Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Less Said the Better

It's that time of year when we recap, review, reconsider and, most of all, write a holiday letter that sums up our year. Actually, we very rarely do that without tongue firmly inserted in cheek (something I've been doing a lot the last four months with some dental problems). Actually, we already sent our holiday cards and they have a decided lack of information...just a picture that might puzzle some people and a simple greeting.

For the sake of Holidailies and Jette's excellent writing prompt of the day ("Write your own version of those holiday newsletters that people send to friends and relatives at this time of year.") I'm going to pixel out here what we could have printed and sent.

We spent 2007 firmly entrenched in our role as the grown children of very elderly parents (three, average age 91.6) who miraculously live on their own but not without a bit of help. LB's dad sputtered along at the beginning of the year with an infection and complications from a surgical procedure but miraculously recovered, got back into the pool for water aerobics and back to driving himself and doing things for himself with minimal assistance. His back began bothering him again recently and compromising his mobility toward the end of the year, but he still manages a lot of his own errands. At 91, not bad. LB took him to West Texas and Colorado to visit relatives in his van. FFP's parents settled into a system whereby FFP shops for them and drives them to any appointments. With one good eye between the two of them, that good eye needed a cataract surgery this year. LB likes that she almost never has to shop unless her dad doesn't feel like it. As long as FFP is shopping for his parents....he might as well shop for this house, too.

Friends died. The dog died. Well, we 'put her down.' We never had a dog that just died. We are now, for the first time in twenty-some years, dogless.

We took a trip together, too. We just sort of randomly decided to go to Santa Fe and Scottsdale. Mostly to break in a new car and smugly listen to XM radio in the middle of nowhere.

Books. We got rid of hundreds, acquired an exceptionally small number (for us) and didn't get nearly as many read as we'd like. LB did attack James Joyce's Ulysses which never fails to elicit rolled eyes when she tells someone. She has read 550/933 of it as of this writing.

Weather. As I write this it is warm and humid outside. We had a 'big ice storm' (it's all relative in Austin) in January and all our households survived fine but the reflecting ball in the garden was destroyed by falling ice during the melt.

People asked us all year the same old question: "What do you do now that you are retired." We answered that we are now dilettantes. But, really, FFP wrote a weekly column and worked hard on the boards of two non-profits and on special projects for a couple more. LB rocked along avoiding much beyond tennis, workouts and Dad duty except for a few volunteer things at the country club.

We tried to downsize. We gave away furniture, books, knickknacks, clothes, kitchen things. We gave away fine wine. We tossed worn out clothes and shoes. We recycled magazines and papers we'd kept too long and shredded things that needed shredding long ago. We tossed VCR tapes, cassette tapes. I gave away old cameras, toys, stuff I'd saved to make found-object collages, literary journals. I transcribed paper journals to the computer to save them without taking up space.

LB rode a couple of Austin's Capital Metro's buses to meet friends. This had been a goal of hers. She has no idea why she set that goal. She also signed up to post a blog entry every day in November through NaBloPoMo and throughout the holidays in Holidailies. She probably sets these goals because they aren't too challenging and allow her to displace from, say, downsizing.

Everything in our front yard leaked this year. The water main, the sprinkler system and the water service to our house. Short of christening it Lake Preece-Ball we couldn't think of anything to do but badger the city and pay workmen hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

We went to many charity affairs or parties precipitating multiple fashion emergencies for LB. We gave a dinner for charity and had a reading of a play at our house. We did a 'white tie and ball gowns' party for the first time ever. People treated us. We treated them. We drank some fine wine from our own cellar and happily helped people winnow down their collections.

LB admitted she will never be a cook and we ate out more than ever.

We got serious about moving downtown by signing a contract on a condo in a downtown high rise that should be finished by the middle of next year. We saw a building open to house the Ballet Austin Butler Dance Education Center after working on the capital campaign for several years. This building is next to our condo.

We watched downtown Austin change in other ways. The Intel shell got more or less imploded. The 44-story building that will one day shelter our (tenth floor) condo rose and rose and topped. Other buildings changed the skyline and the Long Center neared completion.

LB continued to live up to the notation on her personal blog (The Visible Woman): "Pretending to write but really just blogging." She helped a friend start a screenplay project and she started two more blogs(The Journal of Unintended Consequences and Austin, Texas Daily Photo), but there are no manuscripts of novels or the self-help books she intends to write.

We didn't see a lot of movies in the regular theater runs this year but we saw a lot on DVD through Netflix and also saw a pile in Austin Film Festival and SXSW Film. We were volunteer screeners for AFF, too, and we watched 192 films. Most of them shorts, of course. Two involved men with relationships with dolls and were not pornographic. Neither film was Lars and the Real Girl. But the coincidence so freaked out LB that she refuses to see that one.

In general, we spent a lot of the year wearily answering questions about our future home in the condo, how we like retirement (and how we spend our time...see above), when we are going to sell the house (and what happens to the found object band in the backyard) and how we are doing at downsizing. Occasionally people would ask if we 'had any big trips planned.' And we'd have to say, no, not really. Now that our desire to sell a house after buying a condo has been made known and caused something called the subprime credit crisis and housing downturn, we are tired of being asked why we didn't sell earlier and how we plan to deal with that. It makes me sigh. It makes me boring. Let's just talk about something else.

Happy Holidays to You and Yours. Catch you next year for another boring recap. And I'm glad that your kids did well in (1) school; (2) scouts; (3) soccer and/or (4) whatever and that you had all those family vacations!

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