In the last few years my life has felt like one long soap opera script. Until June of this year, I was part of a church discussion group. Every two weeks, we’d start by discussing what happened in our lives since the last meeting. Other people talked about quiet activities and family milestones. Since I joined, my bit always had a lot of drama and action, punctuated by others saying: “Oh my! Did that really happen?? Oh no!”
The major change happened in January 2016 when Colin moved out of the house. Adair and I cleaned the house from top to bottom in a couple of weeks and then Joe started moving his things in. One day I looked at the living room and started to cry. Joe’s black leather sofa was in the ‘sofa spot’ in the living room. I realized that in the dark days, I had imagined a future when I would live in the same house as Joe. When that day arrived, I knew the sofa would be right where it now was. I was so relieved to have a coherent and calm life back after so long.
In fact, my life is so nice right now, this year’s post seems too much like a traditional Christmas letter. Apologies. I’m enjoying every minute. Let’s see what 2016 brought me. First off, a lovely partner to share experiences with in a loving manner. For those of you that have a great relationship, bear with me. Even after 2 1/2 years, this is pretty new to me. I’m savoring it like an amazingly well made vanilla ice cream. Yes, it looks ordinary and simple, but each bite is its own bit of paradise. Thank you so much, Joe.
Thinking back over the year, the months are punctuated by work trips. London, Connecticut (5 times!), Milwaukee, Jerusalem, Paris, and Zurich. I managed to catch up with a lot of people in my travels. In London I met with Zaheda and Brian. Brian was then into cocktails and after sampling 6 of the most amazing sounding concoctions, followed by a couple of pain killers, I boarded the plane the next morning glad that breathalyzing isn’t part of the security protocol. Ouch!
One memorable trip to Connecticut, I rented a bike and got ambitious on the third day of
Connecticut/ Massachusetts border
biking. I completed the last 6 miles of the picturesque loop in the dark. Trust me, a dark river takes a terrible picture and even the straightest of paths may have a bollard in the middle. Luckily the one I hit fell down easily and my bruises healed quickly. Then I met up with Joe in New York for a short break visiting the city that never sleeps. So we didn’t either.
In the summer Joe ran a half marathon in a
Joe at the start of the run
valley in the Sierras. He trained months for it and then during the last stretch had an injury, so it was a run/walk affair that he completed more quickly than I thought. My boss roped me into writing a book this year (stay tuned for the 2017 announcement due shortly), so I was completing a chapter in the car when Joe appeared at the window. I missed his big arrival! Still it was a lovely break in the middle of the peaceful valley.
My only other ‘sport’ is being part of a women’s softball team where they hide me in the spot I can do least damage. Some bright spark booked us for two games on Halloween.So, here’s my attempt at Snow White playing softball.
Mom turns 80!
Right after celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday, September through November became a blur of work and travel. A highlight of September was a visit to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea fitted around my work schedule. I walked the old city on Saturday to get over jet lag transiting from religious sector to sector drinking in the sounds and sights I’ve only ever seen in pictures. At the end of the week, I met up with Vadim, an old colleague at
Adaptec, and met his wife at their lovely place north of Tel Aviv. Thanks, Shani, for the great meal! It was a real treat to travel someplace I’d never been before and just explore. My last day started with floating in the Dead Sea (400+ meters below sea level), visiting the place where the Dead Sea scrolls were found and then flying to Paris. It was all an amazing contrast. Travel note: if you ever bathe in the Dead Sea, plan three showers to start smelling normal again.
Paris was a chance to connect back with a friend from Lycee. Paola and I spent hours talking and I got to help one of her daughters with her English homework among many highlights of the week. I also now know where I get my habit of compulsively cooking from scratch. One afternoon, I watched Paola carefully clean every leaf of basil as she made her own pesto.
Pam & Aaron for the 280 Group
Zurich was busy with a conference and speaking on behalf of the 280 Group. Each evening had its own particular Swiss themed event. One night, my work colleague, Aaron, and I found a classic old school fondue restaurant, so we ticked off the most important tourist activity followed up by buying vast quantities of chocolate at the airport on the way home.
And Joe and I finally had a week of vacation together skiing at Whistler. There was a huge selection of slopes and lots of snow, so we had a great time bundled up against the cold. After that we had a too brief stop in Victoria where we caught up with my cousin, Paul, and his lovely family.
The kids are older now and I have to reach out on a weekly basis to catch up with their lives. We manage to fit in coffees, lunches and dinners. When I traveled a lot, I’d send them hour by hour schedules of when I was available and they’d drop by for at least a hug. I was also buying small things for them on my travels, so a lot of the Swiss chocolate went out the door with them!
The happy couple
Adair is living with Mary. He is back at West Valley College doing well in his science classes. And Mary became a Slug (the banana slug is the official mascot of UC Santa Cruz). They are both settled in well with each other which is very nice. They stayed with me for a while over the summer which was a great opportunity to share a space and have more time to talk. Now they have their own small place in the mountains and visit for showers and laundry.
Aidan is full speed ahead with his studies after transitioning to Foothill college from De Anza. He has a great set of friends who I hear about and lend camping equipment to. He has a great side career as a lighting designer. Who knew that Adair’s casual request a few years ago for Aidan to pitch in a the last minute and work the spot light at Cupertino High School would turn into a job! Next fall, he’ll be off to a 4-year college, so he’s knee deep in sending out applications. He joined Joe, Nate, Joe’s son, and I for a skiing weekend right before Christmas. Our first real blended family event!
Nate, Joe, Pam and Aidan
Amara is deeply involved ahead with the same theater group as the boys. Last year she was doing makeup. This her senior year she’s been promoted to stage manager. At her last production, I marveled to see her keep the show on track with careful and clear directions to one and all. She has gained a tremendous amount of poise and confidence as she has taken on more responsibility. And as she faces challenges at work and school, she is more willing to ask my advice from time to time. I am honored that she trusts me enough to ask and then listen carefully to my suggestions. One highlight was cooking up my second annual winter borscht meal for her Russian friends. It’s sad to realize that a year from now, they’ll all be off studying elsewhere.
That’s 2016 in a nut shell. Take care of yourself and your families. Note: I’ll be splitting this blog into personal material which will stay here and a work-related blog in the next short while.