Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Winding Down the Old Year

Our back yard last winter.

According to the Chinese Zodiac, this was the year of the horse. It started with a nasty kick when I got laid off in February, joining the millions of unemployed Americans.  Going on two months of unemployment, a small MEP firm in Manassas responded to my resume, and they hired me as an administrative assistant (at half my former salary). I worked on their new web site and soon was called upon to do the same CAD and electrical design work, much as I’ve been doing for years, but without an increase in pay. After another two months, I got a call back from an earlier job application for an interview, and after the interview was offered a job at JMT Engineering’s office in Herndon, VA, with a better salary, so I jumped at the chance.

Early December was my six-month anniversary at JMT, and I must say I like this employee-owned company, my new boss and co-workers much better than my old employer. So all’s well that ends well. But it was tough going for a while to get here. 

There were some bright spots in between: a fun weekend in North Carolina's Green Swamp and some memorable local field trips with Virginia Native Plant Society's Piedmont Chapter. I worked a lot on the garden and on my botanical art, mostly on my Botanical Certificate Project which is due for completion next February. A couple of my pieces were shown at Brookside's Botanica and currently at BASCNR's show "Preserving Our Heritage: Native and Heirloom Plants" at the Alexandria Athenaeum.

We even found time to finally hang my two large paintings in our foyer, thanks to a good neighbor's loan of a high ladder.

After struggling for over a year with an e-publisher’s non-working website, Herb decided to pull the plug and go for a print edition at Lulu. On-line, he befriended a fabulous graphic designer who has done a great job on a new cover and re-styled the content for the print edition. We just ordered the first batch of copies of Piece of Resistance for Christmas and the book will be available for sale at Lulu after the first of the year.

A few weeks ago our son David finally proposed to his girlfriend, and the young couple is currently busy with plans for the wedding next fall. So the year is ending on a high note after so many ups and downs.

I know we were not alone--the year was also difficult for many of our acquaintance who lost loved ones, coped with illness or other set major backs. I hope next year will be calmer and bring happiness and prosperity to all.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas 2014

One more Christmas comes around! This year we got our outdoor decorations up early (for us), taking advantage of a warm spell. And, since some of our old strings of lights finally gave out, we had to change our arrangement to accommodate what we had on hand.

We hung the blue lights on the cherry tree in front this year, with another ancient string of faded blue mini-lights strung on the railing. The colored strings of LED's were left for the two evergreens flanking the sides; the Colonial Williamsburg style candles in the windows have remained a constant staple over the years.

Last Christmas we left our old wreath hanging on the front door throughout the month of January, which was so brutally cold. When I took it down I discovered that the two artificial birds that were part of its decorations had been attacked and pretty much destroyed--some hungry predator must have been fooled into believing they were real and went after them!

Be it palatial, ever so humble or in-between, may God bless your home and ours in this season of good will. Merry Christmas!