Thursday, December 17, 2020

The 2020 Version of the Dreaded Holiday Letter

Copyright 2020, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

2020 has been a year for the books, scary horrible books. Here is our year in review, mostly from photos.

We started out the year in New Orleans.  Then, we headed west. We spent a few days in San Antonio and then wandered over to Fredericksburg, Texas. 

A sunset, January 6th, from the campground, just south of Fredericksbug.

We headed west again (and a bit south), to Fort Stockton, Stillwell and then into Big Bend National Park. Here is The Estate parked at the trail head of a short walk we took down by the Rio Grande River.

We would actually spend our first night in a National Park here, nope, we have never camped in a National Park.  It was a very last minute decision, so the campsite was nothing special, we did opt for electric. It was a first and notable.  After procuring our campsite we drove around some more, here we are at the far east side of the park,  the sun was setting.  This photo was supposed to display the "alpenglow" affect of the setting sun on the mountains.  It did not transfer well to images, but, in real life it was stunning.

We left Big Bend after that night and headed west again, to Lajaitas, Texas.  Beautiful and sooooo remote.  Really, no cell phones work there.  They also do not have bananas within 100 miles of there.  Seriously.  But, OHHH so beautiful.  Yes, another sunset.  I love sunsets, as if you could not tell.  And, the ones in the west are to me, the most beautiful of anyplace else we have traveled.

Early in the mornings in The Estate, Sir W and Man share some cuddle time.  Here, Sir W is demanding that Man let him on Man's lap.  You know who won.

We stayed in Lajaitas about a week, it was a nice break, like, when you cannot get on the internet, you take breaks!  LOL

Next we drove to Fort Davis on the way to Las Cruces. We took a few different roads and enjoyed America.  While at Las Cruces we drove over to White Sands, which just months before had become a new National Park.  Don't cha just love the shadow people on the right of this photo?  LOL

Our next major stop was in Huachuca City, Cochise County, Arizona, We spent a month there. It's a lovely area, near Sierra Vista. We did several day trips from there, Tombstone, and even over to Patagonia State Park, where we were able to snag a campsite with zero notice, and spent a lovely evening.

And, yes, the sunsets were pretty good at the campground in Huachuca City too.

Next we stayed in Florence for about a week, visiting Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. We have visited a time or two before, but, it had been years, so, we spent a delightful day there.

The views and the landscaping are outstanding - -

Sir W was allowed to visit, he sure got some "miles" on those little legs. Here he is posing (well, sorta, he's not much into posing) with some California poppies.

Florence does sunsets too!

We also visited St Anthony Greek Orthodox Monastery while we were in the area. A very moving experience - -

Daily the news of a deadly virus was getting louder and more concerning. Exploding coverage.  Yes, we were aware.  And, yes, we were watching and listening, and yet, we still were, like many, in a bit of a cloud or denial, or something. 

After our week in Florence we moved The Estate over to Wickenburg.  We had visited here before as well, but, not for more than a few hours, here was our chance to stay a week, therebouts.  While there we visited their museum (FAB!) and took a little hike at Vulture Mountain.

Because of weather, we cut our stay in Wickenburg a day short and headed for the Sedona/Cottonwood/Camp Verde area, where we hoped to spend the rest of the winter.  We pulled into the campground we stayed at last winter and, well, after 15 minutes of less than desirable interaction with a campground volunteer, we left.  

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as within just a few days, the virus bottom fell out, schools were closed, college students sent home, stay at home orders, and all around panic hit.  I sat in The Estate watching the news and knowing that our world had just changed in an major way and that times were going to be rough.  See, all that genie research, I knew enough about the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic to know this was the real deal now and life would not be "normal" for, maybe, years.

Man and I had managed to nab a campsite in a quiet campground over by the Verde River, a few miles off I 17.  Road noise was not an issue and we were sitting on a site that had good satellite for television and some shade.  We would stay here till sometime in early May.  There was no hiking, many of the trails were closed, parks closed, they did not want to have to rescue people.  Within a week or so, the area was quite the ghost town.  We could drive through Sedona in minutes, instead of the normal trip, which could be well in excess of 2 hours during Spring Break, etc.  We did take walks around the campground, keeping our distance from everyone. We also, noted, that many others did not do the same.  I took very few photos during this time, there is the full moon from April 7th, shot through the still leaf-less branches of a tree.

Towards the end of April it was getting pretty warm in Camp Verde, The Estate is not known for it's insulation. We ended up watching weather and news and by following state mandates we were able to make a hard run home starting around May 3rd.  The state of New Mexico was in the grips of an out of control spread, we did manage to find a campground to stay at just outside of Albuquerque. Many of the rest areas and exits were closed, especially in New Mexico.  

It was a different kind of run, we only ate in The Estate, did not go into any stores, except for one at the Michigan state line to load up on groceries so we had food when we arrived home.  Even at fuel stops we encountered almost no one. Man only had to go into the campground office at one place, the man there wore no mask, sigh. Otherwise it was contactless camping and registering. Actually, the contactless part, was kinda nice, we called, made a reservation, paid by credit card, picked up a packet at the campground offices, parked, slept, pulled out the next morning. We arrived home, quite tired, May 9th. Fast and furious trip.

