Whatever else it might have been, 2022 was a better year for me than the the one that preceded it. It was a year marred by worldwide tragedies major and minor, struggles on a personal level for myself and of many people close to me, all of which played out against the backdrop of the ever present invisible menace of a pandemic gone endemic. A pandemic that was and remains deeply traumatic, and whose trauma continues to be made manifest across the population in ways both predictable and not.
But while life was not back to its pre-pandemic normal, the reality is that – barring a universal vaccine which is not on the near term horizon – it never will be. What we’re left with instead is a world of constant risk calculations, a world in which, as one doctor put it, before the cautious among us go to an event we have to decide whether it’s worth the possibility of getting COVID to attend.
In several cases this year, for myself and my family, and for the first time in years, that risk was accepted. Which lead to a number of fun adventures, both here in state and out of it, that we’d have ruled out in years past. Whether that’s the appropriate calculation or not is, of course, a matter of perspective. But it’s what we did, and it was a good year. The best year out of the last few.
So as always, these are the moments – significant at times but mostly not – that characterized my year personally. Before we get to the pictures, however, a quick check-in on travel.
How much I traveled in 2022 depends on what it’s compared against. Relative to my pre-pandemic travel heydey, I traveled virtually not at all. But relative to the last two years, I was a globe trotter. Between my first visits to Colorado and San Francisco in three years (yay!), and my first visit to Las Vegas in the same amount of time (sad face emoji), I had to figure out how flying works again. It’d been so long that I’d forgotten the sequence in which I need to put on the messenger bag and Patagonia backpack I travel with typically, and thus got completely tangled up in them while taking them off to clear security my first flight out.
And not only did I get on a plane, I left the state multiple times again for the first time in years.
I have mixed feelings about this, to be honest. I actively don’t want to resume my prior heavy travel schedule and have no intention of doing so. But it was genuinely delightful to see so many people in person this year for the first time in ages, and the realization that I will not be doing so as often is a bit sad. But as the man says, compromise is about being “halfway happy.”
With that, on to the pictures.
As is our custom, we spent the New Year’s holiday drinking fine beers with friends.
Which then necessitated us following up with drive by COVID tests before school resumed.
Got some good snow and was first out on the trails that morning.
Pretty nice little sunset.
Almost got blown off the bridge. Not for the first time.
Cold enough to mark the opening of the skating pond on the vernal pool next to our house.
Went out for a walk in a blizzard.
Came back to practice my traditional nor’easter tradition of reading Night Shift by the fire with hot cocoa that may or may not have had bourbon in it.
Also came back – in what is typically referred to as foreshadowing – to some minor water intrusion in our previously dry basement.
Two weeks later and it was “warm” enough that we went down to the beach.
A day later, it was cold enough that everything iced back up, I fell (again) while out walking and broke at least one rib.
As injuries go, it could have been a lot worse, but I do not recommend it.
The good news with broken ribs is that other side of my body worked just fine, and while it took a lot longer not being able to use my left arm at all, I got the firewood loaded with basically no problem. If you’re going to break a rib, I do recommend breaking it on your off hand side.
Went ice fishing with friends and got to see a bald eagle grabbing fish off the ice not fifty feet away. Did not get a usable picture of it, however.
She called it a “beauty day,” but I believe the UN considers having things repeatedly jammed under your fingernails torture.
More foreshadowing: minor water intrusion in the basement shop. It was not a lot of water, but it was a very “ominous portents” kind of day.
Woke up the next day to full basement flooding. I spent something like two hours hauling it out manually, another three rigging up our brewing pump to pump the water out, but whatever I pumped out flowed right back in. Tried to call our insurance company and couldn’t get through. My only guess was that it was blocked gutters, and I made an emergency visit to rent a tall ladder from Home Depot, which I got home in sleeting rain only to discover that – my measurements notwithstanding – it was a good five feet short of being tall enough.
Eventually I got through to the insurance company who told me to have Servpro come out and pump it out. Servpro started with one truck. Then another arrived. Then a third, and a fourth.
When we went to bed that night, they had had no more luck clearing the basement than I did with my shop-vac.
As it turned out, the basement couldn’t be cleared, because the end of the french drain system that surrounds our house had frozen. Which mean that as water drained down along the sides of the house and collected in the drain system, it could not exit the system and instead flowed into our house.
Once we figured that out, an excavator punched a bunch of holes in the pipe, there was a geyser of water and Servpro subsequently cleared the house in a half hour.
That was the good part. The bad part was that our insurance company initially told us we weren’t covered at all, and it wasn’t until our broker got involved that they allowed that there might be some coverage. Which there ultimately was, but not nearly enough to cover the damage and it took months for the carpet to be replaced and patching the sheetrock they extracted is still pending, though hopefully soon.
