I haven’t blogged much this month — or even this year — so I’m wrapping up 2015 with the summary we just sent to friends and relatives out of the area. Meanwhile, may you enjoy the end of 2015 and find happiness, good health and peace as 2016 begins.
The problem with attempting to write an end-of-the-year summary is that you have to remember what happened during the year. And as everyone of a certain age knows, a year hurries by so quickly that it’s hard to hang on to the many pesky details. But here goes…
Ann started 2015 with new eyes. After wearing glasses full-time since third grade, cataract surgery brought her 20-20 vision and the knowledge she would never be called “four-eyes” again. Her most thrilling experiences with her improved eyesight have been seeing in the shower, seeing while swimming, and seeing while skiing, even when it’s snowing.
In March, we went to Honolulu for a week, where we were introduced to Portuguese doughnuts called malasadas at the famous Leonard’s Bakery. (The reason for bringing up this detail will become clear later.) We spent time with friends there, took a daylong island tour and hiked to the top of Diamond Head and Manoa Falls. Our on-line reviews of the pastries and the island tour have resulted in daily Trip Advisor spam begging for more, so we may have to take another trip soon. The weather, ocean, tropical plants and floral scents always pull us back to Oahu, but Waikiki is over the top with high-end stores and tourists knocking each other over with their bags of designer goods, which makes us question whether to hazard a return.
Greg still spends time each day working on his guitars and is now making rosettes, decorative inlays crafted from dozens of teensy pieces of colored woods for guitar tops. If he does many more of these, he may need new eyes too.
Both of us have been playing in a ukulele band this year; our gigs have included one funeral. Only a few people — mostly Greg and the group’s leader — know how to play and sing, but some of us have perfected air strumming.
This summer Ann finished a novel — after the 29th draft — and sent it to her coach, who made suggestions for improvements. Ann has responded to all the recommendations, except for the final one. “Not quite it,” was the feedback about the very last sentence, so she’s still thinking about what it will take to be “quite it.”
We went on a Rick Steves’ Portugal tour in September, where we visited Roman ruins, the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, a fishing village, a cork farm, and a home-based port-making business. Ann was eager to try real Portuguese malasadas and compare them to those made in Honolulu. As it turned out, we never saw a single mal-asada, but we soon forgot them after our introduction to the custards called nata, a Lisbon specialty.
In October, Ann enrolled in a yearlong course at the University of Washington called Genealogy and Historical Research. She wants to write a novel based on the life of one of her ancestors, who went on a mission to Peru in 1897, and thought the course would help. It did, but it also drove her crazy with homework, so the yearlong course ended for her after one quarter. Meanwhile, she and Greg have been creating family trees from what they remember about their grandparents and great-grandparents, and what they’ve learned from ancestry.com and other on-line resources. He’s gotten back to 1495 with ancestors in Belgium and the Netherlands. She’s traced relatives to the 1600’s, and England, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and France. We both know we have to view what we’ve learned with some skepticism. Misspellings of names, bad census data, and the mistakes of others working on some aspect of the same family trees all enter into the equation. Still, we’re intrigued with the results.
We ended the year by spending Christmas and a few days before in Winthrop, Washington. We haven’t gone cross-country skiing for at least three years, but decided to brave blinding snowstorms, mountain pass closures and temperatures in the twenties, teens and even lower, and try it again. The snow was beautiful and the week free from traffic jams, crowded shopping malls, and pressure to find the perfect gift.
Like every other year, 2015 had its downs along with its ups. We lost a good friend, parts of our state were ravaged by fire, and then there’s the rest of the world.
We’re grateful we can pursue our interests and keep active, and fortunate to have friends and family who also are healthy and thriving. We wish the best for you and your family in 2016.