By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 12/11/2017
Posted: 12/23/2016
Topics/Keywords: #AboutMe #2016InReview Page Views: 625
All the things that happened to me in 2016.
Merry Christmas from Paul, Keith and Ella!

Most people, with a few happy exceptions, had a pretty shitty 2016. This is actually something I predicted several years ago, as this is the last year before August 21, 2017, when Earth officially reaches adequate quantum frequency to say we're in 4th Density. Before then, the Darkness will make a last, frantic stab at not disappearing, since Darkness cannot abide the Light of the increasing frequency.

However, that said, 2016 did provide many blessings to the Cilwa clan, and to Keith and I in particular…mostly because we made an effort to have a great time!

Ella

On Christmas, 2015, my daughter, Jennifer, gave my grandson, Zach, a Golden Retreiver named Ella. "I just thought they'd spend all their time together," Jenny told me. But Zach couldn't take Ella to school, or to his music lessons, or to his job. And when he was home he had homework. And Jenny became pregnant again. So she asked me if Keith and I would mind hosting her every now and then. Of course, we were happy to. So Ella began appearing in our photos.

Ella

As the year wore, on, it became clear that Zach, who is a high school senior and is planning to attend college on the East Coast, was not going to be able to give Ella the attention she needs for years to come. And Jenny, with a baby in diapers, wasn't going to be able to, either. Meanwhile, Ella was bonding with Keith and me, as well as Yoshi, our roommate.

Ella and Yoshi

So, Ella is ours, until Zach gets through school, at least. Zach still "borrows" her for the occasional camping trip, but otherwise, she is now a household fixture.

Hiking

Although we can't hike around Phoenix in the summer (the temperature can get to 115F easily, and we aren't Green Berets), that still leaves three seasons out of the year for us to hike the 40,000 acres of desert and mountain peaks in the area.

Waterfall Trail, White Tank Mountains

Keith with Ella on Trail 202

Camping

Keith and I originally met when I posted on a gay men's social site that I was looking for someone to go camping with. Luckily, he really likes to camp out as much as I do.

Camping in style at El Dorado Hot Spring in Tonopah, Arizona.

Camping on the Mogollon Rim

Cross-Country Road Trip

For my birthday this past April, my daughter, Jenny, gave me an amazing present—a road trip across the country! Our intention was to camp all the way; but I forgot, the rest of the country isn't like Phoenix and it's still cold in April. Still, it was a wonderful trip that allowed me to show Keith other places I've lived or visited.

Like Monument Valley…

It was in Colorado that I discovered my driver's license had expired on my birthday. I couldn't renew it until we got back, so made extra sure to follow all traffic laws perfectly. (That's usually how I drive, anyway.) Somehow we never got stopped and my expired license turned out to be a non-problem. (It's since been renewed, of course.)

We made a stop in Reston, Virginia, to visit my daughter, Karen, who provided her part of my gift by putting us up in her beautiful new condo. (She and her fiancé, Rob, will be getting married this coming January.)

Rob and I.

We took a walking tour of Washington, DC, and then, resuming our journey south, went for a short hike in the Shenandoah Mountains.

In West Virginia we spent the night with my oldest daughter, Dottie's, in-laws, Joe and Kathy Kinder. Here they are, including Dottie and her husband, Frankie, and my lovely granddaughter, Cailey.

Our next stop, in the dreaded North Carolina, happened only because my high school friend Faye promised that not all North Carolinians approve of the moron who governs them, or his anti-LGBT bathroom laws. So we stayed with her and her husband, Bill, and indeed had a lovely time in what is, after all, one of the prettiest states in the country.

In St. Augustine, Florida, we stayed with my sister, Louise, and her husband, Mikey. Here they are, with Keith and I and their firstborn, Kevin. (You might recall Kevin's brother, Timmy, lives in California; Keith and I attended his wedding last year.)

My other sister, Mary Joan, also lives in St. Augustine and came by to visit with the first member of the next generation in our family.

R2L: Mary Joan, my niece, Lisa, I, and Lisa's baby Jayla.

Although swimming isn't Keith's favorite thing, it is one of mine. So we stopped by Florida's Alexander Springs.

Finally, we made it to our penultimate destination: the Florida Keys; specifically, Big Pine Key (near Key West). Of course we visited Key West and several other keys for sightseeing; but Keith and I loved the laid-back attitude of Big Pine Key so much we extended our stay there.

When we finally left the Keys, we headed up Florida's Gulf Coast and spent a night with my best friend from high school, Chris Palmes, and his wife, Debbie.

We visited Florida's Weekie Watchee, drove through the most torrential rainstorm I've ever experienced, but made it to New Orleans, which I'd driven through but never been in the French Quarter, and which Keith had always wanted to visit.

Shiprock

Keith and I made the first of two visits to Shiprock on our way back. This is the Navajo Reservation town where Keith's parents and most of his other relatives live. That was a short visit, and I determined we would make another, longer one, later in the year.

Which we did. On our second visit in October, we spent most of a week, setting up our tent right in front of Keith's folks' mobile home.

Gianna and Dominic

My daughter, Jenny, lives in nearby Chandler, Arizona. My granddaughter, Gianna, turned 2 this September 4th; her baby brother Dominic was born August 21st. Both are adorable, and I had several opportunities to babysit them, which of course is every grandparent's dream. My son, John, also lives in Chandler; so babysitting time also meant father-son bonding time. And new niece bonding time!

Dominic's birth in August brought even the busy Zach to meet his baby brother. And of course, I couldn't be kept away!

Dominic's baptism was held November 27th.

And John Keith, Gianna, Ella and I went on a hike at South Mountain at the beginning of December, just to give you an idea how much she's grown!

Looking Back

So, looking back, I can see that my personal year was, actually, pretty awesome. Keith and I are both in good health; we have families we love and who love us; we have babies and a dog to keep us smiling. For what more might we have asked?

Looking Ahead

None of us know what tomorrow may bring; and the past is the past. The only moment we truly can count on is this one. So make the most of it! That's what we'll be doing.