~ Months of the year ~
~ Out of State Travel in 2022 ~
As I dozed at midnight on December 31, I heard far-off bangs and gongs, marking the new year of MMXXII. I had tested positive for Covid on the penultimate day of 2021 and Liz had asked me to quarantine myself for a few extra days. I just rested, walked, and recovered. Liz and I shared this anniversary exchange:
The solitary time away was refreshing, but when I returned to San Mateo on January 3, Lizzy was in a tizzy. Scolding one moment, conciliatory the next; raging then reasonable; ignoring then threatening. I kept my calm as best I could although I responded with outbursts on a few occasions. The storm passed a few days later when she received word that she had tested Covid-19 negative. Yet, tension remained in the house for a while. The pandemic was still wrecking havoc.
On January 10, I drove the camper to Mount Diablo for a two-night getaway. Juniper Campground was nearly deserted. I was alone in the woods relishing wood fires and long walks along the Summit Trail. The first day was warm - near seventy, but the temperature cooled by thirty degrees at night. I was glad for my thermal sleeping bag.
I brainstormed my next literary work. I couldn't sleep one night as potential characters danced in my head until 4:00 a.m. The provisional title for this novel was Songs of a Nation. It will be my statement of the Rwandan Genocide through the eyes of three principles: an ethnomusicologist (Jason McCoy), and interpreter (Franc Murenzi) and a songwriter-provocateur (Simon Bikindi). They will be fictionalized along with a dozen other players.
I corresponded with Jason in Texas who supplied me with his original research. I planned to work with him, Frank, and Franc as I develop the novel. However, before focusing on a completely new project, I decided to update the digital version of The Dash between the Dates. Chapter 31 of the online Narrative was titled "Quarantined" and Chapter 32 "Uncoupled".
I loved my new Fit Bit Sense watch. The wrist gadget helped me to keep track of my ten-thousand-step days and my seven-hour nights. So cool!
Liz and I decided to switch from Comcast Cable to High-Speed streaming. I cancelled my Netflix DVD service and on January 19, hooked up the new modem and Roku device. It seemed to be working okay, although I did buy a new CD player in case we could not find what we were looking for on the maze of new options.
Since the day Jody had died of a hole in her heart, I recognized a hole in my own heart. I was one-hundred percent in favor of adopting a new canine companion. Liz, however, did not want another dog in the house - too much mess, stress, and tears. I realized her position had softened when she casually mentioned cute dogs available for adoption at various web sites.
Our quest for a new dog began on January 24 when I drove to San Pablo to check out a little chihuahua mix named Tina. The initial listing posted her at fifteen pounds and two years old, however when I arrived at Jelly's Place, Tina turned out to be ten pounds heavier and three years older. She was not a bad dog, just not what we were looking for. I hated saying no to a sad-faced dog rescue, so I gave the proprietor a one-hundred-dollar check. After that non-selection, Liz and I maintained a half-hearted search for rescue dogs. The market appeared tough. Few small female dogs were advertised.
On my visit to the ophthalmologist on January 24, my right eye was much improved, but not one-hundred percent. I was provided with another month of eye drops - two kinds, four times a day. The month ended with a day trip to Half Moon Bay, deer over the back fence, a 49er loss to the Rams, and pictures from grandchildren.
The month began with dissatisfaction. On a Sunday afternoon, Liz and I agreed that we did not appreciate Pastor Kevin's sermon at CPC. There was too much politics and lecture. I exchanged e-mails with Kevin and met with him for an hour after Men's Fraternity on February 3. I think it was a good give-and-take. In the end, Liz and I agreed to continue attending services - live for one Sunday and livestream for the next - at least until the mask mandate ended.
After sitting in Kevin's office, I headed down to Prayer Mountain for a two-night get-away. I grew nostalgic, contemplating the twenty years I had been wandering the grounds. On the way back from Scotts Valley, I stopped off in Palo Alto to check on Ladybug at Pet Food Express. No luck. She was already gone. I continued my search for a pooch. Roxie was a possibility, but she was adopted before I could act.
On Sunday, after church, Liz and I paid a visit on Becky at Sterling Court. She seemed content. Her only issue was a phone that wouldn't save voice mail. Liz struggled for a few days, but managed to solve the problem. Liz sure does persevere.
Then on Wednesday, as I was driving to Seal Point, my #2 molar came out! That's right. I was chomping on some Orbit gum, minding my own business when I felt the hard object. It was a dead root-canaled tooth, so there was no pain. I phoned Dr. Chan who recommended Dr. Shimane in Castro Valley. A few days later, I drove to his office just for x-rays. I planned to have this tooth extracted but not replaced with an implant.
At mid-month, I spent a few nights at Half Moon Bay State Park. It was so windy! I kept my camper buttoned up; no awning or flags. I even lowered the pop-top. Still, I felt the buffeting of gale force winds.
Sunday, February 20, would have been Kim's 71st birthday. On that day, Zachary happen to be with Simon in West Palm Beach during a Disney World visit. My sons sent me a selfie of them toasting their wonderful mother. My heart thrills when I see my kids and grandkids get along so well. On February 22, I visited the Audiology Department at KP. I wanted to test my hearing acuity since Liz suggested I might have hearing loss. I passed the test, so I told my wife I may be suffering from "selective hearing".
As the month wound down, I was busy preparing a promotional video for CASR. Both Frank and David would be attending an Apologetics conference in Kampala and needed a splashy introduction. I enjoyed creating an eight-minute compilation featuring, CASA, the LightHouse, and the conferences.
On the last day of the February, I landed on First Corinthians Thirteen in my morning readings. What a wonder! The words pop out more in Koine Greek than in English. I thanked God who enabled me to actually read through the thirteen verses from beginning to end. "The greatest of these is Agápe".
The month began with an ophthalmology appointment. Finally, my cataract-corrected eyes were at 100% -- no more eye drops.
The next day about noon I began a road trip to Portlandia. I reset the travel odometer at zero miles. At my Arco station, the price of gas was up to $4.99. (By the time I returned to the same station, it had jumped another dollar!)
I paused along Ashton Lane in Mill Valley just long enough to take a few pictures of my old homestead. I was expecting to see improvement, but the property looked run-down and the concrete street buckled. I was glad I did not own the house.
When the odometer hit 200 miles, I pulled into Westport-union Landing State Beach for an overnight stay. I deposited a check for $32 into the iron ranger then wandered the coastline until dark. When I returned and opened my iPad, a photo of Lizzy appeared, framed by tulips. She loved her outings to Filoli.
The next morning, I drove another two hundred miles to Crescent City for an overnight visit with Jim and Val. After an hour of conversation, we joined Kevin and Jael for a meal of Thai takeout. I enjoyed the company of three generations with me adding a fourth.
The next day was long with occasional rain pelting the camper along Interstate 5. I was planning to stay the night at Champoeg State Park near Canby, but the overflow camping lot was flooded, so I continued north to Frank's place, arriving after dark. The next morning, Frank and I drove to Canby to pick up Jeanne at Hope Village. She seemed to have settled in. We gathered at Eileen's in Longview for our sisters-brothers reunion -- five of us plus Lelia and Jim.
I then stayed a second night with Frank, going to church with him, then back to Longview in the afternoon. Eileen was always fun to stay with. We would talk, reminisce, look at old pictures, with one eye on the History Channel. After a Monday morning haircut, we went to visit Jim and Charlotte. We always planned on a few-hour visit, but the gab-a-thon lasted from one to six. It was good to see Shelley and Charlotte seemed to be doing well, especially considering all the health issues she had been through.
On Tuesday morning, I began the long return trip. I stopped at the Weed Rest stop for an overnight, pausing only for expensive gas, and walks around rest stops. I listened to Orwell's 1984, which helped to pass the hours. When I reached home, the odometer read 1984 -- spooky? The road trip proved to be that wonderful combination of family visit -- camping -- and fahrvergnügen. I went to bed that night catching up on Instagram postings which filled me with joy.
Life was busy. I led my Men's Fraternity table on Thursday morning and met for breakfast with Dasha on Friday. Saturday was a double visit; meeting in-person with men for the first time in two years at the Presbyterian Church, then visiting Becky at Sterling Court.
It had become a habit to search for adoptive dogs in the evening. Liz helped me on this quest, forwarding me links and suggestions. But nothing seemed to work for us. On Sunday, after church, I drove to Family dog Rescue in San Francisco to check out a dog named Rachael. After talking to an attendant, this chihuahua-mix did not seem to be a match for me and Liz.
The third week of March was packed with events. We attended CPC on Sunday. On Monday morning my eyes were examined by the KP optometrist and I ordered a pair of trifocals. Then on Monday evening, while updating my online journal, my cell phone chimed. Abigail from Doggie Protective Services began to speak. "Are you Chris? I'd like to talk with you about your application to adopt Butterscotch." This Pug-Spaniel mix was one of several dogs at some stage in the adoption process. Liz and I had responded to a well-written online posting. After a five-minute interview, Abigail told me I would receive a notice if I had been selected as the new parent of Butterscotch.
On Tuesday morning, I drove to Hayward for my teeth-cleaning appointment with Dr. Chan. When I returned to the car, I read this short email: "Congratulations on being approved to adopt Butterscotch". That was it! The dog search was over! I really looked forward to enriching my life with a dog. (Maybe I could experience another wonder-pup just like Jody). I shopped merrily at the Walmart across the street from the dentist to buy a car-full of dog paraphernalia: beds, leashes, name tag, food, collars and crate.
On Wednesday afternoon, Liz and I drove to 904 N. Amphlett in San Mateo. Liz noted the pick-up site was located near the drop-off site of our Beloved Jody. We met Dominique with $600 in cash, signed papers, and decided to take Buttercup home with us. Yippee!
Liz and I had been struggling for a name. Initially I liked Daphne, but Liz didn't. We both liked Phoebe, but the name didn't fit this particular dog. Butterscotch was the given name because of her color. I thought the name too masculine, so we softened it to "Buttercup". Over the next few days, I took multiple pictures of the new dog and posted news of our dog adoption on FaceBook. I kept her in the crate in my bedroom. She seemed to be okay and behaving properly.
On Thursday morning I went to Men's Fraternity while Liz looked after Buttercup. Then in the afternoon I dropped off Liz at Toyota Putnam in Burlingame to pick up her new Camry. We left Buttercup in her crate in the garage for an hour. When we returned the neighbor commented on how the dog barked the whole time; not a good sign. As a matter of fact, our new canine seemed to whine and bark every moment she was left alone. On Friday, I drove to Castro Valley to have my #2 molar extracted. I enjoyed nitrous oxide for the first time. Liz kept Buttercup in her crate. Then on Saturday a tow truck from Carvana dropped by the house to remove Lizzy's old Prius. She got a good price for it. I spent a lot of time with Buttercup, walking her and squeezing her next to my side.
On Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, our time with Buttercup was not easy, especially for Liz. The dog barked and whined whenever left alone. She pooped twice on the dining room carpet, and once in Lizzie's room. Liz yelled a lot and I feared I might have to surrender the dog back to Doggie Protective Services. However, my wife was gracious and continued to interact with Buttercup. I prayed for both Liz and for Buttercup, keeping my pooch in a crate as much as possible to deal with her barking and keeping her on a leash while in the house to control her pooping.
