January, 2016
Year in Review 2015, by Linda Gamso

The Christmas decorations came down today and went upstairs to their proper storage place. I enjoyed decorating this year and liked the results.

That’s new in 2015 and a return of how I felt about Christmas from my days as a teenager when I liked the holiday. During my adult years until now, I resented all of the effort required to deliver the quintessential Christmas holiday with decorations, presents, cards, dinners and I feel guilt for such abundance when so many have so little.

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Health

I told Kelley (Physical Therapist) that I entered old age this year with my health problems. I began to think I would live the rest of my life with constant, chronic pain from my compressed lumbar spine. In fact, I received excellent medical care and ended the year in good health and no pain. But I got the taste of what it means to be old when you feel chronic aches and pains that I never had before. I try not to talk about my health, but, sometimes it comes up and I tell my story. Here it is.

June 4, 2014 (the day we moved) I started with hip pain that kept me awake at night. Finally saw my doctor April 2015 who ordered hip xray and referred me to hip specialist. June 2015, hip specialist says I will likely need hip replacement in next five years; nothing to do right now. Sent medical documents to ‘Best Doctors’ and was interviewed by a nurse and doctor from ‘Best Doctors’ for a second opinion. Second opinion said not hip, probably spine; they recommended spine xray and MRI. My doctor complied with suggestion and then sent me to Rehabilitative Medicine doctor. She also prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine that worked right away. Rehabilitative Medicine doctor ordered physical therapy and gave me a spinal injection. That worked and I’ve been treating myself with physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medicine and yoga. It works beautifully and I feel I can control my condition. I do feel pain from time to time, but, that’s when I fail to do PT.

Speaking of yoga, Gary and I have practiced with two yoga instructors this whole year. We go twice weekly and have made friends with another couple who do the same. The classes are included in our monthly club dues so I feel like we get quite a benefit from our club membership because we do yoga.

Just recently, a NYT’s article reported how twelve yoga poses done daily for several years does increase bone density compared to a group who did not do the poses or any yoga. We have incorporated those twelve poses into our twice weekly home routine done in our basement.

Between home and club, we practice four times a week. Included in the twelve poses is the corpse pose. It is just like it sounds and I honestly felt like a corpse when I did it last week. Now that’s what we call mindfulness. I was so in the moment, I thought I died.

My dance room, which Gary gets to use anytime, holds mementoes from my past (and present) interests and values. Remember those Successories posters? Mine say ‘Quality’ with a red rose and this quote: “Countless unseen details are often the only difference between mediocre and magnificent” The other says ‘Commitment’ with a photo of a women’s crew team and this quote: “When everyone moves forward together, success takes care of itself.”

Along the walls are posters from the opening night of the KC Ballet for the past five years; a photo composition of my mother and me at the same age (60). A photograph Gary took of Zebras from his trip to Botswana. It has four Zebras in the photo (let’s just say they represent the important men in my life) with three of four looking straight ahead and one looking straight at me. That one is Gary – always watching out for me.

Dad gave me the framed memory of the Livingston Manor Basketball teams from ‘59 – ’62; teams he coached to a NY state record of 43 wins without a loss. I remember the game that broke the steak. Many people cried. I don’t think I cried, nor my father and mother. Somehow, that photo collage reminds me to practice carefully and completely. Anyway, that hangs in a corner of my dance room.

These three people, Gary, my mother, my father, are the three most influential people in my life, in that order. I learned feminism from my mother and I thank her for that. It has helped me cope in life with circumstances that could be disrespectful to me. I give it back to men and they don’t know how to deal with it.

Here’s the indelible incident in my upbringing that makes me know I can and should handle myself. (Names are changed to protect the guilty.) My father’s friend and colleague, Michael, were out one night at a nightclub when my mother and Jean (Michael’s wife) went to the same one and found Michael with another woman. On the telephone after that incident, I heard my mother say to Jean “Cy told me I had no business being at that place and I told Cy he had no business telling me where I can and cannot be.” That told me I was in charge of my life.
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Brother keeps watch, while siblings graze in Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

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Artist Yearnings

I spoke last year about learning the piano and my goal was to know 20 pieces well that I like to play, and, play Christmas carols in preparation for Christmas with my grandchildren. On both counts, I have made progress. I do have 15 pieces I like to play and I play them sometimes (rarely, but sometimes) well. I continue to play/practice piano 4 – 5 hours a week even though I stopped taking lessons in July. When we were visiting Nancy & Pete on our way back from New York, Nancy helped me select two piano books that might be somewhat challenging, but definitely doable and fun. They are. (Kansas City does not have a music store!!!!!)

