This year seems to have gone by very fast! It seems only last month that we wrote our first year in review.
This Christmas we are in good health, working hard to get these Christmas cards and presents out. We started it too late (like everybody else) and have a lot to do today. We went out last week and turned on our Christmas lights. We put up the very small bulbs last year all around the eve of the house and decided after New Year to leave them up and see how they lasted. We got a lot of ribbing from our friends about it throughout the year. When we turned them on, about 3/4 of the strands lit. We spent a while searching the strands looking for the dead bulbs only to find that the strands were dead and needed replacing.
As for the year, we've mostly been working a lot. We are both still working at Texas Instruments. Anne in her 11th year, Stewart in his 10th. In our last installment we had both just started work on our new project, a computer system upgrade of the F-16 fighter jet. We are now about in the middle of the development part of the contract. It is a good project to work on, lots to learn, lots to do. A lot has happened this year which affects this project, the world changing causing our Government to need less of this type of jet fighter, congress permitting General Dynamics to sell F-16s to Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and other countries, and the recent sale of General Dynamics Fort Worth Division (which develops and manufactures GD's fighter aircraft) to Lockheed. All in all it appears to have had a positive effect on the work we are doing (it hasn't been canceled by Congress anyway, and that's good news).
But we did have a few good breaks from work this year:
Stewart's mom and dad, aunt Roxie and cousin Joyce came to visit in May. They drove down from Kentucky and stayed with us for a few days. We really enjoyed their visit. We went a few places in Dallas and spent a lot of time working on a jig-saw puzzle. It gave us a chance to talk and visit that we hadn't had for a long time. It is hard to stay in touch with family when everyone is so far away.
In June, we took a short stress-relief vacation to California. We rented a house in Pacific Grove which is about 50 miles south of San Francisco, on the Monterrey peninsula. The house was located right on the beach. If you are getting a picture in your mind of warm sunny beaches, forget it! In northern California you should form a picture of cool fog, overcast skies, harbor seals and sea lions, seaweed and the smell of salt spray. We had a wonderful time walking the mile after mile of hiking trails, visiting the Monterrey Aquarium, and making friends with some particularly lazy sea lions on the rocks in front of our house.
In August, Anne's family, the Cummings' had their first real reunion in ten years. It is hard to get all seven kids and their families together with mom in one place. We got almost everybody there, running shuttles back and forth between mom's house on the lake in Hillsboro, MO, and Anne's sister Kath's house in St. Louis. It was great to see everybody.
In the fall we traveled to Kentucky to visit Stewart's folks in Kentucky. We stopped in Memphis on our way up to see Mike \& Lori Vieau, old buds from TI. We had a great time on Bealle Street catching some blues at BB King's. Then on to Kentucky...
The beautiful Kentucky fall is something that we don't usually have in Dallas. Here the weather stays warm into November then the temperature drops quickly and the leaves turn brown and fall off. There is very little color change, and the ``northers'' that blow through strip the trees of leaves quickly. On our visit Stewart got a burr up his butt and got out and raked leaves at his parent's house. Anne had this idealistic idea that we'd grab a couple of rakes and stand around on the lawn under the trees while the leaves fell around us. Quiet, cool and restful. No way! Stewart's folks have a system that uses two industrial leave blowers, a small tractor, a very large tarpaulin, and a leaf pickup machine that is dragged by the tractor. A two acre area can be swept clean in about a day. It actually _is_ restful, in an engineering sort of way!
Later the same trip we headed up to Indianapolis to see Anne's sister, Trese. She showed us the night life on Broad Ripple, then we headed to southern Indiana the next day for a beautiful hike in the hills of Brown County.
Interestingly, we came back to a Dallas having its most colorful year ever. The temperature has been cool but not too cold and the Bradford Pears are holding their bright red leaves on into December.
We'll go and get our tree next week and give our cats, Bob and Murky, something to play in for a couple of weeks. We hope you have as much as they will over the holidays and we're wishing you all the best of luck for the coming year!