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Twenty-twenty, A Christmastide Letter

Dear Friends,

While I am a looker backer, reviewer, and an over thinker when it comes to Christmas card writing (which we did this year!) I (we) tend toward including personal notes rather than a long missive sharing the highlights of our year. I think I tried this a couple of years however this takes forethought, and pre-planning and well the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas was, for the 14 years of marriage, so involved that I never quite got there. Seriously though I don’t feel bad about this at. all. As a blogger sometimes the stuff I’d share in a newsletter ends up here anyway so in a sense, what’s the point. Oh. Not everyone reads my blog. Shame that. Oh well.

Twenty-twenty though in and of itself is a year deserving of a follow up letter as our collective lives have been scattered as though someone dropped a twenty-five pound bag of rice on the floor and it scattered everywhere. Or one could say, someone dropped our collective champagne glasses whilst tidying up from an okay New Years Party.

In and of itself Twenty-twenty has been a rough year. So much of our collective and personal lives have been upended in ways none of us considered imaginable. So here’s where I bring it into the personal level. At this time last year I had an inkling that this new year would bring big changes for my Sweetie and I as plans were in place for an in person interview in Texas just after the first of the year. After that things moved quickly and by the end of February he was living in TX, our house in NY was under contract for the first time, and I’d given notice on my job to begin preparations for moving. My sister and brother-in-love came to help a couple of times and for that I’m grateful, they helped get a lot of big stuff out of the house. My brother came to help and we were already getting a hint as he drove that his current state would be locking down hard he drove back the next morning. I’d heard of his magical packing stills. I’d been hoping he could drive to TX with us. Yeah, no.

As the next weeks progressed I found myself struggling with sleep, missing my husband, and an overwhelming loneliness that phone calls and vid chats did not ease. While I was packing it would turn out not to be enough. By the time my Sweetie returned during Holy Week to get me we would need both a bigger truck and a couple of extra days, and on the other end a bigger storage shed. I’d been hoping to donate some things but the lock down made that impossible. Our Easter dinner was pizza from our favorite restaurant – thankfully they were open. The Monday morning we drove through a rain storm from the Bronx right through the first miles of PA. My Sweetie did a great job driving through the PA construction zone with 18 wheelers flying past him. I can tell you my hands hurt from gripping the steering wheel so hard. I can also tell you that finding a hotel for that night was difficult. Earlier in our marriage we camped a lot, one of our purchases was walkie talkies, which made communicating with one another easier. I was able to let him know when I needed to stop for a quick break and when I needed food. He tends to eat one meal a day so eating isn’t as big a deal for him. With my experience driving all over NY and NY for 15 months I was easily able to drive 9 hours a day to make it to TX by the end of the week.

We were still believing at this point that our house in NY would close fairly quickly. Yeah about that. In May our buyers backed out. Mind you we were supposed to close in March. While I was not amused by this at the time the house did sell again and we closed at the beginning of August. We got to live in a hotel for 4 1/2 months. Somehow we two people managed to be gracious to each other for that time. We can both nudge each other like no one else. Looking for homes during this time proved to be a bit of a challenge. The TX market moves at a much quicker pace with homes going under contract within days and closing quickly. There were a couple of homes that I fell in love with and one I wanted to get into in part for the location in part because of the painting. Yeah, I’ll be you’re shocked by this one.

Did you know it gets hot in TX? Did you know that cooking hot peppers in a hotel room can set off the smoke alarm? Did you know that because we had a stand up shower with no room in it I didn’t shave my legs for most of the summer? Did you know that TX is wildly beautiful?

When we realized we’d be in the hotel for much longer than intended I went to the storage unit and got my sewing machine and some fabric. This was in part for my sanity, for a friends book, and to prep for my appearance on The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. While stitching one day my machine started skipping stitches. As you know I know some about machines and problem solve like a champ usually with great success. Well in this case not so much. My head and the nearest brick wall were getting closer to one another, hard. I emailed the local BERNINA dealer with great detail so they’d know I know my stuff with my machine. They very graciously loaned me a machine so I could finish my work. If you’re ever in the Austin area stop in at Sew Much More. I finished what I needed to for both the show and my friends book. When I got my machine back I was surprised to learn that it was one of the computer boards.

Our house in NY finally closed at the beginning of August. Oh yeah I didn’t mention our NY house went into contract again this time with a 45 day closing which ended up extending by about a week. While I can’t quite complain about this I can share that I am thrilled that the house sold and closed during a pandemic. It was not easy and I have a few complaints. I told my husband one night that one of the people involved should be thrilled that I do NOT give negative reviews as I would be clear, direct, and avoid with great care any chance of libel and any opportunity for said review to come back and bite us in the backside. My husband uncustomarily snorted. My work here is done people. My Sweetie snorting made my year.

