Saturday, December 31, 2016

Holiday Greetings 2016

Holiday Greetings 2016

Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela

I’m sitting in a little patch of light and warmth, brilliant New Mexico winter sun outside the window, yet I’m haunted by darkness in the world and in my soul.  The future looks uncertain.  My life is good, and that is part of what is troubling when there is so much suffering in our world.   Advent offers hope, but I’m not sure I’m ready to grasp that golden ring without some time for mourning and reassessment.

         We have had an amazing and tumultuous year.  I have been on four continents since January, and Kent on three.   Antarctica was a land of dreams, incredibly beautiful, wild, and remote.  I feel so blessed to have been there on a small ship.  On Valentine’s Day Kent met me in Ushuaia, Argentina, the town at the tip of South American that bills itself as “The end of the world and the beginning of everything.”  From there we took the Australis to Cape Horn and on to Punta Arenas, Chile.  We hiked in Los Glaciars National Park in Argentina and did the “W” Trek in Torres del Paine, Chile, where I think we were the oldest people on the trail.  We had to cancel a much-anticipated 4-day ferry trip when storms disrupted the schedule, and instead flew to vibrant Santiago, Chile.  Crumbling Valparaiso charmed us, and we had a spectacular bus ride over the Andes to the wine country of Mendoza, Argentina, before finishing up in Buenos Aires on the day the Obamas were visiting.  Traffic was restricted in the center of the city, which made for great walking.  We caught sight of Air Force One at the airport when we departed.



Shetland Puffin
    We spent the last of May and first week of June in Scotland and the Shetland Islands.  We explored places where Kent’s ancestors had lived, and made some fascinating finds in the genealogy libraries, and by following in the footsteps of a third great-uncle David Taylor who wrote a verse account of his Visit to Scotland in 1839.  The Shetland Islands were wild, remote, and lovely, and we had an excellent guide in our friend Elwyn SouttWender and great company all around.  Before heading home we enjoyed a stay with Trish and Colin Rodgers in the Carlisle area, including a whirlwind tour of Hadrian’s Wall, Beatrix Potter’s house (a longtime dream of mine), and some spectacular back roads in the Lake District.

         It was a hot summer at home in Albuquerque, but I enjoyed early morning ditchwalks with Jennifer Wieczorak, who was in town for a couple of months.  Her mother and I had been new young mothers together some 30 years ago, and it was fun to reconnect.  We also fit in one overnight backpacking trip, which wore us out, in the Pecos Wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.

Linnea and Kent as hospitaleros, with Albuquerque pilgrim friend Martin Haagmans

In October Kent and I had the great adventure of serving as hospitaleros for 17 days in the little village of El Burgo Ranero along the Camino Frances in the region of Castilla y Leon in Spain.  It was rewarding work, but with very long days and very little free time as we had 25-30 pilgrims with us most nights.  We walked from just outside of Leon, going backwards on the Camino to our post, and we left, also traveling against the flow, walking the 20 kilometers to Sahagun, where we gratefully collapsed at the first hostal we came to, slept for over 12 hours, and stayed two nights to recuperate.  We took the train to fabulous Burgos, and after a couple of days of sightseeing enjoyed a long day’s train ride through beautiful, golden autumn countryside, the rolling meseta gradually giving way to mountains, to Ourense in Galicia, from where we walked with our packs for seven days along the remote and lovely Camino Sanabres, something over 100 kilometers to Santiago de Compostela, which we reached in time for the celebration of the end of Pope Francis’s “Year of Mercy,” and the closing of the cathedral’s Door of Forgiveness until 2021.  At the end of our time in Spain, we made a quick trip to Rome where we rendezvoused with Saad, Psyche, and Saad’s sisters Aliya and Humera.

Linnea and Kent at the Vatican in November
         When we weren’t traveling, Kent worked on the kitchen, which is finally pretty much finished.  We are enjoying it very much.  He’s now re-making the built-in china cabinet in the dining room, which we hope to have back in use this week, in time to reclaim our dining room, move the stored things out of the living room and Kent’s study, and have room for holiday guests.

         Coyotes have taken over our neighborhood, so we can no longer let our chickens roam freely, despite new and improved fencing.  We had a bumper crop of apples that we hurried to harvest before we left; however, I see the trees still have many dried and frozen apples on their branches.

         We look forward to having Jesse, Psyche, and Saad here for Christmas, and our dear friends the Nystroms, with whom we shared most holidays when our children were growing up, visiting from Colorado.

         Kent and I are grateful for each other, for our friends and families and for our health and our life together.  We have lost some good friends this year, an occurrence that will become more and more frequent as we move through our seventies. 

         We are living in unsettled times, and I’m not sure what to do.  Here is my wish list for our new president who has promised to “Make America great again.”  1.  Keep our Medicare (and add coverage for hearing aids!), but get rid of the endless paperwork, 2. Ban junk phone calls, 3. Raise the price of fossil fuels and promote alternative energy, 4. Create jobs that people can live on, 5. Create great schools (preschool through college) that families can afford, and promote libraries and other ways of learning, 6. Protect our oceans, air, rivers, lakes and wild spaces, 7. Work to reverse global warming which threatens to annihilate life on earth 8. Eliminate prejudice, racism, and sexism, inequality and xenophobia 9. Stop war, 10. Encourage love and respect among all people – follow the Golden Rule.

Love to all this holy season.  Happy New Year!

Linnea and Kent

Home sweet home -- new/old kitchen