Welcome 2021, Farewell 2020

2020 has probably been one of the worst years any of us have ever known, but in spite of that most of us still have an awful lot of things to be very thankful for. Our items of thankfulness for this year include: 1. Being retired from health care; 2. Having our extended family healthy, happy and stable in spite of a few job losses; 3. Ongoing close relationships with all of our friends who have mostly remained healthy and 4. Our own good health in spite of a hiccup or two this year. We have not been as strict as we could have been with social isolation but we have been careful in our own way. This blog will serve as our Holiday Greetings and Year End Review.

Christmas Eve 2019 at Rob and Jennifer’s in Newport.  Traditionally Jennifer hosts all of her parents on Christmas Eve. Daniel Cipriani, Jennifer’s stepbrother, next to Sandy is hiding his mother Carol.  Bob Cipriani and Jackson
Christmas day we flew to Jacksonville to spend a few days with Jason and Catarina at their new home in Ponte Vedra Florida.
Katia, Natalia and Nico with Grammy and Grampy.
A night out in St. Augustine with Jason, Catarina and family.
We were back home in Boston for New Years Eve at Peggy’s.
New Years Day breakfast with Tom and Donna Quirk at The Whitney Hotel.
We flew to Denver on January 2 to see Matt and Claire.  Well we were really there to see Camden and Mae.
Mae and grammy have a lot of fun together.
January 9 we are heading for Seville Spain.


Of course Dick and Andrew came to visit us as they are also living in Spain and they visit us anywhere we go.
We did a quick trip to Tangier Morocco with Dick and Andrew.
We also went to Gibraltar with them.  Jim celebrating our climbing the Rock.
Our favorite houseguests ever, Jim’s brother Philip and his wife Phyllis.
A day trip to Cordoba with Philip and Phyllis.
Jennifer, Igor and Sophie Braverman came from Boston for a brief visit.
Sigi and Paul came from the UK.
We did an overnight trip to Granada with Tom O’Toole who came to visit us from LA.
Our AirBnb hosts Jose Manuel and Maria Parente treated us to a Dinner near the end of our stay in Sevilla.
We moved to Madrid on March 10.
We got in one run and a day of sightseeing on March 11.
This is March 12, The Prado had closed down due to the pandemic but we are waiting in line with all these college kids for 1€ tacos.  No masks and no social distancing at this point.  Seems very strange from where we are now.
March 13 we take the train to Barcelona and have dinner with Brian and John who were there for the Barcelona marathon which was cancelled after they had already left Boston
March 14 in Sitges Spain with Dick and Andrew for Sandy’s birthday.  Note that Jim is also in the picture.
Spain and most of Europe went into lockdown on Sandy’s birthday, March 14.
This is our street in Madrid on March 15. Everything shuttered and no people.
This is how it looked when we arrived on March 10 with tables on the street and everything open.
We stayed in Madrid until March 21 when we caught the last direct flight from Madrid to Boston as the US State Department warned about being stuck in Spain indefinitely.
Since our home in Boston was leased out through August we moved into an AirBnb above the Post Office on Charles Street.
Second floor was our home until July 1.
We passed the time on Charles Street by doing jigsaw puzzles,
visiting with friends on the street. This is Chris and Linda Degnen who rode their bicycles from Winchester to Boston.
Visiting with Brian and John who walked from the South End.
Jay Carroll stopped by to see us one morning after working the breakfast shift at Pine Street Inn, a Boston homeless shelter.
and of course we spent a lot of time zooming with friends. This is Sandy’s call with her “Sole Sisters”, running friends.
We walked to Cambridge and met Bill and Katiti in Inman Square. Masks and social distancing.
We did a LOT of walks with our friend Peggy Scott. One of the first was walking the brick outlined Freedom Trail.
Are we far enough apart?
Our walks became long enough that we would stop for a take away lunch.
Brian and John set up social distanced meals on their back terrace.
We drove to the Cape and did some walks with Walter LaLiberte.
Sunset on Walter’s deck in Brewster. Yes we did stay two nights with Walter.
Visiting our friends Ruth Shapiro and Lucy Duffy who live quite near to Walter.
Crossing the Longfellow Bridge on one of our Cambridge walks with Peggy.
One of our walks with Peggy took us through Charlestown, Everett, Chelsea and East Boston, ending at the Airport T stop.  We did ride the subway home and found it to be very uncrowded and safe feeling.
Lunch at The Reel House in East Boston.
We took a few walks on The Southwest Corridor which is one of Boston’s hidden and somewhat secret gems.  It is a 4.1 mile, linear park stretching from the Back Bay to Forest Hills. The park links South End, Back Bay, Roxbury and Jamaica Plain with a street-level, greenway.
Brian’s brownstone in the South End.
We spent more time in The Public Garden this summer than we had over the prior 30 years of living across the street from it.  We would meet with friends and either bring our own food or do takeaway.
We often took a picnic lunch rather than ordering take away while doing our long walks with Peggy.
A nice breakfast at Cafe Landwer, Mediterranean food from an Israel based chain. Jim had shakshuka of course.  We had already walked six miles when we had breakfast.
Studios Without Walls, an art exhibition on The Riverway.
Same Square New Chair. Newton Centre Massachusetts.
Friends visiting us (gasp) indoors. John Greene, Maeve Markey and Adam Caper.
We moved back into 87 Beacon Street on July 1, just in time to decorate for the 4th.
After moving home for the first time in 3 ½ years we immediately started getting rid of stuff. All of this lot disappeared in about three hours.
Dinner with Brian and John in the Public Garden.
We drove to Cape Cod again, this time with Peggy. Tina Scarlata met us there and we all stayed at Deb Maniace’s new house in Osterville.
We gave all of our Christmas tree decorations to friends as tokens of remembrance for our Annual Holiday Open House.
We gave this Lahey Clinic rocking chair to Susanna Lee so that she could rock her grandson Idris.
We took the ferry to Provincetown for the day and took a walk there with Walter and his sister Zita.
We took the Harbor Islands ferry to visit Spectacle Island.


