The Long and Winding Road …


So, Santa provided a masked, curbside delivery of Christmas! Since Alek has a Christmas birthday, he usually gets to double-dip, but, this year the pandemic put a damper on all celebrations. I was able to successfully bring Dainis down to Georgia and we spent two nights in the R-Pod (Roxy). No problems along the way and Teddy Tacoma performed very well. We stayed at the Prince William Forest RV Campground in Dumfries, VA, and The Cartersville Country Winery in Timmonsville, SC (Harvest Host). The Staff at both places were excellent and I would recommend any other Podders to stop there any time.

Both Shrader homes were hunkered down for Christmas. We shared the delights of Latvian cooking including raspberry cookies, star cookies, lace cookies, and pfefferkuchen, along with cabbage rolls and cabbage pie. Alek managed to garner an entire cabbage pie (his favorite for many years) as a significant birthday present! Of course, the annual star was the bounteous supply of beloved pirags!

Dainis and I bought some fireworks for New Year’s Eve and the masked, socially distanced, combined families gathered in our back yard to watch the aerial display. We had six aerials and three ground fountains, and capped off the night with sparklers for all.

New Year’s Day brought the annual meeting of the Polar Bear Club where a few brave faamily members take a brief dip in the pool. This year the ensemble included Dainis, Aija, and five-year-old Eva! The usual video was distributed to all the family near and far.

Dainis and I subsequently made the trip back to Silver Spring, stopping at the same campgrounds. The trip was enjoyable and again uneventful.

Now, life goes on …

Let’s take a romp around the categories:


My very short opera, Frogs Always Get You in the End, which had been recorded in Boston by PARMA Recordings, will be released on a compilation CD entitled Fleeting Realms. It will be on the Navona label and available on most streaming services. NB. It’s still in production – release date TBA. I conducted the recording with Aliana de la Guardia as the Princess and Brian Church as the Frog.

My Christmas piece this year was a new setting of There Is No Rose. It’s for SATB a cappella ensemble and is somewhat challenging. It came off my desk too late for this season, but I have submitted it to Colla Voce for maybe next year. If not, I’ll put it up on SMP Press.

I’m returning to work on some sketches for the Breton chamber opera Ankou with a libretto by Alek. It’s been on the composing desk for a few years and every so often I return to seek the muse in this area. I usually work directly from the orchestration on accompanied projects, but for this new idea, I started with a piano sketch with orchestration to come later. My research into Breton music and culture has been very interesting and enlightening.


The holidays and associated travel has put me waaaay behind in completing my reading lists. Lately I’ve finished Peter Robinson’s Aftermath with Chief Inspector Alan Banks. I enjoy the Banks canon, but this one seemed a little slow. I’m currently back on Shetland with Ann Cleeves Red Bones with Jimmy Perez. I love the landscape of Shetland and these stories are always gripping.


I’m still stalled on both Twin Killing and Cedar Key. I have this idea that with the acquisition of Roxy R-Pod and some planned trips to area campgrounds, I might be able to immerse myself into moving these stories forward. Ditto with composing.


I’m writing this from the Madison RV and Golf Resort in Madison, FL. Moxie and I came here on Sunday afternoon and we’ll return home tomorrow, Tuesday. This is a lovely campground with level cement pads, lots of amenities, and a nine-hole golf course. We have a pull-through, full hookup spot and it’s really very nice. The park is pretty full as the weather is starting to warm up. Social distancing is working although I would like to see more masks in use! We’re pretty much keeping to ourselves, so it’s all good.

NB. Aija, Valda, and I get our first vaccine shot on the morning of February 1!


Interestingly enough, the Pandemic has been pretty kind to Realtors, at least to Team Aija! We remain busy and successful, although inventory is low and listings are critical for success. Aija is indefatigable as always and spends oodles of time providing outstanding service to her customers and clients. We hope to sustain this success into 2021!


I thinks that wraps it up for now. I’ll probably see you next month. Until then be safe, careful, happy, healthy, and at peace.


  • Jim
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