Looking back from NYE 2021 to NYE 1962. . .Trying to stay up until midnight.

The year 2021. It winds up mere hours from now. So slow, yet all of a sudden- –


Can I stay up until midnight?


An excellent question, 9, and it invites another question: can I stay up until midnight? Right now there’s a foot of snow on the ground and I’m fighting the urge to hibernate until next Monday, when it warms up and the rain starts.


We don’t have to stay up that late to watch the ball drop in Times Square.


The sticking point on that one, Lily, is we don’t own a TV.


We used to stay with Grandma and Grandpa on New Year’s Eve.


We certainly did, 9. Grandma Gretchen came to Grandma Mary and Grandpa Denny’s house, too, and she’d bring our cousins, Tim and Karen. Annie and I always had some sort of decorating and entertainment scheme going, and we always had a pan of Rice Krispies cookies with Chocolate chips melted on top.

Not NYE 2021: Ann’s birthday in 1960 (she’s in yellow). We sure knew how to party in those days! Cousins Tim and Betsy (it was BK: the “Before Karen” era).


Chocolate chips and butterscotch chips.

Yes! Those are my favorites. Can we have some?


Another time, 9.  Given the snow I’m disinclined to drive to the grocery store for Rice Krispies, marshmallows, Karo syrup and both kinds of chips. Besides, we’ve got plenty to eat. Through the kindness of friends and family were gifted our weight in chocolate truffles this Christmas. Plus you have a chocolate Santa, and Lily has an Icelandic 70% cacao extra bitter bar.


I predict we’ll see the New Year in with a movie over the Internet and a boringly healthy dinner, topped with insane snacks. But that’s in the future. Let’s take a minute to look back on 2021. . .


Writing Stuff:


Wow, we got some actual notice and even some honors this year! I was interviewed by Mike Ferrians of the Waitsburg Times and, just this Sunday was a guest on Cats in Our Laps at KPTZ 91.9 FM with host Phil Andrus. Both interviews covered writing and my past pursuit as a musician. So nice to get my story out there for people who enjoy that kind of stuff! If you missed the radio interview, links to MP3 audio files recorded during the show will soon appear at this website.


Honors came both early and late in the year. I learned that Beyond Big-G City was the #2 bestselling eBook at WolfSinger Publications in 2020 and, in December, was selected as Writer of the Month by the Arts Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, which includes a posting at their website. https://www.artsfoundationmc.org/monthlywriter/matley


Also, I was recruited as a presenter for the 2022 semi-centennial celebration of Walla Walla County Rural Libraries! My program, “Myth-Taken Identities: the Greek Pantheon in Fiction” is scheduled at the Touchet library in November. Many of my writing friends are on the roster throughout the year and I look forward to hearing their presentations. Watch this link for updates: https://www.wwcrld.org/programs-services/50th-anniversary-page-clh


None of this would be happening if I wasn’t doing the actual writing. I feel more than fortunate to write fiction, my sustaining joy, Monday through Friday. This year I completed the manuscript for the fourth in my “G” series (contemporary fantasy/mythology featuring the Greek Pantheon) and sent it off to the publisher for consideration on December 16 (fingers crossed!). This week I returned to a new story-in-progress, a romantic suspense novel set in contemporary Walla Walla. The first draft is incredibly rough and way too short, but it has possibilities! In addition to revising and expanding the story, I’m also building my research list, which includes talking to specialists in everything from bookstores to architectural restoration to the dynamics of Mill Creek which flows underneath downtown Walla Walla.


For those two projects alone 2022 looks like a fine adventure. Who knows what else will occur during the New Year?


Performing Stuff


Living History returned for a shortened season at Fort Walla Walla Museum. I very much enjoyed returning as Matilda Sager Delaney and had a wonderful time listening to the other presenters over the summer months. In July, Matilda and I were again invited for a 3-day, 10-show run at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, Oregon. It’s hard to express the joy I felt, working with the super-friendly, super-smart rangers and sharing Matilda’s story with enthusiastic visitors.


Nellie Gilliam Day is quickly evolving as a new Living History personage. She and I performed in October at Mountain View Cemetery and served as emcee for other delightful historic personages at a Fort Walla Walla Museum event two weeks ago. Nellie was also featured in a short video, shot in August and currently in post-production. I look forward to viewing the finished product, and also to seeing the new interpretive plaque installed at Nellie’s grave in Mountain View Cemetery. Pandemic willing, I’ll be able to get back to the archives at Penrose Library to gather what’s needed to expand Nellie’s story to a full-length presentation. Go here for Living History and all Fort Walla Walla events: https://www.fwwm.org/all-events?view=calendar&month=12-2021


Sad Stuff


In April, we said goodbye to Piebald, a true feral tuxedo cat and best friend to Friday. As he was the kind of guy who had to be trapped and anesthetized to receive veterinary treatment, I determined that home hospice was best for him. He made his last journey with reasonable ease, his best friend, Friday, nearby. We miss him very much.

Piebald Matley, 2009 (?) to April 9, 2021, shortly after 2 AM.


I also miss two wonderful and highly cherished human friends who died in the fall, Kathy Beck (writer, mentor and absolutely enchanting being) and Catherine McNabb (dear friend, unbelievable talent, kindest heart on earth). Kathy Beck, who was a generation ahead of me, told me years ago that her social life had evolved into taking friends to their medical appointments and attending their funerals (she was kind of joking, but I’m starting to understand this in a very real way). May we survivors take good care of ourselves and enjoy life for ourselves and on the behalf of those who are gone.

Kathy Beck, with us until September, 2021. Photo from 2020.


Catherine McNabb (Center). Missing her since October, 2021.

This brings me back to New Year’s Eve 1994, the year Dad died. That evening, Mom, (my then husband) Dave and I attended a dinner theater performance and, afterwards, went to what was now called Mom’s house to crack open the champagne at midnight. When we raised our glasses did we all simultaneously say “Thank God this year is over?” I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how it happened.

Dad, who, coincidentally, was the officiant at  Catherine and Frank McNabb’s wedding many years ago.


This year, 2021, was hard in lots of ways, but it wasn’t as hard for us as that one.


No, it wasn’t, Lily. I’m thankful that I visited with my departed friends this year before they left us, and thankful for friends and family who are still with us today. Life in 2021, to me, seems an improvement over 2020. There’s new hope through vaccines, new life through the children of friends who are getting married and having babies. Life determinedly goes on.


Lily, 9, let’s have fun tonight! We’ve got plenty of snacks. 9, I bet you’ll love the caramel corn that came in that gorgeous flower arrangement, set in the driver’s seat of a miniature sleigh filled with treats. When it gets dark we can mess with the home planetarium you got for Christmas.


Can I have some truffles, too?


Why not? And Lily, you can pick the movie.


Thank you. I want to watch something with Michael York.He was so cute in The Three Musketeers!




We hope each and every one of you chooses a joyful way to commemorate the closing hours of 2021. At midnight, Lily, 9 and I will metaphorically take your hands and leap with you into the beauty, terror and mystery of 2022.


Happy New Year.

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