2020 The Good, The Bad and the Horrendous!
My goodness, 2020, full of promise, turned out to be a shocker! Not only did COVID-19 (Bad) shut the entire world down, with few people actually being able to go to work, resulting in most of us staying put at home, we had a sudden and tragic death! Our youngest brother, Guy, passed away on 19 October! (Horrendous) It was a huge wake-up call and all sorts of family and friends rallied around us. He got a great send-off from his devoted friends (Good) and I feel happy that he died doing what he loved, playing squash. I have a tribute page for him on my website. There was no international travel so none of us could go to Cape Town but we had a lovely Zoom tribute. Then a close family friend died on November 7! (Bad) More BAD! My beloved Aunty Billy passed away on the 7th of December! That's three deaths in as many months!
I have to be honest and say that staying home because of Covid and doing things I always wanted to do, suited me fine. (Good) I am becoming more and more of a hermit or recluse, take your pick.
I eventually replaced my car (took 18 months to find the right car—Good) so I relied on the little transport bus in my town, my bicycle, and my legs to get around. This meant that I couldn't get to schools further than about two miles from home so was lucky to get quite a bit of part-time subbing at a local pre-school which worked out well. (Good) They have two sessions per day, and still being fatigued from that bad bout of shingles last year (Bad), I could just about manage to work half-days! But, for only two-and-a-half months before everything shut down on 13th March. I kept myself busy by making art and I bought a sewing machine, basically to hem some pants and dart a few blouses (Good). I ended up making some cotton napkins to try and sell, but selling wasn't much of an option with most of the country out of work and not earning and at home! Then masks had to be worn so I taught myself to make them and suddenly I had a new skill (Good). I don't know the howís and whys of this virus but I do find it rather strange that in a matter of days and weeks, the entire world complied and shut down, with the media feeding us all the updates as they became available, whether they were correct or not. For many countries the shut-down worked, but the US is in a mess many months down the line. I do feel sorry for so many people who have had to stay cooped up (or those in homes) whereas I consider myself fortunate that I have just myself to take care of. Very fortunate. Keeping myself busy has been key and I have been content and happy during this time. Getting groceries hasn't been bad as I caught the bus (loaded my bike upfront) and zipped down the hill home afterwards. The initial toilet paper shortage (media-induced panic) didn't last long, thankfully, and shelves in grocery stores stayed stocked of most things. The initial panic didn't last long. But, the downside has been the brewing of people's anger and bitterness and bickering both in person and on social media (Bad). Not to mention the riots and looting and the whole country at odds as to how we can get back to living a civilized life and stop the rest of the world laughing at us. (Bad) At the end of July we were still struggling to find jobs and so many places of business had closed because of the corona-virus which meant fewer jobs in the long run. Thankfully though, there were still places operating and of course, there is always online shopping. I shall continue to be the poor person (fewer monetary complications in my life!) I have been, but am happy for the most part. (I did get some unemployment, thankfully!)
Making art even though it doesn't come easy to me, keeps me going (Good). I have nice friends I stay in touch with and we know that we don't have to see each other to remain friends. I'm interested to see what the rest of 2020 looks like and how the schools adapt. (Schools opened a couple of weeks later in August and have been up and running just fine.) It's been hard on older folk, and my parents back home are no different. Not being able to travel hasn't helped us overseas as they both decline with dementia and are becoming pretty bad. (Bad!) It's a worry and a guilt-trip being so far away and so helpless; they were helped by my brother, but good people have stepped up to help, and for that we are and will be eternally grateful! (Good) Then, the truly asinine American elections were scheduled for the 3rd of November and at least Trump is out! But not without a fight I would imagine. Canít wait to see the back of him! Hopefully the world will get back to a new normal, soon! I need a road trip!!!
It's June and I'm only now getting around to writing something for 2019. It's been a lousy year so far as so many things have gone wrong. The worst was the devastation inflicted upon my car IN the driveway by a drunken neighbor on the 9th February at 4.30 a.m. Not only did she total my car, but the other three cars in the driveway as well, and the garage door was damaged. I am still struggling to come to terms with this horror. My mother hasn't been that well and the year started with her going into hospital for dehydration and then getting shingles on her face, poor thing. She's been in and out of hospital since and seems to be okay for the moment. I had wanted to travel to England to take a two-day art course in St. Ives, Cornwall, but had to shelve that because of the loss of my car. Then I thought I would go over in April for a shorter visit to meet the newest addition to the family, Little Ivy, my niece Amy's first child and my sister's first grandchild! That didn't pan out either. I have been feeling very tired and lethargic and wouldn't you know, I got shingles at the beginning of May and am still enduring nerve pain in the middle of June! Seven weeks of pain is enough to drive anyone batty. It was a classic case of shingles according to the nurse who first saw me, as it stretched from my chestbone, across my right boob, under my arm (very painful) and around the back to my spine. Bright pink and blistery and the only relief I could get was to lie down on my bed. Naturally I couldn't work so I've not earned anything for May and, well, June is the start of the summer holidays for the schools, so no earning now either. Thankfully I got a two-week farm-sitting stint to help with the bills. I was in hospital myself on the 6th of May with severe chest pain, which after heart tests and lung x-rays, turned out to be the start of shingles which none of the doctors picked up. So, I'm not really in a good place and try and console myself that things could have been a whole lot worse. But, this is my reality and I have to deal with it. I haven't replaced my car as I want to wait until the time is right. After walking three miles a day home from work in the middle of winter (I did get some lifts here and there) and catching the bus from time to time, I think as soon as the shingles pain subsides (not to mention the numbness!), I'll start looking again. I had looked a bit but didn't find anything affordable or suitable. So, wish me luck for the second half of this year!
