title-Christmas 2019

Cape Flattery at the northwestern tip of Washington State.

When one is blessed with seven decades of life experience, it is OK to have a building year. This feels like one of those. Pat dealt with increasing back issues which finally resulted in her second back surgery in November. The surgery went well and her surgeon fused a third vertebrae to the two he did three years ago. So, Pat spent the year here in Anacortes except for one visit to Berkeley for Corey's graduation. I did a couple of Navy reunions as well as a delightful trip with my sisters and their husbands to visit family in Vancouver, WA, and then an excursion to the northwestern corner of Washington to see the Hoh Rainforest in the Olympic Mountains, and to enjoy the Pacific Coast at Cape Flattery.

A year in Anacortes is just fine. Family and friends provide an endless combination of outings and gatherings, all in a beautiful ocean setting that does not get old.

 

 

The year kicked off with several snowfalls, never very serious here, but enough to change the scenery and offer some recreation. Latte loves the cold. Her 13 years with us is coming to an end. The tumor in her right rear leg has not been much of a problem for six years, but it is now a source of pain. She can no longer climb stairs, which is a problem since our living area is on the second level, so she is lonely and uncomfortable. It will be hard when we have to say good bye.

 

Latte in the snow.

Latte in her element.

 

SR-71 airplane

George Sigler, Don Webster, Gary Sullivan, Don Thurman

 

In March I received a spontaneous invitation join three of my Navy flight school classmates for a reunion in Pensacola. Two of them I had not seen since we were learning to fly airplanes in 1969. George and Judi Sigler hosted us and we had a great time exploring a greatly rebuilt Pensacola and visiting the Navy museum on base as well as the Air Force museum at nearby Eglin AFB. George runs "Skywarrior," a large flight school in Pensacola where many of newly commissioned Navy officers go for flight training to get their first 30 hours of flying in Cesena aircraft. From there they do three months of ground school at Pensacola Naval Air Station. It was there that the recent shooting took place and some of George's former students were in that school, although none were hurt.

This year my mother's older sister, Helen Shires Tayor, went to be with the Lord. I flew to the L.A. area to celebrate the life of a woman who had been a rock for the Shires side of the family. While there, I stayed with my cousin, Marilyn, and her husband John. In adulthood, I had only crossed paths with John and Marilyn at family picnics or other brief gatherings. John is a retired policeman who did a lot of the hard stuff, including undercover work with various criminal elements. We established an immediate rapport and I thoroughly enjoyed my three days with them.

 

Helen Shires Taylor

The memorial for Helen Taylor.

John and Marilyn

Marilyn and John.

 

With family in LA

While in the LA area, I met up with Eric and Irene and the girls who were visiting Irene's parents, Lucy and Sam. They took us for a fabulous meal in Monterrey Park. As a young man, Sam left China by swimming at night to one of the Hong Kong islands. He would emigrate to the U.S. with no English language, get a master's degree in engineering, and serve a career as manager of computer services for LAX Airport. His lovely wife, Lucy, is from Hualien, Taiwan. We love our in-laws.

 

Washington Park

We are still blessed with a big family in our small town. Many of our weekly activities involve family. The reality check comes as two of my grand-nephews, Zach and Cody, got their driver's licenses and first cars this year. Two, Cody and Kaizen, will be heading off to college next year.

 

Fort Vancouver

Larry and Darlene (sister) always visit in the summer. This year, I joined them along with Ed and Dorothy (also sister) for a road trip to Vancouver, WA, on the Oregon border so see our extended family there. We spent a day at Mt. Saint Helens, and visited Fort Vancouver which is a fascinating place to visit if you ever drive I-5 into Oregon. It was the Pacific Northwest fur trading center for the Hudson Bay Company and the fort has been carefully reconstructed to the way it was. After Vancouver, we drove northwest through Washington to the northwesterly point at Neah Bay and Cape Flattery. We stayed a couple of nights at an Air B&B in Port Angeles as we explored that beautiful region of the Olympic Mountains.

 

Darlene and Larry Hoh Rainforest

On our way northwest, we explored the Hoh Rainforest at the west end of the Olympic Mountains. Here, Darlene and Larry catch a break from the very abundant rain.

