100 Things That Made My Year

If 2022 was our pandemic junior year, then I’ve moved on to senioritis; I’m restless and ready to bid goodbye to 2022.

As I tried to recall it, the year felt grimly amorphous. I started out depleted and ended depleted, my resources ebbed and a cumulative sorrow took hold. It’s political and pandemic exhaustion, it’s decision fatigue, I’m shock weary and resigned. Is it just me?

But wait! Time for science, proof, facts in black and white. What really happened in my life? I nosed through the layers of my life like a mole. I paged through calendars, notebooks, my blog, and because Google knows everything, I have a record in the cloud of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen. This is all a little embarrassing to admit.

Maybe it’s death’s hot breath, or maybe I just like spreadsheets and lists. I have a lot of time on my hands. Here are 100 things that made my year, in no particular order or ranking.

  1. Storm Watch 2022: Spent a few days at a hotel on a cliff overlooking the churning Pacific and explored the Yachats section of Oregon coastline.
  2. Discovered Geocaching, an excuse to gambol over fields and through forests.
  3. Participated in two memorials and life celebrations that left me wrung out, burnished, but changed. Had many conversations about death. Wrote letters to Death. Tried to change my relationship to death. Progress.
  4. Discovered Nisqually Wildlife Refuge, guided by a new friend. Exquisite vistas, water, and birds. Saw my first bittern.
  5. Returned to Steigerwald Refuge after it had been closed for repairs for a few years. Saw my first Bullock’s Oriole, bright orange.
  6. Reorganized my blog the way it should have been organized from the beginning, except that I didn’t know what it would be when I started five years ago.
  7. Cut off my long covid hair. Free again.
  8. Every time we left home I was so happy to go. And every time I returned I was happy to be back.
  9. Rosa and I painted the mailbox post full of color and love.
  10. Went to dozens of Nature preserves in Oregon, Washington, and California, Fantastic with a wide array of birds and wildlife, trees and plants, water and geologic features.
  11. Had the Rowe Sanctuary webcam open all day for many weeks, and watched thousands of Sandhill Cranes, listened to their crazy sounds, and watched the magnificent sunrises and sunsets.
  12. Went to see the peak cherry blossoms along the Willamette river.
  13. Managed to avoid doctors, a blessed contrast to the previous year. And Alan’s appointments were just check ins. Relief.
  14. Switched from furnace to heat pump, and felt better about the impact on climate.
  15. Went to a half dozen exquisite concerts, our favorite bands, everyone nervously grateful for the return to live music.
  16. Enjoyed watching Alan develop his photo blog into something beautiful and interesting.
  17. Watched my daughter-in-law fly through the air with the greatest of ease.
  18. Nervously invited friends to subscribe to my blog. They responded kindly and in force.
  19. Got two more covid boosters, making me feel quite a bit better, like I won’t die from this.
  20. Survived several rounds of Parcheesi with my grandchildren. Not for the faint of heart.
  21. Had a massage every month from a brilliant masseuse. Bumped it up to 2 hours long. There goes your inheritance kids.
  22. Music friend fest weekend spring and fall! Threw caution to the wind: music, jamming, smiling faces, love, wildness, PEOPLE, face to face, touching, hugging, getting close up. Avoided covid. Permanently, perhaps, damaged my body. Felt fairly confident while leading songs, my comfort level grown, or else my fuck it I don’t care attitude took over.
  23. Applied the rules of writing practice to music: Don’t overthink, don’t worry about mistakes, keep my hand moving, lose control, be specific, allow myself to play badly. 
  24. Finally met my deliciously wonderful grand-niece Willow.
  25. Took songwriting classes, some in person and some on Zoom. Wrote 16 songs, most didn’t suck, both scary and fun. Like all the best things in life.
  26. Started almost every morning with stretching and yoga. Did it outside under the magnolia tree for half the year. Sun salutes to the garden beds.
  27. Maintained, nurtured, fed, and supported a writing community that has met since mid-2019, providing a safe space for writers, and hearing others’ stories.
  28. Wrote. A lot. Writing til the water runs clear.
  29. Skipped covid when Alan got it. Anxiously meditated on every phantom symptom in my body. Survived two weeks of separation. Learned that I could.
  30. Wrote a series of letters to Death. Got to know him and develop our relationship. He still annoys me though.
  31. Dozens of trips to Gabriel Park playground with the grandkids. Super duper fun accessible equipment with everything in technicolor. Also Marshall Park with its serene creek, and trails.
  32. Marina made cinnamon rolls a few times. So. Good.
  33. Shared a trip with Rosa to see hundreds of Sandhill Cranes grazing alongside even more Snow Geese. Enraptured by the sight and sounds, especially when they rise as a group and fly off. Went back a second time.
  34. Two retreats with blogger friends, a new experience. One on a lovely wooded hilltop overlooking Mt. Rainier and another at Manzanita Beach. Lovely friendship and inspiring women. Fantastic full moon and sunrise beach walks.
  35. Ate excellent sustainably harvested sushi from Bamboo Sushi many times.