First thing on Wednesday morning - - one week after we acquired the dog - - Liz opened the door to my room, Buttercup dashed through her legs, sped down the stairs, and quickly peed on her prize oriental carpet. That was it, the last straw! Liz shouted in rage, "That dog has got to go!" There was no emergent joy only simmering annoyance. I found it increasingly difficult to defend this dog in the face of incessant barking and continued carpet abuse. On that same Wednesday, I attended an evening dog obedience class. I really-really tried to work with Buttercup. Pat - -the dog guru - - was continually feeding treats into the mouth of her demonstration dog. Did I want to do this? Would I really have to work this hard over an extended period of time to get this dog to behave? Liz was already in bed when I returned with Buttercup. She did not bother to open her door for a goodnight kiss.
On Thursday morning I brought the dog to Men's Fraternity. Walking back to the car, I caught the sound of Buttercup's continued yipping. I sat in the car and prayed with tears. I held Buttercup in my arms, then wrote this note to Liz:
When I returned home, Liz heartedly approved of my decision. I phoned Frank and Simon to talk through the dog situation. I needed assurance from those who cared. In the afternoon, I emailed Sara and Abigail to surrender the dog. I sighed to Liz, "I guess it was a failed experiment." I was too late in the day to return Buttercup on Thursday, so I made the appointment for 3:45 on Friday. I took my only video clip of this wayward dog.
I felt bad, like a loser, like somebody who had betrayed a trust. But then I looked at the steep cost of keeping this dog: unrelenting struggle with Liz, unknown investment in training, scrambling for dog care whenever I might travel. No, it was okay to surrender Buttercup. At first, I had said to myself, We had better do this soon; before I become too attached to this dog, but I could not repeat those words. Every moment I was growing more estranged from Buttercup and more resentful of the rift she was causing between Liz and me.
On Friday morning, I had planned to take Buttercup to the beach at Half Moon Bay as a kind of going-away party, but Liz was too anxious. I let the day pass then drove Buttercup back to the place we had picked her up nine days earlier. I packed her metal crate with the dozen little things I had purchased for her. The surrender was fast. I did shed a few tears as I handed over the leash to the woman in the open door.
I felt an era had ended, not just with this dog but all dogs. In a way Buttercup provided an inoculation. Whenever a thought might cross my mind to adopt a canine companion, I would no longer envision the mirthful Jody, but the troublesome Buttercup. No thank you! In any event, if a dog were ever to step on her carpet again, Liz would have to be fully on board. I doubted that would ever happen.
I meditated upon Jody and our wonderful eleven-year relationship. I resolved to find contentment with Jody as a precious memory rather than try to replace her with a substitute Jody. I considered my situation as one of those "Seasons of Solomon"; a time for every purpose under heaven; "A time to frolic with a dog and a time to let my dog-desire pass." In an odd way, I had a premonition I would meet my Jody-girl again, don't know where - - don't know when.
Life continued outside of dog-discouragement. After eighteen months of construction, Simon consolidated a house loan and could finally relax his hectic pace. He also got a raise. Zélie and Zoshie acquired a VW camper just like mine. I began to prepare for a Deep-Dive into the Gospel of Mark, and I participated in a conference call about our up-coming mission trip to Rwanda.
As the month drew to a close, I re-formulated my web site. I concluded my long-running "Photo Journal" and coalesced it into my monthly journal. I re-formatted the Chrisalanforeman.com home page to consist of three links: one to narrative, one to journal, and one to archives. I spent the final day of March in the wind at Half Moon Bay.
April 1, 2022 was a busy day. On the way to the San Matero gym, I dropped off my 2021 taxes in the mail box. It was a lot of money, but the $162,925 to the IRS and the $76,384 to California was less than I had anticipated. H&R Block charges $1000 dollars, but I figure that was worth it. I'm not yet sure how I'll file my 2022 taxes. In the afternoon I got an iPad message from Simon informing me that Gia had been accepted into the BAK middle school art program. The family was celebrating. Liz and I also sat at Starbucks with John and Tami Kamperschroer. His Fuller Seminary position had relocated him to Illinois.
April 2 proved to be even more challenging. Liz and I joined in a CSM hike with Tom Tabor. This was the first such outing in 29 months, since the onset of COVID. We drove in my Prius to Almaden-Quicksilver County Park in San Jose. This seven-mile hike challenged me physically. My feet, knees, and legs hurt. I made two mental notes: next time take two bottles of water; remember to clip my toe nails before a strenuous hike. This being said, we both enjoyed the wild flowers, the views, and the history (especially me). I was pooped when we got home and on Sunday settled for a CPC Live Stream service.
On Wednesday morning, April 6, I walked with Steve at Seal Point, came home for a rest, then headed the camper south. My first stop was at Los Banos Reservoir Campground. That short drive put me two hours down the road. On Thursday, I drove down Highway 99, through Bakersfield, to a place called Mountain Valley RV Park. The spot was right next to a little airport. I watched as small prop planes towed glider planes into the air then released them to glide back to the runway. On Friday, I arrived in Las Vegas about 4:00 pm and stayed overnight at the Motel 6 Tropicana near the airport. I walked the streets a bit before turning in for the night. I received a message from Zachary that his family was on a road trip to Minneapolis where Ruth was attending a convention. The four of them stopped in Tomah near the home we once lived in.
I picked up Frank at the Las Vegas airport at 8:30 on Saturday morning. We filled up on gas, then entered Death Valley National Park. On this first day, we drove down to Badwater Basin which is the lowest-hottest-driest point in the USA. We then drove through the Artists Palette, then to Furnace Creek. It was the hottest day of our road trip, reaching a temperature of 104 degrees. Wanting to avoid the heat, we drove west to spend the night at Wildrose campground in the mountains where it was much cooler. We saw three burros by the roadside, then heard them bray during the night. Frank slept in a four-man tent on an air mattress while I stayed on the camper bed. My brother and I had a great time in company, conversation, and cooperation.
On Sunday morning we read scripture about Palm Sunday as we walked down a dusty road. It was always surprising to see springs of water in these desert places. We drove past Stovepipe Wells Village and north to view the Ubehebe Crater, walking the ridges taking pictures. We had planned to drive down a dirt road to see the Racetrack of moving stones, but the roadway was washboard and driving too difficult. We spent that night at Mesquite Springs. While rummaging through my stowed clothing, I ran across an old doggie coat that Jody used to wear. Frank helped me memorialize it with stones in the cleft of a rock. I STILL MISS MY DOG!
On Monday we stopped by a few more sites at the National Park: a borax works, Zabriskie Point, and Twenty-Mule-Team Canyon. We bought gas, ice, and a few grocery items at the General Store in Furnace Creek. We also watched a short video of Death Valley and munched ice cream bars. We exited Death Valley and set up camp at a place named Desert Pads near Death Valley Junction. The site appeared to be an array of abandoned concrete pads. Who built this place and why? Was it a government experiment gone bad?
To call the night windy would be an understatement. I used eight ropes to tie down Frank's tent. My camper shook with gale-force winds. Frank was a champ to endure the night as the red tent pitched, rocked, and nearly collapsed. My brother said the chill was worse than the wind. He was fortunate to survive the night with his shelter intact.
It was still windy when we broke camp on Tuesday morning. Only later did I realize my blue pantry box must have blown away in the night wind storm. Alas, I lost Tupperware, a bag of corn chips, bread, and a can of chili. We ate breakfast at a place called Moms in Pahrump, then entered Las Vegas. Frank's departing flight would not leave for a few hours, so we walked the Strip visiting the Luxor and Excalibur. I later put together a video of this three-day road trip through Death Valley. Frank later made a post on Facebook.
After dropping Frank at the airport, I began the return phase of my adventure, spending one night at a KOA near Barstow and a second night at the Basalt campground on the San Luis Reservoir. That was a lot of driving and I spent hours listening to an audiobook called The Next 100 years; a Forecast for the 21st Century. I was happy to finally arrive home, to swim and shower at the gym, and to play puzzles with Liz. Like all good adventures, it was great to be on the road but good to be home again.
On Good Friday, I sent an email to Eileen about meeting Snoopy's brother (Spike) in the desert. She returned a smile to me. On Saturday Liz and I had scheduled a hike with Tom Tabor, but it was raining! We decided to suck it up and I drove to Long Ridge Open Space. I wore my 49'ers rain gear, but the wind and rain still made hiking a challenge. I ate my salami sandwich lunch on the drippy Wallace Stegner bench.
Easter was a special day. I drove to Sterling Court, picked up Becky and her friend, and attended First Pres in Burlingame. Liz received her Easter picture (posed for a week earlier) and I received an Easter photo of Zélie and Zofia.
I spent much of the next week puzzling out my next book, trying to mesh together the Rwanda Genocide, Simon Bikindi, and the source of evil with the story of my friends and my own adventures. Before beginning to write this novel, I strove to establish a list of characters, a timeline, a narrative arc, and chapter headings. I seemed to go round 'n round, not even having a good working title yet.
The final week of April passed with a busy schedule. On Saturday morning, I walked the Sawyer Camp Trail from the north end. I wanted to see the "second tallest Bay Tree in California," but it wasn't worth the effort. The tree had crashed into the ground. Nonetheless, the long walk was good for my body. Then on Monday, I began to repair my camper at the Union 76 Station. The check-engine-light flickered and indicated an "evaporative issue". Can you believe that little light cost me $400 to fix? I'm glad the place was close, because I walked back and forth three times. Hari was the name of the guy who does the repair work. I told him, "It's not a good thing for me to be on a first name basis with my car mechanic." It may be time to sell my over-sized toy.
On Wednesday, I received my second Covid booster at Laurelwood Rite Aid, and on the last day of the month, Liz and I did our last hike with Tom at Memorial Park. It was a long drive to get there but the weather, wildflowers, and scenery were marvelous. Twenty hikers participated in this event.
The first day of the month fell on a Sunday. Liz was attending the SF Ballet matinee -- a performance of Swan Lake -- so I attended CPC alone. After church I began to mentally prepare for my first Deep Dive into the Gospel of Mark. Then I answered my cell phone. My Table 1 friend, Gil Limtangco, was comatose in intensive care at Mills Peninsula Hospital. Gil's wife asked if I could visit him to pray and give some kind of last rites. And so, after my deep dive, I drove to the hospital. I laid hands on my friend and encouraged his wife and daughter. Gil was always such a positive and godly man. I later learned that the plug was pulled from his life support and he died of septicemia at 9:00 that evening.
The next day I drove the camper to Prayer Mountain for two nights. I was able to focus on my writing, keyboarding into my iPad the first tentative words of my nascent novel: "Victor Kwizera rubbed his red-flecked eyes."
On Friday I spoke at Gil's CPC memorial. I knew so little about his life and his wife, yet she mentioned how important it was for him to locomotive himself into Thursday morning meetings. I will miss his shining presence in our midst. Whenever a table member might moan about difficulties, I would silently gesture to Gill smiling from his wheelchair.
On Saturday Liz and I hiked at Sweenie Ridge near Skyline College. It was a one-way trek down a dirt road with a car-share start and ending. Tom Tabor told me he had been leading hikes like it since 1982. No wonder was he so good at it. The trail margins were bright with a spectrum of wildflowers and an ocean breeze moderated the sunlit day to perfection.
I dreaded following my investments at Wells Fargo Bank. The war in Ukraine and on-going inflation had pushed the market into bear territory with my portfolio plummeting by 12% since the first of the year. A picture from Zoshie cheered me up. She was such a drama face!
I continued to conceptualize my novel landing on the title: "The God of All Hope". Will that name stick? To research my topic, I ordered four books concerning the Rwandan genocide.
On Thursday, May 12, I spent the early morning presenting slides at Men's Fraternity. Then in the late afternoon, I strolled with Lizzy at Filoli. The first half of May had sped by and I began to pack my bags for my mid-month triangle: a flight from SFO to PIT to PBI back to SFO.
