year-end thoughts

Greetings (to whoever reads this, if anyone, as well as my future self)!

It’s late afternoon on Christmas Eve (Western-style) as type this, and the sun has finally burst through the leaden gray clouds after attempting to do so several times earlier in the day. Our neighbor’s giant coniferous tree – some sort of fir or pine? – is suffused with a bright golden light, its branches swaying slightly in the wind. We didn’t get a white Christmas in Seattle this year, but at least we are getting some sunshine after days of gloom.

I’m back from Hawaii, an incredibly green, warm, lush, and mostly sunny place all covered in flowers and full of locals and tourists looking relaxed and happy. There were some adventures of the “all is well that ends well” variety, such as being bitten in four places by a ginormous centipede (the bites still itch, but thankfully don’t hurt any more) and getting so sea-sick on a catamaran cruise up the coast despite taking a Dramamine pill that I lay crumpled up on the wet deck for three solid hours, surrounded by my anxious parents and sister who kept watch over me but were powerless to do anything else until the boat docked back in the harbor. Still, my impressions of Hawaii are best summed up by a photo like this one:

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It was good to spend some time with my parents and sister; the last time that the four of us were on vacation together was probably 25 years ago, when my sister and I were kids. Technically, this time only three of us were truly on vacation as my sister had to work more than half the days that we spent together, but she had a couple of mornings free, and we also got together every night. I’ve tentatively floated the idea of an annual family getaway with my parents, perhaps in Hawaii every other year and in some other place – a new one each time, somewhere on the West Coast for ease of travel – in alternate years. There are so many places none of us have been to in Oregon, California, and even here in Washington.

Oh, and the flight that I was sort of anxious about when I wrote my last post was just fine. I successfully distracted myself with reading on the way there, getting through both the National Geographic and the Alaska Airlines in-flight magazine from cover to cover, as well as a short story written by a friend. On the way back I was on a red-eye flight, and, exhausted from my sailing adventure several hours prior, I slept soundly, waking up only briefly for a snack and a drink.

Back home, P. and his dad seemed to have done OK, for the most part. Despite subsisting on instant noodles and potatoes, they were as healthy as they could possibly be when I got back, and the house was clean, even though the fridge was empty. And, of course, our dog’s happiness at my return knew no bounds.

Since I’m not sure I’ll find the time to post again before New Year’s, so I wanted to step back and take a quick look at where we are with our Methow project as 2014 comes to a close. We continue to pay off our debts, at a somewhat faster rate over the past several months. This month was an exception, as we needed our extra income for holiday presents and travel expenses, but hopefully we’ll be back on track next month. We also started saving again, slowly building up our cash savings from zero. We traveled to the Methow three times in the past year, in the spring, late summer, and late fall/winter – more times in one year than ever before. We got in touch with a real estate agency and looked at some land, and we also began to learn about loans. So, definitely quite a bit of progress was made – slow and incremental, yes, but that’s how we roll, I guess.

Even more important for our potential move, we seem to be about 90% set on moving forward with a new treatment for P.’s condition. The treatment itself is not new, but it’s new to him, and carries some potentially serious risks. However, if it ends up being effective for P., it would give a huge boost to our plans. In fact, it would make all the difference.

Merry Christmas to all those who are celebrating today and tomorrow, and happy New Year if I don’t manage to make it to this space again before the end of 2014!

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