Beginning of 2021 to The Start of 2023. That’s, Like, Two Years!

January 1, 2023

Most of these photos seem like they were taken years ago, and a lot of these thoughts are just old, and both of those things are true: I haven’t written an update since the end of 2020, which the title of this post also mentions clearly. Now I have to publish this just so I don’t forget everything that happened over the last two years, but that can really be summed up as: mostly hung out with Zoe, did some stuff with some people outside of the house, drank coffee.

I wanted to publish this earlier, but also wanted to first convert the infrastructure to a headless NextJS site, but I spent the bulk of my time working on my Animal Crossing island; trying to lower my cholesterol and weight in preparation for my 50th birthday next April; trying to learn jazz guitar; making Indian or Thai food poorly; reading; worrying; not upgrading the site.

This originally began along the lines of:

Santa brought Zoe a Switch for Christmas 2020, but I quickly became obsessed with growing every color of flower on our island, and my life has since then revolved around Island Life. Let me know when I can visit your island!

Also, since 100% of people said “I skipped that cubing part” in the last entry, or “I’m glad you’re into it, but I super don’t care”, or “My 9 year old nephew is ranked 10th in the US and has an average time of 4 seconds”, I thought I’d just delete all the cube talk.

November 2021

My buddy, Zoe. It’s funny looking at these photos from early 2020 and wondering where all these clothes ended up over the years. That’s a spectacular piece of clothing, and I think I only saw it once.

Thanksgiving: I made aloo malasa and naan, per Zoe’s request, which means we ate potato sandwiches on our day of thanks.

Honest question: does the vein in my forehead really look like that?


The Christmas Spirit visited us early in the month.

The annual “I hope the Christmas tree doesn’t slide off the top of our car and create a lot of damage both to myself and others” trip.

A new coffee shop opened up nearby, which means the Starbucks inside Target isn’t my favorite local cafe anymore.

Spotify knew how much I liked Piglet in 2020. I still like Piglet at the end of December, 2022 as I’m writing this. And on New Year’s Eve, 2022, I’m watching their slim but amazing output on YouTube. For those interested, I’d start here because it’s Micky’s birthday and Asher is nervous.

My 2022 Spotify wrap-up is 90% Zoe’s songs that I’ve, over time, come to enjoy. To be clear, though: The acoustic version of Why by Sabrina Carpenter hits hard, Melanie Martinez has a beautiful voice, and Beach Bunny is super fun.

Lots of walks with this one.

Lots of waiting in line at the beloved post office. This is before I discovered I could print postage at home and send out holiday cookies with 90% less hassle. This was one of the biggest innovations to happen in 2021.

The only Cube News you’ll get: SpeedCubeShop’s candy cane cube lube put me in the holiday spirit. (Co-workers did request that I stop saying “cube lube” forever.)

The traditional throwing of rocks at Point Isabel.

We had a splurge meal at Malibu’s Burgers. It is so expensive just for burgers and fries, but it happened during that weird week between Christmas and New Year’s, where time and money have no meaning and it seems like it’s always dark and cold out (not a complaint). To celebrate this time of darkness, we ate in the front seat of the car. I got too full and worried I wouldn’t be able to drive home. Zoe got super silly and I thought I accidentally bought her a boozy milkshake. We can’t handle our food.

January 2021

The year started with the best weather: dreary.

We painted a rock for Ambrosia’s birthday, which is something people do in James’ neighborhood, so stop tell me we vandalized sacred property.

I have maybe 4,000 photos of Zoe making this face.

Rain walks continue to be one of my top 10 favorite things. If you’re reading this, then so are you! (jk. you’d be in the top 50, though.)

The (expensive) crystal store.

February 2021

Wherein Zoe looks like she’s 22.

March 2021

Hey, it’s only your birthday once a year.

Zoe got a camera from Grandpa Stan. Also, one of the last documented photos of Zoe wearing leggings.

We saw a boat on the beach.

April 2021

It was my birthday and I wanted onion rings.

June 2021

We went cherry picking! Although a drive of that distance (45 minutes) is a little out of my comfort zone, we were made welcome by the presence of a Del Taco out past Walnut Creek. Also, I can dispel some cherry myths:

  • You will NOT get diarrhea if you eat 3lbs of cherries later that day.
  • You will pick way more cherries than you can use and will eventually throw out bags of freezer-burned cherries a year later.
  • A cherry crumble is delicious.
  • Cherries grow in the hottest area of California and you’ll see people suffer from heat stroke during your picking adventure.

July 2021

Meeting Ambrosia and James’ new doggie.

Taking in some of the area’s finer sites.

