Christmas – 1979

To the “what you never wanted to know about the Barker’s but they told you anyway” fan club. Welcome to the thirteenth annual missive of yuletide greeting from all of us (both near and far). After last years’s rash of activity, there just must not be much more to say; right? Wrong! Like it or not, life still seems to zip right along.

Karen and Barry live in Statesboro, Georgia, where Karen is a registered nurse in the local hospital. While we have no grandchildren yet, they apparently decided to fill the interim void by purchasing a dog – not just any little ole’ dog, but an American Pit Bulldog appropriately named “Jaws” (Mandy’s entire head fits within the confines of her giant maw). On one of her visits, Jaws followed Joyce into the bathroom upon which ensued the darnedest commotion you ever heard. Joyce emerged like a defeated prize fighter rhetorically asking — “what ever happened to the quiet life?”.

Bruce and Susie? Well, they are still in Athens, Georgia, where Bruce is finishing up his degree at the University of Georgia. He is still interested in photography and is working almost full-time in a color photo-lab in Athens. Bruce and Susie have a pet also, Jelly Bean — a rabbit no less. It sounds innocuous enough but don’t believe it. On a recent visit, with no one at home, he let it loose in our house. In true rabbit fashion, it “took a lap” through (and over, under and around) the entire house. An hour later Diane arrived home with Mandy, our beagle. Now being a beagle, Mandy’s normal pace, giving her the benefit of the doubt, is glacial; however, likewise being a beagle when she hit Jelly Bean’s scent, the reaction was instantaneous, explosive and almost holocostic. Every spot Jelly Bean went, so did Mandy — over, under and around.

Diane graduated from Georgia Southern in August and moved back to Jacksonville, where she is now now teaching special education at the sixth grade center in Jacksonville Beach. Judging by the ardor of her preparation, she is really enjoying it. Apparently along with other responsibilities is that of the resident hamster, which spends cold weekends with us. Poor Mandy, as if Jaws and Jelly Bean weren’t enough, Charlie the hamster puts her on a neurotic high almost equal to the time the two squirrels plummeted from the trees right on top of her. In the ensuing flurry that was mighty but brief, the squirrels escaped, but Mandy remained “glued” to that tree for two days hoping for a reprise.

George entered Georgia Southern this year. I can hardly believe the last of the line. He worked at the pulp mill this last summer, and event we greeted with mixed emotions. You see, we had to purchase a new car this summer. Unfortunately, that was his only transportation, thus it was two months before we even drove it and then it smelled like the #2 digester for two more months. At school he finally found a sport more violent than football — rugby — and he along with Barry (Karen’s husband) have been playing all fall and having a ball. On his trips home, a weird ritual is followed by which all his gear is dropped in one spot. The only thing that moves before he goes back is the dirty laundry (self-propelled I think). He then takes it all, jams it into someone’s car and returns to college completing the cycle — someday I’ll have to ask what is in the bag.

“Mom and Dad” had their first “without kids” vacation in August. The excuse was a paper I gave at Humolt State College in Arcata, Northern California. Joyce didn’t believe we were really going to go until the Lockheed L1011 took off for San Francisco. After wining and dining for four hours they ladled us off the plane and we spent the next day and a half in San Francisco. On then to Arcata via wine country (of course) and the redwoods. Three days in Arcata and on up to Seattle. We stayed with friends there who lived on a bay of the Puget Sound. Their yard was a small patch of grass, a dock and the bay upon which was moored their sailboat — what a trip! Joyce reflected that she didn’t know she needed that trip so much. It was then I figured I made a big mistake.

Cheers for the on-coming season and health for the new year.

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