2020 Annual Holiday Greetings

December 14, 2020

Greetings from Pullman, Washington!

We hope this greeting finds you remaining healthy during 2020, an unprecedented time during our lifetime. Here we are in the midst of holidays, as several faith traditions observe deeply meaningful remembrances and touchstones. May your observances bring you hope, comfort, love, and joy! For us, our creche is displayed with the Holy Family anticipating the arrival of Christ. Our New England Christmas village is on display. In place of a Christmas tree, we have decorated a priceless, 125 year-old, weathered, wood-crafted, porch column from the farmhouse that Diane’s great-grandfather Patterson built in 1895. It’s donned with an artificial pine bough, a strand of lights, and 20 ornaments!

As many of you know, we are fairly new residents of Pullman, Washington. During the first two weeks of March, we were enjoying Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona along with a special visit from Texas friends for a few days. Soon after they left and we were able to seek out reliable Wi-Fi and cell phone coverage, we read breaking news that COVID-19 cases were increasing. The next morning we learned that state park campgrounds were closing in New Mexico immediately. It became quickly evident that we needed to consider whether to continue full-time RVing or to hit the pause button.

Our “Unforgettable 2020” Photo Collage:
– Stephanie & Shane on a Colorado hike.
– Jeremy & Michelle on a Pullman walk.
– Steve & Diane and the last campsite  as full-time RVers.
– An Easter Zoom chat with the six of us “sheltering-in-place”.

Here’s our 2020 rendition of our annual greetings! Perhaps Diane has too much time on her hands?!

A: Archives are where you’ll find Diane working on projects these days. One project is transcribing her Dad’s letters home while stationed during the Korean War in Japan and Korea. Another is creating family Google albums to readily share with family. Diane will not run out of projects as a family historian and photographer! She also is the primary poster to Instagram highlighting travels, photos, memories, and life. She plans the menus and puts together shopping lists.  Apps make aspects of our life easier, especially ordering groceries through Walmart and Safeway.

B: Baking is what Steve enjoys between baking biscotti or cookies. It’s perfect for the Cookie Monster tendencies that we both have. Steve LOVES working the daily New York Times Crossword or their Spelling Bee, while sipping coffee and having a biscotti. He’s a master at making pancakes on our portable Coleman griddle or yummy dinners on the grill. He keeps the coffee brewing! Steve’s taken the Chief Financial Officer role for our household. He is our home barber and stylist, wielding clippers, shears, and thinning shears! Diane’s last hair salon visit was in February in Tucson, Arizona.

C: COVID-19 speaks for itself with the loss of life, numbers of cases, agonizing impact on families, schools, workplaces, hospital systems, industries. Curbside, drive-thru, or walk-up options for grocery shopping and some other services enable us to stay safe in Pullman. We rely on on-line ordering and delivery for items that we’re unable to purchase locally. Coffee! Formerly spending oodles of time in coffee shops across the country as a place to make travel plans, write, and edit photos, we make coffee an essential part of our morning routine and sometimes afternoons too.

D: Downsizing has resumed. It’s what we have done for 12 years! Gulp! The goal is to use this time to reduce the size of our household again. You never know, we could put things in storage and RV full-time again! Plus it will position us to be able to move to a smaller abode should we opt or need to do so.

E: Essential workers across industries are our 2020 heroes who give tirelessly of themselves:  Thank you so much! Election 2020. Ahem…it’s been a journey for everyone, no matter one’s political leaning.

F: Faith in Our Creator’s agape love! We cling to our faith despite not being affiliated with a church. Families, we admire you as you juggle work, home, teaching your children or partnering with teachers, and keeping your family safe! Our Ford F350 truck gets very little use, doesn’t fit in the garage due to its height, takes up our part of the shared driveway with the neighbors, and awaits towing the trailer.

G: Grief has grabbed our hearts this year with the passing of family and friends. We experienced grief at having to quickly shift gears to Plan B to shelter-in-place and then Plan C to hang-up-the-keys on full-time RVing. On March 18, we began cancelling 52 stays, some with family and friends, already reserved for our carefully planned 12-month tour. We are deeply grateful for the 22 months where we traveled full-time in our RV. It was a dream come true and one of life’s highlights!

H: Hope sustains us as humanity moves through so much pain to hopefully a better tomorrow. Hospitality was graciously extended by Barb & Joel so we were able to shelter-in-place at her Denver-area home for 52 days (March 18-May 9) during their winter stay at his Alabama home. Hiking was SO much fun in Arizona from January through mid-March. Cattail Cove State Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, Picacho Peak State Park, Tonto National Forest, and Kartchner Caverns State Park provided many amazing trails and fantastic campsites. Since June, in the Palouse Region, we have hiked at Washington State University’s Arboretum, Moscow Mountain, Paradise Ridge, Kamiak Butte, and Heyburn State Park, all among gorgeous stands of trees native to Washington and Idaho.

I: Idaho is the state where we spent our last full-time stay for a week at an RV park in Moscow, just 10 miles from Pullman. We had two Idaho camping trips in September with four days in the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest near Headquarters and a week at Heyburn State Park near Plummer. Instagram keeps us connected around the globe: family, friends, other RVers, other photographers, and other travel writers.

