Reflecting on 2021

Can you believe that tomorrow is 2022 already? 😳

Twenty-twenty-one was a year of recovery for First Reader and me. We spent much of January, February, and March cleaning up the debris, making a list of possessions, and applying for federal disaster relief. That experience was as emotionally draining as the fire itself. Grief hits again, only in different ways. When we finally got a chance to look under the hood, so to speak, it was like getting a gut punch. The emotional impact took us both by surprise.

At the same time, our friends and family gathered donations for our immediate needs as well as our new home. The generosity of our framily has been astounding. After cleaning the debris from an existing storage locker, we managed to fill not one but two large units with items that will get us started—when we finally get our new place.

Springtime brought green grass to the property. Unfortunately, many of the trees didn’t survive. We finished the cleanup and made a decision on our new home. The weather was its usual seasonal rollercoaster—cycling between cool, wet, and hot, dry days. We took our first motorcycle trip late in the spring, a ride that started as heaven and ended as a hellish nightmare when we got stuck in Sunday mountain traffic.

Our loan and our building plans were moving at a glacial pace by summer. While we had secured both, the devil is in the details, and the details have indeed been devilish. I’ve been submitting receipts for the work we’ve completed to prepare our property as I get them, with the caveat that more is forthcoming. When our lender receives the updated information, the case manager of the day sends our file off to a loan officer. The LO then kicks it back because we (apparently) don’t have all our ducks in a row (yet), and here’s more paperwork we need to shi—er, submit. Lather, rinse, repeat. We keep taking one maybe two steps forward and an equal number of steps back. Frustration doesn’t begin to describe our experience.

The summer months also sent us on vacation—twice. We spent the Fourth of July weekend at a lakeside campground in the mountains. A group of our friends spends the noisy weekend off in the wilderness to save their fur-kids from the fireworks trauma that inevitably accompanies the holiday. Our fur-baby loved the lake and early morning walks through the campground. Five weeks later, we headed out on our annual pilgrimage to Sturgis, the Motorcycle Mecca of the West.

As the year progressed into autumn and winter, and life regained a semblance of “normal,” the rough edges of shock from the fire and our losses began to erode. We can talk about the things we lost without the overwhelming emotion we first experienced. I’m trying to think of ways to replace some of my resources, beginning with the used and recycled book stores in the area. I know I’ll never find some things again, I’ll have to re-create others, and yet more will be brand new.

My characters are clambering for attention, and this blog is aching for more than a Sunday post and a week of quotes. This coming year will bring a few changes to my content, although I am still deciding how and what will change. Some days may go back to pre-fire content; others will sport brand new topics. Quotes won’t go away.

First Reader and I decided to get away for the New Year and rented a place in the mountains a short drive from where we live. As of this writing (Thursday), the area expects snow on Friday and Saturday (isn’t that special?), so the drive up there should be interesting. We don’t plan to do much more than rest and relax for those days. Driving around won’t be in the plans. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Have a safe and Happy New Year, everyone!

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