Hmm – four days into the new year and just one walk taken. The squirrels are no doubt fitful, looking at one another and asking “is Linda coming back?” I am hopeful for a Park excursion this morning. We had freezing rain New Year’s Day p.m. which messed up roads and sidewalks Saturday, then Sunday was a slushy mix of rain and snow with below-freezing temps. So much for great beginnings in this newly minted year.
But then, 2020 was a year that began with such promise … a shiny new decade. On January 1, 2020, I could not help but reflect on what I was doing twenty years before. On January 1, 2000, I was overjoyed that the dreaded Y2K digital meltdown did not happen at the stroke of midnight as many had predicted – whew! I recall I held off buying a computer until after Y2K, so on January 2, 2000, I went to the Gateway store and bought my first desktop P.C.
If we thought the advent of Y2K was scary business, imagine if we had known how COVID-19 was going to affect our lives by March 2020. We went blithely about our daily routine, until mid-March when life, as we knew it, certainly put on the brakes.
Some of you were ultra-productive when COVID jail began.
For me, not much changed at the outset. Having worked from home for nearly a decade, there were no adjustments there and I always buy enough pantry items so I don’t have to shop all Winter, except for perishable items. So that was taken care of. I could live without perishable items and I never bought groceries until May.
Some of you were forced into lockdown mode with no school or work which gave you lots of time to hunker down at home and clear out clutter, renovate, read some books, binge-watch shows on Netflix or hone your cooking skills. I saw tons of brown boxes, paint cans, old carpeting and sad-looking vanities in the ‘hood on my daily walks, so for sure our homes reaped the benefits of lockdown mode.
Truth be told … I have done diddly-squat during this pandemic.
I have clutter galore and my first goal whenever I retire is to return to a clutter-free house … it’s been so long that I can’t recall what the house looks like upstairs or downstairs. There was a mad scramble to make the house look presentable on the day after Christmas when a plumbing issue cropped up. I resented needing to do that on what I had deemed my “down time” but, to keep up appearances and avoid raised eyebrows and silent judgments by the plumber when he entered the house, I ran around like a mad woman. Then placed the call to the plumber. Evidently, he changed his cellphone number, never called, the problem resolved itself … that’s life. Then I found a wasp nest in the garage – really?!
I did get out and about more in 2020 and …
… pared down my “Trek Bucket List” by going to Huroc Park, Willow Metropark, Crosswinds Marsh and I finished exploring the Rouge Gateway Trail during my virtual Mutt Strut 5K. During the 2019 Mutt Strut the event took us to part of it … I wanted to see more. I’ve still not made it to the sunflower farm and this year I may just grow my own. I used my Metropark pass plenty, but I’ve still not used my state park pass that I add onto my driver’s license fee. Maybe this year.
And, I put a bit of a dent in my “Birdie Bucket List” …
… Woo hoo!
Here it is when I published it on March 5th last year.
Well I pared down a few. Let’s see. I finally saw a hummingbird and got a few photos! (More on that later).
I hoped to see a Mute Swan Mama with her cygnets nestled beneath those snowy feathers. I was lucky, but it wasn’t quite that heartwarming scenario I pictured in my mind. A pair of Mute Swans were on the Detroit River, with one nearly grown cygnet between them. The motorboats raced by and the current made the bobbing cygnet submerge every few seconds. The parents didn’t care as I stood in shocked disbelief, thinking it may not surface again. It lived but I’m sure it gulped gallons of funky Detroit River water into its tiny lungs.
Up until June 2020, I had visited every watery venue I could in search of Mallards and their ducklings, to no avail. Then right under my nose I found Mama and 10 sweet ducklings trailing behind her at Council Point shortly after it re-opened after being closed for a month. Then, I would go on to see many more ducklings at Coan Lake at Heritage Park during June. They seemed to be everywhere I looked. I guess it was Mother Nature’s gift to me.
I saw Cooper’s Hawks a’plenty – usually going after my little furry buddies at the Park, but I did not get any photos.
I did dabble a little though …
“Dabble” is an interesting word.
When ducks dabble, they turn upside down, peering below the surface of the water for some tasty aquatic plants to nibble on. Their feathery duck butts are straight up in the air, but sometimes, like here, they just poke their head into the water … it looks less comical this way.
