I trust you had a very Merry Christmas, because judging from when this letter is being written, you won't be receiving it until after you have celebrated. But, that's just fine--maybe you'll have time to read it this year for a change. Seriously, the Holidays are always busy times, but this year seemed particularly hectic. Perhaps that was partially due to Ray's absence for business trips the first three weeks, so I was missing my chief helper and go-fer for decorating, etc.
The holidays started early with Thanksgiving Dinner wth all the trimmings in October when Paul was home for a long weekend and everyone could be here. Then on Thanksgiving Day we celebrated without Mark, Pam and Paul.
A graduation followed by a party on the 21st injected another activity into an always busy December.
Bev and Rick are already in Florida to spend Christmas with Rick's family. Both Paul and Mark are home now for the Christmas celebration.
January found us in Puerto Rico at a beautiful mega resort courtesy of Ray's company. We had multiple planned activities and toured San Juan. It was a nice respite after the holidays.
February's Monterey weekend was to have two top callers, but one had back surgery, so we had fun with only one. Then in March we made our annual trip to Bolado Park, near Hollister to dance to two other favorite callers.
April in King City we enjoyed callers from California and Texas. We came away exhausted, so that means we had a lot of fun! You have to understand how Square Dancers evaluate these things.
May and Mike in Monterey are always a good combination. Mike is a friend and terrific caller. We always enjoy being with him. Memorial Day weekend we were at the convention center in nearby Oakland.
To San Antonio in June for the National Square Dance Convention we trekked along with 14,000+ other square dancers. Visited Austin and the LBJ digs before the dance and Corpus Christi afterwards.
July found us dancing near Santa Cruz and Labor Day weekend we were in really hot Chico--not sure we'll do that again, even if the callers are great!
In September we spent a long weekend in Portland and Seattle--no square dancing, just sightseeing between Ray's Friday appointment in Seattle and a Monday appointment in Portland. I haven't been up that way since 1981 (Ray goes there on business all the time), so we enjoyed the Seattle sights, including the Air Museum on Boeing's field, the locks in Seattle, which are quite different from Chicago's, the Space Needle, and a drive to Mt. Rainier, whose view was totally obscured by fog. Oh well, the same thing happened at several places in Ireland last year, and we traveled a lot farther to see them.
In October, we decided to go to a Louisville dance. It was fun, and we did some sightseeing in the area. Churchill Downs was interesting even to non-racing enthusiasts like us. Fort Knox was imposing and "huge." But, we didn't get to visit the gold.
November is Napa month. The second weekend we dance in Napa, then just before Thanksgiving we go with twelve other friends to a hotel and a grand dinner at a well-chosen restaurant. Good friends and good food, always an unbeatable combination!
Because five couples in our group were celebrating 40th Anniversaries in 1996, I decided to have a 50's theme party for the 1956 retrospective. It was great fun--lots of poodle skirts, guys in slicked back hair and T-shirts with the sleeves rolled up. It was a hoot, and the pictures are great!
Our gourmet group meets seven times a year--six regular dinners and the annual surprise at the Men's dinner, which is always an excellent dinner! Pinochle the first Friday of the month, and a third Friday dance keep those blank days on the calendar to a minimum.
I keep busy with the law library in Walnut Creek, where I try to keep my time to a minimum. Did some consulting with the Port of Oakland again, and just last week coordinated the move of a San Francisco law library for the second time--this time just within the same building instead of across town.
In my spare time I try to keep the household together, play bridge, sew, exercise, and am now doing our investing via the Internet. My investment decisions were keeping pace with and oftentimes ahead of our financial planner's, so I decided to go ahead and take it on as my own project, after all, our future does depend on it--not our financial planner's, right?
The dry cleaners at the holidays offered customers a discount on their cleaning for donating food, toys or a coat for the needy. The coat program was sponsored by a San Francisco radio station which gave him free publicity--a nice payback for a charitable effort.
All this, of course, takes time away from his avocation of jumping out of air planes (take a deep breath, Mom). He trained with World Champion, "Airspeed" team, vacationed in Lost Prairie, Montana, earned field records jumping at Lake Elsinore, Taft and Byron, and two second places and one third place in a 20-way competition. He tells me his more than 700 jumps mean he has twelve hours of "free fall" time. That is falling from 13,000 or 14,000 feet in the air for over twelve hours of his life without a parachute! (Gasp!)
She visited friends in Southern California over Thanksgiving, so
we missed her on that holiday, but she'll be here for Christmas.
Gail Marie & Monica
A vacation with Monica to Disneyland in July was followed by a trip to Mexico with friends in August, so she did have some time to relax.
Monica made her First Communion in May. She spent the summer at a camp where she enjoyed sports and crafts. Soccer this fall in fourth grade, and her team got trophies for their efforts. She is playing clarinet at school, is in chorus and in Girl Scouts again. She will be ten years old this April--can hardly believe that!
Together they managed to ski in Steamboat, Colorado in March, when Rick had a June conference in Florida, Bev met him so they went to Disney World, MGM Studios and to visit his parents in Sarasota. In San Diego in August they saw Rick's sister and brother. Later Bev visited a high school friend in Orange County while Rick had his annual "golf outing" in Palm Springs. A November trip to Boston was for a friend's wedding, and now they are in Florida for Christmas with Rick's entire family.
They also did some major redecorating and remodeling at home including a gorgeous new wood (Purgo?)floor that Rick did with the help of a few friends! Wait till next year--this report will be a little different.
From February to August he worked at the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia National Laboratories in Livermore, California where he did research on alternative liquid fuels derived from biomass (trees, grass, etc.). No, he did not get to play with the nuclear weapons at Sandia.
Paul is home for the holidays, but returns to Madison the first part of January. We will enjoy his visit while we can.
We pray you had a happy and healthy Holiday Season. And may God be with you in the coming New Year!