Extra Tacky Year-in-Review Letter: 2013

I could have sworn I’ve been writing a post like this every year since I started this blog, but it turns out I wrote one for 2008 and have spent the intervening four years thinking about writing one, and not actually doing it. Huh.

Well, I shan’t regale you with a full five-years-in-review letter, because that sounds exhausting, even to me. Let’s see what kind of excitement 2013 brought to the Floyd family then, eh?

January found Dustin and I fleeing the frigid north for the incredible beauty of St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands. We are both blessed with jobs that allow us a lot of flexibility to travel, and a grandmother who has the good sense to go south every year, thereby providing us with a locale and an excuse to go visit. I’ve never been to a place quite so island-y as St. Croix, and confess that I found the experience of being surrounded by SO MUCH OCEAN a bit unnerving. Nevertheless, the island is incredibly beautiful. We spent time on fine-sand beaches, counting spiders on rain forest trails, and touring old sugar (rum) mills.

Grandma Bonnie and me, calculating exactly how much rum we'll be able to haul home from the Cruzan distillery. (Quite a lot, is the answer.)
Grandma Bonnie and me, calculating exactly how much rum we’ll be able to haul home from the Cruzan distillery. (Quite a lot, is the answer.)
Hiking down to Isaac's Bay to do some snorkeling. The water was crystal clear and full of fish. This photo also won a contest hosted by the St. Croix Chamber, the result of which is that if we go back, we can eat for free in a lot of restaurants. Woo!
Hiking down to Isaac’s Bay to do some snorkeling. The water was crystal clear and full of fish. This photo also won a contest hosted by the St. Croix Chamber, the result of which is that if we go back, we can eat for free in a lot of restaurants. Woo!
Exploring the ruins of an 18th century sugar mill. These beautiful buildings, constructed of volcanic rock and coral, dot the entire island of St. Croix, and I loved poking around them.
Exploring the ruins of an 18th century sugar mill. These beautiful buildings, constructed of volcanic rock and coral, dot the entire island of St. Croix, and I loved poking around them.
Graveyard of an 18th Century plantation, now the Botanical Gardens, slowly being devoured by the rain forest. Sights like these make my little archaeologist heart go pitter-patter.
Graveyard of an 18th Century plantation, now the Botanical Gardens, slowly being devoured by the rain forest. Sights like these make my little archaeologist heart go pitter-patter.

February brought us back to chilly South Dakota where I had the privilege to spend some quality time with Megan and Grace, my new adopted family from Kansas. We met them as guests when they came to stay at our bed & breakfast last December, and now we’re stuck like glue. They came away from a very difficult family situation, and through our time together and many, many long conversations, they have taught me so much about how my own life is blessed.

So there might be better photos of us out there, but this one cracks me up every time I see it, so it's gonna be the one. I believe the posing prompt for this was not, "Say 'Cheese!'" but rather, "Now give me 'Ice Cream Thugs!'"
So there might be better photos of us out there, but this one cracks me up every time I see it, so it’s gonna be the one. I believe the posing prompt for this was not, “Say ‘Cheese!'” but rather, “Now give me ‘Ice Cream Thugs!'” Grace is not a good thug. Megan is a so-so thug. I, clearly, have it pegged.

Oh, did I mention we started a bed & breakfast?

In 2010, Dustin and I moved into a historic house in Deadwood, and we’ve been slowly – oh, SO slowly – restoring in over the last three years. The place is huge, so fairly early in the process, we began sharing our extra bedrooms through airbnb.com. As of last December, we are an officially licensed Bed & Breakfast, and while our website is still a work in progress, you’re welcome to check out the online preview of the guest books we just made, or oogle our listing on bedandbreakfast.com. Over the summer, we were full to bursting. Thankfully, fall and winter have proved to be very quiet. My sanity is grateful.

1899Inn

Speaking of things that make our house more interesting, meet Luna, our newest family member:

We’re not sure what goes through that fuzzy little head of hers, but moments like this do make me wonder.

Dustin’s mother found her wandering stray near their mountain-side house last November. We thought she was a kitten when we took her home (she weighed less than two pounds), but the vet said she was at least a year, maybe two years old. The above photo shows her after we’d had her for about three months. These days, she has turned into a regular fluffy blimp. I don’t know how to put her on a diet without starving the skinny one. Hm…

Snow84
Minou says hi too.

