Dear Friends & Family,

Once again it’s time for my annual year in retrospective or the “all about me” letter. I do live alone after all…except for my cat, Morris, and all the wildlife that come to visit. If you’re reading this online, you will find clickable links (underlined) to lots of photos and a few videos. If not online, you won’t see the photos or videos and, consequently, will miss the best part! Best get thee to a computer (or iPad or iPhone) and visit my web site at http://saxchick.net. Just click on the Holiday Newsletter graphic. It will remain online until next December, when it will be replaced with a new holiday letter.

My old man cat, Morris, was diagnosed with diabetes in February. I have been injecting him with insulin twice a day since then and he never misses the opportunity to whine and hiss at me to let me know his is not appreciative. Nevertheless, I persist…and he is doing well for a 16-year-old cat (80 in human years), with his diabetes under good control. Though I suspect he can’t see very well, he occasionally brings a hunted chipmunk to the front door to “share” with me. He very generously leaves me the hind quarters!

I continue to teach a few students (saxophone and trumpet). We began online and had some fun with Messenger video filters, then returned to in-person lessons as soon as it was safe enough. My students are like family and I love working with them. I am kind of a stern taskmaster but we always manage to have a good time. They make me look good!

In April my stone chimney was hit by a UFO, breaking the top stone piece and causing some costly damage. The repair was finally completed in October. There is no end to the surprises that await a homeowner and it is difficult to find anyone to do home repairs and maintenance! I also had five ash trees that were ravaged by emerald ash borers. They were cut down and removed on November 2nd. I am always thankful when I can find someone to do what needs to be done on my property. I feel fortunate to have found some expert workers.

Of course, I still have many beautiful healthy trees on my property! Some of my favorites are the smaller ornamental trees: redbuds that display their beautiful blossoms in the spring and a burning bush that shows off its brilliant red leaves in the fall.

The usual beautiful birds stopped by the feeders this year: Baltimore orioles. red-headed and red-bellied woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmice, cardinals, blue jays, and indigo buntings. I always enjoy seeing them (mostly through my kitchen window) though, for all the seed and suet they consume, they are not very willing to pose for me! I did manage to catch a couple of them in the act of snatching peanuts off the deck rail…and also caught some uninvited guests at the feeders.

I planted a garden again this year. Following my credo of doing everything before its time and in excess, I couldn’t wait to plant…and so had to cover everything for a few days when frost was in the forecast. I am kind of a slow learner in this regard. I hope I can wait a little longer next year! One of my new garden-related projects this summer was making pesto! I learned from my dear friend Bea, the pesto master!

My apple trees were not very productive this year due to the lack of rainfall. Still, I had a good crop of peaches and quite a lot of plums. The deer continue to destroy a few little trees every year. That’s the price I pay for getting to enjoy their serene beauty year ‘round. My butternut trees seemed unaffected by the scant rainfall and produced a bumper crop! I hope I can get motivated enough to crack some this year and pick out the delicious nutmeats! It’s a tedious job, beginning with cracking them in a vise in my shop garage.

Speaking of getting crackin’…I turned 70 this year…officially old! I think that spurred me on to finally embark on some projects I had thought about for several years. After all, what am I waiting for?!  I also realized that I am never going to move from my rural Eden, insulated from covid and crime hot spots. So…I launched a major overhaul of my kitchen, replacing the flooring, countertop, and appliances. It seemed the entire summer was consumed with that project…between waiting for the flooring and appliances, then enduring all the stress of the installations.  I am very pleased with the end result and the expert installation of everything, and am adjusting to all the new electronic features. Wait…not done yet! My new purple leather living room furniture (also something I had been contemplating for years) was delivered on December 14th!

Because I have a fancy new kitchen I was elected to host Thanksgiving this year! My sister usually takes on that burden because she is the most centrally located. I have to admit that it had probably been ten years since I prepared a Thanksgiving dinner so I was a little concerned that my culinary skills might have significantly eroded. Notwithstanding a lot of stress and fretting over the big production, it all came together in the end, my new appliances performed beautifully, and we had a lovely family gathering. We even had a special guest: a possum that enjoyed its Thanksgiving feast outdoors as we watched through the window. Here are photo highlights from a few other family get-togethers this year.

Compared to last year’s record production of 14 carpet murals, this year was slim with only four: two geometrics, a nativity scene, and a commissioned piece…and I have one design, “Homage to FLW”, ready to begin.  I was honored to have my December, 2020 Coronavirus Commemorative carpet mural, “The Chase is On”, selected for a 4-month long “Everything Covid art exhibit at Madison’s Overture Center. It will be on display there until January 23, 2022. The exhibit includes seventy interesting and finely crafted pieces…and it’s free!

Most of 2021’s performing arts seasons were still adversely affected by the pandemic but I did manage to get to one play at Spring Green’s charming outdoor American Players Theater. Things opened up more in the fall and I began attending concerts and operas again at the Overture Center. The opening concert of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s season featured Russian-American piano virtuoso Olga Kern, with orchestra members (except for the wind players) and soloist masked. Not long after, the opera season returned and I enjoyed Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”, having met the singer of Enrico’s role at lunch before the October concert. In keeping with my life’s motto, “everything in excess”, I attended another MSO concert a week later. That one featured cello soloist Thomas Mesa and works of Honegger, Dvorak, Walker, and Grofe’. It’s great to get back to cultural entertainment and so good for the performers to be back to work in front of live audiences!

Our saxophone quartet, Burlap Sax, began playing again this year, though not often enough to suit my addiction! It is still too soon for us to get back to playing for some of our favorite audiences at local assisted living facilities but we did schedule two holiday programs in December for Walmart shoppers!

As always, I wish each of you a holiday season filled with people who appreciate and adore you, music that stirs your soul, pets that love you unconditionally, food that’s worth the calories, and health good enough to enjoy it all!

A joyous and prosperous new year to you all!


Carol Kramer & Morris