Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Sue and Mo at Harris Beach
Sue and Mo at Harris Beach

Friday, December 31, 2021

12-31-2021 2021 Ends as December Comes to a Close

We didn’t have a completely white Christmas this year, with just a skiff of snow dusting the grass on Christmas morning. Late in the afternoon, however, the snow began to fall in earnest, and by the time we wakened the next morning, we had several inches of snow on the ground. Mo and I were happy that we had a warm home, plenty of food, a fire, and that the power never went out. Three days before Christmas Eve, we started another puzzle, possibly a new Christmastime tradition. With the snow keeping us inside most of the time, we finished it in just three short days on Christmas Eve morning.

The Christmas to New Years' snow event broke records all over the northwest and I have loved seeing all the photos and stories of people enjoying the winter fun. I especially enjoyed it since I didn’t have to shovel snow or walk around outside on ice or go anywhere. Our vehicles do fine in snow and Mo and I have both driven in snow for years, but why bother if we don’t have to do it? Our home was a perfect place to be during that cold snowy week.

The beginning of the month was shrouded in chilly fog. I thought it was the worst fog season ever until I looked back on my calendar and blog of 2020 in December and read that I thought the fog was the worst ever. I guess winter fog is a given when we live in an enclosed valley just 2 hours from the ocean.

Despite the fog and chill, I spent the first week of the month putting up outside Christmas lights. It is a bit of work, but I do love the brilliance all those lights bring on long, cold, and very dark winter nights. Christmas is just an excuse. Grandson Matthew showed up toward the end of the week to do the part that neither Mo nor I are willing to do: climbing the ladder to put up the big colored lights that line the edge of the roof.

I began making Christmas cards in July, but by early December there was still much to do to finish up the 60 or so cards that I try to send each year.

I set up the Christmas Village right after Thanksgiving. To conserve energy, I made a promise to myself that I would wait until December 10 to set up the Christmas tree. When I mentioned this idea to my friend Kristin on our biweekly coffee date, she said she would love to come and help me decorate the tree. Such a delightful time we had decorating together with Mo providing helpful suggestions.

As I pulled out all the stored Christmas decorations with Kristin’s help I finally came to the conclusion that much of the beautifully romantic Della Robbia decorations that I have had for 20 years or so no longer fit with our current home. I packed them up for Daughter Melody who was delighted to know they would be coming her way and would fit right in with her romantic somewhat French-style home. Daughter Deborah also chose a few items that she loved to add to her collection.

Friends Maryruth and Gerald both have birthdays in December, and I made a chocolate cake from Janna’s recipe to help her celebrate. Of course, it was also great that Maryruth couldn’t eat the entire thing and sent a third of it back home with us.

A few days later, the four of us drove downtown in the rain to enjoy the lighted Christmas parade. The city no longer sponsors these kinds of events, but many dedicated volunteers and participants made it happen. Despite the heavy rain, there were large crowds gathered along the main streets. Many had umbrellas, and some were snuggled under canopy tops to protect them from the rain. Oregonians don’t allow rain to interfere with outdoor activities.

We were incredibly lucky to find a perfect spot to park right where the big lighted cars and trucks turned from 6th street toward 7th street. Even with the fogged-up windows, we all agreed it was much better watching the parade from a warm car than in the cold rain. After the parade, we enjoyed driving around to view a few Christmas lights and some traditional hot chocolate from Dutch Brothers.

Once the Christmas cards were finished and mailed, I had a bit of time to quilt. I loved the pattern for this topper and when I took the fall version off the side tables, I decided it was time to make a Christmas version. It was so pretty that I decided to make two. I was very happy with this winter project. It was quick and easy and the toppers fit our oak side tables perfectly.

I keep track of the Azalea Park light show in Brookings on Facebook and was thrilled to learn that the show was a go this year after skipping last year due to COVID. We planned ahead by making reservations at Beachfront RV Park and Maryruth and Gerald made reservations at Beachfront Inn across the street from the park.
Mid-month we got our first seasonal dusting of snow. We didn't know at the time that we were in for a lot more snow before the month was over.

The week of our reservations, the weather cooperated with just a bit of snow on the highway to the coast. We headed west in the MoHo. Maryruth and Gerald waited until the next day to travel when the roads were completely clear.

The Festival of Lights at Azalea Park in Brookings is one of the best light shows in our part of the country, and once again we weren’t disappointed. Even though it rained the previous day, there was no rain on the night we planned to go to the show with Maryruth and Gerald. I enjoy sharing something I love with friends who are seeing it for the first time. Somehow I see it again with fresh eyes.

Mo and I walked the beach during the day, and in the evenings shared a couple of great restaurant meals with our friends. We enjoyed the Beachfront Bistro, just across from the Beachfront Inn, nicely remodeled and with great food and service. The next evening we had martinis and interesting and tasty food at the Superfly Martini Bar in Brookings. From the outside, the place looks rather nondescript, but inside the vibe was super cool and the clientele was quite varied, with people young and old enjoying the upbeat atmosphere.

As always, our time on the beach with Mattie was wonderful. I had to laugh out loud when I got back home and compared photos of Mattie last year and Mattie this year on exactly the same day in exactly the same spot. Do I really need to write a blog? Maybe I can just link to blogs from the past. At this time in our lives, it seems we do tend to enjoy repeat visits to our favorite places. You might have to click on each picture to see which gallery is from 2020 and which one is from 2021.  Smile

Our last evening in Brookings we were treated to an incredible sunset, something that doesn’t happen often with fog often rolling in at the last minute to obscure the colors, even on a sunny day.

On the morning of our return trip to Grants Pass, we stopped in at the Beachfront Bistro for a quick visit with an old friend from Rocky Point. Chrissie Hathor has been following us along on Facebook ever since she moved to Brookings and has invited us to visit several times. It may have been short, but it was a sweet visit.