Well, little did I expect yet another overseas trip in 2018 but it happened, and I visited my parents in Cape Town for two weeks. Knowing that this was probably the very last time I'd be seeing them, it was rather emotional. They were about to move to a new home where they'd be safer and have on-hand care should either of them need it, but things weren't progressing as we'd hoped. They only managed to move about two and a half months later so I didn't have much to help them with. I did get to see two dear friends I'd not seen in ages and do a little sightseeing, but in general spent as much time with the folks as possible. Spending two long weekends in England on either side of the Cape Town trip was also wonderful! I had hoped to take a road trip but that didn't materialize, so I'm hoping in 2019 it'll happen. I'm still making art and loving it! Here's a link to my Cape Town trip!
2017 has been a great year so far. Apart from turning 60, I travelled to the UK to celebrate my niece's wedding on the 27th of August, my birthday on the 17th of August, and to see my parents and brother from South Africa. My parents are in their 80s and getting frail so this was potentially an emotional trip, but, it turned out to be wonderful. I based myself with my best friend in London and took day trips to see my other brother and parts of the country I had not seen before. Here's my travel story. I also had an art show with my friend Terry for the month of December in Colorado Springs, CO.
I didn't have too much planned for 2016 but I did get to do a bit of travelling. The first was a quick road trip to Grand Junction to take my friend out to see his first grandchild. Then I flew to San Francisco to pick up a friend who'd been vacationing in Santa Rosa when she had a mild stroke and was not allowed to drive back to Colorado. In the fall I took her on a weekend trip to northern New Mexico to see the leaves, and we weren't disappointed! I was quite active on Instagram and have two accounts, one for travel (@travelpagesusa) and one for my nature photos (@backyardsnapshots). The year went by quickly and wasn't that eventful, for me, but was significant in that so many celebrities passed away. Next year I turn 60 years old and have a few celebration ideas up my sleeve. I'm hoping to do at least three of them, and they're all travel-related.
At the beginning of 2015 I said, "For 2015 I feel a visit to the ocean should be something I need to do. But which ocean? I feel the pull of the west coast and in particular, the Bay Area, which includes Carmel. Napa Valley is also calling." Little did I know what was in store for me travel-wise! I had at least one travel venture arranged, and that was to meet up with my bestie Bron in New York City! I saved like crazy so that I could take the train out east and meet her there. I would also have liked to train up to Montreal while I was in the area, and had an Amtrak Pass which would have allowed me to do that, but I went south via Philadelphia and DC and Charlottesville instead.
I had also hoped to take another few road trips this year but didn't manage to do any.  However, a friend of mind desperately wanted to visit her daughter in California and asked if I would drive her out there. Duh. We drove from Colorado to Santa Rosa, two hours north of San Francisco. And Yes!, I got to see the ocean! Still, I face another year with many of the same wishes and desires, so we'll see what happens. My wildlife photography keeps me going spiritually if not financially, so that's a good thing. I joined Instagram this year and am loving the wonderful photos I come across. I hope to have a new camera come the beginning of 2016!
Once again, with ideas and wishes up my sleeve, I approach 2016 with my usual guarded measure of excitement and expectation!
The best news from 2014 was that I bought a car! An old Toyota Corolla from a friend I house-sit for. Facing winter knowing I didn't have to walk or ride my bike in bitterly cold temperatures was indescribable. Not only has my "painting" taken off, but I make and sell prayer stones which a friend also loves, and she helps me by buying some and giving them to friends who need a lift. Last year was a trying year for me with work dwindling and times testing me like never before. I think menopause is mostly the culprit but circumstances haven't been easy.
