Tuesday, December 22, 2009

2009 in Review

This is the annual Christmas letter sent out to friends. This year it's been so delayed that if the post office is efficient, the letters we mail will arrive sometime between Christmas and New Years!

Merry Christmas 2009
It’s been a busy grand-parenting year! Our first 2009 trip was a drive to Arkansas in our gas-sipping Honda Insight for a New Years visit with George’s daughter Lynne, her husband Blake, and our granddaughter Devin. We went back again the first two weeks in May to be resident grandparents to Devin while her parents Lynne and Blake celebrated their 20th anniversary with an adventure trip to Costa Rica.
Devin is two years old and so is Kaylee, daughter of my son, Mark. Mark and his family live only an hour away, so several times every month throughout the year we are able to visit and have dinner with Mark, his wife Emmie, and grandchildren Dylan and Kaylee.
In February, after Super Bowl weekend, we decided to escape the icy-cold Virginia weather, and packed up the Chinook RV for a dash to the tropical surroundings of Florida. The trouble with that plan, however, was that the cold front followed us all the way to the Florida Keys, and we discovered that while we were dealing with Florida temperatures in the 30’s, in Virginia it had climbed back up to the 50’s! Still, we enjoyed some wonderful bird watching in the Florida Everglades.
In March I dug a monster hole almost six feet deep in the front yard to uncover a break in the water line. We spent a chilly week with friends and family at Emerald Isle beach in North Carolina, enjoying walks on the beach and playing lots of music together in the evenings with harp, recorders, tin whistle, autoharp, banjo ukulele, and hammered dulcimer.
Jane’s artificial knees, put in five years ago, are doing well. After training, she felt strong enough to join me in the annual Monument Avenue 10k, along with almost 33,000 other walkers and runners. Jane walked, I ran; we both finished. After it was over, in a moment of seventy-one year old madness, I signed up for and began training four times a week with the Richmond Marathon Training Team. Extra aerobic exercise was provided in May by digging a monster five foot deep hole to locate a second water main break in the front yard!
With the warm weather and the approach of summer, we enjoyed paddling our recreational kayaks on outings to the James and other Virginia rivers. My stepfather Forrest Keck died in June at age 100, and we spent some time in Oakland, California taking care of affairs and visiting with my relatives. We drove to Redding in northern California for a visit with my son Bruce, who is working on a degree in nursing there. The three of us explored the countryside, and climbed the slopes of Mt. Lassen.
We flew from California to Victoria, British Columbia, the springboard city for several weeks of touring and kayaking on Vancouver Island. First, we made our way with eight friends from Richmond to God’s Pocket on Hurst Island for a week of daily sea-kayaking and hiking on the shores of islands we visited, seeing lots of eagles, other sea and shore birds, porpoises, orcas, and humpback whales. The two of us meandered back south down the island, ending with several days at wonderful Victoria, being hosted by a college friend of Jane’s who lives in Victoria.
In late July we hosted our Kansas City great-nephew Alex. For a week we and Linda, Jane’s sister, delighted in providing East Coast adventures before bringing him with us for an early August beach week at Emerald Isle NC with his grandparents. By now my marathon training runs had increased to over 25 miles a week, and at the end of the month I completed my first half-marathon. We found that the demands of the training ate amazing amounts of time as the mileages increased, but did find time to get out sailing a few times in September in our boat “Starlady” on the Mobjack Bay.
October was busy with a visit in Bedford, VA with French visitors to the Bedford D-Day Memorial, another week at our favorite beachfront cottage in Emerald Isle, and the home stretch of long-run training for George. We co-wrote and presented a planetarium program for the Science Museum of Virginia, one of four we did this year. As November approached, we flew off to Costa Rica for a delightful week with George’s cousin Mary, her husband Bill and several other couples. We went sailing, snorkeling, visited national parks, soaked in mineral-laden hot springs, climbed and rode a zip line through the rain forest before heading back into colder weather.
In mid-November the local NBC station interviewed me as the oldest member of the 1,200 people on the Richmond Marathon Training Team. The marathon was on a cool Saturday morning, and my friend Marilyn popped up next to me on the course several different times, jogging with me for many miles, waving a sign on which she had painted "GO GEORGE GO!" and encouraging onlookers to join the chant! Jane managed to observe my progress from four different vantage points along the marathon route, at one place playing loud cheering on a boom-box. As I crossed the finish line at 6 hours, 2 minutes, and 43 seconds, the TV crew was there to catch the old geezer finishing. That same evening we both danced at the wedding reception of our friends Leslie and Scott. To top off November, my daughter Lynne and I went on a trip to Panama for a week with plane tickets and accommodations I had won in a drawing!
On December 8th we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Friends and family joined us at the James Center downtown to enjoy the Christmas lights, a celebratory dinner, and a Christmas concert. We are planning to spend Christmas Day with 98 year old Aunt Mary Frances and Jane's sister Linda. Then we will fly to Kansas City to visit Andy, Jane’s brother, and his family. A quick trip to see Devin (and of course, her parents) in Arkansas will bring our year to a close.
Best wishes for a wonderful 2010 to you and those you love.

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