Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! Merry Christmas from Houston!! We hope you’ve had a good year! Ours has been very exciting and full of milestones – graduations, new jobs, new cities, 35-year anniversary, etc.,etc,… We are very happy to report two more graduations in the family – David, our youngest son, received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and Richard’s wife Christiane was awarded her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, also from Georgia Tech. Fortunately, everyone found jobs, and with the jobs, they are really spread out around the country – Richard and Christiane on the East Coast (on the move from Wilmington, DE to the Baltimore area), Robert and Laura in the South (Atlanta area), and David in the Midwest (Chicago). Now that everyone is employed and “off payroll,” I guess John and I are “free to move around the country” – and the world!
We Went to London to Visit the Queen
Well, not exactly “visit,” but we did see her!!! In early June, John and I left for England, embarking on our first overseas trip together in years. For the first week, we toured Cornwall in southwest England, seeing sites such as Stonehenge, Plymouth, Land’s End, St. Ives, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Oxford and Bath. In going from place to place, we were impressed with the rugged and natural coastline, and beautiful, mostly uncommercial villages. The countryside was gorgeous - a beautiful random matrix of green and lush pastures dotted with cows and sheep and separated by tall, green-growing hedges. The second week we stayed with my cousins Mike and Thresa Meeuwsen in London. We had a fabulous time visiting them and some of the highlights of London, such as Churchill’s WWII Bunkers near Parliament, the British, Victoria and Albert, and Imperial War museums, the National Portrait Gallery (which includes a portrait of Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts), Kensington Palace, Hampton Court, Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, the Tower of London, and Hendon Air Museum, which includes an amazing collection of vintage aircraft. However, one of the high points of the trip was to see the Queen at the Trooping of the Colour, her ceremonial birthday. On that day, there is a huge parade of her colorful guards in red uniforms and black bear hats, marching or on horseback. We were very close to the parade and got great photos of Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Prince Harry as they passed by in their carriage. The grand finale was a three-part flyover of various vintage planes and jets. We were so lucky to be London for this amazing and impressive pageantry - the Brits really know how to do ceremony!
Summer in Oregon Seeing Family and Friends and Volunteering at Fort Clatsop
After 18 days in Europe, John and I did a quick (less than 48 hour) turnaround and headed to Oregon, where I stayed for 5 weeks until the end of July and John stayed for the rest of the summer until early September. The quick turnaround was prompted by a great clamming tide in progress that week. We took Mom and Dad and headed off to Sunset Beach, and with great weather, got our limits of very tasty clams. After about a week in Hillsboro eating lots of fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries from their farm and garden, we took off in the motor home toward Astoria to volunteer at Fort Clatsop, the National Historic Park that commemorates where Lewis and Clark spent their 1805-1806 winter after making the first over-land trek to the Pacific Ocean. If you haven’t been to this park, we highly recommend it. Besides the nice weather, the trees and the Oregon coast, the history associated with the Lewis and Clark expedition is incredibly fascinating. At the Fort, John led the “Fort to Sea” trail and, in period costume, gave talks on such topics as trading with the Indians, making fire with flint and steel, the history of the Star Spangled Banner, and shooting the flintlock rifle. John and I both conducted park surveys and answered lots of visitor questions. The whole experience was a lot of fun, and we met lots of interesting people. We also learned US history by becoming FOWL (Friends of Warrenton Library) and watching - and falling asleep to - lots of historical videos, on such topics as the Civil War, Lewis and Clark, Thomas Jefferson and the Oregon Trail.
In between our volunteering days (3 days/week), we wound down the Oregon Coast to Lincoln City, where we visited my college friend, Susie (Webb) and her husband Italo Rebecchi, and, with them, took hikes in the woods and along the beach. On another break, we went north to Washington to visit college friends, Lynne and Gene Olson. With them, we water-skied on Lake Sammamish, took in various museums in Tacoma, including the famous Chihuly Glass Bridge and saw a play in Vancouver, B.C. On the return, we saw friends, Ellen and Steve Kline, in Anacortes, WA, and with their family, boated through Deception Pass, toured San Juan Island and hiked some of the most beautiful areas of the West Coast. The San Juans are truly a paradise! Can’t wait to go back!
John Continues Tutoring, Flying and Photography
John continues to enjoy his hobbies of flying and photography. Almost daily, he posts interesting photos and not-always-politically-correct commentary in the “What I did today” section of his photo website http://www.pbase.com/ johncrossphotography. His latest project is scanning and keywording all of the photos we’ve ever taken. He bought a phenomenal Nikon film scanner that is really amazing – it color corrects and even edits out dust! However, we have over 35 years of mostly-film pictures, so this is truly a massive project, but I’m so very happy he’s doing it.?
