My last post was mid October, before the election, before a stay-at-home Thanksgiving advisory, and with only a hope that we had a vaccine on the way.

Lots has happened since then!  I bravely met November with a plan to participate in the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a novel in a month. You’ll notice I said I met the challenge with a plan to participate—as opposed to meeting the challenge of writing a novel in a month. Life is always a bit more complicated than we expect it to be. But, I am proud to say that I did start writing what I hope will be my third novel. I wrote about 33,000 words, not nearly the 50,000 word goal for the month, but it was enough to get moving into a story line that I believe I will be able to stick with and develop. 

Had the election drama not been such a cliff-hanger, I may have been able to squeeze a few more writing hours in, but there has been much that has occurred this year that begs for one’s attention—history up close that I didn’t want to miss. As it was, I wrote every day but five of the thirty days in November. 

Like many of you, I was in virtual contact with family and friends on Thanksgiving and did have an opportunity to gift home-baked apple pies to a couple of households within reach geographically, arms length and masked, of course. With a career in health care, my public health interest is well entrenched. While it was difficult not to be able to hug the grandchildren, I am all in with getting through my COVID year without complaint. Well, maybe just a bit of muttering, to myself mostly. It helped to keep some of the traditions alive, and for me, this year, the aroma of apple pie helped!

The writing regimen I staked out helped me stay away from the news, and kept my perspective in check. There’s nothing like a deadline that keeps one on track. I’m blessed to have a lake place that is the perfect retreat for writing. Hiking the isolated trails and watching the lake change every day is a pleasure I never tire of, and was a lovely treat when I needed a break.

I always bring books up with me, of course. I listened to a few audio books while I was out and about. I needed to catch up with my book club so chose “The Vanishing Half” by Britt Bennet, “Deacon King Kong” by James McBride and  “American Harvest” by Marie Mutsuki Mockett.  I’m about half way through “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. 

Now that I’m back and preparing for a stay-at-home Christmas, I’ve been reading to escape—“The Long Call” by Ann Cleeves and “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman. Next up are my next Louise Penny book, “The Cruelest Month” and “Moonflower Murders” by Anthony Horowitz. Somehow, escape is the tonic I need this month.

I’m sorry we lost John Le Carre this week. It brought back a long ago memory of arriving at the hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark to deliver my second child. At that time, the Danish way didn’t feature continuity of care with any one provider throughout a pregnancy. I was questioned by a midwife I had never met before being admitted. This being my second round of childbirth, I had stayed at home for several hours of labor, and was confident that a birth was imminent. When she questioned me, “Well, you certainly don’t look nine months pregnant?” I decided to take it as a compliment. But, when they tried to take my book away from me an hour later, I wouldn’t give it up….”Smiley’s People” kept me company for at least a little longer…

We all need our escapes now and then! Do make the best of your holidays, whichever you celebrate. And Happy New Year!