Sunday, December 19

Happy Holidays 2021

 Happy Holidays! Joyful Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Best Wishes! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan! Glædelig Jul! Gajan Kristnaskon! Hyvaa Joulua! Buorrit Juovllat! Gledileg Jol! Nodlaig Mhaith Chugnat! Buone Feste Natalizie! Natale Hilare et Annum Faustum! Pozdrevlyayu s Prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom! God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt! Season's Greetings! Peace!


I hope this greeting finds you well. It does us (at least if you don't ask for details). And as we near the end the second year of the pandemic, that is saying something. Obviously, like 2020, 2021 has been quite a year. But we've left the "bunker" (carefully and so far safely) a little more often this year - to see friends and family and to do what we can to adjust to this crazy "new normal."

Early in the year we continued our exploration of the joys of Zoom calls (which, while they may be limited, are far superior to no communication at all).


In February and again in March Kate and I drove to Menominee, Wisconsin for our doses of the Moderna vaccine (with boosters in October) which made us more comfortable moving about the country (and the city). Appointments were hard to find then in the Twin Cities, and we both enjoyed the "drive in the country" through western Wisconsin.


Once "the drugs had taken effect," Kate and I felt more free to carefully move about the country. In April we made a trip to Denver (with a lovely side trip to Durango) to see our Colorado family.


Do you think Kate and I were happy to see Frankie? It was still "stealth travel" with very little interaction with our surroundings as we made our way to and fro. Once home it was still lots of FaceTime calls with an occasional online game of hearts or just idle conversation - with only fairly minimal and careful interaction with live people. Peter, Erin and Frankie came to Minnesota for a June wedding. 


Madeline joined us in Minnesota for the weekend and we had a great time wondering where squirrels had gone . . . 


And blowing bubbles . . .


Peter spent lots of his time in 2021 training for and participating in triathlons - a half-triathlon in Ecuador in July and a full IRONMAN in Madison in September. A big commitment on his part - and one with a great side benefit for us. We got to spend a week in Denver with Frankie in July while Peter and Erin were in Ecuador and later in the year we got to provide "daycare" services for a week in Madison while Peter and Erin worked remotely in Madison and Madeline worked not-at-all remotely as a first grade teacher in the Madison school district (a small editorial note - the work that teachers have been asked to do and have done in the pandemic is nothing short of remarkable. Say thank you to a teacher. They richly deserve it - and they are certainly not getting rich teaching.)

 


 

 



It might have been a little tiny bit tiring. But boy was it fun.


By the way, Peter successfully completed the IRONMAN in Madison. It was fun and inspiring to watch the participants - particularly our favorite one. . .


Kate and Madeline even got to act as a pit crew cleaning up Peter's sunglasses on the little hundred-plus mile bike ride Peter used to relax between the two-mile swim and the little 26-mile jog which make up an IRONMAN.


Over the thirty-plus years we have owned our little cottage in the wilds of Wisconsin lots of "annual" traditions have developed - visits with various groups spread over the spring, summer and fall. It's been such a joy to spend time with friends at the cabin. 2021 was a little different, with most annual events crammed into July and August. So we got lots of cabin time this summer.
 





On one of our trips to the zoo with Frankie we had a chance to watch a flock of what Frankie aptly named "FlaBINGOs". We love the language of two-year olds (one in particular).


The result was her flabingo Halloween costume. I will never call them flamingos again.


Madeline is a lover of concerts and plays. In what may have been our boldest move of the year, Kate and I went with Madeline to a James Taylor/Jackson Browne concert in Milwaukee. It was tons of fun. We were masked the entire time (which unfortunately can't be said for much of the crowd). But it was great to be out and about.


Happy holidays from our bunker to yours! Here's to a joyful 2022!!!



Stan and Kate

(Note: Photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.)







Wednesday, December 23

Happy Holidays 2020

 Happy Holidays! Joyful Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Best Wishes! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan! Glædelig Jul! Gajan Kristnaskon! Hyvaa Joulua! Buorrit Juovllat! Gledileg Jol! Nodlaig Mhaith Chugnat! Buone Feste Natalizie! Natale Hilare et Annum Faustum! Pozdrevlyayu s Prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom! God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt! Season's Greetings! Peace!


