THE "CROSS-MAS" CHRONICLES
Dear Friends and Family,
Greetings to all! I hardly know how to start this letter because so much has happened – some good, some less so. We took a couple road trips around America, put over 24,000 miles on the car (~ the earth’s circumference) and visited 11 more capitols, bringing our total to 42 in recent years. However, on our late summer road trip, we came back to massive water damage – not the most controlled way to start a house remodel, but an excellent opportunity to get rid of “stuff.” My mom had stroke-like symptoms just before her 92nd birthday, and, after thoughtful consideration, she is now in assisted living. The kids and grandkids are doing well and so are we, so life is good!!!
Mom – Another Birthday in Rehab
Last year, I threw Mom a 91st birthday party in rehab, and this year, again in rehab, I gave her a 92nd birthday party after an emergency hospital stay, where, after extensive testing, the doctors think she probably didn't have a stroke. After much consternation, she is now in assisted living. She's been healthier, eating better and, for the most part, in good spirits.
Road Trips around the Gulf, up the East Coast, down the Middle and out West
Except for the birthday visit in Oregon, we enjoyed the first part of the year in Houston, which is pleasantly warm, low in humidity and teeming with beautiful azaleas and tropical flowers. In early May, we headed to Alpharetta, GA, to see Rob and Laura and attend the joint birthday party of grandson Peyton (4) and granddaughter Kensie (1). Along the way, we stopped in New Orleans to see friends, and in Birmingham to learn about steel making when the industry was just beginning. After a weekend seeing friends in Atlanta, we headed north toward Kennett Square, (near Philadelphia) to see our oldest son, Richard, his wife Christiane and their very active twin boys, Andrew and Austin. A weekend of their energy was exhilarating and exciting - almost exhausting.
From Kennett Square, we drove west to Pittsburgh and took in Frank Lloyd Wright's awesome “Falling Water” and “Kentuck Knob” along the way. We had never visited Pittsburgh, so we were pleasantly surprised at its attractiveness. Situated at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers merging into the Ohio, it was a Revolutionary War outpost, and also once one of the richest cities in America with the advent of steel making by Andrew Carnegie. In addition to beautiful parks and museums, another “plus” is that you can ride the inclines up Mt. Washington and the busses free with your Medicare card. Besides the sights, we visited John's graduate school roommate, whom we haven't seen in 40 years, one of his high school classmates and her husband, and my niece and her fiancé.
From Pittsburgh, we went to Monroe, MI, birthplace of Col. George A. Custer. In Dearborn, we spent 2 days (we could have spent 3) at The Henry Ford with its incredible museum, Ford F-150 assembly line and Greenfield Village. After seeing the capitol in Lansing, we visited my cousins NW of Chicago before hitting Milwaukee for Miller time, a great tour with generous samples. Heading west, we visited the capitol in Madison, “The House on the Rock” and Talliesen East, Frank Lloyd Wright's first home, studio, school and farm. We saw 2nd cousins in Ellsworth, WI, and John's sister, Jean, and her family in Burnsville, south of Minneapolis. MN’s capitol was under renovation, so we'll have to come back. Besides, John needs to return the boxes and boxes of borrowed family pictures that he plans to scan.
From Minneapolis, we drove northwest toward North Dakota, our last state (not capitol) to visit. When we got to Fargo, we stopped at the visitor center and they showered us with presents – certificates, pins and T-shirts that proclaim we “Saved the Best for Last.” We also had our
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