Thursday, December 31, 2020

Looking Back


Only a few more hours and 2020 will be history. What a weird and strange year it has been. While this was not the worst year in my life - there were years far worse than this - it certainly was the most unique.

Much has been said about 2020 and I don't want to waste your time with repeating the same old sentiments about the virus and its consequences. The circus about the election still hasn't stopped. The life of too many people has been disrupted in a terrible way.

When I look back at the year I am surprised how quickly it passed, even though there were times when we thought nothing was moving. Despite stay-at-home orders and lockdowns I had more work than before. The new situation of teaching online had its fair share of challenges, but also many opportunities. While preparing classes was taking a lot longer, teaching was still a positive experience. It forced me to keep an open mind, to learn from my mistakes, to see what worked and what didn't and make amendments. It was interesting and exhausting at the same time. I was able to offer new classes which added to my work load, but boy! did I like it!

My Esty store also took off this year in a way I hadn't experienced before. While at the beginning of the year it was mainly Valentine's cards that I sold, customers were asking for hand knitted socks once the pandemic was under way. I knitted 68 pairs of socks for the store alone, plus some more for friends, famiy and myself. Add to this some hats, scarves, mittens and photo cards you can see that I was busy.

Since there was no way we could go anywhere I spent a lot of time in the garden whenever I could. I was digging and planting, changing the layout of the garden and enjoying the beauty surrounding me. That certainly kept me sane! Due to the unhealthy air for several weeks due to the multiple wildfires in our state and beyond, this time was cut short in the second half of summer, but by then the new school year had already started and I didn't have that much time for this kind of leisure anyway.

When I went to see Kaefer in Davis on Valentine's Day and we had a nice lunch on the patio of a restaurant, I had no idea that this was the last time I ate at a restaurant this year. After that it was me preparing meals every single day (sometimes, though, it was just a frozen pizza from Trader Joe's). I think we only picked up food from a restaurant two or three times. Since I had subscribed to the Morning Briefing of the New York Times which includes one recipe each day, I didn't run out of new and inspiring ideas. I tried many new dishes and some of them quickly became favorites.

Good thing that Kaefer had given me a fun apron! I wore it almost every day.

The big event in our family, of course, was Kaefer's graduation from the University of California, Davis. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Global Disease Biology which is a good foundation for her new undertaking, studying for her Masters in Epidemiology at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich. She left right after Labor Day - bittersweet for us and I sure miss her a lot.

When I look back at the time since the beginning of the pandemic, I am amazed at the creativity that I saw during those months. First it was just the "communal howling" in our neighborhood every evening at 8:00. Then the virtual wildlife turned up, including the tiger in our backyard. Everywhere something was turning up - sidewalk art, people playing music from their balconies (Italy), others reading to kids via Zoom etc. The creative solutions we found at work and new ways to exercise. We started a Happy Hour in the street with our neighbors that we only stopped a few weeks ago with our holiday lockdown that didn't permit gatherings of any size, even outside.

What did I miss most? Certainly being together with our friends - that was worse than the cancelled trip to Australia. We had a few social distanced get togethers, but this simply wasn't the same. I miss the spontaneity of "normal" times and I wonder when or even if we will ever experience that again. I miss not being able to hug my friends. 

I sure hope that 2021 will bring vaccines to all of us and we will be able to hug each other again, to be together without being afraid to spread a virus that we still don't understand. 

To all of you I wish a happy, peaceful and healthy 2021.