2009 is all but done…

Mount Washington Summit

Mount Washington Summit

… it’s been an interesting year. Lisa is still at the same job she’s been doing since she started work in 1985, but after several changes of ownership is back with General Motors again. Roger continues taking care of the house and yard, as well as lots of computer related work for the Western Michigan Genealogical Society and the Clan Moffat Society. Roger also helps others with genealogy websites, and has customers as far away as Denmark and Israel.



Zoe and Kathy

with the towel pharoah headgear

2009 started out right after Christmas 2008. We brought Kathy back with us from Ann Arbor and picked up Zoe so the 2 of them could spend a few days here with Uncle Roger and Aunt Lisa. We learned that the secret to getting them to sleep in is to let them stay up really late. But we didn’t discover that until the second morning, so Lisa’s peaceful morning wasn’t as much as she’d hoped for on her holidays.

During the Winter and Spring Roger taught after school Lego Engineering at 2 different schools, and later in the year got to see the Lego Team from Byron Center go to the Regional Finals and then the State Finals of First Lego League.

Delicious as always....

Lisa, Minor and Mary Lee ready to dine on the porch. RIP Minor.

We had what is becoming our annual trip to Bar Harbor, Maine again, to stay with Steve and Jane, and help out with the Fundraiser that they help put on. This year’s dinner theme was a murder mystery, with the dinner guests getting to act out their various parts in the mystery. It had most of them confused until the very end when the identity of the killer was revealed. On the way to Maine we made our stop in Delaware to see Mary Lee and Minor again. Minor was more frail than we’d ever seen him, and sadly he passed later in the year. One of their sons has moved from Alaska to stay with Mary Lee now.

The Last Rail

The last piece of the Green Mountain Railway line still on the mountainside. The rows of spikes set into the rock mark the route of the tracks.

While in Bar Harbor we managed to spend some time touring around to some places we’ve been before and some places we’d never been before – out to Schoodic Head to see the full weight of the Atlantic Ocean crashing ashore and a day trip to Deer Island. And we completed what we couldn’t finish last year – found and walked up the entire length of the long ago defunct and removed Green Mountain Cog Railway up what is now called Cadillac Mountain from Eagle Lake to near the summit. Very little remains – just one length of railway track, but the metal spikes that were drilled into the rock to hold the whole thing to the side of the mountain still exist almost all the way from bottom to top.

Cog Engine "Waumbeek"

At the summit of Mount Washington.

The railway only ran for a few years in the 1890s before it was dismantled. The engines were taken to Mount Washington in New Hampshire where they operate to this day on the Mount Washington Cog Railway taking tourists to the top of Mount Washington. So on our way home we detoured to Mount Washington to take that trip up – a kind of bone jarring, sooty, rattling, noisy, very cold trip – even in June it has snowed at the summit (6,300 feet above sea level) the day before. It is supposedly the windiest place on earth.

On June 11 Roger had surgery on his right knee to repair a tear in the medial meniscus. The surgery went very well and he came home on crutches after the surgery and was walking on it again the next day. That knee is much better now.

Party Time

Zoe and Friends at Zoe's 9½ birthday party at Gun Lake.

But a few days after the surgery Roger noticed a small rash on his side. The next day it was a bigger rash, and the next day even bigger – 5-6 inches across looking like a bulls-eye. A trip to the Urgent Care Centre produced the diagnosis of Lyme Disease, which comes from a bite from a deer tick – something so small as to be almost impossible to see. Antibiotics were prescribed, and blood taken so it could be tested for Lyme Disease and its anti-bodies. The next day, with fever of nearly 103°F (39.4°C) back to the Urgent Care Centre, more antibiotics so for a while he was on 3 different ones. This cleared it up, and a subsequent blood test didn’t detect any Lyme Disease anti-bodies, so hopefully it was killed by the antibiotics before any real damage was done – there is nothing good to read about Lyme Disease and its side effects. The likely scenario is that during the climb up Cadillac Mountain following the cog railway path the little bugger jumped from the vegetation onto Roger and found him delicious enough to bite.

At the end of June we “camped” at Gun Lake, about 20 minutes south of Caledonia for Zoe’s 9½ birthday for a couple of days with Kurt and Ann, Zoe and a bunch of her friends. It was unnecessarily hot, so the proximity of the lake was a good thing.

Luminaria Avenue

Looking along the two lines of Luminaria

The Inlaws and Outlaws

Roger, Ann Christensen and Lisa Christensen. Ann is married to Lisa's cousin, and is a breast cancer survivor.

There were 2 Cancer walks during the year – the 24 hour “Relay for Life” in May, and then the 5 Km “Walk for the Cure” in downtown Grand Rapids in October.

We took part in both of those. The 24 hour “Relay for Life” turned out to be about 21 hours – we had great weather Friday afternoon and evening which was particularly good for the luminaria ceremonies – a bag with a candle in it for each person being remembered or honoured by participants, but cold rainy weather on the Saturday morning drained the enthusiasm and the organisers decided to let us stop early, so we could get our sites packed up and tidied away.

the shiny propellor cones kept us amused...

