Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Letter 2006

Dear Family and Friends,

Every time I sit down to write our annual Christmas letter, I reflect on life's changes. A year ago at this time, the business I had started in Grand Junction, Colorado was shutting down and I was looking for a real job, Nan was working at Aspen Valley Hospital and coming home to the house we had bought in GJ on weekends, and we were both wondering what to do next. Job opportunities in GJ were few and paid poorly, but as luck would have it, after posting my résumé on, I received an email message that my old job at AVH was available again. It had been almost two years since I was laid off and I wasn't sure if I should apply, but Nan insisted. They hired me back without even an interview, not as Network Administrator but rather in the newly created position of Database/Internet Administrator. I started in late February, leaving behind my interim employment as a ski instructor at Powderhorn Resort, a great little ski mountain just outside of GJ. My half of the photo shows me in uniform but free skiing on Powderhorn's best powder day of the season, March 12, after it snowed four feet in two days.

Nan and I agreed that it didn't make sense to move back into our Aspen house, which was being rented at the time. The move to GJ had been an ordeal and we weren't eager to repeat the experience. And besides, we had grown fond of our living situation in GJ--the friendly climate, the good shopping and restaurants, the beauty of the high desert. We just couldn't afford both mortgages. So we found a house to rent downvalley and put the Aspen house up for sale in May as the lease ran out. We thought we could save on commissions by trying to sell it on our own, but the negotiating process was too draining, so we listed it with an old friend who had a firm offer in less than a week. We closed at the end of August. Now I guess we're former Aspenites even though we both still work there and live, during the work week anyway, just down the road.

These transitions didn't leave us much opportunity for travel this year. We carried through on reservations we had made almost a year in advance to spend a June week in Las Vegas, originally to attend the annual eBay convention, but my struggling business had eliminated any enthusiasm for that pursuit. Instead we walked all over the Strip, read novels by the pool at the Paris hotel, gambled a little and saw two great Cirque du Soleil shows, the Beatles' "Love" show and "O".

Nan and I both made it home to Wisconsin on separate trips for family time. My sister Susan organized a small family reunion that brought the Chicago contingent to Milwaukee for a day of food, fun, reminiscence and music. The rest of the week was a blur of spotty golf, a concert with sister Jane in Chicago and a visit to the Wisconsin State Fair. Nan's visit home brought together almost all of her eleven siblings. In between visiting around the dinner table at 846, Nan attended the Fall Festival at Camp Sinawa, where her father was so involved, and made day trips to see sister Sarah's family in Green Bay and old friends in Door County.

Most of our weekends were spent in GJ working on our new house, but we also managed a few weekends elsewhere, like in Moab, Utah a few weeks ago, where Nan ran in the Winter Sun 10K. As you can see in her half of the photo, Santa was there to record her finish time, which was good enough for third place in her age group.

We'll be making up for the lack of travel in a big way next year, including a repeat of our 2004 sailing adventure in the British Virgin Islands, this time on a bigger boat with Nan's sister Monica and friend Vicky as crew. Hopefully, it will go more smoothly than our ill-fated "Where's the dinghy?" experience.

Things definitely appear to be looking up, not just for us but also for our country. The November election proved that most people, at least the ones who vote, are paying attention and want a return to peace and sanity. We're hoping the momentum carries through to 2008, when we expect to see the election of our first African-American president. Go Barack!

Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!

Love, John and Nan