The day we returned home I had only a few short hours to make cookies and prepare for the Grants Pass Book Club Christmas get-together that evening. The gathering was at Kristin's home where we shared gift books, good food, and lots of fun conversation.

The entertainment for the evening was gifting a wrapped book with only a hint on the cover of what that book might be, and no name of the person giving the book. Each of us picked one and will talk about our book at the next monthly meeting. This book club has turned out to be so much fun, with a great group of diverse people sharing laughter and thoughts. I received a book I might never have chosen. I’ll wait to talk about it until after the end of January when we all get together again and review our books.

Two nights before Christmas, we once again enjoyed our annual tradition of driving around Grants Pass looking at Christmas lights with Maryruth and Gerald. Before it got dark, Maryruth treated us to a great spread of appetizers and some fun Jell-O shots to fuel us for the evening. It stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy several neighborhoods following the maps I had downloaded from our local newspaper.

Christmas Eve at Sunset House was quiet and lovely, with a bit of snow to add to the festive feeling of the Holiday. We often spend Christmas Eve with just the two of us and enjoy it thoroughly. We followed tradition and let Mattie open a Christmas Eve present. We also enjoyed our annual tradition of Christmas Eve clam chowder. The funny thing about Mattie, she was entirely too polite to rip the paper from her wrapped present. She held it in her mouth and looked at us as if to ask what she was supposed to do.

On Christmas morning we woke to an almost-white Christmas with a light dusting of snow. There was too much snow on the roads for daughter Deborah to make it to brunch, but Maryruth and Gerald managed the 1 mile trip to our house. It was a lovely day and for some reason, I completely forgot to take photos of the four of us. We had real eggs benedict, an easy meal since there were only four of us. Poaching eggs for a crowd can get a bit challenging. After brunch, we settled in for some rousing rounds of dominoes, a game Maryruth and Gerald hadn’t played before. By the end of a few games, they were hooked. Nice for us, since we do like dominoes.

With the telephone, Facebook, and emails we connected with friends and extended family throughout the day. Daughter Melody and Robert had a wonderful Christmas at home in Brownsville with their kids. Deborah and Bob enjoyed movies and fresh crab at home in Shady Cove where the snow was getting deeper by the minute. I loved a great photo of Jeanne in Vermont with the gorgeous wreath she made from wild cuttings from their property. Some friends sent E-Cards, others texted greetings, Tracey sent photos of my great-grandkids in their Christmas Jammies that I send each year to their home in Northern Washington. All in all, it was a very satisfying day.

As I wrote at the beginning of this story, we had several days of record-breaking snow. Daughter Deborah was snowed in. With snow being a rare occurrence, many people don’t bother with snow tires, and Deb has a cute little mini-Cooper, not a good snow vehicle.

By Wednesday morning, I knew that if I were going to get north to Melody’s house for even one night, it needed to be that day. I hugged Mo and Mattie goodbye and packed up an overnight bag. My trusty 2002 Dakota is a 4x4 and was perfect for a possibly sketchy drive over the 6 passes between Grants Pass and Eugene. Melody lives north of Eugene. The drive was fine and when I arrived at Melody’s in the afternoon the rain had let up a bit. We had a great afternoon with all the mother-daughter fun silly conversations that happen when no one else is around. Taking silly photos made us laugh so hard.

Later, when Robert came home from work, Melody finished up the fabulous risotto and butter-basted filet mignon steaks for our supper. We snuggled into their huge recliners in the tv room and watched a great movie. More laughs and conversation before I settled in for a comfy night in their upstairs bedroom. I had to return home the next afternoon.

New Year's Eve was the next day and I didn’t want to be driving on the Interstate on Friday. Thursday the rain was heavy but the traffic wasn’t horrible, but I was still grateful when I pulled into our driveway safe and sound after that trip.

Mo and I don’t often do much for New Year's Eve, but Mo had a little trip that she had wanted to do before Christmas but time and weather didn’t cooperate. Around 4 we jumped into the car and drove south through the gorgeous Applegate Valley toward Applegate Lake. We have visited the McKee Covered Bridge in the past, but this year the volunteer society for McKee Bridge had decorated the bridge with greens and lights. It would all come down on New Years Day, so it was our last chance to visit the bridge all lit up for Christmas.

The sun came out enough to light up the surrounding snow-covered hills and at this time of day, traffic was quite light. It only took us about an hour to get there, and we were happy that we could see the lights and still get home before it got really dark.

Mattie loves to sit in the front seat and make sure we are going the right way.

I like to think that is how we ended New Year's Eve, but instead, we made the mistake of attempting to watch “the ball fall” at Times Square. We both decided that the whole thing was horrendously stupid and that we never had to try that again. Seems like some things have just deteriorated into inane junk. We went to bed to the sound of guns, cannons, and fireworks, around our neighborhood, not a good thing for most doggies. Lucky for us, Mattie could care less about fireworks or gunshots. She just takes it all in stride.

I finished out the night watching videos of the magnificent fireworks put on in Sydney, Australia. Mo enjoyed seeing them as well, remembering her visit to the Sydney Opera House and her visit there many years ago. I never made it to Australia. My bucket list is getting thinner as the years go by. Pretty sure Australia has slipped off the list by now. Watching videos of the uplifting shows all around the world was a much more delightful way to end the year than whatever they call that mess in Times Square. And to think, I used to wish I could spend a New Years' Eve in Times Square?!! What was I thinking??!!

So often on New Year I muse about the past and envision the future, but this year it was enough to simply revel in the present. There will be plenty of time to reminisce, worry, and plan in the days to come.