Anderson Epistle for 2021

What can we say about a second year of restricted living?  Well it was better than the first!  Getting vaccinated early in the year (and a booster late in the year) allowed us to let up a bit on self-imposed and government-imposed restrictions and get back closer to normal life.  But it still feels isolating.  We know many friends and relatives that have been infected but most with very minor symptoms, but we also know one friend that died from COVID-19.  So we are still being careful.

But we’ve been able to eat out at some favorite restaurants, attend some great concerts (live but online at first, then outdoors and by September, indoors with proof of vaccination and masked while in the building.  We subscribed to the Seattle Symphony again with about 14 concerts this Falll, Winter and Spring, eight plays at Seattle Repertory Theater and five or six concerts from a group that brings early Baroque music to our Island.  We hope conditions improve enough that we can go to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival again next summer after missing two summers.

We’ve been able to spend more quality time with family, celebrate birthdays, party with small groups of vaccinated friends,  but we miss travelling beyond the immediate area: other parts of US, Europe, …  But we feel more alive!

Now for more of our joys.

Our granddaughter, Lise, turned six in August and moved to primary room (grade equivalent 1-3) at the Montessori school where Katherine teaches.  Our grandson, Emil, turns three this month and started in the preschool at the same school.  Both love school and are doing well there and enjoy many educational activities at home.  Lise is becoming quite an artist and loves reading.  Emil is into zoo animals, plastic to put into doll house and everywhere else and stickers, especially stickers of zoo animals.  Jan get reusable sticker that do not leave marks and after they leave we find them on walls, railings, windows, furniture, clothing, as high as he can reach as well as the paper he was given to use.

Katherine and Bill were finally able to buy a house in Seattle, less than a mile from where they had been renting.  They had been afraid that they could never afford a home in Seattle, but this one is a very nice older home with much more space, inside and outside, than the rental.  

Both Lise and Emil love going to the zoo which was within walking distance of the previous home and we got to take them a few times this year.  The holidays are magical at the Seattle Zoo.  They have lighted lanterns (huge inflated versions of dozens of zoo animals) lining the walking paths and at night they glow from internal lights, plus they have a few hard, sculpted (rock or bronze) animals that the children can climb and sit on.  The otters and other sea mammals can be seen above and below the water and some swim up and kiss your hand through the glass.  Some of their favorite animals include the otters, giraffes, Asian Sea Eagles, and sitting on the bronze Komodo Dragon or Hypo.

When they come to our house they love puzzles, assembling grooved paths to roll marbles down, playing in the “tunnel-house” (a couple of years ago I build a 6x8 foot structure made of PVC pipe that can be disassembled and Jan made a cloth cover with a door).  Jan keeps them busy outside with bubble guns and water slides.

Kat's closest friend growing up in Walla Walla was Cari but they have had little time together in their adult lives. Her mother Carolyn was also one of Jan's closest friends. Both still live in WW. Cari has a son, James, who is near the same age as Emil. Cari, James and Carolyn all visited us for a few days in June. Katherine, Emil and Lise also came up. The kids all had a great time getting to know each other and Jan and Carolyn had time to catch up. With four adult women and three children Terry felt like a sheik with a harem, but that thought was so scary that Terry had to escape to his downstairs office.

Terry has been working harder than usual.  He was assigned developing a more vital and complex component for the radio-work he does for the Army and deadlines were tight.  So rather than the half-time he signed up for, he worked over 2/3 time and a couple of months full-time.  He is glad to have that phase over a few weeks ago and getting back to half-time on the kind of programming he enjoys. 

Our weather has been very wild this year.  This summer we had a week-long heatwave that set an all-time record of 101. It took a lot of water to keep our plants alive but this fall was the wettest on record with with nearly double our normal rain: 13 inches Oct-Nov while average is 7 and we got nearly 9 inches in Nov alone.  We get most of our rain in the fall and early winter and our full year average is 20-25, but this year we have 29” just through Nov.  December has been cloudy but only 3” of rain so far (through Dec 20).  And it has been the windiest fall we have ever seen with wind over 30 mph several time.  That usually brings power outages because Whidbey is covered with trees and we did have one outage of 12 hrs or so but the southern half of the island lost power for nearly a week before they could fix all the lines. 

We’re closing the year with a Winter Solstice party (three other couples – all vaccinated and much of the time in the open garage with heaters) to celebrate the return of the sun (eventually) and spending Christmas on Orcas Island with Kat and Bill and in-laws (all vaccinated too).

And now for something completely different (or another voice)

Jan is finding it hard to convey Christmas greetings and cheer when writing this in the middle of this year’s endless NW atmospheric river. So, if this message arrives feeling a bit damp or even drippy, that is the reason. However, she is excited about spending Christmas on Orcas Island with Katherine, Bill, grandkids and the extended Carty family for a few wonderful days.

This year more than ever we are thinking of friends and missing the freedom of dropping by for a visit without thinking of precautions and risk. What a discovery to realize that our time-honored tradition of exchanging Christmas cards and letters are covid-proof!! We love hearing from everyone even if it’s just to know friends are alive and doing well.

Since we have elected to restrict travel, and until just recently many of our cultural events have been on hiatus, life for Jan revolved around reading, gardening, and spending time with friends, grandchildren and family. Lise 6, and Emil (whose 3rd birthday we celebrating a few days ago)  came to spend two nights and three days with “Nana and Opa” this August while their parents made the move into their new home. Jan always jumps at the chance to dive into the creative world of young children and this visit was no exception. Days before the visit, she was painting boxes and boxes and more boxes gray in order that they could become ‘building blocks’ for constructing castles. Terry was only marginally alarmed at how much of the living room turned into a fortress compound (complete with paper moat)! Fortunately, no major battles were fought, and no blood was shed. Lise chose to populate her castle with fairy creatures while Emil chose to fill his with a menagerie of zoo animals.

Summer on Whidbey brings the most glorious weather, and we took full advantage of its long days of sunshine to gather with friends outside whenever possible. August on Whidbey brings an outdoor festival of some kind every weekend from arts and crafts to music, which we enjoy to the full. There are farmers markets to visit and at least one trip to San Juan Island to take with friends. But the flip side of those long days of sun is the price we pay for longer hours of darkness come late fall and winter. That is why we are looking forward to celebrating winter solstice with a party to mark the turn from lengthening darkness to more hours of light.

We wish you all the best of health and happiness in the year to come.

Terry & Jan Anderson

PS if you are the kind that likes to hang Christmas cards on the wall or refrigerator or pin them to your Christmas Tree, feel free to print this on any color of paper you like and hang or pin it wherever you like (including the trash).

PPS: I did not get this out before our Christmas on Orcas Island so I’ll add a little. We had a great time on Orcas (as described above), but it was also an adventure as we got 4+” of snow on Christmas Day and the temperature fell to 12 degrees at night.  Both are very unusual for this area and they are not prepared for much road clearing, so getting back and forth and to the ferry to come home was a challenge and back on Whidbey was no better.  We got back to find just as much snow here (and also not cleared but a little sanded) so we were not sure if we could get up the 250’ uphill gravel lane to our house, but we made it.  I cleared most of our driveway after arriving but the first night it went down to 10 degrees and we got another 2” of snow.  Weather predictions say  it’ll not get better for another week with some more snow.  We might get temperatures a few degrees above freezing by the weekend.  But after 2 years of Covid we are used to being shut in.