The headline story of my 2022 was the publication of my book, Childress Cousins: From the Hills and Hollows of Southern Virginia. It's a collection of stories about the 19 children of my great-grandfather William "Bill" Osborne Childress and his brother, the Rev. Robert "Bob" Walter Childress: WWII memoirs, biographies, letters, poems, more than 100 photos, and so much more.
I began writing it in May 2021, and it published in July 2022, after which time my focus shifted from writing to marketing: mailings, newspaper and magazine features, book talk and book signing events, etc, and a YouTube travelogue video: Childress Cousins | The Hills & Hollows of Southwest Virginia | Floyd, Patrick, and Carroll Counties - YouTube
COVID-19 hit here in March 2020, shutting down most of what we knew as normal life. 2021 brought vaccines and as many variables of reopenings as levels of personal caution. 2022 was a progressive continuation of this, with the reopening of the businesses, churches, restaurants, etc. that survived - still, often understaffed (with unexpected closings not unusual) and with public participation at less than pre-pandemic. Some people are fully back to their pre-pandemic activity, while others are still wearing masks in public and avoiding enclosed crowded spaces. COVID is still rampant, but with much fewer deaths, presumably due to vaccinations, which apparently will need to be boosted regularly for years to come. "Long COVID," often serious symptoms that linger for months, possibly far longer, is also an as-of-yet-not-understood reality - affecting the heart, brain, blood flow, digestion, or breathing.
I have remained on the cautious end of the spectrum, beginning to brave crowds a little more in the last couple of months. Most of the year I continued to "attend" church services on-line, avoided all crowded entertainment venues, and wore a mask when in a public indoor space. To my knowledge, I have not yet contracted the virus, although I cannot be certain. I had a second booster vaccination in November.
As with other public activities, this year was a transitional one for church activity. Although my church has been open all year, I have cautiously continued to "attend" services online and participate in a few other church activities via Zoom. During the last couple of months, however, I have begun to slowly transition back into face-to-face activity.
Credit for that push goes to the new discussion-based Outlook Sunday School class in which five of us are sharing leadership. We're using the Presbyterian Outlook magazine as our curriculum, and we're sharing some good discussions and fellowship.
Also, in the Spring I was an All-In small group leader (via Zoom). I began "shepherding" a new couple in the church in December. And I have continued my role as a Stephen Ministry Leader.
In addition to regular travels to VA, including the annual Queen City Mischief & Magic (Harry Potter) festival in September, I went to the Carolina coast in January, February, March, April, and December; and in September made a 3-day book-related trip through Floyd, Carroll, and Patrick Counties, VA. Travelogue video here: Childress Cousins | The Hills & Hollows of Southwest Virginia | Floyd, Patrick, and Carroll Counties - YouTube
January to March, I hosted the third My Writing Circle via Zoom with six participants meeting weekly to share writings.
I spoke at JMU in November, and had book events at Trinity Oaks, Carroll County Public Library, Staunton Public Library, and South Main Book Company.
Due to COVID precautions and to working on my book, I did little volunteering this year, but did tutor with the Literacy Council at the beginning of the year, mostly via Zoom, and greeted at Lee St. Theatre a couple of times at the end of the year.
The only stage show I saw live was Godspell in December at Lee St., and I saw no movies except streaming from home. I also streamed a few live Cris Williamson concerts.
My wind-down activities included the Puzzle Page and Words With Friends apps, and I stepped into the Wordle craze when it was new. My book research also led me to the Find a Grave website, where I became a manager for a few family memorials.
I read or listened to 57 books this year, listed here in the order of their publication dates. Those listed in bold print are especially recommended, and those in red, even more so. Libby, through which I listen to audiobooks free through the public library system, is my favorite app.
