Christmas – 2004

A 2004 Merry Christmas to one and all from sunny (if freezing) Georgia! That’s right, this is one of the first years in the past 60 of this letter, where we can’t boast of toasty temperatures and basking in the sun. This year has been a real eye opener! Not that it hasn’t been sneaking up all the time, but all of a sudden, Alyssa (Karen/Barry) is a senior at the University of Georgia, Jake (Diane) and Robin (Bruce/Pam) are freshmen at Kansas State and Milledgeville State respectively.

Joyce and I had an eye-opening trip to the National Arbor Day Foundation Conference Center in Nebraska City, NE, where I gave a talk. On the way we stopped to visit with Jake at Kansas State U over family weekend – another eye opener. The festivities included a mystery dinner. It was fun especially when Joyce got picked as a prime suspect in a heinous poisoning episode. She was placed in a line-up where she was characterized as “big Momma” in a motorcycle gang.
I though Jake was going to bust a gut laughing (me, I was under the table). The next day people came up to Joyce as we walked around campus and said: “we thought it was you all along”. Being a college kid, Jake had a car of course. It can be best described as a “college kid’s car”. When we weren’t walking (at night and dark) he drove us around. When I got in I reclined to the point where I looked like Alan Shepard before his sub-orbital lift off into space. Trouble was, when I looked to the left, Jake was right next to me.

So far back were we, there was only slight differentiation between front and back seat, where Joyce was compressed after a contortionist entry. When I (and I am not making this up) tried to buckle up, I couldn’t find my seat belt, while Joyce was grunting in the back because her belt wouldn’t close, basically because (you guessed it) it was mine. Brother, the parts just don’t bend like they used to. But it really was a lot of fun, and Jake showed us a great time. The Conference Center in Nebraska City was fabulous. There were lots of apple orchards, apples and great apple pies.

There were trails all over the place that highlighted some of their windbreak research, and fuel wood plantations. The plantations supplied all the raw materials needed to power the Conference center complex. We left Nebraska City and went on out to Tribune and spent a couple of days with Diane and her other four rapidly growing kids, before heading back home. We were not home long before the unique ’04 Hurricane season was upon us. Although we had no direct damage, we had marginal impacts including a lot of rain, a few stiff breezes and visitors from Ponte Vedra, FL.

Joyce’s brother Lou and his wife Genevieve decided to avoid the threat of “Francis”, so they and the two dogs (dachshunds) Ginger and Spice decided to spend a few days with us. We had a great time and considered that one of the storm’s benefits. Thanksgiving was upon us before we knew it and found ourselves at George and Karen’s for that celebration. We hadn’t been over in a while, and the kids have really grown, and it is fun to have a real conversation with them.

George put the turkey (not me) on the smoker at 11:00 PM and the next day we had a terrific dinner. This was a great cap on a wonderful year. We hope yours was as well

With Love and Blessings for a fabulous 2005,