THE "CROSS-MAS" CHRONICLES
Christmas, 2020 – Pandemic Edition
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! What a wackadoodle year! Hope you’ve been healthy. We’ve been fine, as have our kids, grandkids and my mom – who turned 96 this year. We turned the big 7-0, had our 46th anniversary and celebrated all the holidays at home. Our kids all kept their jobs, and, the biggest news – Dave got engaged and married!
Trips Cancelled, Let the Pandemic Projects Begin
Last year and the first part of this year, I planned trips - and little, by little, as the pandemic grew, the itineraries were cancelled. The first to go was a trip to Oregon to see my mom and give her a 96th birthday party. Her birthday was March 12th, but the party was going to be on the Ides of March, so it was going to be a toga party! I got a very stylish toga (a king-size sheet), beautiful gold Roman sandals and over-the-top gold jewelry. I bought purple table cloths and party plates, gold beads, gold-covered chocolate coins, birthday presents, etc. I was really ready to give this party when I got a call on March 5th that her assisted living facility just locked down. I have to say, I was shocked, but thought maybe this Covid-thing would be over soon – like Easter – in early April.
In late April, all our kids and their families were planning to come to Houston to celebrate both John and my 70th birthdays - John's was March 23rd and mine was May 15th. This would have been the first time in recent history that the whole family would have been together, and, of course, it didn’t happen.
For John’s birthday, we partied at home with filet mignon, asparagus and Yorkshire pudding. I made him a giant New York cheesecake and got him some Bourbon-flavored caramel corn, a tub of limited-edition Blue Bell ice cream - "Cookie Dough Overload" - with chocolate chip, peanut butter and chocolate brownie cookie dough globs in it, and, of course, some "Corona" beer! ? BTW Corona beer seems to be the trick in staying healthy! Maybe the CDC should have checked it out before getting big pharma looking for vaccines.
For my birthday in May, I asked for a Tex-Mex dinner, with which John was most happy to comply. He also surprised me with a very chocolate-y cookie cake dessert that contained a whole pound of chocolate chips! It was supposed to be 6 layers with peanut butter frosting in between the layers and topped with chocolate frosting, but he thought it would fall over. So, he made it into two 3-layer cookie cakes that each looked full size to me. The cakes were eaten before any official dieting started.
And, speaking of sweets, I was so happy to have harvested over 13 pounds of Brazos blackberries from my backyard bushes this April and May. I gave some of the berries to my neighbor and, with the rest, I made – one-by-one – 5 blackberry pies. So we had to eat a piece of blackberry pie every day for 20 days! Now, after the cheesecake, ice cream, peanut butter, chocolate-y birthday cakes and all that pie, it WAS definitely time to diet.
As I was doing lots of box and picture sorting, John was doing most of the cooking. This was a “win-win,” as he would certainly like anything he would make and I would have more time to tackle the sorting projects, which mainly involved my memorabilia. Anyway, starting in early June, I lost 10 pounds. (No, it wasn’t that John’s cooking was bad.) The “trick” was low carbs, limited sugar and a timed-eating window, also, sometimes called “intermittent fasting.” I did enjoy Thanksgiving with all the trimmings, so, I do the “diet” as I want to. (If you’re interested – see Dr. Jason Fung on YouTube.)
Early this year, before the coronavirus was on the radar, my cardiologist told me I needed to get more exercise. I told him I hated machines and there was no way I would go to a gym. (Now, with the pandemic, you can’t even go to a gym.) But, at that time, I had an "ah-ha" moment and found oodles of pretty fun exercise videos on YouTube. I've been doing the videos, sometimes with weights, which (I’m hoping) improves my muscle tone. I especially like dance videos and have done hula, Texas line dancing, ballet and belly dancing. (Of course, in order to set the proper mood for belly dancing, I had to get an exotic outfit including a skirt with lots of jingly, sparkly gold and silver coins.) So far, I’ve found ballet-inspired exercise with barre instructor Coach Kel (aka Kelly) to be my favorite. Anyway, I think the exercises are great to help keep my blood pressure and anxiety down about the coronavirus. John says I just need to stop watching the (scary) news. ?
