I usually like to release brush sets on Tuesdays. It’s a habit born from years of working on marketing emails. I had a set all ready for today, but I am pushing it out a bit because here in the United States, we have an election, and it’s an important midterm election. That means if you’re a citizen here in the United States of America, you should go vote.
We’re vote-by-mail here in Washington State, and I turned my ballot in last week, and it was verified and counted (or will be counted tonight after the polls close.) If your state doesn’t offer that sort of convenience (I’m sorry) and if you need to know where to go, you can find your polling place here. If you’re an adult US citizen, remember, no one can keep you from voting. Stay in line. Get counted. If you’re intimidated at polls or have problems voting, keep these numbers handy:
I saw a quote going around on various social media sites for the last few months, and it’s stuck in my head. To paraphrase, it suggested, “If you didn’t know how to vote, think of the most vulnerable individuals you know and vote in their best interests.” That resonated with me, and in turn, reminded me of this poem which is one I’ve been reflecting upon, maybe you’ll also find it inspiring.
Today is December 19th, also known as March 294th, around our house. 2020, man. 2020. I think we can all agree it’s been a terrible year. If not personally, then nationally and globally. And we still have twelve days left. Feels like it’s been forever and yet, somehow, no time at all.
The tradition around here dictates I need to assemble a post wherein I share ten photos from the year representing the most significant moments of my personal past 365-ish days. Normally, I look forward to this, but 2020 was tougher than most. This time around, I wasn’t so eager to ponder how the year went. I didn’t want to dwell on the events that have unfolded. But I did. And below is the culmination of that effort, for better or worse.
The rules are simple but firm, pick ten photos from your past year that are the most significant to you: positive or negative—significance can be found in either. But it can’t be more, it can’t be less. Some moments will have to fall by the wayside—and that’s intentional—culling is essential. It’ll help create a more realistic picture of your year. Some years will be harder than others, and sometimes you’ll need to discover significance in the smaller, quieter moments. The ten are irascible, and they’re relentless. It is the way.
So, enough talk! Let’s take a look at my 2020 distilled into ten significant photos.
We began our 2020 by going on a trip to celebrate Kari-Lise’s birthday. Ah, those carefree halcyon days. Feels like a lifetime ago. This time we took an extensive food-focused trip to Portland and Hood River, Oregon. It was easily one of the best trips we’ve taken together and a wonderful way to celebrate Kari-Lise’s birthday. We ate and drank and tasted so many incredible things. I had planned to put together one of my standard travel posts a few months after we returned, but 2020 had other plans. It’s odd to looking back. It feels like a different era.
Not long after our return from Portland, my brother Nick and my sister-in-law Hallie welcomed their second child, Amberlynn, into the world in February. With Liesel and Blakely arriving last year and Amberlynn this year, I now have three nieces that have all shown up in a very short time. Can’t wait to watch them grow up and spoil them rotten. I’ve yet to meet Amberlynn. (Details why in the next photo. You can probably guess.) But, I’m looking forward to the day I do.
So, the obvious one—the COVID-19 pandemic. I could wax poetic about everything that’s happened in the last ten months, but we’ve all been dealing with this. What can I say that hasn’t been said already by a thousand other folks? I am tired of staying at home. I miss my family and friends. At the same time, I know it’s the right thing to do, and I’m blessed that I have a job that allows me to do it. Please do what you can to stay safe and healthy. Be kind. Wear a mask. Social distance. Avoid groups. Get your vaccine when you can. All that stuff.
2020 was the gift that keeps on giving. Early in the pandemic Tyrant, one of our two old dogs (he’s fifteen!) started having breathing issues one Saturday morning, and we had to take him to an emergency vet. That turned into early morning calls and early morning trips to the pharmacy. The same weekend our other old dog, Suge (she’s fourteen!), had a cyst that burst on her back leg, so she ended up in the doggie hospital for minor surgery. Two dogs. Two hospitals. Many vets. All in the middle of a pandemic. It was an exhaustive and stress-filled four days. Thankfully, both dogs are doing well. Suge is back to her rambunctious self. Tyrant is still sleepy and lazy and gets to take doggy pills three times a day.
