Christmas Letter 2015

Years ago we started these Christmas letters with photo…the first one that we have was in 1977, the year when Megan was born.  All these years Pattie has written the letters then Bob edited them.  In recent years the editing has taken the form of bullet points.  A few times recently a full letter has also been available to those who want more than bullet points. Pattie reads every word of every letter that family and friends send at Christmas and finds each letter a joy.  Bob is more of a bullet points sort of person.  You have the bullet points and now, the letter!

Recently three new apostles were sustained by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Shortly thereafter there was an article about each of these brothers.  In one of them the apostle and his wife said that the Church was their life and their family their social life.  Bob and Pattie are in that same circumstance.  We are both busy at Church multiple days each week and we love every bit of social life we have with our children and grandchildren.  Friends also bring great joy to our lives.  We love all those associations.  Life is good.

This year we had three weeks of vacation.  The first one was at the end of March when we went to Stowe to the Trapp Family Lodge where we stayed in a lovely guesthouse.  The place was roomy and comfortable,  wood stove and everything!  We did not use the wood stove.  We use one of those at home so NO NEED to use one on vacation, too. Besides the other heat was sufficient.  Pattie brought multiple projects with her and spent much of the time in the unit at the computer or at the kitchen stove.  The last full day we were there she finally got to the swimming pool and found it very nice and was sorry she had not gone every day.  (The main hold-back was the 41 stairs up from the guesthouse door. The stone steps were wet, muddy, and sometimes icy which made the up-and-downs to the unit less than comfortable. Towards the end of the week Pattie took one bag, box, or barrel back to the car (which was parked at the top of the 41 steps) with each trip out to make the move-out more comfortable.

In September we went to Wells, Maine to a resort on Route 1 right next to Congdon Doughnuts!  Congdon Doughnuts has spoiled us for any other doughnuts.  We stopped twice to get a doughnut.  Bob loved the giant honey buns. Pattie got a vanilla cream that nearly put her into a sugar coma…impossible to eat all at once.  The chocolate glazed cake doughnuts were superior to any we have eaten elsewhere.  We probably won’t go back to that same resort because we really CANNOT live next door to Congdon Doughnuts again.  Too tempting.

In October we went to Virginia Beach, Virginia.  Pattie’s sister Jessie and her husband Johnny came up from their home in North Carolina since they were so close (five hours’ drive).  Jessie and Johnny arrived the night before our unit was available.  She got the great idea of getting a room for us then, too, so we were able to spend Friday night, all day Saturday, and much of Sunday together.  It was wonderful.  We were right on the Boardwalk which lent itself to lots of walking (Pattie) and biking (Bob).  Pattie had donated to the Team Leah Bean at the Rett Foundation and committed to a 5K run-walk-crawl sometime during the month of October.  She had attempted it one time before Virginia Beach but was a kilometer short.  Saturday morning she happened to wake up early, took her water bottle, ipad and headphones, and “stroller” and headed out on the Boardwalk.  She walked and walked, enjoying the beautiful sunrise and the softly breaking ocean waves just a few yards away.  She passed several homeless people sleeping on benches.  Some kind soul had come by and left a pair of new socks, and several other items by each of the bench-sleeping-people.   By the time the sun was fully up Pattie had turned around and started back to the resort.  She had been using the “MapMyWalk” app on her phone so she could be sure of getting in the full 5K.  There were several text messages before she returned, being a very slow walker.  Having the stroller along made the walk so easy mentally because it was there in case a stop was needed and a regular bench was not available.  By the time she returned she had done more than the 5k and felt very virtuous and satisfied.  Any possible health benefit of the walk was negated by the pile of sausages she ate at the breakfast buffet!

While in Virginia Beach Bob and Pattie took several hike at First Landing State Park and several others.  Bob was able to bike at some of them.  On the last day the hike was at a wildlife reserve very close to the North Carolina border.  When Pattie went in to chat with the reserve officer about the various trails and which ones allowed for wheelchair/stroller access, she received more information than she wanted.  The nice young woman told her all about the trails including that the snakes had been very active the past few days but there was nothing to worry about as there were only two poisonous ones:  copperheads and cottonmouths.  These would not bother us if we just stopped and backed away….Yeah, right. Pattie wanted to check THAT one out!  Well, Bob did go for a hike.  Pattie stayed in the car listening to a Michael Connelly audio book.  When Bob returned to the car he had a big smile on his face.  Pattie immediately guessed he had seen a snake.  He pointed to the little bridge he had crossed just off the parking lot.  Pattie looked over in time to see a small black snake crawl up through a crack in the bridge and then go back down another.  That was as close as she wanted to get to any snake, poisonous or not!

