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Sunday, December 20, 2020

2020 Christmas Letter

(Light blogging alert! Comment moderation will be intermittently enabled. And for politics, please scroll down) 

Dear Blogosphere Friends, 

2020 – the Year of the COVID-19 Pandemic. I never thought I’d see the day that Americans were running around in masks! Some are even masked while driving alone in their cars – pure hysteria, in my view. Taking precautions is one thing, hysteria another. One of our precautions has been to postpone our planned moved to Indiana. Both Mr. AOW and I are quite high-risk for this virus. So, here we still sit in Northern Virginia and paying these outrageous real-estate taxes. Thanks, China. **heavy sarcasm** 

 This has been a sorrowful year for us. Our dear friend Patricia (aka blogger “The Merry Widow”), who helped us so much when I had kidney and other health troubles in 2016-2017 and who was also helping us with The Big Clean Out for our anticipated move to Indiana, died suddenly in Florida on March 29. What a terrible loss! Each of us an only child, Patricia and I considered ourselves sisters. She was planning to move with us to Indiana, too. We miss Patricia so much and on so many levels. 

This year, Mr. AOW and I have been having some health troubles – not a surprise for our age group (71 and 68, respectively). As of this writing, he is in Stage 4 Kidney Failure, and the doctors believe that the cause is long-standing diabetes and hypertension. My kidneys have been “acting up,” too; the treatment plan, if any, has not yet been determined. We’re doing our best to slog on. What other choice is do we have? Not much! 

Our other big personal news of 2020 is that we got a dog on September 3! Callie is an unruly three-year-old hound and Lab (and whatever else) mutt with poor training on nearly every imaginable scale – and nearly-total deafness, which her owner didn’t recognize before this mutt came to live with us. Her bloodlines and issues aside, Callie is adorable and has brought a lot of joy into our shut-in lives! I’m sure that our kitties Amber and Minxy don’t feel the same, though; they have had to cede to this canine brat quite a bit of in-house territory. 

The happiest time for us in 2020, annus horribilis, Governor Northam’s COVID measures permitting, will be another visit from our dear friend and this blog's webmaster Warren. He plans to spend the holidays with us. A wonderful time it will be – even if doing the tourist thing is well nigh impossible with regard to the usual Washington attractions: the Smithsonian and other D.C. and Virginia tourist sites are either closed or have impossibly limited hours during this pandermic. Nevertheless, the Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, is still, as of this writing, offering their usual dazzling displays; Warren and I hope to take in that beautiful sight. CHECK OUT THESE PHOTOS!  GLORIOUS! During the rest of Warren’s visit, all of us will be enjoying each other’s company. A wonderful gift in and of itself, especially during this time of lockdowns and isolated existence! 

Celebrating this Blessed Season and Merry Christmas to all who stop by here, 

Always On Watch 

Please enjoy my favorite choral Christmas song (composed by Richard Wayne Dirksen, 1921-2003, organist and choirmaster at Washington National Cathedral, and an important force in choral music here in the Washington, D.C. area):

The words for the above:
Welcome all wonders in one sight! 
Eternity shut in a span. 
Summer in winter, day in night, heaven in earth, and God in man, 
That He, the old Eternal Word, should be a Child and weep. 
Each of us his lamb will bring, each his pair of silver doves, 
Till burnt at last in fire of thy fair eyes, ourselves become our own best sacrifice. 
Welcome all wonders in one sight!


  1. Not much good about getting old AOW. I hope you have a great Christmas there and it sounds like it is shaping up. Best to you and yours.

  2. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and that Warren makes it down. The Mrs. and I will be slogging it out over the holidays up here in Maryland, keeping to ourselves and avoiding the Covid as best we can, as the Mrs. is highly vulnerable. Can't wait for 2020 to leave and return to some level of normality in '21. G_d Bless!

    1. Amen! The meds she's on have been a G_dsend and miracle of modern science. She's much better today than this time last year and shortly after her diagnosis. And knock on wood, she'll stay this way for a few more years. :)

  3. I'm here. I arrived yesterday (WITH FOOD.) Smoked ribs and sides, potato salad and broccoli raisin salad plus some brandy to go with the eggnog. Fixed a big breakfast this morning. Looking forward to the "Walk of Lights" and spending my time with the people I love.

    God bless you and yours, FJ my old friend. And Merry Christmas and a better New Year than this last to all my friends and patrons of the blog!
    If you aren't included in the above, SET ON IT AND SPIN!

