The feature image is how we spent our summer social distancing at Little Talbot State Park in Jacksonville, Florida.
This post is in response to TERRI WEBSTER SCHRANDT Sunday Stills challenge. The theme this week is Your 2020 #Retrospect.
What a challenging year 2020 was in many respects. I began my year with a birding blog on January 5, 2020 called “Today is for the Birds” with great excitement because I had just written my first guest blog with Jacksonville Business Connections through my job titled “Unlock the Bird Lover in You for 2020“. Little did I know that it wouldn’t last.
I was taking more time to write the “Living in the Moment” blogs from our wonderful vacation to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park that had taken us on a 12 day adventure in September, 2019. This image takes us to the Old Yellowstone Trail, the Road Less Traveled.
On March 17th, I was sent home from work to “work from home” indefinitely due to the COVID pandemic. That lasted all of two weeks when I was laid off with 28 other employees. I had been there for 11 1/2 years and had planned on retiring with the company in about 10 more years. Plans change!
March 31st was mine and Frank’s 3rd wedding anniversary. It also was the day that I went to the office and cleaned out my desk. What a task after being there all those years. Talk about bittersweet! It was a sad and happy day all at the same time. Here is a look back on the anniversary blog. For our wedding, we dressed in 50’s attire, got married by “the” Elvis in Vegas and had such a great time. Please click on the anniversary blog link above to see the video of the ceremony if you missed it.
April was when I first joined Becky’s squares. What a treat that was when I first began. It helped me get through the turmoil that I was feeling from losing my job. My 94 year old neighbor had passed away in February and this sunflower was growing in her front yard. It was like she was telling me to hold my head up and smile! That blog is here. A video shows the flower dancing and waving to me.
May found me in a bit of a panic. The pandemic wasn’t anymore under control in May than it was when we went into lockdown in March. We were not getting called back to work. There were no jobs to be found and frankly I was scared to death at the thought of going on a job interview or being around people period. I decided that I would start an Etsy shop. I had been a Graphic Artist for 22 years at this point and I could put those skills to good use. I was spending everyday writing a blog which was great mental therapy. Many of you got me through that rough time of indecision. Cee’s Photo Challenges were a huge highlight and inspired me to start thinking about creating a challenge of my own. Here is one on “Things that are Short” featuring piglets born at the Jacksonville County Fair in November, 2019. I’m so appreciative for all your support.
As things began to open back up in Florida and across the country, there was a glimmer of hope that we had beaten down covid. Of course that wasn’t the case. On our daily walk with Heaven, we walked passed St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church just a block from our house where they were holding church service. It wasn’t in the chapel but in the main hall were we go to vote because it is a large area where they could social distance. Not many there, but at least they were able to worship. I wrote this for Silent Sunday.
June marked the first Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Bird Weekly started on June 12, 2020 with the theme for that week being Song Birds. I featured the Carolina Wren as they are known as the “Mouth of the South”. They are loud and have a beautiful tweedle-tweedle-tweedle or a tea-kettle, tea-kettle, tea-kettle song. Only the male Carolina Wren sings.
I had really started ramping up my business plan and began working on product development and designs for my Etsy shop. I launched it at the end of June. One of my first items was a face mask decal. Then came along Shweta Suresh’s Saturday Six Word Story Prompt of “Leave”.
July marks the anniversary of the passing of my mom and my dad. My mom passed away on July 9, 2014 and my dad passed away on July 12, 2015. While they divorced when I was 10, it was still very strange that their deaths were so close together 1 year apart. I dedicated blogs to each of them and for some reason, I really struggled last July.
In August, I was still blogging a lot and decided it was time to let all my fellow bloggers know what I was up to the past few months leading up to the end of summer. I announced the opening of my Etsy shop. It was met with great enthusiasm and many of you became customers. I want you to know it is appreciated! Our Eyes Open Designs was open for business. If you would like to visit my shop, here is the link. https://www.etsy.com/shop/OurEyesOpenDesigns
A few days after the launch of the Etsy shop, I received a phone call from my previous employer. He was not happy about what I was doing and threatened to send me a Cease and Desist for violating a non-compete claiming it was in the Employee Handbook. The legal jargon in the handbook was a Conflict of Interest clause and since I was no longer an employee and it didn’t appear they were going to call me back once Florida opened up, I wasn’t in violation of anything. They sent me a Cease and Desist wanting me to sign a “legal” form stating I wouldn’t compete in my field of knowledge in the entire United States and if I didn’t sign it, they would shut down my shop. Guess what? I didn’t sign it and it went nowhere! I don’t take kindly to being bullied so I put everything in writing that was legally sound. I already had an attorney open a case file for me in case it did.
In September, the Tampa Bay Rays found themselves in the Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs for the first time since 2010. Being a Rays fan since their inception in 1998 (known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays), it was very exciting. The Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Wild Card Series.
