Saturday, December 30, 2023

2023 Review and Wrap-Up


Wow. We are once again teetering on the edge of the old year as the New Year looms up fast before us. 

I have just finished going through pictures I've taken over the past twelve months, reviewing what we've been doing. It's sobering to realize those things have happened that "long ago" when I remember them so well (but on the other hand, what a blessing it is to be able to remember). 

My original thought was to share one photo from each of the twelve months but instead I think I'll share by "themes." The blessings have been too numerous for one blog post, but here are some of the highlights.

January was the start of updating our back yard patio and the surrounding grassy areas. Here is the back yard as it appears now, from a different perspective.

photo taken in September

More house-related work was done just this month as the roof was replaced. Grateful as we are to have had this done, we are both hopeful we won't have to listen to that kind of project over our heads ever again!

new roof applied

Anyone who reads my blog faithfully knows we love to ride our bikes just about every day, depending on the weather and any scheduling conflicts with appointments, etc. 

Santa and me on Christmas Day 2023

Only the Lord knows how late in life we will be able to keep this up, but it's been a blessing to us to get this fresh air, sunshine (i.e. Vitamin D) on our skin, and vigorous exercise. It's a shared activity that we rarely do by ourselves, so the neighbors are used to seeing both of us peddling by.

biking shirts from a gas station

Over the past three years I've changed in several ways, one of them being the colors I wear. Pegged as a "winter" in the Color Me Beautiful book from the 1980s, this chartreuse yellow/green and anything orange are not in my personal color palette. Yet, these two colors are recommended when biking or walking with traffic so we are readily seen by drivers (and that's no guarantee, by the way). 

On a one-day road trip last summer, we stopped at a gas station and I saw these shirts. Yes, they are too large for me since they were probably intended for road construction men to wear them, but otherwise they were perfect for me. I brought them home, hemmed up the sleeves and added them to my growing wardrobe of athletic wear.

Gainesville-Hawthorne bike trail

Our daily rides take us about 45 minutes at a comfortable speed covering somewhere between 4-5 miles here within our gated 55+ community. But on our recent longer rides totaling 12-15 miles in one day, I discovered that in spite of a nicely padded bicycle seat, my 'undercarriage' needed more support. Gary suggested I shop for padded bike shorts/pants.

After a trip to the sporting goods store, now I'm (how shall I say it?) "riding high in the saddle" with a most comforting gel pack that is sewn into the pants. Whoa! Just take my word for it, the extra $$ spent for comfort is well worth it!
canoeing on the Rainbow River

We have also spent more time on the water this year. Twice we have paddled upstream on the Rainbow River and then floated downriver, first time in a shared kayak and the second time in a canoe. 

us with Catboat Escapes

Another time we drove a catamaran boat for two from one lake to another via connecting canals. This was a peaceful glide except when our tour guide set us loose on one large lake where for about twenty minutes we could squirrel around at top speed forward, making circles and creating a big splash. It was exhilarating!!

lunch at a car show

I have lost count how many car shows we've been to since Gary picked up both me and his 2002 Ford Thunderbird a couple of years ago. (He says he "had to get the car to get the girl," which is a cute thought but it was his personal charm that won my heart 💕) 

an indoor car show at the
World Equestrian Center

Our car show hobby took a turn when a salesman asked if we were willing to sell our toy.  After we got home we decided that as fun as the T-Bird was, what we really needed was a truck. It didn't need to be big, and one absolute prerequisite was that it had to fit in our garage with the Toyota. Bye-bye T-Bird.

new 2023 Ford Maverick hybrid

With a crew cab and a chassis low enough for me to comfortably drive, the purchase was made. I have never thought of myself as a truck kinda gal, but practicality won me over easily. This vehicle drives just like the three Ford Escapes I've owned in the past. I really like it.

Charleston, South Carolina

We did some traveling this year, but no farther than a day's drive from home. Two nights in Charleston in the Spring was the perfect time to go, before summer's heat set in. Even the driver of our horse-drawn carriage tour told us they shut down operations in the heat of summer. 

The architecture for which Charleston is known was charming, and there was good shopping, too. I still refrain from buying much after emptying my house last year to downsize and move into Gary's house. But looking is fun.

ferry boat with the 
Arthur Ravenel Jr bridge in background

We took a paddlewheel ferry boat out to Fort Sumter where the first shots of the Civil War took place. While the island fort wasn't really all that exciting, we enjoyed the hour-long boat ride and the harbor sights.

an ocean-going cargo ship sailed past us

We had three notable in-person visits with out-of-town family members this year, plus a couple of FaceTime visits. I will not be posting pictures of family because I have not asked permission to do so and in our current culture, disclosing photos and locations can adversely threaten one's privacy. Unfortunately it's just the way life is now. 

Us with an elephant in background

The first ones came to see us in April, flying in from the far frozen north. We took them to an elephant preserve not far from our home, Two Tails Elephant Ranch. I even got to ride atop one of the beasts with my daughter-in-law. We have been related only a short time, so bonding atop an elephant was a memory-maker!