As I began my triangle to visit Zachary and Simon, international news continued to focus on the Ukraine-Russia War. Will that struggle end with a bang or whimper? I missed out on some weekend family events. Zélie performed in a ballet recital and Lorenzo ran in a track meet.
Jeffery picked me up at the house at 4:30 on Monday morning. I was off to Pittsburgh! Zac had booked the Hyatt Hotel inside the PIT airport and there I stayed for my first and last night in town. The three Z's met me as I was pulling my single bag from the carousal and we spent the afternoon together - - in the hotel room, in the pool, at a restaurant, and to the zoo. At two and four years old, Zoshie and Zélie required constant supervision. (As a grandpa, I had forgotten about these details.)
I spent Tuesday night in Zachary's dark basement and on Wednesday morning we five headed out to Great Wolf Lodge all the way in Sandusky, Ohio. It was over a three-hour drive, but it turned out to be a great place for kids - - lots of water fun and a magic scavenger hike. The suite was perfect and I got my own upper bedroom. The weather turned wet and stormy, reminding me of my young days in Indiana. In the mornings I was able to translate my Koine Greek and to listen to my audible book as I walked outside. I was able to balance kid-contact time and horizontal rest time.
On Thursday, I hung out with the three Z's, first at a Zélie soccer practice, then on the way to the airport, at the riverfront walkway. Zachary was a meticulous planner and his activities fell together like clockwork. My number-one son stayed up with me talking religion and politics past midnight. I had to remind him of my early morning departure. This was a delicious slice of life.
I flew Allegiant Airlines on Friday to Palm Beach where Simon picked me up at noon. I rested a while and enjoyed hanging out in his magnificent home. His living quarters, both inside and out, have evolved into a work of art. He keeps this masterpiece spotless and in perfect order. He adds bit by bit in a continual series of household projects that appeal to his aesthetic sensability. Simon taught me how to feed his six koi in a pond outside his front window. Gia pointed and recited the names.
My son's time is one-third house / one-third kids / one-third work. He never seems to rest. On that Friday evening, I attended Lolo's band recital to hear his trombone. Gia attended with her mother.
It was Dilia's weekend to look after Lorenzo and Gia, but we had plenty of time together; to eat, play, watch TV, and drive about West Palm Beach. I gave Lorenzo A Wrinkle in Time / Spanish version and pledged $100 if he would read through it and give his mother a book report. I entrusted to Gia my Jesus People denim jacket from 1971. I'm hoping it will inspire her faith and she will remember her gwampa.
On Saturday, we went to Lorenzo's taekwondo sparring practice and, after church on Sunday, we bobbed in the ocean at Lake Worth Beach. Gia got buried in the sand. After a Korean dinner with Dilia, I returned to Simon's place in time to facilitate my Zoom Bible study of Mark. At the end of chapter one, we were introduced to Simon Peter. The group was amused when I introduced them to my own version of Simon Peter.
Sunday, May 22, was also Zachary's forty-seventh birthday and Ruth posted an Instagram of the celebration.
I spent Monday shopping with Simon for shrubs to set outside of Gia's bedroom window and for a basketball pole/backboard/rim to set on the street for Lolo to practice his jump shots. My utter lack of mechanical skill made it impossible for me to assist in the assembly of the basketball mechanism.
My time with Simon ended in style with a steak and salad on his back patio on Monday night. Simon was a wonderful host and we got along so well. On Tuesday morning he packed sandwiches for my long return trip - - PBI-EWK-SFO - - home to California. I felt blessed as I considered my time with my Florida family.
Jeffery picked me up at SFO and soon my adventure was over. Liz was really into the Golden State Warriors and we watched the first half of that game until it was apparent that our team would not sweep the 4-game series. It had felt right to be away to see my kids and right again to be home with my wife.
A few days after my return, I received a message from Simon. Both Lorenzo and Gia were showered with honors at their end-of-school ceremonies.
The final week of May whizzed by. I walked with Steve on Wednesday, Zoomed with Men's Fraternity leaders on Thursday, and did a deep dive into Mark on Sunday afternoon. In preparation for my upcoming trip to Franc's graduation in Missouri, I packed ten copies of his book - - Spitting Beans -- and put together a one-page appeal to partner in Rwanda.
I ended the month at Prayer Mountain, catching up on sleep and reading. On May 31, I walked the grounds and counted 35 scripture verses emblazened on redwood trees. it was a blessed way to end the month.
I woke up on June 1 stretched out in the back of the camper. I completed the first six verses of Philippians converting them from Greek to English. The morning at Prayer Mountain was leisurely with walking and breaking camp.
When I returned home, I decided to upgrade my desktop computer. It had been grinding so slow with lots of hiccups. After doing some research, I bought a $604 "Office Computer" at Central Computer paying another $149 for the new Office 2021 suite. On June 3, Liz led me on a hike along her new favorite trail, "Sheep Camp" not far from home. Then on Sunday, after my Mark Zoom, Liz and I watch the Warriors whip the Celtics at a restaurant called Nick the Greek. I messaged Simon asking him if he had celebrated the win. I thoroughly enjoyed the several minutes of back and forth. His old Marin friend, Danny, was in town and he was clearly having a ball, talking especially about the blue crab that had appeared under his car after a hurricane.
On Monday Liz hiked with her friends, Alan and Carolyn, then on Tuesday I prepared for my trip to Missouri.
On Wednesday it was off to the airport for another adventure. Jeffery drove me to SFO at 10:00pm and I flew to Saint Louis via Denver. I rented a car and rested at the Extended Stay hotel until 8:00pm when I picked up Franc inbound from LAX. Wednesday night was short because we headed out at five in the morning.
Thursday, June 9, was Franc's big day to graduate from Global university. In the morning he posed with his fellow graduates, then at noon he walked for his diploma. It was fun to participate as his long-time friend, mentor, and colleague. At the luncheon, we sat with folks and Franc passed out his book, Spitting Beans.
We talked with several Assembly of God people over the next day. One such was Grace - a Korean woman who reminded me of Kim. I gave a copy of Forgive Like a Rwandan and Franc promised to look into her primary school not too far from Butare. All in all, it was time well spent. I'm thinking we made a difference for God's Kingdom.
Franc and I left Springfield on Saturday morning and spent one night near Lake of the Ozarks. I had planned to walk by the lake, but at 95 degrees it was just too hot. We rested in the room.
On Sunday we attended the AG church in Jefferson City then drove on to St. Louis. Much of this driving time, I quizzed Frank about his youth and experience during the 1994 genocide. (I'm still hoping to write that book!)
We enjoyed a few hours at Gateway Arch National Park strolling the outside grounds and touring the inside displays. We watched a movie on the making of the bridge, then traversed a weird 5-person elevator up to the viewing windows, 630 feet up in the air. That arch was quite a marvel of construction.
I dropped Franc off at the airport, spent one night alone, returned my rental, then headed home myself. My bargain-basement flight included a seven-hour layover in Las Vegas - Ugh! But I endured, watched the Warriors beat the Celtics in game 5 of the finals, and made it to SFO by 9:00pm. The Uber ride home was up to $64, but then, gas prices are up too. Liz was asleep when I unlocked the door and I rested most of Tuesday. I learned that Franc got stranded at LAX because he had not taken a COVID test as required by the Rwandan government. Alas. Poor Franc spent three extra days in LA and had to buy a second ticket home.
My focus now shifted to my upcoming mission to Rwanda, just fifteen days away. I began packing, corresponding, printing material, withdrawing money, and buying supplies. I also resumed some aspects of normal life- - procuring a military ID for Liz, keeping a doctor's appointment with Dr. Teng, walking with Steve and David, as well as facilitating my Zoom Class in the Gospel of Mark. I was happy that my two sons had also grown into two friends. Zachary's family was spending a few days in West Palm Beach with his brother. Liz was delighted that her article - Bunny Tacos - had appeared in her on-line magazine.
On June 20 to 22, I camped in solitude at Prayer Mountain, listening to an audible book and walking through the woods. It was fretfully hot, yet hotter still I learned in San Mateo. Liz lost power in the house for fifteen hours.
I was surprised by three big decisions announced by the supreme court: on June 23, the right to carry concealed guns was upheld, the next day Roe vs. Wade was overturned, and a few days later the right to pray on a sports field was affirmed. A lot of victories for conservatives; a lot of tantrums from liberals.
As my day of Rwandan departure approached, I completed my lesson on "African Friends and Money Matters" and put together a 19-minute video show of CASA in Butare. I packed my bags, took two Covid tests, and awaited my long flight to Istanbul thence to Kigali.
June 29 - 30 ~ Wednesday & Thursday
Just before going to bed on Tuesday, I checked my email. There it was. Kaiser reported I had tested negative for Covid which was a relief. In the morning I drove to my Covid back-up site in Burlingame to cancel my appointment. No one was there at 8am. I hope I can claw back my $69. Upon my return home, I hugged Lizzie good-bye. (She was about to hike with friends.) Jeffery drove up at 10:00, packed my 4 pieces of luggage into his trunk, and we were off to SFO.
I showed the Turkish Airlines rep the Covid test result before my two big bags were loaded for Kigali. There was just enough extra time for me to drop by the USO for a short visit. I hadn't entered the place since my volunteer days ended at the onset of Covid. I snacked, then proceeded through TSA security, and boarded the flight at 1:15.
Twelve hours was a long time in the air and the older I grew, the more challenging the discomfort became. Let's just say I sat through 2 meals, 6 movies, and a fretful nap. My layover in Istanbul lasted five hours. I did some walking and caught a few winks on a hard bench. Remarkably, I did feel a bit refreshed. Then at 6:00pm, I was off to Kigali consuming 1 meal, 4 movies, and catching a possible nap.
When I exited the aircraft at 12:30 am local time, I knew I was in Rwanda. There was something in the air. Charcoal burning? I stood in 5 lines: 1 to get off the plane, 2 for a passport stamp, 3 for a $50 visa fee, 4 for baggage claim, and five to pass through customs.
I was happy to see Franc emerge through the crowd. He drove me across town to his friend's hotel. We talked a while then I handed over $3000 for the conference and $1000 as my mission fee. When I finally stretched out, I registered 3 kinds of fatigue; the first caused by sleep deprivation, the second by lack of activity - especially cramped sitting, and the third by jet lag. It was 2:00 am in Kigali, but 5:00 pm in San Mateo. Sleep was illusive on this first day of July.
Franc said he would meet me at 10am. That never happened. I didn't see him until 6pm. He reported that his car brakes were repaired and his phone screen was fixed. While waiting, I dozed as best I could, then talked with two men in the courtyard. One was Amon, the hotel manager, and the second was John de Deus, a police official. We had good conversations and I gave each a book of Forgive Like a Rwandan.
I figured we would stay over the night, but Franc said he preferred to travel in the darkness. With my time sense out of kilter, it didn't matter to me. Franc had to drive slowly. He pointed out the 60 traffic cameras along the route. We paused at the Kim Memorial. The lavender paint was chipping, the photo fading, but the concrete pillar was surviving well. We arrived at the Lighthouse about 10pm. It was great to be back - like a second home to me. The place looked wonderful with new paint and scrubbing. Sleep was difficult; very little and very light.
Sunrise brightened my eyes and I snapped a dawn photo of orange skies peaking over green hillsides and red roads. I stayed in bed resting until I heard the distinct voice of David Nahayo. I sat for breakfast with him and with a new-comer named Emmy.