I like to think of myself as a dancer, but, a better descriptor would be movement artist. By that, I mean, I listen to music and move through the music for up to two hours with combinations of routines that exercise all parts of my body for strength, flexibility and balance. I like to dance when there’s nobody watching.

My piano and dance time are the true gifts of retirement.

Golf

I won three Ladies’ 18 Hole tournaments this year but still feel lousy about my game. I won: Member/Member, The Eclectic, Grandmother, grand other. I also won weekly games that are part of the Ladies’ 18 Hole schedule, AND, I won most improved golfer of the year. That doesn’t stop me from feeling frustrated on the course most times.

I’ve lost distance on my drives and I can’t hit a fairway wood at all. Our club course is 500 yards longer than where we used to play and that makes it difficult for me to get to par even if I do everything well. My goal for 2016 (as it was for 2015) is to break 90, even once. Last year, I wanted to shoot regularly in the 80’s. Now, I’m just looking to take off seven strokes from my best round last year (96), one time.
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Travel — Mexico

We visited Mexico in January for our Sisters’ Weekend including Bruce and Gary. It was the first I had seen Patricia since her surgery in 2014. She moved well considering the trauma she went through with her hip replacement surgery. Since then, she’s lost weight and seems back to normal. She said climbing up and down the stairs helps.

Read Gary’s eBook about
travel to Mexico with the Pesavento sisters.
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Cusick Hacienda sunsets, from Gary’s 2015 trip


Travel — Arizona & Colorado

Our visit to Arizona in February turned out quite pleasant. In fact, we extended what was a discounted stay at a Marriott resort property for an extra day at their retail rate which we don’t usually pay. We played golf and I shot a decent round on a course that had 118 sand traps. Somehow I managed to avoid all of that sand which I can’t seem to do at Country Club of Leawood.

We thought we might try skiing again in Durango, CO, but decided against it even though we had a beautiful snow fall that made our stay in Durango seem like a perfect ski town place. Glad we did not ski because my leg was troubling me and at that time, I didn’t know what the problem was.

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A night at the Strater Hotel, in Durango, Colorado

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A walk in the park, at Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

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A hike in the park, at Pinnacle Peak Park, Scottsdale, Arizona


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Travel — Los Angeles for a wedding

Rebecca and Milo married this year so we spent a week in LA with family. Mariela joined us for the event. I shall remember Marlis, after learning Ryan was dating a Latina woman, say “I’m sorry for you. Latina women always get what they want.”

Not sure if that’s true for Mariela but I thought it was comical of Marlis to say it. Suzy gave me her camera to photograph the day for her and she said some of my photos were her favorite!

For family, Gary provides memories from the full week of celebration, with our travel to Los Angeles for the
Rebecca Stanley & Milo Train wedding.

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Travel — upstate New York

Our travels this year took me to New Paltz in July for my 45th high school reunion. It was really a boomer reunion so everyone in my family attended. Kathy, who has remained child-free, spent at least a half hour talking with me about how much she enjoys her nieces and nephews and how much she does with them. It seemed she was somehow justifying her decision not to have children. I just thought, ‘no explanation required’.

Dorcas Rohres told me her fantastic story of how she met her husband at age 49. Her story took place in NYC, she mentioned the Hamptons and a shared cab ride where she and her husband kissed for the first time and sparks flew! She was most interesting having started a vodka business in the last six years because she was no longer wanted in the design business in NY. I said “Even a beautiful woman like you can’t keep a job past 55.”

I asked Joe Sarubbi what he would do if he retired, he said “chase JoAnne around.” I thought that so romantic since they married when JoAnne was 18. I was in her wedding.

I had a great time at the reunion dancing the night away. I suffered for two days afterwards with my hip problem making me think I may need to give up dancing. But now I know I can still dance.

Gary provides more in his ebook, Pesavento high school reunion.


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After a long walk, at the Monk Bar, an institution in Brussels, Belgium

Travel — Brussels, Munich, Vienna and Budapest

Our final trip was to Europe. Brussels was my favorite because we shared it with Mike and Nancy who have lived there for 1 ½ years. Vienna and Budapest with Sandy & Bruce was so enjoyable. Sandy wants to go, go, go and doesn’t consider the cost of sightseeing. I sensed that Gary would have eliminated a tour or two were we on our own. In Berlin in four days, we took one walking tour and after that ‘rolled our own’ with trips to museums. I don’t feel like I got to know Berlin very well.