Black Lives Matter. I don’t know why that’s a difficult concept for some people to grasp. This summer was similar to summers in other parts of the country. Protests. Marches. Police action. Bits of violence. For a brief moment, Seattle had the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and offshoot of the protests, which drew most of the country’s attention. The outgoing President might have declared Seattle an “Anarchist Jurisdiction” (whatever that means,) but the tales of chaos were greatly exaggerated and largely overblown. Ignore your weird uncle on Facebook. The CHAZ only lasted for a few weeks. Demonstrations there have largely faded away. But the BLM movement rightfully continues, and I don’t think it’ll stop until we see systematic change.
Kari-Lise revealed Night Garden, her latest solo show at Roq La Rue, and it was wildly successful! It’s strange to have a gallery show in the middle of a pandemic. There was no official opening. No opening night crowds. No afterparty. But the show premiered online and ended up selling out. I feel like I broken record repeating the same thing I do every show, but I think this series was her best work ever. I’m incredibly proud to see how she continues to evolve as an artist. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
So, I’ve always liked cooking, and this year was no different. If anything, this year I cooked even more, since I had more time at home. I feel like I dialed in my meat-smoking game and got a little better at baking (like everyone else, but I’m still not great.) This little BBQ sandwich was 100% made from scratch. Smoke pork butt. Steamed/Fried sourdough half-way buns. Homemade dill pickles. Homemade pickled onions. Stone ground mustard. Yes, it was delicious. Yes, I made it more than once.
In October, we briefly escaped one house to retreat to another. We rented an incredible cabin on Vashon Island, only a ferry ride away from Seattle. We spent a week on the island. We hiked, explored, cooked, relaxed, read a ton, soaked in a huge bathtub, took showers in an outdoor shower. I also took the time to revamp this website. And we were able to do it with proper social distancing! It was a chill and relaxing week away from the world and unplugged from a stressful news cycle. We loved it so much we are planning a return visit in January. So don’t be shocked if a similar photo appears in next year’s list.
One of the wildest and most important elections in my lifetime happened, and what an election it was. Records were smashed. Norms were abandoned. Lawsuits were filed and quickly tossed out when no evidence could be presented except for wishes, hopes, and dreams. (Turns out wanting something to be true won’t make it true.) It was great to see so many Americans actively involved in the civic process. King County, Washington (where I live) had an 85% turnout, which I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. It made me really proud of my city, county, state, and country. Nice work, America. Let’s keep this trend of civic involvement going.
It’s hard to encapsulate this in a single image. Like much of the world, 2020 became the “Year of the House” for the Alexanders. This had been the plan for us before the pandemic set in, and we had been saving toward it for a while. We bought this place in 2010, which means we’ve been living in our house for a decade, and it was past time to put a little love back into the place. That means, among other things, new paint, new roof, new floors in several rooms, lots of love pour into the garden, new countertops, that fantastic bookcase in the picture above, and we’re in the middle of a bathroom remodel. It’s been awkward, stressful, and a bit odd at times juggling all this work with the pandemic, but we think it’ll be worth it.
Looking back at everything that happened in 2020, I was surprised to find how much significance happened even while I spent most of my time here at home. The ten photos above don’t begin to cover everything that happened. My sister-in-law’s father, Tom, passed away, a dear man, and we could only send condolences from afar. Friends and family got sick, and not just from COVID. Pets passed away. People lost jobs. There were the forest fires and the awful weeks of smoke that blanketed much of the PNW. MURDER HORNETS.
But it wasn’t all awful events. New hobbies were found. New skills explored. Moth & Myth continued its wild growth and is leaping into a new phase of business. Friends published books. Friends made art. Friends had shows. Friends wrote new books and game systems. We all learned how to video conference (for better or worse.) There was good to be found even among the muck. I’m not going to miss 2020. It might have been an awful year, but it’s probably been one of the most notable years of my life.
So, how about you? What did you experience in 2020? What are your ten? Assemble them and leave a comment with a link! Let us all know about the significant events in your year.
Want to revisit my photos of past years? The experiences then seem almost charming now. Just click on any of the links below and check out my pictures from that specific year. I find it fascinating to watch subtle changes year over year.