John continues to tutor math, chemistry and physics, as well as calculus and statistics, to about 40, mostly high school, students. John makes learning math and science so much fun, the students love to come.
Ginny Now a “Free Agent” Tries Tutoring
I’m now a “free agent,” (in more ways than one), as my division of Unidym was disbanded just before Christmas last year. Since I’ve been laid off before, this was no big deal for me. Actually, I welcomed having lots more free time. However, I decided to see if I would like tutoring, so, last December, I started with Chemistry, Geometry, SAT Math and Algebra I and II. This fall, I added Pre-Cal and Physics, my favorite. I found tutoring interesting, challenging, and personally rewarding. As opposed to the big corporate culture, you feel appreciated by the students (and their parents) when the student gains understanding and, especially, when grades improve. Also, the kids are really interesting, fun, and equipped with all the latest electronic gadgets, so we can keep in touch with the coolest technology. Since the students don’t come until late afternoon, I have most of the day to do my own thing, like leisurely have coffee and read the paper. This is the good life!
Home Improvement Hotline – What to Do with the “Stuff”?
As those of you “Empty Nesters” know, the kids may leave, but their “stuff” usually stays behind. The perennial question is “What to do with the “stuff”? Redecorating is difficult in view of the “stuff.” Last year I was all fired up to clean up all the “stuff” in the upstairs bedrooms where the boys used to live. My resolve was pretty weak, because instead of tackling the “stuff,” I lazed around reading and relished my quiet time, which was all very enjoyable. I would still like remove the “stuff,” get new carpeting, have the rooms all coordinated and everything, but, instead of boring you year after year, I’ll just let you know when some “stuff” really happens. Until then, I’ll just keep the removal of “stuff” on the perpetual “New Year’s Resolutions” list - you know, along with the one to lose 10 pounds.
Richard, 28, gets a new Job and Christiane earns her Ph.D. and also gets a Job!!!
In May, we were happy to celebrate with Richard as his wife, Christiane, was awarded her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Georgia Tech. In February, after successfully defending her thesis, she started a job as a product specialist at W.L. Gore in Elkton, MD. She loves her job and gets to travel to a lot of very nice places. Richard has just taken a new job with EADS (European Aerospace Defense and Space Co.) in Arlington, VA in the Washington, D.C. area, where he will be the Business Intelligence Manager working on planning and strategy and mergers and acquisitions. They will soon relocate from Wilmington, DE to the Baltimore, MD area to be centrally located between their jobs.
Robert, 26, and Laura Buy a House in Alpharetta, Georgia
Robert and Laura were married in May last year and celebrated their first anniversary this year on the Isle of Capri as part of a 2-week trip to Italy. In the summer, they closed on their first house – a beautiful home on a wooded lot in Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. In November, we visited them and had a great weekend including going through Uncle Shuck’s corn maze and trying out a number of great restaurants. Laura continues to be the Multi-Channel Marketing Manager for the InterContinental Hotel Group and Robert is still with the Defense and Space Systems Division of EMS Technologies, where he’s involved with antennas and satellites for the B-2 bomber and F-22 fighter.
Dave, 23, Graduates in Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Lands a Job in Finance
David is 23 and, in May, graduated from Georgia Tech in Mechanical Engineering. After a boring Mech. Eng. internship, he found his passion in finance last summer in a fast-paced, exciting internship at a Wall Street hedge fund. After the summer, layoffs in finance were rampant, so chances for a MechEng to land a job in that area looked incredibly remote. However, in April, David found a posting on the Georgia Tech BuzzNet site looking for a programmer at a trading company in Chicago. Instead of applying as a programmer, he applied as a trader. He landed an interviewed just before Easter, got an offer the following Monday and accepted on Wednesday. A couple weeks later, he looked for a place to live and couple weeks after that, packed up everything he could fit in the Camry and drove 18 hours to his new adventure. He now lives in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago and works at TransMarket Group, a proprietary trading company. Since he started, he’s been trading fixed income securities on the European Exchange, which means he often gets up at midnight and works from about 1 am to about noon. Not my kind of hours, but Dave loves it.
New Year’s Christmas in Atlanta
Since all of our kids are spread out in different cities, we didn’t make the annual Thanksgiving-with-turkey pilgrimage to Atlanta. However, we will all be together at Rob and Laura’s for “Christmas” between Christmas and New Year’s. This time, besides stuffing the car with a 24-pound Texas-size turkey, we will also “stuff” it with Robert’s drum set. We can’t wait to play Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble, watch football, and - of course - eat turkey, with the family.
Well, that's it from us! Hope to hear from you, too!! And all the best for a very Merry Christmas and a Great New Year!