Happy Holidays 2020
Happy 2020 Holidays and/or Merry Christmas
It’s been 15+ years since I’ve successfully written, printed and mailed Christmas cards, so I’m finally giving up hope that I’ll ever get that done and moving to a digital-only holiday card. This year has been interesting, eh?
Some of you may know I worked as a creative director/consultant, traveling by airplane to run various corporate strategy workshops all over the US, and then working from home to deliver projects between trips. My last trip was March 4th-6th in Maryland, just as news of a global pandemic was emerging. I wasn’t too concerned though, as I had video script, storyboard and production work I could complete at home, booked through August. Then that work was moved away from me to an on-staff employee, since I’m just a contractor. D’oh!
So I was thrust into the uncertainty and chaos of pandemic unemployment along with everyone else. Utah also had an extra special start to the pandemic with a 5.7M earthquake. That’s the largest quake in my lifetime. Luckily my 1911 house survived with just a few new cracks.
Since March, I’ve been helping to keep some older family members safely out of grocery stores and restaurants and such, while trying hard to keep myself safe too. I take the CDC recommendations very seriously and have thankfully been healthy so far. I’m still volunteering for my sanctuary family during the pandemic, too. They’re still living in a church while awaiting asylum, since January 2018! I help coordinate the volunteer schedule to have on-call help 24/7/365 and ensure their safety and comfort.
In April, I started a victory garden to grow lettuces, tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, basil and parsley. I also started playing the Wingspan board game virtually with two friends, which has been a great social outlet. It’s an award-winning board game featuring birds of the world… just my kinda thing.
I created and shared drawing lessons for kids on YouTube and learned several trending TikTok dances.
In May, with no job prospects and an ongoing pandemic, I decided to just make the best of it and focus on my bird rescue work and wait out the pandemic.
I took in two tough cases, a 5yo duck whose head and eye were badly injured in a raccoon attack and a baby turkey with congenital and/or burn injuries to her eyes. 5 surgeries, $5,000 and 5 months later, the duck is finally healed and doing great.
The turkey is doing great but mostly blind, so I am now a designated seeing-eye dog for a turkey. I’m thinking of getting myself a vest that says “please don’t pet the guide dog er… lady, she’s working.”
In June I got very sick with stomach issues and enjoyed a nasopharyngeal Covid test, which thankfully came back negative. My best guess is that I had bad food poisoning from some curbside takeout. I took in two ducks from a family who needed to move because of the pandemic, and I just continued to wonder how long this would all last (spoiler alert: a long time).
In July, I harvested gobs of plums and made freezer jam like a freakin’ pioneer and started eating my home-grown zucchini. I had a nice surprise donation courtesy of Mountain America’s “Pay It Forward” program which kept the ducks fed for two months, and I made some long-delayed improvements to my bird aviary for the flock.
In August, I continued to to enjoy my victory garden, making lots of baked zucchini sticks, ratatouille, caprese salad and vegan fettuccini Alfredo.
My tabletop gaming friends and I added a second game to our weekly Zoom meet-ups, by the same game designer, Elizabeth Hargrave. It’s called Mariposas and it’s about migrating butterflies.
In September, I began looking for a job again. Many of them are remote-only right now, which opened up the whole country to my job search. So far I’ve applied for 52 jobs, had 3 interviews and 2 second interviews. I’ve been lucky to work continuously for so long that my last real job search was in the dot com bust of 2003. So it’s been 17 years since I last searched and let me tell you, a lot has changed. The most obvious difference is everyone interviewing me is now easily 10-years younger than I am. Whee! I’m hopeful that once the vaccine is rolled out widely, the kind of business I do will return and I’ll be able to get back to flying around and meeting people in person. We’ll see. For now, I’m fine.
In October, I made friends with all the praying mantis in my garden, replaced the wood and repainted the A-frame nests in my aviary and perfected my tofu fried chick’n nuggs recipe.
One October day, I happened to read my Grandma Young’s journal to see what she was doing during the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919. It was such a key moment in her life that it’s on the first page of her journal. She was in 2nd grade, World War I was happening and they all missed many months of school and wore masks for many months when they finally returned. They lost friends and family to the pandemic and it took kids an entire year to catch up in school once it was safe to return. Amazing how not much has changed in 100 years.
In November, I spent many days glued to news media following the election and its aftermath, doom-scrolling each and every update for days on end. I also continued my rescue work though I tried to keep them from ending up at my house, instead adopting them out to pre-screened homes and working with several other local rescuers from Ogden to Provo and beyond. I tried to get into two separate vaccine trials, but a recent blood donation and limited exposure to the virus screened me out of contention for both studies. I was hoping to use the trials to get the vaccine early, but it didn’t work out.
And here we are in December. We adopted out and welcomed in several other birds along the way, but these were the key highlights of 2020. Being a real-world introvert and an online extrovert, I think I fared better than most during these tough times. I can stay thoroughly entertained all by myself. With my computer, the Internet, my backyard birds and a weekly board game virtual social group, I have all I need to keep me happy and content. If and when we all return to some kind of new post-pandemic normalcy, I think I’ll still stay 6+ feet away from people, wash my hands a lot and even wear a mask. We’ll see.
I hope this virtual holiday letter finds you happy and healthy, or at least still here and still hanging in there. All the best for a BETTER 2021 for us all!
Love and quacks,
Tiff and the flock