  36. Drove over the coast range covered in gorgeous snow (and the road was clear).
  37. Texted all year long with online friends. Mysterious, fulfilling, stimulating, warm.
  38. Listened to Ada Limon’s podcast, The Slowdown. Her poetic stories are as good as the poems they accompanied. Better. Then she became the US Poet Laureate.
  39. Swam 3 mornings/week when I was in town and the roads weren’t icy. I watched the sky change, geese flying overhead, moon setting, sun rising, submerged in warm water, stretching my limbs. I’m up to 40 minutes. Go me.
  40. Watched most of the January 6 hearings. This did not make my year. But it did satisfy a small knot of vengefulness inside me. And hope for 2023.
  41. I got enough good feedback on my blog to keep me going. Not that I write for that purpose, but it helps to hear from readers for whom my words resonate. Published more blogs and words than in any previous year. If you got this far, thank you.
  42. Reconnected several times on zoom with my homeschool mom friends in Santa Barbara. It’s good not to let so much history disappear.
  43. Got to know our backyard birds and befriended the scrub jays who finally took peanuts from my fingers. Felt the tug of the nut, the whoosh of air from their wings. The wild bunny came to visit. They all love the blueberries. Me too.
  44. Watched the neighborhood crows commute back and forth every day, and a fledged baby in the neighborhood.
  45. Picked blueberries on Sauvie Island. Twice. Got a freezer full.
  46. I swam in the Willamette River several times with the grandkids. Exquisite.
  47. I waded/paddled in the Columbia River, much colder and faster.
  48. Drawn by many weeds and wildflowers everywhere, I closely examined, learned about, and photographed Queen Anne’s Lace in dozens of areas, fascinated by the nest of buds, a beautiful weed.
  49. Spent many days walking quietly through a forest, watching ripples on the water or branches waving in the wind, casting shadows.
  50. Hiked with Ezra, which is usually following as best I can while he sets off at a dead run. “I’m a long distance runner,” he says, “not a sprinter.” Yes.
  51. Went to a party with a dozen women I didn’t know and two I did, somewhat. We talked about menopause, covid, peeing standing up, getting caught in police headlights while squatting, trying to pee in a to-go cup while driving and getting all wet. This is why I need to mingle with strangers more.
  52. Played endless rounds of Crazy 8s with Ezra (now aka Crazy Aces), and watched him turn into a graceful loser and gracious winner.
  53. Kept losing at Cribbage to Rosa. I don’t like losing, but I do like watching her learn to play, watching her face as she plans, calculates, strategizes. She’s also turning into a graceful loser and gracious winner.
  54. Watched the garden grow lush and green, flowers thriving. Alan’s handiwork.
  55. Eating peas and endless green beans out of the garden, with and without the grandkids. 
  56. Harvested eggplants, peppers, tomatoes from which Alan created gorgeous meals. And sauce for the freezer
  57. Several seasons at Elk Rock Garden, a small but fecund, well-cared for plot of land on a cliff overlooking the Willamette River.
  58. Got a hammock for my birthday from which I gazed at the lush garden and endless summer blue skies.
  59. Flew out of Portland, first flight in two years, over the Columbia River, passing by each of the Cascade Mountains and through a layer cake of reds, a glow of oranges, like a Rothko painting.
  60. Watched in horror as Roe v Wade was overturned, wrote up my abortion story, and later watched in satisfied delight as that decision turned the election tide away from the threatened Red Wave.
  61. Attended a gorgeous, colorful, musical, entertaining, laughter-packed, love-filled, wedding with a family I adore. Many thoughtful conversations along the way.
  62. Briefly met a new potential Portland friend at said wedding, and her guitar playing partner. Months later, shared an evening of music and conversation, and made plans for 2023 gatherings.
  63. A surprise serendipitous musical evening in Santa Cruz with some of my most favorite friends and musicians, overlooking the fields and sunset on the porch of a dome house.
  64. Spent a few days in a house near the beach with my siblings exploring beautiful parts of Santa Cruz.
  65. Picking up or dropping off the grandkids means lots of ongoing wonderful conversations with Marina and Zack, and enjoying their loving parenting.
  66. Five sets of visitors stayed with us, family and friends, including a precious three year old. Each one an occasion for doing something different, eating good food, and good conversations. There were also a few day visitors from out of town. It felt like hope.
  67. Discovered Manzanita Beach, my new favorite beach, after hearing about it for years. Hung out with my family, played foosball, played on the beach, and sat by the outdoor firepit.
  68. My luscious Sauvie Island dahlias bloomed again all summer, in spite of having been kept out in the cold, ice, and snow all winter.
  69. Sat in the hot tub most days, except when it was 115 degrees out. Healing and soothing, like melting into luxury.
  70. Made huge amounts of pesto from the garden basil, froze it to eat all year.
  71. Watched and helped Ethan and Bentley move into their dream house in a beautiful neighborhood. So much admiration for their process and communication.