After leasing our condo for over three years we moved home on July 1 to clean and purge.  On July 9 we put our home of 32 years on the market and were able to close a sale on November 10.  With a few months on our hands before closing the sale we took an eight week road trip to North Carolina and Colorado to visit friends and family.

First stop was North Carolina to see Bhavanii, Freya and Gaorii.
Next stop Denver where we spent a lot of one on one time with Mae.
Grammy is so good at doing interesting things with the grands. Making cookies.
Bonding time with grampy.
The best grammy ever. That is what Mae keeps telling her.
There are a lot more relatives and friends in the Denver area who we also touched base with. We spent quite a bit of time with Jim’s nephew Jon Steen and wife Jolene.
Jim’s Cousin Evelyn was in town for a day or two with her daughter Bri, another opportunity for a mini family reunion.
We hosted a backyard bbq with nephews Paul and Joel Steen (cousins, not brothers). Wives are Alicia and Lacey.
A lot of Steen’s here, from L to R. Joel,Paul, Alicia, Lacey, Sandy, Jonathon and Jim.
We also did an evening run with the same group of Steen’s. Sandy and Joel.
Sunset on the lake during our run.
Post run libations.
We drove to Frisco and Alma to meet up with Sandy’s cousin Helen and husband Gene a couple of times. Lunch in Frisco CO.
Margaritas later the same day.
Hiking with Helen and Gene.
We also explored some on our own, this is Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.
Hiking with Bill Boyle in Staunton State Park. We drove to Bill and Karen’s home in Pine and had a great visit before the hike.
We also drove an hour to Fort Collins to visit our perfect stranger Melissa Conlon and husband Sean.
After driving to Colorado we flew back to Boston on October 17.

With three weeks to closing on the sale of our home we were busy packing and getting rid of more accumulated stuff. In spite of being busy we found time for two more long walks with Peggy and some more visits with friends.

We walked The Battle Road Trail with Peggy on a beautiful fall day.
Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House where Little Women was both written and set. We walked on into Concord center for lunch and then walked the six miles back to the car.
October 30 snowstorm.
Dinner in Gloucester with our close friends Ed and Andrea Conley.
Our last long walk with Peggy on November 5 was to Franklin Park and back home, about 8 miles.
Dudley Town Common in Dorchester.
On November 7 the moving van came and moved what was left of our consolidated and liquidated possessions to this 10 X 20 ft. storage facility in Middletown Rhode Island.
November 14, we left our now permanent US address in Newport RI and drove to Boston for a last meal with Brian and John in the South End. We spent the night at the Airport Hotel and left for Mexico at 6am.
We flew to Guanajuato Mexico through Dallas Fort Worth. DFW was scary with minimal social distancing and people without masks in the airport.
From Guanajuato we had a nearly two hour drive to San Miguel de Allende where we had a beautiful four bedroom Spanish Villa reserved for three months.
Street view of Casa Laura.
Living room with windows overlooking the park.
Indoor courtyard.
Brunch with Ivonne Ruiz and Miguel Kelley on our 30th anniversary, November 17.
We were so excited to be able to meet up with Ivonne and Miguel again. We first met them in Mexico City in January of 2019 and have become very close friends and have stayed in touch since then.
San Miguel Market, very large and colorful.
Every other day we climbed 280 steps to the upper part of town.
Beautiful views of the city from up high.
On the days that we did not climb the steps we would run around and through Parque Benito Juárez. This is a view of the park from our roof deck.