So, speaking of that above cat photo, you may have heard that we’ve had some really wacky weather this year.

There was golf-ball hail in May (and June, and August). Our cars did not fair well through this. The bonus was that Dustin got to trade in our tired old cars for an electric car (Chevy Volt), which he’s been pining for for a long time. Now, if the hail hadn’t gotten THAT car too… bah.

And then there was this freaky business in October. October 4th, to be precise. It started snowing one nice Friday night, and did not stop until Sunday. We got 48 very solid inches. The trees hadn’t even started changing colors yet. The arboreal carnage was immense. Our power went out for about 36 hours, and it got very, very cold inside our house. We were the fortunate ones – some of our friends were out of power for six days. My shoveling muscles will never be the same.

Look! Look! I found a picture of Dustin! King of the snow.
There’s me standing next to (well, sort of “above,” actually) Dustin’s shiny new Volt. This was two days after it stopped snowing. It was 70 degrees.

(Dustin would like me to point out that between the Hail and the Great Snow, there was a lot of summer. Most of it was filled with changing beds and doing laundry for a very busy B&B, but we snuck in a trip to Yellowstone, explored a ghost town with friends from France, went to Denver for a three-day district convention, and I tried very hard to grow a vegetable garden that wasn’t a complete failure, although that blizzard really did in my tomatoes. Now then.)

Barely a week after the Mega Blizzard, in the deepest throes of the government shutdown, my beautiful sister Megan got married just outside of Yellowstone. It should have been IN Yellowstone, but the government had far bigger problems than a few dashed hopes and dreams. (I exaggerate – nothing was dashed and the wedding was perfect, drifts of snow and all.) We got to see family from far and wide, who all rallied to make the event awesome despite the complications.

This is the entire attendance, chillin’ (literally) on the porch of the retreat where the wedding was held. Hello, my lovely family!

We spend a lot of time in Yellowstone these days. My daddy went full circle and has returned to work there, now at the top of the heap. He and Mom live in a beautiful historic home in Mammoth Hot Springs, so we take every possible excuse we can find to visit while the hospitality is so good. 

Sometimes the wildlife is scarce, so sometimes I AM the wildlife.
One of my favorite recent trips was one with our buddy Erica, where Dustin and Erica tried to out-photographer each other - he using Instagram, she using, y'know... years of experience and skill. ;)
One of my favorite recent trips was one with our buddy Erica, where Dustin and Erica tried to out-photographer each other – he using Instagram, she using, y’know… years of experience and skill. 😉
On the way to Natural Bridge.
On the way to Natural Bridge.
West Thumb Geyser Basin
West Thumb Geyser Basin
I forget where this is. Sorry about all the Yellowstone photos. It’s sort of beautiful there, y’know?
Last one, I promise! At the base of Fairy Falls.

In all the bits of 2013 when I haven’t been working, hiking, or shoveling, I’ve spent a lot of time working on writing projects. Very exciting for me is that in February, I got my first piece of fiction published: a short story written for a collection done by the Saucy Ink writing group. Check it out! Woo!

My story in this one is called “The Last Princess.” It’s about a dragon who needs to capture a princess but can’t find one.

Aaaaand just last week the third collection, containing my second story, came out. They’re good stories! Go read them! 😀

This time around I went for total doom and destruction with a story called “Kraken,” about the time the world almost ended, and then the time when it did.

In other, less episodic or photographic news, Dustin continues taking over the world one good logo at a time. Business at TDG is hopping, and now that the office is only a five-minute walk from home, there’s no excuse not to work ALL THE TIME. (Except that I like to sleep a lot, so I don’t work much in the mornings. I believe Dustin works double hard in the mornings to make up for it.)

Our dabbling in American Sign Language, started back in 2007, has paid off. The small group of us that began learning to help out a deaf man in our congregation have now become a congregation entirely dedicated to ASL.

Rapid City, South Dakota USA American Sign Language Congregation 10/2011
Sending love love love! An appropriate picture to end on.

So there’s 2013. More than you ever needed to know. So much more than you would have gotten if I was the kind of person who could get to a post office once a year.

But how are your years treating you?? My mailbox has been a bit light on the incoming updates as well as the outgoing ones. I’d love to hear from you, and will happily trade mailing (or emailing) addresses with you. I’m sending much love and many good wishes for the coming year.

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