The next months were spent gardening, I think it will take me about 2 years, maybe more, to rebuild the flower beds around here.  They were old, and 2 foot grass had invaded. Of course, I am also fighting the kids of Mother Nature, aka, rabbits!  Stinkers ate almost all of my hostas this year.  I did a lot of container gardening this year.

By May 21st the goslings were already quite large - - 

On May 28th we had a newborn deer in the yard.  This is only the second time in over 25 years we have seen one this young.  Mom will kinda "drop" em off and go eat.  If you leave them alone, Mom will eventually come back and claim her kid.  This day she was gone for at least 8 hours, I was beginning to fret.  I would not even let the lawn dude cut the lawn, yep, I made him come back the next day.  See how small.  No, I did not get that close, but, Sony 4 has a great zoom.  Mom had hide her baby under the pine trees, very good camo.  

June 11th brought a horrific storm, trees down, limbs, branches, no power, what a mess.  It took us 3 days to clean it up, we walked the entire 3 acres of the mowed lawn area and almost all of that had debris.  We eventually had a tree dude come cut some dangerous hanging branches, but, it took weeks to get them out.  Since then, we have had numerous power outages, our generator is getting a work out.  Here is Man inspecting the tree behind the pole barn, it took the worst hit and had the most debris to clean up.  It's kinda hard to see, but there are some huge limbs on the ground behind the tree.

By July 7th, my container garden was doing pretty good.  It was hot and it was a challenge keeping all those containers watered.  I was using a one gallon water jug to do the duty, I was getting in a lot of steps, all good for the Demon and me. 

We sold the pontoon boat.  We put Tana up for sale (still has not sold tho, sighhh) and traded in Jolly.  Meet "The Bribe", so named cause Man made sure it was a red truck this time.  He knew I had wanted a red truck for years, so red to bribe me into the trade. I let him bribe me. Our Montana days are over, as The Bribe will not tow her.

By mid September, the trees were turning, this is just about peak, within a few weeks, the leaves were on the ground and the Gravely and Man were busy mulching for about 2 weeks.

In between the gardening, we did do some organizing of the house. This resulted in the grandtwins getting the pick of the goods we felt we no longer needed, for their first apartments!  Can you believe it?  And, we made a number of trips with a car load of donations to the local Goodwill.  It's what we have here in our county, so, instead of filling the landfills with stuff that can be repurposed, we donate. We have so much more to do, it will keep us "entertained" over the long winter months. 

The deck flowers were still looking pretty good, mid September.  The leaves were turning, but, the temps were mild for several more weeks.

The flower beds were looking much more clean and weed free.  I'm sure that next summer I will have to attack and dig and destroy more of that grass, but, this day, mid September, things were looking kinda nice - - 

At the end of September we celebrated the 50th birthday of Son # 2.  Yea, I feel old.  LOL. Look at all those candles!  We have been able to see some of the family by having outside gatherings and hikes. When the weather gets snarky, we Zoom, isn't that the hit of the year? 

It has been a number of years since I have really decorated for the holidays, at least the house.  I did have a limited amount of decorations in Tana.  Since we are  grounded for the winter, as we will NOT travel during the pandemic when the numbers are so awful, I am decorating for the seasons, here, is my desk witch for Halloween, cause I felt like showing you.

Early November, the leaves were down, and we can once again see the water of the swamp.  And, one morning I caught a SUNRISE.  Now, don't go getting all shocked by that, I went back to bed afterwards!  LOL

November 22 and, here comes winter, a small, but, decent snow storm.  We had snow on the ground for at least 10 days.

Sir W ran out and right back in!  LOL

Someone said this would make a pretty holiday card, well, ok, I'll share it in my dreaded holiday letter then - - 

This is the first time the tree has been out of the basement in well over 5 years.  We are enjoying it. It is one of 10 trees I have up this year.  Hey, if I am going to be stuck in this pandemic, I am going to enjoy something.  Trees it is!  Trees and twinkle lights.  Since I love the lights, I don't think I will be in a hurry to take any of this down. 

We also attended a local drive through light show, the tunnels were our favs I think.  They had computer generated flickering and movement and pure joy.

Through the year I have been continuing the family research and my genie angels have sure come through again.  I will never forget the gal that had photos of Joseph Eugene Bowen, my great-grandfather.  I had never seen a photo of him.  Now, every time I see those photos I remember how her kindness changed my year.  Yea, that much. My genie angels can never be thanked enough.

Remember the reason for the season.  May your holidays be blessed.  Stay home, stay safe, mask up when you must go out.  Pray for the medical profession, they need all the energy and prayer we can muster. 

For our family and friends that celebrate other religious celebrations during this time, may your holiday be blessed and safe.  Happy Holidays.


Sunday, August 9, 2020

Like Mother, Like Daughter

Copyright 2020, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

I am in a group on Facebook, well, many groups, dealing with genealogy.  The other day a question was asked by one of the administrators, "any photos of your children with their great-grandparents memorials/headstones?" Let me tell you, there were some cute kids grinning from ear to ear in some of those photos. So precious.

I do not, but, I do have these.  It only took me a couple of hours to locate them. They are now linked to my data base properly.

We climb gates when necessary, and yes, we did have permission.  It is a family cemetery and my cousin owns the property it sits on. She has always been kind and considerate about granting me access, even if I did have to gate climb.

We were visiting the Halterman clan, Ida and David, you can see their names on the stone in the photo of me atop the gate. Both visits were in the month of April, 4 years apart.