In 2014 I had hoped to take a road trip to see Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and to do a few more road trips. (I got to see the Blackhills in South Dakota with a friend from South Africa I'd not seen in 12 years, and I had two road trips to New Mexico!) There is so much to see and do in this country and I'd like to try some new things. My best road trip by far was the one I took back in April 2013 with my best friend in the whole world, Bronwen. She flew out from London and we undertook a 5-state and 9-night road trip through the American Southwest. You can read the story here.
In May 2012 I managed to put together a three-night trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico (always been on my bucket list) which was fantastic. Read about the story on my Road Trips page.
I joined Facebook (never thought I would) and am enjoying hooking up with like-minded people. It's amazing how many people you can touch so quickly. Also, it's an eye-opener as to what goes on out there. My goal for 2012 was to get a car! Didn't happen. It's because I don't have a car that I can't get around and actually get to places to find a job, sell my work, or even photograph new things. I'd be happy with a little clunker that will get me around.
Out of the blue I started painting. An artist friend showed me how to make lovely patterns and I just ran with it. I started making greeting cards using my art, and later started a Tribute to Africa section featuring my artwork. This is so far from what I ever thought would happen—Me? Painting? An artist? I have a website with some of my art on show.
The greatest news is that on July 22, 2010, I became an American citizen. What an emotionally charged day, but one of joy and relief. Relief that I now feel as though I belong somewhere. Armed with a certificate to prove I am a naturalized American citizen, I face the world with a different view. Having achieved this, I know I can achieve other great things in my life. I took my first overseas trip as an American citizen in October 2010, new passport in hand, to a family reunion in England.
I've had my website for about fifteen years now, so here is a little about me. I hail from Cape Town, South Africa, but now live in Colorado. At a very early age I lived in Zambia for nine years before returning to South Africa and continuing my education. Iíve always loved to travel but found it much too expensive to get to anywhere from where I was, so it was rather limited. Working for a large magazine and newspaper publishing company in the '80s and '90s, I was transferred to their London office where I spent four years as an editorial assistant before being sent to New York where I spent a year. Living abroad, and having easy access to the continent and the continental U.S.A., my lust for travel was really unleashed and I went to France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Austria, Madeira, Sicily, Capri, Panteleria, Corfu (I love islands!) in Europe, and all over the U.S.A. However, it wasnít until I recently moved to America that I found myself hopping on Amtrak trains and taking road trips and gadding about the country, taking notes of my travels as I went along. This led to my writing and publishing my first book, A Marmac Guide to Las Vegas in November 2005. I chose Las Vegas because I had first been there as a tourist back in 1989, fell in love with it, and couldnít wait to go back. Being an avid amateur photographer also helped, as I took all my own pictures for the book as well as for my website.
I published my second book, this one on common sense, in October 2007.
I self-published my own book Backyard Snapshots of wildlife photographs in August 2009 and sell it via my website.
Backyard Snapshots is also an ebook available from Amazon.
I published my second book, this one on common sense, in October 2007.
Employment here hasnít been a bed of roses and Iíve had to make do with what I can find as a freelancer. I designed and maintain my own non-fiction book review and travel websites, and I edited a prestigious wedding and event design companyís website whenever they needed me. I also offer a website design service. Among other writing and creative tasks Iíve put my hand to, I've compiled crossword puzzles (specializing in celebrity crosswords which I printed up myself and sold through my website), I've written childrenís stories, poetry, screenplays (I am working on a re-write), am writing a book on manners, two cookbooks, and have three new book projects from which I plan to donate a portion of the proceeds to childrenís, animal, and other worthy charities. I have strong views and opinions on how badly children (and women) are treated, and also animals, and would like to be able to help out. Starting my own series of travel guidebooks is another goal I am working towards. However, any and all job offers will gladly be entertained.
Naturally I read a lot for my book review website, and predominantly autobiographies and memoirs, but I have expanded to include travel, cooking, self-help, crafts, fashion and health, and humor, and I get great feedback from authors. My photography needs brushing up as I hope to illustrate the childrenís book I've written. I love the digital age as itís so much fun being able to see your pictures instantly and edit them yourself.
Because I donít have a car and get around locally on a bicycle, which keeps me fit, I have fallen prey to the wonderful American food and have put on a few pounds which I am slowly taking off—a book on this is in the offing, maybe! You would think I'd be really fit as I have to peddle four miles roundtrip to the closest store, or eight miles roundtrip to the nature center, or, 13 miles roundtrip for a bigger shop, bearing in mind you can only carry so much in a backpack! I have made a few good friends since moving to this part of the world and plan to do a little more local traveling as soon as I am able. There is so much to see in this country I now call home, and I am eager to get out there and do some more discovering. My various road and train trips are featured on my website. I love America so much and will report on my travels in the future.
Thanks for visiting my website and keep coming back as thereíll always be new books and hopefully, more travels. And, I have more expansion plans for my website in the imminent future, so keep an eye out.
Adrienne January 2019
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