OK, for those of you who got our silly letter with the Christmas Card, here is “The Real News” that is referred to at the end.
At the beginning of the month Judith assumed the duties of printer-in-residence at Village Stationery. This entailed rapidly learning new software (which was so old it runs only on the Windows 98 operating system even though it doesn’t work in the Windows environment) and then advising with the purchase of new software and printer. It was a huge challenge, but it worked out.
In the meantime, Ed was in the final weeks of his holiday-only employment at Barnes & Noble. We made the most of it by buying as much as we could afford on the 30% employee discount (plus the additional 10% Reader’s Advantage discount). Also, Ed’s mom was released from her hospital stay just a few days before New Year’s eve. We got to spend a little bit of time with Ed’s sister Mariayne when she was here to visit over that period of time.
Just as his employment with Barnes & Noble was ending, Ed got an interview with CompUSA and was hired, so there was very little gap between ending one part-time job and starting up with the other. He’s one of only two people at that store who is over 50. Most of the employees are in their 20s and 30s, most of them are male, and the majority of them haven’t got the brains of an ant when it comes to simple problem-solving and customer service.
At Judith’s Offutt job, her office had been in an older building that used to be a dormitory at the turn of the 20th century. At mid-month she was moved back to the main building where the majority of her colleagues were housed. It was somewhat akin to moving into a frat house just because everyone is packed into a single, large room and the noise level is higher. It’s a room that doesn’t have a window, so there are problems with the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. In the winter months there is cold air coming through a wall at her back, and in the summer months the air conditioning makes it so cold that fingers freeze.
Ed’s mom had been in and out of the hospital over the past few months with one problem or another. At the beginning of March she’d been hospitalized again as they tried to get her medications in balance. Once that was done, she was released, but it happened to be on the day that a late-winter snow storm hit. Even Judith’s job at Offutt was closed on account of weather! Ed’s job at CompUSA, however, was still open, so he had to go into work. Judith got Anne home and settled into her apartment, and then the weather cleared up enough the next day. Spring arrived a few weeks later.
It was at the end of March that the furnace died and had to be replaced. In the course of replacing it, the installers pointed out that there was corrosion in a piece of the air conditioning unit and that if the corrosive liquid dripped onto the new furnace it would negate the warranty. Thus, we found ourselves spending about $8,000 on a new furnace AND central air conditioning unit. At least the temperatures outdoors were bearable during this time so that we weren’t freezing overnight!
Good friends Jennifer and Mike in Canton, Georgia, flew us to their home for a lovely weekend toward the end of the month. They held a “Spring Fling” party at their home on the Etowah River. About a hundred people attended. Their friend Tracy cooked up a Low Country Boil, which is small red potatoes, corn on the cob, sausages, and shrimp (if I remember correctly) all boiled together. The water is then drained and people help themselves to the feast! They had two pots going – one with regular spices and one with hotter Cajun spices. Their friends also brought in desserts. We ended up drinking wine around a camp fire down by the river as stars lit up the Southern sky. It was a magnificent retreat, and we are most grateful to them and their friends for their hospitality and kindness
Ed’s sister came to visit at the end of April / beginning of May and started looking into some assisted living facilities for their mom. She won’t be moving into one soon, but the groundwork needed to be done.
At the end of the month we celebrated 14 years of marriage. We’d been through some challenges over the previous year, but we came through them and learned a little more how to be caring with one another. Every year gets a little better, even if the circumstances of living offer us challenges.
Other than attending an art fair at the beginning of this month, we don’t remember much about it. We were working and just trying to get by. Judith’s brother had a major birthday bash toward the end of the month, but we both were too knackered to be able to attend.
Judith set herself to a self-imposed challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. It actually started on June 28th, and she had 50,041 words by July 28th. It is not exactly readable, but it’s written. If she’s still in love with it, she’ll start editing in March 2007. It was hard work and consumed nearly all of her free time, but she’s glad to have done it.
Ed started in work on a huge woodworking project – a bookcase/entertainment center.
About all we remember about August was that it couldn’t be over fast enough. It was hot and humid and all-around uncomfortable.
We finally had to admit that the mattresses we purchased 14 years earlier (on the event of our wedding) needed to be replaced. Those wire springs poking through from the box springs were just too sharp to be ignored. So, we decided to go with a king-sized bed. We got the mattress, box springs, and a frame. Ed will build a headboard some time later. Judith was able to find sheets through some discount stores, so we’re OK and sleeping much better!
Judith’s sister Marcy started coming over on Saturdays to help with some much-needed cleaning. This was initially in preparation of making the house presentable for some guests who were coming over later in the month, but we threw ourselves into it whole-heartedly. Marcy is invaluable when it comes to weeding out long-standing messes and determining what can stay and what should go. She also paces herself very well for the big cleaning jobs such as polishing the silver and crystal. We cleaned several closets, did some long-overdue dusting, and basically threw away a lot of stuff. She even cleaned up Ed’s woodshop! The whole house has been much more pleasant since she started coming over.
We held a small party toward the end of October in which we invited friends over for stew on a cool Sunday evening. It was great having the house slicked up -- no running around at the last minute to make it semi-presentable! We had a lovely time and hope to do it again when our schedules permit.
Marcy came over for one last marathon cleaning event on the first weekend of the month so that the house would be ready for the home inspection on the following Monday. We renegotiated our mortgage, so a home inspection was part of the package. The nice thing was that we got a clean and pleasant living area out of the deal! The biggest challenge was that the water heater died that Saturday morning. We got a new one just in time for the home inspection!
Early in the month Judith attended a dinner for the Nebraska chapter of ASTD (American Society of Trainers & Developers) where she had been nominated for a service award. She accepted the position of 2007 Director of Marketing for the group and is anxious to start digging into her responsibilities there.
Both of us started putting in more hours at our retail jobs with the Christmas shopping season coming upon us. Judith sewed a curtain for a doorway in the stationery shop (it was a real treat digging out the sewing machine from beneath the rubble of that room!) so it would be ready for a special open house in honor of the remodeling that was completed only a month earlier.
Marcy came the Saturday before Thanksgiving and helped us to slick up the place once more. Our guests for Thanksgiving Day dinner were Ed's mom (Anne), Judith's mom (Alice), and Marcy. Ed cook the turkey as well as making (take a deep breath): scalloped potatoes, corn pudding, acorn squash, cheddar dinner rolls, a tossed salad, and two sour cream pecan pies. Marcy brought the stuffing/dressing (from a recipe that Judith's mom has made for years) as well as cranberry relish and a pumpkin pie. We were overwhelmed with food. After the mid-day meal, Ed read a book, Judith and Marcy cleaned up the kitchen, and the two moms had a delightful chat in the livingroom. It was one of the few times they were able to have a discussion without having to deal with a lot of ambient noise coming into their hearing aids!
Christmas Cards started coming in the day after Thanksgiving. Judith had started on hers in September -- a necessity considering how little time she gets in November and December on account of working so many hours. She mailed out the bulk of her cards just prior to December 1st, then mailed the remaining cards and most packages on December 2nd (the first Saturday of the month). There are still a few to go, but it all will get done.
As of this writing (December 5th), we're planning to get a real Christmas tree to set up in the living room, although it might not happen until next week. Christmas cards continue to arrive along with best wishes and many smiles.
Merry Christmas / Happy Hanukkah / Glorious Festivus / Joyous Solstice / Cheerful Kwanzaa, and best wishes for all good health and happiness in the new year.