I'm writing this warm and snug by the woodstove in the midst of another group of storms that are battering northern California. My rain gauge shows about five inches of rain have fallen the last two days. These storms have been a bit more angry than most. Not the gentle saturating rain that usually falls. No, these rains have been apocalyptic in nature. Lightning. Thunder. Some snow. Trees down all over the place--especially in the burned sections.
Speaking of Apocalypse--looks like we survived the end of the Mayan calendar. Whew.
Hard not to reflect on the last year--sitting in front of the woodstove with a dog or three curled up at my feet. We have a leg of lamb cooking in the stove. And tonight I'll be opening a fifty dollar bottle of Cabernet that I splurged on. Gotta live a little.
So it was mostly a good year. I said goodbye to my dear sister in May as she succumbed to breast cancer; her life tragically cut short by a cancer that has ended so many baby boomer females' lives. Way too many women have been affected by this awful cancer. My own theory is that we are paying the price of all that above ground nuclear testing in the 1950's in the lives of fifty and sixty something women who grew up drinking the milk and storing the cesium in their fatty tissues. Goodbye Ruth. Thanks for taking care of me as a child. And nobody could make the organ rock like you!
My favorite journalist, Alexander Cockburn, passed away this year too. A victim of cancer--I miss reading his weekly column on Counterpunch and his biweekly in The Nation. Alex was a weirdo. A Red Diaper Baby whose father was the famous Communist journalist Claud Cockburn. Alex was a climate change denier. An oil cornucopiast who believed in the theory of abiotic oil. He was a socialist with anarchist tendencies. He was definitely hard to pin down. I had the privilege to watch his career almost from the start to finish--one day I even traveled to Petrolia, California where Alex lived along the Lost Coast of California. When I got there I felt way too much like a groupie--so I just went to the beach and put aside all efforts at meeting my hero. Cockburn's influence on me has been immeasurable through out the years. Not as much as Ed Abbey (who Alex admired and even traveled to the secret location of Ed's illegal burial with Doug Peacock in the photo below)---but I've copied Alex's ideas and writing style on more than one occasion. Multiple times, in fact. Good bye Alex.
What else? Well, I took a solo hike that was fun, dangerous and nearly killed me. I also went to the doctor while feeling fatigued and found out that I'm getting older so now I have to get a monthly injection of manliness. It helps. I've started on all the classic medications one would expect of an overweight Fifty-something. Joni just got a pacemaker to help her heart beat a bit faster. Seems our parts are wearing out a bit sooner than expected. Time to take better care of this aging body; I have much more I want to do. A goal for next year. Again.
Financially, we are doing well. So well that Joni and I managed to take a trip, a real vacation. This was the first time in years we managed to get away--and we packed much action into our nine day adventure. We met enviro authors (Craig Childs, Jack Loeffler); had beers with some of Ed Abbey's friends--Ken Sleight, Eric Temple, Katie Lee, Ken Sanders; stayed in a cabin on the edge of the Grand Canyon; marveled at the wonders of the Beatles Love show in Vegas (not to be missed).
I managed to be interviewed on a radio station this year. A radio interview that went national when Congressional candidate Sam Aanestad (the point of the radio interview) called Obama a Muslim on the record. I had only one piece published in 2012--but that bit of writing did help bring down a congressional campaign.
Kylie and Jazmine continue to get straight A's in school. The arguments and yelling seems to have dropped a few decibels. These young women are growing up wise and strong and healthy and smart. I am impressed at their lack of consumerism. They don't whine much about just having a few outfits and one pair of shoes. They don't demand the latest gadgets. They put up with this "off grid" lifestyle where starting generators to pressurize the water is a morning chore. And hanging clothes in the living room above the woodstove is our dryer. They tolerate this simple lifestyle with grace and class. And they work ferociously hard in school.
I continue to make the 330 mile round trip to work once a week. Yes, I feel guilty about my carbon footprint. I'd look for work closer to home except: 1. I like my jobs and 2. I make way more money there than anything close to home. Trade offs. The time away from home is hard. But I will continue to do it for another year or two (or six?) or until forced to do otherwise.
The house remains unfinished--but livable. Sort of. We still have two dogs too many and two bunny rabbits. Rocky, our cat, still calls us his humans despite the fact that we keep getting more dogs that chase him and make his life a catty hell.
There are still some things I didn't get done this year. I didn't lose fifty pounds. I didn't spot a Condor. I didn't read 100 books (although I came close). I didn't spend a month on the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn't finish the house. I didn't build a fish pond. I didn't plant a garden. I didn't run. I didn't climb as many mountains as I wanted to. I didn't camp as much as I wanted. I didn't write as much as I wanted. I didn't have enough late-into-the-night talks trying to finish a third bottle of wine with friends. I didn't have enough campfires.
That's okay. Another year beckons.