Christmas 2005

Dear family and friends,

“Time flies when you are having fun.” (According to several news articles last year, scientists actually have proved this.) It certainly has been true for me.

I cannot believe that I have been at my new job for almost two years now, much less living in my new house for about that same amount of time.

Concerning my jobs, one of them got extended for a year as we were asked to apply for another round of the same grant. That means that instead of wondering what I’ll be doing next this year, I can wait until December 2006 to start wondering. It has been fun working with the students, although I guess I feel like a parent sending a child off to college – but I am sending ten of them – as the first group moves from the course work portion of their degree on to the dissertation stage – and out from the grant as well. Our last meeting together as a group will be this January in San Antonio. But I still have my second group. I’ll really have empty-nest syndrome when they finish up.

Concerning my house, I have made a few home improvements. I think I finally have all of the furniture that I’ll be getting for a while. The living room was barren without a coffee table for me to stack the newspapers that I want to read on – I finally got one. And, I wanted a “mission bench” for the entry way. I found one of those as well that has a nice coat rack to go with it.

I also got a couple of flower beds prepared this summer (with some help from some friends) and then this fall I planted some roses and mums (with the help of another friend). The roses are doing well; the mums not so well. But, I am learning more about how to do the “plant” thing.

The big news from the year is that I visited state number 50 this summer. As of last year, I had North and South Dakota and Ohio to see. In July, I made a trip to the Dakotas. In addition to Mount Rushmore (actually the name is “The Shrine of Democracy” which is carved out of Mount Rushmore), the Dakotas have some beautiful places to see. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the southwest part of North Dakota is astounding in its natural beauty. The rangers said that the park is the least visited of the national parks – people are missing a treasure.

Then, in August, I flew to Ohio and visited mostly the northeast part of the state. One of my favorites from there was South Bass Island – off the coast of Ohio in Lake Erie. Go to my Web site to see pictures of all of these and more.

Now that I have finished all of the states, I will have to start on another travel goal. I think I’ll do continents next. Anyone up for a trip to Antarctica?

I hope all of you have an amazingly wonderful Christmas. Something I heard the other day made me stop and think. The angel said to the shepherds, “I bring you good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). If we aren’t experiencing great joy during this season, we have missed the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!