Friday, December 18

Happy Holidays - 2015

Happy Holidays! Joyful Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Best Wishes! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan! Glædelig Jul! Gajan Kristnaskon! Hyvaa Joulua! Buorrit Juovllat! Gledileg Jol! Nodlaig Mhaith Chugnat! Buone Feste Natalizie! Natale Hilare et Annum Faustum! Pozdrevlyayu s Prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom! God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt! År Ruumsaid Juulup! Season's Greetings! Peace!
I hope this holiday greeting finds you well. It does us. And our little family of four will once again be together for the holidays!

2015 has been a year and change and adventure for Kate and for me. I retired in mid-January and we left for a planned six week trip shortly thereafter. At the end of our first full day on the road I suddenly began to feel quite strange. Thanks to some quick thinking on the part of Kate, my sister Linda and especially my brother-in-law (now known as "Saint Wood"), an ambulance was called almost immediately. Within a couple hours what had been a sudden blockage of one of the arteries to my heart had been repaired. Although it's in the "black humor" category, I was pleased to discover that my sense of humor, bad though it might be, remains intact under stress. In the ambulance as we sped to the hospital, the EMT reviewed my EKG printout, looked me in the eye and said with great gravity, "You are having a major heart attack!" It was only with great effort that I stopped myself from responding, "I didn't need the damn adjective!" It turns out that in the context "major" simply means that the blockage of one of the arteries was total. But because we reacted so promptly and the stents worked well, the short-term blockage did no long-term damage to my heart. I felt fine the next day, and have felt fine since. However, we delayed our trip and returned home to let me get used to new medicines and do some "medical stuff."

In late March we left again on an abbreviated version of the trip we had originally planned. This time everything went smoothly! Kate's mother's 90th birthday celebration had been postponed for a couple of months, but the event was great when it finally happened. And, because of the delay, Madeline was able to join us for the party. After the party, we visited Baltimore, made our way to the home of Kate's friend Carolyn for a wonderful week in the hills of North Carolina and then wandered back to Minnesota by way of Asheville; Lexington, Kentucky; and the home of our friends Tom and Kathy in Peoria. A little slide show is attached to give you some visual sense of Opus 2 of our post-retirement trip east (the slides may not load well on iPads or phones).

Kate and I are settling well into retired life. It's been great fun, but there are adjustments to make. Fortunately, we enjoy one another's company. Plus, like a couple of two year olds, Kate and I are really good at parallel play. For example, we've learned that it works better for us to play Words with Friends from separate rooms on our iPads rather than at a Scrabble board in one location. I believe this may have something to do with my game playing style. I blame my parents.
Madeline continues to teach in Madison. For the first time in seven years of teaching, she is teaching the same basic course for a second year in a row. Last spring she completed her masters in Experiential Education. We were proud to go to her graduation and were the only non-class members invited to the party the night prior to the graduation ceremony.
There is some small chance that our invitation to this prestigious event was related to the fact that we agreed to cook a paella for the group. But we like to think it was because of our exceptional parenting and personalities. Madeline is pondering yet another step into full adulthood - a home purchase in the Madison area. We are hopeful that in addition to an economic role in the process, she will avail herself of Kate's great skill in interior design and all things culinary and of my home handyman skills. We like Madison and especially like hanging around with our favorite daughter.
Another favored destination is Denver (or any location that includes Peter). He continues to love Denver. His job at Academic Impressions continues to go well. He has taken great advantage of the mountains, hiking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter. In at least one way he is his mother's son. He is definitely the family's most creative chef. It's really fun to watch the man at work in the kitchen. Peter has also been an active wedding attender this year. It seemed to me that he was on his way to a wedding every couple of weeks this spring and summer. One of the weddings was in Chicago and involved our whole family. It also gave us a chance to spend a bit of time with Peter's girlfriend Erin. In at least one way Peter does take after me. He's very good at finding an excellent partner.
Our year has been busy, replete with cabin time (with lots of guests, only one of which was a bear), birthday celebrations, high school reunions (Stan), books (both), food preparation and consumption (Kate, with some assistance in the smoked or grilled arena from Stan), plays and other "cultural" activities, cycling (Stan), exercise classes (Kate - the Queen of Saint Paul's east side Y), soccer and other sport watching (Stan), Hallmark Christmas movies (mostly Kate but truth be told Stan too), wine (both), bike trips, hikes, fairs (state and art) and lots of other fun activities.

In September we began a second driving trip east, which we elected to call the "M" trip, since we spent time sailing in Lake Michigan, on Mackinaw Island, visiting friends in Rockford, Michigan, at Kate's Mother's house, visiting Maddox, Musial, Mantle and Mays at the baseball hall of fame, in Montreal, in Maine, with longtime friends at a Man-Made Ohio lake (ok, it's a stretch, but it was too much fun to leave off the list), seeing Madeline in Madison and returning home to Minnesota. I hope the little slide show of the M trip I've attached will be viewable.
Have a great holiday season. Stop by any time to visit us in Saint Paul. 
Call first though. We might be on our way to your house.
(on behalf of Kate, Madeline and Peter - none of whom should be blamed in any way for the contents of this greeting)

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