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Funny enough, that quote is loosely based on a similar spurious quotation often attributed to Thomas Jefferson. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation has a little article on it over on Monticello.org, and it’s worth a read if you like delving into the etymology of quotations. Often they’re like a little game of telephone.
No matter the outcome, I’m proud of every American who got involved in the process. This election is arguably the most important election of our lives. We’re seeing record turnout everywhere. For me, it’s thrilling to see so many Americans stepping up and making sure their voice is heard and their vote is counted.
It’s not even Election Day yet in the United States, and here I am urging my fellow American citizens to get out and vote. Why? Many reasons! First, this is a critical election. Due to the pandemic and to help spread folks out a bit more many states have opened up early and absentee voting. It’s also becoming clear that there will be a big turnout, so the sooner you cast your vote, the quicker it can be counted.
“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
I voted last week. Washington State has been vote-by-mail as long as I’ve lived here as a voting-age adult. It’s an incredible process and one I’ve always appreciated. It’s very secure. It prevents villains from doing scummy things like shutting down or limiting polling places or purging voter rolls. They even have a handy tracker showing you where your vote is in the process. (If your state doesn’t have this, you should ask for it.)
Make time to vote. If you don’t or can’t do it early. Then be sure to make time on Election Day. (That’s Tuesday, November 3 this year.) Most states require employers to give you paid time off to head to the polls, and in states that don’t have specific laws, you’ll find that employers will often give you time off. (You can check which states have voting laws at vote411.com.)
I mention this every election, and I will keep mentioning it until I don’t have to anymore: anyone trying to prevent or make it difficult for citizens to vote are the bad guys. As an American citizen, no one has the right to stop you from voting. Your voice deserves to be counted. If you’re in line to vote when the polls close, they are legally required to allow you to vote. If you’re intimidated at polls or have problems voting, keep these numbers handy:
It’s the fourth Tuesday in September, and here in the United States, that means it’s National Voter Registration Day! Voting is an essential part of our democratic process, and everyone needs to register so they can exercise their power and make the voice of the people heard.
There are a few ways to register, but here are a few of my favorite resources:
This is my favorite. Here you find tools to register, and you can check the status of your registration. Be sure to do the latter, some states occasionally purge voter rolls for inactivity and people can get lost in the shuffle.
This nonprofit and nonpartisan organization focuses on increasing the turnout for younger Americans and has been around since 1990.
It’s worth noting that only 38 states allow online registration. Here’s the official list. Is your state missing? Do the leg work, register, and then elect leaders that will make online registration official. It’s 2019 for goodness sake.
Finally, as I’ve said before, today is an appropriate day to restate that anyone trying to prevent or making it difficult for citizens to vote are the bad guys. In an era of voter disenfranchisement, suppression, and gerrymandering, the people must step up and elect leaders that fight for the rights of the citizenry. Do your duty: register and vote.
Today is November 6th, Election Day. If you’re a United States citizen, today is the day where we participate in our civic duty. For the last few decades, mid-term elections have been largely ignored by most of the population—turnout in 2014 midterm election was a pathetic 36.4%—and in recent years we’ve seen the results (or lack thereof) when people grow complacent and don’t engage in government. Every vote matters.
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”
Please make time to vote. Most states require employers to give you paid time off to head to the polls, and in states that don’t have specific laws, you’ll find that employers often give you time off. (You can check which states have voting laws at vote411.com.)
I tweet this out often, but it’s important to remember that anyone trying to prevent or making it difficult for citizens to vote are the bad guys. Here in Washington State, we do all our voting by mail. It’s fantastic, and it prevents villains doing scummy things like moving polling places outside of a city or purging voter rolls. On the positive side, we also tend to have above-average voter turnout. Today, I was able to track my ballot online, and I’m proud to say my vote has been counted. It’s a good feeling.
Finally, remember that as an American citizen, no one has the right to stop you from voting. Your voice deserves to be counted. If you’re in line to vote when the polls close they are legally required to allow you to vote. If you’re intimidated at polls or have problems voting, keep these numbers handy: