2002 was a year that put lots of things in perspective. We're thankful for the opportunities and experiences that help us appreciate what we have.
In February, we joined the Webb's (Anne's sister's family) in Houston to see Melanie in her high school's production of "Once on This Island". It was amazing how professional these kids were. In the fall, they put on "Les Miz", took it to state competition in Wichita Falls and earned a standing ovation at Intermission!
In late February, Stewart visited with his brother, Morgan, at the French's in Kentucky. They had enough time to visit with cousin Joyce in her new home in Bowling Green and to see Aunt Roxie in Morgantown.
Sadly, Anne's mother, Esther, passed away in April this year. She had time to see nearly everyone before she moseyed off to the afterlife. She will be sorely missed, and considering the number of her direct descendents, she will be remembered for a long, long time. There's a memorial on our web-site for those that were unable to join us.
We were back in Houston in May for Russell's graduation. Time sure flies! Isn't this the guy that just last year chased the garbage man down the street yelling, "Hey, come back! That's ours!" (Well, maybe that was a few years ago.)
May also brought Anne & Stewart's 20th wedding anniversary. Again with the time flying thing, especially when you get to spend it with someone of such stunning good looks, fine disposition, pleasant aroma, and diversified portfolio! We celebrated our anniversary in June on a Backroads bicycling vacation from Santa Fe to Taos, New Mexico. It alternated between nirvana and a pure and living hell, with temperatures rivaling Dallas despite the altitude, and, oh yeah, the altitude. Actually, the heat didn't bother us much, and it only took a day or so to adjust to the altitude (the Camelbaks helped a lot!), but there were wildfires in the area making biking in contact lenses pretty uncomfortable, so out came the glasses. Once the logistics were settled, we had some really phenomonal biking days. The last day was among our best ever, especially the 18 mile downhill we had earned by grinding up its 6-8% grade earlier. (More on this one on the web-site too).
Later that month, the Houstonites made it up to Plano for a pool party. It got a little dangerous with the guys over six feet tall now but still in the rough-housing phase. Luckily Stewart had lots of distracting activities such as the ever popular plug-up-the-water-fall-with-lots-of-bodies trick that nearly drained the spa when everybody jumped out at once.
In July, we made our annual trip back to Houston for the Katy Flatland Century Bike Ride. This time, we had an extra side trip since Morgan and his family had moved to Friendswood on the southeast side of Houston near NASA. We did our best ever average time over the 60 totally flat, hot and humid miles, then broke in Morgan & Mary Jane's new shower. The house was awesome, and hopefully our smells didn't linger.
Anne's sister, Kath, got a chance to visit in August while she was in Dallas on business. She and Glenn got to tool around town on Friday, then she joined us with our friend, Julie, on a bike ride around White Rock Lake on Saturday. It's become very crowded and they reworked the dam with railed switchbacks that make it pretty unfriendly to bikers so I doubt we'll be doing that one much more.
Our cats, Murky and Louie, are doing fine. Murkie is 17 years old. The vet said she had the "blood work of an Olympic athlete!" She continues her exercise routine of Primal Screaming out in the back yard that keeps her young. Our next-door neighbors Marc and Ann say they can hear her yowls bouncing off the walls and down the alley, but being cat people themselves and Murky and Louie's good buddies, it doesn't bother them. Louie continues to drive Stewart around the house riding on his shoulders, Louie's version of the Segway Cat Transporter.
In September, Doug and Manasi came down from Austin College in Sherman to join us for the Plano Balloon festival. It was a beautiful day and with very light winds, all of the balloons took off and drifted straight overhead, making it one of the best mass ascensions we had seen. Then we headed downtown to catch the Dallas Theater Center's production of "Of Mice and Men." Although the cloud wafting over Artist's Square next door should have been a hint as we entered the converted warehouse, the booming reggae of Marley-fest overpowered the acoustically leaky walls to the point that the play had to be cancelled. They didn't like our suggestion that they just rename it "Of Mice and Marley".
Later that month, we both joined up with Morgan T. on a trip to Kentucky where we had some great porch time with Morgan and Maxine. On a day trip to Louisville, we visited Louisville Stoneware and introduced Maxine to Indian cuisine (she was hooked!). We made it to the Makers Mark distillery one day, and to see Joyce and Aunt Roxie near Bowling Green another. On a trip to Lexington, Maxine and Anne hung out at Cheryl's embroidery shop with Jackie, while Morgan, Stewart and Morgan T. visited Morgan's fellow POW, Skip Rue (turns out his granddaughter, Sara Rue, is the star of "Less than Perfect"!). We even stopped in at "Arnold's Coffee Cafe" to see how it compared to "big city coffee", only to get caught by Tyler and turned in to Mike and Ann. Talk about kids who have sprouted this year, Tyler towered over us!
