So, hi. Hey there. It’s been a while, huh? A year and a half. I know. In the blog world, that’s the equivalent of, oh I don’t know, the span from the Jurassic era to the present day? Essentially forever.
There are reasons and there are excuses, but for now, I’m just going to write. Not overthink it. Just write. Over time, I’ll have more on what you can expect from this blog going forward, but for now, I’m going to jump in with a year in review post. It seems like a good place to start on the last day of the year.
After the usual craziness of the holidays, we spent January quietly, easing into the new year and working around the house. After two years in our house, we had a better idea of how we existed within our house and began to make changes to it and imagine bigger renovations. We found that we were craftier than we ever imagined ourselves to be–dying couches, reupholstering chairs, and sewing pillows–but don’t expect an Etsy shop from us anytime soon.
We hopped down to Houston the first weekend in February for the Rice Alumni Baseball Game. Though the game itself was cancelled due to weather, Jeff had fun catching up with his former teammates, and I was able to spend quality time with my college roommates. We also got our biennial fill of Tex-Mex and kolaches. At the end of the month, we started in on our biggest home project to date—built-in bookshelves for the living room.
We finished the bookshelves just in time to host a dinner for my 31st birthday with some of the great friends we’ve made here in Durham. A few days later, we took the celebration abroad, traveling to Turkey with my brother Gregory. We ballooned over Cappadocia, stepped back in time at Ephesus, and ate our way through Istanbul. Then, after just enough time at home to do our laundry and re-pack, we went west to Colorado for a long weekend of skiing at Breckenridge with five friends from our DC days.
March thoroughly exhausted us, so we stayed home for most of April, though we did make a late-in-the-month jaunt up to Chicago. Our plan was to help my brother Gregory paint his new house, but the closing was delayed, so instead we just had some Windy City fun, which included eating ourselves silly, admiring the architecture, and catching up with Jeff’s former teammate and roommate, Philip Humber, who had just a week before pitched the 21st perfect game in MLB history.
For a Kentuckian, May means one thing: Derby time! So Jeff and I made the pilgrimage home to join my three brothers, twenty something of their nearest and dearest twenty-something-year-old friends, and tens of thousands of other people in the infield. We saw a horse (I think) and a whole lot more and, of course, had a ridiculous amount of fun. We ended the month of a much quieter note, canoe camping on the Cashie River. It was beautiful and relaxing and a great way to welcome summer.
In June, we kept our explorations local, bribing judges at the Beaver Queen Pageant, kicking back with picnics at music on the lawn, and enjoying bikes and brews at the Tour de Fat. We also had lots of visitors, with my parents visiting in early June and Jeff’s sister Paulina visiting in late June, which translated to eating at lots of Durham’s excellent restaurants and our first visit of the summer to the NC shore.
For the first time since we’ve moved here, we spent Fourth of July in town, celebrating at Festival for the Eno and with a cookout at our house. At the end of the month, we braved the traffic on I-95 and hit DC. Jeff attended the AIDS conference (his lab work at Duke focuses on HIV/AIDS), I visited old trails and hiked some new-to-me trails as I updated the Take a Hike DC book, and we were able to visit with many (but not nearly all!) of our DC-area friends. We said screw you to I-95 for the return trip and instead made our back back via Skyline Drive in Shenandoah and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Longer but so much lovelier!
A wedding took us back to Louisville in August and allowed us to spend a great night out with friends. As we’ve gotten older (and as many of my friends have become parents), it’s become harder and harder for all of my hometown friends to get together (and stay out late), so weddings are welcome opportunities to pretend we’re younger and crazier than we are. We spent the rest of the month doing favorite summer activities—Bulls games, beach trips—and then spent the last weekend taking a river kayaking class.
One thing led to another and in September, we expanded our kayaking repertoire with a whitewater kayaking class, learning to wet exit, roll, and read rapids. We also celebrated Jeff’s 31st birthday with a backyard cookout and then a trip to the Florida Keys. It was an uncharacteristic trip for us in that we spent a lot of it relaxing (so nice!) and the rest of it diving. The waters were warm, the fish were plentiful, and for a couple of days, the boat was all ours, so it was the perfect vacation.
After almost three years in North Carolina, we finally made it to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a fantastic weekend of hiking and camping. It was early October, so the leaves hadn’t yet peaked, but the colors were still lovely and the weather was perfect. Mid-month, Jeff flew off to San Diego for an Infectious Diseases Society of America conference, and I went home to Louisville and hung out with (some of) the family and (a few) friends. We ended the month riding a metric century in the Habitat for Humanity Bike Ride. Though Hurricane Sandy passing by meant it was windier than I would have liked, the weather was far better than the freezing rain we biked through during last year’s 100-mile ride (the 63-mile distance was also much nicer).
We were thankful to spend Thanksgiving in Seattle, per tradition, with Jeff’s parents, his sister and her husband, and family friends. We were also able to spend a great day with two of our favorite couples, one of whom welcomed their first baby just a few days later! For most of our stay, Seattle was rainy and gray (per usual) but we acted like locals and ignored the weather and enjoyed dim sum in the International District, a walk through downtown, and a visit to the relatively new (and quite awesome) Chihuly Garden and Glass.
December was a month of celebrations with a department Christmas party, dinners and drinks with friends, our annual holiday party, and then our yearly trip home to Louisville for holiday madness with my family, which included family gatherings, way too much food, games of every sort, bowling competitions, and my mom double-fisting it at the Buffalo Trace distillery tour (see photo for evidence). We did manage to sneak a quick trip to Charlotte into the mix, with the purpose of furniture shopping. We didn’t end up buying anything, but we found some cool shops, neat neighborhoods, and good eats and are looking forward to another trip to explore the city further.
So that’s it. That’s where the year went. That and work and writing and teaching ESL and hanging out with friends and an occasional lazy Sunday. Put it all together and another year is gone and a fresh one is waiting on the doorstep. We’re off tonight to raise a glass with friends in a toast to all the good of 2012 and to the hope and promise of more joy, more peace, and more adventure in 2013. Let us be thankful!