So often we say “Where did the time fly to?” or “I can’t believe the year is almost over already!”
To this I say take a few moments and think back about what you have done this past year. We can always dwell on what we didn’t do, but in the vein of positive thinking, what did we spend our time on?
Each year for me of late takes on a similar ramp up, but it is one I have come to look forward to. January is marked quickly by my Mother’s birthday, and it is a day I give thanks for, as each year she soldiers on against advancing age, while her playful spirit remains undaunted. Each February we brave the cold together to take in the Rods and Customs Car Show, and its an event where we both get to let our inner child run free.
The second month of the year also brings two other important events. The first being Valentines Day, and this has taken on so much more impact in recent years as I continue to relish the wonderful relationship my wife and I share. Her gift to me this past year was a very personal collection of her photographs that she complied into a book, to which she added various quotes and poems. No amount of jewelery, candy or cologne could have been as heartwarming, and I love her dearly for the unique touch she brings to my life.
The last weekend in February brings a red letter day for my wife. The Quilt Festival held in Hampton Va. annually is a must attend event for her, and the gift of advance funds for her March 3rd birthday are welcomed with wide smiles for her to go “play in her world”.
I suppose it could be seen as an “easy out” for me in regard to her birthday, but its one she voices full approval for each year.
Late March to early April brings the Easter holiday, and for us that means our annual trek north to Connecticut to visit my wife’s relatives. From the first time I met these people they have welcomed me in as one of their own, and I look forward to seeing them each year. This past year, my Mother went along for the trip and she spills tales of my youth for their entertainment. It also become readily apparent where my silliness comes from, but that’s fine since in their household, sanity is optional but not required.
The trip home from Connecticut brings a stop over to visit The Big Apple, Manhattan, New York City. This has become an event unto itself, since for me the date always coincides with the New York International Auto Show. I know Mom enjoys oogling the shiny, exotic hardware as much as I do, and fun pictures always mark the occasion. This past year a pic of me was snapped with my head sticking out of the roof of a Smart Car, and my Mom drooled over the last in the series of PT Dream Cruisers. Arlie joined us for this day and got her obligatory shots of the various Minis, a toy I’m sure she will own at some point in her future.
Late April brings our wedding anniversary, on the 27th to be exact. While on our honeymoon, we made the mutual decision that instead of trying to figure out what to give each other every year for anniversary gifts, we would take a vacation instead. This annual “honeymoon” has been the most richly wondrous experience anyone could ask for. The destinations have not been exotic, but more pointed towards places we have simply wanted to visit. We make a point for there to be places that interest both of us on each journey, and it has proven to be a growing experience as we each get to see those things that delight the other. I think we have shown sides and inner thoughts that might otherwise have gone unseen.
Trish is a beach nut to say the very least, the feel of sand in her toes and the sound of ocean waves breaking on the shore are some of her greatest simple pleasures of life. I had not been to Florida since I was small child, and she had never been, so we stuffed the back of my PT Cruiser convertible until it could hold no more (the picture of which is hilarious) and we set off on a beach tour of the Sunshine State.
Trish is also an avid Jimmy Buffett fan, or “Parrotheads” as they are known, so a trek to Florida would not be complete without including Key West. The weather smiled on us each and every day as we hit the stops of St. Augustine and then Daytona Beach, where I visited the legendary Daytona Speedway, and drove on the sands of Daytona itself.
From there we took in the Kennedy Space Center and then down to Miami. The next day was one for the scrapbooks as plentiful sunshine poured down while we crossed the 42 bridges that dance over the Keys and the crystal, turquoise water that lead to Key West.
This island out in the Gulf of Mexico has a pace and life all its own, we parked the car and rode bikes everywhere we went, then we topped it off with a glorious sunset sailboat ride.
Once back to the mainland we met up with a friend of hers for dinner in Miami, at their fabulous restaurant called “Scorch”, and the next day set off across the marshlands of the Everglades. Birds and alligators were in plentiful supply and we ended the day on Sanibel Island where I have never seen so many sea shells on a beach in my life.