Up from Slavery (Booker T. Washington, 1901, audio) autobiography
The Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka, 1915, audio) man becomes bug; novella
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith, 1943, audio, repeat) novel similar to Little House books
Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury, 1953, audio) dystopian novel of a fireman
Beezus and Ramona (Beverly Cleary, 1955, audio, repeat) children’s fiction
A Separate Peace (John Knowles, 1959, audio, repeat) coming of age during WWII; novel
The Man Who Moved a Mountain (Richard C. Davids, 1970, repeat) Bob Childress biography
Coal Miner’s Daughter (Loretta Lynn, 1976, audio) autobiography
A Long and Winding Road (John Hassell Yeatts, 1989) stories around Mayberry VA, nonfiction
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (JK Rowling, 1997, audio, repeat) first in series
Red Scarf Girl (Ji-Li Jiang, 1997, audio) memoir of Chinese Revolution
Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets (JK Rowling, 1998, audio, repeat) 2nd in series: Tom Riddle, basilisk
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (JK Rowling, 1999, audio) 3rd in series: Sirius Black
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (JK Rowling, 2000, audio) 4th in Series - triwizard tournament
Esperanza Rising (Pam Munoz Ryan, 2000, audio) youth historical fiction; Mexican immigrant girl
The Children’s Blizzard (Melanie Benjamin, 2004, audio) historical fiction, blizzard of 1888
A Time To Grieve (Kenneth C. Hauck, 2004) book 1 of 4; for 3 weeks after loss
Experiencing Grief (Kenneth C. Hauck, 2004) book 2 of 4, for 3 month after loss
Finding Hope and Healing (Kenneth C. Hauck, 2004) book 3 of 4, for 6 months after loss
Rebuilding and Remembering (Kenneth C. Hauck, 2004) book 4 of 4, for 11 months after loss
The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak, 2005) Holocaust novel narrated by Death who is kind & caring
Any Second Now (Mark Smith-Soto, 2006) poetry
Time Will Tell (Doris Abramson, 2007) poetry and interviews
Mudbound (Hillary Jordan, 2008, audio) 1940s Mississippi; racism, PTSD; novel; powerful, raw
The Cross and the Lynching Tree (James H. Cone, 2011, audio) nonfiction; Lynching & Christ’s crucifixion
Hamilton: The Revolution (Lin-Manuel Miranda & Jeremy McCarter, 2016, audio) making the musical
My Name Is Lucy Barton (Elizabeth Strout, 2016, audio) novel; poverty & distanced family dynamics
Anxious for Nothing (Max Lucado, 2017, audio) nonfiction; giving anxiety to God
Braving the Wilderness (Brene Brown, 2017, audio) nonfiction
The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah, 2018, audio) historical fiction: damaged Vietnam vet moves family to AK
So You Want To Talk about Race (Ijeoma Oluo, 2018, audio) nonfiction
Summary: The Warmth of Other Suns (2019, audio) summary of Isabel Wilkerson’s bestseller
Call Your Daughter Home (Deb Spera, 2019, audio) novel of 3 women in 1924 SC
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (Kim Michele Richardson, 2019, audio) 1940s KY blue people
Resistance Women (Jennifer Chiaverini, 2019, audio) based on true story; Nazi Germany; novel
The Huntress (Kate Quinn, 2019, audio) hunting down a WWII war criminal; Night Witches; novel
Wilmington’s Lie (David Zucchino, 2020, audio) history & strategy of white supremacy in W’ton & beyond
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man (Emmanuel Acho, 2020, audio) nonfiction; race intro
The Winemaker’s Wife (Kristin Harmel, 2020, audio) novel set in WWII France
Furia (Yamile Saied Mendez, 2020, audio) young female Argentine soccer player; fiction
All Boys Aren’t Blue (George M. Johnson, 2020, audio) memoir - black & gay
What My Grandmothers Taught Me (Merryl Blair, 2021) Presbyterian Women’s Bible Study
Atlas of the Heart (Brene Brown, 2021, audio) nonfiction; understanding emotions
Lent of Liberation (Cheri L. Mills, 2021) Lent devotional about American slavery
The 1619 Project (Nikole Hannah-Jones, 2021, audio) US History that some of us missed
