Big day.

Today was the day to re-raise the mast on Julie & Ryan’s boat. New windex, new lights, new halyards, new topping lift, new flag halyard, new sheaves, new wiring, new switches, refurbished outboard motor, replaced bulkhead mid-ships in the salon, chain plates reinforced, and some much-mended sails and boat canvas. I can’t wait to get out on the lake with these sailors. Next up: installing the boom, mainsail, and jib. Then we’ll take her for a sail!

On top of the world.

Most days, Keeto likes to leave his cage and fly around the house. I think he enjoys the exercise and the freedom. He has a couple of favorite perch locations that he flits between. Sometimes he likes to play hide and seek with us, though, and will land somewhere different and sit still as we look around for him. This morning I spied him sitting on a globe that I have placed atop an armoire in a far corner of the gameroom. I had to sneak a photo with my telephoto lens from across the house. 🙂 You’re IT, Keeto.

Old times.

Google tells me that the 18th century Scots phrase “auld lang syne” translates literally to “old long since,” or roughly to “old times” or “old times past” in English. As I was looking back through photos from 2020, I found one from New Year’s Day 2020 that perfectly depicts the old times, in stark contrast to the times we live in now, post-COVID.

This was taken a year ago at Ann’s New Year’s Day party; a very casual, annual, bring-whatever-leftovers-you-have, game-day get together with friends. I look forward to it every year. But not this year, sadly. This picture really reminds me how long it’s been since I hung out with a bunch of people, in close quarters, heads together, laughing and hugging, with no masks, or worries (other than, perhaps, a lingering hangover). I do hope we get back to this, eventually. Soon. We simply must.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Hindsight.

Most years I post a summary of the previous 12 months here on Sheila365 – summarizing moments from fun trips, visits from friends and family, and other adventures and highlights from the year (like these summary posts from 2019 and 2018). Unfortunately, on this last day of 2020, there isn’t much to report, as COVID has curtailed most highlight-worthy moments.

Instead, today I went back and looked at my first post from the beginning of 2020. In that post, I included a picture of a beautiful sunrise that I took the previous year – as we were at the dawn of a new decade. I had to chuckle and shake my head reading this statement a year after I wrote it: “I’m not sure what the next ten years will bring, but I’m ready.” Well, I can now say that I was in NO WAY ready for what 2020 would bring.

BUT, I am still here, as are my loved ones, thank God. So, I am grateful, and I am simply trying to roll with it.

To end the year, I will just leave you with this, a picture of a beautiful post-sunset scene that I took at anchor in the Ashepoo River in South Carolina. Tomorrow is a new day.

Christmas sunset.

I grilled a delicious cedar plank salmon for Christmas dinner, recipe below. Julie joined us and stirred up a tasty risotto dinner. Nom nom. Sunset was fleeting, but lovely.

Grilled cedar-plank salmon:

  • soak a cedar plank in water for several hours ahead of grilling
  • slather a boneless salmon fillet with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of garlic powder
  • place fillet, skin side down on the pre-soaked cedar plank
  • place cedar plank & salmon over direct coals for 20-30 minutes

Enjoy!

Watching from afar.

We witnessed two momentous events over the weekend, each from many miles away.

We watched a livestream of the wedding of my nephew and his lovely new wife.

When you can’t be there in person…

And we witnessed the rare conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the night sky. These 2 largest planets have not been this close since 1623, during Galileo’s lifetime. And they won’t be closer during my lifetime. To the naked eye, they appear to be a single point of light. We looked at the two planets through binoculars in the backyard. We also watched a livestream from the McDonald Observatory in west Texas, through their large telescopes. One could see the rings of Saturn, and several of Jupiter’s moons.

Home for Thanksgiving!

After 29 days, 1300 miles by plane, 920 miles by boat, and 1100 miles by car, traveling through 10 states, I’m back home again. Thanks, Lori, for another adventure. Thanks, Monte, for being the shore-person watching out for us as we made our way down the east coast. Thanks, Tony, for joining us for our off-shore legs. And thanks, Michelle, for the warm welcome to your hometown.

It’s good to be home.

Not wasting any time, Monte and I whipped up a nice Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and Julie joined us to celebrate the day and our blessings.

Exchange of DIY ditties.

Monte asked me to make him a mask, since the ones he’s been using are either too small or uncomfortable.  So I finally knocked out my first homemade COVID mask, custom made to his specifications.  🙂

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I then asked him to make me a frame for a piece of art that our niece, Laura, drew and sent to me.  He knocked it out, custom made to my specifications. 🙂  I just LOVE this drawing.  Laura requested people to send her photos of their quarantine workspaces, which she then drew in watercolors.  I sent her a picture of my craft space in my office, which is where I sat to make Monte’s mask.

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Keeping busy in the time of COVID….

 

 

Sweetness in the mailbox.

Monte and I have enjoyed joining his sister’s family zoom sessions.  Her adult kids and young grandkids live in 3 different cities.  They all join.  We join when we can.  It’s special.

