2016: Not a Bad Year, After All

I began 2016 with two of my favorite people. We had our special New Years meal and the traditional cheesecake for dessert.
NYE Cooking with Wine

I decided to try new things in 2016 (and beyond) and began with a trip to a distillery with my friends Vonnie and Carole. This place had a WWII theme, that made it kind of cool but I decided I don’t like alcohol enough to drink it straight!


I met up with my friend Linda early in January in what has become one of our favorite wineries. Aspen Dale has a wonderful Rosé that I just love and its decor is so inviting you just want to sit a spell.

One of the cozy seating areas at Aspen Dale Winery where I visited last week

One of the cozy seating areas at Aspen Dale Winery where I visited last week

I visited Cristinas Cafe for a Sunday night open mike in January. Its something that I used to do on a regular basis and I thought I might get back to it but this was the only time I made it in 2016. It serves to remind me to try again in 2017.

We got a big snow fall in January of 2016. 30 inches they say. I don’t venture out in that kind of weather but when it starts to melt I can’t help but wander.

A few days after we got hit with 30 plus inches of snow the temps got up to the lower 50's so I went out..but not far.

A few days after we got hit with 30 plus inches of snow the temps got up to the lower 50’s so I went out..but not far.

I began February at DeMello Vineyards with some friends listening to the one of our local favorites, Robbie Limon.

My friends listening to Robbie Limon at Third Hill Winery

My friends listening to Robbie Limon at Third Hill Winery

I continued with my quest to do new things and took a wreath making class at Simply Divine, a local store with wonderful gifts and awesome classes that bring the community together.


My friend Kathy and I visited the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in February to ooh and ahh over the Hollywood costumes on display and then we did some light shopping and she taught me about Tibetan sound healing.

Tibetan Sound Healing (2)

I began March the way I wish I could begin every month, lunch with my bestie. We (she) are so busy these days that a lunch date has become an event.

I wrote my most popular story for Friday Fictioneers in March. The story, Antique on a Shelf seemed to reverberate with many of my readers.

Continuing with my quest to try new things I participated in my first painting party. It was great fun with my friend Tiffany at her bakery, Tippy’s. A red barn with yellow flowers was the theme, mine, I like to say is an abstract.

Here is my painting from the paint party. I said it was lame but my 23 y/o said he thought it was pretty cool. That's all the validation I need.

Here is my painting from the paint party. I said it was lame but my 23 y/o said he thought it was pretty cool. That’s all the validation I need.

The rest of March I was ill with a bronchial infection that turned into, most likely, pneumonia. The energy zap was debilitating. But even with that March was a great month. I got to pretend I was a celebrity for a few months when the magazine Shenandoah Living contacted me about using some of my pictures.

Come April 3rd I was well enough to go to DC with Carole, to the Renwick Gallery and pose in front of the White House.


I missed an outing with my friends in March due to my illness so in April I did the day trip myself. I visited Manassas Virginia to add their Love Sign to my collection. This sign normally sits in front of an ice skating rink but it was too late in the season by the time I got there. I also visited an interesting winery this day. Vint Hill is located in a 100-year-old barn that previously known as Monitoring Station #1, home to a “nest of spies”. I didn’t buy any wine but I picked up a cool new wine glass.

The next night I enjoyed my second painting “party”. I did this one with my son’s girlfriend. We had a lot of fun and it was a great bonding experience.

Haley's art work...margarita finished.

Haley’s art work…margarita finished.

The Shenandoah Living Magazine with my Abandoned Homes pictures/article came out in April and it was fun visiting with friends and family, passing out copies of the magazine and touting my celebrity.

In April I wrote one of my most read posts. Oddly enough it was a poem, a bit of a philosophical one, titled One Life.

May began, for me, on Mother’s Day when after receiving some MD love and giving some to my son for his 24th birthday, I joined two of my friends for a wine tasting trip. Early on during our outing I started to feel bad. I kept a brave face but throughout the summer I was plagued with what I can only describe as “gut issues”.

I captured one of my favorite pictures of the year in May. It ended up being in my 2017 calendar, representing, May, of course.

Toward the middle of May I got to spend another day with my friend Kathy. It was a wonderful day of shopping, dinner, and a walk in the arboretum on the campus of James Madison University.


I also took pictures of my expectant niece in May. We both got a kick out of it.

She Felt a Kick!

I ended up missing work the last weekend in May because of a kidney stone. That left me free (I was feeling a bit better) to have a day trip with Kathy. It was a very good day. Inspiring (here), educational (here), and as is so often the case with us, silly (here). Unfortunately it was also the day our friend, local musician, Ricky Wilkins lost his battle with cancer.

Two weeks later I attended a celebration of life for Ricky that he would have loved. I should have such a send off!