On the evening of November 25 after climbing the steps and walking five miles in the morning Jim had the sudden onset of severe chest pain and actually called 911 (yes it is the same in Mexico).  Sandy gave him an aspirin to chew and called Ivonne and Miguel as no ambulance had arrived after waiting for 20 minutes.  They drove us to a local private hospital where an EKG showed an ST elevation myocardial infarction, otherwise known as a heart attack.  As this local hospital was somewhat limited Miguel called in a favor and a sister hospital sent a cardiac catheterization team and supplies to Jim in the middle of the night and they inserted one stent into his circumflex artery around 1am on Thanksgiving.  Sandy called our daughter Jennifer and she and Rob immediately drove from Newport RI to Boston and boarded a plane for Mexico City, arriving in San Miguel de Allende around 4pm on Thanksgiving.

This is not a good EKG to see when you are having chest pain.
After one night in ICU and another night in the hospital, Jim was home and feeling back to normal. We took Jennifer, Rob, Ivonne and Miguel out to a rooftop sunset dinner to thank them for their lifesaving and comforting work. This is 4 days post heart attack.


We bought this picture of SMA from a local artist as a remembrance of this city that we love.
Six days post heart attack, cleared by Jim’s cardiologist to fly home tomorrow.  This is where we came the fateful night.

We owe so much gratitude to Ivonne and Miguel for the ride to the hospital and the phone call which very likely saved Jim’s heart and his life.  We are also deeply indebted to Jennifer and Rob who got out of bed in the middle of the night, hastily packed a bag and drove from Newport RI to Boston’s Logan International Airport and boarded the first flight that they could get to Mexico City, then drove four hours to reach us in San Miguel. Not exactly the way they planned to spend the holiday. Before leaving they woke up Jack to tell him what was going on and he thought he dreamt it until he found himself in an empty house Thanksgiving morning.  Jennifer and Rob were an indispensable help in getting us from San Miguel de Allende back to Newport.  

We returned to New England on December 1 and Jim had a virtual appointment with a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital on December 7. We moved to a beautiful penthouse apartment on the Boston waterfront on December 11 and Jim started in person cardiac rehabilitation on December 21.

This was not our usual three suitcase move.
Jackson helped us move into our new home on Burroughs Wharf in the North End of Boston.
This is the sunrise that we see most mornings unless it is foggy and we can’t see a thing.
Over a foot of snow on December 17. This is the view when it is foggy.
Sandy’s snowman on our deck.
Jim getting on the elevator outside our front door headed for his first cardiac rehab appointment on December 21. He will be going every Monday at 7am for at least 12 weeks. The facility is a 1K walk from home so he is out the door in the cold and darkness for the 20 minute walk at 06:30.
Celebrating our wonderful life together in spite of a few bumps in the road over the past 34 years.  We have seen worse than 2020 threw at us and we have survived.

We are really enjoying our quiet life in Boston’s North End with the salumeria’s, mercato’s, bakeries and restaurants only a few steps from our front door.  Jim is not running yet but is trying to walk at least 4-6 miles every day.  Sandy had been running until she decided to have cataract surgery on December 23 with the second one to be done in January.  We had a quiet Christmas Day but had Tina and Peggy over for a turkey dinner on the 26th.

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Adam Caper and Rebecca Yang drove up from NYC to spend New Years Eve and Day with us.  The featured opening picture is with John Greene and Maeve Markey.  We did Chinese takeaway on New Years Day.

Who knows what 2021 holds?  We continue to live and enjoy our life one day at a time.  This year has been filled with family and friends in spite of the pandemic.  Looking back at this recap it seems that we have not been following the rules very strictly.  We do let our guard and face masks down with friends and family at their comfort level but we are otherwise quite strict with avoiding crowds and shopping as little as possible. 

We wish all of you a peaceful and healthy 2021.  Please stay in touch with us as much as possible with your comments on this blog and personal emails and phone calls.

Lots of love to all, Sandy and Jim



6 responses to “Welcome 2021, Farewell 2020”

  1. As usual, well done and very informative. Stay well and here’s to 2021. It’s got to be better!

    1. Thanks Kiki, it will be better.

  2. Thank you for sharing this wonderful walk through the trials and tribulations of 2020.


    On Sat, Jan 2, 2021 at 10:16 PM Living the retirement dream wrote:

    > Living our retirement dream posted: ” 2020 has probably been one of the > worst years any of us have ever known, but in spite of that most of us > still have an awful lot of things to be very thankful for. Our items of > thankfulness for this year include: 1. Being retired from health care; 2. > Ha” >

    1. It was great to ring in the New Year with you and Adam. Here’s hoping our next visit together is in NYC.


  3. You continue to be an inspiration to us all.
    Wishing you renewed and continued good health in the New Year.
    Having been in SMdeA in 2019, I am sad for you that you wern’t able to remain there but I know you will be back there in 2021!

    1. Hopefully we will be able to meet somewhere in 2021.

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