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High Fiber––2020 Goes On...and On! Part II

Just to catch up on the quilting:

I'm working on the swag now, and I'm right at the first corner. In some places the cross-hatching right above the swag needs to be completed. Soon I'll be finishing the outer edges, and it's going faster, now that the book is (mostly) out of my hands.

We had a nice (but quiet) Christmas. Christmas Eve we (quietly) tracked Santa with NORAD.


The Christmas Eve service included our virtual choir piece, "In the Bleak Midwinter." We're so lucky to have the technology to do this kind of thing during the pandemic.

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We Zoomed on Christmas Day instead of Sunday, and our older son, Tim, was able to join us with his wife. We had my DBIL and our younger son's family for a while. Zoom must have had a special day of unlimited access for the holiday because we never got booted off. (Somehow we got a shot with no kids, but they were very much onstage. We got to watch them open some of their presents from us.)

Here's Daphne with a couple of gifts from her parents. She was very excited!


Zachary was very happy with his doll, whom he named "Billy."

I was excited to learn I was getting a new thimble for Christmas. Remember my old Roxanne Thimble? The one with the hole in it? 


I asked the jeweler if he could repair it. He said no, but gave me the name of another place that might be able to. DH decided I should get to have a new one, since he knows how much I love the thimble. I've been getting by with this kind, but they aren't very comfortable, and they don't stay put well. They are a lot more expensive now, but very worth it!

Our daughter sent us some new wine glasses for Christmas, something to remember 2020 by. The red thing is a cap for the bottle, in case we don't finish it in one sitting, LOL.

My birthday was also quiet, which was nice. I had lots of birthday greetings, including texts from all three of our kids.

Rocky has been recovering well from his procedure last Sunday. He has been on antibiotics for the skin infection AND antibiotics for the eye ulcer, and then two kinds of eye drops four times a day and artificial tears morning and night. The pups each received a new Christmas toy, although I'm not sure which one is Rocky's and which one is Dusty's. They share. Sort of.

That has pretty much been the week. So here's the rest of my recap of the year. (I'm doing this for myself, so I'll remember what happened, so you can skip to the end if you want.)

2020, Part II

The grandkids have been attending school virtually. It isn't easy on the teachers nor the parents, and I'm sure the kids are missing something, too, but Daphne and Zachary decided they would be the teachers and have their students attend in person, so maybe they had a similar experience.


This schedule was put out by the parents/teachers overseeing the virtual students.


Having speech therapy virtually is a challenge, too, as Soren learned.

Johan is young, so he's more adaptable.


The boys are adjusting, but I don't know about the parents.

We have been visiting via Zoom once a week (with an occasional miss due to other activities).

 

Sometimes we meet with everyone in the family, but almost always with Karen's and Peter's families and the four younger grandkids.


2020 is just the gift that keeps on giving. We also had fires in August. I can't complain, though. We were never threatened by the fires directly, only the smoke. We used air purifiers and boiled water on the stove and using the slow cooker. 

We did have to give some thought to what we would grab if we had to leave. Personal records, laptops, quilts, of course, and the pups along with medications for Rocky and us, and the dolls who form the basis for my stories. We didn't pack. We just made note of where everything was. If the fires got close enough, we would pack the trailer. We didn't need to, fortunately.

Speaking of laptops, mine stopped working. (It is, 2020, right?) The trackpad stopped working properly, and it seriously affected the function. A trip to Simply Mac revealed that it could not be repaired. However, I was able to buy a new one quickly, thanks to the stimulus funds, from which I benefited, even though I didn't need it...except to replace my laptop.

Did I mention that the over-the-stove microwave also died? Well, the timer and the lights work, but we can't cook in it. We're using it for storage and using a countertop microwave. The car still runs.

Glaring at my my potential mortality, (pandemic, fires, etc.) I decided that the book, which readers of my blog have been requesting, needed to get done. I had looked into submitting to publishers, but it seemed that it would require an agent, and you have to submit to them, and since I wanted the book to be out during my lifetime and (eventually) a fundraiser for pediatric cancer, I decided I needed to self-publish. To save money, I decided to do all the ancillary work myself. That means the layouts, editing, the marketing and everything but the actual printing would be up to me. Fortunately, I have three PhDs in the family, so I tapped two of them to read my text and proofread.

The artwork was up to me. Picking a photo for the cover and deciding what looks good was easy. Dealing with the required software was challenging. I had to use one program for the cover and one for the inside pages. I chose Book Baby to print the book, and they provided a template for each. That doesn't mean it was easy for an old brain. Here's what the cover looks like.

The two new (to me) software programs, were a challenge. With much trial and error (and gnashing of teeth) it was eventually finished. As of December 1st copies have been available. I was excited to grab a screen shot of the lining for my first book.



