December, 2013 Annual Year-end Letter

Having not written last year's year-end letter, this one will cover both 2012 and 2013, which at first glance appears to be a fairly easy task, for the last two years seem to have compressed themselves into a span of about seven months.

So wait a minute while we scan through emails to try and reconstruct events...

...Ah, yes. 2012 started out with a visit from some bedbugs who'd hitched a ride from San Francisco. After much ado, we thwarted the pests. Tom performed his 27th winter at The Ahwahnee, plus springtime concerts at Fresno Pacific College and the Cal Faculty Club.

Diane commenced sales of prints of her watercolor paintings, and put in for retirement from her distinguished and long career as a teacher. It appears from the email record that we were kept inordinately busy with day-to-day stuff, bureaucratic time-wasters, incendiary requests-for-assistance with this-or-that, and answering anonymous political email-forwards.

Tom & Diane at The Ahwahnee pool, August 2012

Highlights were visits from friends and relatives, including Diane's brother Mark & family (Mika, Tyler & Emma) who loved their July dip in the Merced River. Our September train trip to the Rockies was wonderful, as was our visit to Sequoia Ntl. Park with friends Lynne and Guillermo.

In mid-October Tom's dad, Ray, was diagnosed with terminal leukemia - a natural progression from the myelofibrosis he'd been managing since his stroke in 2007. Ray's brothers, Wesley and Ron came to visit, as did his many dear friends from the local area. Ray did his best to console his family and friends, assuring us all that he looked forward to being reunited with his loved ones after death, and treating his illness almost as a passing inconvenience. With constant support from Diane, Tom transitioned from part-time to full-time caregiver status until Ray passed on at the beginning of 2013. After a brief, impromptu observance, Tom, Diane, and dear friends Bud Friedman and his daughter Sharon buried Ray's ashes next to his beloved Jeannie in Redondo Beach. A tribute website has been posted online here: Ray Bopp 1925 - 2013 . Not long afterward we bid a final goodbye to our kitty, Kreisler (named after the violinist, Fritz Kreisler), who'd taken up residence with Ray in spring of 2012 after the death of his cat, Red.

Zeus and Kreisler in 2010

The following months were consumed with cleaning up and distributing the estate (quite a lot was donated to Hinds Hospice in appreciation for their invaluable help), culminating with the sale of Ray's house this December. Ray was followed in death by his beloved brother-in-law, Francisco. 

2013 brought delightful visits from brother Dean, cousins Bill and Ann, friends Randy and Valrie, and lovely reunions with dear friends at Cambria and El Segundo. Diane's proud to brag on her brothers John and Dean for their recent successes in the art world, nephew Paul for his work in television journalism and niece Jill for the guided tour she gave us of her workplace at Facebook.

The year also brought "sequestration" budget-cuts, a major forest fire to the north of Yosemite (the Rim Fire), and the government shutdown, putting everybody into belt-tightening mode, the burden of which gets inevitably shifted to employees. Also, Tom's computer crashed this summer, and despite his hard-drive backup Windows Live Mail lost his email contact group-lists and all his calendar entries.

Tom's first step out of a year of his own semi-sequestration is the writing of this letter. Diane retired at the beginning of 2013, but continues to teach one class during the fall semester at the local college. We still seek to sell our home and purchase or build something small for ourselves in Wawona...but that goal remains elusive.

2013 ended in a flurry of activity; in addition to emptying Ray's house and tending the escrow, Tom had two gigs in Los Angeles, two in San Francisco, and one in Sacramento within the space of a month. One of those included performing on the theater stage at Paramount Studios for the premier of Ken Burns' documentary about Yosemite.

A sad coda: news came to us on December 30 of the passing of Loretta, one of a group of dear friends (pictured below) who celebrate life, love, and music at every opportunity, invading the Wawona Hotel with their good cheer every year, as well as at Tom's Cal Faculty Club concert every winter. She will be missed.

The "Cal Group" Oct. 14, 2010: Gordon, Carl, Diane, Marylou, Gene, (seated): Loretta, Marylyn, Nancy, Jack, Tom

We're now settling into a new chapter, getting our bearings, and determined to enjoy the new year, and wish the same for all of you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our family and friends, especially to you who are battling serious health issues - you are always in our hearts.

Love, Tom, Diane, and Blackbeard the Cat.

Blackbeard the Cat (18 years old) visiting Ray's house, August 2013