Christmas – 1996

“Hi y all, guess who forgot to order Christmas cards this year? Old age is creeping up fast. Anyway, we wish everyone a happy and blessed New Year.” So went the first greeting on our first Christmas letter in 1966. I guess it still works, except we didn’t forget the cards and old age has “done crept”. If you draw a mental block on the number of years ago that was, look at the footer.

It is hard to believe (as I write this) that I am looking at 3” of snow here in Athens, GA on the 19th of Dec. Probably be as close to a white Christmas as we will ever get. Just enough to look pretty but not enough to mess things up too badly.

What a busy year! Trips to Florida, Kansas and the Olympic Games. Ahhh! The Olympics, that quad-yearly (?) extravaganza that (like a water-color picture) looks better the further away you are. All the commercial glitz aside, it was an exciting time. As most of you know, Athens hosted several venues including volley ball, women’s soccer, and rhythmic gymnastics. Joyce and I went to one event, a final in volley ball (Cuba vs. Argentina). Local vendors did well including Bruce and Pam and their frame shops. Outside vendors hoping to make a “bundle” (parking lot moguls, traveling circus and street vendors at a downtown festival) took serious “baths” however. People just didn’t stray far from their venues.

Karen (Atlanta) and George (Montgomery) got togther and went out to visit Diane in Kansas during the spring break. They had a good trip and a first-hand look at what real flat means in terms of terrain. Karen invited Diane’s oldest boy (Jake) to visit them in Kennesaw during the summer, which he did. Our trip to Kansas this summer in July coincided with Jake’s return and we drove to Colorado Springs to pick him up. That is quite a drive from Tribune across the plains. Many, many cows and (to my surprise) many antelopes as well.

They are cute four legged “vacuum cleaners” that present farmers with all kinds of problems. We had a good visit, but on to “corn cob pipes” and jugs of “white lightning” as we headed home via the Ozarks in southern Missouri, Branson to be exact. But the Hatfields and Coys never saw the Ozarks like this. Being the Ozark version of Nashville, Branson is as commercial as you would expect but with class. There were very few “junk” shops. We took in a couple of shows, and saw the exquisite countryside via a “Duck”. This is an amphibious vehicle made famous in W.W. II for landing troops. We drive through the mountains and actually out on the lake. We were impressed and would like to visit the place again.

From the hills of the Ozarks to the “flatwoods” of south Florida, we went with Karen and George and their two (Ellen and Jason) on urban tree inventory business. Tree identification was a challenge (to say the least). Never mind simple oak, pine, beech maple and the many hickory spp., how about Bishovia, jacaranda, lysoloma, tabebuia (white and yellow), and the many ficus spp?

Really great (if confusing) experience. We actually located the trees’ (latitude and longitude) using the Global Positioning System (GPS) of satellites (24 of them). The trees are then entered into an automated mapping system where they can later be queried and displayed (with their attributes) on demand showing their unique geographic location.

Joyce is still substitute teaching, and I have moved into my second year of teaching. Had 21 this past quarter, and am looking at 60 for the winter. Wow! I feel more like Billy Graham speaking to the multitudes than a one-on-one teacher. It is fun though, and I am learning a lot. We hope you are all doing well and looking forward to a great new year, I know we are.

Love to all: