Christmas 1999

Do not be afraid.
I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is Christ the Lord.

Dear Friends,

Our family at Laura's parents house A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us. This year we are continuing the Christmas web page tradition; the author this year is Tim. This page is a photographic annotation of the email (or regular post) that you may have received. We are a little late for Christmas, but pretty much on-time for us. (No, we're not just waiting to see who sends us their letter to prune our list; with email we can send to pretty much everyone.) As usual, we look through our pictures, scan a few good ones, and then write the text. Just like television, if it's not visually appealing, you won't hear about it here! [If you want to see a bigger version of the pictures, just click on them.]

The biggest event of the year was probably the move of Laura's parents from Prescott, AZ to nearby Chelmsford. The picture at right shows us visiting them in their house in Chelmsford. Technically, it's a condo, but actually it's a good-sized house on a small lot with all landscaping, snow removal, etc handled by the association.

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia We did a bit of traveling around this past year, trying to entertain and educate the kids and ourselves. During April school vacation we made an impromptu trip to Philadelphia, a city that none of us had visited previously. The Liberty Bell (photo taken by Katherine) is one attraction we saw. We also visited the Mint, and the Franklin Institute Science Museum. The kids had a lot of interest in a street demonstration we saw in support of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a death row inmate. It was kind of like the 60's, old hat to Laura and me. We have followed his case sporadically in the news since then.

Returning from canoe trip Cape wildlife We made our usual pilgrimage to the Cape in July, and did our usual activities. We were with my parents and my sister Amy and her two daughters this year. It's a good time to see the extended family. It's always fun to go canoeing in the waves, since the Concord River, our local canoeing spot has rapids only during hurricanes. At left Matt, cousin Suzanne, and I are returning from an excursion. Another perennial activity is collecting wildlife from the Bay. At right, Matt and a friend from a nearby cottage examine a crab. No, when they're that size, they don't pinch. Matt has been vacationing at the Cape since birth, so if they did, he'd know.

Provincetown snack Quebec City scenery Another favorite activity is going into Provincetown. Katherine is enjoying a ice cream with her cousin Jeanette at left. For some reason, food seems to play a part in most of our trips to town! My sister visited for a while before and after the trip to the Cape. Laura and Katherine took Amy and Jeanette on a trip up to Quebec City since our family enjoyed it a lot the year before. Amy is teaching French in Cincinnatti, so she is always interested in brushing up on her language and acquiring material which would be useful in her teaching. They had a good time in a whirlwind visit to Quebec. At right is a typical Quebec City street, showing a little of the European-looking architecture.

Well, surely that's about it for one year, right? Where else could we go? California! The kids are always lobbying for Europe, but I insist on the one-step-at-a-time approach. Since nobody in the family had been to California but me (I know, it's hard to believe that Laura, born in Arizona and living for years in Colorado never went there, but it's true), we decided to head for San Francisco in August.

Quebec City Mime San Francisco Mime We saw a couple of old friends of Laura's and mine, Roger from Cleveland State and Purdue days, and John from the early 80's in Massachusetts. We learned a lot and saw a lot. I have always hated mimes (because they always seemed to steal my hats) but we observed a positive trend in mime routines in 1999, internationally! They have decided that the human statue is a cool thing to do, which I applaud since statues don't steal hats. At left is a mime doing a Statue of Liberty routine in Quebec City. He also provides the background for our page, if you look closely. At right is a mime in San Francisco doing his statue routine. They must both read the same mime magazines. This particular event in San Francisco was a Korean festival, at which Mayor Willie Brown made an appearance and quick speech. I always wanted to see him, after following his political career in which he was term-limited out of the State Assembly only to win the Mayor's race. He was quite a good speaker, and fun to see up close. Incidentally, I noticed that he came from behind to win re-election shortly after our visit.

Matt in Alcatraz cell Redwood near San Francisco Well, we saw more than Willie and our friends. We visited the island of Alcatraz, famous penal colony (and American Indian protest site). At left Matt contemplates the bleak accommodations in a cell, with appropriate expression, it seems to me. Around his neck is the cassette player that gives you a self-guided tour. We recommend it. What else would you see around San Francisco? Redwoods, of course. They are just about as big as people say, and we tracked down a nice little forest of them. Our friend John is a fanatic outdoorsman, and he recommended this place which did not disappoint.

Monterrey Aquarium Rock bridge in Yosemite After this we headed for Monterey, and visited the world-famous Aquarium. We have to admit, it's even better than the New England Aquarium in Boston. At left is a picture Matt took through the window at the outdoor tank. What is that, a sea otter? (I'm definitely not a biologist.) That aquarium has a ton of very large tanks, weighing quite a few tons, actually. We were there for a while, and still didn't see everything. You could actually watch the fish in just one tank for quite a while. It is pretty hard to photograph fish in a tank, though.

Our final California picture at right is taken from Yosemite. I forget exactly what altitude we were at, but it was quite a bit higher than the 6000 feet which was the highest I had been previously. A story goes with the picture. After this was taken, Matt scrambled up to be near me and the rock bridge. It looked like it could conceivably fall down one of these days; it wasn't actually very thick. Anyway, as Laura and Katherine came up the back, Matt started across the rock bridge. I yelled at him to stop, but he didn't realize he was on the arch and so he scampered across. Fortunately, Laura couldn't see this escapade or we would have had the sad duty of relating her heart attack in this letter!

Laura's book group Kate and clone at Tae Kwon Do So is that the whole year? Just one trip after another? No, actually we spent most of our time at home. Laura read some books and discussed them with her book group, at left. Katherine continued her Tae Kwon Do classes, and received her black belt. In the picture at right she has just jumped over the kneeling student and broken the board with a kick. At left, her clone does a kick which you can see better. Actually, I guess cloning Katherine was a pretty major event of the year. Either that or the picture is a complete fraud, put together with the aid of the gimp. [Don't believe everything you see on the web.] The kids spent quite a bit of time working on their web sites.

Just to restore balance to our good news report, I will mention that I was framed by criminals in May, and spent significant time trying to clear my name. It's safe to click on it; it has a happy ending, although a few mysteries still remain.

Tim, Laura, Katherine, Matt

Tim's web site - Tim's email address - Laura's email address - Katherine's web sites: first , second - Katherine's email address - Matt's web site