Images by John 'K'

Life as seen through my lens…

RIP Wanda, and some less important stuff

Yes it’s been a while since I did one of these – for reasons that’ll become obvious as you read this it’s not been top priority in my life just lately…..
Lets start with that then. On April 29, 2008 my only sister (I am the youngest of 3, a brother and a sister came before me) was killed in an accident while driving to see my mother. From all accounts she was killed instantly, but that is little comfort to her remaining family. I went back to the UK to spend some time with my mum, brother, brother-in-law and family, and to be there for the funeral (which was a wonderful send-off for Wanda), and while it was nice to have the time to catch up with many members of my family that I haven’t seen in over 3 years, it was unfortunate that it had to be under such tragic circumstances. It was also unfortunate that we were unable to have my wife and two younger daughters attend too, but under the circumstances and given the timing that was not possible. I was also able to visit my eldest daughter and her family and celebrate the birthday of my youngest grandson (all be it  aday early as the actual day of his birthday was the day of my sister’s funeral).
RIP Wanda Mary, you will not be forgotten. You leave behind a loving husband who has 38 years of wonderful memories, two beautiful daughters, and 3 lovely grandchildren who (as with the rest of us who knew you) will have you in our hearts always.
Next to that, anything else I could write hardly seems worth it, but life must go on….
Before that fateful day in April, my wife and I had the pleasure to spend what was a far too short trip travelling to China. It was a package my wife heard about through a group she is a member of, and as we had yet to organise anything for our 25th anniversary (which is later this year) we decided to treat ourselves as an early present to one another. China is an amazing place – full of contrasts between new and old, modern and traditional, rich and poor, and it’s the only foreign country I’ve visited where I didn’t need to travel with any of the local currency. Most situations that needed cash the dollar was perfectly acceptable, and for the few situations where only the local currency was accepted we were able to use plastic.
During our all to brief 9 days, we spent time in Beijing, saw the great wall, the Temple of Heaven, Tienanmen Square, the Palace Museum (aka the Forbidden City), the Ming tombs and the Summer Palace, we travelled to Shanghai, and then on to Suzhou where we visited Tiger Hill, took a trip on the Grand Canal, went to Hangzhou where we went to the national silk institute and the "Lingering Gardens", took a cruise on the West Lake before visiting the Longjing Green Tea plantation and the Lingyin Buddhist Temple before returning to Shanghai where we took in more gardens, the Bund, and before returning to San Francisco via Beijing we saw the Era show. Way too much to do justice to in 9 days, but a wonderful trip none the less. In hindsight too this is rather a special trip, as the last significant trip my sister took with her husband late in 2007 was China too.
Since then we’ve tried to get back to normal, however have had a number of other unexpected issues to deal with. My elder daughter injured her knee at work, and has been walking around on crutches for the past couple of months while she’s worked through a series of doctors appointments. As it was a work injury this is all at their expense, but it’s dragged on. My youngest daughter has split up with her boyfriend, and what started out as an amicable split turned a little ugly last week (hopefully now all resolved). My 2nd eldest daughter go engaged earlier this year and has now moved out of our house and the area she grew up in to be with her fiance in Warrington. As a result of this, my wife will be back to the UK in a couple of weeks to sort out what needs doing to the house to get it in a state where it could be rented or sold.
My plans to get in shape for my "Mount Diablo Challenge" got somewhat put on hold, but since my return from the UK my wife and I have new bikes, and now I’m on something that’s much better suited to my size than my old bike I’ve recommenced regular cycle rides in the hope that I can still get myself ready for a ride up Mount Diablo before the end of the year.
This past weekend saw Memorial day here in America, and we had the pleasure of seeing a flight of old World War 2 planes at the local airport at Livermore. Having had the chance to get inside and crawl through some of the planes on exhibit there, I am left in awe of the brave souls that flew these into battle to try and keep the freedoms we all to often take for granted.
If there is one thing to come out of the past couple of months it’s an appreciation that life is too short to be taken up worrying about some of the petty stuff we all too easily fill our days with. Worry less about the petty stuff, and live life to build memories that you hope you don’t have to leave to your loved ones as a legacy.

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