Winter, 2008-2009

Ho, boy, what a year. I'd love to pretend it was just like any other, but we all know that it just isn't true. It's not the end of the world (the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, right?), but there are days, I admit, when I don't want to turn on the T.V.

And yet last year ended auspiciously enough. We flew out to Seattle, dancing around airport shutdowns and delays, and had a wonderful time again. And here's why: tree, cat, kids, wii -- all the ingredients you need for a fun Christmas.
tree(50K)    cat(50K)    M & K(50K)    Wii(50K)
Not long after that, we sold our sailboat. Sunrise sailed off into the sunset, and we found ourselves, ironically, a bit at sea. John especially. Boat(45K)
What to do? Well, how about designing and building a sanctuary in the garden we love so well? After all, we were going to be spending a lot more time on land. And so began The Great Masonry Venture by Two Masonry Dufuses . We -- okay, I -- loved every backbreaking minute of it, even though it and landscaping took most of spring to do. (Did I mention we were dufuses?) We worked rain or shine, and here's how it went, from Before to After:
dirt(50K)    hole(50K)    bricks(50K)    bricks(50K)    bricks(50K)    patio(50K)   
For a larger version of the final picture, click here.
We had a very thankful interlude with my sister Christine. Thank God for Christine, who came out in early May and reminded us that there's more to life than moving bricks. We biked, we hiked, we ferried, we walked -- including the full length of Newport's famous Cliff Walk, a very public path between the Gilded Age mansions (take that, Upper Crust) and the deep blue sea. That's us in front of Mrs. Vanderbilt's little red Chinese Tea folly, tucked on the lawn of her monumental Marble House. Anta & Christine(52K)
Anta & Christine(59K) And that's us, too, on Martha's Vineyard, in front of one of the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs; I thought I'd show the most edible one.
Ah, summer. More family, more fun. The Chicago contingent was a bit too busy to make it to Newport this year. I think maybe there's something in the water out there. Remember those weddings? Remember those storks? This is what they brought:
baby(15K)    baby(15K)    baby(15K)    baby(15K)   
Yep, all boys: John, Daniel, James and Jason. No pink in this story. So far.
But the Seattle branch made it, and summer became official. No more Sunrise to sail on, but we adapted. John and the kids, afloat in our rubber ducky inflatable, took in a Jimmy Buffet performance with the rest of the Parrotheads anchored next to the outdoor Folk Festival in Newport. concert(41K)
ballpark (36K) We finally got to check out a couple of college baseball games at Cardines Field (go Gulls!), a ballpark that's one of the oldest in America.
We gave the new steamer chairs and the old beach chairs darn good workouts (this is a family of READERS). yard (36K)
Barking Crab (36K) We swam and talked and ate much too much and took many too many pictures.

And all too soon, we had to call it a summer.
Yard (36K)

As I write this, I can see a monster moon rising outside my study. It's bitter cold out. The nights are far too long, nearly as long as they get. So it was comforting to make a quilt of the digital photos we've taken this year and wrap myself in its warmth. I'll leave you with some images of the critters that come and go around here: our neighbor's cat Tigger (18 years), our friends' Scottie puppy Pepper (weeks old here) and our two gray things, Tommy and Chewy, who're somewhere in the middle.

Tigger(50K)    Pepper(50K)    Tommy & Chewy(50K)   

May God bless us, every one.

Previous Newsletter(12/10/07)

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