We added a new gal to our group of friends in June by trying to force some wine on her (I’m kidding, of course), but Phyllis is no wine drinker. No worries we do more than just drink wine!

Like drink Mojitos! I had my first mojito for my birthday celebration and it was so good I started growing mint on my front porch!

My First Mojito

June ended as wonderfully as it started with a trip to The Kennedy Center in DC to see Kinky Boots! My first time there and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

Kinky Boots at the Kennedy Center Windows# (18)

I began July by doing something I hadn’t done in a long long time; I went to the movies. My friend Sherry and I had talked about seeing The Secret Life of Pets two years ago when the trailer first came out. On a Tuesday early in July we made it happen.

By the end of July my stomach issues had tied me to the house. Except for going to work, which was challenging and some light grocery shopping I didn’t go anywhere. My sister came to visit me one weekend and we went to dinner, but I had to hurry home. I was pretty miserable.

August was spent at doctors appointments trying to figure out what was wrong with me. They never did figure it out and after months of being poked and prodded a blanket diagnosis of IBS was given. I watch what I eat avoiding things that seem to make me ill.

But staying home helped my blog. I posted my most read to date article in August. Strasburg Ranks Number One in Shenandoah County has 1,500 hits and counting. Blogging and highlighting the area, state, county, and town in which I live is one of my favorite things to do. I’m pleased that my efforts are recognized. We live in a great community. You can read it (here)

In September I participated in an art show at Tippy’s and was pleased when I sold the piece I had entered. Still dealing with stomach issues, I popped in and out, not wanting to stray far from home.

By the second week of September I was feeling a little better but not great. I wanted to see the African-American Story Quilts at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley but I couldn’t ask anyone to go along because I never knew when I might get ill. So I went alone, enjoyed the show and hurried home again.

I spent the last day of September with my best friend as she ran a million errands in preparation for her daughter’s wedding the next day. I was so happy to share this time with her.

Finally my favorite month, October arrived. It began with the wedding of my best friend’s daughter. A young woman I have literally known since birth. She was a beautiful bride.

I always take extra time off from work in October. This year I was off for a week starting on the 15th when I met my brother and sister for dinner and drinks (one each). It’s always good to see them!

My philosophy for vacation is: If I can afford to go anywhere, great. If not there is plenty of fall foliage waiting for me to capture.


I was able to take a mini vacation in October. I visited Bedford Virginia and saw the D-Day Memorial. I stopped at a few wineries before heading to Staunton Virginia for an overnight and a visit to the Trinity Episcopal Church the next day.

I love staying in The Stonewall Jackson Hotel. That evening after dinner I went to the pool and swam for an hour. Pure bliss!

A gorgeous reception area.

A gorgeous reception area.

I also took a train ride up Cheat Mountain in Elkins, West Virginia in October. It was a gorgeous day for that with some very good friends.

My friends and I boarding the train in Elkins West Virginia

My friends and I boarding the train in Elkins West Virginia

We found another LOVE sign in October when we visited Airlie Hotel in Warrenton Virginia.

LOVE hiding

LOVE hiding

I began November by visiting a semi local winery. Arterra was a bit hard to get to but worth the visit.

My friend Carole arranged for us to have a really cool day in November when she scheduled us to do The Chocolate tour in Georgetown.

I spent Thanksgiving Day with my Miller Family and it reminded me I need to spend more time with them! Let’s work on that.

The Friday after Thanksgiving I was to meet my sister at a place she rented in West Virginia. I never found her, gave up, and came home, but first, I took some pictures.

Unbelievable clay rich soil gives the land its color.

Unbelievable clay rich soil gives the land its color.

That Saturday I had dinner with my son, his girlfriend, and her family. I didn’t take any pictures, too busy talking, I suppose. I’ll get ’em next year!

In December my friend Carole turned 65. We had a wonderful gathering for her and we all are cheering her on to her official retirement. The next week we visited one of our favorite wineries to get our annual Christmas in front of a tree picture. (I just made that up…but isn’t it a great idea?)


I spent Christmas at my sister’s house and New Years with those favorite people, once again.

That was my 2016. Before working on this retrospective I thought I had a rather lackluster year. But as I went through it I realized it was quite awesome, even with all my health maladies. I’m glad I did this, even though it took hours (and hours!) to create. Still I recommend this exercise, reviewing your year may show you, as it did me, all the many blessings we forget about or take for granted. This serves to remind me just how lucky I am.

Now…let’s see if we can raise the stakes in 2017. Who’s with me?

Moon Fence Woods

7 thoughts on “2016: Not a Bad Year, After All

  1. looks and sounds like a good year – I like your barn painting – the trees have a nice wave to them and the little leaves or atmosphere dots give it nice energy too – and starting the month of march with your BF is pretty awesome. lastly, october sounds like a great trip to see the wineries and all….



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