    1. Glad to hear that you're all there together, Warren! Sounds like you'll be making sure that no one starves after your arrival having brought an ample supply of the ultimate comfort foods. I know it's not as easy as going to the corner grocery anymore for many of us, so I'm sure your efforts were well received!

      Hope everyone has lots of good cheer and holiday fun. Merry Christmas to all! :)

    2. This morning, we had such a great big breakfast: eggs, biscuits, sausage gravy, and bacon! All prepared by Chef Warren! I didn't need to eat any lunch and had a very abbreviated dinner.

      Now, Warren is enjoying a brandy sour and I an eggnog "with."

      As if the above is not enough, Warren is working with our wayward Callie, who is in dire need of some specialized training. She has been bullying Mr. AOW out of his food!

    3. Sounds like Warren has taken over and is providing some much needed caregiver relief! I know that Breakfast has always been my favorite meal of the day, and nothing hits the spot like egg and MEATS!

      It also sounds like Callie's finally got an "alpha" master to keep her in line and teach her the ropes/ household routines. Dogs need discipline as much as young children do.

      Enjoy your Happy Hour!

    4. I love eggnog. It's not as much of a thing over here, but I've been enjoying it and inflicting it on my guests for about 5 years now. Been making it with rum, should I try it with brandy this year?

    5. Perhaps both? On the ship we used to fill a clean bucket with eggnog, rum, brandy, and vodka.... and then empty the bucket by the cup. :)

    6. Joe,
      Sounds like Warren has taken over and is providing some much needed caregiver relief!

      Oh, yes.

      But more than that.

      He brings joy and camaraderie into this household.

    7. Jez,
      Eggnog with rum is a fine taste! Bourbon is good, too.

      But I prefer eggnog with a fine sipping brandy. Smooth! Give it a try!

      Merry Christmas!

  4. AOW, Mr AOW and Warren too... enjoy the Christmas holidays. Eat well, enjoy the time together and have a wonderful time.

    We may differ politically, but differences do not bad people make.

    Warren... baby back? Sauced or dry?

  5. Merry Christmas, everyone, and I pray 2021 is a better year for all of us!

  6. Well, in case I don't have the opportunity later, Merry Christmas to the this establishment our hostess, her husband and friends.
    And Father, please bless Warren mightily for his being a blessing.

  7. @ Dave,
    The Ribs are slabs that have been smoked to perfection, tender juicy and falling of the bone. Prepared with a mild dry rub and they come with a bottle of in house sauce which is slightly sweet but tangy. They come from a little bar/restaurant -family owned- that does more business as a restaurant than a bar. It's located across the street from the baseball field that was used to make the movie "A League of Their Own" and is very popular with the Minor League teams that play there during the season. The proprietor is very proud of his pork and mutton BBQ and so is his staff, rightly so. I left them with a generous tip, Christmas Greetings and smiles on their faces.

    No Dave, I don't think you're a bad person.
    May God bless you and yours during this season and always.

    Now I'm hungry. ;^)

    1. On the hickory, for me that's a strong smoke. I tend towards pecan and apple. They sound marvelous. In France I guess they'd say Bon Appetit. In Spanish places, provecho. I'm not sure we have a saying like that in English... except maybe "Let's eat!"

    2. Pecan and apple are good but I love the smell and taste of hickory smoke. I even wrap my roasted turkey, after it's stuffed, in hickory smoked bacon. It reminds me of younger days and my Grandmothers cooking.
      Those were Happy Days!
      As my Cajun buddy, Patric Trish, used to say, "That's some good eatin!".

  8. Oh! I almost forgot.
    The Ribs are hickory smoked and the name of the place is "The Hickory Pit Stop".

  9. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas as best we can. To share time with other humans... now that would be a real treat. I am sure good food will be on the way here for Christmas. We are promised a bountiful dinner delivered and I will be very grateful.

  10. I would like to wish all my American brothers and sisters a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS. Stay safe and stay Covid-free! Here's hoping that 2021 will bring back some normality to our lives. In the meantime, celebrate! Enjoy!

    1. Mark,
      Thank you. And Merry Christmas to you, my friend.

      We are cut off from my favorite cousin for Christmas: her husband has COVID symptoms and has tested positive. Hopefully, he's strong enough to fight off this terrible virus.

  11. Always, I hope that Christmas for you and yours is, and has been so far, a very pleasant one. The circumstances this year are extraordinary. As a result, we all have to take extraordinary precautions to protect both ourselves and our loved ones.

    It saddens me to learn that you are cut off from your favourite cousin because of Covid-19. It is to be hoped that he will be strong enough to survive and fight off the virus.

    Let us all wish for more salubrious times in 2021.


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