The remainder of Saturday I endured in the unhappy land of Jet Lag. I remember I consumed two meals, but I couldn't sleep and I couldn't stay awake. I would be alert for a few hours talking with Franc, then retreat to the horizontal position eyes fatigued. I walked on my balcony a bit, but remained exhausted. So the day went.
On this Lord's Day, I was scheduled to preach at 9:00 on campus. My sermon would be titled "Which Nicodemus Are You?" However, confusion reigned. After checking out both the auditorium and the stadium, Franc discovered I was booked at 2:00 pm. That was okay with me. I still wasn't feeling 100%. When I finally stood to preach to 100 students, I felt mentally prepared. My message was well-received as was Franc's follow-up evangelical altar call. We call it "Popping Popcorn" when an African shouts and gesticulates. The corn must have been savory because 20 young men and women stepped forward to accept Jesus as their savior. I felt blessed to play a part in God's un-scrolling saga.
Franc was in a unhappy place. Earlier he had directed one of the house boys to wash a friend's car. The washer cranked the ignition, put the car in drive and smashed the front end. Franc called it a bad day.
After the message, we returned to the Lighthouse for a meal where I continued to converse with Franc, David, and Emmy. My jet-lagged sleep schedule worked to my advantage, because I found it easy to stay awake for my Mark Deep Dive at midnight.
I had sent out this email to my class:
I did begin this Fourth of July with a bang and the Zoom class was a success with six in attendance. I wanted to use my iPad to show outside views of Rwanda, but of course at midnight there was not much landscape to see.
I began Monday morning with a walk to town. I was looking to buy a missing cord and coffee grounds. Emmy walked the few miles with me, but we discovered that all the shops were closed. July Four was a holiday in Rwanda too - Liberation Day, marking the entry of RPF troops into Kigali. On the walk home, David pulled up behind us in his car and we all stopped for ice cream.
Once more, I spent much of the day in idleness and rest. Franc had gone to Kigali to pick up Frank, Dave, and Ben at the airport. I prepared lessons, napped, ate a few good meals, and lounged. I snapped a picture of monkeys on my patio and climbing on the roof of the neighboring church. I sent one to Liz who responded, "So adorable. Brings back memories of my visit."
After breakfast, Emmy and I walked again downtown. This time we were able to buy a cord for my MP3 hymn player, a bag of ground coffee, and a pack of paper filters. I put nearly 10000 steps on my feet. I posed by a road sign that pointed in multiple directions.
I recuperated the rest of the day, talking variously with David and Emmy (I like this young man, born in the same year as the genocide - 1994). I also liked the climate so much in Butare - dry and cool. I checked my weather app and discovered Huye temperatures were nearly identical to those in San Mateo. Odd
At 8:00pm David Nahayo drove me to the stadium. I taught a message called the last words of Jesus, taken from Acts 1 and Matthew 28. It's amazing to me that 100 university students sit in bleachers to sing praise, pray, and listen to Christian speakers. Emmy was my interpreter. May God bless every student who sat in the bleachers.
My fellow missionaries finally arrived at the Lighthouse about 11:00pm. Franc hung around for a while then went home. It was good to meet Ben Clifton from Adventurous Apologetics and re-acquaint with Dave Scott from Fuller. The sad news involved missing luggage. Ben had lost one bag and Frank two. We hoped the errant luggage would catch up to us soon. Both of these guys had to buy clothes in Kigali. We talked an hour or so, the three being in a jet-lagged state. Frank spoke about the good visit they had with Gary Friesen. After midnight, the trio retired to their rooms to recover from the ordeal of travel. I stayed up a while fiddling the iPad.
Another new day arrived before dawn, my circadian rhythm still out of whack. I prepared the coffee maker and soon Frank, Ben, and Dave joined me for caffeination. We discussed the three-day conference, finally determining who would do what when. I expended the day honing my presentations, consuming three meals, and napping. I checked out the library, new gym, and sauna. It felt a little like a calm before the storm.
I did a tour of the house, opening every door I could. I noted an expensive clothes washer and dryer sitting in a corner room, unused. The 120 electric current and expensive Rwandan electricity rendered them impractical. I then noted out the balcony window a group of women washing and drying laundry. Conclusion: In America appliances are cheap and human labor expensive. In Rwanda the reverse is true.
The only ministry event involved meeting the 28 mamas of the rural co-operative. We gave each woman a hoe and a large lunch. These colorful impoverished laborers inhabit a place so alien to me. Yet, when I lie on my bed, looking out the patio window onto the distant green vista, I feel like I am African, at home- having never left this country located on the far side of the world.
The conference began on Thursday morning, which we called "Benday", because Ben did the bulk of teaching. As typical, the event was scheduled to begin at 8:00 am with 70 pastors. We actually began about 9:00 with 40 in attendance. This number included a cohort of 10 pastors from Uganda who arrived in the wee hours.
Ben's specialty was apologetics and worldview. I sat at the side table of four buzungu (plural for muzungu) for a while as speakers and guests were introduced. Then I rested and spent one-on-one time with Franc and Dave. After the 11:00 tea break, I walked with Dave down the valley trail. We decided to be adventurous and cut across the soggy valley floor. My tennis shoes got wet but I attained my 10000 steps.
After lunch, I led a class in African Friends and Money Matters for the 10 Ugandans. Dave sat in and provided commentary. My African friends were amazed at the cultural differences, being especially surprised that we Americans expect our gifts of money to be used as designated, not shifted to another arbitrary purchase.
In the evening we walked to the front gate of the university. A dozen of us stood for thirty minutes denied admittance through security. When we finally entered the auditorium, we were ushered to the front-center seats. A large music speaker stood ten feet from my face, blasting at a hundred decibels. That was more than I could tolerate, so I re-located to the rear. Ben spoke for a short 20 minutes about apologetics then Frank and Ben fielded questions on-stage for another hour.
As we walked back in the dark to the Lighthouse, I taught Gordon to March in military cadence. He couldn't get left-right-left straight. The first day of the conference was complete.
Friday was "Frankday". He presented his apologetic on sexual disfunction in the Western world his warning/plea that African Christianity not follow down America's sinful path. It was historical, sociological, and theological. I took video of Frank as he taught with passion.
I enjoyed my time with Gordon and the Ugandans. I provided bonus funds for them to enjoy the Lighthouse sauna, which they greatly appreciated. This day was balanced with periods of conversation and recuperation. I made a point for Frank, Dave, Ben, and me to pose at the entrance of the Lighthouse and next to a basket sculpture at our intersection. Dave sometimes labored on his own laden with Fuller responsibilities.
In the evening, our group traveled down the road to the university stadium. After an hour of preliminaries, I rose to speak to 500 students. Emmy interpreted as I articulated principles of sexual integrity. It was a joy to see students react to scripture, principles, and semi-explicit stories. I ended with Every Man's Battle: bounce the eyes, guard the mind, protect the heart. Once again, I felt blessed to share my knowledge, and once again, many in attendance thanked me for the critical teaching.
This third day of the conference was the capstone according to Franc - chuck full of graduation, awards, and dignitaries. But first I presented a two-hour class to pastors called Marriage: Five Old Testament Couples in Relationship. This presentation featured: Adam & Eve, Isaac & Rebecca, Samson & his bimbos, David & his wives.
A European guest to the Lighthouse sat in a back chair eavesdropping on the conference. She shook her head and grimaced whenever I spoke of Adam being the head of Eve. So goes the way of the world.
About 11:00 we transitioned to the graduation of 13 Lighthouse students. The graduates had completed 38 courses of study. The four missionaries donned caps and gowns, then walked the circumference of the building, led by traditional Rwandan drummers. The elaborate program called for speeches, awards, and songs. CASR recognized four men with glass and gold awards: Frank as CASA president, me as CASA founder, David Nahayo as retiring president of CASR, and Paul Gasigi as long-time advisor. Cake and sparklers augmented the festivities.
As I briefly spoke, I set on stage the large picture of Kim adorned with her "love of God" t-shirt. I disclosed to those in attendance that 2022 would likely mark my final trip to Rwanda.
The highlight of festivities had to be the appearance of traditional dancers, drummers, and singers. Because the performers were attached to the national museum, the troupe was awesome. I got coaxed into participating with one of the female dancers. Old friends like Jane, Florida, and Paul gathered with me and Frank for a photo op. Franc and Claudine posed with baby Chris. I passed out a dozen copies of Franc's book - - Spitting Beans - -in both English and Kinyarwandan.
As things wound down, I headed to my room/sanctuary for some horizontal-recovery time. There was an evening event at the stadium featuring a Ugandan evangelist. I heard it was so dynamic that Emmy could hardly keep up with the popcorn. However, I opted for a peaceful evening and meditated on a day well spent.
After a leisurely morning, I preached at a nearby Baptist church. Franc interpreted as I spoke about doubting Thomas and a blessing upon those who have not seen and still believe. I especially appreciated the style of singing with the swaying and pairs of women admonishing each other. The words were from James 1:12.
My brother Frank preached at another church but made it back for lunch. About 1:00pm I bid farewell to Ben who would be catching an evening flight back to the USA. I went for a long walk with Dave, then with Frank. I purchased a brown African backpack as my carry-on for the return flight, in order to leave behind my two big 50 pounders.
I wanted to clear the library of a pallet of useless paperback books. They were "donated" by a Korean cultist proclaiming a false gospel concerning John the Baptist. I conferred with Dave and we "donated" the boxes of heretical literature to the sauna furnace.
I napped from 10pm to 11:30, then prepared for my Deep Dive into the Gospel of Mark. It was great to have my brother sit at my side as we dove into Mark, Chapter 3. Several joined us on Zoom as we discussed the twelve disciples.We got to bed a second time about 1:30am.
This was a day of decompression. With the conference complete, I went for a long walk with Frank and Dave; first up the hill to Paul Gasigi's house - we couldn't find it - then into town. We each enjoyed a smoothie. Mine was mango-banana. We also did some shopping at the tourist store. Dave bought some souvenirs and bought a small gift for Dasha (asking Dave to deliver it). I also looked for 4 animal gifts for my 4 grandchildren.
I walked down the back trail behind the Lighthouse. Frank was disappointed because the second story of the new church blocked the view of our magnificent building. My brother then gave Pastor David a box of seeds that Lelia had sent to him.
I wrote this message to my wife:
After a lazy morning, we traveled to a nearby locale where Claudine once lived. We were accompanied by Norbert (Claudine's brother). This was a place of sad memories, where a family of nine suffered genocidal attack. Claudine hid in the bush. Norbert huddled in a ceiling space where he lost much of his hearing. He thinks insects may have invaded his ears. Two boys and two girls fled to Kigali and managed to survive. The mother posed as a Hutu. Denise as a newborne orphan was chopped and left for dead on a pile of corpses. The father was machete-chopped to death at a roadside. All these horrifying circumstances were explained to me, Frank, and Dave. Some of these stories may appear in my next book.
I rested, read, and wrote in the afternoon. Frank spotted some monkeys on the deck up to monkey business. Then at 5:30, Frank and I went to the home of Paul and Maryjane for dinner. A confrontation was possible, but the evening passed in peace. I showed them pictures and a 20-minute video I had created about my time in Africa. We reminisced about our 22-year-long relationship. We posed for photos with Paul's 98-year-old mother. I was tired after a long day.
