This year, in January, we moved back to our tiny city near the capital. In the mild winter with which this year began, Lizzy and Hamlet would look out onto the old deck to their new much-reduced yard (we went from more than 2 acres to square footage here), and to the still-green grass. The house is much smaller and older but my husband and I agree that our decision to move back and to sell the house near my small college on the hill was the best one we made in 2012. When we walked back into this old house, we both felt like we'd been away from home for too long (almost four years!).
In February, we spent three weeks in Puerto Rico, in a tiny studio near the beach in Isla Verde, right across from a grocery store, and at walking distance from Starbucks and from our favorite panadería. The three weeks were the most productive time in my entire year of leave and in my work on the book manuscript (which, btw, I emailed to the editor last night!). We also enjoyed our morning walks and, interestingly, got to eat in three different Peruvian restaurants treated by friends and family. Who knew that there were so many Peruvian restaurants in Puerto Rico?
In March, and back in Ohio, we enjoyed being in our old neighborhood where my husband took this impressive photo of an approaching early spring storm.
In April, the apple tree in our backyard blossomed in all its spring glory. I had actually missed that tree while we lived away from here so I was thrilled to watch as it grew more and more flamboyant as the spring progressed.
This Japanese maple, which I helped save after a late frost in April almost killed it many years ago, also exploded in magnificent color in May.
By June, the month in which my one-year leave ended, I lived temporarily, for about three weeks, in an apartment near my small college on the hill while working in the summer program I've been a part of since 2008. I took Lizzy and Chiquita with me but Lizzy couldn't get used to the fact that she didn't have a yard to play in. The worst part of that experience was betting stung by a horse or deer fly, which caused my right hand to swell and had me rushing to the doctor for antibiotics. Eww!
To celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary in July, my husband and I went to a favorite inn in the beautiful Hocking Hills, now much nearer to us, and had a lovely time staying overnight and enjoying a wonderful anniversary dinner.
September saw the first in a series of major improvements that we made this year to this old house, this one my husband's idea. I was not sold on it, at first, but have to agree that I don't miss the decrepit, ugly deck and that we've really enjoyed our new patio and the new stairs my husband built for us. We also updated the main bathroom with beautiful tile, fenced the backyard for the dogs, and my husband recently painted the dining room and the small downstairs bathroom. Slowly, but surely, this old house is getting lots of the TLC it deserves. I think it's very happy we're back.
Halloween was always my favorite "holiday" here in our tiny city, when I would dress up with my evil witch's hat and hundreds of children would clean us out of any and all available candy. I had missed celebrating Halloween while we lived on a country road that was not walk-friendly so I was absolutely tickled that I got to restart our Halloween tradition this October. Lizzy, however, was not so happy about having to wear her costume.
In November, we went back to Puerto Rico for a third time, since I also went in June to teach a two-day seminar at the University of Turabo. This time, we went for a conference and stayed at a different place, more directly in front of the beach, but I still prefer the tiny studio that we called home in February. The highlight of that trip was spending time with the friends who had hosted us when we visited Oregon a few years back, and we were able to return the favor. They were so appreciative and delighted with everything we showed them that they made the experience a pleasure.
Unlike the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, this December has not been mild and January promises to come in like a lion, with highs in the twenties and lows in the teens and single digits this coming week.
Still, 2013 opens up, like a blank book, for us to write on it what we want, and what fate will have readied for us.
Wishing you all a very happy new year. Here's to a kinder, gentler, and more peaceful 2013 for all of us and for the world in general. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!