Monthly Archives: December 2020

Happy 2021

Thanks to the History Channel, I now know something about the new year. For example, the song that many sing just past midnight on January 1, “Auld Lang Syne”, is thought to derive from an old Scottish folk song about days gone by. It’s said to be the work of Scottish poet Robert Burns. Like most things, this info triggers a travel memory. Pictured above is the old bridge at Dumfries. This bridge has been in this Scottish town since 1432. Robert Burns lived here for 10 years, died in Dumfries, and some say he drank a lot while there.

Babylonians are thought to be the first people to make new year’s resolutions. They are also rumored to be the first people to quickly abandoned them. Each year about a billion people around the world watch on TV as the ball drops at One Times Square in New York City. This may be true at the end of 2020 too, but the number of people actually watching it descend in the square this year will be zero if the authorities can keep them from gathering.

There are 11 cultures in the world that do not celebrate the end of each year on December 31. Most of them are Asian but not all. For example, The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, arrives on September 6 in 2021; and The Islamic New Year, Muharram, begins at sundown perhaps on August 9, depending on the crescent moon.

A lot of people celebrate each new year with fireworks, but that practice is fading in my neighborhood. Famous early Americans Betsy Ross and Paul Revere were both born on January 1. Four-term President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also born in January but not on the first day of the month.

Pork and pastries are popular New Year’s Eve party foods in several cultures and are thought to bring good luck. In Norway, however, rice pudding with a hidden almond is often served to guests for the new year, but the dawn of 2021 may see far fewer parties. In my childhood home my parents and their New Year’s Eve guests often ate herring to bring luck in the new year. I have no idea how this practice began or how widespread this custom is.

By the way, 2021 is the Chinese year of the ox, and millions of Chinese people will travel home, if they can, to welcome this year with their family on February 12.


Happy Birthday!

Ruth’s birthday is December 28. For the past several years I have taken her on exotic trips to compensate and celebrate. That is usually my yearly gift. But not to end awful 2020. She has been in Montevideo and Istanbul on her birth day in 2 of the past 10 years. This year we were at home, and the dessert I made for her was a Bavarian Cream. It was delicious but not the big surprise that greeted her close to her birthday on the trip to end 2014. We drove down the Oregon coast to California where I had an encounter with a deer near Santa Rosa. The deer lost and our newish car sustained a lot of damage. We were on our way home when we greeted 2015 in the Napa Valley.

Trust me on this. You do not want to be in the Napa Valley on the first day of any year. Nothing is opened. We finally found some action at a deluxe Dean and Delucca food emporium that has since permanently closed. We learned there that you can only look at exotic and expensive food treats for so long.

By mid-afternoon we were hungry, but most of the restaurants we had seen were closed like the wineries and other businesses. Even Dean & Delucca had closed early. Ruth finally thought of one place that was opened–Mustards. It was, in fact, the only good restaurant opened. Ruth called and made a mid to late afternoon reservation. At least we could be dining well to greet 2015.

We were on time but the service was slow. The lunch crowd had either lingered or left by the time we were seated. The food was great, but Ruth’s order was delayed and not correct. Mustard’s was a classy operation, so to apologize they brought her a special dessert treat. It was the pie pictured above and a genuine cause for celebration at the end of a week that had not gone especially well for us. We shared the dessert and it was sensational unlike the cornmeal infused cake she can have for dessert tonight. Tonight’s dinner is heavy on potato, and I doubt if our January 1 meal to welcome the new year of 2021 will be much better. We are nowhere near Mustards, and I’m not sure that it’s even opened. Nothing is opened near us, so we will be dining at home, probably on leftovers.

Oh, well, Happy New Year 2021!


Hoping for a Better Year in 2021

I am beginning to think that travel might be possible again in 2021. Ruth and I will soon be on the list of those to get the COVID vaccine. Assuming that the new strain of the virus will not affect the effectiveness of available vaccines, we hope that countries will begin to open to travelers at least by mid-year. After getting the 2nd shot, we hope to be good to go abroad and domestically. This, of course, will depend on what airlines do to protect their passengers.