New Driveway and Patio with Azaleas
For eons, I’ve wanted to redo our driveway and patio. It was just finding the time in between trips. Although I mainly wanted to redo the patio, I thought a contractor wouldn’t want to do a small job, so I’d throw in the driveway, too. Both areas had big sinking holes where the house was piered over 40 years ago. I also wanted a special exposed aggregate with a variegated rainbow rock for the patio. Finding the rock was a problem because this type of surface was common in the late 70’s – but not now. Eventually, one contractor found a rock with a beautiful color mix. It was so naïve to think that this project could be done in 2 weeks in between trips. There were so many, time-eating delays – getting estimates, obtaining an approved city permit when all of the field offices were closed, waiting your turn in the contractor’s que, waiting for the weather to cooperate, waiting for the city inspector to show up, adjusting the forms to meet the inspector’s requirements, getting the concrete scheduled, getting everything poured right and cleaned up afterwards. I started getting bids in April. The concrete wasn’t poured until October! Now, we’re happy it’s all done. The patio is so beautiful and now surrounded by gorgeous orangey-red Fashion azaleas to make it more so. We smile every time we walk by it.
Pandemic Hobbies from Flying and Shooting to Piano
As you know, John has had many hobbies and during these crazy times, he’s back to his favorites – aviation (as in fixing and flying his planes) and ballistics (as in blasting holes in lots of paper targets at the shooting range.) I took a “lower key” approach – i.e. piano practice. It’s challenging, but relaxing. I’ve come to the conclusion that piano is like a foreign language – it’s best learned young – and that it helps to be coordinated (not my strong point). Anyway, the acoustics are very nice in our living room and the piano – a grand Steinway Model B – is a good one. It all sounds great when I hit the right notes.?
Richard and Christiane, Andrew and Austin
Richard (39) and Christiane are in Kennett Square, PA with 6-year-old twin sons, Andrew and Austin. Richard still heads Quantitative Research at Moody’s Analytics, and Christiane is still at W.L. Gore, but in a new joint-venture with the Mayo Clinic called Avobis Bio. For a change of scenery, Richard and Christiane took the boys and dog Penny on trips to the Poconos and Outer Banks. Andrew and Austin are in kindergarten at St. Cornelius Catholic School. They love baseball and have started Cub Scouts, where they are Lions, the first year in Scouting.
Rob and Laura, Peyton and Kensie
Robert and Laura are in Alpharetta, GA, where Rob (36) is with Promethean and Laura is with InterContinental Hotels Group. Their children go to King’s Ridge Christian School where Peyton (8) is in 2nd grade and Kensie (5) is in kindergarten. Peyton loves baseball and Kensie is (into) every Disney princess. They had some nice family getaways to Asheville, Charleston and Hilton Head.
Dave and Kristie get Engaged and Married
Some good - no GREAT NEWS! Our youngest son, David (34) and his girlfriend Kristie Moser got engaged!!!! We found out on Facebook on Monday, March 16th. We got to talk to Dave the next day. As for a wedding, Dave said they may get married on their own and have a party later. In this pandemic, that is the way it’s working out. Dave and Kristie went to Loveland, Colorado, and got married September 25th. We found out about it a couple weeks later. Party time TBD.
Dave is still with Shell as a Completions and Well Interventions Engineer in natural gas fracking. Kristie is a graphic designer and works in the marketing division of a solar panel company. They live in Covington, LA with his dog Brody and her dog Mako. Besides Colorado, Dave and Kristie spent a couple weeks in the summer on Camano Island in Puget Sound in Washington. And last Christmas – prior to the pandemic - they had a fantastic trip to Egypt and Petra. We are so jealous!
Hoping to Get Traveling Next Year
Not sure when we’ll be able to travel again, but we’re hoping to be able to do in 2021 what we planned this year – finish the rest of our National Parks out west, in Alaska and American Samoa, plus road trips in the US to see the kids and grandkids, and, following in Dave and Kristie’s footsteps, Egypt and Petra. (We’ve been watching Dr. Robert Brier’s “Ancient Egypt” on Great Courses to get prepared.)
Well, that's what we're up to. Would love to hear how/what you're doing. And, and hopefully, sometime soon, get together. We are hopeful every day that all of “this” will be over tomorrow and we can get back to our normal lives.
All the best for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
From Ginny and John