Sunday, February 5, 2023

State of the Schafer: Still Not Dead

 Right, well. It's been long enough this time that I've been getting the occasional email from a reader wondering if everything is okay, so I figured I'd better confirm that yes, I'm fine. Still very busy with my job at Narrative Muse (which I'm still loving), and still writing (very slowly), but if I'm honest, being busy isn't really why I haven't been posting or interacting much on social media in the last year. Not to get too heavy, but I feel like the COVID era has destroyed any hope I had in humanity. If people can't come together against an infectious disease that kills and disables, what chance does the world have against the far more difficult and insidious challenge of climate change? Far more likely that we will just keep right on accelerating toward a terrible future. 

I don't want to talk about big issues online when I have little that's hopeful or useful to contribute, and it's hard to talk about anything these days without veering into big issue territory (witness this post!). So mostly I just stay silent online--or avoid social media altogether and spend time outside. There's still beauty in the world, and it won't be here forever, and I'd like to appreciate it while I can. 

On a day to day level, though, all is good at Casa Schafer, which I know we're very fortunate in being able to say. For anyone interested in what we've been up to, I can catch you up in pictures, and maybe share a little beauty that way. Let's see, the last time I posted here was May 2022, so let's start in just afterward...

June 2022: This was a pretty quiet month, because the kiddo caught COVID from school and we were isolating with him. (My husband and I wore N95 masks while caring for him, and thankfully avoided getting sick.) The kiddo had a miserable few days and then took about two weeks to fully recover his energy. He was particularly annoyed that while he was ill, we had snow all the way down to lake level (rare in Hawea). What a bummer to miss out on playing in backyard snow with Comet! 

July 2022: With the kiddo recovered and NZ's borders fully open, we traveled to Sydney to see our Aussie family for the first time since the pandemic began. It was really lovely to be together again, and a bit of an eerie experience to see some of the changes wrought in the Sydney by the pandemic. (The international terminal, for example, was still something of a ghost town. Hardly anything was open past security, which was quite a difference from the plethora of shops and restaurants I recalled.) 

Our first view of Sydney in years

August 2022: Despite avoiding COVID on our Australia trip, my husband and I finally succumbed after he returned home from a work trip. He was 3 weeks past his 4th shot, at the absolute peak of protection the vaccine could provide him, which was a very good thing as he's in a higher risk category. He had mild symptoms but took a long time to feel 100% recovered. Happily he did finally get back to normal, unlike so many of our friends who ended up as long haulers. I was more like the kiddo--a few miserable days, then some lingering fatigue that cleared up after a week or two. Plus I too missed out on great snow--while I was ill, our local ski fields had some epic powder days. Alas!   

Comforted by Comet in my time of COVID. (Though actually after the first day of me being sick, the pupster decided hanging out in bed was pretty boring.)

September 2022: Feeling very fortunate to have recovered, I returned to the ski slopes. Thanks to a nice deep base from all the early season snow, the skiing remained good into the spring. Getting in some time in the montains lifted my mood in a way nothing else does! 

Springtime view across the Matukituki Valley

October 2022: The pupster turned 2 years old--officially an adult! He still has enough energy to power a small country, though. Happily, as you can see from the photo, he does now sometimes chill out. (So long as I have provided him with a solid hour of rabbit hunting beforehand, that is!) 

November 2022: Hawea enjoyed a glorious start to spring. Rhododendrons aren't native to NZ, but lots of people grow them in their gardens, and the floral display seemed extra spectacular this year. 

December 2022: This month was meant to be all about family. First, our Aussie relatives came over to Hawea for a visit, and when they headed home, we headed off to North America to meet up with my family for a wintry Christmas. Or at least, that was the plan. Snowmageddon hit Vancouver, our flight was cancelled, we scrambled to piece together new flights and still managed to make it to our first intended destination of Victoria. My family got stranded while connecting through Toronto, and had to spend Christmas there. Due to minimal availability and maximal prices on any open seats, we weren't able to meet up at all, which I felt pretty sad about. Yet there remained lots to enjoy about our first ever trip to British Columbia and Washington's Cascades. The Christmas lights were epic, especially in Victoria's Butchart Gardens, and the town of Leavenworth, WA. Tree skiing is something we don't have in NZ, so we delighted in skiing glades at Stevens Pass in Washington and Whistler in Canada. Some of our Colorado friends were able to join us in Whistler, and it was wonderful to hang out with them again.

Lights at Victoria's Butchart Gardens

Leavenworth, WA

The kiddo and I enjoying powder in Stevens Pass trees. (And yes, the kiddo is taller than I am now.)

Dinner with friends at Whistler

January 2023: It's definitely an odd experience to return from the dead of winter into the heart of summer! The Auckland area of NZ has been hit very hard with flooding and heavy rain, but down south in Hawea, it's been hot and dry. A good excuse to head to the uncrowded beaches of NZ's southern quest to learn to surf continues, with plenty of wipeouts. 

Our fav surf spot, Colac Bay

Like most things on social media, this quickie recap leaves a whole lot out. What about writing, some of you might ask (assuming anyone's actually stopping by this blog, after all this time, ha!). After receiving comments from beta readers on The White Serpent (the Cara story), I did some more revision on it. I'm about to finish up this 2nd revision, at which point it'll go off for a paid edit pass. I'm still working on the Lena and Ruslan stories and The Dreaming Sea. The writing has to fit in and around the day job and household tasks, so my pace remains that of an arthritic snail, but I do keep inching along. 

In past years, I've agonized over how to write faster. For 2023, I've decided to chill out about it. I'd rather have fun with writing than turn it into a source of stress. I guess that's my theme for the year ahead. More chill, more mindfulness, more treasuring of small joys. We'll see what lies ahead.  

Summer colors


  1. Glad to hear all is well with you, and thanks for the update! I was actually thinking of sending you a note the other day, so this came at just the right time.

    About your reasons for not being on social media, I totally get that, and have been cutting my time there as well. We just had a two-day cold snap with a -40 wind chill (F or C, take your pick), but every day this week is 10-20 degrees above normal, so global warming didn't take much of a break. And in the same way as you, I'm trying to spend more time outdoors, to experience all this before it's gone.

    Sorry to hear about your family's virus time, but glad it didn't hang around, and that you got back to the mountains. Happy Birthday to Comet, and how did the kiddo ever get taller than you? That must be an optical illusion.

    Wishing you much more of those small joys, plus open slopes, good books, and enjoying sunny beaches with your family.

  2. Steve!!! Great to hear from you. That cold snap sounds's been interesting to me that atmospheric circulation in the southern hemisphere hasn't yet destabilized in the same ways as up north, meaning we don't get massive polar blasts from the Antarctic (yet!). I guess it's the moderating effect of so much open ocean down here. Anyway, thanks for the good wishes, and the same back to you.