Monday, December 22, 2014

Greetings and Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season

And a Wonderful New Year 2015!

This year has flown by so quickly, I can hardly believe it’s December. Although I sold the RV in June, I still did a LOT of traveling throughout the year—basically a trip every other month. Almost all of the trips were to visit longtime friends and relatives, the kinds of visits that feel soul-nourishing.
with niece, Megan Gaiefsky, Florida

The first trip, in January, was to Florida to see old friends, Dinah and Cledith Oakley, in Daytona Beach. I was going to take the RV, but it wouldn't start (dead battery), so I drove down in my Saturn. Afterwards, I stopped in to see a niece, Megan Gaiefsky, who lives nearby; her dad, cousin Larry, was there at the time. 
WTHS classmates: Larry Wigner, Sue Campbell, Joyce and Dick Eldridge

During the trip, I also saw a few former high-school classmates (’54), particularly Suzie and Ray Campbell, who took me around The Villages where they live, a sort of Disney World for seniors. They invited a couple of other classmates over for dinner one evening, and we all looked at old yearbooks and reminisced. I suspect we’re happier now than we were then, although we were certainly healthier when we were younger!
Briana and Blake in front of their home, Idaho Falls

Blake by a mound at Craters of the Moon
Then in March, I flew to Idaho Falls, ID and spent a week with daughter, Briana and grandson, Blake, while he was on spring break from high school. He and I hung out, talked, played games, went to museums, and traveled around the countryside, including a day-long visit to Craters of the Moon National Park—a bleak, fascinating landscape.
with Carol and Fred Valentine, Harvard Club, NYC

In June, I took the train to New York City to attend the 50th wedding anniversary of cousins Fred and Carol Valentine at the Harvard Club. It was an elegant, congenial event. 

While in New York, I spent some time with daughter, Maria, and grandson, Gabriel. 
Grandson, Gabe, at park with his mom

On the way back to Charleston, I stopped in Washington, DC and saw a long-time friend, Art Molella and his wife, Roya. We visited an exhibit on the Smithsonian Museum of American History that Art had curated. While there, I also spent time at the exhibit on Changing America (1863 – 1963), an excellent presentation of the deeply troubled legacy of slavery, emancipation, segregation, and racism in the United States.
with Mary and Ed Gaiefsky, Linville, NC

In August, I spent a week in North Carolina, first visiting cousin Ed Gaiefsky and his wife Mary, in their lovely cabin in a forest near Linville. 

Then I drove down to Lake Lure to meet some West Ashley Unitarian women friends for a long week-end organized by Marilyn Henderson. During both visits, we talked, and ate, and saw nearby sights, and, in general, had more fun than old folks are expected to have. Food is a big fun factor these days.
Ellie, Marilyn, Toni, Sue, Linda, Susan, Blowing Rock, NC

Jacob Heyman-Kantor, the son on one of my long-time best friends, Arlene, was married in September at a lovely retreat in the Berkshire Mountains (MA). I flew up to New York and then drove a rental car to the site of the two day gala, where I met several interesting people. With one of them—a German with a French name, Jean-Baptiste Chuat, I had a long and fascinating conversation about culture and science and media. Had a very pleasant ride back to NYC with Lisa Vergaran, an art-historian friend of Arlene’s.
with Arlene Heyman-Kantor and Len Rodberg, MA

In October, I flew out west, with a first stop in Donna Texas to visit my brother, Dick. We had a pleasant, quiet couple of days together, including an afternoon in Mexico. That was my first time on the soil of our south-of-the-border neighbor-nation. 
with Sue, Ruthie, Marlene, and Dee, NM

Afterwards, I spent a week in New Mexico with a bunch of former Kalamazoo College classmates. Ruthie Williamson, our hostess, led us through sunny and scenic byways, viewing amazing landscapes and the art it has inspired (as in the Georgia O’Keefe museum). It was wonderful to see and be with old friends, and that included a long lunch with a some-time beau.
This month, December, I will be driving to Mt. Juliet, TN (near Nashville), to visit daughter Elisabeth and her wonderful family (including three grandchildren) for Christmas. 
On the way back, I plan to stop in Conyers, GA, to see Fran Cameron, the former secretary of my first “boss” in Charleston, Sam Spicer. My friend Ellie Setser and I both worked in Sam’s lab but at different times, and we agree that he was a great boss!
So that’s the recap of this year’s peregrinations. The home front has also been pretty busy, with social and community groups, church activities, book events, and meals with friends. I've gotten into a lot of social media activity—email, Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn—and that has truly become a “time-suck” as they say. Some of it was intended to help me market books, but instead, it has become something of a personal addiction. I need to find ways to cut way back on online activity so I can spend more time writing. And organizing! Organizing is always on top of my to-do list, but it only seems to happen when I’m up against a deadline or I can’t seem to find something.
As far as writing is concerned, I've been working on the third revision of a manuscript about understanding the body and communicating with health-care providers. It’s something I've been writing and revising for three years now with the help of a group of fellow writers who are no doubt sick of it, so I’m trying to find other readers for the next revision. I've also compiled a collection of short stories from pieces written over the past three decades; that collection was just submitted. Other stories/articles have been submitted throughout the year. One piece, on names, was accepted by Persimmon Tree, but it won’t be published until next year.
I miss having the children and grandchildren nearby, but local friends partially compensate and they're doubtless less emotionally distracting.
Thank you, my terrific friends and family, for enriching my life throughout the years. I feel extraordinarily lucky. Hope your holiday season is or has been joyful.

Best wishes for a wonderful New Year in 2015!