Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014, the year that was

I've been thinking about this past year for about a month, now, and not really feeling like it was a great year for me. I didn't knit that much, finished very few things, and felt like it was all work and no play. Oh, sure, it beat the hell out of 2013, which with Ella's loss and the death of a friend in October, broke my heart, and 2010 and 2005, and 1986, all of which sucked eggs for various reasons, but really, it felt more like a year in which I started and failed to complete many things.

Upon breaking it down, first as a list of what I did get done, and now, as a month-by-month list, it feels, if not a banner year, at least a year in which I moved in a generally positive direction...
No pix and few links, but a rather comprehensive list of the Big Events of 2014. 

Went to visit Russell Cave Paleolithic site in Tennesee. 
Saw "Gravity." 
I started the ESOL teaching job; a steep learning curve, but it was great to be working in my field, so soon after finishing that certification, and so soon after being told by co-workers that those jobs were really hard to get. I did a lot of training, and a lot of paperwork. 
I painted The Clamcave a wonderful golden apple color, and the ATL got a massive ice and snow storm that paralyzed the city, and gave me a week off from work. 
I started walking Cricket with a muzzle, after some unfortunate dogfights in 2013, which greatly increased my feeling of safety being out and about with him. 

More time off work due to ice and the city being shut down. 
I attended a local Druid Imbolc ritual.
I went on retreat with the knitting guild, way up in the mountains of North Carolina. I got to test my nerve and the CRV's 4wd driving capacity on icy snowy roads. 
I buried myself at work in testing and paperwork, and came home at contract hour every day, because I didn't have to write lesson plans. I went to the gym, baked pot pie, and knitted a lot. I made soap and got more comfortable with the fact that there was lye and hot fat being slung around in my kitchen. 
I traded spinning wheels with a friend, and spent the month spinning on her Ashford Traveller. I missed the Louet, and came to appreciate the Irish tension wheel. 
I buried myself in the Ravelry Outlander Swap annual orgy of crafting, obsessing over Diana Gabaldon's books, and spending more time than was healthy online. 

I went back to teaching, after my 6 weeks of testing children. I found out that I may not have a trailer the following year to work in, and was told I needed find my own space in another teacher's classroom. I did just that, and then learned my trailer was safe...a great lesson in learning to roll with the changes and craziness at my school. 
I baked a spectacular rosemary shortbread. 
My knitters had a special dinner and swap. 
I read Larissa Brown's memorable book "Beautiful Wreck." 
Another Druid ritual, this time for Ostara, held in their beautiful grove, with a simple potluck, and wonderful conversation afterwards.
My dear friends Dave and Dev visited, and we climbed Arabia Mountain, re-connected with another old friend from VA, and generally had a glorious weekend. 

Spring Break!! 
I went to VA to visit P. and see the cherry blossoms in DC. We spent some time at the National Conservation Training Center - P working, and me knitting and hiking. I saw Bald Eagles on their nest. 
I fell in love with the music of The Civil Wars. 
I met up with my long-lost cousin Tony and his partner for an amazing dinner at Cashion's. 
My sister visited, and as usual, we packed "the big box into the little one," with Stitches South, long walks, Jeju Spa, Crayfish Shack, bottle shopping at Tower Liquor, and much extravagant folicking over a 3 day weekend. 
Learned to smoke chicken on the gas grill. 
Bought a used MacBook Air for $200. 

I developed a nasty case of Achilles tendonitis, that made walking painful, and took up 8 weeks of my life. Did a lot of icing my heels, stretching, elevating the legs, and self-PT, and kept it to a manageable level. 
Infused a cucumber vodka, and developed a recipe for cucumber martinis that was life-changingly delicious. Really. I can't wait til spring comes to make this stuff again. 
Celebrated a friend and fellow knitter's 70th birthday, attending her glorious surprise party. 
Ended the school year on a happy note, in spite of having to go an extra few days to make up for the ice and snow days, which I wouldn't have traded off anyway. 
Went away to Gulf Shores Alabama with my mom and the West Virginia cousins for a long beach weekend. Explored funky small towns, bogs and wildlife refuges, fish markets, antique stores and hole-in-the-wall barbecues and cafes all over Alabama en route to and from.
Questioned whether the daily cucumber martini was giving me a drinking problem. Infused another batch. 

Worked another week at school, cleaning out my trailer, finishing the endless pile of ESOL documentation, and attending 2 conferences. 
Went to VA to visit my mom for a few days, and then on up to the DC area to hang out with P, and begin the lengthy process of moving him back down to The Atomic Lodge. 
Started RPG-ing again, in my friend Burdock's weekly Nerd Nite on Tuesdays, via Apple Facetime, resurrecting a character I drew up waaay back in the early 1980's. Reconnected with old friends in the gaming community and generally got in touch with my inner geek girl. 
Did a lot of yardwork. 
Hiked with my girl Mindy on the lovely Johnson Ferry trail, at the Chatahoochee NRA. 
Did not turn on my AC until the end of the month! 
Found a new swimming place for Cricket, but daily swims resulted in an ear infection that took the rest of the summer to clear up. 

