Last call for 2021

It’s the last day of 2021, another pandemic-dominated year. In fact, another year where the real news was pandemic, politics and climate change. I hope we whittle that list down to two for 2022.

And today we get a UK basketball game (and a UK football game tomorrow!). Every game right now is a gift. My big fear on this front is that the basketball season will be cancelled or ruined by COVID breakouts across NCAA schools, in a year when UK could go to the Final Four. I know, I should worry about people’s health more than the basketball season, but…I can hold onto both thoughts simultaneously.

My heart goes out to the people of Boulder and Louisville CO who had wind-driven wildfires yesterday. About 600 homes burned down, so about 1500-2000 people left homeless and possession-less on the last day of the year. Brutal. I’ve lived through a couple of those wind-driven firestorms (the worst one in 2007), and they are horrific. You have to experience one to really get it. The 2007 fire left me with a permanent scar – a psychological one, not physical. But I’m pretty sure I was operating with some PTSD for years after that.

I got my 2000+ words written yesterday, and plan to keep doing it. I know the story, the characters and backstory so well from my previous drafts. This time it’s about getting the story down in a proper structure, and once I do that I’ll move on to another book and story. This one taught me that being able to write a good scene isn’t the same as writing a novel, with plot and structure. But I always have been a sprinter, not a long distance runner.

I’m writing this next month to finally finish a book I should have finished a year ago, but also to distract myself. 2022 is off to a rough start – the CO fire disaster, a million new US COVID cases per day (more like 600K officially, but many MDs say the numbers are vastly under-reported), regional health care systems again overwhelmed, travel anywhere is now problematic (again), and the Doomsday Glacier hangs on by a melting thread. Other than the US economy (for the top 75% in terms of income), it’s hard to find any good news. So…keeping my head down and pounding keys until further notice.

As we leave 2021 behind, here’s an appropriate photo. Sunset from the west coast of the Big Island, May 2021. Aloha.

Ready, set, write

OK, one little resolution. I’m declaring January 2022 as NanoWrimo, January version. I’m committing to 2000 words per day, every day. Keep that up and I’ll have rewritten my novel completely by the end of February. That’s the way I want to start the year.

Happy Thursday

It’s the morning of Dec 30th, only 40 hours left in 2021. Most of the news this morning is pretty gloomy. I think I’ll just get these off my chest before the New Year and try to be more positive after that.

  • The January 6th investigation has accumulated a lot of evidence of conspiracy by elected officials to overthrow the 2020 election and federal government, but there’s no indication that the Justice Department will take any action.
  • The giant asteroid really *is* about to hit the planet, according to a lot of climate researchers. In this case the asteroid is the the Thwaites glacier, a chunk of Antarctic ice the size of Florida (!?!). It is almost certainly going to drop into the ocean within the next five years, bringing a sea-level rise of 2-10 feet. The upper end of that range leads to world-bending disruptions. Goodbye Miami, New Orleans and Houston. Goodbye, Venice and a lot of Pacific islands.
  • The Omicron COVID variant is burning through the worldwide population rapidly, and no one has a clue as to its long-term effects. It *does* seem to affect multiple organs, not just lungs. That’s nice. So it’s probably time to hunker down again for a while. No New Year’s Eve parties, no international travel. Maybe no travel at all for a few months.

It’s a good thing I’m a generally positive person. Or maybe I just have the very-human ability to ignore facts that I would prefer to not deal with.

A trivial day

Good, relaxing day today. Spent some time reading my new Moon encyclopedia – a nice Christmas present from K. Maybe it’ll inspire me to restart and finish my Moon novel. Ate the last of the holiday ham and took a nap. Spent some time editing my Storyworth book, a last-year present from Emily that’s come to fruition now. At 175 pages, it’s become quite the autobiography. And now I’m getting ready for the UK SEC home-opener against Missouri this afternoon. Can’t wait for that.

These 3-4 end of year days, plus January 1st, are always a nice period. We are seldom busy in the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Time to reflect back on things, time to look ahead to the coming year.

Looking ahead to the New Year, it looks a lot like 2021. COVID complications. Climate change challenges. Ongoing political complications from the Trump years. Some good choices for how to spend my time. Nothing urgent other than making some lifestyle changes. So it could be worse – it could be 2020.

Empty nest

All our holiday guests are now either home or on the way there. Some of them are traveling to areas with massive snowstorms, so I wish them luck and safety. But we had a good Dionne-family holiday with some good memories.

