Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
For a couple of weeks now, I have been starting my day, either at Starbucks or in our comfortable living room, thinking I need to write a diary. But, what to write? We are not doing anything remarkable, that's for sure. I guess I'll turn to that start-the-year standby: how was last year; how are we now; how will the new year be. Then a little bit of "news", such as it has been.
Our Christmas card insert summarized our year. One dread disease and two aborted road trips, but somehow it was an OK-enough year. We avoided Covid. We visited a few friends. Our old house didn't break and the holes were patched. Neighbor Vern remains neighborly and other local friends remain friendly.
So, how are we as the year turns? The healthy, wealthy, and wise trilogy.
Healthy enough. Marianne's cancer was removed. Age-related degradation is happening, but we are 77 years old after all. Friends in our age cohort have far more serious medical challenges.
Wealthy enough. Ten years into retirement and our savings have actually grown, thanks to years of good stock performance and despite 2022's retreat. Our house is paid for. Day-to-day costs in Fresno are reasonable. Our kids and other relatives remain self-sufficient.
Wise enough (?) Speaking for myself, the old saying about the benefit of knowing then what I know now certainly applies. Have I learned enough? I doubt it, but we all do the best we can.
How will 2023 go?
Marianne has a prophylactic mastectomy coming up in early February. Preparations and recovery will distract for a couple of months. Our old house will get a new heating and cooling system, our first big repair in a decade. We'll visit the California grandkids soonish, and the others in Maryland and Colorado "sometime". It has been years and I hope they remember us.
Marianne is counting on a long trip to Europe to visit friends and favorite places: April, May? I'll admit I am too much of a worrier to be comfortable with the prospect of extended travel. We will try some closer, shorter trips to practice. Otherwise, any suggestions for getting over travel anxiety?
More broadly, I am spending too much time watching Ukraine news and YouTube. The Russian bear continues to throw equipment and soldiers into trenches in WWI style and I wonder just how long the smaller country can keep fighting. A week? A month? Another year? More? And, in my view, there will be no return to world prosperity before there is peace in Europe.
Speaking of economics, what do you think of the new recession? For us, the only effect is the uncertainty of our retirement investments, but 2022 has already done damage and I can see 2023 being a no-gain, little-loss year. I hope. For those still in the labor market, things are more uncertain. Specifically, we hope the makers of digital devices along the Front Range in Colorado can handle one more programmer.
Politically, Conservatives and Libertarians prepared for chaos and it may well arrive in 2023. The smaller-government movement has progressed to a no-governing movement. The divisions in the country are hardening and proliferating. If not exactly a two-sided civil war, are we falling into a multi-faction fight that will delay any sort of public prosperity?
Enough big thinking, on to what Marianne and I have really been doing in the first part of January, 2023. I seem to spend each day moving from TV (news or Warriors basketball), to YouTube (Ukraine, electric cars, space launches), books (murder, history, "other"), email, exercise (Peloton, walks), and eating great home cooking. With no travel and little garden work in winter, it's a full-time routine.
Marianne is busier - and more productive. There's always Kaiser Medical routine visits, but nothing dramatic. She exercises too, including her own daily stretches and weekly Zumba with friends. Of course she is responsible for the great home cooking I mentioned earlier and all the ordinary cleaning and shopping our little household requires. There are also daily calls with Gabby, checking on her too-busy life, and calls or emails with friends.
Painting remains a big part of Marianne's life and she even had a sale already in 2023. A man came to do an estimate of our new air conditioning system and commented on the art work on our walls. I noted they were all for sale and he bought one, on the spot, and sent photos of two others to his wife for her consideration. Another sale pending!
This commercial interest sent Marianne back to her art hut to create another. I am always impressed with how she selects a color palette, squirts out some paint, picks it up with a brush, and converts white canvas to art.
Otherwise, we are just huddled inside, out of the rain. North, south, east, and west of us, rains are causing flooding with considerable destruction and deep snow is making Sierra travel difficult. Fortunately, Fresno sits in a bit of a desert plane, so rains and flooding are not much of a problem. However, water-soaked ground and winds do combine to push over old trees, sometimes with dramatic effect. With every storm, we look at neighbor Clay's huge pine tree and imagine the destruction it would cause. Yikes!
So, that's a diary. Good enough.
There will be more. Stay tuned.
John and Marianne