The Year is Complete

2022 is over and I have completed all of my journal entries for the year. This page contains my 2022 journal. If you want to read my posts for 2023, follow this link. If you bookmark my journal, you will need to change your bookmark to the 2023 journal. Thanks for reading and thanks for your understanding.

New Year's Eve

For those who read yesterday’s journal entry, the rest of the story is that our luggage was delivered in the middle of the night, arriving at 2:30 am, so the bags that traveled on a different airplane than we did turned out to not be a problem at all. We went to sleep, and we had our luggage in the morning.

When we moved from a small town in southwest North Dakota to Boise, Idaho, I was surprised that there were a few people in our neighborhood who would shoot off fireworks to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We had associated fireworks with the celebration of Independence Day in July, but hadn’t lived where it was a part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. Of course fireworks on New Year’s Eve are a big part of celebrations in many parts of the world. I’m aware of that now and I enjoy watching the displays from several places around the world on my computer on New Year’s Day. In those days, I did know that fireworks were part of the celebration of the Chinese New Year and I assumed that perhaps the fireworks we observed in our neighborhood were being used by Chinese-American folk. There are Chinese communities in many places around the West. The building of the US railroad system was heavily dependent upon the importing of workers from China. Even though those workers, their children, and grandchildren experienced severe racism and oppression, many remained. Boise has a small Chinese section in its city cemetery and there were descendants of those who had immigrated in the 19th century in the city. I suspect, now, that my assumptions about those of Chinese descent being responsible for the use of fireworks, was not correct. At any rate, it was a small number of people.

As the years passed and we moved to other places, we continued to notice fireworks on New Year’s Eve, with the amount of fireworks increasing each year. Last year, in our new home in Birch Bay, there were quite a few neighbors who used fireworks as part of their observance of the coming of the new year.

Where we are in South Carolina, however, promises to take that practice to a new level. There are open fireworks stands on many corners around the town. If the number of places that are selling fireworks is an indication, fireworks at New Year’s is a big deal around here. I guess we’ll see this evening.

We have always noted New Years with muted celebrations. We aren’t much for big, wild parties in the first place and New Years has been a time to enjoy our family more than a time for social gatherings for us. After the busy days of Christmas in the church, there is a more relaxed time after Christmas Day and we have often traveled to spend time with our extended family after Christmas. When our children were in school, we looked forward to the Christmas break and additional time to enjoy one another.

Last night we had a wonderful time touring a local park that has extensive lights for Christmas. Tonight will be the last night for that park’s display. I’m glad that our daughter’s family waited until we came to visit to tour the lights. They were spectacular. The park is large and there are many pools and ponds in the park that provided reflections for the displays. There were lots of colored lights and some of the displays had well-timed displays that changed color and made it look like there was motion.

The lights reminded us of a Rapid City tradition that we have enjoyed many times. In Rapid City volunteers string thousands and thousands of lights around a children’s storybook park. The displays are all lit up and the walk through the park is really enjoyable and part of the observance of the holiday. As far as we know, there isn’t a similar display near where we now live. It would be fun for us to tour such lights with our Washington grandchildren, but we haven’t yet found a place for that activity.

It makes sense to have displays of light as part of winter celebrations. Although I suspect that many of the fireworks this evening will be used near midnight, it certainly would be easy to have a family fireworks display as soon as it gets dark. Since it gets dark earlier in the winter than in the summer, little ones might not have to wait up so late to see the bright lights.

We do notice, however, that we’ve come down south, where the days are longer in the winter. It doesn’t get dark so early here. I’m sure that there is more than an hour of additional daylight here compared to our northern home. Of course, we are not fully adjusted to the change in time zones, so we are less aware of what time it is than usual. We do think, however, that sitting down to dinner when it is still light outside is a big change from our usual winter schedule. It got dark during our dinner and we were able to go out and enjoy the lights in the park shortly after dinner before the three-year-old’s bedtime.

I’m not expecting any wild parties for our celebrations this evening. We’ll be happy to watch a bowl game on television and enjoy family time celebrating the holiday season in general.

In 2000, when there were people around the world wondering how big a problem would be caused by the Y2k computer programming error, I checked out the New Year’s Eve fireworks in Sydney, Australia on the Internet. I figured that even though it was many hours earlier where we were living, I’d get some warning if there were Y2k problems in other places. It turned out that there were no big issues, but I did start a tradition for myself of checking out what is going on around the world on New Year’s Eve. I’ll probably do something similar today as well.

Of course, I also will be working on making changes to my web site in preparation for the new year. For those who are regular readers of my journal, this will be the last entry for 2022. Tomorrow there will be a new page on my website for the 2023 journal. If you read regularly and use a bookmark to find my journal, you’ll need to set a new bookmark to view my 2023 journal entries. Here is a link to that page. It doesn’t have anything on it today, but will have my journal entires starting tomorrow. Happy New Year to all!