  72. Watched with admiration as a friend finished and published her book about caregiving and then promoted it. And, it’s a great read.
  73. Was a recipient of the Wisdom of Ezra (8). “Did we mourn GG properly?” “A car can’t be towed from the airport parking lot until it’s been there a year.” “When aliens invade the earth, it would be useful to have just one leader to organize us.” “My bedroom is like the coast of Finland.” To each piece of seaweed snack he said, “This is your hour of fate.” As I caught something right before it dropped, “Well, that’s the good side of having a body!” His catch phrase, repeated frequently, is “Today’s a great day.”
  74. Hiked the Oregon coast: Cascade Head and Cape Falcon, among others, miles of long shoreline views, Neskowin’s Ghost Beach and Proposal Rock.
  75. Made several plans for next year – a wedding, a river rafting trip, two music camping weekends, and a week on the Washington coast with new friends and old friends from Strawberry days. I sense a shift.
  76. Heard an interview with Naomi Shihab Nye speaking about You Are Living in a Poem. “When you think, when you’re in a very quiet place, when you’re remembering, when you’re savoring an image, when you’re allowing your mind calmly to leap from one thought to another, that’s a poem. That’s what a poem does.”
  77. Also, Nye banned the word “busy” for herself and instead just does one thing and then the next and then the next. Meditating while doing the mundane activities, breathing as you go, allowing in space. Trying it.
  78. Listened to Anderson Cooper’s 9-episode podcast “All There Is” about death and grieving, and discussions he has with others about navigating this part of life.
  79. Conceived of, wrestled with, and made a stab at, turning the blog into a book. I don’t know where that will go, but it’s a start, and fun to have a project.
  80. Recovered from despair several times. There’s always hope.
  81. Found insight in the books Quiet and The Highly Sensitive Person that gave me new insight into how to navigate my life more successfully.
  82. Spent many moments playing music with Alan, mostly in short stints to save my body. As always, he’s my supporter and instigator.
  83. Heard a podcast in which Ann Patchett talks about “Why no one cares what you write about (and why that should give you freedom).” It did, it does.
  84. Completed my fourth NaNoWriMo, and wrote over 52,000 words on my book project, in the company of a dozen encouraging writer friends.
  85. Helped raise money for a friend in need. Sad to have to do it, but happy to have some success and be of use.
  86. Steadily attended my online MELT foam rolling class, keeping my body stretched and relaxed.
  87. Celebrated a delicious and warm Thanksgiving with my family and my son’s family in their new home. So much gratitude for my life and the lives of my loved ones.
  88. Took the grandkids to Seaside, for a couple days, where it didn’t rain much and our condo looked out on the beach. They spent happy hours in the pool, and I took some beach walks.
  89. Drove bumper cars that looked like they were made in the 50s, laughing all the way.
  90. Late in the year I decided to watch nothing but comedies on the tube. This has been helpful for my anxiety. And I laugh more.
  91. Allowed myself to do nothing at times, spending winter solstice week gathering these bits, relaxing, reading, and writing when I felt like it.
  92. Read 44 books this year. Most enjoyable, riveting, and well-written: Cloud Cuckoo Land, by Anthony Doerr; The Lincoln Highway, by Amor Towles; The Sentence, by Louise Ehrdrich; Oh William!, by Elizabeth Strout; Harlem Shuffle, by Colson Whitehead
  93. I didn’t gain any weight. Small victories.
  94. Celebrated birthdays (their 3rd covid parties) with my daughter and granddaughter, and ate excellent cakes.
  95. Provided a home away from home for my grandchildren, a place where they can feel loved and safe and supported.
  96. Learned some new songs.
  97. Fed by my wonderful husband, who likes to cook more than I do and is far better at it.
  98. Managed to avoid Christmas music almost entirely.
  99. Marked 46 years this week since meeting my beloved husband.
  100. Looked back at a year that I thought was devoid of content and full of air, and discovered that there was much to be happy about.

21 thoughts on “100 Things That Made My Year

  1. Love the list. It all sounds fantastic & hopeful. I just made a 2022 photo album & showed my kids. It was also a good way to capture the happy days & adventures taken. I’m walking cautiously & a little wirse for wear into 2023, but am determined to not miss the good stuff, feeling inspired by your words!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I want to say so much about so many of these. Even with such diligent accounting I can’t help but think of the emotional tidal wave that carried much more than any list could hold. I love that you made music and wrote (and wrote and wrote). I love that I got to share a handful of these times with you. I want to hear more about your letters to Death and scrub jays and that book! Happy 2023, my friend. It’s such a good life*

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what a list! Makes me feel like a stick-in-the-mud, although maybe if I tried the exercise I’d discover more gems – then again, I don’t keep such careful notes. Love hearing from you and about you and your world, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

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