The year 2020 can be divided into two parts: pre-Covid and Covid. There’s no “post-Covid” yet. We are in the middle of this pandemic and it’s getting worse, not better.
At the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 I had a crazy travel schedule:
- November 2019 – Egypt, to see the pyramids
- December 2019 – Mexico, return to Chichen Itza
- January 2020 – Austin, Texas for a Mayan conference
- February 2020 – North India, to see the Taj Mahal
When I got back from India, I told Shelby it was too much. I was tired. Now? I’m so glad I did all of it. While I was in India (early February), we kept hearing rumors about a virus in China. I felt like I was surfing before a giant tsunami that was about to crash, running in front of it, and hearing the rumbling behind me. I arrived home safely before it hit, but just barely. I feel like the world will never be the same. The world I knew, that we all knew is gone. What replaces it is still unknown.
In the spring Shelby and I began our self-quarantine. We learned Zoom. We took classes online about creating videos. Shelby sold her website Diabetic Foodie and has begun a new venture called Put on Your Apron (new website coming soon). The vision is to travel to interesting foodie destinations and host fun cooking experiences. Imagine going to, say, the Outer Banks. You arrive Friday night and attend a cocktail party with a local chef. On Saturday morning, you have a food-related shopping trip (maybe to the docks where you learn about the local fish). Saturday afternoon you and a partner cook one dish for a fabulous healthy meal. Then everyone sits down together to share the meal and great conversation. On Sunday morning before you head home, you stop for brunch at the restaurant of the chef you met Friday night. That’s the dream. Thanks to Covid, for now anyway, the dream has morphed into a monthly “Cook & Chat” via Zoom.
The new business fits Shelby’s character very well. She’s still very active in diabetes advocacy and frequently gets emails that start off with “I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. What should I do?” I heard her tell someone that the first thing you have to realize is that “You are in charge of your health care,” “You are the captain of your health care team.” It’s a powerful emboldening first step.
What has been so interesting to observe (I’m her behind-the-scenes camera person and general factotum) is the positive change she has made in some people’s lives. She has empowered people to start cooking who thought they couldn’t. She has helped people overcome their fear of the new electric pressure cooker that they got months ago and were scared to take out of the box. She is, in short, transforming people’s lives for the better. Me? I eat what she cooks.
We had planned to go to Maine in the spring but decided it wasn’t a great idea. (So did everyone else who had booked the house for the 2020 season.) Our yoga instructor and his professional photographer wife ventured up there in June. She took spectacular new photos of the house. “How did you do that?” I asked, “How did you get the inside of the house so bright and have the ocean outside bright too?” Whenever I have tried to do such a photo either the inside of the house is too dark or the outside too bright. “Photoshop,” she said.
We finally headed to Maine ourselves in August since we rarely have the opportunity to spend an extended period of time there when the weather is perfect. Our handyman extraordinaire friend dean traveled with us to paint the house, which also turned into fix the septic system, and lots of other little projects. We ended up staying for about seven weeks!
While we were there, I answered a late night phone call. First I heard a baby’s cry, then I heard my daughter say “You’re a grandfather.” Yup, we became grandparents!
Emmett Leo McCartney was born September 29th 2020 to my daughter Katie and her husband Jon. Carrying out a Kinnaird tradition, he was one of the biggest babies the place had ever seen. Specifically, his head was the largest they had ever measured, surpassing the old record by a whopping 10 centimeters. Mom, baby, and dad are all doing well in Massachusetts. We got to stop by and see the little fellow, from a distance, on our way back from Maine.
My son, Alex, came back east from his haunts in Seattle, Washington where he’s been working at a van retrofitting shop most of the time, and teaching a little bit at iFly, the indoor wind tunnel, when they are open.
His grandfather, my ex’s dad, passed away. Alex came back to pay his respects. His grandfather was a good man. He gave up his career in physics research to go into management for IBM. He worked to get IBM scientists Nobel prizes, Medals of Science, and similar awards. As he told me, “That way IBM won’t fire these people.” Many of them were, well, different.
Alex is beginning his training to become an outdoor guide. It’s a tough, demanding sort of thing to do, but he loves it.
We hope to go visit Emmett and his mom and dad in the spring. Maybe, actually hold him. We’ll see. For now we’re enjoying our daily Tinybeans photos and frequent video calls.
This Covid thing has completely changed our lives. Whenever we think maybe we’ll go somewhere, we see another chart showing the rate of infection and death. Then we decide we’re perfectly fine staying in.
On March 1st Shelby’s best friend of 45 years, Wendy, was in the hospital struggling to breathe. She passed away a week later. We wonder now whether she had Covid. It was before anyone was really aware. On what would have been Wendy’s birthday, December 12th, Shelby spent time with Wendy’s niece and another long-time friend. They sat in a park sharing memories, wearing masks and staying socially distant. No hugs. It’s tough. Everything has changed.
Here’s hoping for better times.