Mele Kalikimaka e nei (my dear)
I hope this letter finds you and yours in good health, spirits, and enjoying vitality at every age and stage.
How time flies when you’re having fun! Another year has passed and this year, I seemed focused on retirement. (Three years left and yes, I am counting.)
The biggest piece of that was the acquisition of my new van. I have long aspired to tour the USA in my Chevrolet, visit every national park, drive Route 66, and the Alcan, see the fall colors of New England and the bears of Katmai.
I began to focus on vans: eliminates the purchase of both trailer and truck, better gas mileage, no need to tow, easier pull-in, set-up, tear-down, and drive-off. Vans seemed more conducive to traveling alone.
During my summer forays into Yosemite and Sequoia NPs, I’ve accosted every owner of every travel van. They are typically retired, talkative, and readily volunteer tours of their vans, recount trips and packing tips.
Hence, I purchased a Mercedes cargo van in late summer. It has been converted into BAM = Baconz Adventure Mobile. I’ll plan some weekend trips nearby to work out the bugs before hitting the road - for I have miles to go before I sleep.
Another focus this year was ukulele. The Chinese Community Church has a very active ukulele and hula fellowship. Our very own kumu hula hails from Moloka’i and a few players are from Oahu. Chinese Community reminds me of my home church in Honolulu, the United Church of Christ, not in the least because their many Chinese parishioners lend a familiar feel.
The uke group who plays at L&L Hawaiian BBQ on Fridays is mostly retired, mostly from the isles and star-studded with a handful of pros. Between the two groups, I feel found and known. We talk story from small-kid-time in pidgin-English, and crack-up-laugh. These are my island peoples.
The ukulele community in Sacramento held a kanikapila (typically a backyard jam session though this was planned) in November. A dozen groups came together for a potluck lunch and 15-minutes performances. Good fun bruddah! Someone made chicken luau in a crockpot! Ono! My circle of Hawaiian friends expands through these groups and I am singing and strumming like I haven’t in years.
Our Clan continues to grow. Niece Lael is expecting triplets - yes - triplets. Darth converted their garage into a playroom and they seem quite calm. I suspect sister Gina will be visiting SoCal more frequently. My Mom and her siblings seem to be doing well and dine together weekly. “The Girls” (Mom & twin Milly) will turn 93 in April.
I added two kittens to the family this year. Koa & Kea are Turkish Vans. They have been quick to learn their names and come when called. They are busy wearing harnesses and dragging leashes in the preliminaries before learning to “heel”. I hope to turn them into travel companions for BAM. So look for me in PetSmart - I’ll be the crazy lady walking cats.
Summer found me volunteering for the restoration of the Mariposa Grove at Yosemite and camped in Sequoia NP. You won’t recognize the Mariposa Grove! Spending time in the world’s most famous sequoia grove sans tourists was a near-Holy experience, coz - you know - my church is outside.
What’s on tap for 2018? Nurse Practitioner national convention in Colorado with my NP classmate and travel companion, John. I hope to tack on a side jaunt to Nashville and visit dearest friends Eddie & Trish. Another week of volunteering in Yosemite (fingers and toes crossed). A September camper caravan with neighbors Marcie & Kurt. A few long weekends testing out BAM at the coast (maybe I’ll go see the condors again). Cat training at PetSmart. More strumming and singing and LOTS of yoga. Oh yeah - and work at Kaiser - which is gratifying and challenging.
My favorite read of 2017: A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian McLaren - whom I consider a renegade Christian (my favorite kind). In our very polarized world [democracy vs oligarchy vs (the not-so-new US) plutocracy, free vs oppressed, haves vs have nots], country (cities vs rural, costal libs vs interior conservatives, north vs south), states (red & blue, oil producers vs oil consumers, water sufficients vs insufficients), neighborhoods (segregated or diverse, economically blighted or not, food deserts or not), religions (each with its unique and ubiquitous message “we are going to heaven and you’re not” — yawn), churches, (synagogues, temples, houses of worship, parks, mountains, ocean); this book preaches one unifying message of God and me… and us… and all of us. Tis a message I find resonating liked a plucked heartstring. Read it and let me know what you think.
My simple recipe for a life that rocks: meaningful work, nurturing relationships, art (includes music, reading, and writing), exercise, and you. What about you? I would love to hear.
Mele Kalikimaka e Hau’oli Makahiki Hou. ~ Lorin