Flying to South Carolina

The 1996 National Youth Event of the United Church of Christ was a record setting event in many ways. Although the pattern of Regional and National Youth events had been well established, prior National Youth Events hadn’t been truly “national” because there had been a youth gathering of United Black Christians that meant that many youth attended that event rather than the National Youth Event. In 1996, the United Black Christian youth event and the National Youth Event came to gather to make the gathering the largest gathering of the United Church of Christ in several decades. In order to make the combined event work for all participants, the planning team intentionally chose a venue in a southern state to make travel easier for the UBC participants.

As had been the case in prior National Youth Events members of the planning team were selected at the Regional Youth Events two years prior. One adult and one youth was selected to represent each of the UCC’s regions. I had been very active in the Western Regional Youth Events, serving on the planning teams for the 1992 and 1994 events. The 1994 Western Regional Youth Event was also a record setting event, hosted by the Hawaii Conference. That meant that we had to arrange for the 38 youth and their adult advisors from our Conference to fly to Hawaii. We negotiated a group travel purchase that included rental vans for the event. My only trip to Hawaii (so far) was made without the other members of our family. Susan and my 21st wedding anniversary occurred during the event. I took a bit of razzing about going to Hawaii for our 21st wedding anniversary and not bringing my wife with me. At that event I was selected to serve on the planning team for the 1996 National Youth Event.

The planning team met face-to-face several times. We chose the theme, created the logo, planned the workshops and break out events, selected keynote speakers and planned worship. I served on the worship planning team as well as participating in other aspects of general planning. To make matters more complex, I moved from the Western Region to the West Central Region midway through the planning process, so I assumed responsibilities for representing two regions.

The venue selected for that National Youth Event was the campus of the University of South Carolina at Columbia. We made a site visit, toured all of the facilities and held one of our planning sessions on the campus about six months before the event. By then I was living in Rapid City, South Dakota, so I flew from Rapid City to Denver, where I met the youth representative from the Western Region and we traveled together to Atlanta and then on to Columbia. During the process of planning and conducting the event, I also made a trip to Columbia through Salt Lake City, connecting to a flight to Atlanta.

These trips were before TSA. Cell phones existed, but I didn’t have one. I remember using my credit card so that the youth delegate could use a pay phone to telephone parents to tell them of a safe arrival at Columbia. The actual National Youth Event occurred at the same time as the 1994 Summer Olympics, hosted in Atlanta, so the Atlanta airport was very busy. In place of the usual airplanes, the major airlines were all operating wide body jumbo jets to carry the traffic into the city. The olympic park terrorist bombing took place during the National Youth Event and so we experienced heightened airport security, but nothing like what we have become accustomed to in our post-911 world. In those days anyone could go to any gate at the airport without having to pass through any security screening or even show proof of identity. IDs were needed only to board the airplanes.

Yesterday was a day to remember those earlier trips to Columbia, South Carolina. We got up in the wee hours of the morning and drove to Bellingham International Airport, where we caught a short shuttle flight to Seattle-Tacoma International. From there we flew to Atlanta, a trip that took nearly 5 hours, and then we caught a commuter flight to Columbia, arriving at the airport that looked much the same as it did over a quarter of a century ago.

Instead of flying on one of Delta’s L-1011 wide bodies, which were fairly old at the time, or one of United’s newer 757 aircraft, we flew from Seattle to Atlanta on a brand new 737-Max 9 plane, filled with technology, including onboard wifi. The trip from Atlanta to Columbia was on an older CRJ. I think that in 1996, we flew on Dash 8 aircraft between Columbia and Atlanta, but I don’t remember for sure.

A lot has happened in the world since 1996. We have become elders. Our children have become adults. Our grandchildren can remember no travel before there were TSA screenings at every airport. There are a lot of other things that haven’t changed. I still enjoy the rich southern accent of the airport employees when I visit Georgia and South Carolina. I even notice a regular “y’all” in our daughter’s speaking. A couple of years in South Carolina has reinforced the bits of southern speech she picked up from living for 5 years in Missouri.

Most importantly, this trip was not a trip in which I traveled away from my family for work. Rather it is a trip away from my work for my family. Our daughter and her family live about 45 minutes from Columbia, South Carolina. There is no feeling better than having your grandson run full bore to you with a great big hug when you arrive at the baggage claim.

Of course, we didn’t really need to stop at the baggage claim. Our suitcases have yet to catch up with us. They arrived from Atlanta on a later flight and should be delivered to our daughter’s home sometime this morning. No worries. These things happen when you travel. We are safe. We arrived on time. We are with family. It is even more exciting than the first trip I made to this area years ago.


