Our 2017 Summary at Christmas Time
A Continuing Tradition?
Dear Diary, Friends, and Families,
Last year we made a "Christmas Letter" web page because we missed those old-fashioned traditions. I promised to repeat the letter-writing in 2017, thus establishing a TRADITION. However, in the rush to real Christmas, I almost forgot! Now I need to work hard, because TRADITION matters, especially in the Holidays.
Of course, you could just go look at the forty-two 2017 diaries at Trotter.ws, but no one (except Marianne and I) would want to take all that time. (We still review these ramblings and appreciate the 18-year diary TRADITION more all the time.)
I am using last year's organization, since I have noticed that successful Christmas-letter writers do that as well. It is easier than novel creation and certainly contributes to TRADITION. So, here it is:
Fresno Home Events - Family and Friends
Continuing the TRADITION from 2016, Marianne's mom was our most active visitor/hostess/traveling companion. From a March visit to Shinzen Garden, through November's Thanksgiving at Gabby's, we hung around a lot and diary-documented many of these times. Some were simply dinners at her place, our place, or one of our normal restaurants - and the occasional house project. (April, April fence project, June, June with Hungarian friends, August pool-time and dinner out, September more pool time, then with Ava and Sam) Other events were more involved, with family (Chris & family, Sam's birthday, September with kids) or our neighbors (Halloween) or at wineries! (On Fruit Trail, at Cardella). We also worked in trips with Mamo to Gabby's for Easter and Thanksgiving. It was all good. She remains a remarkably healthy and active 98-year-old (on December 23rd.)
Our longest distance visitors were Andrew and Ingrid, all the way from Germany. They squeezed in a few days with us on their tour of the West. It is always fun to catch up on "the old country".
Most of our other local social life involves neighbors. Four "formal" dinners were held (February, April, June, and August) but there were also BBQs for Joan's and Vern's 50th Anniversary, Memorial Day, and July 4th. Regular TRADITIONAL events included the annual Block Sale, a Nature Conservancy dinner (thanks Jon), Baseball in a fancy box (thanks Steve), Jeanne's annual Luau benefit, Blaine and Ethan's house centenary, Halloween, plus many informal gatherings that are scattered throughout our diaries and memories.
We tried our hand at political activism this year, with two street marches in January (no wall, no immigrant ban) and two or three community meetings that I am not sure I even noted in diaries, but I remember them. Sorta. I will also add reference to a Veteran's Day remembrance at Fresno City College. I can't say I was part of this ceremony, but I did appreciate the sentiment from those who were there.
Finally, we managed to get a little more educated this year, or at least we tried. City College sponsored a panel discussion of Confederate War Memorials, including panelist-neighbors Blain and Ethan, both Fresno State history professors. Not long after, Marianne and I attended a One Day University course on Genius.
So, all in all, Fresno isn't so bad! Still, we did leave when we could.
Big Trips (= Airplanes or could be)
In 2017 we managed to break away for some interesting trips. In March we flew to Florida to visit friends Chin and Peter and then the four of us continued on to Cuba. It was a wonderful trip to a truly remarkable - and different - place.
In May, John flew to celebrate Brian's birthday and to be a wildlife photography student for a day in Rocky Mountain National Park. Despite drizzly weather, the "hunting" was very successful.
Our most elaborate trip was an August trip up to Eastern Oregon where we joined friend Connie to view the Great American Eclipse, literally a once-in-a-lifetime event. Connie also hosted us in both Bend and Portland and we worked in a visit with brother-in-law Ron and Nancy.
Our last 2017 trip was a drive, not a flight, but it was long enough to qualify as "big". We took almost two weeks to visit northern Arizona, first to Sedona, where Marianne had a three-day abstract art class. Her class was great and our tourist highlight may have been the "doors-off" helicopter ride through the Red Rock Valley. From there it was a night in Jerome, an ex-ghost town, and then up higher to Flagstaff.
Visits to Family and Friends
Visiting family and friends has taken over from visiting castles, churches and squares. That was then, this is now. Future?
About every other month, we visited Gabby, Mamal, Ava and Sam. We started 2017 at their Tahoe snow house, but generally went to their Monte Sereno house for birthdays, Easter, Thanksgiving, and as part of other travel. (health "Baseline", Zentangle, Monterey). All the visits are fun and every time we see growth in the kids.
Speaking of growing kids, John flew to Colorado for Brian's birthday this year, a chance to see a much-grown Rich! It was good to catch up with the whole family. Rich is in high school now and taller than his mom. By year end, Brian has rejoined the work force after a frustrating year of job searching.
We had seen Chris and his family early in the year in Fresno and returned the visit in July. Unfortunately, a couple of months later, we met the family again, but at Stanford Children's Hospital where Spenser was given a titanium splice for a broken femur. We visited again in November and noted he was on the way to recovery.
That Monterey visit was almost unique because we took the time to behave like tourists and visited a mission, the original Presidio, and Santa Catalina, Marianne's grade and high school. Chris has since joined Spencer on crutches after a fall that broke his ankle. We hope a better 2018 for both!
Last but not least, we have managed to work in short trips to a half-dozen attractions, mostly here in California. Here's our list,
-- Yosemite remains a popular destination, except in the crowded summer! We visited in Winter to quiet snow and then in Spring with a guide, where we learned more about The Valley than we had on our own for years. While Marianne was off at a Zentangle class in Santa Cruz, I returned for a Fall visit.
-- We also visited Kings Canyon three times. The first two were day-trips, in winter snow and as a break from summer heat. I also combined an overnight in Kings Canyon with my Fall visit to Yosemite.
-- In mid-February, we spent some time in Death Valley, a long one-day drive from Fresno, but worth it.
-- For our August anniversary, we took a train ride up to Sacramento and spent a couple of days enjoying a nice B&B and a city that is prospering in ways we hope Fresno might - years from now, I'm afraid.
-- Finally, John has had a couple trips down to Palo Alto for "Project Baseline", an ambitious health study sponsored by Verily (a part of Google), Stanford, Duke, and other medical centers. NO results yet, but it is a four-year study after all.
With that 2017 summary, we wish everyone, especially family and friends, peace and happiness in 2018. For us, our goal will be to increase all the events recorded above; visits with family, visits with friends, and travel to both new and known places. TRADITIONS, all.
Happy New Year!!
John and Marianne