Another year ends. Cmas is here. New Years around the corner. 24/12/11 as I write this. A Saturday where I am.
For all my years living south of the equator I never get used to Cmas being so dern hot. But then I don’t like the cold that much so, gi’me hot and humid. But it don’t make Cmas feel right. Even if it is 90 degrees out with 90% humidity and we got nice beaches and salty-seas, it don’t feel right.
I chose to work through this weekend, close the year out, and move into 2012 with my books all sorted and the business sorted. We’ll have our family get-together next weekend in Gizo. Our calendar year is our financial year. A bit of a pain, really. So much happening at the end of each year.
But then there is always so much happening at the end of every year…
Most of my tribe is out and doing their own thing or just working. Cmas is the busiest time of the year for our biz. Grace has gone to Choiseul. She’s been trying to get up there for a while and this worked so she is off, by herself, visiting Susuka for the first time in decades. It did not feel so remote when Grace and I lived there in the 80s. But life was simpler then. There were less demands on us and our small family. There was only a few people to be concerned about.
Now, I think we have just tipped 25 members to our tribe. Qalo had his 3rd son last year. Terry has his 2nd arriving very soon. So the number of bodies we as a family business cater to is expanding.
I know, for a guy who talks of being retired, I do take a bit too much care over the business I built. I know my grown kids think I should maybe just not be too active in it all. But I also know that if I am gone too long (like last October when I was playing in the Rockies) my “managers” start to call me to discuss things.
Business-wise we are a funny and eclectic mix of skills and abilities… Annie, educated at Goldie College and then in Wisconsin, is the more mature of the young tribal members She has her three kids, Angelo, Angelina and Ana. Husband Tony is a pretty steady guy. And she is a mom and a wife who has a big job. She does the admin for the family biz. And she’s been doing it long enough to be very competent. Paul, the youngest, always wanted to be a chef. He finished his high school in aus and went and studied and got his tickets to be a professional cook. Then I put him to work on our tanker, the LC Alcol. Paul, like most pro-chefs, is a sensitive and thoughtful guy. By default, I needed a boss on the boat, he has ended up being the company man on the vessel. Now he is 24 years old and has a 60 yr old skipper who is under his control. Not that Paul needs to know the runnings of the boat, (though he is good at learning and will probably end up with both the skippers and engineers tickets) he has to run the business of the boat. Terry is a trained seaman and he should be running the boat but his young and pregnant wife, Val, is not happy when he goes for weeks and weeks. And I do not blame her. So Terry is beached right now, preparing for his second child. Qalo lives with his wife and three sons near Choiseul Bay. We have found that Qalo does not do too well in town and he has found his place, which is keeping a fire burning in the village, for the rest of us. Ozzie recently returned to town after a few years in Susuka. His boys are getting big and he wanted to put them in school. So he came back and picked up his trade as a welder/ hot worker. Last I saw him, he was merrily welding away on a pile of steel for Don. Don is the big cheese of the Gizo depot. Don is a combination of too smart and too lazy, but he has done a great job on Gizo, rebuilding the place there. Connie is supposedly the CEO of the company. She has her lawyer degrees plus a couple other associated licenses and tickets. She is hard working and knows her stuff… but don’t let her anywhere near the numbers. Leave that to Don and Annie. Lawyers and numbers don’t mix.
I have spent this past year basically remodeling the family biz so I can hand it over. Now I am not going anywhere soon and have quite expensive tastes and like to play a lot so it is imperative that the biz goes well and prospers for a long time to come. I do not have any pension to social security. I need an income, as does my wife. So I need to make sure the “next generation” keeps the biz going for some time to come.
Which is not too hard. I think Grace and I have built a strong foundation from which the kids can jump. Between the fuel depot, the Honiara properties and the shipping biz we are pretty much positioned for the future. No matter what comes… civil wars, economic collapse, natural disaster… we’ve seen it all. And survived.
Speaking of Grace, the main reason she has run off to Choiseul is that she will soon be moving, pretty much permanently, to the land of Oz. We’re putting grandsons Angelo and Mendozza into school there so Grace becomes full-time caregiver. I will of course assist and enjoy join in on the fun. But Grace is in charge of this project. Grace won’t admit it but for us it’s a vicarious regaining of past experiences squandered… Angelo and Mendoza are very neat young people and spending time with them in a setting like the sunshine coast will be a gas… the school they will attend offers surfing as a PE activity. We live 15 miles from numerous good beaches. Have huge ocean areas to fish and play in. I can anticipate things like flying lessons, riding motorcycles, going on long weekend drives into the “outback”. We will have a blast.
My numerous trips back to the US of A in recent years has brought me back in tune with my siblings. I saw them all this past year. Or should I say, “I saw them ALL”?
The big event this past year was we ALL got together for mom’s 84th birthday. It was a hoot.
It was grand to see baby-bro Bruce last May. Had not seen him since 98. I had never met his kids, Eli and Elora. Melitta is always a gas, especially while drinking good wine. I hope to be in their neighborhood mid 2012 and look forward to seeing them again, then. The Leavens are always good to see. It is always good to see folks who, like me, are getting old gracefully. Angela and Doug make Iowa fun through their generosity. Their Lake House is a buzz. My pups reckon it is the place to be. Of course Ma and Pa are always great to be around. I am certain that they sleep for weeks after we visit.
My travels in and out of Montana have increased and shall remain in the rise… I owe a debt of gratitude to Dok Chris for haranguing me until I did visit Missoula. And now that I have I aint gonna stop. Bought a monster Dodge 4×4 and have parked it at the Dok’s place. From here on out base camp will be Missoula and the Hemmers of the Solomon’s will bounce in and out of the US from there.
So another calendar years phlashes past. We are all older. Are we wiser?
I guess age shows me the need to enjoy life more. The need to stay mentally, physically and spiritually active is paramount. No time to rest or relax. Gotta stay moving and active. Use it or lose it. In so many venues.
So next year, 2012, will be a big year of change for us. Grace and I take up semi-permanent residence in Oz. the semi is in reference to me. I don’t think a permanent residence is on my list for a while.
2012 will see the “kids” securing their grasp in the reigns of control over the family biz. I do look forward to seeing this process through to successful completion. Though, as a side note, it is good for my ego to note that of the double handful of kids we have raised, they each and collectively do not have the full skill-set I do. We have the legal and the numbers and the management bases covered. But we don’t have the engineer yet or the master tactician. Guess that will come with age.
There are so many friends and family members we do wish the best to… hard to even start to name them. I still wonder where Uncle Teddy may be. We do of course miss Steve Sirell. Jenny… big smiles your way. Willis and his ladies always rate high on the list. As do the Guilds. Uncle JHHB, where are you? Would love to have a long yarn over a tall drink. I have wondered a lot recently about Richard J.
I normally mourn how each year sees the loss of contact with a few more friends. But this year was different… the modern social networking systems got me back in touch with a number of folks from my distant and foggy past. Mostly from my youthful days in Independence, Iowa: I was tracked down by Dr. Rick in Florida, got in touch with Wayne in N’Orleans, found Tate and Byron in Iowa. All very, very good, indeed.
And, it all counts down.
All the best and keep the cards and letters coming….
… oh yea…
images from 2011