I don’t know if my retirement is turning out the way I imagined it. I’m not sure I spent much time imagining what retirement would be like. I don’t mean that I somehow thought that I would just be able to keep working until the end of my life, or that I didn’t plan for the future. My working career was a wonderful time for me. I enjoyed the work that I did. I was busy with family life. I didn’t spent much time imagining what the future would be like. Then, somehow, the time came for us to move on from our church in Rapid City and we wanted to live closer to our grandchildren. So we announced our retirement and made plans to move. Then the Covid pandemic hit and we had to re-think all kinds of things about ministry and how we would pursue our job. The date of our retirement came and we said our farewells to the church. We spent some time sorting and preparing to move, made a trip west with some of our belongings and put our house on the market. The market was good and our house sold. We found a place to rent in the town where our son works and loaded up the U-haul. More precisely, friends helped us load up the U-haul. The trip west was uneventful and we unloaded the truck for a quick return to Rapid City for the final load and closing on our house.

In the process, we put some of our belongings into storage at our son’s farm. Now, after living in the rental home for a year and finding a home to purchase where we have lived for a year, we still don’t have all of the things in storage unpacked and dealt with. We have our job cut out for us for the year to come. Along the way, an opportunity to serve in an interim ministry came up and we went back to work half time. It has turned out to be just the right match for us. We loved our work. We are happy working. We know that the interim arrangement will come to an end during the next year, but we aren’t worried. Perhaps something else will come up. We know that we can live without working for a year. We’ve already experienced that. 42 years of the congregations we served paying into the United Church of Christ Tax Sheltered Annuity gives us income that we can rely on. The churches always paid a percentage of our pay, and we have never worked for high wages, so the income is modest, but so are our needs.

I guess if I imagined retirement, I thought that I would have more flexibility to my schedule, more time to pursue personal projects and hobbies, and more opportunities to travel. There definitely is more flexibility to our schedule. Working half time gives us days to be with our grandchildren, time for home projects, and some time to just sit and think. I’m not as sure about personal projects. I have a boat that is half done that I haven’t worked on in the two years since we retired. I have everything I need to finish it, but I haven’t figured out how to carve out the time. I haven’t sorted through all of our photographs. I thought I’d get that project done. I’ve made progress, but I have a long way to go. I’ve accomplished a few projects at the farm and I’ve enjoyed building fence, repairing a wood shed, milling baseboard, making new steps, and other projects, but a farm by its very nature has an unending list of projects to pursue. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten farther on my boat projects is that I have undone projects to get the farm shop set up. Part of the reason is that I haven’t set deadlines for myself.

And then there is travel. Covid has affected nearly everyone’s travel plans and we are no exception. We did have a marvelous road trip with our camper during the summer of 2021, driving from Washington to South Carolina to visit our daughter and her family, stopping to visit with friends along the way. And we leave today for another trip to South Carolina. This time we’re plunging into the holiday airline travel with high hopes that our plans won’t be as disrupted as is the case for a lot of holiday travelers. Our tickets don’t involve flying on Southwest Airlines, which is good for starters.

When I was growing up, I simply believed that flying would be common everyday experiences for everyone in my adult years. I earned my pilot’s license and we had a partnership in an airplane for a few years, but I couldn’t figure out the balance between the expense of private aviation, my salary as a minister, and my desire to provide for my family. Not keeping an airplane was a good decision for our family and allowed us to do other things that we might not have been able to do had we tried to keep up with the expenses of airplane ownership. But I haven’t traveled by airlines as much as I thought might be the case. When I was working, I served on national boards and committees and traveled frequently. I didn’t think much of a three day meeting in Baltimore or Cleveland, returning to home in South Dakota for Sunday worship. In addition to business travel, we managed to have family vacations, often traveling a couple of thousand miles with our family, camping along the way and seeing all kinds of wonderful sights. I found ways to take time from work to drive my mother back and forth between her summer and winter residences when she lived in Portland, OR in the winter and in Big Timber, MT in the summer.

Retirement has meant traveling less for us. I don’t think I expected it, but I’m not complaining about it, either. Most of the people I know are examining their travel habits and choosing to travel less. It is a way to have less impact on the environment and to be responsible when it comes to illness and time.

So today is exciting for us. We’re packed and ready to go. It will be a long day, but we’re headed three time zones to the east so we’ll get to bed earlier than we would were we staying on the west coast. South Carolina should be a fun place to be for a week. And our grandson is nearly as excited about us coming to visit as we are to see him. Everyone wins. It may not be the way I imagined it, but life is good and I count myself among the most fortunate of people.

