It’s funny now, but there was a time when we all thought 2021 would kick off the new roaring twenties. Instead, we left it much as we did 2020 – meek, frightened and exhausted. The initial shocking efficacy of the vaccines and the incredible, unprecedented speed of their development led many to hope in the spring that the light at the end of the tunnel was finally in view.
As it turned out, that light was the train called Delta which plowed through all of our tentative, carefully laid plans to get back to a world that looked, well – maybe not normal but normal-adjacent – like a runaway freight car. And just when it looked like the Delta train was done rolling through the station and we could once again move forward, along came another bigger, faster one called Omicron that the epidemiological math says is worse than the measles and had countries dusting off their discarded lockdown policies and kids back in masks at schools.
But for all that 2021 was underwhelming at its best and tragic, awful and spitefully brutal at its worst, I remain grateful because it got me to 2022. It also, with one crushing exception, got my family and friends here. Given the state of the world the last year, and the decade that was March 2020 before that, that’s about all I can ask. For all that the world these days might look grim and dark around me, being here inarguably beats the alternative.
Last year, I debated whether or not to do this sort of year in pictures post. This year I didn’t think about it much, because if I could do it last year, I could do it this year – and I felt like I should.
So as always, these are the moments – significant at times but mostly not – that characterized my year personally. Blessedly, with but a few exceptions, there are no politics in here because I don’t have pictures of it. Before we get to the pictures, however, a quick check-in on travel.
The tl;dr version of the travel section is that there was none. Or very little. I had desperately hoped that 2020 was the last year I’d go without seeing my best friend who lives in Colorado. It was not. Here’s hoping 2022’s the charm in that regard.
For the second consecutive year, we didn’t leave the state, though we were fortunate to see some friends who left their state to come visit ours. We played it safe and cautious for another year because Eleanor was ineligible for vaccination for the bulk of it and thus unprotected. We played it safe to the extent that I got offered Red Sox playoff tickets – twice – and turned both of the very kind offers down.
These would have been my seats for the second game.
The Red Sox – in the form of the maligned-at-the-time deadline pickup Kyle Schwarber – would hit a grand slam in the second en route to a 12-3 win. I promise that I will recover from missing this game.
Anyway, there was one positive development travel-wise. While I did not leave the Great State of Maine, that dot at the top of the map up above, the one north of Farmington and Skowhegan marks the return of a tradition that had taken a hiatus due in part to COVID and in part to our move. But we’ll get to that.
With that, on to the pictures.
Kicked off the New Year with a lazy day in our PJs.
Took advantage of the holiday break to continue getting the shop set up, this time with a wall-mount for my drill/driver set.
Will never forget this day, sadly.
Literally counting the days until the vaccines’ arrival.
Cranked out an exceedingly poorly crafted outfeed table for the shop.
My reboot began.
Joe Biden sworn in. There was only one suitable beer to celebrate with.
Received the worst two telephone calls of my life. The first was my Mom, letting me know that my Dad was en route to the hospital and that it didn’t look good. The second, an hour later, confirmed that he had died on the way and that they had not been able to resuscitate him.
I fell apart. Did my best to pull myself back together. That night, I watched one of his favorite movies, a movie he had watched with my brother and I over and over when we were kids.
I miss him every day, but carry what he taught me and am doing my best to pass it on.
With my Dad gone, my parent’s house was too much for my Mom to manage on her own, so my brother and I began the process of helping prep her house for sale. I did what was needed on the ground, he took care of the harder, finance related questions.
Speaking of my brother, bless him, he sold my Dad’s truck remotely. Because of parts shortages the vehicle market was so bonkers it sold for better than twice what I’d hoped for.
Started down the rabbit hole of DSLR-as-webcam, which as an aside, you should never do.
Per usual, got some help loading the woodshed.
My birthday present made its debut a couple of days early.
Celebrated my birthday with Hearts. As is right and proper.
RedMonk shut down for the morning to watch one of the six year old’s favorite people absolutely smoke her dissertation defense.
We watched the first spring training game together, per tradition.
It took her less than five minutes to learn to skate better than I can.
