Saturday, December 31, 2011

#115 - 2011: The Roller Coaster Ride That Was

I'm sitting here with Teresa, reading a Christmas letter from some old friends now living in Maine, getting ready to watch Teresa's alma mater, Auburn, play Virginia in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and preparing to ring out 2011. Good riddance, I say.

The first half of the year was uneventful enough. We managed to get out several times in the fifth-wheel, and Christopher successful navigated through his final year of junior high. Then he and Teresa made a trip to see her family in Alabama. When they got back, she got sick.

In July, we got a look at a 2007 Alpenlite Voyager fifth-wheel. We weren't looking to upgrade at that point, but the layout was much closer to what we thought would be ideal for us, and the price is right, so we decided to pull the trigger. We also managed to sell our old fifth-wheel in a week. That was, perhaps, the highlight of 2011 for us.

Then came September. I guess they don't call it fall for nothing. Christopher got off to a successful start in high school. Teresa got laid off from her job, then got un-laid off.

We decided to take the new fifth-wheel out for a four-day trip to Anderson Ranch Reservoir. Bad idea. After it was all said and done, the damage was close to $17,000, and we were out-of-pocket close to $3,000.

October had more in store for us. The following week, Teresa began a new job with St. Luke's Health. Hopefully, it will prove to be a rewarding move for her in the long run.

November brought Christopher's turn on the roller coaster. He developed an abscess on his upper leg. Right before Christmas, he developed another one, and we were told it was MRSA. Heck of a way to end the year. It felt as if we crammed a year's worth of events into the final three months of the year.

Still, it was a pretty good year. Teresa got into a job situation that should be very good for her. We qualified for some support services for Christopher, and we managed to get out a number of times in the fifth-wheel, something we truly enjoy doing.

Despite the adversity of the last three months of the year, we are blessed. We both have jobs, we live in a very scenic part of the country, and we have opportunities to get out and enjoy that scenery. All in all, life is pretty good. I hope life was good to each of you in 2011 and continues to be good to you in 2012. Happy new year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

#114 - Christmas Wishes and Gifts (of a sort)

I've been thinking about this post off and on for a few days now, thinking about what I wanted to say and about how I wanted to say it. Before I say any of that, though, let me first wish everyone a Merry Christmas, no matter how you mark, celebrate, or otherwise pass the day.

Now, on to the Christmas wishes and gifts. Hopefully you won't be too offended to make your way to the end of this post.

First, to the members of Congress, I give a collective lump of coal for turning their backs on and shirking their responsibility to the majority of Americans in this country. Echoes of the actions of this Congress can be found in the so-called "Do-Nothing Congress" of the 1940s under President Harry S. Truman.

Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans has led on any issue. Instead, both sides have acted like spoiled children who threaten to either hold their breath until they turn blue or take their ball and go home. I've never been an advocate for term limits because I believe there is value in a life spent in public service. This Congress has me reconsidering.

Next, to President Obama, I would give - if it were in my power - a backbone. He took office saying he would look to work with the other side of the aisle, something I took to indicate a willingness to compromise. There is a big difference between compromise and capitulation.

I believe the President has given much more ground to the Republicans in Congress than he has gained on numerous issues. I also don't believe the actions of Obama the President match the views espoused by Obama the candidate.

For practitioners of various faiths, I would give - if I could - greater understanding of one another. I believe it is only through understanding that we can achieve peace, one of the sentiments underlying the season, at least as evidenced in many of the Christmas cards that make their way through the mail this time of year.

Finally, for my friends and family, I wish improved and/or increased prosperity in 2012. I am not really speaking in financial terms, although I would be glad to see that for each of you as well. Instead, what I wish for you is richness of mind and of spirit and of faith, regardless of what it is you believe. My own faith journey has been filled with stops and starts over the years but has finally brought me to a place where I believe to be true what is stated in this ancient Japanese saying:
"There are many paths up the mountain, but the view of the moon from the top is the same."
May each of you have a joyous Christmas, filled with love and laughter and peace.