Thank you 2016.
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I’m a day late, but better late than never right family?
I am thankful for an abundance of things this year and I think we all know the biggest blessing of them all.
Vivian Shanelle Hammond, born February 8, 2016. I am so thankful for this wonderful young lady, who my mother laid her blessings on from heaven, as she was born 2 years the day my mother went home. She has been the highlight of our young lives and this is the best challenge I’ve ever received. She is ever changing and brightens my day when I walk in the house. NO MATTER what has happened with my day, the excitement and smile on her face when I come through the door washes all my troubles away.
I’m also thankful for the time Jessica spent being our nanny. She set Vivian on a course to be ahead of the curve amongst her peers at daycare. I can’t thank her enough.
I am thankful for things to come in the very near immediate future as well. I get to spend new years with my extended loved ones in San Diego, and that I am extremely excited for.
Thank you to Kim for being a great mother. She saves lives and helps to keep our home in order.
I’m a lucky and blessed man!
Some silence, then for awhile some music and dancing and humming and grooving and singing and clapping, then silence again sometime later
On-call nurses, ambulance rides, people who love their jobs
Such a variety of animals in this world! So many funny names and shapes!
Many places that feel like home
Something to sink my teeth into every day
People who write helpful apps and don’t charge money for them (seriously!)
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Today is Turkey Day and Bayard is napping. I am thankful for naps. A long time ago I reached peace with this holiday and it became my favorite holiday. I disconnected the history of violence against the indigenous people of America – and the all too happy stories we learned in school about Pilgrims and Indians – from my personal experience of Thanksgiving being about love of family and friends, often expressed through cooking for and with each other. I love the coming together, the lack of consumerism, the full bellies, the pies… I am thankful for all of that, but this year I am having trouble keeping this disconnect going because of what is happening in North Dakota. So first and foremost I am thankful for the water protectors and am praying for their safety and success.
(gets off soap box)
Here is my list for 2016 – Lots of love to you all!
Musical Artist: Jamila Woods
Authors: Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood
Radio Station/Show: Vocalo.org / Reclaimed Soul
TV: Game of Thrones, John Oliver, the Get Down
Movie: Haven’t really seen that many this year… Star Trek Beyond?
What a year! There have been upsets, disappointments, stress, and fear… but there have also been some truly beautiful, silly, and inspiring moments too. One of my beloved aunties says something to the effect of ” life is a ride; I’m glad I bought a ticket;” and I couldn’t agree more. This year I am thankful for so much:
Buying my first property (that was in rough enough shape that I could afford it);
Aaron’s job which lets him come home so much more than I thought;
special deliveries of tea at work… see above;
being a bridesmaid in my dear friend Alyssa’s wedding in Mexico and everything else about that trip;
gummy candy, Smucker’s all natural peanut butter, and seltzer water in every flavor except pomegranate margarita (seriously, how did they made it taste so horrible??);
animal videos of every sort;
a packed lunch on a busy morning;
walks with Cole and Aaron and weekend coffees;
having a very experienced administrative assistant who is organized in all the ways I am not;
my personal handyman, Arron, who not only encouraged me to buy a house but has dropped everything on numerous occasions to deal with my tenants, rip up cat damaged floors and install beautiful bamboo floors, install radiators, dry-walled the house, and build doors;
my mamma who has also thrown herself into making my first foray into home ownership a positive one. She has planted bulbs, scared off all the feral cats with lavender, painted the houses, hung curtain rods, weeded and brought snacks to keep us (Aaron) going;
dinners with Ed;
all the travel on deck Switzerland and Sweden with my favorite travel partner; and
Favorite quote of the year: “everything will work out in the end, and if it doesn’t… it isn’t over yet”
I am thankful for:
-each day I get to spend with Cole
-being able to work from home (Buffalo) more often than I thought I’d be able to
-Netflix and cuddling with Tess (no, not Netflix and “chill”)
-having a new roof over my head
-spending time with those that I deeply care about
-adventures with Tessa (Yelapa, the Kentucky Derby, and Switzerland in 2017)
-being able to work with Tessa make her new house into a home
-the Bill’s not being officially eliminated from the playoffs…..yet
-boating, wakeboarding, and the beach
-meatloaf, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sour gummy candy, and IPA beer
Even my cynical self is shaken this year, so let’s focus on:
I sort of finally started the streaming thing this year (Amazon Prime) so that might have contributed to a lack of excitement, focus and stand out albums, but three solid, solid, well played (according to my iTunes) albums of the year are:
Not been keeping track. Enjoyed Star Wars but am going to go with the Netflix streaming TV thing and certainly the start of the season, and the finale, of:
We are thankful for:
Tennis lessons – and improving our footwork and technique.