This was my last day at the Lighthouse. I handed out small gifts and envelops of cash to several of the lighthouse helpers. Then, after breakfast it was time to head to Kigali. We paused at the gift shop for me to buy 4 carved animals: Lorenzo=lion, Gia=gorilla, Zélie=zebra, Zoshi=elephant. We also stopped along the way to visit David Nahayo in his rural retirement home. The Rwandan government had set up roadside cameras every few miles along the route, so going in Franc's car was tedious. We planned to arrive in Kigali at 1pm, but it was 3pm by the time we pulled into the fancy restaurant.
We met immaculate there, but also Claudine's extended family: 3 sisters, 2 brothers, and many of their descendants. Franc was away re-fixing his brakes much of that time. It was fun to interact with all of these delightful African people, yet sad that I was parting for a final time. I passed out a dozen of Franc's Spitting Beans.
About six we relocated to the hotel. The board meeting included Franc, David, Jane, Florida, Paul, Immaculate, Charmant, Frank and me. Dave Scott sat in for a while sharing his positive observations. Pastor Paul was a bit belligerent, but I just nodded and agreed with his complaints. I enjoyed speaking Korean with Charmant. The meeting broke up and I voiced tearful goodbyes to Jane, David, and Immaculate. Just before midnight Franc drove Dave to the airport for his travel back to the USA.
The next morning, Franc, Frank, and I departed on our adventure into Uganda. My brother had never stepped foot in the country and looked forward to this part-two of our mission. Roadside cameras slowed us as we headed east from Kigali, then north toward the frontier. Along the route, Franc shared with us his experience serving with the RPF during the time of the genocide.
At the 2-hour mark, we relaxed at a coffee/art shop. I liked the paintings on display. Next, we endured an hour-long delay, first on the Rwandan side of the border, then on the Ugandan side. After a $50 visa fee, we entered The Pearl of Africa.
Soon we were cruising through Ugandan the country side. The dirt roads slowed and jostled us. Franc grew concerned about his brakes, so we stopped by the side of the road for 30 minutes. A roadside mechanic showed up on a boda-boda and tightened some bolts.
Soon we arrived at the Oruchinga Refugee Center. Franc spoke into the video camera of his memories about this refugee gathering place inside the enclosure. As we were driving out of the camp, the car sputtered to a stop. Franc managed to coax his vehicle back to town, but we sat for three hours as the car fuel filter was repaired as the sun set. As Frank and I wandered the local streets we were amused to discover a complete roadside furniture manufacturer.
I felt so bad about Franc's problems. The fuel pump was repaired after dark and we did manage to find a decent guesthouse near Mbarara. The day ended on a high note.
After a pleasant morning, we traveled further down Franc's memory lane into the deeper bush. His poor car rattled down rutted dirt roads. My Rwandan son delighted to see (1) the pond where he bathed, (2) the soccer field where he kicked the ball, (3) the mountain where he hauled up a jerry can of water for the reward of one banana bunch. He finally marched us up a barely-passible path to the location of his childhood home. I stumbled much of the way. The habitation was gone but Franc recognized the view into far-off Tanzania.
In the afternoon we headed west then north toward Kampala. Then the car once more broke down. It was the fuel pump again. Once more, Frank and I sat for a few hours walking and visiting a coffee shop. I received a message from Liz. It seemed jarring to have suburban California abruptly intrude on rural Uganda. Finally, we decided alternative transportation was needed.
Gordon sent a driver down from Kampala and we loaded into the hired car. The ride was not pleasant. The driver was grumpy, the pop music irritating, and the driving was wincing. How can one describe the way African drivers dart into the oncoming lane to bypass a few obstinate trucks? I told Frank it was like playing Tetris: left-right-up-down-stop-go.
We did make a quick stop at the equator where I snapped a photo of Frank in the lamplight. Then it was back on the smoky, bumpy, overcrowded, noisy highway. When we finally chugged into Kampala, the driver said he was hungry and tired. Our Ugandan friend - Steve - showed up and escorted our grouchy driver to the Kampala Kopling Hotel. Wow! More over-the-road adventure than I had ever cared for. It was late, so we just showered and hit the bed. I heard that Franc made it into town some time after midnight.
In the morning Frank and I relaxed in the courtyard of Kopling Hotel. The remainder of the day was hectic with road travel, ceremony, and tourism. Steve drove me, Gordon, Frank, and Franc down highways, roads, paths and trails to get us to Gordon's distant school near the village of Bugulumbya. It took almost 3 hours. The school sign read: "we achieve by worship and toil". At the entrance gate we received a Ugandan welcome of shouts, songs, and ululation.
We were ushered into a classroom packed with 200 students. We each spoke a few words and awarded 2 books and 2 soccer balls to the head mistress. My guess is Frank and I were the first 2 buzungu to appear in this outback in ages. We symbolically planted 3 trees then rushed out to keep a second appointment.
This nearby celebration was at the opening of a rural activity center/medical clinic/meeting hall. A high government official showed up with a significant security contingent. Again, we sat at a front table, spoke a few words, then endured a dozen speeches from locals thanking us for our presence and "partnership". We cut a cake and fed a large crowd with traditional food. I passed along my bouquet of roses to a dozen mammas. Looking at the lavish celebration, I could guess how Gordon spent the eight hundred dollars I had provided him.
Steve then drove us four south to Jinja at the source of the Nile. We arrived just before dark, enjoying a boat ride to that uncertain demarcation that separates the calm of Lake Victoria from the current of the Nile River. I was glad to take a break from formal duties to take in the beauty of the unique setting.
The return drive to our Kampala hotel was dreadfully slow, lurching behind large trucks in the left-hand lane, then "playing chicken" with onrushing cars in the right. At times the stench of burning trash permeated the tropical air. Squalid shops and knots of people lined the overburdened roadway. Around ten we pulled through the iron gate of our hotel, concluding another remarkable day - viewing both the beauty and the ugly of Africa. A shower never felt so cleansing.
For me and Frank, this day marked the finale of our mission trip to Africa. I insisted that Frank and I use most of this day for rest, girding ourselves for the long journey ahead. Frank preached the morning service at the nearby church that Gordon attended. I preached the second, re-furbishing my sermon of doubting Thomas.
The concrete house of worship was not located in a pleasant environ. Trash, open sewage, and darting goats marred the urban landscape. Yet, the people inside the building were beautiful - overflowing in the joy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Franc and Gordon concluded the worship service with fervent African popcorn.
I switched from my gray vestment suit coat to my traveling khakis. At three, a group of local pastors gathered around a courtyard table to thank us for our missionary effort and to bid us farewell. As part of this proceeding, I officially passed on my muzunju/Museveni hat to Franc. I told him, "You are now the chief. This hat represents me handing authority over to you".
As our time wound down, I sent Liz a photo of the Jackfruit tree in the courtyard and conducted a three-way Face Time with Simon and Zachary. The rest of the day I napped and packed - just one small check luggage and my Africa-fabric backpack. I sent Liz notice of my negative Covid test and charged up all my gadgets.
Gordon roused me from slumber at 10:30, time to catch my Ethiopian flight. Frank would rest a few more hours before his own car ride to Entebbe. I stopped at a coffee shop with Steve the driver, Gordon, and Franc. Finally, parked outside the terminal, while standing with me to pass through security, Franc broke away to a gift shop to buy me a broad-brimmed hat replacing the muzungu hat I had bequeathed him.
Then it was midnight. Then it was time to part company. "To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven" A time to begin a ministry in Africa (2001) and a time to bring the same to its close (2022). As I once learned: Imbedded in every hello there lurks a final good bye.
I loafed a two-hour wait in Entebbe. I concluded First Thessalonians, translating from Greek those short verses: "Rejoice evermore - Pray without ceasing - Quench not the Spirit". Then began a two-hour flight to Addis Ababa. I walked the airport about 5 hours.
Then came a 6-hour flight to Lome, Togo. I remained in my seat as the aircraft refueled. About half the passengers de-boarded while a new crowd filled all the seats. We were on the ground about 90 minutes. Outside jet doors were opened and warm humid air flooded the interior. I snapped a picture, but I don't think Togo counts as my 40th country visited.
Then came the 10-hour transatlantic leg to New York City. I slept some, watched a few movies, and consumed a few meals. Stuck in seat 33D, I got few steps and lacked horizontal time.
The 9-hour overnight at JFK was a daytime event according to my bio-clock. I managed to make a sleeping nest on lobby chairs courtesy of a pillow and blanket obtained from Ethiopian Airlines. I straightened my back and caught a few hours of light sleep.
I stood in Alaska Airlines queue at 4:30am and began my 6-hour transcontinental flight at 7:00. In a window seat this time, I gazed at my nation, America the beautiful - -from sea to shining sea. The six hours passed with dozing and movie-watching. I looked eagerly out my window seat to snap a photo of the San Mateo Bridge with my home in the background.
Jeffery was on time at terminal 2 door 2. Twenty minutes later I walked through the door of my home at exactly 11am. I had to take a shower before I could hug Lizzie.
I looked back on this return of air travel - wait time - ground transport - and 9-hour time shift - and figured my ordeal lasted about 46 hours. My final mission to Africa was now complete. Only memories would remain.
I was dead tired. I finally closed my eyes about noon on Tuesday and didn't really wake up to 5am on Wednesday. Afterward Liz said I had "hibernated" for sixteen hours. As upon my arrival in Africa, it was physical exhaustion coupled with 9 hours of jet lag. On Wednesday I did manage to walk with Steve at Seal Point and receive an urgent haircut from Joaquin at Sheer Design.
As I slowly recovered from my travel, I put together a journal of my African travel. When finally posted, this epic boasted 5000 words and 82 links. My project of love kept me occupied for several days and allowed me to re-live my African adventure.
I did get an update on the co-vacation of Zachary and Simon in the Smokey Mountains. I so enjoy seeing my four grandkids laughing together. On Sunday I lead my Zoom class in Mark 4: the Parable of the Four Soils. That evening I began to feel sick with scratchy throat, coughing, and general weakness. On Monday I confined myself to bed. I self-tested negative for COVID, but kept feeling worse. I hacked up phlegm most of the night.
On Tuesday morning, Liz was on my case about my chest cold. I determined the best solution was to check myself into emergency at Kaiser. Probably my symptoms didn't merit that extreme, but I wanted a thorough and immediate evaluation. I arrived at the KP in Redwood city about ten and figured I would be out by noon or so. WRONG! I lay on my back stuck with wires, pumped with fluids, and a needle inserted into each arm. Not pleasant. I counted ten tests which I underwent: COVID, malaria, chest x-ray for pneumonia and TB, 2 sputum samples, blood from each arm, heart monitor, urine.
Unfortunately, I didn't have my cell phone or iPad with me. As the hours slowly passed, I could not contact Liz. I knew she would be anxious. About 3pm my wife got a hold of me on my room phone. She scolded me of course, but was glad I was not too ill. I got home, got a shower, and got to bed, still feeling rotten.
I improved somewhat on Wednesday and Thursday, still staying mostly in my room. I did get a few FaceTime visits from Zachary, showing me what his girls were up to in Pittsburgh.
After a walk and talk with Dan Reid on Friday morning. Liz was still whining a bit about my cough, so I felt it best to isolate. I packed up the VW camper and headed to Scotts Valley for a two-night getaway at Prayer Mountain. As typical, I rested, walked, studied some, and listened to The Return of the God Hypothesis on Audio. My appetite was lost, so I ate little food. After posing by my camper, I departed from Prayer Mountain on Sunday and the last day of July. I returned home in time to swim at the gym and lead the Zoom Deep Dive.
On Tuesday, I prepared my Prius for a road trip north, packing the back with tent and mattress. I chose my car over my camper because my purpose was to visit family. Also, I had misgivings about my VW's roadworthiness. I headed north at 8:00am on Wednesday. I wasn't in a hurry and dallied along the route. I saw wildfire smoke near Yreka, but there was no slowdown.