Eight humans and two Husky dogs 

In November two families from Virginia and North Florida met us at a half-way point for lunch. Two Siberian Huskies were a part of our group, so we dined comfortably outdoors under a roof at a restaurant within easy view of the St. Johns River. With four children of varying ages and two animals, this was the perfect solution for a good visit.

Also this fall we were delighted with a visit from family living north of us in both Florida and from The Music City, Tennessee!

Christmas wreaths from Home Depot

In December family from Central Florida met us at the cemetery to decorate the graves of our loved ones. This visit included my other new in-law children. Shared grief is a comfort. After the wreath-laying, we enjoyed lunch at Cracker Barrel and then had to go our separate ways. The visit was deeply satisfying. We have been blessed by the efforts of family to visit us when it takes time, advance planning and sometimes inconvenience to do so. 

just some of my birthday cards

We celebrated our birthdays, of course. Mine was in the Spring and Gary's in the Autumn. 

Gary's birthday cake

You could say we are both in the October-November of our lives, so to speak. We are thankful (and mildly surprised) at the things we are still able to do. Memories of our grandparents at this age remind us how quality of life has greatly improved since then.

feet propped up, 
watching the hurricane forecast

We have adversity, just like everybody else, although I seldom refer to that on this blog -- who wants to read about weeping and gnashing of teeth?!!! But even with that admission, God has been merciful, even generous, in giving us so very much for which to be thankful. 

us as cowboys

Today we enjoyed one of our Christmas presents, a gift card for Longhorn Steak House. Wearing our denim jackets and jeans (mine a gift from Gary), we proclaimed ourselves 'cowboys' [cowgirl] and had the rib eye steaks. Showing up at 11am for lunch, we avoided crowds and noise and thoroughly enjoyed the meal. We've had the ribs in previous visits. It's all excellent!

Gainesville-Hawthorne trail

Christmas is behind us. As I bring this post to a close, the New Year will be here in about 30 hours. Our best mindset is to trust God as the pieces of this New Year are fit together.

jigsaw puzzle on our dining table

I wish the very best for all of you. Thanks for coming to "see" me on my blog and for your comments.

"... He who began a good work in you

will carry it on to completion

until the day of Christ Jesus."

Philippians 1:6 NIV

Until next time, grace and peace.


Pamela M. Steiner said...

OH, this was a great way to share the highlights of your year with us! I enjoyed this post very much, and continue to be amazed at the activities the two of you have been able to accomplish together! I have a feelng you are somewhat amazed yourself when you think about it! I love your cowgirl/cowboy outfits at Longhorns! We are planning a visit to our brand new Longhorns here in Palatka soon...maybe we should consider going "western style". I'll have to see if I can convince my "pardner" to do so...I may have to lasso him to get him to agree. LOL. Have a blessed and happy New Year!!!

Sharon Driggers said...

You have certainly had a busy year. Praying for continued blessings in 2024!

Debby said...

Looks like 2023 was a very good year for the both of you. I pray you have an even better 2024. God bless

Mandy said...

Ya'll have the best adventures together! Wishing you both a very happy new year!

Robin in Virginia said...

You and Gary have had a blessed 2023 with a wide assortment of activities that included family and friends, Barbara.

Linda said...

I'll tell you what, your adventures have kept me smiling. Wishing you a beautiful Happy New Year, my friend.

Martha Jane Orlando said...

I love this recap of your 2023, Barbara! Makes me want to be more conscientious about my picture taking in 2024.
May your New Year be a blessed one!

Terri D said...

Barb, I enjoyed your 2023 synopsis!! You captured it well, my friend. Sending love and wishing you and Gary a year ahead full of many blessings!! Love & hugs!

ellen b. said...

It's always good to look back over the past year and see all that God has done for us and helped us through. What a blessing to be able to have that exercise together. A very Happy New Year to you and Gary!

Mrs.T said...

Happy New Year, Barbara! I liked your analogy between the new year and a barely-begun jigsaw puzzle. Trusting God as the pieces are fit together -- the only way to face each new year and every new day. Thanks for sharing that!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

You've sure had a lot of fun this past year. I love your denim perfect for horse country! Happy New year!

Victor S E Moubarak said...

It's good to make happy memories and look back at the end of each year. May 2024 be an even better year for you and yours. God bless you all always.

Joyce said...

How wonderful you're able to be so active. We were chatting with friends this weekend about how 'old' our grandparents seemed in their 60's. I think moving is the key to staying young : ) Happy new year!

Carol said...

I enjoyed walking through your year with you, Barbara... So many delightful adventures and shared experiences with Gary. You two just make me smile :) Wishing you every happiness in this new year! ♥

Sam Stella said...

You are such a wonderful writer. I love reading all about your new and fun filled experiences, knowing that the Lord is giving you and Gary these wonderful years to make memories. May he continue to bless you both in this year and beyond.


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