Ten Best Days of 2021

Covid Vaccine: Shot #1

It’s been a long time since the pandemic began. Liz and I have been working from home since March of 2020, and in that time I’ve fretted and worried a lot – about my own health, about the health of my family and loved ones.

One of the big moments from this year: getting my first Covid vaccine shot. I experienced an incredible line, that wrapped around the full length of a strip mall… but was able to get my first shot. While not a cure or end to Covid, it did allow a brief sigh of relief after more than a year of holding our collective breaths.

Road Trip for a Door in La Moille

This was the first trip Liz and I took, after receiving both of our vaccine shots. We’ve stayed inside for a good while, and this was partly a practical trip, and partly an indulngence: we rented a van, and drove a few hours South to pick up a vintage door.

We got to meet Jayson and Jamie, and we were lucky that one of the first folks we met post-vaccination turned out to be incredibly nice and kind. And a reminder to us of what the world was like, before we holed up in our house.

Christiana Lakehouse, Day 2

Visits to the Christiana Lakehouse are always a treat. But a big bonus: we got to see the Fords once more, after a really, really long time apart.

We played games remotely with them, but that’s not a real replacement. And the last time we were spending time with them in person was back in 2016, more than a lifetime ago.

Scotland, Day 4: Island Hopping to Isle of Arran, Lochranza Distillery, Isle of Islay, Late Arrival at Islay House

Liz and I lucked out with our travel plans, and got to visit Scotland in September. We had so many amazing adventures and experiences, it’s a small miracle the entire list here isn’t composed entirely of Scotland days.

This day had us doing an incredible amount of travel: driving from Glasgow, hopping a ferry to Arran, then hopping another ferry, driving some more, then another ferry to Islay.

Scotland, Day 8: Travel to Inverness, Glencoe Valley, Loch Ness, Moments of Indecision, Drinks at the Malt Room

A big travel day for us, with an incredible stop to wander Glencoe Valley. And along the way, we actually got to stop at Loch Ness! Looking back, we packed an incredible amount into one day.

One highlight that really deserves mention: our discovery of the Malt Room in Inverness, and our luck at having Charlotte being our server. We got introduced to whisky bottlers, and she helped guide us with the drams we had. A significant turning point, I feel, for us on our whisky journey.

Scotland, Day 11: The Macallan, Aberlour Distillery, Anniversary Dinner at Dowans Hotel, and a Most Amazing Coincidence

Little would I know that Aberlour would become one of my go-to whiskies. I wouldn’t quite make the connection until our time in Edinburgh, but the tasting at Aberlour was one of the first times I started to move away from my preference for peated/smoky whisky.

One incredible moment worth mentioning (and arguably the very best moment for me of 2021)… was meeting Ian and Susan, who were having dinner next to us at the Dowans Hotel. And who also happened to be celebrating their 12th Wedding Anniversary, just like Liz and I were!

The odds of this, of us meeting one another, absolutely gobsmacked me. The confluence of events that needed to occur, for all of us to be alongside one another, and to discover this fact about one another… were truly just astounding. An incredibly loving and moving moment.

Scotland, Day 13: Knockando Woolmill, GlenAllachie Distillery, Craigellachie Bridge, Exploring the Grounds at Glen Grant Distillery, an Unexpected Visit to Elchies Estates, Dinner at Highlander Inn

Exploring Craigellachie Bridge was fun, and the grounds at Glen Grant were breathtaking. But my favorite moment of the day happened when we decided to make an impromptu stop at Elchies Estates, a small farm right next to where we were staying in Archiestown.

We were welcomed by the owners, invited in to see some of their buildings, and I got to play fetch with some of their dogs.

Scotland, Day 16: Hiding Out in the Hotel Room, Soup at Union of Genius, Cocktails at Panda and Sons, Kaleidoscope Bar at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, Dinner at the Scran and Scallie

At this point in our Scotland vacation, I was getting a bit overwhelmed and ended up spending the morning holed up in our hotel in Edinburgh. But the thing that really makes this day memorable for me was our visit to the Kaleidoscope Bar, and our introduction to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

I had drams here that lit up my palette, and completely changed the way I viewed and tasted whisky. I had always thought cask strength was too strong for me, but the flavors I encountered here were just stunning.

It’s hard to state how much this experience upended my understanding of whisky. There was the smoky/peaty brands that I liked, and I knew of Liz’s preference for sherry casks. But I didn’t quite understand the flavor of cask strength bourbon barrels.

I had a small hint of this, when tasting the New Make spirit at Aberlour. But things didn’t quite click for me, until our drams at SMWS.

Operation Halloween Candy Dispenser

I’ve made this costume a few times now, over several decades. But this was the first time making the costume as a standalone prop, something to be interacted with (and not worn).

This was a collaborative project, and it felt good to be ahead of Halloween for a change. And to let my excitement for the holiday thrive a little bit, for a change.

Painting the Arbor

The projects Liz and I undertake always seem to take four times as long as advertised. We got started in May, and did some really significant yard work (renting a power auger and digging some serious holes).

This was a big undertaking for us – lots of math, lots of planning. An interesting combination of the skills we’ve slowly developed, while working on the house all these years.

This day though, was special because we were able to let the wood dry for 2+ months, and got a coat of paint on the thing finally. There are small flaws and blemishes, but only if you look closely. This was one of the more complex projects we’ve undertaken together, and I do have to say… it looks really, really nice.