Monday, December 3, 2012

Merry Christmas and Everything

So, hello there family and friends. It's the first Sunday of Advent, and I'm actually going to write you an update of our year for Christmas this year. Wow! When was the last time I did that? I'm feeling awfully conformist just now, but I hope to get over it.

Possibly you follow my blog or you read my facebook posts and you know much of what's contained in this post. If so, my apologies. I will try really hard not to repeat things I've said in the past, because, well, read my blog.

Life has been busy and interesting this year, to say the least. We've had the good fortune to have pretty much only good news to share.

David's dad finally moved out of his ginormous big house this year, and we started the year gathering with the rest of the Jensen clan to divide up as much of three generations of stuff as we could. I told David we had to keep the take to a minimum, and we did, relatively speaking. We acquired a mere 12 boxes of books about hiking/travel, for which we had to get a new bookcase. Thank goodness the girls have moved out, because their room is fast being filled with all books that enter our house. At various times, one or more of Les's four children were in Ashland during the first few months of the year, helping sort through a lifetime of stuff. In the end, three--yes, three--storage units were rented and Les moved into a condo. One of the nicest things we got was a lovely set of china that belonged to David's great grandmother. We've never had a set of china before, so this is a treat. The children were not enthralled by spending a week of their lives being dragged to Ashland to sit around and watch their elders negotiate family heirlooms, but they acted like troopers anyway. Melissa said that since she is the eldest of her generation, when we all die she plans to throw it all away. I told her to go for it. This whole thing has inspired me to begin massively paring down, especially the paper monster that occupies our lives. I say "inspired" because I have yet to actually take any action.

Boy Scouts on snowshoeing weekend in February. Peter is third from the left.
Peter at high adventure camp in the Tetons
Peter in Disneyland with friends from
Epworth Chorale, the church youth choir.
He's the one with the hat.
Peter spends a large number of hours of his life with boy scouts. His troop started a venturing crew in June, which is a branch of scouting for 14-21 year olds, and it is co-ed. He is the president of the crew, as well as senior patrol leader of the scout troop. Peter is working on his Eagle rank. As a sophomore in high school, this is his first year at Boise High. Yes, here in Boise, you are still in junior high your freshman year, even though your grades still count on your high school GPA. He spent the fall in marching band, many hours of practicing and marching. Like a lot of percussionists, Peter drums on anything--the shower wall, the table, his leg. Peter has succeeded in hooking Neysa, Melissa, and Emily on Doctor Who, and he is in heaven, because we actually know what he's talking about. He hopes to start a Doctor Who club at school. Peter's loves chemistry. He has always liked science, and last year he had physical science, which included a fair amount of chemistry. But now he has full-blown chemistry and just eats is up. This makes perfect sense because he's always loved fire and explosions (big fan of Mythbusters). He has thought of going into engineering, and now he's thinking more specifically chemical engineering, and more specific yet, nuclear engineering. He recently told me his goal is to help figure out how to tame cold fusion into a usable energy resource. (At least I think that's what he said. I don't understand a lot of what he says, because it's been way over my head for years now.) Speaking of over my head, Peter has now surpassed David in height, not by much just yet, but still, the tallest in the family.
Emily with her flight instructor, Rick, after she soloed

Emily's crazy cat, Luna
Emily loved seeing the Spruce Goose in Oregon
on a girls only trip with Neysa and Melissa
Our other science geek is Emily. I think you knew that. She's majoring in physics and hopes to go on to study astrophysics and become an astronaut. She's minoring in Chinese and computer science. And just recently, she announced she might as well double major in applied mathematics, since she has to take most of the courses for that in physics anyway. Yikes. She has kept up a great GPA and gets some scholarship money for this. Now she has a job in the physics department and will be assisting in some research starting next semester. And Boise State is going to send her to a physics conference in January. Wow. Can a person be too smart? She's only a sophomore! Well, technically, she's got enough credits to be a junior, but she's only in her second year. (I know.) All this PLUS she is working on her pilot's license and just soloed this fall. She was way excited. AND she is writing, always writing. Whew. Emily has the sweetest boyfriend, Isaac, whom we adore and who fits nicely into our family. He has a wry sense of humor, a positive outlook, and a non-conformist lifestyle. I've known his family since La Leche League days. (Emily says I know everyone in her generation from La Leche League, and it's kinda true.)