This afternoon I’m reading a book and watching the latest Expanse season 6 episode. It feels like a Saturday, but it’s weirdly Tuesday. I know a few folks who are back at work, and I don’t envy them.

I miss the grandsons and hope to see them soon, but my MD cousin in Louisville tells me that COVID cases there are sharply rising. In his hospital there were no hospitalized cases two weeks ago – now there are 70! So I’ll have to keep an eye on that.

Four days left in 2021, including today. I plan to make them four quiet, peaceful days.

Mortality

I woke up early this morning thinking about mortality. Unsurprising, as the holidays have been full of news from friends and acquaintances about their serious illnesses. (And oh yeah, the pandemic).

One old friend from Ohio was just diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and of course COVID is complicating his treatment plan. Another close Socal friend just had cancer surgery, still waiting to hear her prognosis. An entire local family of five has come down with COVID, at least two severe cases – I worked with the father in that family for 11 years and consider him a friend. Another of my eastern KY high school football coaches just passed away. And Robert over at Blue Heron Blast continues his fight with bladder cancer, also anxiously waiting a prognosis after yet another procedure and treatment.

I ache for each and every one of them, and my unconscious mind keeps sending an urgent message – “you’re not unique, this is going to happen to you sooner or later, so get your shit together…”. Or something like that. And I’m getting the message.

So this year’s New Year Resolutions are a bit more than that, a bit more than something to accomplish in the coming year. They’re more like “Final Coming In For a Landing Checklist”, or things that must be done to avoid an awful crash at the end of a journey.

I won’t talk about my resolutions, but they’re crystal clear to me. And that’s encouraging – I like having a plan.

Home stretch

We’re now in the home stretch – six days left in 2021 including today. What a year!

Today is the last day here for our guests. It’s been a marathon of cooking, cleaning and chatting. But it’s been good. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the good things and people in life should not be taken for granted. Seize the day…

In spite of COVID, we managed to do some traveling:

  • Kentucky, ten times (!)
  • Hawaii, the Big Island
  • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Seattle, for a very short weekend
  • New Orleans (just me, golf trip)
  • Oakmont, PA (another golf trip)
  • Pagosa Springs, CO
  • Napa Valley, CA
  • Gardnerville, NV

The breakthrough was getting vaccinated and feeling OK-ish about flying again. Looks like we’ll go through a similar cycle this coming year, as we sit January out to see what the latest variant does in terms of travel risk. I fully expect another good travel year in 2022.

There was a lot of tragedy this year, beyond the millions of COVID deaths worldwide. Modern media and communications systems make it possible for us to hear about any/all tragedies across the globe, and the net effect is that we get numb to it. Every day we hear stories about a hundred people dead here, another dozen there, thousands upon thousands homeless and hungry. Another species extinct, hundreds more endangered. They become statistics and fail to summon up our empathy. I don’t know what the solution to this is, other than to define your tribe, your circle of friends and family, and take care of each other. The bigger the circle you can define and support, the better.

On a happier note, the rains have finally come to Socal. We’ve had about three inches of rain this week, with more on the way. The decades-long drought isn’t over, but in the short term the plants and I are happy.

Finally, according to WordPress I’ve written over 63,000 words in 2021 on this blog. That’s about 2/3 of a normal-length novel. I’ve got a lot of work to do in 2022 if I want to do both.

Rainy holiday

Ahhhh, Christmas Eve. Torrential downpours, thunder and lightning, trees blown down. A classic holiday.

A mechanically-inclined relative and I created a makeshift automated pump system for our guest house yesterday. Our infrequent big rains have tended to pool up in front of it and seep water into the foundation and carpet. We removed bricks from the front area, dug a hole, installed a sump pump and added a float switch to it. Then had a helluva time finding the right PVC parts to mate the pump with a garden hose. Two trips to the hardware store. But checked it this morning and it’s working perfectly. Score one for the mechanics and engineers.

Guardian of The Bacon

We had an emergency this morning. Not Enough Bacon. It’ll be on CNN later today.

I exercised my emergency homeowner powers and appointed one especially responsible relative as today’s Guardian of The Bacon, an august position never before conceived or enacted. This person ensured that:

  • Each person takes only two slices of The Bacon. Two and only two.
  • No violence ensues as people covet others’ Bacon.
  • Anyone exhibiting BDS (Bacon Derangement Syndrome) is quarantined and counseled.
  • All recrimination for The 2021 Bacon Shortage is immediately shamed and deflected.

Later today I will slink out and find enough Bacon to satisfy the hordes through Christmas. Porcine animals, beware.