Monday, December 31, 2012

Gratitude for an old year, and a new one

          As I start this blog, there are seven hours left in this year. It is an hour-and-a-half until kickoff of the LSU-Clemson game, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in Atlanta -- and appropriate finish for my sports year.
           I am also on the last page of my 2012 calendar, which -- as mentioned in a previous blog -- I used to write a daily gratitude. My wife encouraged that, and the other day, she asked if I was going to continue in 2013.
          And I am. Plan to do it in a different format -- such as a notebook -- but the idea is to stop daily and make note of something, or someone, that impacted life that day, or maybe that week.
          So my last gratitude of 2012 is for ... my gratitude journal. I'm saving it because Bea says it'll be fun to look at it again, say, three years from now. OK.
          In short, though, there is so much for which to be grateful, mostly family and friends. Facebook has its advies and disadvies -- as my close friend John W. Marshall III coined it years ago -- but the connection with old friends is, for the most part, a plus.
          One of the great pleasures of the past year was seeing old friends, some of them for the first time in many, many years. Can't express to you how good that feels. Going to Bea's high school reunion in Ringgold, La. -- where I knew only a few people but one of them was one of Louisiana's top basketball players of the early 1960s -- was a good day.
          Saw a lot of old familiar faces, too, in a more somber situation -- the visitation and then funeral service for our great friend, Dr. James C. Farrar ... Coach Farrar. He touched us all in a positive way.
          These days there are always too many old friends listed in the obits, and too many funerals.
           Our toughest days this year were Feb. 23 -- the day Bea's only brother, Howard (my age, two years younger than Bea) -- died (not unexpectedly) and Feb. 27, the day he was buried in central Texas.
            As the year closes, we're into a new phase, as I wrote last week. This is the ninth day of my retirement, not that I'm counting the days. And I'm bored.
            No, just kidding. It's a good life.
Our "big three": Kaden, Jacob and Josie
            Nothing boring about having my three grandkids together, which happens only a couple of times a year. It was -- as I put on a Facebook post Saturday -- a loud, busy afternoon in our little apartment. These three -- Josie, 5; Jacob, 3 (almost 4); and Kaden, 1 (almost 2) -- are lively, but they got along beautifully.
             If every day was as good as Saturday, Bea and I would be content. She adds, "also exhausted."
             So people have suggested I will be bored, and have asked, "What will you do with your time?"  Do not worry, I have told them, there is plenty to do.
            I have eight books sitting to my left that need reading; they have been sitting there for two years. I have an electronic picture frame that needs putting together, and the pictures on my computer that need organizing, so that the frame can function. Because my daughter is an avid scrapbooker, I could do scrapbooks -- many scrapbooks -- with the hundreds of career clippings, photos and memorabilia I have collected for 50-plus years.
            I have my daily walks -- through the TCU campus and around the nearby neighborhoods, looking for money that's been left on the streets and in drivethroughs and parking lots (it's a lucrative business, at times).
            If it's too cold or too wet, the walks are on the boring treadmill (but the workouts are more intense). Really should do that more often if I want to maintain the 155-pound level for which I am. Because we pay more attention to what we eat -- and cut out a lot of the sweet and white stuff (cake, ice cream, cookies, mashed potatoes, white bread) -- I lost 20 pounds about two years ago. Still, I could do better when it comes to sweets.
             We plan to travel some. We'd like to see Chicago and San Francisco and Boston and New York City again (the new Yankee Stadium sounds good, if someone will give me a ticket), and one goal for me is to make it to Cooperstown when Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera go into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Never been to Cooperstown.
               But our immediate travel goal is another trip to my home country, The Netherlands. Maybe in late April/early May when the tulips bloom. We're thinking of taking a river cruise so we can see a lot of the country. We'll see.
                Travel takes time, and money, and energy. We have the time. The money and energy ... hmmm. When we went back to Hawaii -- where we lived in 1980-81 when I worked for The Honolulu Advertiser -- we never did get over the jet lag. Still trying to get over it.
              And, of course, we'll be going to Knoxville, Tenn., a couple of times a year, hopefully, because that's where Josie, Rachel and Russell are. Plus, there will be plenty of trips to "new" McKinney, an hour away to see Jacob, Kaden, Ann and Jason.
              Also, what will keep me going is this ... the blog. Started it in late January a year ago, and it's been fun. It's a personal blog, my memoirs, I suppose, and a way to recall the events and thank people that have been important in my life.
               Sometimes it's a way to get on the soapbox and express my feelings. Of course, a lot of it is about sports and newspapers/journalism because that's what I know, that's who I am. Broke a personal rule and delved into politics a couple of times, and that irritated some people -- to say the least -- but so be it.
              Mostly, though, it's been fun to see the reaction and the feedback. It's been well-received and I thank you. How's that for gratitude?
              Happy New Year to each of you.


  1. From Chuck Baker: Don't know if either of you have been before, but if not, start your tour with San Francisco. I've been to all you mentioned and nothing compares to SF. And you definitely need to do Cooperstown. Plan for more than one day there.

  2. From Doug Ireland: Cooperstown is worth the trip. Beautiful village. Gotta want to get there to get there, but it is precious.

  3. From Sandi Tison Atkinson: Bea is a wise lady. That daily gratitude idea is being "borrowed!" I too often forget that in each day something good happens. Wishing you, Bea, and all your family a wonderful 2013. I hope you get to travel back to your birth country as that would mean am awesome blog!

  4. From Marian Rogers: I want to thank you for writing your blogs and for Bea's inspirational quotes. They have been a pleasure to read and more times then not, hit a chord with me. I hope that 2013 brings you all your wishes and keeps you both healthy.

  5. From Ellace J. Bruce: Enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work. How about those Tigers? May you and your family have a Joyful and a Happy New Year.

  6. We are planning to travel to our joint home country too. It will be at the end of July for mama's matseive (gravestone). It would be wonderful if you'll come to Holland at that time so we can meet.
    When do you start your plans for 2014 travelling to Israel? We expect you in April, 2014 for Eilon's barmitzva. Enjoy your trip and happy New Year.

  7. From Richard Rogers, Shreveport: James Bustillo has been forwarding your blog to me for several months and I have really enjoyed it. It takes me back to my younger days, although there is some doubt that I
    ever really left them. Could you add me to your blog mailing list in case James forgets me. It will be just like getting an extension to my old subscription to the Shreveport Journal.

  8. Nico,
    No matter what else you do, pleae continue the blog. it serves to brighten and brings back a lot of memories.
    Happy 2013 with the sincere wish that it will be the best year yet for you and your family.
    John English