Friday, January 2, 2015

Ain't it grand?!

Blue skies and wimpy cirrus clouds overhead – Cool, frosty morning... I relish the change in season! It looks like a day to hunker down and enjoy our warm home. It is a day to read a good book, eat well, and go for a walk with Judy– (My office closet is a disaster – it is so convenient to stuff things in to all year long – there must be a time of reckoning.  But that can wait until 'tomorrow".  )
 Cirrus clouds - composed of ice crystals 
Side note about winter clouds: Did you know that during the day the soil soaks up heat from the sun; but at night the soil, being warmer than the air, radiates the heat away?  If there are night clouds present, they serve to redirect the heat back to earth… but on clear nights there is nothing to prevent heat loss and the dark sky receives  all the heat coming its way and the night will be very cold.

Beware of clear cloud-free nights!  - Ex students:  do you remember the Greenhouse Effect?

The season of the New Year has its own feeling – for many it is a season for reflection– what has the last year been? – what do I anticipate?  For some it is a season of anxiety (Is that why some people drink too much of New Years Eve?) – My dominant response this year is one of thankfulness. 

Inca ruins above Ollataytambo
Friendly woman we met on the trail
What a year! – Good adventures traipsing around the Peruvian highlands with Judy… (I love recalling  the people, the music, and sights…to say nothing of the amazing food…Oh my goodness! new adventures everyday... it was such fun!).   I am thankful for the ongoing good times I share with my wife Judy– We do nice things for each other; and most of the time we more or less agree - and when we don't agree; I remember how fortunate I am to be married to a woman who is not boring. Being challenged in a relationship inspires growth.
A pre-Incan 'holy spot' that we hiked and climbed to reach
I am proud and thankful for my two sons - both good men.   I am thankful for good communication with them, for shared openness, and for so many good memories.  I like seeing them take on good challenges and satisfying endeavors.  I appreciate the life-long relationship I have had with my sister...we have an on going easiness and trust with each other.

And here I am busily observing, writing notes, making suggestions - I love it.

I am thankful for my work with the next generation of young science and mathematics teachers.  I just ran across this quote by a Zen master… “There are three qualities necessary for progress… great faith, great doubt, and great effort”.   Nothing tells the story of my young interns better.  Can you connect with what it feels like to start a new challenging venture and feel both the strong wish to succeed, and yet totally aware of that "doubt"… and then you somehow push on through with “great effort”… I love it… I don’t want to lose this triad it in my life.

After the surgery
This year I am especially thankful for the healing arts available to us.  Two badly damaged tendons in my ankle were becoming increasingly painful and limiting to my activity - (probabily due to many years of 'good' mountain activities. )  I had the "best surgeon" imaginable (a fellow lover of high mountain trails) who "put me back together" – The recovery has been slower than I like – I am not a very patient person – from Sept. 25 until now I have improved a bit each day… My dear sweet wife was a caring nurse to me (most of the time)  – and I was on my best behavior and was seldom grouchy. (most of the time).  For this I am thankful.

My surgeon's goal is to get me back on high mountain trails by next summer - above Conness Lake with Judy
I am thankful for my church that serves as a continuous source of learning and community.  As a person with one foot in modern biological interpretations of life on earth and one foot in traditional theology… progressive beliefs provide me with a faith that I can fully endorse....and still remain honest to my various life influences.  For this I am thankful.

Road to Sunset

I don't want to sound weird or anything – but I am thankful for ripe persimmons, for pup dogs that makes me laugh, for a once-in-a-while toasted almond ice cream cone, for rain (when and if it happens), for tomatoes warm from the sun, summer green beans, spring fava beans, greens (kale and swiss chard)( even when they have an occasional snail hole)  , the mixed blessing of zucchini, and sweet figs picked fresh from the tree.

Our three  scalawag  dogs - plotting more mischief

 I am thankful for hard work (and two improving legs and ankles to do it), soil to dig my hands into, leaves to rake, seeds to plant…the sight of gold finches and hummingbirds… Green hills in the winter and high mountains only a few hours away.  And surprises - like a Pacific racer snake popping out in my garden, Pacific tree frogs singing in the night, for the wonderful blend of people living in my community of Niles, Fremont...

Me and figs - I love 'em
...and also Zuccini

... and winter beets

And we in the San Francisco bay area with out large Asian community don't have one but two new years celebrations to look forward to.  February 19 is the start of the “year of the Ram”.  There will be dancing dragons, fire crackers, and special food...  But more about that when we get there...