Gary provides a few eBooks he did:










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Schloss Schönbrunn Palace grounds, Vienna, Austria

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On guard, at Godollo Castle, Budapest, Hungry

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October dinner outside at Chez Leon Café, Brussels

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A moment with John, from Brussels’ Grand Place square


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Home & Hearth

After 1½ years in the new home, we’ve learned about most of the unpleasant surprises we should have expected from a 50+ year old house. We developed a crack in the foundation that caused some water leakage into the basement right near the bar we just put in last year. So, we did foundation repair and mold removal. Hopefully, that’s behind us.

We replaced the flat roof over the hearth room that was leaking water during the heavy rains of the spring. Why would anyone put in a flat roof? Never again.

Otherwise, I’ve grown fond of the home for exactly the reasons that made us buy it in the first place. The first floor layout suits me just fine and the basement office for Gary suits him. We spend our days on different floors in the house and it works out amazingly well. We use the dance room in the basement at least twice a week for 1 – 2 hours of exercise each time. I love having that space.

We wanted the location close to Corinth Square and we do walk to the grocery, library and other stores at least twice a week. Tonight, Gary walked to the store for a can of tomatoes to put in his soup; the natural thing to do.

We spent more hours working our gardens than we’ve done in all previous years combined. Our surprise spring display of daffodils delighted us; we were motivated to improve all around. We built what I call our ‘Spanish Steppes’ with our own design and labor. We created or changed two other gardens, moved plants, trim, trim, trim everywhere to make things look cultivated. More work next year but I think we’ve made improvements to the gardens that we both enjoy.



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Our Spanish steps



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Brett turns 31, with Katie

Family — Brett

Brett had a wonderful year following the Royals’ through their World Series Championship season. He watched approximately 90% of the Royals’ games and went to about 30 of them including a series in Chicago and Minneapolis. He has more Royals’ pennant gear than your average KC fan. As an example, see on right. The cuff links will be used for three formal events he has coming up this winter.

Brett took on a project to update his work’s web site. That included photos of all of the employees of this 50 person firm. We helped by providing our camera and getting behind the lens for a day of shooting in Overland Park and Topeka.

Brett and Katie Adair have developed a relationship that seems serious. She seems to be really good for Brett and I like her.

I love how frequently we see Brett – he stops by often, we eat dinner together at least once a week. I wrote a letter to Brett this year in response to a text from him about the Pope showing leniency toward divorcees who left the church. It seems that Brett would like it if I believed. I did not send. See it below.

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“Uncle” Brett

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World Series champion cuff links

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August 8, 2015 (Not Sent)

My Dear Brett,

I was interested by our texts back and forth about the Pope’s willingness to re-look at Catholics divorced. It made me think I should tell you what I believe. It comes from my lifetime of experience, which is plentiful from almost any measure.

I believe in an inner spirituality that leads us to love others starting with our family and spreading our love as far as it can go. That is what binds humans to each in progress toward a better world for all. People who work for positive change that helps other people in need epitomize the kind of grace such an individual would have if they possessed this spirituality. Christianity espouses love as a principle.

I think this spirituality can be nurtured through education: reading is what makes us human. When we stop reading and learning about what others know and think then we become less able to understand issues and solve problems we all share.

An example of a virtue of education (i.e., positive externality) is our ability to master the technical aspects of trade. Most all economists agree with the concept of comparative advantage and how that helps all involved in trade transactions (trade lifts all boats). We couldn’t do that if we didn’t have education to negotiate the agreements, write the rules, and, most important, enforce the rules. Business people are educated. Education provides a means for everyone to prosper.

I think this spirituality can be modified (e.g., evolved) through violence. It’s very hard to love and show forgiveness for a violent person, group, nation or religion. But it’s not impossible as shown though the family members of the victims in the recent Black church killings. They were extraordinary in their grace. I’m certain most of us don’t have that grace under such daunting challenges.

This is the strong Democrat in me. A Democrat BELIEVES government can fix human problems. They believe, for example, that government has a role in writing and ENFORCING the rules of trade and many other rules deemed necessary for a rich and civilized society that cares for the longterm prospects of that society (really, the global society must be considered). Institutions need to set the rules fairly and enforce them vigorously; everyone needs to be considered; decide in favor of the least among you. A citation to the philosopher who proposed this decision-making criteria is due here. He was seeking an ethical society.

