August 24, 2008

Yikes, almost 5 months since the last update! Lots has happened since then, so let’s see if I can get it all in.

A very big and sad thing that happened about a month after my last post was the passing of my dear grandmother, Frances. She suffered a stroke and heart attack on Tuesday, April 29, and never regained consciousness. We put her in hospice care on the 2nd, and she passed away peacefully around 6 in the evening on May 4th, at the age of 101 years, 76 days. Jann and I took care of packing up her things, mostly donating them to charity. Family members took a few things and we distributed what little was named in her will (most of which was given away during her life so it wasn’t around). We held a small family service on Wednesday the 7th at Sholom Memorial Park in the San Fernando Valley, led by Cantor Susan Deutsch from Heritage Pointe. She is buried next to my grandfather, Joseph. We almost weren’t able to bury here there, since the organization that owned the plot she purchased when he died back in 1971 was defunct. I spent a long time on the internet and on the phone to New York, tracking down the parent organization and finding someone who could authorize the burial. No easy task with the time difference and the short schedule, but it all came together. I wasn’t planning on bringing the kids down for the service, but the night before Katelyn specifically said she wanted to come. She’d just had a section in her religious school class on death and dying, including a cemetery field trip I attended with her, so it all seemed more real and relevant to her. Plus we’d just been down to see Grandma a few weeks before. So Val arranged everything and Katelyn came down with her. I’m glad she wanted to come, and that she was able to share the experience with us. She also shared some fun time with Jann, and I shared some quality time with Aunt Millicent (at whose house I stayed while down there), so it was a positive family time all around. You can see a few pictures here.

About my work situation, as I mentioned in my last post, I accepted a job contracting at Genentech. I’ve been there 3 ½ months now, and I’m really enjoying it. The work is fun, the company is great, the commute is awesome (10 minutes!). Plus as a contractor they don’t want me working more than 40 hours a week. I’ve always been salaried and have always worked more hours, so it’s quite a luxury to limit my hours. I’m now getting benefits through my contract company, Aquent, so that’s all working out well. Oh, and when I had to take time off when my grandmother died, after only having been here a couple of weeks, my manager and team were wonderful and supportive. You can see a few pictures from work here.

Our most recent fun thing was a family trip to Alaska. We left from Vancouver on July 4th on the Radiance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean Cruises). We had a day at sea, then saw Ketchikan (Val’s favorite), Juneau, Skagway, Hoonah, and the Hubbard Glacier in Yakutat Bay. We ended in Seward and took a train ride through the mountains to Anchorage. We spent 2 days there before coming home. I’ll write more later (maybe I’ll transcribe our journals). Pictures will be posted at some point. We all had our own digital cameras, so we had about 1600 pictures by the time we got home. I’ve culled it down to 1000, but have more work to do or you’ll all be bored to tears. Suffice to say we saw some beautiful things, had a fabulous time on the ship and on shore, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun.

The day after we came back Val and I got a marriage license. We plan on "tying the knot" on August 29th. We're having a small ceremony at the chapel at the San Mateo County offices, mostly because they will webcast the wedding so all of our friends can attend without the fuss of a big party and without dressing up or traveling. Initial pictures here, more coming.

Three days after returning the kids went off the Camp Newman again, this time for 12 days at the same time. Pictures here.

I seem to have reinjured a shoulder I had trouble with a couple of years ago. I had a cortizone shot right before our vacation. The doctor advised me not to, but I wasn't going to let it bother the vacation. When I got back I had an MRI. I have a small tear in the rotator cuff, and some other fraying. We're going to try and strengthen the area with physical therapy.

We once again rode motorcycles in the SF Pride parade. Pictures coming soon.

I celebrated 10 years since starting in the Menttium program. Six of us from the mentees group have continued to meet all this time, supporting each other through good and bad, hard times and happy times, career moves, relationship changes, and lots of other life changes. What a great experience!

There have been lots of other things going on: