Happy New Year! Boy, all it takes for me to consider not doing this is going back and reading the previous year’s. And then I realize how nice it is to have a recap and yes, yes! I will take time on this first day of 2018 to look back at 2017 and find the positive in it.
Just like 2015 and 2016 Paul and I continued to see a lot of concerts together. In the summer we trekked out to the Mann Center for a few outdoor shows: Sigur Ros, Fleet Foxes, and Belle & Sebastian. We had seen Sigur Ros at Radio City Music Hall previously and this was a different experience being outdoors, but still intense and otherworldly and spectacular. This time closer seats let us admire their instruments. Ditto Belle & Sebastian (as in, we’d also seen them at RCMH, and this time we had close seats.) We went to see the Flaming Lips at the Fillmore and while Paul is the fan, not me, I loved it and it lived up all I’d heard. Wayne Coyne rode a unicorn into the audience and also walked around in a giant hamster ball atop the crowd. We’ve seen Barenaked Ladies many times before, but this spring due to a weather situation we ended up seeing them in a pretty small indoor venue, which made it extra fun. A big spring highlight for me was seeing The Decemberists. I pinned a lot of high hopes on this concert because a. it was at the Fillmore (so it would be different than the Academy of Music show) and b. I hoped to hear some stuff we hadn’t heard live yet. The show was fantastic and they did in fact play an awesome song I didn’t think they’d do. We also saw an up and coming band Paul likes a lot called Pinegrove in a the world’st hottest basement ever. [I’m going to break up this lengthy text with a concert photo collage!] Lez Zeppelin was an awesome treat at the tiny Sellersville Theater. At a local outdoor festival we saw the hip band Red Baraat. Perhaps my favorite show of the summer was seeing rock icon Blondie, with Garbage. Both were amazing. How had I missed listening to Garbage? I was smitten with Shirley Manson. And Debbie Harry just blew me away. She was incredible. In the fall we took Tabby to see Katy Perry! She is a great entertainer and we had a terrific time. We also saw the band Alvvays (super), Regina Spektor (beautiful voice, even though I got sleepy several times), and Rodrigo y Gabriela (crazy good.) We were excited to see Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and they were fantastic. We finished the year by seeing Darlingside at the South Orange Performing Arts Center–a place much closer than our usual, very small, we had second row, and it was a wonderful way to end the year. They have the most beautiful harmonies and songs and seem like all around nice people (we met them afterward.)
We also saw some shows with the family and some non concert things:
Cirque Eloize (an amazing show of cirque and music, this had a saloon theme), our favorite fellow Seth Meyers, Taj Express (A Bollywood musical), Pippin (my favorite musical, Paul got tickets for my birthday, and this production was outstanding), Water on Mars (the most fascinating and entertaining juggling I’ve ever seen), Golden Dragon Acrobats, and Shaolin Warriors. I’d say we were certainly well entertained in 2017! Looking at it written out it makes it seem like we’re never at home! I will say that after we’d secured tickets for Darlingside and Courtney Barnett, and First Aid Kit (in 2018) I announced that I was done with concerts. That completed my list of singers and bands I really wanted to see live and really next year I just need to see Guster if (when) they come around again, and obvs. I wouldn’t pass up seeing Pearl Jam. So, we’ll see. Oh, and we have tickets for the Foo Fighters.
As for house and garden….well. No vegetable garden at all this year. We removed our raised beds and returned that area to grass (or, are trying to.) I did miss having my own grown things, so I think we need to make a plan for this spring about what we will grow and how and where we will grow it. Our well covering fell down and we actually really liked the way it opened up our view of the rose bushes and butterfly garden. And I got to grow my beloved Heavenly Blue morning glories up the trellis and they were spectacular. Our milkweed was part of the monarch butterfly life cycle, which made us very happy.And of course the roses and peonies and coneflower were beautiful. In fact, the coneflowers had a banner year and were host to many insects, birds, butterflies, and moths. In the coop things did not go well this year. A fox (?) ravaged the population on one unfortunate night the gate was left open. We are left with 3 young roosters and 4 hens. Of those hens two of them (silver seabright and buff orpington) are FIVE years old. One of the hens did hatch a chick this fall, so we do have an 8th bird. Unclear if it’s a hen or rooster yet. Our flock is so sad and diminished and we weren’t sure what we wanted to do in terms of getting more birds–chicks in the spring? seek out pullets? We decided to wait until til spring. Gordon continues to live with them, though he was pretty sad (I think) that his beloved hen, Tree Bird, perished. He suffered an indeterminate “traumatic eye injury” (a chicken pecking? a thorn?) which required a vet visit and two weeks of oral antibiotics (which was a real treat to administer twice daily, let me tell you). He is all healed up nicely now and hopping around as usual, though he has likely lost some vision in that eye.
