2016 ... Not much change
To Send Christmas Cards | To Not Send Christmas Cards: That has been the question I’ve struggled over the past few years with sending cards being the answer. This year’s answer changed – and I am not sending out cards. Instead of sending out cards, I decided to make a contribution to a non-profit organization. While most of us have been in contact in various ways during the year whether by phone or on internet sites – or even visits, I have enjoyed hearing from many of you this holiday season and appreciate your thinking of me! Several years ago, I took Jim Jones’s Web Development class at Graceland University. The final project was to create our own web pages. I later included highlights of that year which I have done every year since. It’s longer than the tradition holiday messages in cards I receive, but it will give you an idea about my 2016.
Here we go again with a trip around a year just past – maybe / maybe not in some order:
- So ... Just the other day when the Steelers were having a dreadful first half, someone was running around my house saying some pretty bad words. Another time, I noticed someone was not always picking up after himself. And he was leaving lights on in other rooms when he left. You know … there’s just so much you can blame on your cat when you live alone - just me & my shadow!
- I took two course at Graceland University. The first semester – Drawing followed by Illustration and Imaging in the fall. I'm not the greatest artist in the world (pictured drawing a still life >), but I enjoyed it. I can get along in graphics, though. I'm trying to turn my final project into something that we can use on the Lamoni internet site - a graphic novel about two people visiting (surprise ... surprise) Lamoni & (surprise ... surprise) loving it!
- I still work out regularly at the university's fitness center, play racquetball weekly with Jim Jones 30 miles south at the Bethany Rec Center, and biked for 2,017.82 miles. That was down from last year, but I still reached my goal of 2,000 plus miles. We had a bad bike weather spring! Locally, I continued as Trails Commission Chairperson. This year, we're participating in a Trails Visioning Process which was funded by a grant. Four commission members attended the Iowa’s Living Roadways Celebration where our visioning boards were featured.
- I helped start a Mystery Book Club at the public library. We meet on the third Tuesday of the month to discuss that month's selection. For December, we're reading Set in Darkness: An Inspector Rebus Novel. January's book is Roseanna. (Sometimes I cheat & and listen to the audiobook - one club member says that isn't cheating ... I think she does, too!)
- I won the annual March Madness contest with Darrel Baker - two years in a row. Eat your heart out Darrel.
- Andy visited in early July. He kept busy taking care of the landscaping in the yard - trimming bushes, raking, some weeding, and general upkeep. He worked his tail off, and when he was done, I didn't know the place. We did a little biking ... talking ... and some great grilling. He wanted Iowa Pork Chops - and we had two days reacquainting him with fine Iowa meat. It was wonderful being with him!
- I visited the Perkasie Rees Family in August. While a year might not change adults - it sure changed Betsy and Maggie. Maggie’s turning into a person. Betsie's big deal was learning how to ride her bike which was made easier once we fixed her flat tire, although it wasn't until shortly after I left that she did it. We visited Betsie's school where she would be starting kindergarten the next week (see ... I told you kids can change fast in a year). We also went to this ultra-cool playground that had a pirate's ship & everything else. I ate my way through the visit. Great time - great visit!
- I connected with Nick in Kansas City. He was there with Katie whose father - Tony - was hospitalized. We talked and then went out for Mexican food. It was a good visit. Unfortunately, Katie's dad, who had been hospitalized for over a hundred days at that time, passed away shortly after my visit. While good to see Nick, I was sorry for Katie and her mom as they experienced this difficult time in their lives.
- Another fall enjoying Steve Anders' Sunday evening "Empty Nest" potluck picnics. While I didn't attend all of them, the ones I went to were enjoyable.
- I filled up with fellowship and food at the Thanksgiving Harvest Meal at Community of Christ which kicks off the holiday season in Lamoni. Holidays are special in our community. “People celebrate the holidays all over the country,” Lamoni Mayor Doug Foster said. “But Lamoni’s sense of community adds a personal touch you can’t get in a major city.” (From: Around Lamoni - The Lamoni Chronicle ... Hmmmmmmmm!)
AND absolutely special was connecting with Andy for the second time this year. I picked him up at the Omaha Airport, and we headed for Sioux City & Thanksgiving at the Mathews. This year, the Simon's visited during our trip - but had other plans for dinner. Don & I - Joe when he was there - overdosed on football. Andy and Bryce smoked a turkey (that sounds weird) - it was soooooooooo good. & of course Barb made sure the table was STACKED with everything Thanksgiveny (HUH?). There were people all over the house, & it was an entertaining time for all. This is the second year Andy & I traveled to SC & the Mathews for the holiday (Two times makes it a tradition, Don & Barb!) Great time.
Andy & I
Getting Ready to Eat
Joe, Don, & Me
- The Sunday Steelers' football back & forth with my brother continues. He calls before the game starts and on the first Steeler score - and odd Steeler scores after that. I call on the second Steeler score (& even scores) & halftime. If the Steelers win, whoever calls first gets through. If the Steelers loose, we mope - no call. Like last year, the Steelers have trouble winning the easy ones - making bad teams look good! GO STEELERS!
- I continue to write a weekly column called "Around Lamoni" and numerous press releases for the Lamoni Chronicle. Some of my favorites were Victor Cicansky - noted artist in bronze and ceramic sculptures, Peggy Mothershead's Homecoming Art Show at GU, Joe Shelton's 30 years as the GU football field announcer, and Intercultural Night at Graceland when the students show off their cultures. This year I've started writing a weekly movie synopsis for the paper. I publish everything in The Lamoni Exchange which is a much subscribed Facebook page representing many aspects of our community.
Dave always asks about my columns. Instead of filling him in about each week's article, I got him a subscription to the Chronicle for his birthday. I timed it so he received his first copy on his birthday. In that issue, I wrote an article in a column called "Everyday Blessings" that began: "He was born June 2, 1940 – I arrived seven years and a month later. For much of my childhood, he was not only my Big Brother, but he was always BIG. As the oldest of three boys, he was the one who looked after and was always in charge. As the youngest, I was always the one looked after and not in charge." It ended with "Happy Birthday." In between I highlighted what a big brother meant to me!
- Living in a small community with a university has great benefits. In addition to taking classes and working out at the GU fitness center, I enjoyed numerous concerts especially Christmas at the Shaw.
Not much change around the Rees family: Chris, Hannah, Betsy, and Maggie are in Perkasie, PA. Nick and Katie are in Los Angles raising (and still spoiling their two dogs - Sammie and Bennie). Andy is in Scottsdale, AZ. And then there's me and - of course - my cat Whizzer in Lamoni, Iowa.
2016 was OK - I hope you've had a great year!
Family is the Greatest Gift!