I arrived at Jim Walker's house about 5pm. He had just relocated from Crescent City to Medford a few weeks earlier. My nephew was alone; Val and Juju being away on a family visit. I passed a pleasant evening and night at his home catching up on life, mitigating the heat.
I continued north the next day arriving in Longview in the late afternoon. Traffic was heavy as I neared Portland. I talked with my sister and interacted with her two schipperkes. Jim and Char dropped by and we enjoyed the company. I turned into the guest room about ten.
On Friday, I walked the neighborhood, talked with Eileen, then visited the Francises at four. Jim was in constant motion telling stories. We walked across the street to visit the tree from which he tumbled and shattered his clavicle.
I noted my brother-in-law progresses through four degrees of conversation: 1. sitting and speaking 2. standing and gesturing 3. standing and acting out parts 4. standing, acting out parts, and speaking the parts. He's so much fun to listen to. Shelley was present and we drove to her home to Kelso. In the evening, I introduced Eileen to the TV series The Chosen.
Saturday was the big day of our sibling get-together. After a quiet morning, Frank and Lelia showed up with Jeanne. In a short while Jim and Char arrived as well. We celebrated Lelia's 70th birthday and our unity as five brothers and sisters. After catching up on family news, Frank and Lelia returned to Vancouver; Jeanne, Char, and Eileen retreated to the office area; while Jim and I entertained each other by playing and identifying old rock & roll songs. So the evening went until it was time for me to return Jeanne to Canby. After dropping my oldest sister at Hope Village, I went to the home of Sue and Don Davis to pass the night. I stayed up late taking to Sue, mostly about old times and her mother.
On Sunday morning, I picked up Jeanne at Hope Village and we drove to the Canby Foursquare Church. Jeanne seemed discombobulated and after dropping her off, I phoned Sue about my concerns. I'm glad Sue is near Jeanne to look after her needs. I headed south, driving to Eugene, then cutting to the coast at Florence. At 3:00, I led my church Zoom call at a park near Reedsport. The Bible study of Mark turned out really well. I then continued south down Highway 101 past Coos Bay to Humbug Mountain State Park. My road trip transformed into a camping trip. I set up a tent, inflated my mattress, sparked a fire, and settled in for cool camping experience. The night was restful with raindrops pelting the nylon tent cover.
On Monday, I packed up and continued south into California, past Eureka, and onto Westport-Union Landing State Beach. This was my fourth time at this place and I was blessed to park at site 100 on the far end, overlooking the ocean and a sunset. Over a camp fire, I warmed up a hobo meal of ramen noodles and canned chili. I burned the palm of my hand on pot handle. I walked the last of my daily 10,000 steps just before zipping up the tent flap.
I arose on Tuesday morning looking out my tent entrance upon an immense placid ocean. I lingered on my back for thirty minutes marveling at God's magnificent creation. Or was I just lazy? I was soon on the road again, racing home: Willits - Ukiah - Santa Rosa - San Francisco - San Mateo. I stopped at the gym to shower and tidy up the car before entering the house and giving a hug to my longsuffering wife. The next day, I put together a video of the road trip, re-living a wonderful six days. "I Get Around".
August was a hot month in San Mateo. I stayed inside much of the time sitting at my computer with a floor fan providing a cool breeze. Over the course of several days, I added forty-one hymns to my playlist of 280, retiring 21 marginal tunes, and expanding the list to 300 total. I think I'll keep YouTube Hymns notched there. I worked on my novel -- The God of All Hope -- finally forming a narrative arc of fourteen chapters that I can wrap my arms around. Simon FaceTimed me, showing me DALL-E, creating images from text! I spoke into existence "Mr. Spock as the Statue of Liberty" and "Mount Rushmore in a Dali style". I read my monthly issue of First Things. I always put off reading those articles, but when I begin it's hard to put it down. On August 18, I consulted with my cardiologist, Dr. Felix. I have scheduled an electric shock procedure called Cardioversion which may get my heart back into a normal rhythm.
As Lizzie's birthday approached, she met with her mom at Stirling Court and with her friends to enjoy meals and hikes. My talented wife published an on-line article and spoke at CPC for her work/life ministry. The weekend was busy with a 50-year wedding anniversary celebration for Ken & Linda Napier and an official Liz birthday on August 20. On Monday morning, Liz drove my car to Alameda to procure her new Military ID. As her sponsor, I had to accompany her. I doubled back to pick up my camper and once again headed west to my three-day camp site at Alpine Lake.
I arrived at Silvertip Campground about 3:30, busting a fog lamp as I mis-maneuvered into my driveway. Ouch! It was a warm afternoon as I set up camp - mid-eighties even at an elevation of 7700 feet. Just as I was settling down, Dan Clary showed up in his 2-year-old van, pulling up behind my VW. After a supper of sausage dogs, Dan and I strolled down a wooded path to the lake. He then gave me a tour of his self-furnished vehicle. He is a talented guy.
Then I heard it. It sounded like a distant bachelor party or a clanging group of Hari Krishna. What could it be? The chimes got closer and louder. Eventually, I learned the dissonant clammer came from wayward cows. A local herd -- as I learned -- had grazing rights on the federal land and were trotting through campsites, nibbling tall grass. As we sat beside our blazing campfire, Dan and I talked of many things and listened to the pleasant chime of cowbells.
After breakfast on Tuesday morning, we began a long trek around Alpine Lake. I thought the distance was about five miles, but my feet and pedometer told me eight. I was pooped by the time we returned from the circumnavigation. I relaxed until dinner; reading, writing, and conversing with Dan. It was a joy just to be out-of-doors, occupying a campsite, and watching jays chase squirrels. I ended the challenging 25,000-step day watching a preaching video of Mark 6:1-6, getting ready for my Sunday zoom.
On Wednesday, we were still pretty tired from the previous day and took pleasure in the park setting. Sometimes I would see Dan sitting and smiling. I'd ask, "What are you so happy about?" He'd respond, "Just to be outside in God's nature." We did manage to walk to the Alpine Lodge where we loafed and I munched an ice cream cone. Dan decided to leave Alpine Lake about 4pm to do some fishing off the grid. After he headed westward to Markleeville, I watched the Prime movie "Shake Hands with the Devil", preparing my mind for my upcoming novel.
On Thursday morning, I walked the camp loop a three times (1000 steps a lap), ate cereal for breakfast, and slowly cleaned-packed my camper. I stopped by Bear Valley Resort to provide a report for Liz and got home about 2pm. I exchanged the camper for the Prius and headed to SMAC for a shower and swim. Liz and I talked some in the evening, played puzzles, and so my day ended.
Friday was odd. My friend Jeffery texted me in the morning to report that Dan Clary was missing! He was supposed to contact his wife but didn't. At noon Myra called me and we talked about the situation. Soon the Alpine County Sheriff and CPC were informed of the missing person. There was no contact on Friday night nor on Saturday morning. I thought for sure the worst had happened. Finally, I got word that Dan had gone WAY WAY off the grid and was out of cell range for two full days. Dan Reid texted me that Myra would "kiss his neck then kick his butt."
In spite of all this distraction, I was able to update my book outline and mail a copy to Frank. I then needed to do some heavy-duty reading. And so I did. As the month came to a close, I completed all 562 pages of Shake Hands with the Devil in just 4 days. I walked with Dan Reid and Steve Wilson, as well as paid a visit on David Alexander on the day after his mother had died. Of course I marked with 1-year anniversary of Jody's death. Liz shed a tear. A part of my still grieves the great loss of a great dog.
~ Visit to Florida begins ~
The new month got off to an early start - - 4:00am. My small red suitcase sat on the sidewalk as Jeffery picked me up at 4:30. And so I was off for a six-day sojourn to Florida to re-acquaint myself with Simon, Lorenzo, and Gia.
The departure from SFO was fine, but unfortunately there were complications at DFW. My out-bound flight was delayed 30 minutes because the incoming jet was late to arrive. Then I boarded, sat for an hour, then de-boarded due to a faulty part. After re-boarding, the jet sat on the tarmac for another 30 minutes as thunderstorms hovered then cleared. I arrived at PBI at nine rather than at five. I missed seeing the kids that evening (they were with Dilia) but I was in Simon's re-assuring company. I occupied his bedroom while he slept on a living-room air bed.
Friday was a day of rest. I slept in, read the first few chapters of Machete Season, and went grocery shopping with Simon at Winn-Dixie. We also visited an aquarium supply place to fix Simon's pond filter. The lid kept popping off. Lorenzo and Gia showed up about seven. I was happy to hug my grandkids and to hear about their new schools - Lorenzo at Connistan Middle school and Gia at Bak Middle School of the Arts. They each named their several classes. We watched TV together until late in the evening.
Saturday was late getting started. We stopped at taekwondo where I videoed Lolo sparring. He said he'll persevere until he earns his black belt. Good for him!
I had committed to buying my grandkids new technology for school so we headed out to the Apple Store. As it turned out, Lorenzo got a new MacBook and iPhone. Gia got her broken iPhone fixed and a new keyboard attachment for her iPad. While on the sales floor, the playful twosome enjoyed setting iPhone lock-screens with their funny faces. Because Gia had received less loot than Lolo, I provided my granddaughter with $40 of "hush money". She was excited to buy something nice at Lululemon. However, she learned this up-scale boutique charged $50 for a simple t-shirt. She left empty-handed but a wiser shopper. We then stopped at Target where they each got school supplies. The late evening was filled with setting up and learning a host of new technology.
We four were slow to rise on Sunday morning. The sun was already hot as I began my 40-minute walk down the seaside on Flagler. A shower was mandated. The kids were exploring their gadgets until 10:45 when we herded them into the Mazda and off to Family Church. The car route took us down Flagler, the street I had just walked, but this time we drove 5 miles instead of my one.
Lolo and Gia moved up a Sunday-school grade and didn't need to be signed in. Simon was surprised. The sermon concerned "the gift of singleness". Lolo reported the message was the same in his middle school class. After lunch, Simon had work at home to accomplish, so I took the kids to Defy. They bounced, swang, dodged a ball, and sweat. I taught the two of them how sing the Granny cadence I learned at Fort Jackson in 1976. I sent him a photo of the two with Icees. As the sun set, I helped Simon re-build his front pond. The day ended with a TV viewing of Back to the Future 3.
On Labor Day, we rested. I commissioned Gia to paint a Dog Picture on my red suitcase. That girl sure has talent! We had planned to visit a Florida beach, but it was just too darn hot. Instead, we attended a double feature: Minions 3 for Gia and Dragon Ball 5 for Lorenzo. He's really into Japanese Anime. Both movies were engaging but forgettable. Simon BBQed two steaks for a late dinner while the kids enjoyed their veggie-burgers. After the two were tucked in, Simon and I experimented with his favorite art program: DALl-E. My wierd images were in the likeness of a Rodin sculpture and a Dali painting. We talked of life until I flopped into bed after midnight.
On Tuesday morning I saw Gia off to catch her bus by 6:55, then accompanied Simon to drop off Lorenzo at Connistan. After resting, reading, and writing, I accompanied my son to the Mazda dealership for his 5000-mile oil change and repair of window tint. I checked out a RAV 5 at the Toyota dealer next door. The day passed quickly and soon it was time to pick up the kids. We met Dilia at Yami Korean Grill. The bill for five was exactly $100 so Lolo could easily calculate the 15% tip. Again, it was a late night of TV and conversation with too much consumption of food. The constant battle for Simon seemed to be limiting his kid's screen time.