Started taking my kayak out again, paddling in nearby lakes and the Chatahoochee river. 
Made goat milk soap, and learned that hot humidity and milk soap curing are two incompatible things. 
Went back to DC to continue the move out. 
Spent a lot of time bonding with VA friends, dedicated 2 days to binge-watching "True Detective." I honestly still can't say whether I loved it, or if it represents 8 hours of my life that I'll never get back. 
Spent a happy birthday with my mom and sister visiting, and going to see The Avett Brothers with P and sis.
Saw the High Museum's "Dream Cars" exhibit, a collection of concept cars - very cool! 
Finished the cucumber vodka, and decided that it was a seasonal drink, and needed to retire til next May. 
Found a raccoon in the front yard! 

Stopped by a yardsale in my neighborhood, en route to work, and found an old Lane cedar chest and a metal hospital cabinet for sale. Loaded them into the GTI and muscled them into my office to hold spinning fiber and miscellaneous office supplies. 
Stopped using shampoo, and switched over to a vinegar and baking soda method of washing my hair. 
Binge-watched 3 seasons of "Girls." Definitely time well spent. 
Started work again, moved to a new trailer and had a lot of drama with my roommate, which eventually resulted in me deciding that I wasn't going to engage in drama with her, and letting a lot of stuff roll off my back. Earned myself the reputation (possibly undeserved) of "extremely laid-back" at my job. 
Spent the entire month at work doing intake and language testing of new students. Met many children who came across the US border unaccompanied, to connect with family members in our community. 
Helped P settle into his new life as retired person. Tried not to engage in drama over the stress of combining our 2 households after 3 years of separation. Generally succeeded. 
Took a class with the Herbalista, and made ragweed allergy tincture. 

Buried myself in work, and experienced much burnout and negativity as a result.
Found a praying mantis on the trailer, and rehomed it into my own yard, where there were more bugs and things to eat. 
Caught the expected school-child crud that lingered on for weeks, not sick enough to take time off, but not well enough to really be at work, either. 
Did a lot of yard work, planting ferns, hostas, laid down some new grass seeds. 
Had a tree service disaster, wherein the tree crew cut down the wrong-damn-perfectly-healthy tree, in addition to the 3 rotted danger-to-the-house trees on the property. Convinced him to waive much of his price for the service, and to do major ivy mitigation work in our back woods property, as well. 
Sprained my pinky toe, an injury which took 6 weeks to heal. An injury which was arguably more painful than dislocating my knee in 2011, because I was not at liberty to spend days in bed, and months in physical therapy, but instead had to ride it out. 

Visited VA, went to the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival with mom and sis.
Went to the AtBot with P and Rox to see the scarecrows.
Picked apples with P up in the foothills. 
Learned to make the baked steel cut oatmeal that defined breakfast for the next 3 months. 
Had a moth scare in my house, which triggered a thorough inspection and fluffing of the yarn stash, but was able to contain it with minimal damage. 
Cricket had his first senior dog check up and got a clean bill of health. 
Saw a deer across the street from our house! 
Took another Herbalista class, this one a benefit for the Herb bus free clinic. Made medicines, teas, and got a lot of valuable information about herbal health maintenance. 
Got a student intern, whom I felt barely qualified to mentor. 
Went to Asheville, NC, to see The Avett Brothers Halloween show. It snowed Halloween night, which was remarkably beautiful, with the juxtaposition of fall leaves and white stuff all around. 

Discovered the glory that is JCT Kitchen restaurant and bar, and their epic fried chicken. 
Did a lot of spinning on my wheel. 
Started buying beer in growlers at local taps businesses. 
Found the best yoga class ever, complete with guided meditation at the end, on a night that worked well for my schedule. Seriously so happy about this. 
Cleaned the house thoroughly, really for the first time since summer. 
Made a terrific Thanksgiving dinner with P. My mom and sis visited for the holiday. 
Spent a great day in South Carolina visiting the SC and New York cousins and my aunt Nicki, who is feisty and wise, at 80something. 
Had our annual Lord of the Rings movie marathon. 
Binge-read a lot of books about Minimalism, and resolved to purge many, many things in the coming year. 

Sent the student intern off for her next placement; a generally positive experience, given both our slammed schedules and work stresses. 
Had 3 admin observations in one week, mostly because they were trying to get them done before 2nd semester. Passed all 3 with good feedback! 
Knitted a lot, though not really for gifts, and little was finished. Winter just feels like time to knit, to me. 
Won a bag of Shetland, and another bag of Merino fibers at Spinning Guild's raffle. 
Saw "The Hobbit." meh. Saw "Interstellar." Wonderful! 
Spent Christmas in VA, a few days of warm weather, hiking and exploring the Shenandoah Valley with P and sister, and good times in my childhood home. 
Visited my Aunt Lucille, a family eccentric.
Visited the AtBot's Garden Lights exhibit. 
Gamed, cooked, and relaxed over vacay, while visioning for the New Year to come. 

That's it. Big innovations included having my husband home again, kayaking again after so many years, the steel cut oats recipe, the cucumber vodka, adopting no-poo routine for the hair, and the new yoga class. I'm looking forward to 2015, and hope to keep the general trend moving in a positive direction. 

Happy New Year!