Thursday, December 31, 2020

2020 in Review, Christmas-letter style

I have links to the Christmas letter. I sent out lots, thinking partly that it might be my last chance. 2020 was like that.

This is being written afterwards, but I'm backdating it so 2020 has more than one post.

2020 Christmas (if you'd rather go to the website version right away)

2020 Christmas
Sandra Dodd

(You could skip to the good part about how this whole Christmas card is a picture of the basket.)


Please don’t feel bad if you didn’t send me a card. Don’t. It’s stressful. Let it go. Maybe send me a text or e-mail, or you could click “like” on some facebook thing. That’s plenty.


I made this letter from me, because Keith didn’t want to tell people he had another “cardiac episode,” but because it’s my story, I will tell you that we learned this much, on August 9: an implanted defibrillator can wake a guy up and put him back on schedule, heartbeatwise. Keith is well, swimming, splitting wood, playing music (more info at the link below).

Grandchildren review/news (all are well, as are their parents):

Devyn (2009)
Ivan (2017)
Kirby Athena (2018)
Tommy Kore Lynn (2019)
Wynona/Wynnie (2020)
I am informed that this is to be the full set, forever, including by Holly, who has recently moved into her own home, much nearer to the artsy vegetable farm where she works. I’m happy that all of our kids and kid-in-laws are employed, all from home except for Holly.


The card is a picture of a basket. Gerard David apparently owned a basket, five hundred years ago, and worked it into at least three paintings. In this one it is clearly a diaper bag—rolls of swaddling cloths are showing.

TIME OUT: I've put this letter online with links and images, if you'd rather.

A few years ago I read a book called Vermeer's Hat, by Timothy Brook. It’s about connections among people and places, and how the Dutch East India company traded with China, which led to the blue-and-white ceramic magnet of a windmill that I (and many others) own. But in between those things were stories of ships and Spanish silver mined in South America, and how the travel and exchanges of goods were working. History and connections, technology and art.

Many of Vermeer’s paintings were made in the same room, with the same window, sometimes the same props, art, or map. Vermeer’s Hat is about his stuff. I enjoyed the whole story, and all the images.

So time passed, and I had one Gerard David image on my website. A few years later, I found a second one, out in the wild. Same basket. I got excited and did web searches for discussions of that, but I didn’t find anything. Cool!

This year I happened to see an SCA-related discussion of baskets somewhere, and there, right there, was the same basket. Another Gerard David! There was some artistic license in the color, but still…

As if that weren’t exciting enough, when I went to look for Christmas cards this year, what pops up but Gerard David and his basket.

Thanks to Julie and Adam, I got to see a Gerard David painting in London. No basket there. I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t Spanish, as I had first guessed. When I was a kid, the two male neighbors closest to my age were Gerard Vigil, to the southeast, and David Sanchez to the north, so the name was easy for me to remember. Gerard David was not Spanish, but Dutch, as was Vermeer. He lived in Italy a while, and ended up in Brugge until his death, all before Vermeer was born.

These connections are a reminder that even from home, we can explore the world, thanks to other people’s clues and unintentional gifts, and the wonders of the internet these days, with so many detailed photos.

I could be sad at home, or I can be happy. I have years of practice at conjuring and sharing happiness. Keith knows that sometimes I fail. I get scared, or have a bad dream, or feel sorry for myself, but I revive and recover and put out one more Just Add Light and Stir, where people can peek into moments in other families, viewpoints of other people, and sightings of birds or lizards on other continents, in other seasons. There are words and ideas people can take in for a moment, or an hour, or to keep. Then I feel better.

I hope next year is easier and sweeter for all of us. If it is, your memories of an expansive world should allow you to jump on and ride it.

Best wishes for peace and health!

If you got this far without going to the letter with images and links, here are previews (which are links, too).

Sunday, July 05, 2020

January-June 2020

This will be a place for me to fill in what happened in early 2020, but the most important thing was the birth of Wynona Dodd, to Marty and Ashlee, on March 16, 2020.

Before that, it so happens, there were several outings that were about to become undoable:

February 6, Marty got a new car. He tried to come to the house to show us, but Keith and I were at Rex Burger on Montgomery, so they went there. Ivan got to work a claw machine (and direct Marty to use it).

We all went to Chuck E Cheese, before Devyn's birthday, on February 23. It was an excuse for a gathering, and we called her the birthday girl even though it was two weeks early.

February 25, I went with Holly and Rylan to the zoo to see the new penguin exhibit.

Kelly Halldorson, Devyn and I went up the tram to Sandia Peak, one day (Feb 27), and to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe (March 2).

Keith and I took Devyn to The Electric Playhouse, March 12.
Three days later, the governor told people to stay home.

On July 5, I still haven't held Wynnie.  Indoor places at the zoo, Meow Wolf, Electric Playhouse... nothing is open, so I'm grateful for all of those visits, coming just before the governor said to stay home.  We're still mostly home. Kelly has been the first and only visitor to use the new guestbed. Irene and Gerry had been needing an ABQ spot fairly often, last year and before, and so... there's a better bed, for someday.

Keith was able to go back to swim, in early June (?).  He's doing instrumental music with Beau and Laurie B, one afternoon a week, outside, sitting far apart.

I'm scheduled to have surgery July 20, and that has other office visits and a Covid 19 test associated with it.  Doesn't seem safe or good, but...  there's really no solid knowledge of what is right yet.

Recently, Wynnie passed three months, Ivan's 2 and a half, and Kirby Athena turned two this week, July 3. We're all healthy, so I try to think of the good things, and find gratitude for what we did get to do this year, so far.