Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us. This page is a photographic annotation of the email (or regular post) that you may have received. [If you want to see a bigger (and sometimes also wider) version of the pictures, just click on them.] And if you have one of those giant HDTV monitors, I recommend that you shrink your browser window down to about 800 dots instead of 1920. [If you're less than completely computer-literate, try bringing your mouse over to the right edge of the browser window, and when the cursor changes in some way press down your left mouse button and drag the edge to the left so it's around half the monitor width !]
It was a great year, but as I look through the random pictures from 2010 I see that it started out with a few natural disasters. In January, a windstorm sent a tree through the roof of my parents' house in the center of Bedford, as you can see from the picture. Laura was the designated photographer and her efforts to document the damage resulted in full restoration funding from the insurance company.
A couple of months later Massachusetts had some monsoon rains for quite a few days. Our yard was completely flooded, as you can see in the picture at above right, and we did get an inch or two of water in our lower-level basement room. That was nothing compared to what our neighbors had. When you look outside and see a city truck working on the storm sewer, it's not a good sign. They got 18 inches into their basement due to the storm sewer failure. If the picture looks a little fuzzy, that's because it was raining too hard to walk outside with the camera!
Laura fought the elements for a while but then headed to Florida to visit her sister and her father. I can't say that I blame her. She was on the beach while I was vacuuming up the remnants of the water. At least it was a cool day since she had to wear her coat! (Did you ever see that movie about the wife who runs away to Greece? I'm thinking about the scene where she's in perpetual sun on the beach and he's washing dishes as the rain pours down outside his kitchen window in England...)
You might recall that last year we installed a rain barrel. The result of that was that it rained all summer and we didn't really make much use of the barrel. This year it didn't rain and we did conserve water using the barrel. To maintain our green credentials this year, we installed a compost bin (a gift of the kids to Laura). It took a lot of digging (on the left) but the finished product can be seen on the right. It's a mysterious green cone to passers-by.
During Laura's visit to Florida she and her sister Sally were able to visit with their Uncle Charlie who was fighting cancer. We got the sad news that he passed away at the end of May. Laura and I were able to go to the Cape Cod memorial service. Cousin Amy did a great job speaking about her Dad at the memorial service. She was the closest relative to speak; the others were Charlie's good friends. It was a beautiful day on the Cape as you can see on the right, and quite a few people were there from the Butler side of the family as well as from wife Marilyn's side. In the center is cousin John, the son of Charlie's sister Nancy, and at left is Charlie's son Brad and his two kids.
Also in May our friend Yan Hock from Singapore visited us. He has done quite a bit of choral singing and we've always tried to get him a chance to sing with our choir, but it didn't work out until this year, when he sang with our men's ensemble for Mother's Day. That was fun and he proved to be quite a good singer. Yan Hock is a principal in Singapore and he does some traveling to schools in other countries, including a sister school in China, for purposes of learning, teaching, and mentoring. If you talk to Yan Hock or read his trip reports you will understand why many of these Asian countries outscore our kids. He takes it pretty seriously and the effort starts at the top!
We did a lot of vacationing in the summer, starting with our usual trip to the Cape. It's a great time to see the family, and the kids always like spending time with their cousins. We just happened to get a lot of pictures of smaller groups this year; at left are Kate, Matt, and cousin Jeanette. The biggest animal sightings of this year at the Cape had to be the seals. As you can see (especially if you click on the picture to get the wide view), there were hundreds of seals on sand bar on the ocean side of the Cape, each adult weighing between 500 and 1000 pounds. It's no wonder the great white sharks were sighted here and there!
Laura and I went to the ASA conference which is a great time of hearing about and discussing the Christian viewpoint on some of the latest scientific advances. It doesn't make for a lot of great pictures, however! Laura and I spent a little time seeing the sights together before the conference, and Laura took a few hours herself while I went to the conference. The conference was at the Catholic University of America, right on the metro. We had a lot of fun seeing our friends and relatives after the conference, including Laura's mother's cousin Stanley, and Blaine's wife Ann's son Avery. (Clear as mud, right?!?) We stayed with Laura's college friend Connie and visited George Washington's home Mt. Vernon with her. At left we are in one of the Mt. Vernon gardens. On the way home we met Laura's high school friend Tina at a local restaurant. (In the picture left to right are Laura, Tina, and Connie.)
We hosted a party for Blaine's 85th birthday in August. It was a good time with a big crowd, including all three daughters, their husbands, four grandchildren, a niece, a nephew, and a sister-in-law. My parents also were invited, since they're only a few miles away and they know most of the partiers, and certainly the guest of honor. (They're in the back center behind Blaine if you're trying to figure out who everyone is and you're more familiar with the Butler clan!)
Laura did more volunteering than working over the past year. One activity she has been doing is teaching ESL in Bedford along with another teacher. Shown is her class at our house where they talked about the meaning of Christmas. Laura also brought out some Chinese "ice-breaker" cards we recently received from our friends Ed and Janelle, and the students got a kick out of those.
We ended the year on a high note, going down to Stony Brook University for Matt's graduation with my parents. We were able to stay in my Uncle Bill's house which was empty (except for the cats!) because he and my Aunt May were in San Diego. It was nice to be able to do that, and nice to see Matt graduate with his Computer Science degree. Matt will be temporarily staying with us as he looks for a job.
Have a great New Year!
Tim (and for Laura, Kate, and Matt)