Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016

Merry Christmas Friends!

“By 3 methods can we gain wisdom: by reflection which is noblest, by imitation which is easiest, and by experience which is bitterest.”  America has decided to go for door number 3.  Having seen the yard signs from our bikes on the back roads of Alabama we were not surprised at the depth of misunderstanding by our fellow Southerners but were caught unaware by the scope of the rot that has metastasized across the Republic.  Surely some Revelation is at hand.
Our first year as empty nesters is over.  We had a hard time staying away from the ballpark and the gridiron so we cheered Eli’s teammates and hobnobbed with their parents but it’s all over now.  We have taken up our adult responsibilities.  Lynne is trustee at the Church and I have been elected President of the 8th District Dental Society of North Alabama.  I am not sure there is much honor in either position—it’s just your turn and you do your duty.
We had a great year but we are a little unclear about the children since they don’t live here anymore. Our DNA packages seem to be thriving 700 miles equilaterally around their origin(Durham, Orlando, and Ft. Worth).  Far enough that, even veteran road trippers that we are, we will not be dropping in on them.
Lindy left Steamboat Springs-reluctantly- to return to graduate school in Global Public Health at Duke.  She is getting a Master’s and hopefully a career.  She has been awed by the accomplishments of her classmates and is ensconced in a leafy young person’s apartment complex minutes from campus.  I would love to do her move-in story justice but the short version has her drive from Madison, WI to Durham in 1 day arriving at 1:00A to move in so she can be a the airport at 6:00A to catch a flight to Salt Lake to be in her cousin’s wedding (36 hr. turnaround) to  return and start classes on Monday. We brought up the furniture you can’t fit in a Civic the following weekend and were pleased to move it into her apt while Durham was experiencing  a record setting heat wave. 
In undergraduate news, shortly after Eli arrived at TCU he felt strangely called to run a marathon in February of this year.  With a show of braggadocio he thought he had talked a number of his friends into this endeavor but all but one left him to his own resolve.  We flew out to watch him accomplish it at a respectable 4:09 pace. Very commendable given the paucity of preparation and a body type that pounds out the miles rather than floats over them.  We rented bikes and followed the race.  He looked pretty relaxed and chipper until mile 18 or 19 and then he looked painfully absorbed with finishing. He seems to love college more than his parents (did), but is that news?  He was selected for a Cultural Roots Tour of Germany, Switzerland, and Italy with a treasured professor in May and the gazillion posted photos suggest he had a pretty good time.
Hardy also had a successful month of May, graduating with a Master’s degree in counseling.   He has decided to go on studying for his Master’s of Divinity in an educational move that takes after his Dad’s interminable education career.  I would accuse him of putting off adulthood to remain in the blessed pupae stage of a full time student but he is working for a church and supporting himself.  We like his girlfriend, Bri,  who we met at the graduation and are pleased he has found a home in Orlando.  Lynne and I stayed at a free timeshare marketing resort around Disney and though hammered by yammering professionals, resisted the urge to splurge and got a place to sleep that was worth what we paid for it.  We like Orlando because our son is there but are not fond of the traffic.  I think I’m ready for higher oil prices to do its part in moderating climate change by keeping more of us yahoos off the road. 
I am sad to report that flying around has not lowered OUR carbon footprint.   We flew to Ireland in May, rented a car for touring and went biking.  In our defense, you can’t bike to Ireland and Lynne does not have enough time off work to swim there while I row shotgun.  Our good friends, the Robbs, shrugged off the disaster of our last biking trip and got back on the road with us.  We are grateful because we haven’t found anyone else who considers riding 50 miles a day in a rain suit a vacation. Putting Americans in rental cars on Irish roads is a special danger because they are not necessarily wide enough to allow 2 cars to pass.  The speed limit is 80km which can be a challenge on the approach to a one lane bridge protected by cute moss covered rock walls.  We took on the NW county Donegal known for its remoteness and Gaelic speaking natives.  It has some glorious scenery, a surfeit of history, and a friendliness mixed with the ever present pubs.  We’re ready to go back since we did not have to cope with the vaunted Irish weather as the sun shone on us mercilessly.  
Lynne is swimming and doing Pilates.  I re-strung my tennis racket and appealed my USTA rating claiming that not playing and being age 63 was handicap enough in an 18+ adult league.  But “mature” teams (55+) do not play singles.  I think I won too many and they’ll probably promote me again in Peter Principle fashion to my level of incompetence.  Asked to play back to back matches,  I note my recovery these days is not instantaneous.
We have been busy this year with international guests hosting a group from Ukraine and another from Kazakhstan. Two miniscule high school girls from Honduras and El Salvador stayed a week with us in April.  It keeps us apprised of the world when we are not out seeing it for ourselves.  We hosted a young Chinese delegation in September for dinner and were amazed that none of them had brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts or uncles. They were all only children of only children. They all had recently bought apartments in Shanghai and Beijing and weren’t worried about a real estate bubble. 

The children and Lynne’s Mom were all home with us for Thanksgiving.  There is not a better blessing than visiting with family while the Turkey roasts and the evenings ring with competitive group solitaire and ping pong.  We tend to celebrate by running so we ALL did the Thursday morning UAH turkey trot 5K  with 2,000 other Steve Prefontaine wannabees.  Time is catching us but hasn’t passed us yet.  We all finished and will just have to hope, having won his race, the Donald doesn’t stumble.

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