High Water

Yesterday, we went down to the beach to look at the king tide. The water was so high that the bay was full to the breakwaters and berms. The tidal creek was overflowing its banks, flooding streets and, in one place, flowing over a bridge. There were a few cars that had been stranded in water too deep to drive. Some of the beach cottages had water in them, as well as some of the buildings near the creek. We also saw standing water in low places, flooding buildings that were a couple of blocks back from the beach. The winds were nearly calm in the morning, so the waves weren’t splashing that high. Because we remember the king tides from last winter, we were not surprised by the water levels. Still, it was very interesting to see what was happening, and we took a second walk later at the day, near low tide, just to see the difference. A lot of logs were floated around the bay. There were lots of new shells washed up onto the beach, including clams, oysters, and crabs.

In the morning, however, we were simply looking at the high water and seeing all that was happening. While we were down by the shore, we struck up a conversation with a woman whom we had not previously met. She informed us that she lived in a beachfront house a short distance from where we were standing. We asked if she had water in her house, and she said “not yet,” but she was sure that if it were windy and the waves were higher they might. They have a rock breakwater in front of their house and she thought the water was the highest she had seen. I commented that the measured tide was a bit lower than the highest tide during last year’s king tide. She was skeptical about that. She said they had lived in their house for two and a half years and this was the highest that they have seen. During our brief conversation, she commented over and over, “This is insane!”

I don’t think she was referring to her present state of mind. In fact, I don’t think that she was using the word “insane” in its technical definition, but rather in the informal sense of “shocking or outrageous.” At least I don’t know how one could attribute human characteristics to the movement of the tides. If so, saying that the natural world is “in a state of mind which prevents normal perception, behavior, or social interaction” seems out of place when the tides can be forecast in advance and charts predict the flows accurately. I’m going with the interpretation that she meant “outrageous.”

The tides, however, are not outrageous. They are not insane. When we retired two and a half years ago and moved to Northwest Washington, we were aware of global warming, sea level rise, and the risks of coastal flooding. Surely they must have known, when they purchased their oceanfront property that sea level rise and flooding were an issue. Is it possible that they purchased their home not knowing about king tides? Since we moved, we have been careful to look at the flood ratings of each property we considered, including the home we rented. Last spring my family’s recreational property on a river in Montana experienced a 500 year flood without getting water inside the buildings. It seems hard for me to believe that people are shocked and surprised by the natural cycles of tides, weather, and water.

This world may be changed by the processes of human over population and over consumption. Global weather changes may be in part the result of human decisions and behavior. But the world is not insane. Nature does not have a severely disordered state of mind. All around the globe people are experiencing the instability of changing sea levels. Beachfront properties may not be the wisest of investments in such conditions.

The conversation with the woman on the beach reminded me of a story I have been told about the history of the city of Seattle. I haven’t done research about the topic, but the story I was told is that when settlers arrived by ship to the area where the city of Seattle is located, they cut down trees and built wooden houses and businesses on the mostly soggy mudflats near the water. Some say that the indigenous coast Salish people advised them that this was not a good place to build, but the building persisted and a city was born. The streets in the new town would bloat with mud every time it rained. It rains a lot in Seattle. It is said the the mud was so bad that it would consume dogs and small children. Then in 1889, most of the city was consumed by the Great Seattle Fire. 25 blocks of the heart of the city were destroyed. It was decided that all new construction must be of stone or brick masonry. It was also decided to raise up the city from the muck of the original streets. The city built retaining walls, eight feet or higher, on either side of the old streets, filled in the space between the walls, and paved over the fill to effectively raise the streets, making them one story higher than the old streets and sidewalks. Building owners, experiencing an economic boom of the 1890’s, rebuilt unaware that their first story display windows and lobbies would soon become basements. When sidewalks were constructed to bridge the gaps between the raised streets and the new buildings, hollow tunnels were created beneath the new walks. You can now take tours of the underground tunnels and visit the basement levels of the old buildings that lie below the level of the streets in Old Seattle.

There are ways to engineer and build above the level where water and mud flow. Those solutions may be expensive, but they do exist. Over the summer we watched as a brand new beachfront cottage was built on an empty lot by the bay. In accord with the current building code, after concrete footers were poured, foundation walls rose above the ground six to eight feet. Then that space was filled with dirt and the dirt was compacted leaving a crawl space under the joists of the new building. It stands higher than its neighbors, with a set of steps taking people up from ground level to the first story of the new cottage. The day will come when the water rises, flooding the neighbors. Hopefully the new cottage will be above the flood.

We find the rising and falling of the tides and the flooding of king tide season, especially when the creeks and rivers are already at flood stage, to be interesting. I wouldn’t, however, call it “insane.”

REGULAR READERS PLEASE NOTE: For the next eight days, we will be traveling. Although I will write my journal daily and we will be going to a place where we have Internet access, I am uncertain of what time I will be publishing my journal over the next week or so. Since we are traveling from Pacific Time Zone to Eastern Time Zone, our sleep schedule will be disrupted. I may not publish every day. Don’t worry if you don’t find the journal posted at its typical time. Check back later and I’ll eventually catch up.

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