Is it time for another Holiday letter? Can't be! We haven't accomplished half of what we intended to do this year. No wonder our five year building plan keeps slipping. More on that in a bit. First a recap of what we did manage to accomplish in 2018. For this letter, to change things up, we will use an alphabetical ordering as past letters have been mostly chronological.

Airbnb - We took advantage of this sharing service twice in 2018. Once, close by in Asheville. Another time, in Chicago. In Asheville, we stayed overnight so that we could celebrate Beth's birthday at a restaurant we had sampled the previous year on a food tour. Carol & David joined us. In Chicago, we stayed in the same bnb that we had stayed in 2017. It's in our old neighborhood and helps us keep in touch with our favorite places and find new ones. Also, we got to have lunch with Beth's Chicago cousins.

April - Not the month, our pet cat. She came to us in April, so we gave her that name. April died this past year. We miss her and all her unique antics.

Brookgreen - We've written about the candle lit gardens before. How the beautiful and varied decorations help get us into the holiday spirit. Last year the big event happened back home in western North Carolina, while we were in Brookgreen gardens. SNOW. Such a storm that Carol & David couldn't get on the road. Fortunately, Carol & Baxter had no trouble traveling from the eastern part of the state. Beth was bummed to have missed the first big snowfall of the season. Update, déjà vu all over again ... we just had as big a snow storm on the same date this year as last.

Chihuly - An installation of his art at Biltmore inspired Carol to invite a group of women to view it. Of course, once gathered, they couldn't restrict themselves to just one event. A whole weekend was necessary.

Cousins - Some west coast cousins of Mike's came east to visit. Together with Gretchen & Bob, we met Patti & John in Asheville for dinner. It's as close as Mike's generation of cousins get to a reunion.

CROP - Mike and some Quakers from Asheville Meeting walked with local congregations and groups to raise funds to help end hunger at home and around the world. In the past, Beth & Mike walked the 10K CROP when we lived in Oak Park ... which reminds us that we own Annette & Frank a visit.

HEMC - Haywood Electric Membership Corporation annual meeting is usually an opportunity for a "free" lunch and hat. This year a couple members came with their electric vehicles to demonstrate them and answer questions. Beth had lots of questions. Then, she found a used one at the dealer when she was getting her gasoline vehicle serviced. Then, she test drove it. Then, she bought it. I guess owning a LEAF is natural for a tree hugger. Later, we joined the Blue Ridge EV Club, which was the group showing their EVs at the HEMC.

Mom - Beth travelled several times this year to Rolla to visit her 103 year old mother. Mike joined her a couple times. On the latest trip, we celebrated with a deconstructed Thanksgiving dinner.

Quaker Retreat - On a beautiful autumn weekend in Montreat, we gathered with about 20 from our Asheville Meeting. The theme for the sessions centered on "connection" and "community." The exercises in which the two facilitators lead the group were deceptively simple.

Secret Pal - Another activity in our Quaker Meeting this past year lasted a month. Each volunteer was given the name of someone; however the other person did not know who had their name. We were to give small gifts to our pal each week. Then, at the end of the four weeks, a "reveal party" was held.

Solstice - For the first time last year, we joined Carol & David for "A Swannanoa Solstice" a performance of seasonal music, dancing, storytelling, and poetry. We can now see why it has been going on for many years and has such a devoted following. We plan to attend again this year.

Spoleto - Speaking of "many years" and "devoted following" ... we and our devoted group keep the tradition going. This past year we stayed in a rented beach house for the first time in many, many years. We liked the place, so will stay there again in 2019.

Tai Chi - At our fitness center, Beth saw a flyer for an introductory Tai Chi class. We both went. Mike had a lot of trouble remembering to breathe properly while performing the classical movements. It reminded him of dancing, which is probably why he is so bad at it. Beth, however, fell in love with Tai Chi and goes twice a week in addition to her swimming. Mike still runs on the indoor track.

Weddings - We attended two lovely weddings this past year. Kayla and John were married in Deerfield MA. When we say in Deerfield, we mean the ceremony and reception were on the grounds of the Deerfield Academy itself. Trish and Sally were married in Charleston. Their ceremony was in Circular Congregational. Their reception, at the Mills House. Two very classy weddings.

That's about a wrap for this past year's activities. Except for one thing, our building project. We hinted at an update on that. If all goes well, depending on when we get this card & letter together, we will be about to or will have broken ground. Our builder has completed the project that was in front of ours. We hope to have much to report on the building of our addition, next year. Stay tuned.

Happy Holidays, 2018,

Beth & Mike

PS - For this year, Beth completed a watercolor which she found while sorting some paintings we had moved. Mike thinks that it has more of the holiday spirit than some of her past card paintings.