We have not seen our relatives in St Louis since it became difficult to travel in the 3rd month of 2020. This past week we have booked a flight to the Midwest next August, and are hoping to see my sisters and Ruth’s cousins for a reunion in Missouri. My grandson gave Ruth and me a redeemable Airbnb gift card for Christmas. In the meantime when travel is not possible yet, I am developing a list of destinations we plan to visit between now and then. My list is heavy on repeats, like Newfoundland.

The places we will return to first include 3 foreign destinations and 3 domestic. The foreigns include 2 regions in Canada, one in Ireland, and several in Australia. I have been keeping in shape on the Peloton exercise bike and have been amazed by the scenic rides in Mt. Revelstoke National Park, which we have been to, and Yoho and the Canadian Glacier National Parks, which we have not visited. Both are on my list along with the glorious mountains and attractions in the Okanagan region that we have not seen since moving to the Northwest earlier in this century. We have longed to return to the Galway area of Ireland where I started to blog, and we have not been to Australia since 2018. Going to Sydney via a scenic ride just doesn’t satisfy me, and I hope to return to Bendigo and experience Tamworth for the 1st time while Down Under again. In the United States, we hope to visit our son and his family in their new home in the Denver area and travel south to Colorado Springs, a city that we brushed past last year but have not really explored in many years. We also hope to take the nostalgic trip along the California coast that we planned to do in 2020 but could not realize because of restrictions and closures. On our way to Newfoundland, we hope to see the sights in the other Portland, the one in Maine, that we have not been to in many years.

This all may be premature. Who would have thought this time last year that we’d all be experiencing the most fearsome pandemic in our history during 2020? But we have and those months are lost forever. Here’s to a better year in 2021!


2020 Ends

I mentioned on December 18 that the ball dropping ceremony from Times Square on New Year’s Eve promises that it will occur “visually, virtually, and safely” to end this year from hell. Well, I finally know what this means because The New York Times explained in detail on Sunday.

The crystal ball will drop from One Times Square as usual but without a human audience. There will be confetti and “Auld Lang Syne” but no people. The event starts at 6 pm in the Eastern Time Zone. The broadcast promises to honor those Americans who worked to get us through the 2020 pandemic that will continue to affect lives in 2021. Ruth talked to the medical team headed by our doctor this morning, and we are on a waiting list for the vaccine. They are not committing to time and place yet, which is a good thing. It is recommended that viewers still at home after 10 months of confinement, travel the world via TV on the final evening of 2020 starting in New Zealand at 6 am Eastern Time. Viewers can go on to see year ending events in South Korea, Brazil, and elsewhere. PBS as usual will broadcast the New Year’s Concert from Vienna, Austria, on the first day of 2021 at 9 pm, Eastern Time.

Also on New Years’s Day or before I recommend watching Netflix’s hilarious and droll special appropriately called “Death to 2020”. This original comedy with a stellar cast makes fun of the entire year. No one who made 2020 so grotesque escapes inclusion in the fun that puts an end to the year that virtually no one wants to remember. Ruth & I have already seen this comedy special and will watch it again.

Here’s hoping that 2021 will be a more normal year and that we can all return to beloved activities. For us that will be travel. For some reason I am anxious to return to some destinations that we have enjoyed but have not been to for a long time like Newfoundland, coastal California, and other surprises. I am currently reading an old but curious book about Newfoundland’s singular history and have never been to L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Park or Labrador. Both have been on our must-see list for a long time. That list has been in a drawer unused for 10 months now. I am eager to see Corner Brook, Gander, and St. John’s again and explore the place in North America with so many weird town names like Witless Bay, Placentia, and Robert’s Arm.


More Shocking Art

No words today; just a few more shock art examples according to my revised definition mentioned yesterday.. I think it’s safe to add bears to fire as shock art subjects. I have more of both.