TL;DNR: We bought an RV. We went to Yellowstone, Olympic and Death Valley nation parks in it, visiting friends and family along the way. We saw a few movies, cancelled our DirecTV account and started watching DVDs. I made an animated movie and wrote some blog posts. We started the daunting task of clearing away 25 years of pack rat accumulations.
The year in review
Jeanne bought an RV in January. Between winter storms, we took it for some overnight trips to see what we had and what we needed. Jeanne made several trips in it with friends. Together we made three trips, to Yellowstone, Olympic, and Death Valley national parks. We would have made more, except it spent months in Manteca, for a toilet replacement.
We started walking to dinner one a week at La Bamba Mexican restaurant in January. It is about seven tenths of a mile from our house. I was in such bad shape that it took half an hour to get there. I started sporadically walking Googie in the afternoons. Slowly I became more able to walk. I started taking one hour walks every day in June. This allowed us to expand our list of weekly restaurants. I rode my bike for the first time in 20 years. I am so out of shape that I can only ride 5 miles. We bought a bike rack for the RV and took the bikes to the Olympics, but never used them. In October we put them away for the year. I will start again in the spring.
Jeanne rehabilitated very few birds this year. She would have rehabilitated more, but the rescue center has stopped using volunteers for home care and very few came in through the organization that sends her out to receive and rehabilitate birds. She continues to teach her raptor identification class and attended the CCWR annual symposium. She is considering retiring from rehabilitation after decades of volunteering.
In August, I misplaced my reading glasses. I was certain they were in my bedroom, so I started a search. I realized that my room was cluttered with decades of pack rat accumulation. I started to clean it out. This expanded into a project to clean out the electronics and toys in the house, but not the garage. I gathered all of the electronics and other toys that I hadn’t used in years. I sorted them into garbage, recycling and donations. We offered the toys to our neighbors for their kids. They said their kids only played on computers, so we put the toys on the curb and announced that they were available on a neighborhood mailing list. The neighbor’s kids took most of the toys. The rest we donated to goodwill, along with a dozen shirts and pants that no longer fit because I had lost weight.
We did the same thing with the electronics. Most weren’t taken, so I tried to sell them through Next Door. When that failed, I offered them for free. Most were taken. The broken eletronics went to a recycling center. This led me to my ham radio gear. I am in the middle of a project to set it back up and get back on the air.
I had collected a stack of notebooks and other paper that was about three feet tall, along with other office supplies that we never used, so we gave most of that away as well.
Over the years, we had stashed various things in whatever place they had happened to fit. As long as we were gathering all of these things together, we reorganized. Now that we’re done, the house is devoid of accumulations and we can find everything in it. The exception is film related photography gear. We have a massive scanner, a complete darkroom, and a collection of 35mm, medium format, and 4×5 cameras. Jeanne would like to tackle it next. The garage looms as a massive tax that will take many months. I do not look forward to tackling it.
I had spent 40 years developing computer software but had never used very much other than the tools of a developer. This year, I started using personal information management tools. Now I have my contacts organized, my calendars all merged, and an on line to-do list that I can access from my tablets and computers. My favorite use of the to-do list is to remind me daily to wind my pocket watch. I can read my email on my tablets or computers. I can even write blog posts on either.
My seven year old Alienware laptop had a bad power connector and needed a new fan. Before we left for the Olympic trip, I dropped it off for repair. A month later, it was returned to me, with a dead battery, flaky graphics, and a new fan, but without a new power connector. It is impossible to get new batteries, so I finally broke down and replaced it. My new laptop has a smaller screen, is much faster, and many pounds lighter.
I am putting the better graphics and speed to good use. I have always been interested in computer graphics and 3d animation. There is now a very good 3d modeling, rendering and animation program called Blender. I started learning it in the spring. Eventually I made a brief animated film, The Gray Man. It is not yet finished. In the spring, when my energy returns, I will work on it some more.
The day before we left for Death Valley, my ancient iPhone 5 refused to connect. I checked the cable and used an air bulb to clean out the connector, to no avail. A friend suggested that I probe the connector gently with a needle. This worked, but it reminded me how venerable the 5 had become, so I bought an iPhone 7, keeping true to my claim that I would only buy prime numbered iPhones. It has not arrived, but I am not anxious to go through the tedium of transferring to it.
My SAD hit hard this year. As the days got shorter, my energy declined. My doctor suggested using a SAD light. I bought a Verilux happy light(tm) and now spend an hour each morning using my tablet while sitting in front of it. This starts my day. I have made other changes. I have a routine now. I have more clothes that fit and wear shirts with collars more often. I bought a beard grooming kit and carefully shave every morning. I keep my hair short, and have it cut by a barber. In short, now that I have no dress codes to thwart, I am no longer a slob.
Jeanne, who rarely buys on impulse bought an Amazon Echo Dot on sale as a Christmas present to herself. We had her daughter and granddaughter visit from Sacramento on various holidays, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Bethany brought her new rescue dog Roxie to Thanksgiving. Roxie and Googie got along well, which was a relief. They got along almost as well at Christmas, but Googie tired of Roxie’s enthusiasm late in the day and they had to be separated.
We ended the year with our usual debauchery: An early meal, a quick toast, a hot bath, and off to bed by 9.