yearly wrap-ups

2021 Yearly Wrap-Up

According to WordPress, this is my 1600th published post. While that is a bit hard to believe, the number is actually higher because I deleted a lot of posts when I transferred the blog from GoDaddy to WordPress.com. How long can I keep going? I guess we’ll see.

Reading over my blog posts from the past year was an excellent sleep aid. Normally I go month by month in these annual wrap-up posts. This year I’m going to begin with a summary of January through May.

Everybody knows about the political situation on January 6 that is still scaring the majority of Americans to death nearly one year later. I don’t need to go into that. In January we were still trying to get a diagnosis of my husband’s mysterious muscle weakness, which had become severe around late November and caused him to fall several times and even have a hard time getting out of bed or a chair. He would get out of breath walking from the car to the house. In February, he was diagnosed with shingles, and he was in terrible, terrible pain, but it did not explain why he could barely lift his feet for the prior three months. And I turned 60 years old, and unusually, I had a very hard time with this birthday. We were focused on getting vaccinations for Covid-19. Amazingly, I was able to get one on March 13 because I work in education. Sandy got his in May.

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This period of time was dominated by a struggle with getting a firm diagnosis of Sandy’s underlying disease and my deepening depression. I wrote a lot about weaving on Cathedral but in fact, I got very little artwork done. I was extremely unhappy with the administration at work and came to hate Zoom meetings with a fiery passion, but I did prefer working from home, which I did Monday-Thursday. Sandy had a muscle biopsy on April 1 and it revealed a diagnosis of polymyositis, but due to a communication fiasco between different technology systems, we couldn’t get the results until May 15. By that time, Sandy had starting feeling better and began water exercise classes and getting massage therapy. He was prescribed heavy doses of steroids. I started seeing my therapist again in May.

April 2021: Liz the parakeet died in January, and an amazing thing happened a couple of months later. A farmer friend discovered a small green parakeet in her chicken coop! We didn’t want to get into the cycle of having parakeets since we plan to emigrate in a couple of years, but Bernie needed a friend. So we adopted Freda. Who also hates us now that she lives with Bernie.

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Gardening: I gave up gardening and yard work in general because of a worsening foot problem, and hired someone to clean up the pile of logs and the overgrown vines and shrubs in the back yard. Best money that I spent this year! The foot problem ended up to be a bone spur aggravating my Achilles tendon. Unfortunately, not an easy fix at all. The cyst that I worried about on the other foot that didn’t cause me pain is no worry at all. I couldn’t get the yard guy to keep coming back to maintain the yard, so eventually I found someone else, although lately he has disappeared. My gardening was done in containers this year, and I got very good tomatoes and peppers.

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Lake Waccamaw days: Because I was still able to work remotely until the end of June, I got in some lake time. In April, I spent a cold week with my sister in the lake house while she was getting her house renovated. I went back in June with a few friends and we had a lovely time, then did it again in July with the ones who couldn’t make the trip in June and then with one of my friends of 50-some years in September.

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20210803_200542I didn’t take photos or write much about the July trip. We were reeling about a devastating cancer diagnosis for my brother-in-law but we still did the lake party. I took a bad tumble into the lake and cracked the top of my foot, same foot with the bone spur. It swelled up and turned an amazing number of dark colors from purple to green to yellow to rust red. But I could walk on it so it seemed like it would heal up. A couple of weeks later in early August I went to the beach and was on my feet a lot with topless sandals on (I couldn’t bear shoes yet) and walked in the sand. A few days later I was getting x-rayed again. They put me in a tall boot and suggested that I probably had a stress fracture that would not show on the x-ray, and told me that I might want to re-think that European trip in September. The one that I had obsessed over all year.

 

I could only take that boot for about ten days. It was supposed to be on for 5-6 weeks. God help me if I ever have to do it again. It was agonizing to my hip and back. But my foot healed anyway. I rebooked the September Ireland/Portugal trip for May 2022, this time only to Portugal. Given the Delta variant and the possibility of Europe closing down again on top of a foot injury, it seemed like the best decision.

And, by the way, since I am not writing in a linear way and I’m jumping all over the place, my brother-in-law’s chemo treatment has reduced his tumors and he is very much better, although he will have to continue chemo for the rest of his life. He is on a lower dose now. And Sandy’s latest blood work showed a normal range on his inflammation (CK) score and so he will go on a lower dose of meds now too. His lungs are still messed up and his joints and muscles hurt but he moves much better now. We are both trying to get more exercise.

