The Year in Review

Wow, we are at the last day of 2021 and it seems that this year was both a blessing and a challenge.

Looking back through the year we have had some high points and some sad lows. Here are a few of the highlights of the year we see passing:

Our year began with a reminder that we live in a 100 year old house… and i had to you tube my way through repairing the front door lock. It was not that hard, and the problem was solved. We met our new sister in law in February as she flew in to live with her husband Craig. Fei is from Indonesia, and the winter weather was a bit much for her. We took her to Amish Country and her big interest was seeing the animals. In the house i was thrilled to see my plants flourishing with majestic orchid blooms, and my amaryllis were beyond words. We started our own seeds for the garden, and that was a joy to watch coming to life. The garden was in the front of mind, with hopes of bumper crops of tomatoes, peppers, squash. As you look through the slides you will see the garden was good to us this year. Big heads of cabbage, lots of cucumbers, and peppers, but our tomatoes were not good. We bought a half bushel of tomatoes to can up. And canning was front of thought throughout the year, with quarts of fresh peaches, applesauce, blueberry jam, apple butter, pickles, and i tried an experiment by pickling the shishedo peppers that were in such abundance. Drying food was also on my mind… dried a few pounds of shishedo peppers and ground it into pepper powder. Tried the internet sensation of drying tomatoes and creating powder but that did not go as well.

This was a year to bring the siblings back together…. first time in years everyone lives in the Cleveland area… so thanksgiving day was the day… Even Betty, who is Steve’s step mom, and Bill, Steve’s half brother came over and hung out… It felt special to bring everyone together. We had a big box of old pictures from when they were kids that they all looked through and picked out photos of… it was a treasure hunt. such fun to watch.

We were on the road a bit this year. Steve had to spend a week working in Memphis Tn, and did not want to fly. Since i am mobile on my day job i went with him, and worked from the hotel. His work rented us a car for the journey – and we giggled when we saw the car – a Ford Mustang. We laughed at the thought of even getting in that car, let alone how it looked like a midlife crisis car. but it was fun! Memphis was an interesting town, with the best Barbeque at the Rendezvous . On our drive home we took an extra day, made a stop at the Grand Ole Opre to see the show. Although i am not a country music fan, this was a lovely time out and i developed a new appreciation for the music and the institution. We also thought that as we drove home we would drive through Kentucky, known for the bourbon trail. We stopped at Heaven Hill distillery but the tours were fully booked, so we got to walk through the gift shop, and that was it.

Our Art Show adventures took us to some new adventures as well as old favorites this year. We kicked off the year at a small show in Bath Ohio that is always wonderful. Highlight of the day was the sweet lady that bought my Klimt scarf, and proceed to take it home and hang it up, and send me a picture. It looked perfect where she put it. So Blessed!!!

We drove down to Wheeling in June for the Secret Garden tour and sale… on the grounds of the Ogelbay mansion. They gave us a huge space on the porch, and it was a tremendous success. We returned to Lakeside Chataqua for the Art Festival in July, and it was as always wonderful to be there. The place brings such peace and joy to us. August we headed to Cambridge Ohio and participated in Salt Fork Art Fest. It always rains one of the days of this event… and there it came, a torrential downpour jsut as we closed up friday evening. It looked like something from the movies with the sky going black, and the winds picking up. Our tent was well staked and stood, but there was not a dry stitch of clothing on us by the time we made it to the car.

The next week Steve and I drove out to St Louis MO for Bardsfest. It was an interesting 4 days of speakers, music, and we made so many new friends. While we were there the news came of the horendous loss of life in Afghanastan, and the chaotic departure of american troops from that land. There were no words to describe the betrayal of lives, with so many americans left behind.

But there was no time to focus on news because we were preparing for Made in Ohio at Hale Farm. This was our 10th year there, and the weather was fabulous, the crowds were big. As usual i dragged a piece of silk out and was painting as a demonstration. The next weekend was Berea Art Fest and it was only my work allowed… another wonderful one. Then Tremont Art and Culture Festival the third weekend. We were initially traumatized because they moved us to a new spot at the edge of the park. But that proved to be a fabulous decision and we had a best year ever there.

October was the last big road trip – to Ogelbayfest in Wheeling. It was new for us, but we know we have a tribe there… so we pitched out tent, and kept our hopes high. And what a nice weekend. Big crowds, lots of customers that have previously bought our soap at the art gallery there… and so many wonderful conversations. November saw us at a nature center in Wadsworth and that is always a nice weekend. December opened with our studio sale at the Artcraft. but there was a catch to it…. Steve was called to his mom’s nursing home. She had been on hospice since thanksgiving and she was not doing well. Within an hour of arriving she passed away. so I held down the Artcraft sale, and he was free to take care of the details of her funeral.

We also participated for the first time ever in Hudson’s Chriskindlmarkt in the park where the clocktower is located in downtown Hudson. They had tents set up, german food and music, a bier garden, and entertainment. We were among 25 artists invited. The entire community comes out… it was lovely.

At home our sweet dog Daisy looked forward to her adventures at our studio, and from home chasing those squirrels that came to visit the bird feeders. By november they had worked out a treaty – she would not tree them if they did not pester her. I looked out one day and they were sitting side by side on the back porch. Daisy was on guard watching the back of the yard for stray cats, the squirrel chewing sunflower seeds. Meanwhile the cats were on the stove leaning over the windowsill to watch the action. They have also been a delight in our house.

As to other things in our lives, a very dear friend of ours announced in february that she had a tumor on her brain, and she was having mobility issues because of it. We hoped and prayed for her recovery, for the surgery to remove what they could, and for her life to return to a routine normal. But as the biopsy came back the news was not good – it was gleoblatoma, the most fast growing difficult cancer you could have. The tumor quickly grew back, and the battle has been intense. As i write this post she is on hospice. My thoughts and prayers go to her 4 kids, and to her best friend who has wrestled with this big news.

2021 has also proved to be a year of losses, some for the better. Steve exited social media, and i have announced my exit, but did not close the accounts… and need to. Social media has been a divider of people, with toxic rhetoric on all sides. I dont know about you but i just want to love people, grow a garden and pursue god. Some of the posts have been so fiery and divisive that i quit all but instagram. Happy photos of my garden, my animals, or our life adventures were all i could handle. Sadly so many people have made choices to allow division to occur. Some have physically lost friends and family, and others have seperated themselves from contact with people that create chaos.

As we close this year out i can hear my mom’s wisdom clearly – “Take all of the good, cherish it. Take all of the bad and look for the lesson in it, but never loose heart, remember the purpose you are on this earth for, and always do good.”

My mom was a wise woman, and this is sound advice. As we enter the blank canvas of 2022 we send our hopes and prayers that yours is a year filled with miracles, joy, health and peace. May we grow in wisdom and grace toward each other. And may the lord bless your endeavors.

Happy new year!!