Tuesday, September 8, 2020


by Patti Vanderbloemen 

2020...definitely a year for the Record Books.

While I have not kept up with my blog since moving to Virginia from Florida earlier this year, I have posted frequently on Instagram and Face Book.  But lately, I have felt a need to elaborate on random bits and pieces that have affected me...just to clear my mind... so I thought a blog post would be best.  I have never been one to write a short blog post, so my apologies in advance!

The Move

If living in Florida for 1+ year had a positive, it was this...

Those were my views - the backyard was literally Tampa Bay.  And it was beautiful - there is no denying that.  But the only other thing I miss from living in Florida...the Ospreys!  There was an Osprey Family that lived high on its perch just outside my front gate.  When we took our daily walks with Sarge to the Nature Park, just a few miles down the road, we were always greeted by the same Osprey family.

The physical move itself is one for my record books. Since we did not have an actual move in date, we had to store our furniture and belongings "some where".  So, I researched PODS and read tons of positive reviews. I made an excel spreadsheet - with photos and dimensions - of every single item to be placed in storage.  I then went online to the PODS website and proceeded to input every single item into their "program", which told me that I needed two of their largest PODS.  It just did not seem correct, so I called and spoke with a very nice lady who went through the painstaking application with me and concurred - two PODS is sufficient.

Pfft.  On moving day, the movers we hired told me - you need a third POD. 

After a quick and frantic phone call, a new POD was delivered the next morning.  Halfway through loading, he told me "you need a 4th POD! No way!  

The timing would not work to wait for delivery of that POD.  Our cars were being driven to Virginia by a service and we had to physically be in Virginia for delivery and we could not incur a departure delay of even one day. So....I gave away most of my jewelry studio furniture to the moving guys (yes...I cried). Some of those benches were going to friends of theirs who would benefit immensely from just one of my $100 harbor freight benches, which helped ease the pain. Sadly, not one single piece of outdoor furniture made it into that POD.  We are talking a dining table and chairs, outdoor sofas, Adirondack seating for down by the water. More tears were shed.  It was truly the worst move I have ever made - stress-wise. I felt so defeated.

Our drive North was supposed to be a leisurely two-day trip.  We rented a Suburban, which was packed to the gills, and had intended to stop in South Carolina or so at a hotel to rest. Bwahaa!  We drove 903 miles in just under 13 hours and arrived literally 10 minutes before our cars were delivered.

So glad that is over and done.

The New Home

It's hard to believe that just last August (2019), we purchased a nice sized multi-acre lot of land with the Occoquan River as the back yard.  It's less than a mile from our last home in Virginia.  But this lot...if only this lot was available in 2011, BEFORE we built our last home in Virginia!!  We would have never left Virginia for Florida in the first place. Our last home was on a 10-acre lot...with 7 acres of dangerous ravines. Truly, not our favorite piece of land.  It terminated at the Occoquan River, but we had zero views of the water and I only walked down there ONCE - it was too treacherous for this old broad!  This new lot is relatively flat....

The decimation of the trees in order to build the home literally made me ill.  But, 90% of these trees were scrappy pines that were on their last leg.  We have already replanted 60+ trees on the lot, and when the house is complete, birds, squirrels, and whatever else lives in those trees (!!), will return to the way-too-many-to-mention new plantings yet to come.

Foundation was completed in March

This photo was taken last week.  The exterior stone work, siding, and shakes are nearly complete as I write this!

We are looking to move-in sometime in November, God-willing.  COVID has caused some delays. Some of the subcontractors have experienced delays in obtaining physical supplies (electrical/plumbing) - but all is well on that end now. The Electric Company took quite the time to obtain the easement to bring power from the street to our home site (finally completed this past Friday)! However, the biggest delay seems to be in obtaining permits through the County. What used to take 2-3 days through their system is now taking weeks. So, we are still waiting on the last permit (for a second well to be drilled for the irrigation system).  I am hoping that occurs soon (fingers crossed).  Each delay causes a snow ball effect to the schedule.  BUT, our Construction Manager is truly one-of-kind - he built our last home in Virginia has well.  This man knows his stuff and we have the utmost confidence in all of his efforts! And in the end, it is what it is.


Not just a tasty beer.  We officially arrived back to Virginia on February 28, 2020. It goes without saying that the entire world came to a complete halt a week or so later.  I don't have to tell anyone how this isolation has felt.  My number one priority has been, and continues to be, keeping my mom safe.  She is 85 years old (sorry mom!), but frankly, probably the healthiest one in the house!  For several months, I was the one who would don a mask and hit the grocery store, sanitizing everything in my path (including myself) along the way. There were virtual doctor appointments, cancelled family gatherings - well, you know the drill. Family visits, with social distancing, have returned, and I have even taken her shopping just a handful of times. She hates wearing a mask (who enjoys it???) so the shopping visits are always quick. Since my jewelry studio is packed away until we settle into the new home, I started trying to find ways to keep me/us busy.