August 2021

Middle school orientation day, aka there has been no improvement in combination lock technology in the last 40 years?!

September 2021

At the vegan pastry popup with Olive.

By now we had entered into the crocheting phase, which also did not last very long.

October 2021

The bike I ordered arrived in a suitably giant box that Zoe pretended was…a coffin.

A new coffee shop opened, and I found the back garden space to be pleasing.

At the corn maze, obviously.

I’m glad Zoe inherited her mom’s tasteful head shape, and flair for eyewear, and doesn’t just look like an big egg with glasses on.

The golden hour with our pals.

November 2021

The park in the early evening.


December 2021

Two lukewarm thumbs up!

One of the best times of the year: pizza gift night with our pals.

January 2022

We’ve entered the journaling phase, or the “to-do list” phase.

Overdid it at Lovelys when I tried to keep up with James and Ambrosia.

I think this was taken at the doctor’s office, but I don’t know why we had a piece of fruit with us. Or maybe it’s fake. Oh no! Now that I’ve looked at this entry for more than eleven months, that’s clearly a relic from our “homemade stress ball” phase and that is a balloon filled with flour.

Our getting sticky stuff stuck on the ceiling phase.

Out on the town for Ambrosia’s birthday.

February 2022

I don’t mean to brag, but I did a little bit of painting.

March 2022

Our glow-in-the-dark ball phase.

Zoe is now 12

Zoe requested that we dine at their favorite locally owned and operated family-run Mexican restaurant. I’m not sure why Zoe is dressed like an alpine assassin.

I made a three-tier cake and buttercream for the first time, which I thought was super gross and just tasted like slightly sweet butter. That’s what they’ve been making on cooking shows the entire time?! Frosting: not a fan.

April 2022

Vat19 convinced me we wanted these “everything is upside down” glasses.

June 2022

Ambrosia’s wedding at City Hall was lovely.

July 2022

After my initial panic attack on the ski lift-type ride at the county fair, I had a delightful time. Are you really having a good time at the county fair if you don’t have at least one panic attack?

Zoe spent days working on this jawbreaker. And talking about it. And showing me. And taking photos of it. It really felt like a member of the family by the end of that long weekend.

August 2022

The light was really good at Target at the same time Zoe’s legs “hurt too much to walk”.

September 2022

I went into the office because I wanted to see if The Caffè by Mr. Espresso had opened yet (it had not and I was very sad).

Zoe had a headache and required one of these drinks on her healing journey.

November 2022

The start of holiday season.

In a stunning move, Zoe opted for a dish with a breakfast side salad.

I went through an excellent iced cortado phase.

On the flip side:


I made my first pumpkin pie. It was much easier than I had anticipated. Also, I really got my forehead vein under control.

Let’s see, what else?

  • Got super into knife sharpening and talking about knife sharpening and making other people buy sharpening stones so I could talk about it with them.
  • Made sauerkraut for the first time. Not sure if I love eating it.
  • Hoping this recent pain is muscle strain from working out and not a heart attack.
  • Hung a guitar hook on the wall and it really spruced up the functional value on my apartment’s storage. Every time I hang something on the wall, or install a shelf and it doesn’t crash down, I think I embody what people mean when they say they feel “empowered”.
  • Zoe broke a tooth right before Christmas on a Skittle.
  • My normal end of year depressive episode was manageable! I read a lot, set up my Bullet Journal, restarted my Animal Crossing island, and Kelley helped me reorganize my kitchen.

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  • Kathy Grieder says:

    Happy New Year and thanks for including us in your update. I’ve missed reading your Rosstralia.
    Zoe is turning into quite a young lady. Her great sense of humor shines through your photos of her.
    She is a very lucky girl to have such a close relationship with her Dad. It’s a bond that will never be broken. Ross, you’re a good Dad and you are making great memories with Zoe. Say hi to Zoe for us. We are sending hugs to both of you. ❤️

  • zoibifita!! says:

    stop bullying me about my side salad.

  • A.D. says:

    So awesome to peruse your journaling of the past two years. Looks like lots of fun, being silly, and interesting cooking. Hope the coffee shop meets your standards. Congratulations to Ambrosia. Love the puppy. Keep sane and creative. Peace and love. A D.

  • Jeff Donaldson says:

    Love the updates! It’s been too long. I got into some knife sharpening last year. I got some sharpening stones plus a mini belt sander sharpener. I put a fine edge on all my knives.

  • Lynn Walker says:

    Ross, Happy New Year to you and Zoe. I loved reading your blog and seeing all these gorgeous pictures. Am wondering if my cookies got lost in the mail.