So, back to the summer, when I had two lovely workshops before the euphoria of us thinking that the vaccinations would probably get us all back to normal and protect us ended.

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In early June, I went to the Tapestry Weavers South retreat and annual members’ exhibit opening in Elkin, NC, right up the road about an hour’s drive west. I didn’t have a weaving in this show because I couldn’t get the lake tapestry finished in time, but it was a beautiful small show in the gallery at the Foothills Arts Center. Upstairs in the Yadkin Valley Fiber Arts Center, where we gathered and I was able to take that tapestry design workshop with Tommye Scanlin that I had tried to take a couple of times before.

Then in early August, the Dan Essig workshop that had been cancelled in 2020 took place at Leslie Marsh’s lovely Topsail Beach home. Dan is one of my favorite and most influential teachers – the first bookbinding workshop I ever took was from him. And honestly that was supposed to be a fling into something different for one time, but it sent me on a long journey that I am still enjoying thoroughly. I have taken more classes from Dan than any other art teacher.

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Sandy went with me on this trip, and we stayed in a very inexpensive AirBnB in Surf City which turned out to have two of the kindest hosts I’ve ever experienced. Since our Honda Fit mostly sat during 2020-21, we had gotten used to driving the “Mom” car, the 1996 Chevy Lumina everywhere. It was a much more comfortable ride, and I thought that it was in better shape than the Honda. Boy, was I wrong. The old girl died the night that we arrived at Surf City, and we couldn’t even get anyone to look at it until that Monday morning. When they did, the damage was so bad and expensive that we ended up leaving her there for junk. Then there was the problem of our getting around for the weekend. My workshop was about 7 miles away on the other end of the island. Sandy couldn’t walk long distances and there wasn’t much around to interest him. There were no rental cars available anywhere. On the first morning, Leslie drove to pick me up for the workshop. Then our hosts lent us their car for the weekend. Then my sister and brother-in-law, GOD HOW I LOVE THEM, had just bought a new car and both of them drove down to the beach and brought us one of their old cars to borrow. An old car that was nicer than any car we ever owned. We ended up driving it back to Greensboro.

Then my sister and brother-in-law GAVE us the 2007 Volvo that they had planned to donate or sell.

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It still makes me want to cry in gratitude. Buying a used car right now would be a nightmare. We found a reputable auto shop with a Volvo certified mechanic instead of the assholes that I used to take our cars to, and told them to do everything that needed to be done to it to get it in good shape and running well. Now they have our Honda Fit in the shop doing the same thing. It has cost us a few thousand dollars, but it is still much better than trying to buy a car for a reasonable price right now and then making car payments.

Some good news came out of my foot injury – the orthopedic PA put me on 5000 mg of Vitamin D daily, and my depression lifted. I had been Vitamin D deficient for quite some time and then had recently gotten it to normal levels, but I honestly think that this higher dose may have made the difference in my brain chemistry. My therapist had even recommended that I consider transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy but I kept getting better and I was set free in October. (I think that I need to go back now, but it is still way better.)

Another beautiful weekend trip in October: in a house on the sound at Oak Island with some of the friends who had gone to the lake with us and a couple of new friends that we liked very, very much. With a deck that looked out over the sound and great food and games. We both hope that we will be invited back.

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Also, just before the first of October, Sandy sold the condo. Not for a lot, and the whole process was much longer and unnecessarily stressful and almost ended with him pressing charges against the buyer, but it happened. That is a huge monkey off our backs. The rent was honestly not worth the hassle.

We both took a pinhole photography class in October, but we haven’t done anything with it. I had hoped that Sandy may have found a hobby that he enjoyed.

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I went to an artist get-together at a print co-op at the downtown Arts Center and ended up joining it. For 40 bucks a month it is worth it to have a big work table and storage for my art supplies. Mostly I have been doing collage and painted papers for collage.

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We went back to the lake a final time in 2021 for Thanksgiving with my sister and brother-in-law.

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As for the end of this year, and it has been a doozy, I am pretty down about December, a month when not much good happened: shitty politics, my cat is sick, I’m anxious and agoraphobic about the Omicron variant, the crazy wildfires in Colorado close to my cousin’s house, and since Sandy just told me that Betty White died, I’m going to go process that, although I know that she had an amazing and wonderful life.

Tomorrow will be a better day. It will. I know it will.

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