The lesson here is: if you have french drains, check them to make sure they will not freeze. Just trust me on this.
In a fun bonus, it turned out that the first leak was a totally different problem that had to be discovered later: a partially blocked valve in our septic system that overflowed when high volumes of water were passed through it, as in a shower. Not good times, bad times.
After a long delay thanks to COVID, we finally had a service to celebrate my Dad’s memory. It was as crushing as it was needed.
The debut of a brand new soft top for the Jeep.
Red Sox home opener with my little fan.
Windstorm did a number on the island.
Sacrificed the beard as part of a birthday present for Kate. This has elicited a wide variety of commentary, the most notable of which was “DUDE! YOUR FACE!” She was appreciative, at least.
For better or for worse, we’re all in on heat pumps now. Furnace and tank were removed.
First doors off day with the Jeep.
First time on a plane in 894 days. As mentioned above, it was a bit of a rough reentry.
First time seeing my BFF in three years, was immediately Tom Sawyered into demoing a deck.
More seriously, I never again want to go a year let alone three without hanging out again.
The wait was excruciating, but finally Stranger Things Season 4 dropped. And what a season it was.
Awful day. What I thought was a minor dental issue for my cat turned out to be a tumor, and I had to say goodbye to my feline companion and friend of almost twenty years. You were loved, Pook.
Went to my first reunion in years, and got to see the BFF for the second time in a month, my college buddies and a host of other folks over a couple of days in an absolutely bonkers setting.
Lucky enough to be up the coast a bit for a week with friends at one of the best beaches in Maine.
First day of summer.
Fireworks with friends.
The girls were featured players in the local parade.
Pretty nice little sunrise.
Followed by a visit to an incredibly cool private island in Casco Bay, one that features WWI and WWII military bunkers including a climbable submarine tower.
Went to see The National for our first concert in who knows how long.
Excellent visit with Crazy Uncle Corey in Vermont.
Went camping with friends. That absurd amount of gear is what we brought for a single weekend.
Someone made her theater camp debut as a “flying squirrel,” in a costume that she made herself.
Family outing with my mom, brother and his kids to Splashtown Funtown. Other than the Tilt-a-Whirl, which was a terrible mistake, a good time was had by all.
Took the best kid in the world to one of my favorite spots in the world, completing my annual pilgrimage in the process.
Said best kid in the world enters the first grade.
Our down the street neighbors, whose two little girls have the most adorable tiny beekeeping suits, invited us over for their honey harvest.
The next day it was time for our annual cider pressing.
For the first time since 2019, we were able to host our conference, The Monktoberfest. This one was special because my Mom was a guest of honor to commemorate the 10th year, and because my BFF gave a talk about his own event, the Flyathlon, which has raised a half a million dollars for local conservation efforts. It was a lot of blood, sweat and tears holding an event in the COVID era, but it was legitimately incredible to see everyone.
Hard top: reactivated. Sadly.
In 2021, I set a goal to try and walk 40 miles a week for the year. It seemed ambitious, but as it turned out I enjoy walking so much I hit my goal two months early. I got up early to get the walk in, and shotgunned a beer to celebrate the mark. If you’d told me a few years ago that any of this would have happened, I would have said you’re crazy. But it did.
No one takes Halloween more seriously than the island. No one.
RedMonk had a significant birthday, which we thought we could sneak past people, but instead which our coworkers conspired against us to generate reactions which were literally overwhelming.
My daughter’s stuffie Tiana Sprinkles visited San Francisco for the first time and I visited it for the first time in three years and it was so, so good to catch up with work friends I haven’t seen in far too long, and even more to the point one of my best college friends.
Celebrated the kiddo’s bday at the climbing gym, an inspired idea of Kate’s, clearly, not mine.
As happy as I was to be back in San Francisco, that’s how sad I was to be back in Las Vegas. The cabana we rented the first day eased the blow, however.
As I’ve been stretching out the distances I’ve been walking this year, it occurred to me that I might be able to complete a marathon distance walking. After I saw that the training plans maxed out at 38 miles a week – or two less than I’ve tried to average – I decided to try it. Thanks to logistical support from Kate ranging from assuming drop off and pickup duties at school to drive by checkins with me, guidance from my BFF on how to best manage plantar fasciitis and distance events, and advice from coworkers on local footwear options I was able to complete a marathon distance walking.
It’s not running, obviously, but it was still a fun undertaking, and if nothing else I have to be the only person ever to complete that distance on this two square mile island.
Quiet Christmas at home. Note how my wrapping skills have dramatically improved.
Went on a post-Christmas ski vacation with our family, Kate’s family and my Mom. A ski vacation that included a lazy river that sold Heady Toppers.
As is our custom, celebrated the New Year with our friends and fine beers.