On Wednesday morning, we scurried to get Gia to the South Olive bus pick-up. She bid me a sweet farewell. I strolled back to Si's house and immediately drove with Lolo to Connistan. Both of my grandchildren seem to be well-adjusted and thriving, although it's odd to see the 11-year-old girl two inches taller than the 13-year-old boy. I walked and packed and loafed for the next few hours when suddenly it became time to return to California.
I experienced a bit of panic because I discovered my departure time was 2pm and not 4pm. Simon was a sport and dropped me off at PBI just in time to grab my boarding pass, rush through TSA security, and stand in line as Group 6 boarded. I endured a 3 hour wait time in Charlotte -- the USO helped ease the discomfort. Then came the 5 1/2-hour flight to San Francisco. Trusty Jeffery met me at 9:15pm and I got home by 9:30. The weather in San Mateo had been super-hot (100 degrees that day) and I tip-toed past Liz who was sleeping on the downstairs couch. I was tired from my latest adventure and soon fell asleep in my hot bedroom, both fans cranked to high. I thanked God for the Florida branch of my Foreman family.
The extreme heat continued over the next few days topping 100 degrees. Both Liz and I slept on the cooler first floor. The leather couch wasn't too bad. I attended my initial Men's Group at BurlPres on Saturday morning, then did my usual walk with David Alexander on Monday. I learned his 93-year-old mother had died the day before. Most of our conversation concerned her death of course. I had ordered a Jackery brand electric generator from Amazon Prime along with a folding solar panel. I tested out my new gadgets at Half Moon Bay on Tuesday. They seemed to work well. I am preparing for the day when I sell my camper. In 2023?
I kept myself busy by writing Chapter One of my Rwanda Novel. I really get into the zone. I seem to enter into a bubble and inhabit a dream of refugee camps and genocide. On those evenings when I write to midnight, I often experienced real dreams of Africa, meeting with people I hadn't seen in years.
After a summer break, I participated in a leadership Zoom with Men's Fraternity. This year we are studying a book called Romans 8: from Broken to Belonging. I kept in correspondence with Zachary and family and with Simon who got a promotion. I am blessed to have such great children and grandchildren. From September 19 to 21, I hobo-camped at Prayer Mountain; not too many people, but a lot of cats and "turkeys in the straw". I became more engaged with BurlPres men's group and agreed to lead sessions over the next months.
Liz and I had a getaway adventure in Capitola from September 25 to 27. It launched with a shouting match while still in the driveway, but improved over the two nights away. On Sunday afternoon, we stopped off at Wilder Ranch State Park for hiking and a sack lunch. Walking into the Fern Grotto is always a treat. We checked in to the Marriot Fairfield Inn and Suites. To accommodate Liz, I got to bed much earlier than I normally do -- at 8:30. The nine hours of sleep was good for me. The next day, we drove to UC Santa Cruz to walk the Arboretum / Botanical Garden. We strolled through the flora of Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. I especially enjoyed the hummingbirds and the fact that the university had labeled all the plants. I snapped a photo of the UCSC mascot - - the banana slug. After another long night of sleep, we hung out in the hotel room, then headed to Mount Herman. Our hike by Bean Creek, through the redwoods, marked a third special outdoor event. It ended up being a good couple of days.
Upon my return I continued to write my novel of Rwanda. It's hard to break new ground. It's always easier to till what I have already written. As the month of September grew to a close, I noted the bear market had really taken its toll on my Wells Fargo Portfolio. I'm down about 15% from my post house-sale after-tax proceeds of last April. I also wasted a lot of time especially scrolling on YouTube. I think what amuses me often surprises me.
The new month began on a Saturday. At 8:00 a.m. I drove to BurlPres for my men's group. I led a discussion about time management. On the way home, I stopped to check out 2023 cars. I'm deciding between a Toyota RAV 4 and a Kia Sportage. On Sunday, I went to church and on Monday got a flu shot. Tuesday was a big day for signing contracts. At noon, I spoke with Dasha via Zoom and pledged $100,000 to Fuller Missions in Rwanda. That's not a problem since the money is coming from my donor-directed-fund. In the afternoon, Liz and I went to the Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Hayward. To reduce my wife's anxiety about my final arrangements, I pre-paid for a funeral package at $9257. I used my United credit card, so I figured I got a lot of air miles. I did some clean-up from my storage boxes and a few old slides fell to the ground. Those were the days.
After Men's Fraternity on Thursday, I headed out in my Camper to Pinnacles National Park. It was about a two-hour drive. I spent four nights in the woods, resting, reading, writing my novel, and enjoying the wildlife. Ken Napier was leading a Meet-Up group and I interacted with four hiking women. My Thursday dinner was 2 hot dogs, Friday potluck at Ken's campsite, Saturday rice and potstickers, and Sunday rice with chili. After dark on Friday, I sat in my camping chair, under my lamp, re-writing my manuscript. My back was turned to the open sliding door. Suddenly two racoons scampered out. One had stolen a bread roll. I also saw a fox walk by my table besides lots of deer, rabbits and squirrels.
It was hot - up over 90 degrees in the afternoon but down in the 40s at night. Every day I bundled up at dawn and stripped down to shorts by noon. I did go hiking with Ken into the pinnacles on Saturday morning, but on the other days just made flat-land walks. Liz sent me a picture of her leading a hike. Our Sunday morning church service was just me and Ken - Mark 12:30-33. It was a restful four days, but seemed long without Lizzie.
I got home about 2 pm on Monday. Zachary sent me a video clip of Zélie scoring a goal at soccer. Wow! Liz was troubled because the Chinese couple across the street - Calvin and Leanne - were getting divorced and she moved out the next day. On Wednesday, I drove to Castro Valley to get a root canal on tooth #30. June C. Chang did the procedure. It wasn't that uncomfortable. The aide was Madi. I told her that crown was installed in 1984. She said it was four years older than her. That was a pause for thought. I made pit stops at Costco and Walmart before returning home. The week continued with Men's Fraternity on Thursday and Covid test on Friday (in preparation for the Cardioversion on Tuesday).
On Saturday morning, I was supposed to lead a session at BurlPres but Tyce concluded a series on time management. At 10:00am, I dropped by Sterling Court to help my mother-in-law in a project. She wanted to prepare a 500-piece puzzle for wall hanging. I drove her to Holly Hobby where we acquired glue and posterboard. Then together we put the glue on the back of the puzzle. Some of the pieces fell out of place so we had to re-assemble a part of the puzzle. Becky appreciated my patience. On Sunday Liz and I attended CPC, then I returned at 4pm for a session of Sequoia at Susan's house. It was fun to talk with her and Connie, but the session was poorly presented. I walked with David on Monday, then on Tuesday was the big event.
My cardioversion was at the KP Hospital at Redwood City. I had to fast and not drink for the previous twelve hours. Liz dropped me off at 8:30 and I signed in. I was prepped with a hospital gown (the one where your butt protrudes) and an IV. A portion of my chest hair was shaved where the electrode whold be placed. I was wheeled into the operating room where Dr. Felix and an anesthesiologist awaited me. I was totally zonked out and didn't feel a thing. They tell me I was only out for fifteen minutes. Dr. Felix said my heart was zapped back into regular rhythm. Praise God for that! Jeffery Tuttle drove me home and Liz called me "patient" insisting I spend the rest of the day in bed. So I did. I only registered 727 steps on my smart watch and my only side effect was an itchy back where the electric pad stuck to my skin. Liz did point out to me the seven deer that were hanging around the house.The neighbor's garden is a salad bar to them.
That third week in October flew by- - a few hours per day walking, an hour at the gym, and a few hours writing the novel. I finished chapter two- - Inhabiting the Horror. Life has it ups and and downs. Friday, October 21, was up. I walked with Dan Ried in the morning with good conversation, then returned to Dr. Felix at RC-KP to confirm a normal heartbeat. On Saturday, I led the BurlPres men's group. I received a few accolades afterward. Then, I had a good Zoom call with Franc and Frank. That was productive. However, on Sunday I got into a quarrel with Liz during our pre-church walk. I prayed during the Sermon and I seemed to discern two resolutions: 1) don't speak harshly (tone) 2) Bridle my tongue (self censor- content). Our relationship normalized after a few days. Then my Smart watch told me my heart was back in AFib. Alas! I tested again at RC-HP and confirmed that fact. I corresponded with Dr. Felix and will get further treatment. Such are the up and down - - the vicissitudes of life. On Friday, I was displaced from the upstairs of the house because Liz had scheduled a rug cleaner. It's always a production with moving furniture, cleaning throw-rugs, and sleeping on air mattress downstairs.
Early on Saturday morning, I was off for another adventure. Jeffery picked me up at 4am and I was on my way to spend four nights in Pittsburgh, first and last night at the Airport Hyatt and the two middle nights in Zachary's cellar.
Zachary met me in my hotel room with Zélie and Zoshie. I enjoyed my time with son and family, hanging out, eating out, and driving to various activities. On Sunday, Zachary, the girls and I went to Idlewild Park. We walked through a trail of nursery rhymes and went on a trolly to Mr. Rogers "neighbor day". Zélie danced with two Halloween girls and Zoshie ate a lot of Halloween candy. It was the last day of the season for the park.
I spent Monday morning with Zachary going over my finances, planning a Christmastime cruise to the Bahamas, and talking about my Rwandan novel. I appreciated Zach's input on my Dominican character named Sano. In the afternoon we picked up the girls from their part-time Assumption school, met Ruth for a late lunch, then returned to the house.
It was an evening for trick-or-treating. Zachary stayed home dresed as a Rubics Cube to pass out candy while I walked the neighborhood with Ruth. I wore my King Tut outfit, Zélie was a princess, and Zoshie was a policewoman. I was amazed at the number of houses that were decorated with pumpkins and Halloween paraphernalia. Four or five houses in a row would have porch lights on and folks passing out candy. A flashing firetruck cruised the neighborhood and a local policeman gave our 3-year-old policewoman a handful of candy. After all this excitement, I talked with Zachary a bit and October was over.
November first was All Saints Day. Zach and I traveled to Saint Mary's on the Mount Church across the Monongahela River from downtown Pittsburg. After the mass, we posed at a viewpoint and then took an old-fashioned cable car down an incline to the riverside. Our last tourist visit was to site of the old Forbes Field where the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Yankees in 1960. Although it had occurred sixty-two years earlier and I could remember it- sitting on my front porch listening to the radio as Bill Mazorowski hit the game winning homerun.
We returned to the house for a while, then Zachary drove me to the Hyatt Hotel. It was always great to talk with my son about a diversity of topics: plans, books, ideas, politics, philosophy. I said goodbye to him about 6pm, then enjoyed the comfort of my $190 hotel room. I awoke on Wednesday morning at 5:30am, walked to terminal 3 for a visit to the USO then to terminal 1 for my flight to SFO. The jet was fog-delayed. The five hours passed as I listened to the audible of Truman and watched Saving Private Ryan. Jeffery picked me up at SFO and I got home by 11:00am. My adventure was over, but my day was not.
After unpacking and putting my room rugs in order, I swam at the CSM pool, visited the RC-KP to pick up an EKG halter, then got a haircut. I received a video clip of Simon and Lolo attending an NBA game - Miami Heat vs. Golden State Warriors. The father-son duo had a blast! I was pooped after a very long day and got to bed early.
