor due to pain in my right hip and pins & needles in my right thigh; starting a round of steroids. A liquid diet for two weeks after the surgery. Dropping 7.8 pounds due to the surgery and diet restrictions. Enjoying a royal blue pedicure at Orchid Nails. Getting my flu shot. Streaming movies: Land, Supernova, Pray Away, and The Mauritanian. Walking with Poonam to see her new house under construction and getting drenched during the walk home. Watching & waiting as Jayne’s house in South Lake Tahoe was threatened by the Caldor Fire. Finishing The Kominsky Method. Watching the six-episode The White Lotus. Finishing up three books, my favorites being The Lager Queen of Minnesota, Lullaby Road, and The Sun Collective, bringing my total to 36/52 books for the year.

September was a month of: Haircuts and hair straightening. Two acupuncture treatments, one of which helped and the second of which caused some kind of damage. Watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train and Do the Right Thing with Alex for his film class. Meals at Woodlands, Seasons 52, East Wind Vietnamese, and Eerkins Uyghur Cuisine, topped off with ice cream from Woody’s. Barbara’s birthday celebration on our deck with Thai food; dim sum at Mama Chang with Alex & Louisa. A walk with Poonam at Eakin Park. A surprisingly spot-on speech by George W. Bush about 9/11 and the threat posed by extremists in the U.S. today. Visiting the National Mall to see the flags commemorating those who have died of COVID in the U.S. (681,520 as of that day). Booking Croatia hotel and AirBnbs. My first massage at Srila Thai Massage. Patrick’s death in Offspring. Finishing The Chair. Finishing six books, my favorites being The Light in the Ruins, The Hired Man, and The First Rule of Swimming, bringing my total to 42/52 books for the year. Flying off on Lufthansa across the Atlantic to Frankfurt, Germany and onward to Zagreb, Croatia.

October was a month of: Walking among the disheveled and forlorn populace of Zagreb, Croatia, & eating pizza and fluffy pillows of warm bread with beer and rakija. Taking a funicular to the Upper Town and visiting the Museum of Broken Relationships with its sad tales and detritus of heartbreak. Chatting with the waiter at the Bulldog Café about divisive matters of the world. Walking around the Green Horseshoe and finding actors rehearsing an opera on the portico of the Croatian National Theatre. Driving to the Eastern Riviera in Opatija and promenading down the Lungomare to meet a woman surrounded by seagulls. Enjoying the vineyard views of Istria from the hill town of Motovun. Enjoying harbor views and seafood at Gostionica “La Gondola” in Rovinj. Walking through the Old Town and to the Church of St. Euphenia after checking out the rock-carved “beaches.” Bicycling on a trail leading to a rocky beach, where we swam under the shade of cypresses and Aleppo pines. Visiting the Roman amphitheater and strolling through Pula. Being serenaded by waterfalls as we traipsed through Plitvice National Park in the pouring rain on boardwalks lined with tropical plants and marsh grasses growing out of limestone. Driving through tunnels and over the mountains to Zadar, where we listened to the Sea Organ and watched the “Greeting to the Sun,” a light show powered by the sun’s energy. Enjoying a fabulous dinner of John Dory fillet at Restaurant Bruschetta in Zadar and then strolling along the Riva. Climbing up to St. Michael’s Fortress in Šibenik and enjoying a waterfront lunch. Wandering around the beaches of Primošten. Arriving in Split to cold and blustery weather and stopping for a warm-up with pear brandy at Semafor. Braving a miserable rainy and cold day in Split visiting Diocletian’s Palace, and then visiting it again the next day when the sun came out. Visiting the Venetian bell tower at noon and getting an earful of clanging bells. Driving to the Marjan Peninsula and visiting Kašjuni Beach and then driving to Trogir and strolling the waterfront promenade. Eating one of our best meals of avocado & shrimp salad and stuffed green peppers with mashed potatoes at Semafor. Taking the ferry to Hvar and renting a quad where we zoomed through tunnels and mountain roads over the Island, with an enjoyable stop at a hidden winery in Jelsa. Taking a ferry to the Pelješac Peninsula and enjoying oysters at Mali Ston. Braving the hair-raising cliff drive into Dubrovnik. Strolling around Dubrovnik and stopping in at Buža I, where concrete stairs led to a beach. Eating grilled calamari at Konoba Jezuite while bundled in a pink blanket against the frigid bura. Taking our COVID tests with (luckily) negative results. Walking around the Dubrovnik City Walls and up to the Fort of St. Lawrence, where we had a birds’-eye view of the City Walls. Eating Bosnian meatballs at the Taj Mahal. Taking the cable car to Mount Srd, where we had a great view of all of Dubrovnik. Climbing to Park Gradac for views and then eating our final meal at Restaurant Jezuite. Returning home to Virginia. Getting our COVID booster shots. Enjoying dinner with Karen and Michael for my 66th birthday at Barcelona. Celebrating more of my birthday with Barb, Alex and Mike at home. Working on the course The Cure for Chronic Pain, getting a Thai massage, and voting early for Terry McAuliffe for Virginia’s governor. Losing my car key while walking on the CCT. Going to Holy Comforter and eating at Anita’s. Driving in the Virginia countryside and enjoying Halloween decorations and fall colors on Halloween day. Streaming In the Land of Blood and Honey at home. Finishing the final season of Atypical. Finishing three books, my favorite being The Stone Fields: Love and Death in the Balkans, bringing my total to 45/52 books for the year.

