Saturday, January 2, 2021

Here begins a new year, and a new journal. Welcome!

Looking out my windows at a raw, rainy, foggy day at the beginning of a new year. The last year was any number of uncomplimentary adjectives: challenging, difficult, horrible, deadly, and of course, the word I refuse to employ ever again, 'unpr*******ed'. One of our neighbors gave us a Christmas ornament that sums it up nicely.

The Grinch

I hope 2021 will be a little less stinky. Is that hope I see way off on the horizon? Maybe.

In the meantime, we will stay more or less to ourselves, cautiously avoiding close quarters with other folks, and trying to stay out of the way of the Covid-19 virus and all of its emerging variants. Perhaps by mid-2021 we will be able to emerge, like songbirds huddling in the shelter of shrubbery after hawks pass by. 

This past year has not been entirely awful, at least not for John and me. It has been a time when we accomplished a move from our house of sixteen years in Raleigh, North Carolina to a retirement community in Elon, North Carolina. (If I had to lose every gig for the foreseeable future, this was a good time, I suppose.) We downsized. We set up a new house and established new friends and relationships in a safe community with good medical support for John. They have a nice sense of fun here, too, and they love decorating for holidays (especially Christmas). It's meant a fresh start on new gardens, assisted by some transplants from the old ones. John has had weekly gatherings with his children and grandchildren on Zoom, and we have had a number of large family gatherings this way. It's different, but rather fun!

Reflections in the lake near us

I have (gratefully) learned how to teach fiddle lessons online via Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, Hangouts, Google Meet. I learned how to record myself and layer in harmony parts so I could post English country dance recordings on BandCamp for dancers and teachers. I have been able to join my friends at the Aberdeen Strathspey & Reel Society for weekly rehearsals and workshops, and have joined various international sessions. I participated in an online international conference on Traditional Tunes and Popular Airs and presented a paper, recorded beforehand. ( to video oneself giving a PowerPoint presentation on Zoom...and edit out all the 'umm' noises? Another darn learning curve.) I even have a short article coming out in Fiddler Magazine in 2021! 

New tricks...and our sense of 'place' has suddenly shifted from geographic to time zone-centered. All these wonderful connections would not have been possible, ironically, had it not been for a pandemic. 

The sadder part is, of course, the loss of friends and relatives to Covid-19. We've had too much of that.

Fingers crossed...I think we might make it through all this. As a flight instructor told me many years ago, 'just keep that artificial horizon the right way up!' Bumpy flight so far, a few red lights are on, but we're still in the air...

Cheers, and all the best for this coming year.



  1. Thanx, Sis. Refreshing and humorous; sign me up! Dreary here right now with a weak cold front dripping H2O all over the place; good time to stay inside -- just got back from 4PM Mass in the church parking lot via FM. The time was set back so us old geezers can get home before it is pitch-black. We stay in the cars with masks on for Communion time. Where there's a will, there's a way.

    I, too, can't believe 2020 is in the rear view mirror. Thank the Lord; it has got to be better than this soon, I would think.

    Love to both (say hi to Ben and Sara) of you; Your bro, PJ

    1. Hey brother Phil! We need some refreshing and humorous stuff at the moment! I'll do my best. :) Love, M.

  2. Mara, what a great post! At least you don't have to worry about your brain cells atrophying with all these activities and accompanying learning curves!! Something I *do* worry about for myself... *sigh* You will be an inspiration to me. I am looking forward reading/hearing more of your news.
    Love , Elizabeth

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I won't wear out my welcome, I promise, but the occasional post would be fun...with pictures, of course. :)