I’ll bet Christmas letters are sounding pretty homogenous this year: How I Spent My Covidy 2020. Like many, we really didn’t do much. But it wasn’t completely boring, especially for those that don’t read every letter of this website. Let’s recap:

There was the medical ordeal that put Mike in the hospital last Christmas Eve, and Santa brought him some surgery for Christmas. (That link and the follow-up link do contain some descriptions of medical stuff that I don’t find to be particularly graphic, but your stomach might differ.) Then a second surgery to glue it all back together again. Katherine was a trooper the whole four months or so, playing wound care nurse and keeping the place running with two big dogs to take care of. Somewhere there are pictures of Katherine shoveling snow while Mike was laid up. I’m pretty sure she ended up mowing the lawn at least once. Meanwhile, Mike got really good at Legend of Zelda on his recently-purchased Nintendo Switch.

When Katherine’s old man is too lazy to shovel

Then about the time Mike was all recovered and ready to get back out in the world, the world shut down for a pandemic. So it has been over a year since we have sat down in a restaurant for a meal; we just got a four month head start on everyone else. Katherine won’t be going back to the office until June or July of 2021. Working at a hardware company, Mike has to go into the office once in a while to grab a PCB board or what have you, but is also working from home indefinitely; maybe until retirement, who knows?

Pickin’ bluegrass music with his buddies has been a big part of Mike’s life these last few years, and Katherine participates from time-to-time as well. In between surgeries, we did manage to have the bluegrass pickers to the house for a jam in February, since Mike wasn’t going anywhere. Little did we know that that would be the last time we played in person for a while. At first we would just called up on Zoom and shoot the shit, since you can’t play music together given the horrific latency of most teleconference software. Then one of the jammers discovered a piece of software called JamKazam that tries its darnedest to get rid of that latency. It works pretty well, but one might have to spend some money on gear like microphones and wired headphones. We’ve been playing together a couple of times a week, and though all of the wires and headphones are more of a hassle than just sitting down, it’s better than not playing at all.

We usually spend our summers camping, often times camping at a bluegrass festival somewhere. Not this year, of course. Every outdoor bluegrass festival in WA that I am aware of did not happen this year. Wintergrass was our last festival, which took place in February at the local Hyatt Regency. We did eventually get the RV out a couple of times. We have a thirteen year old dog that might not last the year (though at this point, she probably will), so we dragged her out for a few final camping trips. But before that, we thought we’d go for a little backyard adventure.

The tent on the left is the big tent we use for motorcycle camping. That’s the one Katherine and the dogs slept in. It packs way too large to use backpacking, so the one on the right is the one for that. I had not yet used it, so it made for a nice test run before heading to the woods. Both made by Hilleberg, whose U. S. offices are right down the street.

It has not all been positive since Mike’s recovery. Katherine’s lost an uncle to Covid-19, and her mother is currently in a nursing home, and has tested positive as well. But Katherine’s mother seems to be doing well despite the diagnosis, and looks likely to recover.

Summer might be gone, along with its long days, but the nice thing about working from home is that we never need walk dogs or go run in the dark this winter. In the Pacific Northwest, if one works a full-time job, there will be a period each year where you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. Dogs will get walked in the dark, outdoor exercise will take place in the dark. Not this year! So the dreaded short days of winter are not quite as dreadful this year. We did buy a rowing machine in August in anticipation of exercising indoors, and it does get a fair bit of use, so much so that we will be adding a treadmill after the first of the year.

Which brings us to today, where Mike and Katherine are thankful that no one ended up in the emergency room this year. We wish the same for you and yours, as well as a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Mike and Katherine

This article has 1 comments

  1. Susan Reply

    I really enjoyed this newsletter, especially with pictures included. Wow, Katherine, snow you did shovel—what a quantity! The tents are interesting with their differing sizes. I’m envisioning you laying on your back with no head space in the smaller tent on the right. Is this the case? Good idea to camp in the back yard and it looks like you have good space back there.
    Now I need a link to hear your group play bluegrass; I’m very curious, so please find a way. There will soon be a letter coming your way.

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