Christmas 2021

Holiday Greetings to All!

I spent much of the year social distancing, wearing a mask, and avoiding crowds. Then I got my third Pfizer shot. But I’m still social distancing at Starbucks, wearing a mask when I enter a restaurant, and avoiding crowds when I select a store for shopping.

Obituaries in the Ventura County StarI keep telling myself, “I’m now invincible.” But am I?

I turned 81 this year. I look at the obituaries in the newspaper and play this game: older, younger, younger, younger, same age—well, I think you get the idea.

But I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to live forever. And ... so far, so good!

Impact of the Pandemic

Jeff Bailey, a good friend, dad, and grandpa, deeply missed Now let’s get serious. Daughter-in-law Jen’s dad Jeff Bailey, a great storyteller and a loving and caring dad and grandpa, succumbed to COVID on February 11. Alas, he contracted it before a vaccine became available.

Bonnie Blueberry, Indigo Allfruit, and Lavender LaVioletteJen, after being fully vaccinated, contracted it as well this July, as did 14-month-old Parker. Both have recovered and seem to have suffered no lasting effects.

Until Jen’s doctor freed her and Parker from isolation, Dave and Lucas stayed with me. Lucas explained to me who each of TV’s Rainbow Rangers were. I knew we had deeply bonded when, five days into his visit, he shouted out, “I love this place!”

Health Issues

Starting in June or July, I realized that I had suddenly lost some of my sharpness. From a visit to the emergency room and two subsequent visits to a neurologist, I learned that I may have had a stroke. I now experience frequent dizziness but only when I am walking.

Terry Blanco and I after our Nun Run in 2020 And I do walk! Most mornings I meet my friend Terry Blanco at 8 am at a nearby park. From there she and I rapidly walk two miles to a Starbucks, and over coffee and tea, we talk and laugh and share stories. We walk back to the park and begin our real day around 10 am.

For keeping your brain sharp, neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta offers this advice, “The answer is exercise. And it’s as easy as walking … Go for a brisk walk with a close friend and talk about your problems.”

I am now reading his Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age guide.

My Dating Life

Masked Las Vegas Showgirls and me, partying on the Strip Judy and I on the Navajo Bridge near Page, Arizona I had met Judy Blades in 2020 at the dawn of COVID. In April, she and I blasted off on a 9-day auto trip in which we saw a bit of the southwest. We started in Death Valley, and then continued on to Las Vegas, where Judy employed slot machine strategies to finance our trip.

In Mesquite, Nevada, we visited Judy’s cousin. In Page, Arizona, we saw the Colorado River’s magnificent Horseshoe Bend. Our last stop was Sedona, Arizona, where red sandstone rocks, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and energy from vortex sites invigorated and inspired us. View a slide show, with music, of our trip.

Other Travels

Washington’s Mount Rainier in the summer, 14,411 feet high Marion, Brian, and I hiking, with the Golden Gate behind us In late May, I took a week-long trip to Seattle, transporting a new computer to former sister-in-law Debbie Prince who, after I set it up for her, loaned me her Prius so I could explore Leavenworth, Washington, for a few days.

And in October I flew to Oakland to visit Brian, Marion, and kids in Berkeley, where I attended the boys’ soccer game and hiked with the family and canine companion Maya.

Notwithstanding my dizziness, I am hoping to do more air travel in 2022. We’ll see.

My Activities When at Home

I describe my ideal woman My StoryWorth book cover In October, I published Stories of My Life, a 480-page StoryWorth tome containing responses to 28 prompts. I gave a copy to each of our kids and posted a copy online. Somewhat chronological, the book begins and ends with my responses to the two prompts below:

Adelante means Forward and we live in the Conejo Valley I’d learned that restaurants and grocery stores often daily give their day-old food to volunteers who package and redistribute it to many needy families, whose numbers have grown since the arrival of COVID. To assist Conejo Adelante, one of these charities, I reported weekly, just before closing time, to the Panera Bread Café, which gave me donations of bread, bagels, and sweet rolls. These were combined with other stores' donations and then doled out to families in need.

Mary and 9-month Dave strike stunning smiles in this 1981 slide With a newly purchased high-resolution slide scanner, I began scanning the first of about 1,000 dusty and forgotten slides that date back to 1961. I’ve found some jewels among them, and I am not yet half done.

The Kids, Spouses, and Grandkids

Cathy and sleek Tori hunt for Easter eggs and, later, Cathy with Dave Cathy showed Washington D.C. to Tori, visited my sister Sue in Chicago, and went to Nashville to attend a Northcentral University Commencement ceremony, at which she was presented a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. High-school freshman Tori is getting recognition in her Theater class for being a ham and, with her tall (now over 5’6”) and slender profile, should do well in track, running short distances when that season starts. Cathy has returned to working at the office, although a broken foot has limited her mobility.

Jen and Jenny and Lucie talk and eat oranges on the patio Jenny’s Meyers Nave downtown office is now open, and she goes into work once a week, on Wednesdays, along with another group of employees. Alas, many downtown restaurants have closed. She works from home the remainder of the week, in the background caring for cats Evie, Charlie, and Lennie.

Jamie, Lucie, Brian, Marion, and Nicky on a hike Until recently, Brian had not visited Adobe’s San José office for over a year. He’s looking forward to his sabbatical next year, during which he may show New York City to Lucie.

Forever cousins: Tori, Lucie with Parker, Jamie, Nicky, and LucasMarion does web design work part time and manages the household. She took a week-long trip home to Munich in October to see her parents and friends, since they had been denied entry into the U.S. due to COVID. Lucie, a high school freshman, continues to excel academically and performs aerial regularly. Nicky and Jamie turned 12, got vaccinated, have had weekly soccer games, and are busy gaming and playing the guitar, French horn, and trombone.

George, Jen, Parker, Lucas, and Dave in front of their home At Christmas my progeny will have lived 321 years Dave and Jen both work from home. He has co-founded Alpha, manages teams around the globe, and uses his ad-placement skills to help companies grow. She now works for the company BetterUp, which coaches people and helps them “identify their strengths, achieve their goals, and reach their full potential.” Lucas is now four years old and he and Parker, 2 in the coming spring, have become great buddies. Both attend pre-school during the day.

I'm Hoping for a Promising New Year

Of course, we’ve still not turned the corner. Let’s hope that we have by this time next year.