Several Crossword Puzzles were completed

Monopoly, Battleship, and Copious Rummy 500-Matches have been played

I felt the need to do something ... anything...creative.  So I purchased a Paint by Number

And then another....

And then yet another....

I stopped at four - I mean....I was obsessed! I do not like UFO's (unfinished objects), so I could not bear to put that paint brush down.  All four have been framed, and are packed away and ready to hang in my my new jewelry studio.

I have also always enjoyed both baking and cooking. I was quite serious about taking on this profession in the late 1980s/early 1990s - even participated in a series of French Cooking Classes from a local chef who was trained at the Cordon Bleu.  I had a little catering gig on the side for a couple of years. I seriously sought out cooking schools, thinking one needed the actual formal education to successfully pursue this field. Catering was probably one of the hardest (both physically and stress-wise) occupations I ever encountered. In the end, I gave that up.  One reason for me NOT becoming a serious chef is having to cook that live lobster...or mussels...clams...yuck! I know...sissy! But my love for the art of baking and cooking has never died.  I have done some serious baking since March...my first true Boston Cream pie, (it could have easily served 20 people!) numerous types of cookies, which I passed on to family members, quick breads and pies, several varieties of breads, including my all time favorite. 

Copious loaves of plain old white bread have been made.  I cannot tell you the last time I purchased a store-bought loaf of bread.


I have had some doozy health issues of late.  I have had degenerative discs in my back for at least 20 years. One of the reasons we bolted out of Florida was the health care.  Five (5) months to get an appointment with a specialist is just not acceptable to me. My doctor in Virginia had heard that doctors in Florida were inundated (not just due to COVID) with Medicaid patients, which could have played a part in my experiencing such horrid delays. I had never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense.  The back issues seems to be affecting my hips now, so I am finally seeing an Orthopedic at the end of this week to hopefully recommend some non-invasive options. I did have the most awesome Physical Therapist in Florida...best ever.  Each day begins with at least 30 minutes of targeted stretches and exercises, which temporarily helps ease the pain. 

In the meantime, I tore my meniscus in my left knee in late May/early June. Due to COVID restrictions, there were delays in getting to see the doctor.  I finally had knee surgery on July 27. I am about 95% recovered, though the errant creak in my knee bone is pretty much there to stay.  Oh...getting old is not fun!

Unfortunately, the preparation for the knee surgery triggered a Diverticulitis attack.  My 3rd one in 15 months. I am still not quite over this one, even though this case was mild. The strong antibiotics prescribed to me have literally sent my body into a tailspin.  Good news is I have lost 14 pounds in just under 4 weeks.  Bad news is...well...let's just say things have not been rosy.  But, I am still here and coping, and things can only look up...right?  Right.

The Positives

As I reflect on 2020, there have been some amazing positives that have returned to my daily life - things that I missed immensely in my daily life Florida. First and foremost is family!  My sister and her two daughters (with kids, sometimes husbands, and dogs in tow) used to visit us every single Sunday in Virginia, before we left for Florida. Oh how I missed that!  We see them often again, thank goodness!  I have even trekked down to Richmond a couple of times to visit with one of my brothers and his family. I know Mom missed her family more than anything, so life is good for her again!  

The newest addition to the brood (Mom's 7th Great Grand Baby ) arrived on June 4th. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that means more to mom than holding and caring for a baby. 

Baby Hudson

My niece is a teacher and like most other teachers, started virtually teaching in mid-August (official first day of school is TODAY). So, I drive mom over to my niece's house every morning M-F, and she gets to spend glorious daytime hours with this little bundle of joy so my niece can take care of her business.  This will continue through the end of September, and possibly October. 

Although the rental home where we reside has a back yard the size of a postage stamp, Sarge is also quite happy to be home! He is treated to a minimum of two walks a day -- these walks include a car ride to one of the various parks in the area.  Never met a dog who enjoyed car rides as much as a treat, but he does! But....being home means Sarge also has play dates with his BFF Griffin (Baby Hudson's brother)!

I cannot tell you how much I love these two little furbabies!  I cannot wait until the new house is done and they can run and play together in a big yard again!

The Negatives

Number 1)

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve of 2020 has been watching the destruction of human kindness and decency. It's bad enough to read the news - I mean, most of it is subjective crap that comes with a catchy headline, only to have an article filled with fake news.  There is truly not one news program on TV (cable or otherwise) that I can stand to watch anymore. IT'S NOT NEWS!  It's subjective opinions!!!

Now, it is not my intent to bring politics into this blog post. There used to be a time where "who" one person voted for was private.  I am not stating my party-loyalty here --- quite honestly, I don't hold much value in ANY SINGLE CANDIDATE (from President down to the local-yocals). MY STATEMENTS HERE ARE TRULY NOT POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. But my intent in this post is to question how and why people on social media can share such foul talk, followed up with stupid memes that are supposed to be funny but literally turn my stomach.  

