Christmas 2016

Deb and Alexandra at the Library of Congress

Family! Family! Family!

What a wonderful year!

Rebecca, still an aerospace scientist assigned to the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA-Goddard, has been working non-stop to do her part to make sure this $9,000,000,000 replacement for the Hubble survives the launch in October 2018. And the Summit High School graduating class of 2016 decided to invite Rebecca, as the valedictorian of 1992, to be their featured speaker this year, highlighting her success since high school and providing direction for their future success. It was great.

However she is not all work and no play and managed this year to take up bow hunting! She and daughter Alexandra, 11, came home to ski and hike. Alexandra is very creative, sewing, baking, making whatever, in and around her participation in a choir (for which she had to audition) and Taekwondo. Last spring I went to take care of Alexandra while she was on spring break. We love going into DC together. Here we are at the Library of Congress.

Rebecca at Summit High School 2016 graduation
Rebecca bow hunting
Rebecca and Alexandra
Alexandra sewing
Jonathan playing with the Houston Heights Orchestra.
Jonathan and Guillermo
Ruben and Cassie
Deb, Cassie and Deizel
Cassie and the fish she caught with her hands

Jonathan is the wind beneath our sails and makes all of our travel possible with the flight benefits from United, where he continues to work as a flight attendant. We love listening to him perform with the Houston Heights Orchestra. For Christmas last year he gave Paul and me tickets to Wicked and we loved going to Houston and seeing it with him. He and Guillermo love going to thrift stores and reselling their finds.

Matthew and the beloved, inestimable Becky, are loving their lives. Capt. Hage is now flying bigger planes and going more places. Becky is a pharmacist at our local hospital. Somehow, between the two of them, they are cruising and cruising some more. I don’t even know where all they have been this year. They are home often enough for Matt to maintain his status as a mission coordinator for Summit County Search and Rescue. He makes it a point every summer to hike with Derek. This year they climbed 12,777 ft Mt Buffalo.

Ruben continues to be the mainstay cook at Mountain Lyon Café. His goal and joy in life is to take care of Cassie, while working out to maintain his manly muscles and maintaining his Mustang. Cass, 12, is approaching adolescence with grace and aplomb. She auditioned and was selected for cheerleader at her school and for All-State Choir, while participating in Girl Scouts and Destination Imagination. We kayaked and hiked all summer with her dog Deizel. On one of our hikes she stood quietly in the stream until she was able to catch a fish with her hands!

Rachel, teaches as an adjunct sociology professor at Community College of Southern Nevada, while homeschooling Derek, 11 and Andrew, 5. What a handful those two boys are! Keeping up with Derek’s soccer and flag football schedule is a full time job in and of itself. Kellie has achieved tenure at CCSN so is able to balance teaching and coaching Derek’s football team. For two wonderful weeks this summer we were joined by Rachel and her family. We cleaned the highway, fed the squirrels, hiked and kayaked, making sure we spent time with Great Grandma Helen Clark. Wonderful.

Robert leaves his assisted living in the morning and by the time he returns in the afternoon he has walked miles and miles around Denver. Sometimes he is able to pick up some odd jobs picking up trash for a business or sweeping up. $5 here and $5 there goes a long way to buying cigarettes and keeping him happy. What keeps us happy is knowing his meds are keeping him stable.

Jamie is a cook in Evergreen and Jesse is a manager for Little Caesar’s Pizza. Amber is able to visit two of her three children once a week and is a cashier at a truck stop. We would love to see them more often.

Brandon works as a night clerk at a Holiday Inn and Carlos and his 3 children live in nearby Granby, where he works in a restaurant.

I don’t recall being that great a cook when the kids were growing up so the fact that 4 of the kids cook for a living, and Matt is a gourmet cook, is funny.

Capt. Matthew Hage
Matt and Derek Mt Buffalo
Kellie, Rachel, Derek and Andrew
Derek and Andrew
Paul shoveling

Paul has retired with a far more serious attitude and determination to make it work then I have. He works out every day. The big exertion was Ride the Rockies, cycling 405 miles in 6 days, climbing 29,311 vertical feet, and crossing 7 major passes. He serves on one board and is a member of Optimists, a service organization. This leaves him free to maintain our duplex in Sun City, AZ and our rentals in Summit County. While providing some monthly income, they are growing in value, making them an important part of our senior years.

Arches with the grandkids
Bryce Canyon
Alexandra and Cassie in Bryce Canyon
Reunion in Wisconsin
Deb, Mary, Darcie and our mother on the train to Glenwood Springs

I am still keeping on keeping on. Doing a little bit of therapy, which I love. Running the Community Dinner….115,000 free meals to date….but a bit more in the background. We have a wonderful cook who comes on Tuesday to prepare the meal and I am there when I can be while managing all of the volunteers, finances, fund raising, etc. Just because I do not have enough to do I have begun officiating at weddings. June I went to Wisconsin for a cousin’s reunion. September my sisters, Mary and Darcie, our mother and I went on the train to Glenwood Springs, spent the night, swam in the hot springs pool and took the train back. A trip I recommend to everyone!  I never get tired of family!

Paul and I together have not let the grass grow under our feet. We went to Hawaii for a week to help a friend do a little work around the house. We skied with the kids and grandkids. Our big summer trip we took the grandkids in the motor home for 10 days, visiting southern Utah. The Arches, Capital Reef, Bryce and Zion. I think a highpoint for Alexandra and Cassie was when we let them take a 5 mile hike alone down into Bryce Canyon! October we found ourselves, as usual, in Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta. November we flew to Madrid, stood in silent awe in front of Picasso’s Guernica, took the train to Barcelona, where we boarded a cruise ship to sail down the coast of Spain, stopping at the Alhambra (Paul is supposedly standing on the very spot where Queen Isabella gave Columbus the charter to sail to what has become North America). While on board the 14 day trans-Atlantic cruise, we danced every night! We ended in Tampa, Florida and took time to see my brother Mel and his wife Burdon who live nearby. We were gone three weeks and loved every minute!

So what does all this mean? To have such a wonderful life, to be filled with so much gratitude while traveling the world but knowing about others with so little, their impoverished lives dulled by death, hunger and war. How do we make sense of it? Particularly at Christmas, love comes into our lives and, particularly after this election, seems to stop at our back door.

I have felt for the last few years the United States was going in a Christmas spirited direction. Hope. Compassion. Justice. Equality. Peace. Now we are being governed by people who don’t want our grand daughter to have health insurance. Who don’t want Rachel and Kellie to be married. Who don’t want my niece’s husband to vote. Who don’t want our daughter to have equal pay for equal work. Who don’t want some of our children, basically dark skinned immigrants, to be here. Who have appointed a Secretary of Education who does not believe in public education. A Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency who does not want to protect the environment. A Secretary of Labor who does not believe in equal pay for equal work or more equitable overtime regulations. All of whom are being supported by a news channel that is so ignorant it has a news anchor that claims Jesus was white!?!?!? My mind reels at the real and potential challenges to the justice Jesus came to proclaim!

Skiing with the grandkids
Albuquerque for the Balloon Fiesta
Burdon, Mel, Deb and Paul in Tampa
Great Grandma Helen Clark

Luke 4:18
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.

Now, more than ever, this proclamation must ring out!

Particularly as Matthew shares another bit of the story, “…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, ‘Get up!’ he said, ‘Take the Child and His Mother and flee to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the Child to kill Him’…” Matthew 2:13

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the original refugees, were given hospitality in Egypt! They stayed until it was safe
to return home.

Paul and Deborah
What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?