If 2013 is anything like 2012 has been, we’d all better pull the lap bar down a little more snug and get ready for another crazy ride!
From man-made tragedies, such as the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsizing off of the Italian coast, to natural disasters, when Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Atlantic City, NJ, causing at least 100 deaths and an estimated $30 billion in damages – local and world wide events have commanded top headlines.
England hosted this year’s Summer Olympic Games for the third time in history; the only city to have done so on as many occasions. The US brought home a total of 104 medals, including 3 gold in gymnastics and 16 gold in swimming. England also made headlines in other areas this year, too, including Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee, marking the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the thrones of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, the world reacted with joy at the news of the pending birth of a new royal baby when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was hospitalized for a severe case of morning sickness.
Our hearts have broken, and our heads have bowed in prayer over many heartbreaking stories throughout the year, including the Nevada wildfire where more than 10,000 people were forced to evacuate when a fast-moving brush fire broke out near Reno, NV, leaving one person dead and at least 26 homes destroyed.
In March, tornadoes ripped through 17 states in the South and Midwest, causing at least 27 deaths and injuring hundreds.
In April, One Goh, a 43-year-old former student at Oikos University, a Christian school in Oakland, Calif., opened fire on the campus, killing seven people and wounding several others.
Twelve people were killed and 58 others were wounded in a Colorado theater shooting in July when a gunman opened fire in a crowded theater in a Denver suburb during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. James Holmes, 24, was arrested in a parking lot behind the theater and arraigned by Colorado prosecutors and charged with 142 counts, including first degree murder, attempted murder and possession of explosives.
On December 14th, in what was likely the most senseless and stunning tragedy, Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newton, CT, and killed 26 people. The victims included 20 children between the ages of six and seven.
However, even as heavy-hearted as some of these stories are, you can also find good in almost anything. Most recently, Newtown’s police offers, who had been working around the clock monitoring traffic, patrolling funerals and investigating the crime scene, were blessed by other Connecticut police officers from nearby communities who volunteered to work so that the mourning town’s officers could relax on the Christmas holiday and spend time with their own families and loved ones. Those who volunteered to work also offered to donate any money they made Tuesday to Newtown and Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.
Also, as tragic as the Sandy Hook Elementary School events were, they could have been even worse. Victoria Soto, one of the teachers at the school, hid her first graders in cabinets and closets after hearing the gunfire. When the shooter came to her classroom, she told him that her students were in the gym. Even though he gunned her down before moving on, she saved the lives of all of her students. I have no doubt that even as many parents’ hearts are breaking, many others are saying prayers of thanks.
Amidst all the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, “Secret Santa”, a wealthy philanthropist from Kansas City, MO, traveled to Staten Island, one of the hardest hit areas by the superstorm, to bless others by handing out $100 bills to random strangers. One by one, this anonymous businessman lifted holiday spirits and brought hope and tears of happiness to many who had lost so much. One lady, who didn’t even want to celebrate Christmas after her home was destroyed in the storm, encountered the mysterious Secret Santa in a thrift shop and was given $300. “It just changed everything,” she said.
We also look back on 2012 and pause to think of some of the people who have slipped from this world to another … Etta James (1-25-12), Whitney Houston (2-11-12), Davy Jones (2-29-12), Dick Clark (4-18-12), Donna Summer (5-17-12), Andy Griffith (7-3-12), Marvin Hamlisch (8-6-12), Larry Hagman (11-25-12), Dave Brubeck (12-5-12), and Jack Klugman (12-24-12), just to remember a few. Many of my friends and family have also said goodbye to loved ones, closing chapters in books that will never make the headlines of any local or national news stories, but that doesn’t mean they will be missed any less.
2012 found Calvin and I with our share of trials and blessings, too … luckily, there were more of the latter.
We celebrated our 8-year anniversary in November. Below is a picture that was taken at the chapel on our wedding day in 2004 . . .
. . . and I am thankful to say that, after being diagnosed with throat cancer two weeks after we returned from our honeymoon, he has remained cancer-free since completing his radiation treatments. That’s not to say he doesn’t still have obstacles and frustrations from the after-effects of the radiation, but I’m so very thankful that he’s here to ring in 2013 with me!
This past year also found us working together in the kitchen to nourish our bodies, as well as our hearts. While neither of us can claim the title of “chef”, we certainly haven’t gone hungry, either.
Calvin loves Key Lime Pie, so I modified a recipe earlier this year and came up with a Key Lime “Pie” Cupcake.
Another thing we experimented with was a Chicken Pot Pie recipe … on a whim we decided to replace the carrots with sweet potatoes. Winner!!
Calvin also modified his homemade whole wheat bread recipe. While it was already a good, crusty, artisan-style recipe, he changed up a few things and has now come up with a not-quite-as-crusty, and much more moist bread recipe. Great for dipping in a mix of olive oil, Italian Seasonings, basil and minced garlic.
I cannot overlook mentioning the great clients we’ve had at the photography studio this year! High School and College Seniors … BELOVED sessions … moms-to-be … newborns … pets … First Year Celebrations … weddings … so much fun! But I also enjoyed doing some shooting “just for me”.
These crocus were among some of the first spring blooms that peeked up through the soil …
I was also surprised at how beautiful a simple mustard bloom can be …
I found these gorgeous beauties in the Albemarle Downtown area late spring while on a photo walk with some fellow local photographers …
While I was simply out walking around our yard, testing some of our lenses, photographing some of the scattered wildflowers, I came across a couple of Queen Anne’s Lace flowers that appeared to be wrapped in an embrace in a world all their own. Yes, it is indeed some of those unexpected glimpses that hold those “Wow!” moments for me …
And I’m always fascinated by the butterflies as they flutter around, collecting nectar and dancing on the breeze. The images I have are too numerous to include them all here, but these are a couple of my favorites from this year …
And how could I not include a Monarch …
So, now we look forward to 2013 … with a lot of uncertainty and even more hope.
As thousands across the nation ring in the New Year in Time’s Square and other various parties and events, Calvin and I will be celebrating quietly, but joyfully – likely with a toast at midnight (if we can stay up that late). The New Year will, without a doubt, bring a lot of changes for both of us … I will be starting classes the second week in January (yes, I’m actually going back to school!), and we’ll be trying to balance our personal lives with our work/school responsibilities, along with the photography studio. I am so thankful to be blessed to have Calvin by my side as we walk together into the New Year.
Several changes will be coming for the photography studio, too. We’ve already started re-working the website and the blog, and we’ll be doing a complete re-do of the front window at the studio as well as updating our pricing and adding even more items to an already-great product line. Below are some images showing the gallery wraps we’ll be offering, along with the Certificate of Authenticity and Care Card for each fine art wall portrait purchased.
As I close this post and get ready to celebrate the evening – reflecting upon memories past, and looking forward to new ones yet to be made, I want to extend an old Irish Blessing to you and yours:
May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!
Happy New Year!
Let’s Do This!!