After your kid’s been out of school for hundreds of days, you have to get creative.
Got an absolutely incredible, wildly over-the-top care package from an old friend I hadn’t talked to in far too long to cheer us up after my Dad’s death. One of my gifts – a print of my Dad and I – left me in tears. All of Eleanor’s, however, were a huge hit, not least of which the pictured squid.
In case that friend is reading this right now, as I know she checks in from time to time: thank you. I will literally never be able to communicate how touched we all were. Are.
First roof off day of the year.
Having never tried to repair audio gear before, I was mildly shocked to have successfully swapped out a broken woofer on my twenty-two year old HSU Research subwoofer. This seemed like an excellent improvement to the home theater setup until I cranked it up and discovered that it could be felt two floors up and at the opposite end of the house which made people not watching what I was watching rather unhappy.
Opening Day. At last.
Dose 1 for me. If social distancing wasn’t the rule, I would have been running around high-fiving random strangers. Thank you science.
Continued to help my Mom get ready to move.
For a brief moment in time, I felt invincible.
With our oil burning furnace nearing the end of its lifespan, and afraid that if it went we’d be out of luck due to supply chain issues, we decided to bite the bullet and preemptively replace it with heat pumps.
So far, so good.
Went through box after box of things of mine that had been stored in my parents’ basement. All of my childhood and high school memorabilia. Some of my early work documentation. Remote control cars. Several dead mice.
Some real gems emerged.
Emboldened by the vaccines, I did my first meetup with the Maine tech community since the pandemic had broken out.
Tough to beat a lake house with friends.
First day of summer means only one thing.
This table – the top of it, anyway – has been in our family dating back to colonial times. Now it lives with us for the next generation of O’Grady’s.
It was Hadlock Field rather than Fenway, but this is the first time I’d been at a ballpark of any size in, what, years? My longest drought probably since I was in college.
Every July 3rd, I pay my respects, as my parents taught me.
4th. Fireworks. Friends. No masks. Life was good.
The actual move was a slow moving disaster because her buyers’ shitty realtor who almost blew everything up at the last minute due incomplete financing on their part, but my Mom managed to sell and get into her smaller, more manageable house thanks in large part to her realtor, who is incredible.
Took a ride up to Boothbay to see the trolls.
For the first time in a decade or more I didn’t make it up to my happy place last year, but I made sure to remedy this last summer. The water level was a little lower, the temperature a little warmer, but otherwise all was as I remembered it.
This was supposed to arrive a lot earlier to provide us with some distractions while she was out of school, but better late than never.
After 543 days of being out of daycare / pre-K, we had ourselves a kindergartner. It’s been a fantastic development for everyone involved.
Between the climate change-driven increase in violent weather and the fact that we live on an island, one of our top priorities after moving in was a standby generator. Step 1 began on the 21st. The good news is that the guy we had come dig the trench called DigSafe first. The bad news is that the DigSafe guys missed the cable that provided our internet, which it turns out doesn’t like backhoes much.
It turns out it’s a little challenging to work from home with no internet.
There was no Monktoberfest, sadly, but seeing a bunch of Monktoberfest people – in person – was the next best thing.
It took a month and a hell of a lot of wrangling between three different vendors – just finding a propane company willing to service a generator only account was an ordeal – but the generator finally went live.
There is no small island on this planet that has more Halloween gear than this one, I guarantee it.
Dose 1. Hallelujah.
It was a lot closer than it needed to be, but the good guys pulled it out in the end.
First time I’ve seen these nephews in something like two years.
Happy bday – here’s your second shot.
This indoor birthday party was brought to you by at home rapid tests.
Unrelated, the decision to switch from the giant wooden pole to the foam bat was a good one. The piñata was a tank.
Sections of the grout were coming up, so I regrouted them. The new grout held for approximately one week.
Wasn’t much, but technically qualified as the first plowable snow of the season, which meant the debut of our battery powered snowblower (it did just fine).
Nothing fancy, but closed out the year in fine style with sushi, quality beverages, Hearts and friends – again, thanks to testing.