 

Dorothy and Ed driftwood

My sister, Dorothy, and Ed, are integral parts of our lives. Both Pat and I have fun with them, confide in them and enjoy one another's company. We would invite prayer for Ed; his abdominal issue is keeping the medical specialists somewhat puzzled.

 

A-3 reunion in Oakland

Every second year, those who flew and maintained the A-3 Skywarrior have a reunion, this time in Oakland, CA. The A-3 performed many missions in its four decades of service; 288 of these aircraft were built. It was the largest plane on the aircraft carrier and the only jet without ejection seats. It is always fun getting together with squadron mates, and the stories never seem to stop. About 250 men gave their lives in this airplane, many in combat and others in mishaps. We know their names and we remember them at every reunion. This airplane was recently restored by volunteers at the Oakland Aviation Museum and it is beautiful.

 

Pat at Flo's 89th birthday.

Mom, Flo, turned 89. She has been fairly stable this year and unabashedly keeps a focus on the Lord who gets her through what for any of us would be a very trying phase of life. An iPad has been a great source of information and diversion. While she cannot use it herself anymore, her caregivers can put on her favorite podcasts, Pandora stations, and give her access to most of her photographs which we have installed. Visiting her is to interact with someone who is more concerned about you than her own situation. Her personal caregiver, Tammy, is also a part time missionary, giving the two of them a wonderful relationship together.

 

Corey received his PhD in Molecular Cell Biology at U.C. Berkeley in November. It was six years of very hard work and we were more than happy to attend the impressive ceremony that was staged for the graduates. Corey has since been offered a post-doctoral position at Lawrence Berkeley Labs to apply his skill-set to the problem of aging. Corey has studied neural circuit assembly and maintenance in the context of neurodevelopment as well as disease. It turns out that the same signalling pathways that are relevant in development also play major roles in age related disease. He is very pleased to be able to continue his work in an area he finds interesting. Corey has used his time between jobs to get back into running and recently ran the Berkeley Half-Marathon. It wasn't a personal best, but he was happy that is still able to run the distance.

Phd- Cal

Mike and Kathy (Pat's brother), Corey, Pat, Eric, Don

 

 

This year, Lauren is proud to be in the same preschool as her older sister, while Kate is thrilled to be older sister. Kate has been involved in swimming and ballet classes and attending various Disney-themed performances. She was pleased to ride her first roller coaster by herself, in the front row no less. Lauren has been in toddler music class and Little Wonders with Mom. She loves horses and petting zoos.

Irene is diligent at keeping their lives rich with stimuli and learning opportunities. These are years of wonder for Dad and Mom, as well as the perpetual application of positive and negative reinforcement. Exhaustion is pretty much a steady-state condition. Irene got away for a girls' weekend in San Francisco and for a wedding in the wine country.

A month after Corey got his PhD, Eric was called into his boss's office where he was solemnly given the news that he was being promoted to Vice President, this at one of the larger financial management companies in the country. For Pat and me, it was a very good month.

Eric, Irene and family

 

 

Fentons Creamery

My parents, Dick and Lucille, met at UC Berkeley, and a popular spot for a date was a classic soda fountain, Fentons Creamery in neighboring Piedmont. After our year of house arrest in China, I attended kindergarten in north Oakland. Dad and Mom took us to Fentons, which I loved and I now realize, they found nostalgic. We raised our kids just over the Oakland Hills in Lafayette, and when they brought home a good report card, we sometimes celebrated at Fentons Creamery. When I was based at Alameda Naval Air Station in the Navy, about once a quarter we would jump in the car and drive the fifteen minutes for lunch at Fentons. It was not unanimous, but there was a loyal group who believed that the "Black and Tan," consisting of their home-made toasted almond ice cream, sitting in a bath of home-made caramel and topped with chocolate sauce was the piece 'd resistance. So, when one's son successfully completes a graduate degree, what is the appropriate celebration; but of course, a "Black and Tan," at Fentons Creamery.

 

We really enjoy your letters, cards, posts or whatever. It is easier to stay in contact with friends today, and that is a good thing. We wish you a great Christmas and hope it includes plenty of family. The advent of Jesus and what that means will be a central celebration for many of us. May the Lord bless you in the year ahead.

Don and Pat Webster

 

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