In late November 1992, while addressing the Guildhall, Queen Elizabeth II referred to the closing year as an "Annus Horribilis" ('horrible year' or 'year of horrors'). I remember clips of the speech being shown on TV along with images of Windsor Castle ablaze just four days previous. The Latin term stuck with me and quickly came to mind in the opening days of this New Year.
On New Years Day we were awakened by a call from my sister, Suzanne. Our brother Chalie and sister-in-law, Kim had just suffered a terrible shock. Kim's Dad, Dick, had died in his sleep that very morning. The sorrow and heartbreak were immediate as I thought of Kim losing her beloved father. My brother had lost a father-in-law and dear friend and my niece and nephew had lost their treasured Grandfather.
Dick was an awesome man. I always looked forward to seeing him at family functions. He was a terrific Dad to Kim and her sisters, Courtney and Allison and her brother, Michael. He was a loving husband of 40+ years to Sheila. Grandfather extraordinaire to his grandchildren. Kim was kind enough to 'Facetime' (Skype) with us on Christmas Day and I got a chance to speak with my 'boyfriend' Dick. He looked great and was his usual charming self. He scolded my husband for keeping us away from Virginia for so long and told me he missed me - as I did him. It really made my day and I'm so thankful now that I had the opportunity of that call. I still cannot fathom the heartache that Kim and her entire family are living with... Such a huge loss.
Dick and Sheila, 2007 with Kate.
James and Dick at Kate's First Communion celebration
On January 5th we departed cold and stormy Galveston, TX for a week long cruise to Cozumel, Belize and Honduras. Maddie's boyfriend, Israel, joined us on the trip. We had a great time observing and sharing all of Israel's 'firsts' - his first airline flight, his first vacation, and all the new adventures! It was a last minute trip, so we took it easy. We didn't schedule too many activities. We just wanted to play it by ear, letting the kids decide where the day would take us. We really enjoyed having a 'sit-down' dinner every night with the kids.
In Cozumel, we rented a Jeep and struck out to find the Mayan Ruins of San Gervasio:
Touring in Belize
Josie the Pirate onboard the ship
When we got to Roatan, Honduras, the kids hit the beach. James and I had arranged to take a mountain hike in the lush forests of the island. Going up was the easy part - with tropical rain showers cooling us along the 4+ mile trail. Going down was quite a different story! The rains had turned the terrain to mud. We wiped out more times than I can count, but we discovered that my husband has ninja-like dexterity with a walking stick... he saved himself going over the edge quite a few times!
James at the trail head
Our view through the canopy as we climbed
One of the smaller downhill challenges
My war wounds, proudly earned!
Once we mastered the mountains, our guide had a nice reward for us:
Ahhh, now THIS looks like a vacation!
Casey is still with us, hanging on and improving daily. She was diagnosed with pneumonia on Tuesday and hospitalized. She was released from the hospital on Thursday evening, but we've had to take her back to the Vet twice a day for nebulizer treatments. On Friday (yesterday) she started showing signs of recovery - she ate her first meal in 4 days and went out on a short walk with James in the evening. We have our fingers crossed that Casey will fully recover. She turned 13 years old on January 8th and is proving the Vet to be right... Jack Russells are a hearty breed - never count them out!
Kitchen Reconstruction (pictured above):
Not a damn thing to report! No work was attempted this week. Our contractor called on Wednesday to let us know his full estimate for the kitchen work was sent to our insurance company that morning. We expect to hear from our insurance contact on Monday and have work started sometime next week. We have been kitchen-less for a full month. I couldn't make any of Maddie's favorite meals while she was home on Christmas break. She's back at school now. If I don't get some vegetables into Josie soon, the food police are going to come and lock me up! Broccoli and spinach steamed in a microwave aren't at the top of her hit list!
I really wanted to keep up more with the blogging - it's one of my resolutions. I'm hoping that the weeks to come bring some lightness and laughter. Barely 3 weeks in to the New Year - there's just too much sorrow, worry and disappointment to document. Let's hope my next post has a bit of joy in it! Until then, I hope everyone stays warm and well. xoxoxo