As I sit at my computer with the electric heater warming the room, my coffee and cereal on my desk with Christmas music playing softly, I joyously consider all the blessings we have for this year. Many who retired before us said we should not hold off and that, if anything, they wished they’d done it sooner. Perhaps they were right. Regardless, we are both doing quite well and feeling very blessed.

We’ve arranged this in two sections. First there’s all the travel we did and secondly all the projects we accomplished (we’re using the term projects pretty loosely!) Unlike many people we know, we find it interesting that we generally traveled to visit family/friends and not places. We went to places and saw stuff but, usually with others. Or we have a purpose, like picking up our wine club shipment. Being introverts, it is just easier to be around strangers along with friends and family.

Key Travel

In March, we flew to Fort Meyers to spend a couple weeks with Ray’s brother Jay and his wife Debbie who rented a house there. Additionally, we were able to visit with the rest of Ray’s siblings: Chuck & Julie, Audrey & Terry plus visit his cousin Lexy and partner Gene. On the return home, we snagged a non-stop to San Diego, so we spent another few days with Lynda’s sister Janet along with her son, Raymond, wife Emily and grand-kids – Elizabeth, Alexander and Josephine.

Then in April, we visited Patty and helped her move into her house. We booked a room in Pismo since Patty didn’t have a bed ready. Patty’s hospitality is famous for being simple and relaxing. Whenever we visit her, we always feel like we are at the best B&B you can imagine.

In May we flew to Kansas City, rented a car and drove to Rochester MN to visit Lynda’s cousins, aunt and uncle – the Leavelles. We then drove back to KC and visited Ricky and our new Grand Kitty, Bindle. It was during this trip that we got serious about getting the new driveway for Ricky’s house.

As some of you know, Alex has been working and going to school for a couple years now. This year, he was accepted as a junior in Computer Science at Santa Cruz University. In June we visited the campus to prepare for his starting in the Fall Quarter.

In August, we returned again to San Diego, only this time in addition to the SD folks, Debbie, Michael and Samantha all came to visit too along with Cousin Karen. We took Alex with us so it was a very full house at Janet’s! It was this trip that really cemented Alex’s reputation as the favorite uncle.

In late September Lynda again visited Janet in SD to assist as this would have been the last scheduled chemo. Turns out that Janet handled her treatment as well as could be hoped for and so they went shopping for furniture and took care of a bunch of things while Lynda was there. Meanwhile, Ray, realized that there was nothing stopping him from just hopping on a plane and visiting Ricky to help finish the new driveway installation.

Ok, not really a travel thing but thought it worth mentioning that with all the rains last winter, we had a bumper crop of apples, so we’ve been busy making various apple deserts – many of which are sugar free for Ray. Then in we enjoyed the solar eclipse in October.

This year, the SD folks all came north for Thanksgiving in Campbell! We got the Murphy bed installed just in time (see below). It was a full house but very fun and lots of joy with Raymond and Emily’s children.

We realize that we generally try to publish this before Christmas, so we don’t often have any Christmas information. This year we plan to head south again. Just like last year, we’ll drive down with Travis and Alex – listening to an audiobook the whole way.


There’s a kind of joy in working on a project of your choosing, and not worrying about how long it’ll take or if it will run a little over budget. Ray will occasionally send a picture of his coffee cup to friend John as he contemplates his next step in any given project. In contrast to a job where you are constantly under supervision along with both time and budget pressure, he can take as long as he wants to think and plan what to do next. Sometimes, that means a nap to “sleep on it”!

Last year, with the help of John and Bill, Ray was able to finish re-piping the last section of the house transforming the rotted galvanized pipe to shiny new copper and CPVC pipe. This left us with a section of the garage ceiling that needed to be replaced/repainted. Ray was able to finish that off, painting the whole ceiling a flat black and repurposing the garage into his “studio”.

Speaking of painting, Lynda decided that it would be better to apply a new coat of paint to both of the sheds than to store the extra exterior house paint forever. Little shed is all done. Big shed is only half done so yay – there will be something left to do next summer.

A clear example of a project that Ray took his time on is the new gate on the east side of the house. Lynda’s idea was to move it forward so that the trash cans could be on the cement making it easier to get to/from the curb. Matching the west gate design, the result was very good and is both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

Ray’s been anxious for the last couple of years to fix a huge squeak in the kitchen floor. He was concerned that the floor was soft there and that there’d be underlying structural problems. After removing the subfloor, it turned out the problem was easily fixed. With Alex’s help, he fixed the problem and then was able to re-apply the subfloor. With Travis’ help, Lynda picked the flooring, and we hired a contractor to install the new luxury vinyl flooring. We are very happy with the results (no more squeaking, and a lovely new floor!).

For almost a year, Ray’s been thinking about a new TV. Our old plasma was still going strong, but we worried that it was living on borrowed time. Despite being a nice heater in the winter, we felt that getting a bigger OLED TV would be easier on both our eyes and electric bill. At the same time, Ray installed some Atmos speakers for even better sound.

As mentioned, we got a new Murphy Bed installed in the family room. This was part of a family room remodel which includes the aforementioned TV. Bed was installed days before Janet arrived. The family room now converts into a nice little bedroom with a semi-private bathroom.

Once again, Ray and the five guys made wine. Harvest was late this year which might be good – longer hang time on the fruit. See the website for details.

Early in the year, Ray started to be concerned about how many vehicles we have: two lexus’ and an F-150. Ray’s idea was to replace one of the Lexus’ along with the F-150 with a vehicle that could do both. Key was that it had to fit a T-bin (for wine). After much research, Ray settled on the Ford Maverick. This vehicle is so popular that it’s hard to find a dealer where you can test drive one. Long story short, in early November, we found one that fit our needs and so we bought it! Now we have 4 vehicles – but we do have plans for the 2 extras.


You can see that we’ve been busy with both traveling and projects. We are truly grateful that we have such good friends and family to visit with. And we are blessed with the time and resources to be able to complete all the projects!


  1. Hello Ray, Thanks for the update! They’re always great! God bless you and Lynda, the rest of your family, friends, and church!


  2. Feliz Navidad.
    I am glad to hear that you had a blessed year full of adventures. Wish all the family a great and bless 2024. Dios los bendiga.


  3. What a blessed year! Keeping taking those vitamins, you will need them. Thank you for sharing such wonderful memories. I feel privileged you sharing them with us. Wishing you and Linda an even more memorable new year.


  4. It was so good to hear about your year since we don’t get a chance to see each other much. Thanks for all the updates. Sounds like lots of fun, and adventure! Glad you’re retired and enjoying yourselves and the family. There’s no better way to be retired! Hope to see you soon. Have a Blessed and very Merry Christmas! 🎄


  5. Glad to see you and Lynda are thriving and finding bounty, Ray! Merry Christmas!


  6. So impressed by your remodel/ handyman skills and accomplishments! And all the traveling sounds wonderful!


  7. Love you two!!
    Quite a year you had!
    Merry Christmas❤️❤️Immanuel!


  8. Hi, Lynda and Ray, Merry Christmas! Remembering the REASON. Very interesting and newsy AND such an effective way to share. God bless in 2024!


  9. Very glad to read about your travels and projects, Ray and Lynda! They are fun, productive! They are also relationship-oriented – love them!


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