Melissa on the right with her friend Ashley, making cookies
Melissa's "favorite place in the world" at Cape Blanco, Oregon
Melissa is a senior. (I joke that she has been a senior for a long time now. But hey, no shame in going to school as long as you possibly can get away with it. She LOVES school.) So she'll graduate either next May or next December. (Place your bets now. Odds are about even--Ha, I just made a pun.) Major in history, minor in political science. Not surprisingly, if you know Melissa, her favorite historical subject is anything involving Britain in the medieval or early modern periods. You should see her get giddy over a Britain class. Crazy. She's been debating whether she wants to go to graduate school to become a history professor or apply to law school. (Yeah, I was hoping to get out of parenthood without adding lawyers to the world, so sorry folks.) At this point, last I heard--because she hasn't made any specific plans--she will graduate and get a job while deciding what to do next. I'm always in favor of gainful employment. It will be weird for her not to be in school. She continues writing as well, and I think both girls are more prolific than I am.
Melissa at the Oregon coast on our girls only trip

Spent an August afternoon here with my girls
However, I may have beat them this year. I have attended six, count 'em, six, writing conferences or workshops this year. And what do I have to show for it? Two completed-through-first-revision novels. I have spent a lot of time learning a deeper level of craft and I think it has made writing more fun, easier to get right the first time (or second), and definitely more empowering. So now, it's time to be submitting these while revising two other novels that I have new insights for, as well as getting started on my next new manuscript. I have it almost completely written in my head. The hard part is transferring that to the page. Could they please just invent a telepathic transcriber? My freelance work has been full of interesting topics. I edited books on the history of the Idaho Education Association, the history of falconry in America, a novel about Haiti, a medical thriller, and a quiet novel about a father trying to get it right. And I wrote web content about Idaho for a travel site .

I took one bagpipe lesson, have practiced bagpipes approximately twice, and do plan to keep at it. It's not the highest thing on my list of priorities, but I just decided about a year ago that it would be a fun instrument to learn. It's very hard, because many of the flute/recorder techniques are diametrically different on bagpipes--you don't tongue, your fingers must be straight, for example. I did learn alto recorder this year, thanks to weekly sessions with my friend Pam. Now we aim to learn bass recorder.

Neysa at Glen Falls High Sierra Camp in Yosemite.
How I do love a waterfall.
Of course, one of my biggest goals for this year was visiting Yosemite for my 50th birthday. You can read all about it on my blog. It was a huge deal for me on many levels. First, major birthday. Second, I was born there and we moved away when I was about two years old, so I remembered nothing. Third, my parents, brothers, and husband came with me. Fourth, I backpacked about 17 miles at elevations I rarely visit. It was a pilgrimage of a lifetime, and now I hope to return to that magical land as often as possible.

I find myself spending more and more time being happy and worrying less about what others think of me, whether I'm measuring up, or weather I'm getting it right. The older I get, the less I care about inconsequential stuff like that, and I care more about justice in the world, making a statement, having some sort of positive impact.

David in Yosemite
David and Neysa at the beginning of three days of backpacking in Yosemite
There is this man in our lives who is always working, always there, always caring for his family. He is the best guy to be married to. He has proven this year that his Fabulous Mr. Fix-it skills cannot be rivaled. He kept me going on the 8 miles up, up, up at over 9,000 feet. He is the scout master/crew advisor extraordinaire, my TV buddy for shows like Covert Affairs, Burn Notice, Leverage, The Good Wife, and a few others. He is like the quiet engine that keeps our family on track. He trained with me for our backpacking adventure, reads aloud to me every night, ponders the idiocies of some people's political stupidity with me, and manages to do all this with a sense of humor that defies all that is wrong in the world. David is the very best of what a husband and father should be, even if he does have a few bad habits. (Okay, maybe more than a few, but we shall leave those alone for now.)

The interesting lessons of this year for me have been how really strong I am physically, and how much I love hiking. No surprise really--I did spend most of my childhood scrambling around the hills at Wind Cave and at my parents' ranch. My travels around the western U.S. have affirmed to me that Boise is my true home. I could not ask for a better suited place to live. There are many beautiful spots in this amazing world, and this one is mine.
John Muir and I agree that God is in the mountaintops.
This is the view I woke up to on my 50th birthday. May Lake.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this, Neysa. Thanks for sharing your excellent writing and for sharing your year.