Dear Family, Friends, and Innocent By-Standers:
Unbelievable! A whole year has passed since I published the last HewesNews!
In April, Jim and I flew to Florida to attend the wedding of my cousin’s youngest daughter. Those Israels sure know how to throw a party! A gathering at a local brewery to get reacquainted, marvel at how great everybody looks and introduce the new additions to the family. The wedding celebration took place in a rural setting on a farm-type retreat near Gainesville. After Sunday brunch, Jim and I watched a lightning and thunder storm from the front porch of the Bed & Breakfast. Every B&B is different, but this one gave us fresh afternoon towels, turned down the bed and placed chocolates on our pillows. I swear they snuck in at night and left fresh morning towels for us.
The next day, bright and sunny, we headed to Land ‘o Lakes near Tampa to reconnect with a dear high school friend and introduce husbands. Jim and Gene bonded immediately, entertaining themselves while Cathy and I (barely) caught up on 40+ years.
We drove the rental car to Boston to visit the grandfather of Jim’s great-grandfather. George Robert Twelves Hewes's portrait is hanging in the Old State House next to Paul Revere’s. Jim comes from a long line of patriots; Twelves was a participant in the Boston Tea Party alongside John Hancock.
I had envisioned a leisurely trip north on beautiful East Coast country roads, stopping in Atlanta for lunch with cousins, Charlotte for dinner with other cousins, Asheville to shop for local crafts and tour the Vanderbilt summer home, Niagara Falls (Jim was never there and I decided that he could not possibly survive this life without seeing that), Syracuse to say hello to all my Facebook friends from East Syracuse-Minoa High School, then head to Boston. We would squeeze in a visit to Montreal if we had time.
I allocated 4 days for this journey. Instead, we did a 2-day sprint to Boston on Hwy I-95N. I recognized the names of numerous cities on exit signs as we whizzed by.
My sense of time and space may be off a bit.
Probably my most noteworthy adventure in 2018 was my trip to the Arctic Circle at Churchill, Manitoba in Canada to see polar bears “in the wild”. Given my sense of humor, I have been enchanted with polar bears ever since I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.
No matter how large the expanse, the area still reminded me of a zoo. The enclosure is for the 800 residents of Churchill. Warning signs are posted around town, travel in groups, before dark, make noise and watch out for bears. The bear population is tagged and studied; webcams transmit bear activities 24/7 on YouTube. If a polar bear is caught within Churchill city limits, the police are called; they dart the bear and put it in Bear Jail until released back into the wild. If the bear is arrested again, it will be flown far away into the tundra.
Tundra buggies drive over designated frozen ruts, left behind from the Cold War (haha…get it?) when Canada and the United States set up a military base to keep an eye on the Russians. The abandoned tracks are packed hard with snow and ice. This trip is not recommended if you are prone to motion sickness. I kid you not, the rolling and jostling never stops unless someone spots a polar bear and yells, “Bear! Bear!” Or, in my case, “Not Bear! Rock! Sorry! Keep going!”
New Year’s Suggestions do not expire and are carried over automatically to haunt the following year. I started 2018 determined to exercise regularly. By mid-February, I had strained both shoulders, effectively sidelining me from my Silver Sneakers classes. The rest of the year’s exercise consisted of a Search for Healing: ice packs, heat wraps, hot tubs, massage, gua sha, chiropractic, glucosamine, physical therapy and, yes, topical CBD.
Eventually, my right arm healed, but not the left. I’m not ready to throw in the towel; my latest attempt at a cure is acupuncture.
I sold my retirement place in Idyllwild to the gentleman who had lived there for 14 years. After forking out $20K to Uncle Sam to keep the lights on in the White House, I bought a new roof and windows for our house with the proceeds. Although I subscribe to "ABC", the current sentiment of “Anywhere But California”, the magic of reverse mortgages means that we will most likely stay put in San Diego till death do us part.
After 4 years of being “Acting Treasurer,” I've promoted myself to “Treasurer” of the Friends of the Mira Mesa Library. Through our permanent book sales and Amazon postings of donated books, we give about $15,000 to the San Diego Public Library every year.
Jim is in love with his life, kicking back and enjoying retirement. I think I need a wife too. He is a meticulous gardener and we have assorted greens all year. The chard, kale and radicchio keep growing. The catnip is plentiful and Smitty has developed a daily two-leaf habit.
Jim is also absorbed in watching the political scene unfold before us. We are living through some amazing history, people. Jim’s excitement is growing because it seems as if the Swamp Monsters may be on their way to Swamp Monster Jail. Webcams from various alternative news sources transmit swamp activities 24/7 on YouTube.
Jim’s cataract surgery next year will increase his viewing pleasure.
After 2 years, we finally made it back to Sedona to recharge our batteries. Last week, on Christmas Eve day, we hiked to the vortex at Bell Rock. On the way back, Jim wanted to visit a rock formation where we like to sit. Behind a boulder balanced precariously across the path, Jim found a crystal on our sitting rock, a quartz beauty shot through with citrine, both minerals known for healing. My shoulder feels better already!
No recap would be complete without talking about mental health, my passion since I was first diagnosed with bipolar illness in my early forties in 1995. I wish I had known about it earlier, but stigma and ignorance kept me from seeking medical help. Mental health is finally getting some press and word is getting out that not all of us are gun-toting serial killers. Stable and (mostly) symptom-free for years, I run support groups for Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). The moment when folks realize that there can be a full, rich life after diagnosis still excites me. Mental illness can be managed successfully.
Please take care of yourselves this year.
Love to you all,
Libby and Jim
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