I reposted Jen Goldie’s first blog that she so graciously put together for our division rivalry. Both teams played great, but the Rays came up on top, winning the American League Wild Card Series in 2 games. We had fun “trash talking” back and forth and then she rooted on the Rays the rest of the way. I would have done the same for her. Sorry Jen Goldie about your Jays.
The Rays then took on the New York Yankees which was a best 3 out of 5 game series. It went to game 5 with the Rays beating the Yankees in a nail-biter, 2-1 for the title of American League Division Series (ALDS) Champions.
Next came the American League Championship Series (ALCS) where the Rays took on the Houston Astros in a 7 game series. It went to 7 games with Charlie Morton on the mound. Tampa Bay rose to the top with a 4-2 win moving on to the World Series for the second time in franchise history winning the American League pennant. The Rays had only been to the World Series one other time in 2008.
The World Series stage was set when the Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League pennant. Unfortunately, the Tampa Bay Rays came up short losing in Game 6, crowning the Los Angeles Dodgers as World Series Champions.
Tampa Bay rookie, Randy Arozarena broke the Rookie record for the most homeruns in the post-season.
Halloween is my favorite holiday and it was just strange this year. I did not dress up as anything or anyone. We chose to not hand out goodies for any possible “trick or treaters” and it started raining shortly after it got dark. It was a quiet night with our feet up, popcorn and movie night. I did post on Becky’s squares “The Spooky Kind” showing how much we decorate and get into character.
Again, there it was going to be a quite Thanksgiving. My kids and grandkids are in Tampa and we were not going to make any plans to see them. My daughter, Kaela who lives here in Jacksonville was preparing to move. Everything happened the week of Thanksgiving and they actually starting moving two days before Thanksgiving. We made a conservative Thanksgiving meal and took a goodie bag over to Kaela and her boyfriend, Danny. They had packed everything up and were fixing and cleaning the house they were moving out of so they appreciated the food.
For the November, 15th Sunday Stills, Terry was looking for the color Auburn. The photo above is of me, Andy Hillstrand from the Time Bandit and my daughter, Kaela. A lot of Auburn in the photo and shows me with Auburn hair before it got so gray. Even though the Hillstrand brothers are no longer on Deadliest Catch, I’m still a big fan of the show.
My hair was still auburn. Now it is lighter brown with gray. My daughter’s hair is still this beautiful color that highlights shades of auburn.
I found myself up to my eyeballs in orders. I didn’t anticipate the holiday rush that happened. I found myself working 12-14 hours days just to keep up with customer service and production. My big seller was a Custom Dog Bone Ornament. I sold over 240 units from Black Friday until after Christmas. Deborah over at Circadianreflections Blog was one of the first to purchase this very cool product for her beloved doggie that passed away. Several customers asked to put the birth year and death year on the bone which I was happy to oblige at no extra charge.
Blogging took a backseat in December as I filled orders and tried to get ready for Christmas myself and continue to keep up with my orders. I did manage to keep up with Bird Weekly with the last one for 2020 ending on 12/18 with birds in or near the water or snow.
On the morning of Christmas Eve, I was doing my hair when the spring in my 17 year old curling iron snapped, going down my back and burning me in two places. Okay, at least my hair was pretty much finished. I was anxiously awaiting for my BFF Morgan and her hubby Dave to get here. We ate lunch and then Morgan & I headed to purchase a new curling iron. No way I was going to go the next several days without it. I have serious bed head these days. My old iron was a Hot Tools and cost me $120. I dreaded getting a new one. I took mine with me so that I got the correct barrel size. Low and behold, the same exact curling iron was only $45. YAY!
That evening, Morgan wanted a haircut. I’m not a pro and don’t have a license but I can do a pretty good job. I had cut her hair in September when they were here for a visit. She broke her shoulder ball on her left side in a bicycle accident just a week prior to Christmas so she was a little gimpy. After I cut her hair, she showered and Dave was blow drying her hair with my 17 year old Hot Tools blow dryer when it burned up. Yep, both the same day! I paid $150 for the blow dryer new in 2005. I lucked out again and found a comparable one, same brand for $35 the day after Christmas. No complaints because I got my money’s worth out of both devices.
The photo above was Christmas morning. We both walked out of our bedrooms and giggled that we both had our Penguin Christmas sweaters on. It was NOT planned and I had never seen her sweater before and she hadn’t ever seen mine. It is usually too hot in Florida, even at Christmastime to wear a warm sweater.
What a year 2020 turned out to be. I was ready to see it come to an end! My last blog post ended similar to how it started. The announcement of the Bird Weekly Challenge List was expanded. Now I’m looking towards the future of what 2021 has in store and so far it is starting off great! We have already seen 109 species of birds since January 1st.
Thank to everyone for a fun ride despite the obstacles. Pray for everyone who lost their lives to covid and those left behind. Stay happy, healthy and safe!