Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from Ch√Ęteau Sutton-Goar!

2016 marked our 10th wedding anniversary, and we celebrated by buying new rings. While it was tempting to do the traditional tin/aluminum, we thought they might be more meaningful if they DIDN'T come out of a gumball machine (if they still have those). It also shamed me into sorting through more of the garage in case any of those remaining boxes were ALSO celebrating a 10th anniversary, though I'm not sure what a box buys to celebrate. New packing tape?

While “done” with physical therapy seems to be something I'm never going to really ever achieve, my hip/back does continue to improve, and we were able to go cross-country skiing this year, which was very exciting. Even bigger news—I was able to go back to work for most of the year. For about 7 months, I worked as the store manager at Dunkley Music's Nampa store, which was fun—except maybe for what is known as “rental season,” which is a three-week period that is the source of all nightmares for music store employees. Music retail is a bit weird. During my first week, I had a lady call me on the phone, play her violin into the phone, and ask me if it was in tune or not. Then there were the steady stream of people with musical “treasures” they had gotten a great “deal” on through Craigslist or via Amazon. Luckily, I own a thesaurus and know a lot of synonyms for “junk.” It is interesting to see how determined people are to believe in something they want to believe, even if it means a bright green trumpet or a plastic violin. I had to eventually leave because working Saturdays and later into the evenings really didn't work out for us, but it's exciting to know I can cope with a work schedule (okay, with help from my physical therapist), and hope to find a Monday-Friday non-retail job in 2017.

Since I worked most Saturdays, Andy did all the traveling this year—camping and motorcycle trips both solo and with friends, visiting Trinity Lakes, eastern Oregon, and the Sawtooth Mountains. He got some new lenses for his camera, and has been out exploring with them. He also visited his parents in southern California for a week and had the decency not to gloat about any of it. Not to be outdone, I did add a new level of uncertainty to his vacations by landing in the emergency room during one of them after losing a tussle with a wine glass stem while washing the dishes, requiring 7 stitches and some emergency follow-up when a nurse opted to cut off the circulation in my hand with her bandaging. I don't believe he has any of our friends checking on me while he's out of town—I think they're doing it on their own. Can't say I blame them.

We didn't attempt much of a garden this year, which was just as well. We did end up with a large crop of voles, and at least a few of the ones that ended up in the house were dead. Most. I didn't even get our garlic planted for next year, but as there's some that went wild a couple years ago, I think we'll still probably have fresh garlic for next year. And lots and lots of lemon balm, which I didn't know was in the mint family until AFTER I planted it. Sure, the mint family has choked off pretty much all the other plants in the herb garden, but that part of the yard DOES smell fantastic, so there's that.

Since I sew and knit, I decided 2016 was a good time for a challenge called Me-Made-Mondays. It's also been done as Me-Made-May, but that's a bit more challenging for someone with a lot of wool socks and sweaters. It truly made for inventive Mondays, and it turns out that if there is appropriate work attire that works with funky hand-knitted socks in screaming colors with pompoms, I don't own it. Andy's woodworking year was dominated by 2016 being his turn to make Christmas gifts. We always get great ideas from the Idaho Artistry in Wood show in February, though by October there's usually a shift into “realism” and simplified (can be finished by Christmas) projects. Deadlines are marvelous for that. Sort of like with holiday letters..........:)

Things I learned this year:
  • There is no “five second rule” when it comes to a hot iron landing on carpet.
  • Until you are married to an engineer, you cannot understand the importance of Star Trek stamps
  • Taking a break from gardening isn't really conceding to the squash bugs. It's just a temporary tactical retreat that gives one a break from zucchini
  • I should not have complained about having to medicate a cat with stress issues. Now I'm medicating a stressed-out cat on a diet.
  • You'll never know when adulthood will sneak up on you. I was watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie when I found myself thinking, “You know, I'll bet they really could have just immediately landed that helicopter and avoided that whole crisis.” Because realism IS what matters most in movies with flying men.
  • After working in it for 7 months, it will amaze me forever that those who work in retail AREN'T among the highest for alcohol abuse or mental breakdowns.
  • When we finally replace the upstairs carpet, I'm picking something that closely blends with cat barf stains.
  • The best thing in a music store is the electronic drum set with head phones. The worst is a real drum set.
  • In case you were wondering, it takes about 10 days of working in a music store before you learn to spot middle-aged guys who can't actually play, but want to tell you all about their buddy who owned a Stratocaster or Telecaster guitar. And 11 days to figure out how to outrun them.
  • Judging by the ferocity with which my cat digs up my spring garden, one would think HE was the one forced to eat canned spinach as a child.
  • This year I read the Hunger Games series. Clearly “Young Adult” doesn't mean what I thought it did.
  • People can actually ask music store employees if they carry “that song” by “that guy” with a perfectly straight face.
  • Now the vet thinks both cats have stress issues. I had no idea Andy and I were so hard to live with.
  • Very few things are important if you haven't seen them in 10 years.
  • Even if you haven't done it in many, many years, people will never forget that you CAN raise money for charities—even if you want them to.
  • I'm almost embarrassed by the amount of satisfaction I got when one of those “just under the wire” customers showed up right AFTER I'd locked the store door. Because I was SO wanting to have to stay late without being paid for it.......
  • No matter how much you love your spouse, it's impossible to NOT be relieved when your cat runs into your spouse's closet to throw up and rather than into yours.
  • Having had the rudest interview experience EVER with the Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, I have been eagerly scanning the want ads for anyone calling themselves the “Outright Jerks of America.” It could work.
  • When your long-haired cat is waiting in front of an air vent, it might be time to consider turning the heat up just a little.
  • There are no points for starting a holiday letter early—only FINISHING early counts.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday and a healthy 2017,
Toni and Andy