Last year I scribbled down a few New Year’s resolutions for 2020 while sipping eggnog and polishing off the rest of the Christmas cookies. Must. Read. More. After all, I had enjoyed reading three books from Thanksgiving through the New Year’s long holidays. Inspired, I got more reading material and even bought a couple of book lights to take downstairs to clamp onto those books to read as I perched atop the exercise bicycle for those mornings I would not be walking. So, we had a wonderful Winter with very little snow, so very little bike/book time. So much for that worthy resolution.
I dabbled in gardening with real plants.
I once lived for my garden where I made the backyard into a paradise for butterflies and birds and yes, squirrels, but in those days I fretted when they dug up the lawn or flowerpots to bury or search for the peanuts that I fed them – a real Catch-22 situation. Then a neighbor’s dog out 24/7/365 brought rats and back-to-back Polar Vortex events killed off most of my garden. Disgusted, plus in conjunction with my walking regimen, I vowed never to garden again. I resorted to silk flowers and planted them in pots and baskets – no weeding, deadheading, watering. I was set. Then a friend in North Carolina and I chatted about gardening. I confessed I once was a green thumb outside, but would kill any plant I brought into the house. She said “you can’t kill Oxalis – I’ll send you some of mine if you give me your address.” I politely insinuated she was wasting her time. Undaunted by my exasperation, Betty Jean express-mailed me several bulbs of flowers you may know better as “shamrocks” – but it was hot weather, the express mail package arrived some ten days later. With a defeatist attitude, I told Betty Jean they likely would not make it from being held up by the mail so long, but I dutifully planted them and gave them a few doses of Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster and waited.
Here they were a few weeks later.
And, here they were on Labor Day weekend.
They bloomed well even after the last frost but I finally brought them in … they are now dead as a door nail.
I dabbled with cooking.
I follow a blog called “In Diane’s Kitchen” and friend and fellow blogger Diane kept posting pictures of crock pot meals. After salivating over far too many of those delicious-looking dinners, I got a crock pot and several recipe books from Amazon. I paged through them and put sticky notes on what I planned to make, but when I told Diane she had inspired me so I had ordered a crock pot, she said “get recipes from the Facebook sites for easy crock pot meals!” I’ve not cracked open the cookbooks since but at last I can cook without burning the meals. Yay me! The crock pot also helps since I await the transition to Windows 10 at work and have nowhere else to plug that laptop in, so it has been sitting on the stove glass top since June 2019, plugged in behind the stove.
I dabbled with hummingbird feeding.
I had high hopes for having some fun and maybe photo ops after glimpsing a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird flitting around a pink weed near the door. I had never seen a hummingbird up close, just in photos. But would I get its picture? To increase my chances of a photo op and perhaps have a new hobby, I ordered two hummingbird feeders from my former HVAC tech, who, along with his wife, now own a Wild Birds Unlimited store. Of course, there was all the paraphernalia to go along with the care and feeding of hummers. I don’t bake and had no sugar in the house, so I ordered powdered nectar to mix up in the special hummer bottles, port hole cleaning brushes … okay, I bought into this new hobby hook, line and sinker. I had to get new shepherd’s hooks because my original hooks had an expressway of ants running from the bushes to the feeder and were cemented into the garden long ago, but then my neighbor’s Trumpet Vine brought more ants and spiders so I had to move them again.
I HAD named my hummer “Homer” then never saw it … for weeks, maybe a month or so. Dutifully I filled both feeders and remained ever-hopeful, while thinking I not only wasted money, but now was wasting my time. Then one day I was hanging up the feeders with fresh sugar water and looked over to see this hummer suspended in air, with whirring wings as it waited for its breakfast. As I watched it taking swigs from both feeders, I noticed it was a female, as it was missing that signature red throat. I re-named this little bundle of energy “Hope” and it would take another month to get these not-so-great pictures, which happened one morning when I opened the door to find it raining and Hope sipping at the feeder. I bolted to get the camera lest she leave.
So, what am I to learn or accomplish in 2021? The year is young and as of this writing, I only have 1,253 more miles/2,016 kilometers to go to meet my goal. Wish me luck!
[Google gone kaput image was what appeared on my screen one time. I kept it specifically for this post.]