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2021 in Review, COVID Pandemic Continues

The COVID Pandemic continues to rule. Omicron dethrones delta and is now the reigning monarch.

Chaco Culture Historic National Park

While our country continues to grapple with the pandemic, I volunteered with Project Hope, going to the Northern Navajo Medical Center in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico in February. The terrain is absolutely stark and beautiful in its own way, much of it is devoid of vegetation but its otherworldly rocky formations are achingly soul searchingly breathtaking. It seems to invite one to sit quietly and meditatively. The Navajo people were very friendly, patient, and were enthusiastic about the COVID vaccine. I volunteered in the walk-in clinic, the car clinic for COVID testing, and vaccination clinics set up in different schools and chapter houses.

In my time off I took the Durango Silverton train to the Cascade, visited Bisti De-Na-Zin, Mesa Verde, passed Monument Valley, closed because of the pandemic, and Chaco Culture Historic National Park. Chaco was especially beautiful in the silence of the gentle snowfall and I was blessed to be the only one in the whole park.

Durango Silverton train
Bisti De-Na-Zin
Mesa Verde

Monument Valley

The biggest news for 2021 was the birth of my first grand-twins. Tim and his wife Ju-Lin had Lucas and Samuel on June 1 and both sets of grandparents spent weeks with them. It is true that having grandchildren instills vitality and renewed energy in the lives of the grandparents. The digital world allows us to follow their growth and interact with them even as we are hundreds of miles away

Tim and Ju-Lin with Sam and Lucas

The Twins

Scott and Sam

Ju-Lin's parents at the twins' one-month birthday

On the longest day of the year with 24 hours of daylight in Fairbanks, Alaska, I ran a virtual midnight sun 10K run.

After almost two months with the twins, Scott and I took the Alaskan train to Denali National Park and we stayed a few days in the Kantishna, End of the Road Lodge deep in the park. I did a 6-mile hike on a day when Denali was clearly visible. On my third time visiting Denali National Park, I finally saw it in all its glory. I could not resist taking a dip in Wonder Lake.

Denali in all its Glory
Dipping in Wonder Lake

We traveled further on the Alaska Rail to Anchorage and flew to Kodiak Island to have a close encounter with the brown bears.

Our usual annual summer pilgrimage to Wellfleet, Capecod, missing Tim, Ju-Lin, the twins, Lucas and Sam, Cara, and James.

Sunrise at Wellfleet, Cape Cod

Volunteering outside the country has been a challenge with COVID restrictions. Hurricane Ida arrived in Louisiana and Project Hope sent me there and I was able to volunteer in New Orleans, Houma, and Galiano. I was thankful for such volunteering opportunities.

In October, I went to Zion National Park to hike the Narrows on the day when it rained but I was able to wade my way to Wall Street, glad I did not encounter flash flooding.

Hiking the Narrows at Zion

The next day dawned bright and sunny making my hike to Angels Landing an absolutely breathtaking one.

Angel Landings at Zion

Then it was time for my camping jaunt in the 7-day Southwest National Parks Camping Tour. On this tour, we visited Zion, Bryce, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, the Big Bend, and the Grand Canyon, it snowed one night in Bryce. Watching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon was memorable.

The Mesa Arch in Canyonlands

Camping near Monument Valley
The Big Arch in Arches

The Antelope CAnyon

The Big Bend in the Colorado River

Sunrise in the Grand Canyon

Scott is semi-retired and is writing a scholarly book. I am still working very part-time. Tim and Ju-Lin are busy working full-time at least for the moment after their 6 months of maternity and paternity leaves, juggling with raising the twins.

Cara emerged from her one-year meditation retreat, she was closer to nature but only she alone knows how that affected her. James is still busy working for AMI, traveling frequently. They are considering settling in Vermont.

Charles and Mel were engaged over the New Year and just have a civil marriage at the Arnold Arboretum. The real celebration may be next September unless COVID interferes again. They bought a house in Somerville, we are delighted they are close by.

Christmas 2021

I write more than I paint. My oil painting of Melting into the Milky Way was in the exhibit How Art Heals: Transforming Ourselves and Our World at the Belmont Art Gallery.

In May I signed a contract for my third book, The Girl Who Taught Herself to Fly with Vine Leaves Press about my life before coming to the United States for college will be out in October 2022. A 50-word story, The Midnight Sun was published as part of an anthology by Vine Leaves Press. A short story Shoes was published in Balloons Lit Journal in October.

Finally, our cat Kuchi is seven and a half years old and sleeps a lot more than she used to be but is still the darling of the house.

As we look forward to 2022, we should remember those who are less fortunate than us. The refugees are still in limbo and hope to see the end of it as we all hope to see the end of the pandemic.

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