December 21, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009



     I began 2009 waiting for word about the New England Journal competition I had entered. The notification that someone else won extended my break from writing my novel.  I finally returned to writing, and have set up some writing goals for the first half of 2010.

     While stalled on the novel, I continued writing, as my blog’s many posts testify to.

     While Monte attended the wrestling matches in State College, I explored the town. The college library, where I wanted to do some research, was closed for student break. We visited the town library, and one morning we ate breakfast with the parents of a neighbor we had in Connellsville. That was interesting—this couple had no idea who we were before meeting us*.

     In June the entire family went to a Pittsburgh Pirates/Cleveland Indians baseball game. It turned out to be their most interesting game of the season—the Pirates won*. Four days later we attended a delightful play, Honus Wagner and Me. When I wrote the post on the play*.

     I was privileged to do the photography for a wedding in April. I don’t normally accept wedding photography, but since I’d done all the photography for this family, and we know each other quite well, the stress was less than that of a typical wedding assignment.

     In August, our cat Honey developed problems, and I was caught at the vet’s having to make a decision about her*. I called Monte, who was working on the house, and then I called Sandy, who was Honey’s previous “mother.” Together, we decided to let Honey go. I stayed with her, and later we had a small funeral. Jordan played the only song she remembered on the violin, Silent Night.

     In September we experienced a “staycation” day in Somerset County*, revisiting three landmarks: the Flight 93 crash site, the Flight 93 Chapel and the Quecreek Mine site. The memorabilia collections at the crash site had changed location. The Chapel had changed little: Portapotties installed on the edge of the property, with a sink for handwashing. At the Quecreek Mine site they are constructing a large building. Otherwise, it’s unchanged.

     One October day Monte and I watched a bear saunter through our driveway and up the path to Sandy and Michael’s house. Next there was an owl caught in our deer netting and it didn’t understand that Monte was cutting him free*. I stood nearby taking pictures, not daring to get too close for fear he would fly into me, injuring me, when he was loose. Meanwhile, we had a unique “in the face” view of each other.

     November and December were rough. I “caught” something (or it caught me), giving me a severe cough for three weeks, then kept relapsing for another five weeks. After being able to get my Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations out on time, we experienced delay in decorating our outdoors pine trees. However, we decorated our full-size Christmas tree this year, since Vince and Marcus are now old enough that we don’t have to be concerned about their “crawl” space. It helped that I rearranged the furniture, including removing a two-drawer file cabinet (a testament to the amount of paperwork I’ve eliminated this year). Fortunately, all family members are doing well.    

     My cough broke December 13. On December 15 Monte and I said farewell to Robert Mendler, a Holocaust survivor who entrusted me with his story—for a magazine, and for my blog. By then, the “bug” was visiting Monte. Hopefully he will recover quicker than I did.

     Next year I hope to find evidence proving a Lamoine, Maine, grave labeled “unknown Civil War Veteran” belongs to Charles F. Walker, a Lamoine, Maine Civil War veteran without a grave*.

     We look forward to celebrating Christmas with our family, and hold onto the hope for a better world, and the hope for peace between people, in families, in communities, in nations and around the globe.

 *Astericks refer to the posts below:

A Weekend in State College, Pennsylvania: Part 1

A Weekend in State College, Pennsylvania: Part 2

Take Me Out to the Ball Game…So Reluctantly I Go

Honus Wagner & Me

Honey’s Coming Home! Our cat must recuperate

Honey went home—She’s romping in animal heaven

Staycation Day Trip: Somerset County, PA

It’s Been an Animal Day



RIGHTING A CIVIL WAR WRONG: A Gravestone for a Civil War Veteran


Christmas. Whose Season Is It?


The Christmas Stocking Legacy

How to Count the Gifts Given in the Twelve Days of Christmas

Christmas Memories

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