I hope this greeting finds you well. It does us (at least if you don't ask for details). And as we near the end of 2020, that is saying something. Obviously, it's been quite a year. 

Our family has remained virus free so far. The only blip on the health front was that I had a Pacemaker "installed" in mid-May to enable me to keep up with Kate on our many walks around Saint Paul. We've walked most of the streets within a few miles of our house, as well as lots of parks and woods in our area. I think my favorite photo of the year (or at least the one that I think captures 2020 the best) was taken near the end of one those long walks.
Though our travel has been limited for much of the year, Kate and I did make our trip south to Florida early in the year (sadly, we are staying put this year). First, we spent a little beach time with friends. Through our clever use of the AARP Bulletin we demonstrated how to "social distance" on a Florida beach even before social distancing was a thing.
Then it was great to make our way to Cedar Key for a month. Sunrises and sunsets. 

The amazing birds enjoying the area with us. 





With a little fishing thrown it (which this year resulted in a few lovely dinners). 


Lots of reading in the sun. Just a favorite place to be. We returned home in early March (with stops in North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin).
We arrived home just as the pandemic was seriously setting in. From then on Kate and I shifted into the "hunker down and be safe" mode. To be honest, these two photos encapsulate our most frequent positions from mid-March until today.

But that is not to say that we have been entirely sedentary. There have been lots of walks.
We spent lots of great time at the cabin this summer and fall.
And fortunately the "Hill House" we added at the cabin last year gives us three separate buildings at our cabin in which people can stay in relative safety. Combined with our open air porch and a couple of decks we were able to have guests and still maintain safe social distance with just a little bit of care. Not the large groups we have enjoyed most years, but at least some social contact that didn't involve a computer. We were even able to get the whole family a bit of cabin time together (which helped Kate and me with by far the hardest part of the pandemic - not enough time with our granddaughter Frankie).





What a joy it was to have everyone together. We even got a little time in Saint Paul as Frankie continued to grow up, climbing stairs and just being incredibly cute.


Probably the most exciting nine seconds of the year for us was Frankie's then-record 15 step walk on our deck (the record no longer stands, but she does. Just not in one place very long). 

We also got to babysit Frankie for a few days in Denver while Peter and Erin did a little hiking in the mountains. Fortunately Kate is a great student of safe travel, wiping down our hotel room on our way to and from Denver - TV remotes put safely in a Ziploc bag to avoid germs. 

Family updates: Madeline has been teaching first grade in the Madison school system virtually so far this year. No clear answer as to whether the balance of the year will include some classroom time with students or not. She is (rightfully) ahead of us on the vaccination list. Her students are lucky to have her as a teacher. Virtual or not.

Peter and Erin have also been really busy. Both working hard (Erin at a new job) from their lovely (but small) home, all the while raising Frankie. It looks like they have solved the small home problem. Barring complications they will close on new home (to them) shortly after Christmas. One large enough to accommodate us for visits! Come on vaccines! They have been so generous with us - letting us share in dinners with Frankie via phone.
She likes black beans! Here she is celebrating right after Joe Biden was declared by the networks to be our President Elect!
I celebrated shortly thereafter with a drink of my own (mine had olives stuffed with blue cheese). A great relief to us (and probably to most of you).

In closing, I thought I'd include a bit of a song from "Meet Me in Saint Louis" that seems particularly apt for the 2020 holiday season:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Make the yuletide gay.
From now on our troubles will be miles away.  
[Editor's note: a bit optimistic perhaps, but hey, it's the holidays] 

Here we are as in olden days. Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us, once more.
Through the years we all will be together. If the fates allow.
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.

And have yourself a merry little Christmas right now.

Happy holidays from our bunker to yours! Here's to a joyful 2021!!!

Stan and Kate


(Note: Photos may be enlarged by clicking on them.)