Holy Mackerel! It’s been almost an entire year since I posted a top 20/bottom 10 list. I thought I should do one just so you all know that I’ve not fallen off Planet Earth. I’ve traveled to a lot places on it this past year, but I didn’t quite fall off. This past year has been amazing. I could write a long novel about it (maybe I should!) but I’ll just give you the super condensed Reader’s Digest version here so you’ll know what I’ve been up to since January of last year. Just the highlights.
In February my niece Ella celebrated her third birthday at the Houston Zoo, and I got to do that with her. I actually got to hang out with Ella and her brother Jaxon throughtout the year, and it was awesome. In March I presented at the Community Development Institute at Lonestar College. In April I had lunch meetings almost every single day, preparing for the launch of a new organization I co-founded in partnership with the Center for Rural Studies that we called the Central East Texas Alliance.
We launched the Central East Texas Alliance in May. Also in May we took Jamey’s dad to the ZMR Music Awards show in New Orleans, where Jamey got to present one of the awards, I got to wear a pretty dress, and we all got to eat amazing food and drink mojitos. In June I had my wisdom teeth pulled. A lot of other things happened that month: I got in minor but annoying a car wreck, went to conferences in San Antonio and Waco, hosted the first CETA event in Coldspring, and made several presentations. But I was too drugged out on painkillers for most of the month to take notice of anything else.
In July we took a Holland America cruise with a huge group of extended family members to beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring Alaska. It was amazing. We also welcomed a new cat to our household. We named him Olaf after the snowman in the film Frozen. In August, at a routine eye exam, I learned that there was a hole in my retina. So I had to have surgery again, and it was not fun. We also hosted the first Focus Series for the Central East Texas Alliance. In September Jamey and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary.
In October all of my sisters and my parents came to Texas and we went to the Texas State Fair in Dallas. It was loud, hot, and very crowded but we all agreed it was something they needed to see. In November I worked at the polls on Election Day–we only had 65 people show up the entire day, which was pretty sad. But it was a good experience. Also in November we celebrated Thanksgiving with my family in Albuquerque–all of my sisters and their families were there and it was so nice to hang out with all of them for a few days. The day after Thanksgiving we visited the Sandia Peak Tramway and saw the City from the height of 10,378 feet. It was pretty spectacular.
In December Jamey and I wrapped up the year with another cruise, this time on Celebrity Cruise Lines, to the Eastern Caribbean. Our stops included Haiti, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Barth’s, and St. Maarten. All of the port were stunning and we had a fantastic time at each one. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale for a couple of days afterwards and flew home on Christmas day. It was a great way to end an exciting and sometimes turbulent year.
Now that you’re all caught up we can move on to the lists, which include some of my favorite (and least favorite) things from this past year’s adventures.
My sister Kellie, her husband, Rich and my fantastic niece and nephew Ella and Jaxon. They’re moving back to California soon, and I have so enjoyed knowing them better this past year while they lived here in the Houston area. We will miss them so much!
- reliving our travels through photographs and videos
- experiencing the insane beauty of the glaciers and the fjords, both from the balcony of our cabin and from the air, courtesy of Taquan Air Alaska
- seeing whales up close and personal
- getting to share the Alaska experience with so many members of my family
- traveling all the way around the island of St. Maarten/St. Martin on a four-wheeler with Jamey
- touring the Cruzan Rum factory in St. Croix
- driving to Key West from Ft Lauderdale in a Mustang convertible on a whim
- Starting a new organization from the ground up. It’s been a gratifying experience
- Paying with ApplePay
- Olaf the Cat, when he’s being nice. He has learned how to fetch like a puppy and it’s ridiculously cute.
- Discount Tuesday at the Cinemark movie complex
- free popcorn
- Jamey, for driving me everywhere I go. I hate driving alone, and it’s so nice to have his company.
- the return of sunshine–it’s been missing for the past three weeks
- homemade limoncello
- Rediscovering The West Wing on Netflix. I’m not sure if today’s television viewing audience could handle the themes in that show, which says a lot.
- Benedict Cumberbatch
- talking to my family on FaceTime
- exploring new horizons
Olaf the Cat, when he’s being not so nice. He has sharp claws and occasional terrorist tendencies.
- surgery in general, but especially on my teeth and eyes
- the fact that my house does not clean itself
- Missing two of my sisters on our Alaska cruise. Jackie and Sarah weren’t able to come with us, and our experience was the lesser for it.
- gloomy weather
- having to start over involuntarily
- Throwing out my back. I’ve done it twice in the past two months and it is horrible.
- Being allergic to something in our cabin on Celebrity Cruise lines. It was pretty much the only thing not fantastic about that trip.
- being on the short end of someone else’s bad Karma