It's the Holidays already in the year 2000. Whether you believe that it is the first year of the new millennium or the last year of the old millennium, it has been an extraordinary year. It seems that people are very undecided about most everything: stocks up/down, peace/war, Bush/Gore ... maybe once we decide that it really is the new millennium we can decide more important matters.
When we were in Israel and Jordan the first month of this year, it was very peaceful. Beth sat on the Mount of Olives and painted the scene of this year's card. We really fell under the spell of the ancient city and had planned to go back this year. However, by the time she got the cards printed up, the peace had been shattered and plans had to be postponed. The next month we were in Seattle celebrating Mike's mother's 90th birthday. The party was on the 10th floor of her building overlooking downtown Seattle. The weather cooperated and allowed a splendid view of the harbor and skyline. The birthday girl had such a good time, that she requested seconds of ice cream. It's clear where Mike gets his tastes.
Beth's mother achieved a milestone as well this year. After living for 3+ months with each daughter, she moved into her very own apartment. The three daughters (and Ted) moved her from the farm to a beautiful apartment in downtown Doylestown, PA. She has many friends close by. Beth tries to visit each week. When friends and family give her a break, she drives to the local seniorís center, shopping center and hair salon. Another achievement for her is getting on the Internet. She uses her computer for surfing and email.
Looking back over the year, we realize that much of our time was spent on the road. We have been to Seattle four times as Mike's mother's health is not so good anymore. Since we have been to Seattle quite a number of times over the past two decades, we have had the opportunity to explore more and more of the northwest. This summer we spent a few nights in the San Juan Islands. Our brief stay left us wanting to spend more time exploring this unique area (or that or here or there.) Over Thanksgiving we coordinated a trip to Seattle with Fran and Jim. Together with them we tried several new (to us) restaurants, and we toured the Experience Music Project.
Other areas of the country that we paid multiple visits to this year are Chicago and Charleston. After not getting back to Chicago for a few years we caught up with some of our many friends from when we lived there. We did a meal with our "gourmet group", and must say that the group can still cook (in more ways than one.) Mike attended the Oak Park Friends and saw many from when we lived a few blocks from the Quaker Meeting. We stayed in George & Kathy's place, but not a few blocks from our Sheffield apartment, rather their new condo on the South Side. However, they weren't there (!) having moved to New Haven when Kathy joined the faculty of Yale.
Yet another interesting trip was courtesy of Mike's company, Lucent Technologies, which gave Mike & Beth a trip to Cologne, Germany to celebrate his 30th year with Bell Labs/Western Electric/AT&T/Lucent. Not! He had to work, but Beth did cash in some frequent flier mileage and join him. We learned (for you other Latin students out there) that Cologne got its name from when it was a colony of Rome. We learned that Cologne is the birthplace of Eau de Cologne. We learned that Kolsch is the local dialect and also the local name for beer. Perhaps the most famous landmark is the huge gothic cathedral on the Rhine. Quite a site both inside (here or here or here) and out, especially at night.
Of course, we have to mention our "standard" annual visits to Beth's family reunion at the farm, to Charleston, SC for Spoleto and to OBX for fishing. The Spoleto gang has expanded to two houses and a boat (which sleeps four or more.) Beth also drove to NC and picked up Carol in March so that the 2 ladies could celebrate spring break in Charleston. They have decided to make it an annual event! (That was the 2nd visit to Charleston, for those of you who are keeping count.) The OBX crowd is still in one (massive!) house and charters the same boat. We went earlier this year hoping to catch some different fish, but ended up with Tuna, again. Not that Mike is complaining, but, Capt. Mack, canít we catch something different next year? Like those Marlin you keep describing? Hint, hint.
When they return from the road, Beth and Mike manage to spend considerable time at their two "hobbies" Ė art and computers, respectively. This year Beth has taken classes in fresco painting and her specialty, watercolor. She hops on the train once a week to Parson's in Greenwich Village. Upon each return she shows some new creation (such as this or this or this or this or this or this) to Mike. She has also taken over the attic, where she has her artistís garret (complete with skylight.) Mike continues to expand the home network. It now has multiple desktops and, occasionally, a laptop. He has changed the firewall/gateway to ipfw and natd running on FreeBSD. He likes FreeBSD because it has strong networking, is a UNIX variant very close to Sun's Solaris (which he uses at work), and is ... well ... free :-) His other new toy is a used LCD projector connected to the PC with the DVD drive. He invites one and all to come over to view DVDs or the PC desktop itself (dare he say PC games?) on a six foot screen.
Well, that is what we remember from this past year. We hope your year was as rewarding and entertaining. What will the next year bring? We will have to wait to see. But, we wish you all peace, good health and happiness. A wish for a joyous Holiday and a good New Years, whichever millennium your are celebrating.
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