Here’s what I learned (or realized again) and had a ball doing last year.  Who cares?  That’s fair.  You may want to skip down to the summary below.

Each year at this time I go through a personal reflection of the past year.  Writing it down is how I organize and refine my thoughts. My partner SAM is the anchor and happiness of my life.  We’ve been friends for over 40 years and partners for 12 years now. I’d like to re-up for another 10 if she’ll agree.  I know I can be a challenge at close range.  But still, we make a great travel team, this year visiting all the Scandinavia countries, Estonia and Russia.

My sons are always on my mind – that’s part of being a dad.  At this moment they are between level I and II (level I- taking care of yourself; II- taking care of another; III- taking care of a family; and IV- finally giving back to your community and being part of something larger) – they’re about where I was at their age.  I’m very proud of them both.

Teaching turns out to be a wonderful activity for me – a chance to perform, inform, and coach on topics I love and with participants that push me to always do better.  SAM (a lifelong educator) gives me lots of pointers.  I am fortunate to have two schools – UNCA/OLLI and AACC/PLP that support my efforts.

My “men’s group” in Asheville – going on over 5 years – continues to inspire and gratify me in ways that are new and, at the same time, comfortable – practical wisdom and friendship.  More about my group at  http://groupsformen.blogspot.com/2015/05/esse-quam-videre-being-authentic.html.

Old men have a lot to say but not many listen.  My pal Nelson’s poems offer much insight, more at   https://www.amazon.com/Brain-Slivers-Poems-Nelson-Sartoris/dp/1535125888/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1483467532&sr=8-1&

Drawing and reading are how I continue to learn (OK, a little YouTube when I’m lazy…) I’ll spare you most of that, but I have become more interested in drawing familiar natural objects all around us: plants, critters, bugs, trees, etc.  We’ll see where that goes.  Peter Loewer is an inspiration.  JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy was enlightening and timely.

Crafts (used to be a  negative word – associated with dreaded craft shows) have taken on a new pleasant ring for me thanks to the JC Campbell School that SAM and I have enjoyed now for four years.  When I was a lad helping in my dad’s woodworking shop the smell of sawdust made me feel good. Fast-forward 65 years.  Taking courses in carving and chiseling, veneer, and turning have made me feel that “sawdust smell” good again.   I learned that wood as an artistic substrate has great character and can easily be shaped and illustrated

By luck I had a chance this year to try “pyrography”  the fancy word for wood burning, and, I’m enjoying that, including the odors (that draw SAM’s attention.)  As a refugee from the world of all things tech I am amazed and amused by what is unfolding into the affordable. High quality graphic arts on tablets and powerful and relatively easy drawing and painting apps.


Oh boy, oh boy…Then there’s the campaign and election – sick to my stomach.

Two people I’ve met and respect: Scott Adams (Dilbert) and Allan Lichman (American University and CNN) predicted generally that Trump would win.  I and most of the media and most of the pollsters missed that.  I won’t add to the tsunami of analysis and progressive teeth gnashing that has passed by my world window this year.  Brexit was a warning that polls can be wrong.  But it’s clear now we are a very divided nation.  I for one inhabit a bubble and therefore deserve part of the blame.

There is a way forward, a healing if we all get outside our bubbles and begin to engage in civil conversation that has a lot of listening. And, communicating directly with our representatives as SAM does.  Plenty of clown cartoons coming, but I won’t be laughing.

2017: looking forward to new adventures, family visits, and some quiet times.

Summary.  A fulfilling year of travel, teaching, creative work and learning with SAM. Health is good, (LDL cut in half with veggie diet.) Depressed about the coarse and divisive campaign/election and the probable direction of environmental, international, and social agenda of our new leadership. Sigh. Let’s get out of our bubbles, listen more and have civil conversations.

Getting older and wiser and still have some hair left.


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