Warm Christmas Blessings To You and Your Family!

2020 has certainly been a unique year, hasn’t it?  We started it off nice enough – a “polar” plunge Florida-style after returning from a visit with Mom for Christmas.  February found us in Saint Augustine, FL celebrating our anniversary.  Usually we head to Savannah, but we decided to mix it up.  Shortly after our return, things certainly headed in a different direction.

We were fortunate to be able to extend our stay in Florida until May, then headed back to Michigan by way of Texas.  At that time, the virus was less active in Florida and Texas than in Michigan.  Travel was a whole new world, for us the major change was not going inside gas stations/truck stops and not meeting and talking to fellow campers.  After a thoroughly enjoyable visit with Beth in Texas, we headed back to Michigan and settled in at Heart of the Forest Campground. 

As restrictions eased in Michigan, we were blessed to find a surgeon that was able to help Bill out with his Achilles Tendon and Haglund deformity (heel spur).  Bill spend much of the summer in recovery mode demonstrating his commitment to his health and mobility.  Prior to surgery, even walking a mile was a challenge due to pain.  A few days ago, he walked 6 miles!  I am so proud of him, and grateful for the inspiration and motivation he provides.  Doctor was extremely pleased with Bill’s progress – he told us he released Bill from restrictions earlier than any other patient because of his healing.

Near the end of his restricted movement, he became aware of an opportunity – a Cessna 172F – that was looking for a new hangar.  The Dumont hangar was sitting empty, full of eager anticipation – and so, we now have N7923U as a new family member.  Bill was well acquainted with the bird – he flew it when he was doing Forest Service flying.  In it’s prior lifetime, it had been dubbed “23 Ugly” – prior to a paint job and interior upgrades.  It has now been dubbed “23 Unicorn” because it is a lovely creature and has a new life in our life.  Bill was able to get several flights in to refamiliarize himself with the plane and gave me color tour rides.  We opted to leave 23U in Michigan this year because of the uncertainty of travel.

Our one travel trip this while in Michigan was a weekend adventure to Escanaba with Mom to see her sister, Estie and her daughters Janet and Debbie.  Sadly, we lost Uncle Floyd this year.  Our time together was so incredibly special even though it was short.  This was also our only “Thelma and Louise” road trip.

We left Michigan in mid-October after spending a couple days in Monroe at Sterling State Park.  That stop allowed us to spend a treasured day with Jeanne and Carl.  We hadn’t seen them in over a year.  Time with family is certainly precious beyond measure.  Earlier this year, we lost our sister-in-law Kathy to cancer.  Treasure your family!

Our kids are very well.  Beth is living in Houston, still has our two furry grandpups Nyx and Callie.  Her travel job has turned into a remote job working from home – much to the delight of Nyx and Callie!  We enjoyed a surprise quick visit from her prior to leaving Michigan.  Beth continues to be very involved in fitness activities – running a crossfit gym in Houston, recertifying and getting new fitness certifications as opportunities arise – all in addition to maintaining some impressive professional credentials.

Walter finished his 6-year commitment to the Air Force in November, and the next day entered the Army.  Currently finishing up Basic Training (because the Army is different than the Air Force), he will then attend Warrant Officer Candidate School.  Then it’s off to Army aviation, and he has hopes of flying helicopters.  While he is at Basic and Warrant Officer Candidate School, we are caring for Mara Jade – another of our furry grandpups.  Piper is rather put out at having a little companion, but we are surviving in a guarded truce.  Mara is 5, Piper is 13 ½.  Puppy and regal queen – quite an interesting mix!

Bill and I set mileage goals in January for this year.  Bill’s goal was 500 miles – and considering surgery, downtime before and recovery after – it is spectacular to say the least – that he completed that goal early and continues to log those miles.  My goal was 2020 miles – and I achieved that goal on December 6.  Working toward that goal was a sanity saver in the current environment.  We are still pondering our goals for 2021.  I am planning on working as a team with Beth to achieve 2021 miles for 2021 – we will combine our efforts, and may even talk Bill into joining in.

Bill is constantly working on projects on our “house”, for our yard, on the vehicles – whatever needs working on.  I am always amazed at his talent.  I am still working from home – so fortunate to be working for a great company and doing something that I enjoy. 

At the present, we are in Jacksonville, FL at Naval Station Mayport in Osprey Cove.  It is great to be back among our “Covian” friends for the winter, although we are missing many familiar faces this year.  Our hope is to be able to travel out west in 2021 since that didn’t work out this year.  We are patiently waiting, putting health and safety first.

For all the turmoil we have had and are having in 2020, there have been some valuable lessons.  Things like realizing you don’t need to visit the store as often as you do; how precious life and health are; which jobs and professions are REALLY essential and how disproportionately they are compensated; and how much you can tell by looking at another’s eyes.  You learn that maybe you are more of an extrovert than you realized, hugs and handshakes are a hard habit to get out of, and kindness and understanding are invaluable.  I have discovered a newfound gratitude for having hobbies.  My knitting, gardening, cooking, and playing the piano are so appreciated.  I feel like I can be productive right at home.  I am grateful that we embrace a healthy lifestyle – we enjoy walking together, fishing, and simply being outside. 

We send our love, our wishes for health and happiness, and hope that you find joy and blessings in this Christmas season.  Remember the reason for this season – embrace Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.  Those four elements of this Advent season are everywhere.  Sometimes you must make a conscious and determined effort to find them – but look around with gratitude in your heart and your eyes and mind open to possibility.

Blessings!

Bill, Betty, Piper, and Mara Jade

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