Merry Christmas & Happy New Year – 2017

Rather than send you a Christmas card in the mail this year, challenging for me even when I’m home in Colorado, I am sending a “card” via my blog. I hope you enjoy it.

This year has been full of changes and firsts for Joni and I as well as for Hannah and Megan. We are fortunate in that, though change has it’s challenges, these changes have been welcomed and invited.

Our year – 2017

As Joni and I were making plans to come to Nepal (in 2016), we got the news that Megan and Adam were going to get married. We were very happy to hear this as we like Adam very much but we were concerned that the date might not work with our August departure. We didn’t have to wait long before Megan announced June for the wedding and we began calculating how we would weave the wedding and connections with other friends and family into our journey.

With the inspiration for travel in the air, we sat down with our calendar and charted the months remaining before our August departure for Nepal. The idea of going to Nepal and being gone for many months made us more aware of the people we were leaving behind. We knew we would return, but we would be leaving our familiar orbit and loved ones. With that thought, we wanted to take time to see as many family and friends as we could.

Looking toward spring, we decided that a trip to the Utah desert was a must. Fortunately we were able to arrange a trip with our friends Paula and Frank and their daughter, Savannah, husband¬† Brandon and 4 year old daughter Avi. We always enjoy staying at their friends Yurt in Castle Valley where we can enjoy their company along with a few conveniences. Being with Brandon, Savannah and Avi is like being with our own kids and grandchildren. Another big bonus is enjoying the serenade of Frank’s guitar and vocals. I tested a new microphone on my camera and took the opportunity to record Frank playing in one of the Canyons (see YouTube below).

Soon after our March trip to the desert we were off to Sparta, Wisconsin to see our friends, Andrea Hansen and Curtis Miller. They were in the middle planning a May wedding for their daughter Chloe. We’ve know them since our days in Wyoming when we were newly weds. As our soul-mates in Rawlins, Wyoming, they were the first friends to hold our new baby Hannah. Curtis also performed Hannah’s wedding ceremony in 2010. Since we knew we couldn’t make Chloe’s wedding in May, so close to Megan’s wedding, we decided to visit them in April. We enjoyed our time catching up on life’s news as we toured around Sparta and the surrounding area. It was fun to see their house, visit Andrea’s mother and meet some of their friends in and around Sparta. We even had an evening of music in a colorful little tavern in the area.

Spring passed quickly as we worked on the house, recycled, sold and donated as many of our possessions as was practical. Once I got started, I became enthusiastic about discarding things. In the normal course of living, things build up and gets stuffed away. The “stuff” is layered and diverse; from old files and photos, electronics, furniture, kitchenware, knick-knacks, magazines, and on and on. We think, “Oh, I may need that.” or “This brings such wonderful memories”. While all this might be true, we probably will just continue to keep it in a box never to be seen or appreciated. I recommend purging your possessions if you are so inclined. The funny thing is that, in the process, you find things that you thought were lost and are really are worth keeping.

June, the wedding month, came very quickly as we were still busy with our jobs while putting the house in order. On our way to Walla Walla, Washington (where Megan and Adam live) we stopped halfway, in Salt Lake City. Once again we got to see Savannah, Brandon and Avi briefly. They graciously gave us a place to rest our heads for the night.

It just so happened that before the wedding we had the opportunity to see Megan graduate with her Master’s degree in Social Work. This was also an opportunity to spend time with Adam’s parents and discuss wedding plans before all the people arrived.

The wedding was wonderful (of course); with all the emotion, activity, confusion and beauty you’d expect. While the wedding was a do-it-yourself affair, it was very elegant though down to earth. The ceremony was held at Tranche Winery, among the fields of grapes. Megan and Adam worked tirelessly on the details and invested the help of family and friends as they arrived. This made it an opportunity for families to get to know each other while working side by side. Joni found a house where most of our family could stay together and enjoy more time. It was a joy to see my brother Rob and Joni’s sisters under one roof.

Wedding Album

With the wedding complete, Joni and I returned to Glenwood Springs to finish the house details. Our goal was to get some things stored, clean the house and turn the house over to our friends, Ben and Namrata by July 22nd. With 3 weeks left this seemed realistic. This schedule would allowed us to drive to Missouri to see my Mom, drive to Mississippi to see Hannah, Kyle, Lilly and Charlie, return to Missouri, and finally fly out of St. Louis for parts east on August 16th. The good news is that all of this worked as planned. Even better, my mom agreed to travel with us to Mississippi so she could see Hannah’s new house and bask in the glow of her great-grandchildren.

That’s right, while we were busy preparing to leave, Hannah and family made the leap from Lafayette, Louisiana to Starkville, Mississippi. As we got news of the wedding and plotted our travels, we got news that Hannah and Kyle were taking jobs in the Starkville area and would be buying a new house. As the Matron of Honor in the wedding, Hannah was determined to get it all done and make it to the wedding on time. With her usual determination she continued her “move” in the midst of the wedding festivities, working on the closing of her home loan. By the time Joni and I got to Mississippi in August, they had moved in and (short of a few boxes) made it HOME.

Our visit to Missouri and Mississippi were an opportunity to decompress from all the packing, moving and travel planning. Nice to have some distance from the gravity of all our attachments and work in Colorado. With this distance it became evident that we were actually leaving the country.

While in Missouri, we enjoyed visiting my brothers and sisters-in-law and a few of my nephews and nieces. In Mississippi we got to explore brand new territory; Hannah’s neighborhood (and the beautiful lake), Mississippi State University, Hannah’s workplace, and of course the shops and restaurants. Best of all I enjoyed watching my family together – Mom and Joni hanging out with the kids and the adults catching up with each others lives.

So, there you have it. Most of the story of 2017. Joni and I are truly blessed to have our health and the resources to travel and spend time with the great people in our life. We hope that you and your family members are also healthy and blessed with similar gifts. In our day to day routines, under the barrage of news and information that has become common, it is easy to forget our blessings. I pray that you can enjoy the energy and beauty of this life and that your joy showers your friends, family, strangers, and even your “enemies”. It is time that we push back the negativity of selfish individuals and agendas.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year!

If you’re interested, here are more pictures of events for the year 2017.

Rafting with Jim Eason and the Conner’s

Rockies Baseball with High School Friends