Well, Friends, it's been a hell of a year. This letter is testament to that fact, since I've never composed an annual summation before and I probably never will again (I'm told they're already somewhat passť, but then I've never been one to follow fashion).
In the past two years Judy and I have witnessed the passing of immediate family in what one sincerely hopes are atypically large quantities. There has been grief enough to go around both our families. We have been sustained by our surviving friends, family, critters and by those few new smiling faces that (hopefully) we meet along the road of life.
This past year I have driven more than 35,000 miles, most of them in dismal commutes from Santa Barbara to the San Francisco area and back. Lately my drives have taken me to the Santa Rosa area, first to search for and then to move to our new digs.
According to Bekins, the average American family tips the scales at 13,000 pounds and moves every 8 years. In my case, I had been stuck in my predicament (I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "home") for 28 years. When the time came to pull up stakes, our combined loot tipped the scales at around 39,000 pounds (example: two entire truckloads of videotapes: the consequence of recording TV since pre-VCR reel-to-reel days). Well, it was a learning experience I'll not soon forget. In my various and frequent commutes to Stockton, where Judy and her sister have been taking turns caretaking their parent's home, I wound up taking about a quarter of this total in my little Ranger pickup truck. The good news is that it's true what Benjamin Franklin once said, i.e. three moves are equivalent to one fire. I don't think I divested myself of a full third of my mass, but it was a wonderful feeling to shed baggage and debris throughout the experience.
My very last foraging expedition to that old Isla Vista hippie hangout was in the first week of this month; Judy and I are at long last ensconced in our rural "dream-cottage". I'm now the proud owner of a little less than two acres, located a little past mid-way on the route between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol. We're on a dead-end street, in the third of six homes. We're making do with all the "country comforts", including something like 40 trees surrounding our meadow and outbuildings, not to mention a septic tank and a well. Our closest neighbors, the four Holsteins over the back fence, are a friendly lot and have very little to say (Moooooooo). Mr. Wigglesworth and Fatso find them endlessly fascinating!
We've named our new abode "Steamboat Flat", since it's flat and we have a steamboat. I'll post photos to my website as the months roll by. The main house is a little tight (1,600 square feet) and the office is extremely so. I have yet to find a secretary and when I do, even if she only tips the scales at 100 pounds, there won't be room to swing a cat. But the kitchen, living room and master bedrooms are huge. My long-sought dream of a decent shop is on the verge of fruition, since there are not one, but two garages: a 2-car job attached to the house will allow Judy to get in out of the rain without a soaking and a separate 3-car garage is already jammed with shop paraphernalia. A small concrete-floored barn adjacent to the main house will be converted into a guest cottage so that friends and relatives might have greater expectations of comfort than in our old house. In March a 2,000 square foot barn arrives (in kit form) and this will eventually become a combination boat shop, museum and headquarters for the SRSMEEBBQ, an amateur scientist club which is now forming.
On December 15, I proposed marriage to Judy and she has accepted. We haven't set a date yet, but we expect to tie the knot some time in June.
Our future is looking brighter and we hope that similar rosy vistas await all of you.
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