Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Sylvania Christmases,2011, 2012, 2103, 2014, and a few special things

xmas card 2014
2014 Xmas Eve, Casa de Mama, & a few memories

2014 xmas letter
Dear loved ones,
     2014 was a good year at home, disappointing on the national scene with the gridlock of hateful politics, and heartbreaking abroad, in the Middle East and for me especially in Ukraine.  So many friends in harm’s way.  There were times when I became so upset that I needed those gentle reminders from some of you to stop watching the news!  It got me through the senseless wars and violence that dominate our world. 
   I don’t expect much better for the new year.  Low expectations for peace, or justice.   I’ve turned Niebuhrian, as in Reinhold Niebuhr’s  teaching that there is evil in the world; we have to  fight it; but it will always be with us.  My friends from Peace Corps days in Ukraine  confirmed that sentiment during their visit here for an Open World program. But how incredible to have them here, after 3years of persistent effort..okay, a royal pain in the neck!  “One individual can make a difference” a friend kindly put it.
      On the home front, it’s great having the whole clan in Sylvania. We are a few blocks from each other, a blessing on so many levels.  I’m where I’m supposed to be, surrounded by Elissa, Michelle and their loving children. Joy and Gratitude!
       The year brought a trip to San Miguel with Elissa (fantastic), to St. Pete, Tally (sister’s hip replacement), and Miami (South Beach), to Barcelona and the French & Italian Riviera (beautiful), the latter throughGo-Ahead Tours. Also had some nice visits from friends here, including Sandie Schwende  and Andy.   I blog for myself, mostly to keep writing and putting thoughts on a page;  do special projects  for my Rep. Marcy Kaptur, like the  honeybee book  (still going) and a memoir of a Polish survivor of World War II and the Russian gulags. I’ll continue with international exchange projects as I can, working with others to create people-to-people exchanges, the foundation for peace.  I’m working with SUN (www.SaveUkraineNow) to send humanitarian aid to eastern Ukraine, where the refugee crisis overwhelms.
Kyle, Philip, Chase 2014
       The year flew by almost at the speed of light.  It’s truly amazing.  The older I get, the faster time goes.  I wish you good health, safety (from gun violence as well as accidents), and happiness in 2015. Little things mean a lot! Keep in touch, with love, Fran
Getting and putting up Shel's tree, Dec. 2014

Jan 1, 2014 ,Winter storm, the first of many.  A long, hard winter in toledo.
Feb 2014, with Elissa in San Miguel Fantastic!
Thanksgiving 2014 at Michelle's!  I bought the turkey,
she cooked.  Yummy!
2013 Christmas at Casa de Mama
Cards made by Jud, watercolors
2013 Xmas letter. My holiday cards this year are original watercolors by my Peace Corps friend Jud Dolphin.  He started painting in Ukraine and has kept at it. I started writing a blog and have kept at it. Exploration. Persistence. Keeping young at heart. My themes for 2013.
It’s hard to believe another year has gone by, and faster than ever.  Add a year to your life, and time shrinks!  Last year at the end of December, grandson Josh and I were in San Miguel.  Josh is a great traveler and we had a fabulous time.  In 2014 Elissa and I are going to San Miguel, so she’ll get to experience one of my favorite places.  We’re excited.  Exploration! 
Christmas Cactus 2013 reminds me of my mom
Some threads in the fabric of my time in Sylvania will carry into 2014.  Italian lessons, practicing Spanish with Elissa, the Historical Society, support for urban missions for the homeless, travel, and a new research and writing project on honeybees & NW Ohio environment with our US Congressional  rep. Marcy Kaptur.  Marcy by the way, a loyal Obama Democrat, hates what’s happened to the House under this speaker also from Ohio.  I can’t imagine being a House member now; but  she hangs in there, doing her best for the 9th congressional district of our state.  Persistence. 
I also continue to grow with my kids, Elissa and Michelle, and my grandkids:  Alli (at BG and doing great); Josh, Kyle and 2-year-old Chase; Tony and Julia, mom of Philip, who is now 6.  “Life takes you to different places.  Love brings you home.”  It brought me back to the Toledo area, and it’s been precious. It keeps me busy, and young at heart.  Wishing you the joy’s of exploration, persistence and a youthful spirit in 2014, and good health, with love. 

grandkids 2013. added Tony cause he couldn't be with us. 
Elissa's collage for me,dec 2013. Love it!

2013 Christmas Eve at Casa de Mama 

2013 decorations. On to a nice little fake tree!

2013 Grandkids: Alli, Kyle, Philip, baby Chase,
Julia and Tony,who couldn't be with us.

2012 Christmas, Sylvana 
E happy with Tony 

Xmas eve at my place; alli in her Senior year, HS,
heading to BGSU in 2013! 

Remembering Loren: Nov 12, 2012 My brother is 65 years old today, not here on this earth, but someplace else where his soul resides.  I am keeping his spirit alive, just remembering him and missing him so much, but frankly, I long for his presence more than anything in the world.  I’m also wondering about this other place.  A surgeon recently had a near-death experience and declared there is a heaven. He had lovely images of butterflies floating in an ethereal garden, a floating world.  I’m not there. I think the vision the good doctor had has more to do with neurones and synapses, and chemicals dancing around in the brain, than anything else.  Not that I don’t want to believe.  I do.  I really do.  Especially so if it might mean I would get to see Loren again, and my parents, and all those I loved and knew and lost.  I think we will never know, not while we are in this time and space.  Some friends think death is a kind of freedom from these restraints.  I don’t know.  Happy birthday dearest brother wherever you are.  I hope we meet again. Life is not the same since you’ve been gone.  And I have few people to rant with; just our sis, really! 
With Shel and kids in Nantucket, July 2012, first time back in years. It was lovely.  

2011 First Christmas in Sylvania, after Peace Corps, at Casa de Mama, on Main Street

2011 Wreath, my first christmas
in Sylvania Main St.

2011 xmas tree, a real one

2011 Xmas at Casa de Mama, Sylvania

Christmas 2010: Wishes for my grandkids 
Who knows what the future will bring for my grandchildren.  The world holds challenges and opportunities.  They have lots of choices.  
I hope they chose wisely.  I hope their wishes come true.  That they stay safe and healthy.  That the god/goddess who watches over children is always with them.  That angels like my brother Loren sit on their shoulders at all times and protect them, encourage them, give them confidence.  That they stay positive about life, choose a good path to their future, take life’s inevitable ups and downs with strength, remain resilient.  I hope they remember that the content of their character and strong values are more important than things, that their inner spirit is more important than their outer looks.  I  hope they remember they live in a global village, that some people are less fortunate than they are, that they can contribute to making the world and their environment a better place.  
These are some of my new year’s wishes for my grandchildren. I pray that they grow in wisdom, follow their dreams.  And who knows, but some of them might even become Peace Corps Volunteers one day! 

Christmas eve 2009,Taxim Square, Istanbul,
with PCVs Jason, and also Jud. Beautiful service at Pope John XXIII's
old church, down about a mile from the square.

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