2011 Update

About retirement

Beginning the first full calendar year of retirement, I decided to make good on a retirement goal and enrolled in a bridge class offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Cal State University Bakersfield.

randy-maryellenrandy-dennisI met my friend, Randy, and his wife, Mary Ellen, for a weekend in San Francisco where we caught up with each other after losing contact forty-five years ago. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, we found each other on Facebook. On Saturday, Randy and I found the California International Antiquarian Book Fair that entertained of for hours while Mary Ellen was attending the conference that brought them to San Francisco from Florida. Sunday, the the three of us drove to Berkeley, toured the UC campus and visited the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Another retirement goal is to get back to writing. A step toward achieving that goal was to sign up for memoir writing course offered through OLLI. I met an extraordinary group of people, an exceptional teacher and facilitator, and made some new friends.

harriet-don-osfdennis-osfAt the end of March, I drove to Ashland, Oregon, with my dear friends, Harriet and Don, where we attended a Road Scholar (Elderhostel) program at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We toured the theatre complex, had superb lectures from Shakespeare scholars, actors, and festival personnel, and saw three excellent productions: To Kill a Mockingbird, Measure for Measure, and The Imaginary Invalid.

April and May focused on treating prostate cancer. I wrote in detail about the experience in a blogpost entitled “When the cosmic tumblers click into place.”

I enjoyed celebrating the academic accomplishments of two of my grandchildren. My granddaughter, Chloe, received an academic excellence awared and my grandson, Blake, graduated from the eighth grade.

bob-spI spent a couple of days in Redding with Bob, a friend from elementary school days, and his family. Bob, the consummate host, makes certain I see the beautiful country around Redding. A highlight of any visit with Bob is going out on Whiskeytown Lake in his sailboat, Sparkle Plenty.


blake-jeepThe last week-end of June is our annual family reunion when all of my first cousins and their families get together at Lake Francis Resort in Dobbins, California. Cousin Marty brings Grandpa’s World War II jeep which all of the kids love. This year, Blake got to drive the jeep—by himself.




A phone consultation with my radiation oncologist verified excellent results of the treatment. Very good news.

Mary, Susan, and I took Chandler to UCLA for a one week Mock Trial training program. Chandler has been active in Mock Trial since beginning at Garces Memorial High School in 2009. At the end of the last school year, she found out about the UCLA Mock Trial summer training program. When her Mock Trial teammates showed no interest in the program, Chandler pursued it on her own, discovering the availability of a scholarship she applied for and received. She’s a star. We’re very proud of her.

Further good news came in July when Sharon was accepted into the Bakersfield College Registered Nurse program. She worked hard to get there. We’re so proud of the way she pursued her goal while balancing the responsibilities of family, home, and a job.

Earlier in the summer, I learned about BilBridge, an online bridge library for beginner and intermediate bridge players. The Web site is a treasure trove of information about bridge with opportunities to learn from some of the world’s bridge experts and to play in online tournaments. A benefit of joining BilBridge is the opportunity to work with a bridge mentor. I applied and was assigned a mentor in August to work with for six months. It’s been an extraoridnary experience in which I have learned a lot about the game. Six months is barely enough time to scratch the surface of playing bridge, but it has helped to point me in a good direction.

CJ and Miriam, parents of Susan’s partner, Marcelo, visited from Atlanta to celebrate Marcelo’s birthday. Mary and Dick hosted a birthday dinner at the Petroleum Club on Friday evening. On Saturday, they hosted a family gathering for CJ and Miriam to meet our whole family. They are lovely people and it was a pleasure to have them visit.

Continuing to play bridge, I came in first in my bracket (C = Novice) in one of the Unit’s Open Pairs games earning 0.69 Master Points. My first Master Points! In one of the Club’s 99er games later in the month, I came in third, earning 0.31 Master points, giving me a total of 1.0 Master Points. Bridge is a wonderful experience. I’ve met lovely people, made new friends, and developed a keen interest in the game. Aside from the social aspects, bridge is beneficial for health and mental acuity among “older” people. I published a blogpost in October entitled “Bridge, Aging, and Brain Power.”

I met with my radiation oncologist who showed me the scans done before and after treatment. The news he gave me is the best: “There is no evidence of residual or recurring prostate cancer.”

Bakersfield is fortunate to have an orchestra of the caliber of the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra which began it’s eighty-first season in October. Through the years, the BSO concert season has expanded to six subscription concerts, as well as a chamber music series, New Directions, a Young People’s Concert Series, and educational programs including the Academic Decathlon. Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker is performed annually in collaboration with the Civic Dance Center, and three music organizations have affiliated with the Symphony family, each with their own concert seasons: Bakersfield Masterworks Chorale, Bakersfield Youth Symphony, and Bakersfield Municipal Band.

Terry, a friend from junior high school days, and her husband, Norm, were in town for Norm’s 50th high school reunion. While Norm was off doing reunion stuff in the afternoon, Terry came for a beautiful luncheon hosted by Mary. Susan and Sharon joined us as did Terry’s sister, Jane, who drove up from Los Angeles.

Three of my bridge friends and I drove to Ventura to play in the Ventura Regional Bridge Tournament. We attended a two hour lesson offered for intermediate and newcomers and played in a Charity Game in the afternoon. We came in at the bottom of the rankings but agreed that it was a fun experience.


I spent two weeks in Arizona with my cousin, Marty, and his wife, Ruby. We drove down to Bisbee, where our second great grandfather settled in 1881 and where my mother was born in 1920. In it’s day, Bisbee was a prosperous mining town with a population in excess of 20,000 and was one of the “largest and most cultured cities between St. Louis and San Francisco.” A tour of the Copper Queen Mine was a highlight of the trip for Marty.

We spent a week in Sedona where Marty and Ruby have a timeshare. While in Sedona, we visited Montezuma’s Castle, Montezuma’s Well, and rode the Verde Canyon Railroad.

A trip on the Grand Canyon Railway to the south rim of the Grand Canyon made for an fun day. November is definitely a good time of year to visit the Grand Canyon. The weather was good and there were few tourists.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). My big accomplishment for the month was participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a fifthy thousand word novel in thrity days. Not only did I meet the challenge, I finished in twenty-five days. I wrote about the NaNoWriMo experience in a blogpost entitled “Eternal Bragging Rights.”

December offers many delights. A highpoint of the season is seeing my granddaughter, Chandler, dance in The Nutcracker which she has done for eleven years. This year’s production marked the 34th anniversary of Civic Dance Center and Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.

The Mannheim Steamroller Christmas Concert, an addition to the Broadway in Bakersfield subscription, was a special treat that lifted everyone’s spirits.

Everyone in the family will be away for Christmas, so we celebrated our family Christmas on December 17. I plan to have a quiet Christmas dinner at a local Indian restaurant with my friends, Karen and Virindar.

End Note
Looking over the year’s update, I was struck by the absence of photos in some months. My new year’s resolution:

ABC: Always Bring Camera.