Oh my goodness! Is that the time? Our first Australian Christmas card did not arrive until early November this year so I’m somewhat behind schedule. Perhaps I should adopt one of my sister’s strategies – forget about Christmas cards and send Happy New Year ones instead.
Spring saw Penny joining Greg for the annual pilgrimage to see Greg’s folks at the Finishing School in New Hampshire as well as the mandatory weekend at Lake George in upstate New York. Greg even persuaded sister Susie and a few good friends to make the trek as well. You’ll be pleased to hear that the folks are still doing well and continue to enjoy Kendall.
The “big” event of the year was Penny’s 60th birthday celebrations in May complete with surprise birthday party organised splendidly and efficiently by Greg. When he realised that her birthday was coming up he spent at least three days trying to organise something special and seems to have pulled it off by getting Penny’s friends and family to do almost everything. There is an expression involving the terms “brewery” and “an excessive drinking occasion” which springs to mind. If you are sufficiently mad you can catch the “least bad” photos here.
The first “surprise” occurred a few days before her birthday when our Ben flew in from Los Angeles. Then, on the day, Penny was whisked off for a hot rock massage to get her out of the house while the final preparations were hastily thrown together. The surprise was manifest when she returned to find about fifty of her best friends gathered to wish her well. They all agreed that she deserved a medal for putting up with Greg for so long.
The boys continue to do much better than we could ever have imagined. After several years of pretending to work with a variety of internet start-ups, Ben decided it was time for a real job. So, he now basks in the grand title of Senior Director, Online Technology for Activision who are big in the gaming community, he tells me. Donna is still writing for Investor’s Business Daily and occasionally posts photos of some of the cool cars she gets to test drive.
Nick, Lucy and Annabelle have discovered what a joy family life can be. Nick started the year with a new job, no longer working from home, but up each day with the rest of the rat race, while Lucy spent her maternity leave becoming the perfect mother. As with most things Lucy does, this required very little effort.
Annabelle reached her first birthday relatively unscathed, which is a minor miracle, having become quite dangerous since learning to walk at high speed. She greatly enjoys nursery, especially having class mates to play with, and it’s a marvel when she comes home in the same set of clothes she left in. She provides much pleasure and continual entertainment – we’re delighted that she is too young to recognise that the birthday present we gave her was a useless collection of old cardboard boxes.
Adam and Tang have moved back to Yangshuo where Adam is taking on website development work and trying to unwind after spending the last nine years teaching in Changsha. Tang is working for a tourism company shipping Chinese tourists around the area. Yangshuo remains as beautiful as ever, they say, and although the tourist numbers continue to rise, they are at least for the most part the right kind of tourists. They are settling in for a quieter winter now that the tourists have departed.
Pen’s father Oz is still doing well at nearly 91 and spends much of his time making the most of his free bus pass to travel to Banbury and back. He knows all the bus drivers by their first names and most of their children and anniversaries. Beryl, however, has had a rough year. She’s had a couple of hospital stays to try and deal with her chest and breathing difficulties and the most recent treatment with very strong antibiotics had the unfortunate side-effect of affecting her inner ear and balance – she fell over and broke her neck and right hand so is now a permanent resident at 23 Banbury Road. We’ll have to have a word about the loud parties which seem to take place most evenings.
Our outings this year have been very restrained. We had a lovely week in Devon with Nick, Lucy and Annabelle in the first week of September although why they invited us is a mystery. Then, at the end of October we had a couple of days in Dublin with Ben who was there on business. A good excuse for a short outing which was excellent.
After years of proclaiming its imminent demise, SeamStress is almost well and truly finished (honest). Most of the fabric is gone although there are still a few “bargain” playchutes available. Penny is now intending to make her fortune selling foam dice and balls – apparently the balls are very popular with the cupcake decorating fraternity. She’s also come up with the great idea of selling off the remnants of her fabric along with a can of repositionable spray mount as a “Sticky Wall” for peripatetic conference facilitators. She’s taking orders now so get in quick.
Greg is still pretending to offer ICT consultancy services to schools but admits that it’s getting increasingly difficult to fool the punters. Fortunately, Penny no longer lets him out of the house before inspecting his jumper for remnants of the previous evening’s dinner.
Molly is still going strong even though she is even more deaf and blind than last year (or should that be aurally deficient and visually impaired?). She still insists on bounding up to everyone and anyone, announcing her arrival with prolonged barking and a wagging of the tail. She can get a bit embarrassed, however, when she bounds up heartily to an inanimate object. Her favourite companion seems to be the litter bin on the edge of the recreation ground which she greets enthusiastically like a long-lost friend most mornings.
And so, another year goes by with a suitable collection of highlights and relatively few lowlights. We’ll keep all of you in our hearts and thoughts and wish you all the very, very best for 2013. Do take us up on our invitation to visit – Molly and Beryl, at least, would appreciate the company.
Much love to you all,
Penny and Greg