Merry Christmas one and all! Dec. 2015
Thanksgiving left-overs are nearly gone from the fridge. We’ve had snow twice now, one a biggie, but neither snow has lasted. Over all, temperatures have been above normal.
Daughter Laura still camps out in the bedroom she grew up in. This year she also added another resident to the house by adopting a two-year-old German Shepherd. Bentley (I know, goofy name for a dog, but she came with it) is fitting in around here pretty well. Everybody but the cat is generally pleased to have her around. Ohhh, maybe the backyard squirrels aren’t so fond of her either.
While the world keeps on turning ,it is doing so with several fewer of our loved ones this year. My eldest brother Del who fought Parkinson’s disease for close to twenty years died just before Christmas a year ago. Then we lost two long-time friends from our church; they died within just a couple days of each other. Finally my Mom’s brother went to live with the Lord just a few weeks ago after 94 years on this earth. We were blessed to have known each of these people.
Sue and I traveled through the west early this fall. Our ultimate destinations were the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, but there were so many other things to see along the way. We drove 5,000 miles over two weeks of travel. We saw Pipestone National Monument, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, passed through the Black Hills, visited Little Big Horn, and also saw Devil’s Tower. All these places were spectacular. We watched and watched and watched before we finally saw a mother bear and cub on our last day in Yellowstone. Wildlife was everywhere, but bears were scarce for some reason. Saw many signs warning us of rattlesnakes, but they were more scarce than the bears. During our trip we managed to have lunch with my college advisor who now resides in Laramie Wyoming and also spent a couple nights with Sue’s sister and husband in Fort Collins, Colorado. We traveled from Illinois through Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and we touched into Idaho as well.
I wrote last year that I was working on my first book. I accomplished my goal and it was published in March. I dawdled and dawdled but once I got started I kind of got on a roll and finished it in about three weeks. “Illinois By The Back Roads” is available from Amazon. I wouldn’t call it exactly a New York Times Best Seller, but seeing my work in print is really very satisfying. This winter I will work on volume two of the back roads series, plus we got enough photos from the western trip to publish a travelogue as well. With luck there will be two new books by spring.
Before I get into author mode, however, I need to get into wood working mode. Before I can do that, I have some serious cleaning to do in the workshop which seems to collect clutter between woodworking sessions. I have been waiting for the fairies to handle that for me, but they are letting me down. A friend of mine gave me a lathe last year. I had a lot of fun making some bowls from an oak burl I have been saving. I also made a really cool rolling pin with a Celtic knot pattern (that took 2 attempts, 1 to figure it out, and one done correctly).
Sue continues to work at her library, but her job has shifted to one now entirely behind the scenes. She now buys new stuff and throws old stuff away to make room for the new. She no longer has any dealings with the public, no evenings, no weekends. She works 4 ten-hour days and maintains her regular 3-day weekends. Last year she was rather worried about the library reorganization, but in the end Sue says that she won the lottery.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless.
Jim and Sue