In other animal news, in late summer we welcomed two new guinea pigs as permanent fosters. Samson and Louie are adorable and lively and big! We love seeing Louie jump on top of his igloo, which he does all the time.And just a couple of weeks ago we said a fond farewell to dear Blackie. She was 5 1/2 and had a good long life. Although we weren’t with her when she passed away (it was during the day), it appears to have been a peaceful slipping away. R.I.P. Blackie, I hope you’re enjoying an afterlife with Nibbles.
2017 began poorly for our cat Sweetie, when accidentally left home and was gone for a solid month. We were so sad, canvassing the neighborhood, unable to find her, sure she was gone forever. In February a hot tip from a neighbor led us less than 1/4 mile away and we were able to retriever her. Yeah!! Her month away made her get skinny (i.e. normal weight) but she was otherwise fine and super happy to be home. I don’t think she stopped purring for two weeks. On the other hand Liesl was super annoyed and mean to her for quite a few months. They are finally back to sometimes snuggling and at least no longer hitting. And Sweetie is back to being…large.As with last year my beloved hobbies took a hit. No homemade gifts, much less sewing, etc. However, just a couple weeks ago I finished the last of the courses I’d been taking at Rutgers (graduate, online, not getting an additional degree, getting a new certificate.) I’ve been taking classes ever since I started my job and I have to say I feel like a huge burden is lifted. No longer will I spend weekends doing assignments and projects! So, I feel like there is nothing to hold me back from getting back into doing the things I like. I will just work my normal job and have my normal family life. Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!
That said, I did manage to do one quilt start to finish, and it was a pattern I’d really wanted to do and I loved how everything came out. The Pinwheel Quilt! I also finished in February the Christmas scrap quilt (it was really a 2016 project, just finished off at the start of 2017.) We did indeed love snuggling under it this season.
I also finished embroidering this towel finally, which apparently I will mostly use for photo-ops 🙂My Flickr is no longer kept up to date very well, and everything is on Instagram, and I no longer have those great “food” “sewing” annual sets. But I have still done ample cooking/baking/photographing. I’m scattering some favorite pics throughout this post. Here’s one more:
One big event this year (either terrible news or good news, depending on how you look at it) is that during the ’16-’17 winter we did not have heat as our furnace had broken. We replaced it with a new furnace and conversion from oil to natural gas. The project was completed in spring, just as the weather turned warm. It was not until this fall that we really got to turn the heat on and enjoy it.
Our big travel this year was a summer vacation to New Hampshire. It was a bit of a haul to get there, but oh man it was my dream vacation. A cabin (that left a lot to be desired), along a lake, with paddleboards and kayaks and canoes and loons (it was where On Golden Pond takes place!) There was reading and board games and swimming and floating and I loved it.
We began the year with a visit to my brother and his family in Vermont, and we also hit two theme parks this year-Hersheypark (on a day with pouring rain, which was awesome-no lines!) and Great Adventure.
A super special trip for me was a weekend away with three dear friends. Our last trip together had been 15 years ago–to Iceland! We booked a lovely house in the Berkshires, near Stockbridge. We had a great weekend where we never ran out of time for all the talking we like to do about books. Plenty of wine, great food, and a surprisingly powerful trip to the Normal Rockwell Museum.
January was also the historic Women’s March, happening all across the country. I participated by going to a NJ one in Trenton. It was a powerfully moving day and I felt inspired that intelligence, common sense, and decency would someday prevail. Unfortunately the past few months that feeling has been waning. It’s been a tough year and I still can’t believe the things happening in our country.
Here are some assorted moments/memories:
Doing a fun photo shoot with the guinea pigs and having the horrifying event of a garter snake slithering across Tabby’s leg (we were traumatized)
Clark and Tabby riding the Wildcat roller coaster six times in a row
Getting maximum enjoyment out of our small pop up above ground pool, making whirlpools and filling the whole thing with rafts, and floating and looking out at the fields
Eating giant ice cream “snowballs” in New Hampshire
Watching Tabby become a confident baker who made us many tasty treats
Dinner out in New Hampshire when a lovely waitress spilled all our drinks on me and we ended up laughing and laughing
Watching Tabby perform in the Wizard of Oz at the 4H Fair
Watching Clark change his hair color to dramatic shades of red and blue (he also got braces this year and surpassed me in height)
Tossing rocks and dirt clods into the dried grasses of the meadow for Willow, who pounces like a fox
Listening to Paul on WDVR FM be a dj for an hour and playing a fantastic selection of music with commentary (my wish for him is that he look into having a regular show…)
My mom’s new dog, Harry
Getting Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and seeing Clark spend most of the year absorbed in that world
Many many off leash walks with Willow at the nearby meadow watching her run and leap and chase and jump and be a happy dog. At 2 1/2 years old and 85 lbs she is a solid full grown dog now.
and the #1 good surprising thing of 2017…Paul winning a Wawa sweepstakes! Wawa for life! (ok, not life, but a good long while.)
Here’s my other annual post: Top Ten Books of the Year.
A very happy new year to all! May 2018 bring adventure and also contentment.
Signing off with one of my favorite self-portraits of the year,