Christmas – 1997

As I write this listening to the Mannheim Steamroller’s latest Christmas album, I realize that this is one of those albums you can enjoy any time of the year. This is indeed appropriate. While Christmas is a one-day event, the notion is a 365-day proposition each and every year.

This is also lucky since most of you won’t get this card/letter until after the “Event”. Adding to my usual procrastination this year was a five-day stint in the Athens Regional Medical Center by Joyce for treatment of pneumonia. While serious, her recovery was speedy and she is back home now and ready (if not rarin’) to go.

Talking about seasons, fall, winter and spring have been on my mind for the past three years. These are the quarters I teach an undergraduate course in spatial information for resource management, which includes digital mapping, and imagery (photo and satellite).

My consulting business is going (more or less) and we have conducted one short course in continuing education this past year that was well received. I really enjoy this type of adult interaction. Joyce still subs at a local day care center. Someone is always looking for a substitute, and the job could easily be full time if we let it (but we won’t).

All the kids are doing fine and we periodically interact with all of them except the Kansas contingent. We didn’t ever get out there this year (sorry Toto). Rather than long trips, most of our travel has been in the form of short trips covering a variety of subjects (sort of matches our attention span at this point). In the wildlife refuge department, the most remarkable was Four Hole Swamp and the Biedler Wildlife Refuge (Audubon) near Summerville, SC.

Here is the largest and oldest remaining “virgin” stand of bald cypress in the United States. It was breath-taking and more impressive (in my mind) than the more famous Corkscrew Swamp in South Florida. We are talking diameters of 5 to 8 feet on some of those babies. Our longest trip of the year was in June to Hot Springs Arkansas (no, thank heavens, Bill wasn’t there). What an interesting place. The whole town is part of Hot Springs National Park. All the fountains in town were piping hot with steam coming out even in mid-summer.

At our age, you would have been impressed with Joyce’s swan dive! Unfortunately it wasn’t in the pool, but off the third step of the stairway in the main lobby. Draw a crowd? You bet! Except for a slightly sprained ankle, she came out OK. In August we went with George, Karen and the kids to Panama City, FL for a week. One of the highlights was piling in his new boat and motoring down to St. Joseph Bay just a couple of hours down the coast (with kids, multiply by six). Here the water was shallow. We all got out, and George and I put on the snorkels and commenced to look for scallops.

If you need a recipe for “bodies under glass” (3” of water”), that is it. All we lacked was the rotisserie. Man did our backs get cooked, but the scallops were great. One last trip in November was made to Marco Island. This trip proved one thing: when we finally retire, this is not where we will go! The moment you arrive you feel you are hermetically sealed in. Almost too much security. On that note, I better hermetically seal this letter. Hoping for the best for all of you in the new year.