Last week my great-niece, Adelle, showed everyone one her latest project, making bracelets out of colorful rubber bands.  We all asked for one of our own, and little Adelle delivered!  They arrived in the mail today.  I picked Seahawks colors, and I absolutely love it!

Thank You Adelle!

 

 

3-way, baby!

I was introduced to Cincinnati Chili late in life, at a Skyline Chili restaurant while visiting southeastern Indiana and Ohio. Better late than ever, though! I was hooked.

I’ve been trying to make the quarantine-induced endless stream of home-cooked meals interesting, so I dusted off a recipe from our Joy of Cooking and made it for dinner yesterday. It was delicious! I might make it every week. 🙂

If you’ve never been treated to the savory goodness of the blended spices in its sauce, you are missing out. Check your spice cabinet inventory and get cooking!

Here’s how to make you some!

Cincinnati Chili (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

Makes 3 servings

Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a large pot

Add:
1 lb ground beef sirloin

Stir until separated, and reduce heat to a simmer.

Add:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T Worcestershire sauce

Stir in:

5 whole black peppercorns, ground
4 whole allspice berries, ground
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground red pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1⁄4 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated

Bring again to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook covered for 2 1⁄2 hours. Refrigerate overnight and reheat, or eat it right away! Don’t forget to discard that bay leaf.

For a 2-Way, serve over cooked thin spaghetti (2 oz of dry pasta per serving).
For a 3-Way, which is my favorite, add a pile of finely shredded cheddar cheese.
For a 4-Way, add chopped onions on top of the cheese.
For a 5-Way, add cooked red kidney beans.

Distantialism.

Distantialism; a word I made up to capture the way of life we have all been suddently asked to embrace due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Keeping in touch via technology:  We have been keeping to the house for the last week or so, even before the City of Austin declared a shelter-in-place order last night for the next 2-3 weeks.

I’ve been using video chat apps like zoom and skype to keep in touch with multiple groups of friends and family at a time.  Alternatives didn’t meet my needs; Facetime doesn’t run on non-Apple platforms, and WhatsApp only supports chats amongst 4 people at a time.

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My niece introduced me to the marco polo app, which I can only describe as a group texting app, except instead of just asynchronously texting eachother, you can send video clips to eachother which can be viewed by the recipient(s) at their leisure, and then subsequently responded to.  You can also use it for real-time communication, though, in which case, as my niece describes it, it works kind of like a video “walkie-talkie” where each person takes turns “talking” by sending small video clips.

Grocery shopping without going to the grocery store:  I have tried using our local grocery chain (HEB’s) delivery and curbside services.  I can’t say how that has gone, though, since the first delivery slot available when I placed my order 8 days ago, was for tomorrow.  So I get to wait another day and see what actually gets delivered.   Their curbside pickup/delivery timeslots are booked 10 days to two weeks ahead of time now, so I’m not sure how much more experience I’ll get with them.

I signed up for Shipt.com, in the hopes that I could schedule a much sooner grocery delivery.  The membership fee is about $99 for a year, or $15/month.  They had an opening for the next day, so I decided to try it out.   It actually worked well.  My shopper texted me when an item that I wanted wasn’t available, so I could pick a substitute from the available items.  There was a bit of a snag on the delivery end, but it all worked out in the end.  🙂

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Entertaining myself:  I’ve been taking walks in the neighborhood and nearby parks, streaming TV shows and movies, watching the many now live-streamed instead of in-person events, gardening, and whatever else my heart desires (that I can do in the confines of my house and/or yard).

I hope you are all faring well.  Take care.

Keeping it real.

The world out there seems to be going nuts.  Kids are home for weeks.  States and entire countries are on lockdown.  Countries are closing their borders.  The market is in the tank.  We are on the front end of an exponential infection curve.  People are hoarding things that other people need.  There will be many more people who will die from this pandemic, sadly.   But, it’s not the end of the world.  Life must go on.  What matters is how we feel inside, how we treat others, and trying to think about the good things we share.

Today is Monte’s birthday.  So, today, we’re celebrating that.  🙂  Be well, and stay home if you can manage it.

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Powers of 10.

Some stats from yesterday:

The Subaru turned 100,000 miles.

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And we loaded another 1,000 lbs of rock into the trailer.  It’s much nicer to do in the winter than in the dead of summer.  We’re getting closer to our goal of removing the river rock from the beds around the house.

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Susanne is visiting us this week and she has been a big help as we knock off some of our yard projects.

On the move.

This weekend brought Julie back to Texas! 🙂 But, it was only to pack up the contents of a couple of storage units into a U-Haul and head right back to Washington. 😦 She has a great new job up there.

Though I’m sad to see her go, I think Texas has a way of calling one back, after a while, so I’ll keep hoping. Bon voyage! I pray that Mother Nature takes it easy on them over the next few days as they make their way through the mountains.