December was all about Bruce and Eileen's Rhone River cruise in France. We left the Monday after Thanksgiving and were gone for 2 weeks. The trip started with 2 nights in Lyon and ended with 2 nights in Marseille. The cruise included stops in Lyon, Vienne, Tournon, Tarascon, and Avignon. We also visited Beaujolais, Oignt, Arles, and Baux. Having prepared for the worst, the travel restrictions posed by COVID-19, including the new Omicron variant, were not an impediment at all. However, by the time we returned home the restrictions were tougher everywhere as the virus began spreading like wildfire.
The COVID-19 Delta variant pretty much quashed all our plans for this part of the year, including that trip to Florida to visit family. Both Eileen and Bruce got new cell phones in preparation for their upcoming trip to France in December.
Well, August seems like a total bust, again thanks to COVID-19. This time it's the delta variant. We're now forced to wear masks again at work, vaccinated or not. Bruce canceled his Indiana trip due to this new outbreak and the anticipated number of people he'd probably have to hug. Our trip to Florida to visit Eileen's family just got canceled, and we're starting to worry about out December trip to France. COVID sucks. But you already knew that.
We spent Independence Day night at home, but Andrew and Newt came over for some smoked chicken wings and thighs and kidney beans. YUM! The next night we welcomed our neighbor, Alex, over to join us and smoked more chicken thighs, a pork shoulder, and more beans. DOUBLE YUM!
Dad's old house is coming along really well. We can't really recognize it anymore. The new owners are doing a spectacular job!
Bruce and his siblings had decided in March to bury Dad's ashes the weekend of Father's Day, so that was the third and final trip to Troy. It would be the first time all four of Dad's children were together at the same time. Our cousin Steve, who now owns the Scherzinger (pest control) Corporation in Cincinnati, joined us for the short ceremony. The rest of us had a memorial dinner for Dad at the best restaurant in town, a place we know Dad never would have set foot in.
The 17-year Brood-X cicadas INVADE from mid-May to late June. Glad it's only once every 17 years.
We went to Norfolk to visit Rachel for her 30th birthday. As usual, she knew it was her birthday because we sang "the song" to her. It always makes her smile. Oh, and cupcakes, of course! Can you believe she's 30 now?!!
Bruce traveled to Albuquerque for a week for work. He was not that impressed with the town other than the surrounding mountains and the warm, dry air. It made him hanker for Santa Fe. Those are hot air balloons in the distance below; view from Bruce's hotel room.
Bruce's employer drops the mask mandate for people who register at work as being vaccinated. Can they do that?
April came and went. The weather warming, Bruce starting cycling again. He bought a slide scanner and spent some time scanning Dad's and Grandpa's collections of 35mm slides. There were some real gems in there, photos of the grandmother Bruce never knew, but also a lot of pictures of trains among Grandpa's. He was a diehard enthusiast. Bruce didn't spend any time scanning trains. Dad had a few hundred of his slides professionally scanned in 2012 and he did pick the best of them. But Bruce found some more that he was surprised Dad omitted. He shared them with the Scherzinger family members he remains in contact with.
Bruce got his second COVID vaccination, again with zero reaction. So lucky! Same story for Eileen's first shot (also Pfizer). Eileen also got her second COVID vaccination later in the month. All done!
Second trip to Ohio with a rental van to clear out Dad's house in anticipation of a quick sale due to the market in Troy being devoid of inventory (why we didn't waste any time!). We literally had 3 potential "as-is" buyers contact US through word of mouth since the February trip. All three made offers after showing on this trip, one beating our asking price a little. It was literally sold in 3 days.
We got as much junk into that van as we could, gave a lot away to his neighbors, and had it pretty much emptied out after 4 days. Truly a Herculean effort. Got home late afternoon and paid a couple neighbor kids to help empty the van into the garage since the van was due back the next morning. Andrew helped me return it; gave me a ride back home.
Within a week, the new owners were removing the junk we did not take, ripping out carpet, kitchen cabinets, toilets, siding, chain link fencing, pretty much everything in preparation for a complete renovation, something we did not have the time or energy to tackle.
Bruce got his first COVID vaccination; Pfizer. No reaction. Whew!
Sad news in the family. Bruce's father passed away unexpectedly early in the month. Of course, Bruce knew he'd be the executor of the very small estate, so this meant heading for Ohio immediately. As we'd pretty much expect, he had all his affairs in order. That made at least the first part fairly painless, despite the loss. Dad had prearranged his own cremation and that had been completed before we even got to Troy. We were never asked to identify his body.
The weather in Troy was single digits, getting around town difficult, and the drive home treacherous on ice or packed snow half the way home. Thank goodness for COVID, the roads were virtually empty. This pretty much consumed the month.
Happy New Year!
Well, the Lasagna Love Volunteer Portal website has been the bane of Bruce's existence since Halloween, but this month it is up and running. Still having a few "issues", it will be a while before it hums like a fine-tuned engine. But already Eileen and the rest of the volunteers can tell it is already making their lives easier.