Last year I noted that it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas with snow on the ground. This year it’s looking more like Christmas down under!!. Up to 7 December we’ve had about 12 mm (1/2”) of snow so far this Winter and that came in October. This past week we’ve had a record high of 69°F*(20°C).

Loading... This year we haven’t traveled so much, and in fact the only plane I’ve been on was a 20 minute “tourist” ride in a 1929 Ford TriMotor. My brother Alistair (from Australia) stopped in for a couple of days in March “on his way” to Utah. We spent a day out and about, going to a local nature reserve where we saw maple syrup being made, and checked out the old single room school on the property – Alistair to make sure he knew where we were. He managed to catch the start of the strike of the ComAir pilots as he tried to leave here, so we ended up driving him to Detroit so that Delta could move him from there. There were more problems to come later in the year.

Our property is on the wandering path of the local deer and these three passed through a few times. Unfortunately they think that we’re growing things like trees and roses solely for their enjoyment. Rabbits continue to munch away on things they shouldn’t, but they’re more easily., and legally dealt with.

We spent part of the spring and early summer chasing around after Jeremy and the East Kentwood High School baseball team. They made it through the season to the quarter finals of the state championship where they were beaten by the team that ended up being State Champions. Jeremy is now at college (Western Michigan University) and is trying out to play on the baseball team there, so maybe we’ll get to more games yet.

In June we had what has become an annual trip to Delaware to “The Porch Party” – a gathering of online buddies, most of whom have known each other for 6-7 years online now. We meet each year for a day at Mary Lee’s place where we are more than well fed, get to fiddle with computers and enjoy great weather which she has managed to arrange every time so far.

Loading... In July we again went to the Air Show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and spent 3 days there looking at thousands of planes flying, and displaying – got to stand only a few feet from General Chuck Yeager even after he’d flown a Mustang fighter plane in a demonstration!!! On the way to Oshkosh we stopped in Chicago for a day to see “Sue” – the T-Rex skeleton which was newly on display – the largest most complete skeleton of a T-Rex found so far. There was a nice butterfly exhibit there also.

At the start of September we headed off to Estes Park 7500 feet (2300 m) up in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado for the Clan Moffat Society Annual Meeting. I drove the car out over 2 days (1300 miles = 2100 km), and Lisa flew out to Denver on the third day and I met her at the airport. That way we saved an airfare and had a car to use while we were there. Our hotel had a great view over Lake Estes to the mountains. The forecast before we left was for warm/hot weather, and so we didn’t really take enough warm clothing with us. We woke Saturday morning to 2 inches of new snow on the ground and had to have a hasty shopping expedition for some warm clothes.

Unfortunately I didn’t feel well up there some of the time, possibly due to altitude. So we decided that Lisa would travel back with me in the car over 2 days, instead of flying back on Tuesday. On Monday 10 September, our last day there, we drove up into the mountains to the highest point on the road (over 12,000 feet, 3,700 m), and a bit further on to see the scenery before heading back down, and onto the road home through Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois. Tuesday morning as we prepared to leave our motel in western Nebraska we were shocked to see the second plane crash into the World Trade Center live on TV, and soon realized that at least from our point of view it was a good thing Lisa was with me in the car – otherwise she’d have been stranded at Denver Airport and I’d be on the road in Nebraska somewhere. So we spent that day listening to the radio while driving 720 miles (1160 km) across Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. Around mid-day Tuesday, after all planes were grounded we heard on the radio that President Bush was at an Air Force base in Nebraska – we’d been past it earlier, then later in the afternoon the radio announced he’d left Nebraska heading back to Washington, and not long after that we saw the jet trails of Air Force One, and the accompanying fighter jets as they headed East – the only jet trails in an empty sky most of that day. We arrived home Wednesday midday.

We were able to make contact with my brother Alistair who was in New Orleans at a computer conference and was stranded for 3 days until the airlines started flying again – he had a difficult trip back to Australia in the confusion as the airlines started up again.

Things continue to “improve” around the yard, with more areas organised. This year we grew a few pumpkin plants on top of the pile of grass clippings that had been building up the last few years – the results were quite impressive. The big one weighed 150 pounds (70 kg) when Lisa’s cousin took it away to use for Halloween at their house. Unfortunately it was stolen in the middle of the night a few days before Halloween – we’d seen smaller ones for sale in the supermarket for $30 previously.

2001 was “The Year of the Glasses” for us both. I had to get reading glasses, as the fine print was becoming more difficult to read. Lisa needed glasses for seeing in the distance, including for driving. So after a couple of visits to the Opticians and some hundreds of dollars we can both see a bit better than we could, although I’m still not entirely used to my ones with progressive lenses – I have to move my head around a lot more to look up and down with them now than when not wearing them.

We both are still involved in the genealogy society, being on the Board, so have a day a month tied up with meetings for that as well as other time spent doing their “stuff” – running the website database occupies a day or more each month for me updating the databases as new data is added. I’m also “Genealogist” for the Clan Moffat Society and that takes up time trying to keep the data that’s been gathered over the years by the Members straight, and published online, and in the printed Directory. As well as being Purchasing Officer for the Genealogy Society, Lisa is busy still searching for her ancestors and just recently has been looking at microfilms of German town records that push her known ancestors back a number of generations – she now says she knows who some of her 10 greats grandparents were. Maybe some day we’ll have to go to Germany so she can drag me around cemeteries there like I did to her in Scotland last year.

Email and the WWW let me keep up with what’s going on in New Zealand – most recently the untimely and unnecessary death of Sir Peter Blake (world famous yachtsman including 2 time America’s Cup winner for those who don’t know). For those reading this who have lost loved ones in the past year, we are thinking of you as this year fades out ready to start another.

We wish you all Happy Holidays, and all the best for 2002.

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