Balance and Mobility Class at the Senior Center. No falls in over a year.
The Rotary Foundation – doing good in the world. Other non-profits that are also doing good in the world.
Being certified to teach Guided Autobiography and developing a Level III course with another instructor (and friend), based on the principles and structure of the two original levels developed by James E. Birren.
Living in California.
Libraries. Book Mobiles. Little Free Libraries.
Cruises – you only have to unpack once, while visiting many different ports of call.
Finally getting money back from Social Security and not just paying it in.
Nationwide legal recognition of marriage between any two people who love each other and make the commitment.
The infinite variety in human beings – and knowing we are all more alike than we are different.
Farmers’ Markets. Healthy recipes that taste delicious.
Recycling. Ban on one-use plastic bags.
The ability to laugh. People with a sense of humor.
Likely setting a record in San Diego County, for “Oldest Combined Ages of the Bride and Groom,” and for Al, realizing that “happy marriage” is not necessarily an oxymoron.
Favorite books, Fiction:
Playing with Fire, by Tess Gerritsen, 2016.
The Coral Thief, by Rebecca Stott, 2009.
A Great Reckoning, by Louise Penny, 2016.
Favorite books, Memoirs:
The Beautiful Struggle: A Memoir, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 2008.
Wobbling Home: A Spiritual Walk with Parkinson’s, by Jim Atwell, 2010.
The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe, 2012.
We Call Our Daddy “Mister:” In Defiance of Convention Life and Times at the Rose Hill Plantation, by James E. Schell, 2005.
Boot Strapper: A Memoir, by Mardi Jo Link, 2013.
Two Rings, by Millie Werber and Eve Keller, 2012.
The Color of Water, by James McBride, 1996.
The Distance Between Us, by Reyna Grande, 2012.
Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade, by Thomas Norman De Wolf and Sharon Leslie Morgan, 2012.
Favorite books, Non-Fiction:
The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker, 2015.
The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight Decade Study, by Howard S. Friedman, PhD, and Leslie R. Martin, PhD, 2011.
The Lady in the Van (based on Alan Bennett’s memoir of the same name), 2015.
84 Charing Cross Road, 1986.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, 2013.
Lee Daniels’ The Butler, 2013.
In Darkness, 2011. (Based on the book – Girl in the Green Sweater: A Life in Holocaust’s Shadow, by Krystyna Chiger, with Daniel Paisner, 2008.)
The Roosevelts – 7 episode documentary, covering the Roosevelt Family for over 100 years, 2014.
Our marriage dinner, with both witnesses and a friend, at Ciciotti’s Trattoria Italiana, in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA. May 25, 2016.
As always, thank you for including me. What a beautiful tradition. This entire year, especially the past two weeks, has been challenging. But there have been plenty of moments of light.
Favorite book: City on Fire which, in fairness, I’m still reading. But so far it’s pretty seamless and really intriguing.
Favorite album: ATCQ’s new album, which feels like the soundtrack of the second half of 2016, and the posthumous vocals of Phife Dawg make me cry. And the “Hamilton:an American Musical” soundtrack and the “Hamilton” mixtape (to be released).
Happy Thanksgiving, all. Sending love.