I decided to have 100 copies sent to me. It's a good thing I did, because Amazon and Barnes & Noble ran out of copies the first day. I don't think they had many in stock. Most people I know who bought one at the time bought it as a preorder. Book Baby's store had plenty, however, and I have about 70 copies left.

The book is three stories from the story blog in which Mariah plays a major role. It's full of photos of the characters, mostly from the blog. Since I had added wigs to the boys since the story they appear in came out, I retook the photos they were in. 

The royalties, when they come, will go to St. Jude. Figuring that out is a challenge, but I have realized that when my 100 copies are gone, I will have come within $150 to having paid myself back, either by selling them or giving them as gifts. I think I can consider that a gift to St. Jude, just to avoid complicated bookkeeping. I'm going to need tax advice, though. If anyone wants to just donate to St. Jude––without buying the book––I have a special fundraising page set up here. I don't expect there to be much there until the first royalties come, March 1st. It's open now, though.

In the meantime, we have a new cast member, named Pippa. This character is a smaller doll. She will never be as big as the others. In this way, she is unique. She is also a Götz doll and almost identical to the other dolls, which are Happy Kidz, only she is smaller. This line of dolls is called, appropriately enough, Little Kidz.


Back to real people's lives. We had DH's brother, Jim, over for Thanksgiving dinner. We wore masks except when we were eating, of course, and then we were 7' apart. Jim sat in front of the window, and we sat at the other end of the table. It wasn't risk-free, but we were within the guidelines of the state: no more than six people and no more than two households. I kept the plates turned down until everything was on the table and we were seated. He had his own serving utensils.

Jim left a few days after Thanksgiving to go to his tiny new second home in Arizona. He came back yesterday and had another socially distanced dinner with us. We followed the same procedures.

It has been a strange year. Dentist, doctor and audiologist's appointments have been limited and fully masked (well, except we had to take our masks off for the dentist). Trips to the vet have meant sitting in the parking lot while the dogs were being checked out. We have bought groceries only when we absolutely needed to. Mail has sat unopened for two days at a time, along with shelf-stable groceries. Packages get opened and the contents dumped onto a clean surface until the outer package has been disposed of outside and hands have been thoroughly washed. Walks have been limited and only when we knew few others would be out. Charlie got a home-made haircut about halfway though the year and another one recently. I've been trimming my own bangs/fringe. Politics have been...interesting

I'm assuming that we're going to make it through to 2021 at this point. As I write this, we are coming up on New Year's Eve. Next year has to be better.

However, there have been some bright parts to the year. We have managed to keep from getting sick. (Knock on wood!) The roof doesn't leak (yet)! We're going through this during a time when the technology makes it easy to order online, be entertained and visit with family who live many miles away from us. We have each other and the dogs for company It helps that we are both introverts. The murder hornets ignored us. 

We will take the vaccine when it's available for us. I think in our state we are next after the healthcare workers and nursing home residents. It will be a long time, I fear, before we go out in public without masks. It's simple to do, though, and a small price to pay.

What's on my needles: A Fair Isle sweater for Pippa, a new pattern for this new size. Here's my chart, which is mostly all I have to show right now. I had to rework the motifs for her smaller body. I plan on using two different yarns, my leftovers from my Rose City Yarn Crawl shawl from last year. (That event seems so long ago.) One is a multi, and I think it will work well for this pattern.
 

What's on my sewing machine: Waiting for something new.

What's in my hoop: Still the Whole Cloth Quilt. More progress this week (see above).

What's in The Doll's Storybook: "What Did You Get?" Pippa is disappointed that she didn't get a book that she asked Santa for. She worries that she might have been naughty. She talks it over with Emil.
 


What's on my iPad: I've been listening to Christmas music, mostly.
 
What's in my wine glass: Chateau Souverain Sauvignon Blanc 2019, one of my DBIL's favorites.

What's my tip of the week: Have leftovers from Christmas dinner? (Possible, especially if you're feeding fewer people this year.) We did. I was prepared with these TV dinner trays. (You're looking at the bottom, so you can see that they are divided. There are cardboard lids, but you should replace them with foil for cooking in the oven. These should be replaced with foil. The trays can be reused. Cover top with foil and heat frozen dinners on foil or cookie sheet at 300ºF for 40 minutes.
 


Where's my book: Mariah: Stories from the Doll's Storybook is available from Barnes & Noble in the US, and from Amazon worldwide. Also available from BookBaby and other booksellers. Royalties go to support pediatric cancer research and treatment at St. Jude.
Note: This blog post was produced on the iPad and the MacBook, using the iPhone for some photos and some photo processing. No other computer was used in any stage of composition or posting, and no Windows were opened, waited for, cleaned or broken. No animals or dolls were harmed during the production of this blog post.

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