Writing our annual Christmas letter is a challenge, but physically getting them all folded, stuffed, addressed, and stamped should be an Olympic event. I just mailed out the last of 360 cards. The easy part is recording our travels, which were compressed into the last half of the year so we could fulfill our “presidential” obligations in the first half – Alice in her Book Club, and me in Lions. We finished our terms, then headed to the East Coast in late June for almost a month. We saw three Broadway plays: War Horse (a moving World War I drama with life-size and lifelike horse puppets, now a movie), Priscilla Queen of the Desert (funny and entertaining gay musical), and Book of Mormon (great reviews, lousy musical – Alice says she liked it, which I guess shows you don’t need memorable songs and dances anymore to have a hit on Broadway if you do it in the infantile, raunchy South Park style. There is nothing brave or daring about ridiculing a small, peaceful religion like the Mormons. I would have been impressed if South Park did The Book of Islam, and showed Mohammad at his mythologically inspired best).
We did the Fourth of July in Bristol, Rhode Island, and toured Connecticut, and especially enjoyed the Mark Twain Museum. Hartford was a revelation; I never knew how Hartford had been such an important city in the Industrial Revolution in America.
Next we went to exotic Bakersfield for a Combs Cousins Reunion. I only know a few of my almost fifty first cousins – and innumerable second cousins – but it brought back memories of how Pop used to keep in touch with everyone.
We spent all of October in southeast Asia – The Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Although we were there during the big floods, we had a great trip. In retrospect we would liked to have spent more time sightseeing in Vietnam. The Vietnamese are amazingly energetic and capitalistic – our kind of people.
In 2013 we’ll be going to Panama and Costa Rica for certain, and hopefully to Colorado for Alice’s aunt’s 100th birthday celebration.
While we’re home here on the Pacific coast among the redwoods, our typical day begins leisurely – no alarm clock. I feed Buddy and brush his teeth, then run a few miles. Alice has breakfast, listens to talkradio or recorded Great Courses lectures, reads the newspapers, then hopes for time to read books and to write her own. Lately she’s had to put in quite a bit of time on her business, Vulcan Incorporated (manufacturing and distributing industrial baling wire), but still makes sure to swim in her pool, or bicycle in the hills and down to the cliff above the ocean. Then we share a two-mile walk to the beach with Buddy, and just before going to bed we all take another mile walk so Buddy can do his nighttime piddles and poo. Buddy is 14 1/2 now, and all this exercise is probably what keeps him going.
Alice and Buddy on Cook's Beach
In between exercise periods, we do our club activities, work at the computers – Alice on spreadsheets for Vulcan, planning our trips, emailing friends and family, writing her autobiography – when Alice read a bit to her eldest daughter and three of her grandchildren, they wouldn’t let her stop - and me researching natural climate change for my anti-Al Gore book – we keep very busy for retirees.
We wish you a safe, sane, happy, and prosperous New Year!
Alice, Michael and Buddy