My month of November continued: Men's Fraternity on Thursday and BurlPres Men on Saturday. I continued to walk and listen to the Audible of Harry Truman. At 54 hours that takes a long time. I resumed my Mark-Zoom series with Mark chapter six. Then I spent two wet nights at Prayer Mountain. I was cold most of the time and on Monday night I experienced an actual winter storm. I wrote a little, listened to Audible a lot, slept a lot, and ate a bit too much. Two things coincided with this getaway. The first was Tuesday, November 8, Election Day. It was supposed to be a Red Tsunami, but diminished into a Red Trickle. It was a disappointing election for Republicans and for me. Second was Hurricane Nicole that ripped through Florida. Luckily for Simon, the eye of the storm made landfall fifty miles north of West Palm Beach. I was in contact with my son about his experience.
After returning from Scotts Valley, I met with Dr. Felix at RC-KP. I continue to have AFIB and have an elevated heart rate. So, I was prescribed a med called Metoprolol Succinate. It looks like I'll be on meds for the remainder of my life. I'm not sure why this thought depresses me. I guess I perceive it as the official onset of old age. Oh well. I am still vertical. Friday was Veteran's Day and I met with Al Thornell and Charles Varaday at the Black Bear Restaurant in Hayward. It was good to catch up and enjoy a free hamburger with old friends. After a week of writing, walking, and men's groups, my Prius and I headed north.
I had my car pre-packed with my camper mattress, bedding, gadgets, food, and a suitcase.
My Men's Fraternity Table was down to 3: Dave, Dan, and Me. Steve was out with an ear infection. I walked a few loops at Catamaran Park and headed north. I was listening to an audible of Grant Move South so the time passed quickly; HW92 across the bridge, I580 to I680, then I80 and I505 to I5. I navigated my way to Jimmy's house in Medford without a hitch. It was almost dark when I went out with Jim and Val for dinner. The conversation was pleasant, sometimes deep, sometimes nostalgic.
It took most of the Friday daylight hours to meander north to Canby. I stopped to walk at rest stops and parks. I ate out with Sue and Donnie then talked with Sue into the late evening. Much of the talk was about Jeanne, her sale of property, and future stay at Hope Village. I gave Sue $5000 to help with my Big Sister.
On Saturday morning, I went to Hope Village, picked up Jeanne and headed to our Sibling pre-Thanksgiving get-together. It was a good day of fellowship. We sat around Eileen's table to sing happy birthday to Frank, Jim Francis, Char and me (4th quarter babies). We posed for a picture, and spent the rest of the evening in conversation. Certainly, Jeanne looked older at 86, but could still walk and talk. Char seemed in worse shape. She is in my prayers. I spoke with Eileen for a few hours, then it was time to retire for the night.
After scraping off a layer of frost, I drove off the next morning to meet Frank at church. I enjoyed the service and fellowship. My brother was surprised that the family was looking for another place of assisted living for Jeanne. It was nearby, so Frank and I checked out Cogir of Glenwood Place. It seemed fine to me and maybe Jeanne will re-locate. I hung out with Frank until he drove to Canyonville for his bi-weekly work. At 3pm it was time for my Mark Zoom meeting. I was staying in his upstairs guest room and there facilitated the story of Jesus walking on the water. I talked with Lelia some and then rested upstairs. I stayed in communication with Liz and received updates of her adventures at Filoli.
I left Vancouver at 8:00 and got to Canyonville at noon for a lunch with Frank. He works at a smalltown/rural dental office two days every other week. After consuming a burger, we went for a walk to Canyonville Christian Academy. This was the place I almost got a job as principal in 1983. How my life would have changed if Kim and I had stayed in this small town! I drove another hour south to Rogue River and checked into a yurt - $55. I walked along the bank of the river, enjoyed a campfire, and rested with a night of solitude.
I left the yurt about 6:30 and headed north. The sunrise was spectacular. I was on a single flashing bar of gas when I pulled into the Costco filling station - $46. Then it was eight hours of driving to get home. I got welcomed back with a scolding by Liz for leaving my car doors open She just happened to open the garage door at 4:45 as I emptied out my stuff. That is her nature. I shuffled my Prius stuff into the camper and that ended my day and my road trip.
The last week of November passed quickly. For Thanksgiving, Liz and I walked with Becky at Coyote Point. The day was clear and crisp. In the evening we each consumed a Swanson Turkey meal. On Sunday I finished up my Mark Zoom series not to return until 2023. I spent Monday at the beach, then focused on Liz for a few days. On Tuesday morning we drove to a vascular surgeon in Burlingame to treat her right leg of vericose veins and blood clots and the next day we returned for a follow-up. My wife did fine and enjoyed some leisure around the house. Zach sent me a photo of his recent road trip and Lorenzo enjoyed my early Christmas gift of a glowing basketball.
Rain arrived with the new month. I wanted to see the movie version of The Chosen but it was too drizzly for Liz. Only one other guy sat in the cinema with me. I thought the portrayal of Christ and his followers was well done. Liz and I did go for a walk at the mall on Sunday (to avoid the rain). I posed as a gingerbread man.
The month consisted of highs and lows. I got my highest score ever in Scrabble (158 single play - 643 total score). My low came with an x-ray of my right hip. As I suspected, there was moderate bone loss in the hip socket. It looks like a hip replacement is in my future sometime. Such are the vicissitudes of life.
I continued to plod along with my novel - now completing Chapter 3: Spiritual Wickedness in High Places. Frank continued to work hard for CASA and sent out a year-end report. I was glad I could still be of marginal use to the Gospel. I spoke on Thursday morning from Romans Chapter 8, mentioning the "the defeater defeater", then taught again from Romans, this time from chapter 4 at the Saturday mens' group.
The rain continued to fall. I had planned to camp out at Prayer Mountain on Sunday-Monday-Tuesday, but on Sunday it was still raining, so I pushed back my camping by one day. I must be NUTS. Why do I enjoy getting away and living out of my camper? It got down to 33 degrees during each night and I had to scrape ice off my table.
To register my camper with the state, I needed to get it smog certified. Last time that was a problem ($700?). Liz recommended her repair shop called Spiteris so I made an appointment there. I had to drive extra miles to make sure the emission controls would kick in. And so, I drove to Prayer Mountain on Monday afternoon, then to a place called Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve on Tuesday, then home on Wednesday. The otter research center was closed, so I made a big walk through the little town of Moss Landing. I rested by the sea shore. Sad to say, I failed my smog test at 12:30 on Wednesday.
After my return home from Prayer Mountain, I rested preparing my heart for my next big adventure - a visit to Florida and a cruise to the Bahamas. During this time of relaxation, I did take a picture of backyard wildlife. I wrote a little more of Chapter 4 in my novel, packed my bags and soon the hour of departure arrived.
Jeffery showed up at my door at 10pm. I was off on another adventure. I was surprised when I checked in at the United counter. My flight was changed from SFO-Houston-FLL to SFO-Chicago-FLL. It was Christmastime and all flights were packed. And because I stuck with my milage-plus rates, alas, I also got stuck with center seats. I spent an hour at O'Hare Airport and was delayed a bit so the crew could count on-board cats!
I arrived in Fort Lauderdale about 10am, took a shuttle to a Tri-Rail station, then arrived at the Lake Worth Tri-Rail about noon. Simon picked me up. It was great to be with my son once more. Because it was still a school day for Lorenzo and Gia, I didn't see them until after dark. That was OK since I was able to settle into Lolo's room and catch a few winks of sleep. Simon and I met my grandkids at a basketball game. Lolo's team lost, even though my grandson scored 9 of the first 12 points - - 3 threes. The day of December 20 ended early for me. I was fatigued after a long day of travel.
I did a lot of things with Simon, Lorenzo, and Gia. We went Christmas shopping at Target, went to a skating rink for Gia, watched a lot of Seinfeld, and I hung out with Lorenzo while his fished. Simon received his Christmas gift from me via Prime - a fancy Miele Coffee Maker - and I walked the Flagler seaside route while listening to an Audible about US Grant. I brought along an African crêche made of banana leaf. Simon proudly put that on display.
On Friday morning, four of us headed to Fort Lauderdale. After pausing at a Barnes & Nobel to buy gifts for Zélie and Zoshi, we rendezvoused with Zachary's family at Gilbert's Grill. We called this a "glorified grandpa handoff". Zach told us about his driving vacation thus far. With two cars we headed to catch our Royal Caribbean International cruise aboard the Liberty of the Sea: two full days/three nights. We had a grand time. That first evening aboard, I ate a steak dinner, and walked the decks: restaurants on 11, grand mall on 4, and our state room on 9. Ruth's mom, Mary, stayed in one room along with Ruth and the two girls. Zachary and I stayed in an adjoining room with a passage way in between. The space was small but comfortable.
December 24th was my 73rd birthday and "The Perfect day at Coco Cay". As things turned out, it was the coldest day of the year in the Bahamas, hovering around 70 degrees. It was an auspicious day none the less. Bahamas counted as my 40th country visited. I now have one more country visit than Liz!
There were two halves to the private island/amusement park: the thrill side and the chill side. We moseyed around the latter for a few hours, but really, it was too chilly to get wet. Plus, there was much to do on the ship - - snack, drink coffee, and follow the grandkids around. I soon returned to the comforts on board.
On Christmas day, we de-boarded and walked through Nassau to the Catholic Cathedral for a Christmas mass. After a few hours back on board, we de-boarded a second time for a bus tour of the capital city of the Bahamas. It was a bit disappointing because it remained cool and drizzly and on December 25, the rum factory and rum cake factory were closed. I did a lot of walking, logging in 20,000 steps before day's end. After a dinner for four adults (Zélie and Zoshi were in child care), we attended an excellent show on ice. Christmas day 2022 was memorable.
The Liberty of the Sea docked at Fort Lauderdale at 6am on the 26th and we off-loaded a few hours later. Mary caught a shuttle to the airport. (We learned later, her Southwest Airline flight was cancelled and she had to scramble.) Ruth, the two kids and I waited for a while for Zachary to pick us up and travel to Simon's place.
I love to be that catalyst that joins my children and grandchildren together. It really brings a tear to my eye. Zachary and family stuck around long enough to do laundry and eat out before they continued their vacation on to Jacksonville. Gia and Lorenzo were in the house until dark when they packed their bags to go to Dilia's place down the street. She was taking them to NYC for a mommy-side vacation. Before leaving, Lorenzo showed me his favorite Christmas gift - - a Samurai sword.
Monday ended on a tragic note. As Simon was backing his shiny Mazda out of his garage, the rear window shattered. Apparently one of the kids had left the hatch back open. There was both damage to the car and to the garage door. I felt so sad for Simon. I knew how he liked to look after his possessions and keep everything shipshape. He contacted USAA insurance and made an appointment at a body shop for repairs.
The next morning, after a long walk down Flagler, I accompanied Simon to the body shop. Fortunately, it didn't rain through the shattered window. My son will get the estimate later. I just loafed on Tuesday, hanging out with Simon, tying up his bamboo fence, and resting.
On Wednesday morning, Simon drove me to the Tri-Rail station and I was on my way home. My small maroon suitcase and blue roped backpack were easy to manage. Again, the airports/flights were crammed and my seats were center. I had just enough time in Atlanta to transfer from one Delta flight to another. I napped a little on this second leg. Jeffery picked me up at 8:30 and I fell into bed about nine. A shower would wait until the next morning.
When I returned home, only three days were left in the year 2022. I tested negative for Covid and recovered from my travels. The weather was stormy and my cell phone died on me as I tried to take photos of the raindrops. I read birthday/Christmas cards as I said good-bye to yet another year. Weight up/stock market down. Maybe I can reverse that in 2023!
Move on to 2023