Hell of a Book (Jason Mott, 2021, audio) novel of a black life
Three Sisters (Heather Morris, 2021, audio) novel
How the Word Is Passed (Clint Smith, 2021, audio) understanding our slave narratives
How Y’all Doing? (Leslie Jordan, 2021, audio) honest & entertaining memoir
‘Tis the Season with Belle and Chuck (Margaret Basinger, 2021) Christmas memories
Struck at the Crossroads in Boonville (Allen Paul Speer III, 2022) Speer family and Boonville history
Growing Up Biden (Valerie Biden, 2022, audio) memoir by President Biden’s sister
Childress Cousins: From the Hills & Hollows of Southern Virginia (Katherine R Vestal, 2022) biographies
The Diamond Eye (Kate Quinn 2022, audio) WWII historical fiction, female Russian sniper
This Time Tomorrow (Emma Straub, 2022, audio) fiction, time travel
Book Lovers (Emily Henry, 2022) fiction, romance
Why We Did It (Tim Miller, 2022, audio) GOP strategist tells all, nonfiction
My torticollis (involuntary neck turn) continues. I stopped the botox treatments, not seeing improvement, and fearing what other harm it might be doing. I continue OMT treatments.
Not ready to return to a crowded gym, but missing my pre-pandemic workouts, I started working out in the Rufty Holmes exercise room, and taking a yoga class there, and I love it. I think the yoga is helping my neck more than anything else I've tried, and it feels so good to be working out again, in addition to walking. I averaged more than 31 minutes per day of intentional exercise throughout the year.
I did add a new health concern this year - a digestive one. With no apparent reason, I found myself vomiting about every two weeks, for months. A digestive specialist put me through four different tests but finally said she knew nothing else to try. She concluded it could possibly be my gall bladder, but that the only way to be sure would be to have it removed and see if it helps. I started keeping a food diary and monitoring for myself what foods seemed to be triggers. Currently I am avoiding all dairy and anything with additives or preservatives, and I eat little sugar. I eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and organic products. I'm having far fewer episodes now and have unintentionally lost 10 pounds since the first of the year. I wonder if this new problem might be related to my COVID vaccines (or maybe I had the virus and didn't know it) or to the botox treatments.
I saw no movies in the theatre this year but streamed 19 from home, listed here in order of release year. The two in bold print are especially recommended.Sergeant York (1941) WWI story starring Gary Cooper
Lilies of the Field (1963) light & feel-good; Sidney Poitier
Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980, repeat) Loretta Lynn’s story
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) romantic comedy, time travel
A River Runs Through It (1992) based on true story - memoir of brother
Amistad (1997) slave ship uprising, based on true story
The Simple LIfe of Noah Dearborn (1999) Sidney Portier
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004, repeat) 3rd n series; Sirius Black
A Man Called Ove (2016) in Swedish; sad, sweet, emotionally heavy
The Hate U Give (2018) based on novel; race, cops, violence; powerful
Uncle Frank (2020) gay man in 1974 SC
Coda (2020) aging concert pianist
A Secret Love (2020, repeat) 70+ year relationship of League of Their Own player
My Name Is Pauli Murray (2021, Prime) biography, documentary
The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) bio of Jim & Tammy Baker
As They Made Us (2022) written, produced & directed by Mayim Bialik
God Forbid: The Sex Scandal That Brought Down a Dynasty (2022) Jerry Falwell, Jr.
Downton Abbey: A New Era (2022)
I rarely watch TV but did have Hulu access and a month of Netflix. I saw:
The Wonder Years Season 1 (2021)
Call Me Kat Season 2 (2022)
High On the Hog Season 1 (2022) Netflix
1. book cover
2. Queen City Mischief & Magic
4. sunrise over the Atlantic
5. Mabry Mill