[Note: The following, with a few inserted photos and several added hyperlinks, is an excerpted version of the 2017 edition of the annual newsletter I mail out to friends and family each year. I’ve been writing these newsletters for almost thirty years now – hoping they might serve as future memory-aids as much as to let folks know what I’ve been up to during the previous twelve months.]
Started the year off with a weekend trip to New Orleans with my friend Charles. (Our mutual friend Randall dropped us off there on his way to Baton Rouge to visit his mom.) Charles and I had a great time gallivanting around parts of the city unfamiliar to me from previous visits and of course we enjoyed some excellent meals while there, along with the mandatory snarfing down of multiple beignets at the Café du Monde.
Attended the first of several meetings to plan a trip to Italy later in the year with four gay friends of mine.
Flew to D.C. for a brief visit with my friend Terry, returning to Atlanta in time to celebrate my friend Blanche’s 80th birthday. By the end of the month, I’d sold my trusty pickup truck, having recently bought my mom’s Toyota when my mom realized she was unable to safely drive it any longer. (In other Calvin transport news, 2017 was also the year my twelve-year-old motor scooter gave up the ghost. As I rely on the scooter to run 80% of my errands, I promptly bought another one.)
The local senior center’s weekly calligraphy classes I’d been attending for three years ended when my instructor left town for an extended trip to Africa – and decided upon returning to teach only private lessons and to expanding her calligraphy-selling business. I am glad for her, but I miss her excellent teaching!
Spent another delightful week on St. George Island (off the coast of the Florida Panhandle) with eleven other gay men involved with a group called Gay Spirit Visions– the fourth year I’ve done that.
My younger brother Michael, who lives with his wife in Oregon, joined the rest of his Georgia family to celebrate our mom’s 90th birthday.
- Refinanced, a third time, the mortgage on my house. (Unless I win the lottery, I’ll literally be 100 years old when I finally own the place.)
- Began walking for approximately an hour each morning, mostly to improve my stamina for the upcoming trip to Italy, which would feature a lot of walking.
- My niece Jessie delivered her third daughter, Reese, whose reputation as “Smilingest Infant Living in North Georgia” was confirmed when I finally got to meet her four months later.
I continued my daily walks on through August, whose highlight was watching this year’s solar eclipse with some friends at the cabin in Blue Ridge, Georgia that I’ve co-owned with several other people for the past 19 years.
The much-anticipated trip to Italy (my fourth visit there) began mid-month. For our first week, we rented a villa just outside Cortona, and used our two rental cars for various day trips into Tuscany and Umbria. The following week we based ourselves in a spacious apartment in Ravello, perched high above the villages located along Italy’s Amalfi Coast, south of Naples. Following a few days together in Rome, Bill, John, Randall, and Randy returned to the States and I stayed on a third week in Trieste, located a few miles from Italy’s northeast border, exploring the area and spending a day in nearby Venice.
I am collecting photos from the trip from my fellow-travelers so I can include them in a series of entries to this blog, and I’m hoping to get those entries posted early in 2018.
The month when things suddenly changed for Calvin, when I became seriously intrigued Randy Taylor, one of my fellow travelers on the Italy trip. I had first met Randy way back in 1978, but our paths had seldom crossed in the decades since then. Once we were both back in Atlanta (Randy and I live about five miles apart), we began spending more and more time together, and I don’t see that changing – except maybe for the better, once Randy retires from his job later this month.
I am really excited about this completely unexpected turn of events, and these past three months have been a completely delectitudinous experience. Stay tuned!
Along with spending lots of time with Randy since returning from Italy in October, I have also been preoccupied since then with helping my siblings get my mom settled in her new home, an apartment in an independent living facility located an hour’s drive south of Atlanta. (She knew about the place because one of her church friends had moved there.) Before her move to Newnan, my mom had been living with my sister Lori in north Georgia – she’d sold her house in East Point in October 2016. All five of her kids are hoping Marge will be happier once she adjusts to her new surroundings.
My sister Gayle hosted Thanksgiving for our family and assorted friends. 22 people converged on her house in Blairsville, in north Georgia, this year! This is where I got my first glimpse of my grand-niece Reese:
During the week of the Winter Solstice, I hosted three separate tea parties to accommodate the folks I wanted to help me celebrate the year-end holidays. Fortunately, Randy offered to help me undertake the decorative and culinary preparations for these three gatherings.
On Christmas morning, Randy and I (along with Randy’s mom) joined the Gough family at Lori’s. A few days later, my friend Blanche and I rendezvoused at the cabin in Blue Ridge for a holiday visit and so Randy and Blanche could meet each other. I’m usually at the cabin on New Year’s Eve, but this year Randy and I spent the last day of 2017 at my place in Candler Park.
Things I’ve Continued to Do This Year
- Making trips to the cabin in Blue Ridge approximately once each month.
- Attending – for the ninth consecutive year – weekly instruction classes in tai chi.
- Meeting monthly with members of the Georgia LGBTQ Archives Project. With my Gay Spirit Visions comrade Randall, I co-conducted two more oral history interviews with GSV conference attendees (our 17th and 18th interviews since starting this project a few years ago.)
- Meeting every month with a group of seven gay friends who are studying the Enneagram (a fascinating personality-typing system).
- Serving (for an 18th year) as the volunteer librarian for the Meetinghouse Library of Atlanta’s Quaker congregation.
- Spending enough time in the backyard to successfully grow some squash and peppers and tomatoes along with the two dozen potted herbs – including, for the first time, some patchouli!
- Attending monthly meetings of the local calligraphy guild. And despite the disappearance from my schedule of weekly calligraphy instruction, I completed seven calligraphy workshops.
- Trying to keep up with the weekly issues of The New Yorker and the monthly issues of The Sun – the planet’s two best (and completely different types of) magazines. And, of course, reading lots of books – although, inexplicably, not nearly as many this year as in previous years.
I hope your 2017 ended happily, and may the new year bring you – along with the longer-lasting daylight – much joy!