The weekend before the NY house closed we went house hunting for the 5th or 6th time, although this was different as we could actually make an offer. My Sweetie was taking a look at listings, would ask me to text the realtor, “can we see this place” and “this one” and “this one.” I took a moment to go see one of them and thought, “Oooo this could be good!” AS we drove from home to home we chatted about the respective merits of each. By the time we got in the car on our way to dinner with the realtor and his wife we knew what house we wanted and asked him to make the offer. The offer was made, and accepted, and we were in contract very quickly. The sellers needed about 3 weeks to get things together to move we said yes. Because at this point, another three weeks in a hotel was not that big a deal.

I can assure you that moving during a pandemic is not particularly fun. Moving twice though has spiritual benefits.

Furniture shopping was fun, and we’re both happy with the end result. We picked out carpeting, got that scheduled. I bought furniture for the guest bedroom, got that scheduled. As the guest furniture was delivered I got the call that the rest of the furniture could be delivered the following week. Didn’t see that one coming as the sales person said 12 weeks which put us at the beginning of November. The main furniture arrived Wednesday, the movers came on Friday, and due to my Sweeties nature, the kitchen was unpacked on Saturday. We’re still rearranging but it works and that’s what matters.

Next came the great Saga of the Refrigerator. Lemme tell ya Home Warranties can be a really big blessing. Within a week of moving in we realized that the freezer wasn’t freezing right. Phone call made, repair guy scheduled, part ordered, repair guy rescheduled and all is well. Except that two weeks after this the waterline froze. This stuff happens, right? Company called, repair guy scheduled. The freezer door is going to have to be replaced and it’ll take a while because if Twenty-twenty wasn’t fun enough there are world wide supply chain problems. We’re willing to wait however the Warranty company made us a better offer of a direct replacement or a check. We opted for the check and my Sweetie does what he does best, research. Did you know that October is about the best time to shop for new appliances? He did. So he looked at options, sent me links and then went shopping one night with my go ahead to just get what we need. We decided too to go ahead and get a gas range because we miss cooking with gas. The refrigerator delivery was scheduled with great ease. The Warranty company assigned on of the contractors to pick up the old fridge (this is part of the deal.) Contractor doesn’t call, so I call them. They’re not in our area and refer it back to the company. Contractors 2 and 3, same thing. Repair guy gets scheduled and his truck isn’t big enough. The next contractor can do it on Monday right as I’m supposed to be on a call. Thankfully I was able to mute my microphone, and get this take care of without missing much.

The range took a bit longer as not only was it not in stock at the time, from what Sweetie learned it wasn’t even manufactured yet. We kept expecting that the delivery date would change as a result of the whole supply chain thing. Nope. We actually rescheduled because I was out of town on our original delivery date. I gotta tell you this was perhaps the best, um, second best delivery crew. The first being the crew that moved our belongings here. They were efficient, super tidy, hooked up the gas line and got us cookin’ with gas.

Speaking of Cooking with Gas. This phrase was oft used by a friend of ours who was our boss back in the day. When things were going well, and sometimes sputtering along he’d say, “Now we’re cooking with gas!” This guy was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Chicago in October.

Back in July I was asked to be part of the Moxie Inspiration Squad. The Handi Quilter Moxie is currently in our bonus room where I’m writing waiting patiently for me to get the sewing room rearranged so it can be set up in there. In my fridge is a can of Moxie soda that I will open as I turn on the machine. You may remember that I grew up in Maine, and still have family there. I have never tried Moxie that I recall, and from what I know it’s not only an acquired taste. Will I acquire this taste? Who knows but it’ll be fun to find out, right?

Other highlights oh yes! I’m teaching a full class at Craft Napa. The quilting world events got cancelled and may be for a while yet. I published a book. I have equipment to film and am slowly getting there. I teach online and will continue to do so. I’ve discovered I’m a late adopter of things so take things on slowly. I’m kind of okay with that but. And I had two wild falls in two days, neither of which were fun, and one of which has left walking long distances challenging. Watch my social media outlet in a little while for the tale. I’m going to go live about 3 minutes after I publish this newsletter inspired post.

Uh, anything else? Yes. In a conversation with a good friend I’ve learned I’m not as weird as I think. So there’s that. I’m sitting here thinking Quirky but alas weird and quirky are related so…nope.

In an odd way Twenty-twenty while mind numbingly hard at times wasn’t terrible How’s that for high praise indeed?

Have a good Christmas friends. Twenty-twenty one will improve.


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