So there’s a whole ecosystem of institutions and individuals who interact with each other all the time. Through these interactions we have a harmonious community where love rules, until it doesn’t. Unfortunately, it so often doesn’t. That’s why we strive for a more perfect union.

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A day in the fields, Ryan and Mariela in Thailand


Family — Ryan

Ryan passed his Professional Engineer license test in April. I have tremendous confidence in Ryan to have a successful career no matter what he chooses to do.

Mariela and Ryan shared many fun times in Malaysia, Thailand & Singapore, Las Vegas, Los Angeles (twice), San Diego, Kansas and probably other places I don’t recall. That mirrors Gary’s and my year apart in ’81 - ’82 when I lived in NY and Gary lived in LA. When you’re together, you do fun stuff. Ryan & Mariela always seems to find an evening to spend with us when she’s in town. We really appreciate seeing her when we do.

I heard the nicest remark about Ryan at the Gardner Christmas party. I spoke with Taylor Gardner (John’s wife – John is Ryan’s very good friend) who told me the first time she met Ryan, she knew he was a great person and she so hoped Ryan would like her because she knew he was important to John. I found that comment so touching.

The Bow Tie Affair continues to entertain their family and friends with their gigs at the Levee and other private parties around town. Ryan’s interest in music is growing evidenced by his purchase of a guitar to learn and a keyboard with which to get re-acquainted.

Family — Gary

Gary and I have settled into a routine that suits us; two floors help keep us out of each other’s way but we enjoy breakfast, lunch, dinner, exercise and evening together. He is still, the kindest person I know.
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They see the world at street level

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End of a great day Gary spent with his friend Steve, collaborating on photography and travel, then, cocktails in the yard


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Gardner Christmas party






Friends

The Whites have been friends for a very long time. We enjoy sharing time in each other’s homes (including their lake home) and dining in restaurants - very glad to rely on their friendship.

Our good friends, the Reid’s, have remained true blue – they served Christmas Eve dinner this year and hosted War of the Grills too. We’ve spent other times together this year as they continue to be so generous to us with their tickets to fun events around Kansas City.

We’re cultivating our friendship with Steve Lumpkin who hired Gary to come to KC 21 years ago. He’s very bright, wealthy and remarkably human. He connects with the wildlife he goes to photograph twice a year in Botswana. I even heard him call lions ‘people’. We have the best conversations about topics I’ve not spoken about to anyone else.

Our newest neighbors, Ellenberger’s and Parisi’s watch our house when we’re gone, invite us to their home for entertainment and we go places with them around the area. We spent the 5th (final) game of the world series at the Ellenberger’s, celebrating the victory together. We lucked into some very good territory on this street for neighbors.

We invited our CCL (Country Club of Leawood) yoga friends, Mary & Bruce, to dinner in November and to join us to hear the Bow Tie Affair at the Levee. Theresa Patterson came up for the event too. It was right before Thanksgiving. We’ve played golf with Bruce and Mary twice, but, they like to bet men against women and I’m not good enough to help our team.

Again, the Patterson’s shared Thanksgiving with us. We hosted Mariela too and had a wonderful day filled with food, conversation, drinks, games, (TV and otherwise), scotch, cigars and bucket list conversations. Katie joined us later for ‘Taboo’ and the interesting conversations.

The Gardner’s continue to set a wonderful example for how to celebrate family. Meredith got married this year at the Folly Theatre downtown and the Bow Tie Affair played. (I did a ‘Rent the Runway’ dress rental for this wedding that was lots of fun.) The Gardner Christmas party has been a highlight of our Christmas season for the last 10 years. See Gary’s video, with
Ryan and John Gardner entertaining the crowd with a campaign song they plan to offer Jeb Bush.

Since December 2014 I’ve reconnected with my former neighbor from New Paltz, Mark Demers. I spoke about how he found me last year. We became Facebook friends. I read most of his posts and his weekly blog. He encouraged me to show kindness to our neighbors. So I invited Ellenberger’s and Parisi’s for a holiday meal. He makes me think of the needy. But I haven’t done anything about that.

I yearn for a female friend with whom I can share my life and political interests on a regular basis. Maybe she is to be found on the golf course, but, so far, I haven’t found her (of course, I have my sisters.)







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A day off the runway, as we attend Meredith Gardner Kirby’s wedding with Lance

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White, Reid & Gamso families at War of the Grills

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Traditional Thanksgiving with the Paterson’s, close friends since before Ryan was born

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120-degree view of the Ellenberger living area prior to their Halloween party which preceded the final World Series game (next night, seen below). Shot with iPhone 6s.

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