November was a month of: Virginians electing a fascist governor (Glenn Youngkin). Visiting my dad and feeling saddened by his decline. Sitting with Sarah at the Joe’s Inn bar talking to a Vietnamese guy named Khanh. Attempting healing through Beloved Yoga sessions, yoga with Ann Gillespie, The Cure for Chronic Pain, visionboards, Curable, and massages at Srila Thai Massage. Enjoying meals at Seasons 52, Aracosia McLean (with Alex to celebrate midterms), Fin’s Sushi, Seoul-Boston, Curry Mantra, & Maru Korean Cuisine. Taking a long weekend trip to Boston where we walked the Freedom Trail, admired harvest doors in Beacon Hill, fought chaotic rain to get to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and strolled through Cambridge. Day-tripping to Luckett’s and enjoying sandwiches at Puccio’s New York Deli in Leesburg, accompanied by anger at the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who murdered two people and shot three in “self-defense.” Enjoying Van Morrison’s songs in Belfast at Cinema Arts. A jury finding white supremacist rally organizers liable for Charlottesville violence in 2017 and awarding $25 million to plaintiffs. A Georgia jury finding three White men guilty of murdering Black Ahmaud Arbery in 2020 in what amounted to a modern-day lynching. Celebrating a lovely Thanksgiving with Barbara and Alex, playing Codenames and Ticket to Ride. Finding out about the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID in South Africa and bracing for more of COVID just when we thought we were coming out of it. Finishing four books, my favorites being A Reckoning and Claire Marvel, bringing my total to 49/52 books for the year.

December was a month of: Continued yoga practice, JournalSpeak, Curable, and a massage. Video chats with our son in Nicaragua for his 29th birthday and for Christmas. Decorating the Christmas tree with Alex, accompanied by egg nog & Christmas carols. Enjoying meals at Cafesano, Taco Bamba, Sweetwater, & Sweet Ginger. Meeting my friend Leah from California at Pearl Dive for lunch and bottomless mimosas after two years of not seeing each other. Strolling through the Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Gardens with Alex and Louisa. Doing the hilarious “Amazing Race,” a kind of couples scavenger hunt through Vienna, arranged by our church, and losing. Driving around with Mike, Sarah and Alex on Christmas Eve with bourbon-spiked hot apple cider, critiquing or applauding Christmas decorations and singing “Feliz Navidad” at the tops of our lungs. Celebrating a lovely Christmas with Barbara, Alex, and Sarah. Playing games of Chinese Checkers and Trekking the World. Finishing TV series including Homeland, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Married. Streaming movies at home: The Courier, King Richard, and Don’t Look Up. Finishing eight books, my favorites being Happy All the Time and Moth Smoke, bringing my total to 57/52 books for the year.

Here are some of my previous years’ recap posts. I now wish I had one for every year of my life, as they serve as great reminders of my adventures, joys and tribulations in years past!