Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007

Christmas Letter 2007 graphic Dear Family and Friends,

Time passes so quickly these days, our Christmas letters are starting to read like chapters in a serialized novel. By the time the last one has been mailed, it’s time to start thinking about the next. What to do for a cliffhanger though?

This year was a big one for us. We made up for all the travel and experiences we didn’t get to do last year while we were going through our home ownership transition. Much of that travel was the back-and-forth shuffle between our jobs at Aspen Valley Hospital and our home in Grand Junction. We shared a house down the road from Aspen in Basalt during the work week and drove home every weekend, partly to water the plants and check the mail, partly because it was home and it felt right to be there. But as of November 1st, when Nan ended her nineteen-year career at AVH, we are now full-time Grand Junctionites. Nan just started a new job here as Surgery Coordinator for Community Hospital, and I am telecommuting now to my job as the Database/Internet Administrator for AVH. It’s working out well so far, and our dog Charlie seems less confused.

The fun travel started last January. I was looking to expand my sailing horizons so I joined sailor/writer John Kretschmer and a group sailing John’s 47-foot cutter from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas and back. It was rough crossing the Gulf Stream overnight while beating into the wind, but we enjoyed the Settlement on Grand Bahama and the quick surf back. It was smooth enough on the return to practice using sextants to determine our latitude, confirming our position with the ship’s GPS.

To build her sailing confidence in anticipation of our upcoming May sailing trip to the British Virgin Islands, Nan took the American Sailing Association basic keelboat class in St. Petersburg, Florida in April. She surprised herself by passing both the written and practical exams. Our Christmas picture this year shows Nan happily putting her new knowledge to work at the helm of the boat we chartered in the BVI.

The May sailing trip was a dream, especially compared to our 2004 misadventure. Chartering a larger, safer boat and having Nan’s sister Monica and her friend Vicky along made all the difference. It was a first-time experience for both of them, but after they got over the feeling that the boat was going to tip over when it heeled, they pitched in on all the sailing duties. Good weather, smooth seas, excellent snorkeling and plenty of conch fritters kept everybody happy.

In August we visited family, Nan hers and me mine. Nan went home to Manitowoc to celebrate two milestone birthdays, sister Sue’s 60th and sister Amy’s 50th. Sister Sarah, the ninth and final Mullins daughter, and her husband Ian hosted the festivities at their home in Green Bay, complete with a This Is Your Life-style trivia contest.

I drove to Washington State with Charlie for a week-long Lichty family reunion celebration of Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary at sister Jane and her husband Josh’s homes on Whidbey Island and in Seattle. We toured the island, we hiked the beaches, and Charlie experienced sea water for the first time, prompting him to puke in the back of Jane’s van. Back in Seattle, we visited the art museum and aquarium, and celebrated Jane and Josh’s twins Max and Ben’s 10th birthdays.

In September we traveled to Italy for the first time. We wandered around Florence for a few days, reliving the Renaissance through the architecture of the Duomo and the artwork at the Ufizzi gallery, all the while partaking of the great food and wine. Then we took the train to the coast to meet up with The Wayfarers for a week-long package walking tour of the Cinque Terre and Italian Riviera with a terrific group of fellow Americans. The coastal views of the Mediterranean and the compact, pastel-colored towns were spectacular. At a walking pace, putting in about ten miles a day, we had plenty of time to appreciate them. If you’d like to see for yourself and you have a high-speed Internet connection, there are slideshows with captions on my blog at http://whisperingjesse.blogspot.com. After the hike ended, we stopped in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower on our way back to Florence, where we spent another day that included a visit to the Academia museum to see Michelangelo’s David.

October saw us witnessing Brett Favre’s bomb to Greg Jennings to beat the Denver Broncos in overtime. It does the heart good to see an athlete past his prime having probably his best season ever. Maybe Brett will have one more chance at a Super Bowl before he retires. Maybe he’ll play another season. Either way, go, Pack, go!

After that whirlwind of travel and the job and living adjustments, we’re happy now to be spending time settling into new routines and finally unpacking the last of the boxes from our move more than two years ago. There’s snow on the high desert, making for a rare white Christmas and good skiing at Powderhorn. We’ll be here enjoying both this holiday season. Here’s hoping for plenty of snow and the best this season has to offer for you and yours, now and in the New Year.


John and Nan and Charlie


Linda Armstrong said...

Hello! Welcome to Grand Junction. My husband and I moved here from Los Angeles ten years ago and we only wonder why we waited so long.

What sort of writing do you do? I am a freelancer specializing in supplementary materials for classroom teachers, but I have also published fiction, magazine articles, and contemporary free verse.

Nice to "meet" you.

John Lichty said...

Nice to meet you, too, Linda. We're liking it in Grand Junction as well, although we wish the cold weather would clear out soon. The mild climate was one of our reasons for moving here.

I mostly write for enjoyment and stress release, but I have a paid assignment to write a sailing article coming up this spring. If that goes well, it could lead to an interesting future.

I checked your blog and it has some excellent content. Keep up the good work!