2020 was a lousy year. In our family we had to cancel major trips--including a greatly anticipated family reunion trip to Yellowstone with the kids and the partners, and then there was the backpacking trip that got shortened by the Creek Fire.. ...complete with last minute evacuation. No holiday get togethers at all. Add that to the national political chaos and the international pandemic, and 2020 was a disappointment.
But let's look on the bright side. Staying close to home allowed me to tackle a few things I've been wanting to do. And so in 2020 I was able to check these off the list:
Publish my book about Artisan Public Relations.
Make real progress with my watercolors...including a series in the California Delta
Record a series of lectures for Audible on wine
Record a number of the lectures I give to my classes, for use in the future in various locations--looks like they will be needed.
Finish composing a suite for classical guitar that had been on my mind for some time.
Write another mystery novel that takes places in the Sierra.
This is in no sense a competition--many others had far more important things to deal with in their daily life than I did--but if you look back, what can you take from 2020 into the future that you feel good about? A friend told me he had studied an hour of music theory a day...and now loves playing his guitar. My daughter became a certified yoga instructor via on-line classes. How about you?
I'll try to stick to 2020 but as I have little concept of time I might say something that happened in 2018 or 2019.
-I am 6 months away from retirement. Everything is proceeding pretty much as planned. Finances OK (not buying a new Mercedes anytime soon but not missing any meals either), finding activities I enjoy, etc.
-I did my first on-site assessment of a forensic laboratory for accreditation purposes. This might have been late 2019. This is volunteer work that I feel is important. I think what I enjoy most is ensuring a properly operating forensic lab for society (trying not to sound mushy). So I found some meaningful (to me) volunteer work for retirement. I only assess my specialty areas, not the whole facility.
-2020 saw me up my involvement with a local trail maintenance crew for the Florida National Scenic Trail. More volunteer work that I really enjoy. I may add state forest trail maintenance but these two may be enough volunteer activity to keep me busy during retirement. I also have personal projects.
-I had thought about consulting but have been hesitant. I recently got snagged into writing a quick start guide for an instrument in the lab and discovered I don't really enjoy this. There are other complications with consulting, especially in forensic specialties. I may consult to help people occasionally but I now know not to pursue it.
-My plans for an AT thru hike have been changed to section hike due to several matters not discussed here, but I'm feeling positive about still getting the AT hiked, as well as a few more hikes.
-I have so much vacation time accrued that I'm spending my last months of employment working no more than 4 days per week. This is awesome!
-I wouldn't say I'm anti-social, but I am more non-social. No reason, it's just who I am. This means the pandemic has had minimal impact on me. The main downside is I can't travel as I prefer, but I think that is what is called a first world problem. I also missed a trip as I usually do one major trip (non-backpacking) per year. My last trip was in 2019 to Israel so I guess that's as good a way to cap off travelling internationally as any. Although short I did get to see many sites significant to my faith.
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
Sounds good guys.
Well, I fixed the gate two days before Christmas, harder than it sounds but I do think it is good now. Lol
On Christmas Day I captured the most amazing image of our resident alpha hummingbird with my new iPhone 12 Pro Max and it’s fine telephoto lens.
Every day of every week is an adventure for me with Girlfriend at my side. I retired 11 years ago at a very early age and just recently started taking from social security. Indulgence in literature, music, hiking and photography are top of the list. Life is good.
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
Big breakthrough during the first week of 2021, obtained a new word processor app to use with my legal blindness. It reads every word so when typing and using predictive spelling I can hear the correct word or catch an incorrect word. I can also dictate to the app and have it read the entire document back. It has a lot more features but the beauty is it really works well. I should make far less mistakes and communicate more clearly.
The app is Dream Writer. I have had Dream Scanner and Dream Reader for some time now and they are stellar apps for low vision. These apps are all used on my iPad and my iPhone as well. They also sinc between both devices. If you have any of the same issues you might look for these apps right now. They are half price for a while and there is also a bundle with all of them at a good price.
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
You have that right. I take an extremely dim view on those who try to commit mob violence and rule in any form. For what happened in D.C. yesterday the penalties should be extremely harsh. There will be a true reckoning for those goons. It’s coming. I don’t tolerate liars or conspiracies to overthrow our democracy.
Loc: The Southwestern Deserts
Today I saw the strangest and most moving sights. Two hummingbirds did a flight dance for 15 minutes. They moved together in a ballet that was one of the most sensual and beautiful things I have ever seen.￼ At times they both lit on the feeder opposite each other or side by side. Then back into the mesmerizing ballet. This was not a regular hummingbird dogfight. It was a rare duet between two sentient beings, the most maneuverable and among the fastest birds on earth with a top speed of 35 mph by beating its wings, not a tucked dive.
In the final month of 2020 I acquired an Apple IPhone 12 Pro Max and it’s four camera systems. It now supports a new image file called ProRaw that is 12 bit and provides almost 68 billion colors and tones that uses SmartHDR and Deep Fusion as well as an amazing night mode. It does things that no other camera can do. It is a stellar hiking camera and moving map gps as well and still carries all my plant identification and foraging books, super light and minimalist. With it I captured the best hummingbird image of my life. I have a couple thousand hiking images with my older iPhone cameras and around 42,000 DSLR images before that. I have no plans to use any other camera systems other than my iPhone at this time. It is that good.
I got to be an introverted loner without everyone thinking I was weird.
A little like with everybody wandering around town talking on the phone while wearing earbuds, folks talking to themselves sans phone don't stand out anymore.
Will just note that we steered the kid through HS graduation without either a spring semester or an actual ceremony. "The year that did not happen." Then it was on to college where she was able to be on campus and even attend a class or two in person. This poor cohort of kids, both her class and the one following, have had a very important and memorable part of their lives stolen by the virus, and their resilience is really being tested. (In addition to the myriad COVID tests--she's taken something like ten of them.)
Hiking sucked. Got in two multi-night trips, total. The first was in clouds of mosquitoes and the second in clouds of smoke. All other trips were cancelled due to fire closures and in case anybody thinks 2021 will be different, pray for snow because right now we have very little and the western forests are likely to resume burning my midyear.
It is a good writing prompt, something I've been needing to articulate.
My life fell apart in 2015: turns out I had misinterpreted the 20 years of my life before that. My spouse stated that she had never wanted to marry me and just followed through because it was expected of her. Our two decade marriage had been a source of suffering for her and she was excited to see it end.
Within 18 months I was able to balance my life, outwardly anyway. Moved to a city I had loved for decades. My kids moved up with me. I hiked. I was active. I also found loneliness unbearable and dealt with it through drinking heavily. My other goals were hampered by this reliance.
Prior to the epidemic being on the front pages I had already decided that my next step of growth was learning to be alone without alcohol or the bar scene. I decided to abstain for nine months. I set up a workout routine beyond hiking. I began to build upon my meditation practice.
The pandemic, however, both forced me to a greater isolation and also reinforced my positive practices in a way I could not have imagined. Sure, I still live a lonely existence, but, if I may use a metaphor, it is a chronic pain that I have learned to live with in a healthy way. I experience pain; I am no longer suffering, at least not to the same extent.
I am currently training for a lightweight through hike of the Superior Hiking Trail in September.
So, yeah, 2020 has been a challenge, my kids are stir-crazy, but I feel centered and prepared for whatever 2021 may send our way.
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