As the year wound down, Anne found herself making a round of doctor visits, triggered by a suspicious annual mammogram. Things are all clear now so hopefully it's behind us. The good news is that early detection gives the doctors lots of options, so don't put things off.
Luckily we were able to make a trip at Thanksgiving, so we headed down to Houston and met up with the Webbs for turkey dinner. Although Tom & Joyce couldn't join us due to Tom's bout with bronchitis, we picked up the girls, Emily & Mia, and joined Trina & Steve, with Doug, Manasi and Russell (all home from college), Melanie and Brandi, and Steve's folks, Rita and Joe. We ate like pigs, took a walk down the block, had a rousing game of Cranium and took a giant bag of extra food to Tom & Joyce when we took the girls home. Friday, we visited an old bookstore in a house on Westheimer and took in a few movies (Greek Wedding/Die Another Day). Saturday, we got to visit with Morgan, Mary Jane and Meredith, and Cliff (also home from college), and Morgan and Maxine who had just flown in from Kentucky. There's more on the web-site on this trip too.
We were both lucky enough to keep our jobs this year, despite lots (and LOTS) of area layoffs due to the telecom and internet downturns. Anne continues to enjoy her time on the Digital Light Processing™ project at Texas Instruments. Samsung TVs with her project's chips are getting good reviews in Popular Science and Sound and Vision so check it out. Early in the year, when it became harder to find projectors available to borrow from work, we went ahead and bought one for ourselves, just in time for the SuperBowl and the Winter Olympics. It has been a ball, and makes for great movie watching in the garage (aka, the small house's Home Theater room). Stewart's been adding to the ambiance each time, dragging out speakers (including of course the sub-woofer), and even rugs, lamps and last time, a huge plant. If there were just some place for the cars, we'd go ahead and convert it permanently. Baaaah! That's no fun!
Stewart continues his work at Raytheon on the F-16 program, enjoying periodic trips to scenic west Fort Worth for meetings with Lockheed-Martin. Stewart received a promotion this year to "Engineering Fellow". Anne has always said Stewart was a "fine fellow!" Now we have proof. Some of the project's software engineers have returned so it's like old home week there. Post 9-11 rumors of transfers to Tucson have died down, but the possibility of war with Iraq keeps the defense industry alert. We'll see how it evolves.
Fun and Friends
Biking continues to be a major source of exercise and fun for us. We went to the Easter Hill Country bike ride again this year, this time joining Tony, Rosie, Richard and Karen for fun around Fredericksburg. Other rides around Dallas included Lancaster (a first for us, with a great town square we'll have to return to), Mesquite, Collin Classic (with Elsa, her first rally), and the Forney Jackrabbit Stampede. And, of course, we did the Hotter-N-Hell Hundred in Wichita Falls, meeting up with Julie, Richard and Ron-Mon. We found a great way to share music on the rides late in the year, when Stewart mounted little FM radios on our handle bars, put an MP3 player attached to an FM transmitter on the Camelbak, and off we went! It was awesome.
Actually, biking is just an excuse to have to attend West Plano Athletic's spin classes, which are a ball in themselves but also front for an excuse to hit Covino's Italian Restaurant en masse on a regular basis. We can usually get Cindee, Casey, Kathy and Erica and sometimes Scott, Renee, Matt & Lisa to join us.
And remember Leisa Hart, the "Buns of Steel" video lady? She teaches some aerobics classes at West Plano and solicited help for a video she was making, explicitly requesting Stewart to join her. So we both spent three hours at the Premier Club in Dallas (well, you didn't think Anne would leave Stewart alone with Buns of Steel, do you?) becoming back-drop fodder for a Ball-Aero Infomercial! It was a hoot, and luckily we only showed up for maybe a half second, total, in the resulting video.
We also took in a lot of plays and musical performances this year, at the Plano Repertory Theater, Watertower Theater in Addison and the Dallas Theater Center. It's a good excuse to get together with Julie & Richard and Nancy & Paul, and the productions are generally very good. This year, we particularly liked Swing!, Sleuth, Laurie Anderson, and Rocky Horror, and the TI Jazz Band both with Booker T. Washington High School jazz combo, and later with Lorraine Feather.
Fall is a great time in North Texas and we made the most of the wonderful weather, joining the Gants (Alan, Maria, Samantha and the newest addition, Ethan) for Oktoberfest with Brave Combo in Addison. We also made it to the Texas State Fair this year with the Blanfords, checking out the Marine Corps Band, the bird and sheep dog show, the Chinese acrobats, and way too much funnel cake and deep fried cheese cake (eeesh!). No wonder we couldn't talk ourselves into riding the X-treme rides.
Well, that's it for another year. We hope you have fine holiday season and a wonderful 2003.