J: JEREMY AND MICHELLE probably never saw the day coming that we would live less than a mile’s walk from them again! The last time was when all six of us lived in Batavia, Illinois. The four of us adhere to a buddy bubble, which gives us the safety to gather for coffee, a meal, and conversation most Saturdays. With both of them working at home, it’s been easier to have a buddy bubble. We gathered on their deck or our yard until the autumn temperatures changed. Now we meet in our living rooms. We had our first Thanksgiving ever with Michelle this year and the first in many years with Jeremy. Christmas Eve will be at our home and we’ll have a Zoom chat with Stephanie and Shane over Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza (shipped from the Chicago area). Christmas will be at Jeremy and Michelle’s. We have joy as we welcomed a beautiful grand-niece, Jordyn Rose, to Diane’s side of the family this year. She’s a cutie based on the photos we receive!

K: Kindness can be so contagious! We bought t-shirts that have Be Kind printed on them. Eric of Clumsy Crow Baking welcomed us to Pullman with some fresh baked bread. The staff at Roost Coffee greet us at their walk-up window with hellos and welcome to Pullman. Joanna, the director of Neill Public Library, greeted us with an exchange of emails and recently a quick masked hello when she brought us our book at walk-up check-out. Our new medical providers and dental office, our credit union, and State Farm insurance agency have all extended kind words of welcome.

L: Love one another as faith traditions place love at the center of life! Living Life with Love, Laughter, and Lifting one another up! There are so many needs in our world. We pray that each one of us is in a position to brighten the lives of others.

M: Moving during a pandemic isn’t recommended, but we had no other option. We know of numerous people who opted to make moves to place themselves in a better situation. Thankfully we had the support and encouragement from Jeremy, Michelle, Stephanie, and Shane during the rapid, two-day decision-making process. More details are in our blog! We miss our family & friends terribly! Memories abound of visits with so many dear ones and of the country’s beauty as we traveled with our trailer. Moonlit nights and unsurpassed star-filled skies while camping in Arizona were magnificent.

N: Our “new” abode is a 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1-car garage condo built in 1979 with 1,500 square feet. We are renting, which includes lawn care and snow removal. NO, we don’t miss caring for the lawn. Although clearing the truck of snow is another story!

O:: OOO for hugs! Online commencements for our nieces were a way to celebrate with them!

P: Peace lessens anxiety as we strive for a better tomorrow! We ask for prayers for loved ones dealing with ongoing health concerns, financial challenges, and difficult decisions. Pullman has been a wonderful place to land. As we traveled the country, we tried to envision where we might live for a spell or longer. Over the seven years of visiting Jeremy and Michelle in Pullman, this community felt like a perfect place! We are situated in the Palouse Region in Southeastern Washington. It’s 10 miles west from Idaho, 70 miles north from Oregon, and 200 miles south from the Canadian border. The Rocky Mountains in Idaho have the Clearwater Mountain Range, a 15-mile drive from us.

Q: Quietness seems to be part of our daily routine as we get absorbed in our activities. Perhaps full-time RVing prepared us for this time at home.

R: Reading brings us joy whether books, e-books, the local newspaper, news apps, emails, etc.. Resilience strengthens humankind as we adapt in the face of adversity during this pandemic.

S: STEPHANIE AND SHANE are in Denver busy working and living along bustling University Boulevard. They try to get away from the sounds of the city and their sixth floor apartment for walks, hikes, or mountain getaways. We last saw them on July 30 when they came to our campsite at Chatfield State Park in Littleton, Colorado, the night before we returned to Pullman with our household. We miss them and Steve’s Mom Lois greatly. We look forward to when we can travel to Denver. Smiles sure beat frowns. Keep smiling, even behind your mask to reveal your beautiful smilin eyes!

T: Tranquility the Trailer is parked in RV storage awaiting 2021 camping in the Pacific Northwest and perhaps a trip to Colorado. It sure looks lonely, but it’s in good company with other rigs.

U: U-Haul helped with our umpteenth move! We retrieved our household on a 10-day self-contained trip with the trailer to Denver in late July. Using the truck, the trailer, and a 20’ U-Haul, the rest of our belongings moved to Pullman. University communities usually are a welcomed buzz of activity. Here, Washington State University resumed with on-line classes this fall. There has been no buzz of activity.

V: Vaccines are coming for COVID-19! Today was the first vaccination in the U.S. We patiently await our turn, as it’s important for essential workers and those folks most vulnerable to receive vaccines first.

W: Walks most days take us around Pullman with its four large hills. Leaving our home, we either go up or go down. Pullman has a great sidewalk system, paved trails, and quaint footpaths along hillsides.

X: XXX for kisses! X for how we criss-cross a street when we want to socially distance.

Y: Yellow blossoms covered the hills of our Palouse Region this June. Known for lentils, canola, wheat, etc., the rolling hills of the Palouse are gorgeous! We had a yellow tinge to our atmosphere for a week in September due to hazardous air quality from wildfire smoke coming from California, Oregon, and Washington. Atop our tree is our yellow felt star that we made for our first Christmas in 1976!

Z: Zoom has been a life-line to having video chats with family, friends, and Diane’s taking Clan McLennan webinars. Let us know if you would like to have a Zoom chat too! It’s easy to do!

May you find FAITH, HOPE, PEACE, LOVE, JOY and KINDNESS today and in 2021!

Our love to you and yours,

Diane & Steve

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