Flames

what you get when there are no balloons above the baskets...

In July Roger’s brother Alistair arrived for one of his very quick visits on his way to a computer conference somewhere in the USA. We paid the obligatory visit to the giant horse at Meijer Gardens in the morning as well as a quick tour through downtown Grand Rapids. In the afternoon we headed off to Jackson – about 1½ hours away – to see a hot air balloon festival. Alas the weather gods weren’t smiling on us – it was too windy for them to attempt to launch the balloons, so we had to make do with some flying demonstrations by a small number of World War II planes, as well as watching the balloon pilots shoot flames into the air from their burners without the balloons. But we did have fun taking our pictures in the super shiny propellor cones on the old planes.


Grand Haven Fireworks

Grand Haven Fireworks


We got to see two lots of impressive fireworks this year. The first was the July 4th fireworks in downtown Grand Rapids. We had Dinner Club at Don and Mindy’s house that night and after dinner walked downtown to pre-chosen spot by the Grand River from where we could watch the fireworks being launched over the Grand River (along with a few tens of thousands of other people). Then a few weeks later we went out to Grand Haven and had dinner with friends Bob and Bobbi and then walked down to the waterfront in Grand Haven and watched the Coast Guard Celebration fireworks display.

Kyle and Zoe - Banner Carriers for WMGS

Kyle and Zoe - Banner Carriers for WMGS

Like the economies of many places, the economy of Michigan is pretty sad shape, and one area of cuts we weren’t happy about was to funding for the Library of Michigan, which has been collecting Michigan’s history since 1828 – before Michigan was a state! Genealogists and Librarians rallied to support the Library and urge the knuckle-heads politicians to spend the measly few million dollars they were trying to save to keep the Library of Michigan and its collection of history intact in its relatively new, purpose built building. To that end Roger attended 2 rallies at the Library of Michigan – the first one, “Hands Around the Library” he took Kyle and Zoe with him as part of the Western Michigan Genealogical Society contingent who attended a rally on the steps of the Capitol, and then marched over to the Library of Michigan where about 1,000 people encircled the Library building holding hands. It wasn’t until they were in the car on the way home afterwards that Zoe told Roger she’d been worried about being arrested – having seen protests on TV news that often had a large police presence that led to arrests. She didn’t realise just how little trouble a bunch of Genealogists and Librarians could be. On the way home they detoured by the local television station and Roger gave them copies of the movies he’d taken that day on his digital camera. That got turned into about 20 seconds of fame for them all on that evening’s news.

Guitar Heroes

Kyle doing his thing while Kathy and Zoe look on.

Roger took Kyle and Zoe, and Kathy to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan for a day again – the 3rd year in a row for this trip. There’s always lots to see and do there, including Roger finding out that he might be good with computers, but is hopeless at the video game “Guitar Hero”. Kyle and Kathy were the clear leaders here!!

As the end of Summer approached we again attended a series of free (to members) concerts at the Meijer Gardens. For 5 weeks the weather co-operated beautifully, and one of the concerts had a very memorable ending when a meteorite was seen streaking across the sky above the amphitheater stage.

September saw us heading to Wisconsin with Lisa’s Mum (well she came with us after Roger went to Ann Arbor and picked her up) to attend a Christensen family get together in honour of cousin Sue’s marriage to Bill. They had been married sometime earlier, but this was a chance for most of the Christensens to get together to meet Bill. So we drove the 6 hours to Wisconsin on a Friday, and back home again on Sunday.

Strawberry Fields Forever

almost as far as the eye can see - strawberry fields, machines and farm workers.

At the start of October Roger went to Ventura, California for the Clan Moffat Society AGM. This marked the 12th consecutive AGM Roger has been to. It was a smaller than usual gathering this year – no doubt the costs of getting and staying there were a factor. The hotel was over the road from what seemed like it was the world’s largest strawberry patch – many, many hundreds of acres growing only strawberries in fields laid out to cater to the various machines used.

Western Michigan Genealogical Society celebrated its 55th anniversary the first weekend in November with an Awards Banquet and a Seminar. Roger was the lead organiser for this, and we hosted “The Genealogy Guys” – 2 speakers from Florida who presented a programme at the Awards Banquet, and then each made 4 presentations during Saturday to a little over 100 people. Roger received “The President’s Award” for having “displayed outstanding leadership and involvement in the organisation”. That is the first time this award has been given.

Around home the big outside project for the year was raising the front porch up. It was levelled up on 7 jacks and then 8 new posts set 3-4 feet into the ground in concrete to hold it up – the poor construction job done originally had allowed the front edge of the porch to sink – in places up to 4 inches (10 cm) – pulling the porch roof down with it. That took Roger quite a few weeks towards the end of Summer, and even though it needs finishing off next year it certainly looks a lot better than it did!! Lisa had several periods of being laid off from her job for a week or more at a time. Several rooms got new curtains and shades, all hand made, a fresh coat of paint and the dining room also got its wood floor refinished.

Lots of other photos and blog posts are available from the Home Page

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