As 2016 draws to a close, many reflections and thoughts arise in a grand mixture of joy, sadness, hope and some concerns. So much has happened, much of it unexpected and troubling, yet my predominant state of mind remains hopeful and at peace. And, that is the way I want it to be until the end comes, whenever it will... I do believe that is what Missus Joan prefers, and so do I.
Since I've begun receiving Christmas letters from friends and family, it must be time to respond in kind, now that over two months have elapsed since my posting which summarized my activities for the 6-months prior period.
At this moment, I am in Joan's house in San Francisco, where our friends Ilya & Rina Kolesnikov and their family have recently moved in at my invitation. Missus Joan's direction was to have them occupy her home as long as they wish. That's happening, despite the fact that Probate and transfer to my name won't happen until early 2017.
The Holiday Season has already been made real in the neighborhood, as evidenced by several dinners with neighbors, colorful lights and decorations and carols being sung - just what Joan would have wanted!
I've been in California since driving down in my new Honda CRV just before Thanksgiving.
Weather has been good except for a few days of needed rain.
My 10-day Retreat with the RIGPA Fellowship in Ventura was wonderful, as I rejoined the study of Buddhist teachings while meeting many old friends.
This has inspired me to continue learning mindfulness, regularly and peacefully.
After the Retreat, I met with my paternal 1st Cousin Robin McCarthy in Woodland Hills for the first time in 64 years! Can you believe it? Of course, I had communicated with her by phone and e-mail, but not in person all that time.
At 17 months younger than me, Robin remains at her professional fighting weight of 92 lbs on a 5' 2.5" frame! BTW, she was a world class ice skater, who with her husband and partner starred in Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and various Hollywood productions - a true celebrity.
While her current husband is seriously incapacitated, her main companion is Sunday, a feisty little Rescue dog, part West Highland Terrier, part Poodle, part Chihuahua. What a treat to spend time with Cousin Robin!
While in Southern California, I swung by Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage to meet Joan's Cousin Clifford McCormick and his wife of 68 years, the wonderful Juanita.
They are both 91 and planning next year to move East to be closer to their 7 children + umpteen grand kids.
What great friends they were to Joan; inviting her to family functions, reunions and the like!
Coming back to San Francisco, I was able to take care of business; visit with Lawyer re Probate; visits to the Sausalito Presbyterian Church; minister; friend Paul Meade at VA Hospital; California Alpine Club on Mt Tamalpais; San Francisco Parks Alliance; Fromm Institute of Life-Long Learning at San Francisco University.
Five Memorial Benches were donated in Joan's Memory -count 'em 5- each with a different inscription. Glen Canyon Park [2 blocks from Joan's home], Golden Gate Park [Concert Concourse between DeYoung Museum and CA Academy of Science], CA Alpine Club Lodge [close to Mt Tam], SPC [outside front entrance to Church], Fromm Institute [outside concourse/patio].
These 5 memorial benches will supplement the three I have already donated in Bellingham; Point Whitehorn Overlook above the Beach [Whatcom County Parks]; and 2 for Bellingham Parks & Recreation Dept- [locations to be determined].
Truly, future Missus Joans will find places to sit in many of her favorite places!
This weekend marks both my son's and my birthdays; Tom the 17th; mine the eighteenth.
RIGPA in SF will have a meditation on 12/18, after which I will begin my return to Bellingham, by way of Sacramento, Jacksonville, OR, then on North.
In the Sacramento Area I will visit friends Sherri & Peter Brown, Nancy Carleton -maternal 1st Cousin, and Lynn & Carol Stradley - very good friends since 1970.
Then, to Jacksonville, OR, where good friends Tom Pratum & Peggy Leviton have recently relocated. Thence, to home - Lord willing and the ice permitting!
That's it for now, unless something happens quickly of note.
So, please enjoy this Holy Holiday in safety and Happiness!