Honeymoon Island and Tarpon Springs were our last stops before returning home, but all told it was a magnificent trip, and one we will share memories of for the rest of our lives.
The summer months bring plenty of afternoon movies and lunch dates, as well as the occasional day outing to let Trish exercise her shutterbug skills.
In July, my daughter Michelle and I took a road trip to Carlisle, PA. for the All Chrysler Nationals. The 88 acre fairgrounds in Carlisle are host to a gluttonous feast for the car-guy appetite, with hundreds of both rare and classic cars from all over the country. The weather was on the warm side, and an afternoon shower cut the fun a bit short, but the sun smiled on us the next day as we cruised the Amish countryside on the route home.
Late summer brought a concert at The National in downtown Richmond where the hard rock band “Memory Fade” performed. My son Josh was the lead singer for this group, and his hard-driving vocals were the icing on the cake for this band’s great sound. They performed all of their own music instead of just doing covers of hits, and unlike some other bands that night, their show was more than just screaming and pounding. Memory Fade’s music covered a nice range and I believe that they had real potential. Unfortunately, as happens so often in the music world, personal differences offstage ultimately doomed them to split up.
I fully support Josh’s reasons for parting company, but one can’t help but wonder if such a great sound would have rocked the world. He seems much happier these days, now with a new job and a fiance’, his world is looking much brighter and that’s what really matters most.
The fall of the year brought another outing in that Trish is a dyed-in-the-wool Billy Joel fan. I suppose her being a native New Yorker, she grew up on his music as so many others did, but she also has an affinity for “Captain Fantastic” aka, Elton John. She had often said that she wanted to attend one of their “Face to Face” concerts, so when those dates were announced, and then mentioned that they may not have the shared events anymore, she decided to jump on the chance. Between work schedules and trying to get tickets, we wound up planning to attend the concert held in Columbus,Ohio.
We basically made an extended weekend out of the event by meeting up with some of her friends in Pittsburgh,Pa. and then detoured north to visit the “Motor City” of Detroit, Michigan.
The concert was a rousing event that did not disappoint, and the weather smiled on us nicely for some top down sightseeing in and around Detroit. I took in the Walter P. Chrysler Museum with much joy, and out of complete chance, the Detroit Science Museum was hosting a limited time exhibit of Star Trek artifacts. All in all a lovely day in Detroit. The trip back home was slightly long but we have always been able to pass the miles away with plenty of chit-chat and music for any mood.
Later in the fall, over the Columbus Day weekend, we had to return to New York for a memorial ceremony for Trish’s Aunt Vivienne. Aunt Viv was a true force of nature, and a soul that will be missed but never forgotten. We got to meet more of the extended family that we had not seen before, or in a very long time. Despite some overcast weather, it was a beautiful weekend in many ways, but it ended on a sad note when we returned home to find our pet cat Hamish had passed away. Like Viv, for us Hamish left his mark on our hearts and he will be forever in our memories. We have since adopted two new cats into our home, and they are finding their place very nicely…in that cat kind of way.
Before you know it, Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us once again, and this year saw both holidays bring a well attended family gathering.
It’s so very nice to see both parents and children, from more than one generation, along with their significant others come and be part of the joy of the day. To see a family continue to grow, to able to come together and laugh and enjoy the company of one another is a blessing money cannot buy.
I started this blog this year, and it has led to me writing a monthly column for the Hemi Hot Rods website. Getting a chance to write about things that are so involved with my love of the automotive art and the gearhead world are good things indeed. I sincerely hope someday my wife’s photography skills will finally begin to open new doors for her as well. I would love to scream to the world how much I have enjoyed watching her work, and the passion she has for what she does. Only time will tell what the future holds for each of us.
Looking back, I would say it was a very good year, and I sincerely hope the next will be just as rewarding. From our house to all of you, a very Happy New Year.