This is an online version of our annual Christmas Letter. If you want to see the photos from any of our trips, click on the appropriate link. The links are in bold to help you find them.
We've had an eventful year, the biggest event being Christy's marriage to John Burrows on Aug. 4, with all males in kilts and Christy with an Ancient Campbell tartan sash on her gown. The sun shone brightly and the ceremony and reception reflected the caring that John and Christy had for all who gathered there. Good friends, the Zubers, Carrolls and Nancy Blair, and my sister, Marize, helped to make the day special and meaningful.
By now we've settled into a schedule of being down in North Carolina by the New Year and staying there until May. Then we head north for the summer, back down in September, then back up for the holidays.
In between we thoroughly enjoy both the environments for all they offer. Last spring Dick took a birding course offered by the local NC community college, and has since become quite an experienced bird photographer, with equipment to match his passion. Birding has become a central interest in all our trips and birds from all over can be seen on our new website carolinabirds.org. We continue to volunteer at the Museum of Coastal Carolina and have added math tutoring at the local elementary school as well.
We've been able to share North Carolina with friends and family this past year, having visits by Dick's brother Dave and wife Linda, my old friends Pat and Harry Fluck (who reciprocated by having us at their time share further up the coast), Wanda, our neighbor from NH, and Ben and Sandi Zuber who surprised me for my birthday. In addition, we rented beach houses on Sunset Beach and had gatherings of family in April (Cindy, Chris, Heather, Rick, Michelle, Ricky, Randy, Christy and John) and members of the Top of the Hill Gang in October.
More commonplace activities down south included gathering wood for heating the house, planting our own little orchard of apple, peach, pear and plum trees, moving trees we planted the previous year, stenciling the kitchen cabinets, and making a beach glass panel for one side of the back door. Dick made great bookshelves for either side of the fireplace and we had a new storm door installed in the back. This year the pecans were plentiful, so we've enjoyed them plain and roasted and in pecan pie. Dick continues to work on his woodlot seven miles away, as well as on his property adjoining the house. I did my usual share of visits to thrift shops and yard sales and even bought a big box of smurfs (the little blue guys) for ten dollars that I researched and sold on eBay for over $350!
In January we went further south to visit Dick's cousins, Rosie and Phil in Venice FL, then drove to the east coast to see my old friend Kay Sullivan, and Dick's brother Dave, his wife Linda and nephew Wayne.
Our northern life began again in May when we came up, only to leave for Hawaii a week later. We spent the first week with my sister Chris and her husband Bill, enjoying all the lovely beaches that Kauai has to offer. The second week was spent on Hawaii , a.k.a. The Big Island . We visited Volcanoes National Park for several days, then spent the remainder of the time on the Kona Coast , snorkeling and sightseeing and learning about the growing and roasting of coffee from the host at our B&B.
After that we settled down for the summer, planting a vegetable garden (mostly for the use of wildlife as it turned out), then digging and fertilizing next year's garden spot much closer to the house. I went back to volunteering for the library, working on the summer reading program, and Dick kept on with his duties as treasurer for the outdoor club. We traveled to Vermont to spend the Fourth of July with Rosie and Phil and their family- always a good time. The pond was the site for two cookouts, the outdoor club's Trails Day cookout and one for the neighbors. I spent a lot of fun time helping get ready for Christy and John's wedding, making baskets for both the Flower Girl and for the bells to ‘ring' the bride and groom off, a ring pillow and tartan ties for the ring bearers, very carefully cutting thistles for vases at the wedding and assembling programs for the ceremony.
In October we traveled to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and saw lots of wildlife- birds (Blue Footed Boobies, Frigate Birds, and many varieties of finches which formed the origin of Darwin 's ideas on natural selection), tortoises, sea lions, and iguanas.
We've just returned home from Tanzania where were equally amazed by the great abundance of animals you normally only see in books or in zoos and by the visits to Maasi village where their lifestyle remains virtually unchanged through the years. The complete diary of the trip and photos will be added to our website early in 2008. We felt very fortunate to actually make the trip after UPS lost our passports and we had to get news ones plus the Tanzania visas in less than two weeks.
Our families continue to expand their horizons.
Christy is starting up a private practice in psychotherapy (christycolecounseling.com) while both teaching an Introduction to Psychology course at a community college and working two days a week at Kennebunk High School, adding some income while she ‘grows' her practice. Rob is taking courses in computer game design and continuing with his martial arts classes.
Cindy is a vice-president at Electronic Arts and her husband Chris has begun a new job with Apple Computers. Rick finished up a manufactured house on his property and it's on the market now. Michelle continues to enjoy her special ed teaching. Heather spent three months this summer learning the Tibetan language in Tibet , is now taking part in a three month meditation study in Colorado and will head back out into Tibetan Buddhist areas yet to be fully determined, doing a nine month Buddhist pilgrimage.
Life continues to make us feel spoiled and very content. Hope this season spoils you with all the best things in life- which as we know are not ‘things!'
Sandy and Dick