There once was a time where Jane could vote Democrat and her best friend Susan could vote Republican.  They had opposing view points, but they remained best friends nonetheless. Those times are long gone.

I have read way-too-many Face Book posts (many of whom are fellow jewelry artists) that basically contain ultimatums, such as: "If you vote for this vial man, unfriend me now!  I cannot be friends with someone who would vote for this racist, lying pig".  That is an actual direct quote from one person.  I call that online bullying. Period.  You will unfriend me??!! Hours later, this same person quoted a scripture professing her love for God.  I find that to be the epitome of an oxymoron - accent on Moron. In my book, someone who professes their love of any God DOES NOT turn around and post judgmental, bullying threats. Just saying.

There is a way to voice one's opinion on social media without being offensive, or being a bully.  There is no sense of decorum anymore. "If I think it, I will post it".

I also find it just a tad comical that these people actually think for one moment that posting a meme with candidate-bashing rhetoric is going to convince me to vote for their candidate?  Again - this goes for both sides now - Democrat and Republican.

I do not need anyone to point out the current political environment and the State of Union in which we live. I am fully aware of the pent up frustrations of a system that is not working.  I am well aware of the atrocities that have occurred in the past, are occurring on a daily basis, and may occur if one or the other political party is voted into office. I am just so sick and tired the online preaching and bullying of other people's opinions, and the repercussions I/we may suffer if I/we do not conform to their way of thinking.

I am also quite familiar with the "Unfollow" and "Unfriend" options on Face Book. 

Number 2)

My final thought for today....I recently unfriended someone I have known for years, someone who I truly thought of as a friend.  Although we never personally met, we supported each other, we sent little gifts here and there, we shared life experiences.  She posted something on Face Book that did not speak the entire truth of the situation and I responded. She apparently did not care much for my response. So, instead of coming to me and voicing her concerns, she went to a mutual friend and poured her little heart out.  This mutual friend blasted me (and one other person by name) in a Group where we belong.  Her post was accusatory, hateful, and full of non -truths.  While this person who did the blasting should have stayed out of it in the first place (it was basically none of her business and she had no right to call me or anyone else out, especially since she was not privy to the entire situation), my issue is with my former friend.  

Yes - former friend.  I was flabbergasted that what I said was so upsetting that she had to "confide" in not just this one mutual friend, but I am finding out, many others as well.  Friends do not do that - if they were truly friends to begin with. They don't talk behind your back...they talk to YOU.

Here is my point.  Social Media is damaging.  Nowadays, people post whatever the hell the want, without a single forethought of the potential damages that will entail. STOP DOING THAT PEOPLE!  THINK FIRST! If you don't like you are reading...just keep scrolling!

Well, I am spent!  If you made to the end, thank you and congratulations!  Stay safe...and please...wear a mask!


  1. It is always good to hear from you! It is good to know that you and your mother are doing relatively well with your move and with our world turned upside down. I am in complete agreement with your assessment of Facebook. I am so sick and tired of the political posts and the divisions in our country. I just want it to be over with. I can't wait to see your beautiful creations once again!

    1. Thanks so very much for your kind words, Mary! I am itching to create again! I actually went to Hobby Lobby this past weekend looking for ANY craft to do. I almost picked up a kit to make a model airplane, something I watched my brothers do when we were younger. Alas, I left empty handed. Sigh. I continue to just lurk on FB anymore...wishing for positive posts. Please take care!

  2. Hi Patti,
    Woo 2020 has had it’s ups and it’s many downs, and I know I’m not the only one that is looking forward to the end of this year and pray that 2021 is better, but personally I don’t think its going to be much better. I have been enjoying seeing the progress of your new home, it’s going to be a beautiful home with gorgeous views. You look like your Mom and I’m so glad that you’re back living close to her and the rest of your family again. I have three very close friends that are conservatives and I’m a moderate, but we are still very close. We don’t agree on a lot of political views, but that’s okay, I still love them just the same and they return the same. I agree about social media that’s why I mostly scroll on by whether it’s something I agree with or not. Earlier in the year I committed on a friend’s post about law enforcement and got tore into by someone that I didn’t know. I was so upset by what she was saying to me not knowing anything about me or who I am and what I had done for the past 25 years.
    So I just don’t comment anymore. I’m so sorry that it happened to you and you lost a friend. It’s such a shame this year has brought out the worst in so many people, but thank goodness there is still so much good that is going on too. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings, I always enjoy reading your post whether blog or Facebook.
    Take care and keep on baking all the mouth watering goodies and being the animal and humanity loving person you are. ❤️

    1. I so happy to hear you have friends with differing views...and you are still friends! That truly is good news to me! I rarely comment anymore - I am "damned if I do agree" and "damned if I don't". So be it! I received news today that all the cabinets for the home were delivered, and given a tentative move in date of November 14 - so I have truly have something to look forward to! I miss my studio.... :)