Last year Megan gave Pattie Megan’s Cricut Expression to use until Megan needs it again.  Pattie really got into using that piece of cutting equipment to make lovely and fun die-cuts for greeting cards and for the Sunday binders at Relief Society.  So many things to make!  Many more purchases of other paper crafting tools and LOTS of YouTube videos to hook her into different “needs”.  Around mid-year Pattie saw an advertisement for a Cricut Expression for sale in Lyme, NH.  After a couple of months fritzing around with the owner (she was away, Pattie was away, etc) finally Pattie purchased that one so when she returns Megan’s machine Pattie can still enjoy the Cricut and hours of cutting up paper.

Pattie has also continued painting in watercolor though not as often due to all the paper crafting in other media.  Knitting is still on her radar though less frequent hand-knitting.  She learned of a Brother KH800 knitting machine for sale by a 94-year-old friend of a friend and since she had the cost in her savings account, she went for it.  She discovered a new sponge bar was needed.  She took the machine apart to clean and lubricate. Twice.  Each time there were more parts left over….She did not seem to have a manual with the machine and found one on the internet to download but the scanning quality was very blurry and hard to read.  Recently when she was cleaning out the workroom so a guest could stay there without so much crafting equipment and supplies strewn around she decided to move the corded-up knitting magazines and the lace carriage and other small knitting machine tools into a sturdy clear plastic container rather than the old cardboard box that came to Pattie when she paid for the machine.  There, in the very bottom of the box, were the four manuals necessary to operate the machine.  And presumably to clean and lubricate it.  Hopefully, with the clear pictures and instructions, Pattie will find the homes for the leftover parts now!  Just has not yet had time to do it.

Bob has been having difficulty with a hip, a knee, and an ankle which have made distance hiking very difficult the last two years.  He did spend a three-day trip with his two friends from Keene, NH.  This was in the Stratton Mountain area.  He had an enjoyable time with them and was not too much the worse for the wear when he came home.  He had plantar fasciitis and went to physical therapy for it.  They convinced him he needed new orthotics.  When they came, he wore them one day and his off hip went crazy, and remains so…though he is beginning to walk again.  Most of his exercise this summer has been kayaking on Post Pond, in Lyme, NH, and other friendly ponds around the area.  He loads the kayak into the back of the truck and off he goes for a couple of hours.  On one of his last kayaking trips to Post Pond, Pattie went along to swim.  She had a wonderful long swim, the last half of it with her dear friend Sarah who lives in Lyme.  Biking was another of Bob’s pasttimes this summer.  Now that winter is coming, he will probably use the recumbent bike we have upstairs decorating the great room.

An adventure for Bob this summer was a canoeing trip in Maine with a friend from the Ascutney ward.  They had a nineteen-foot canoe into which they loaded everything but the kitchen sink (Lloyd’s gear) and one backpack (Bob’s).  They had a good time together and returned a day and a half early.  There was some reason for that…weather, perhaps…but the reason is lost to memory.

In May Pattie’s sister, Jessie, has a serious motorcycle accident and badly broke her right shoulder.  Pattie went down for a wonderful three weeks “to help out”.  It was more a vacation for Pattie than anything and so wonderful to spend time with Jessie and Johnny.  Their home circumstance is fabulous:  right on the Neuse River in a big bright friendly house with a giant vegetable garden and trees all around for privacy.  One thing Pattie learned at this time is that when people are sick or hurt, they do love company but the company needs to be smart enough to leave after ten minutes or so.  Badly hurt people don’t have the energy for company spending four or five hours, especially when they bring their children and extra dogs.  Wonderful as the company is, sick and hurt people need to be able to use what little energy they have to recover, not entertaining guests.

Pattie continues teaching genealogy classes at Dartmouth College’s Osher Foundation (formerly called Institute of Lifelong Education at Dartmouth—ILEAD) and now also at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, NH.  So Spring 2015 was busy with preparing to teach then teaching on Wednesdays in New London and Fridays in Hanover.  Spring 2016 will be the same plus a class on “Exploring FamilySearch.Org” in Hanover.  If it goes well, perhaps she will teach it at Colby-Sawyer, too.

Well, that is all the news that is fit to print….so we will stop here.  Hopefully readers will not be too distressed by the changes from first-person to third-person telling or any of the other grammatical errors.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all family and friends!  We hope every moment is satisfying and that you find joy and success all year long.