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Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 in Review aka Christmas Letter from the Brooks Household

Yes, here it is, the  Christmas letter… blog form! Just when you thought you were safe from such a thing, boom! here it is.  Of course, I'm limited in adding photos just from the blog and  iPhone, and my memory impairments, which seem to be escalating since my 59th birthday this year.

 This photo shows the pretty blue paint that was starting to look a bit faded on the south side of our house (don't try to look, I didn't take a photo of that side).  We hired a painter in the fall of 2012 to paint that side.  As of December 2013, the painter moved to Georgia without painting more than 2 days in 2013.  If you know of a good painter, from anywhere, let us know. Oops, I forgot that Christmas letters don't tell you things like that! Sorry.

Marilyn Monroe came to our household as a complete surprise. There are some parents that say the same thing about a few of their children and now we get that!  In early January, Marilyn, a 12 year old seeing eye dog, faced sudden retirement after her owner  had a stroke and could no longer care for her. Our vet gave us a call to see if we would consider adding her to our pack. It has been a match made in heaven and as of this very moment, she is peacefully sleeping in a stuffed chair. This is big news because she hasn't attempted to do more than sit beside a chair!

In early May, I traveled to California to visit family and Ron stayed behind to pet sit our pack. The photo  is of  my niece, Kelsey*, who turns 12 in a few weeks. I  enjoyed spending time her, and with my nephew, Kacey (age 17), my brother, David, my sister-in-law, Karrie, my mom, Beverly, and my great aunt*Alberta (who turned 103 in October). **You can only give ages of the very young and very old before being considered impolite! Bob and Paulette traveled with me and went on to visit Bob's sister nearby. Mom and I stayed several days in Laguna Beach, visiting familiar haunts from the years my parents lived there.

A quick trip to Washington D.C. took place in late May when a delegation from Ohio libraries met  to discuss finding a sponsor for a bill that forces publishers to sell eBooks to libraries under the fair use doctrine. (Some of the major publishers refuse to sell them to public libraries.  This fall I celebrated my 37th year working for Sandusky Library!

In June, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. We discussed going to one of our favorite places, either Key West or Kennebunkport, but, instead, decided to try something completely new and rented an RV and camped near Asheville, North Carolina for a week. We spent a wonderful afternoon riding through a bit of the Blue Ridge Mountains and spent the rest of the time by the campfire, not even leaving to tour Biltmore!

This view, from our campsite, convinced both of us that further RV adventures would become a major part of our retirement years. And so, planning ahead, we…...

purchased one in late June and parked it at a beautiful campground in Bellevue, Ohio, Gotta Getaway,  for the summer! This has been a great place to learn the art and science of camping. We can fill and (empty) various tanks, drive without white knuckles, use the furnace, cook using foil over a fire, talk RV with neighboring "rigs" about their "coaches" and how to incorporate our pups into this lifestyle. We are seriously hooked.

 In late June, I attended the annual American Library Convention (ALA) in Chicago with a delegation of eight other librarians from my library. There, among 25,000 of librarians,  it doesn't seem unusual to visit a library furniture showroom with books hanging from the ceiling.

Paulette, Joel, our C.F.O., and I took drove from Sandusky to Michigan City, Indiana and then took the commuter train in to Chicago from there, just in time to arrive in the midst of a huge parade. Something about a basketball championship. We had to hire a rickshaw to haul our luggage down Michigan Avenue, weaving among the throngs of celebrants. On the drive home, we stopped at the RV Hall of Fame, as, by this time, Paulette has been bitten by the RV bug as well. You should put this on your bucket lists!

Meanwhile, our  garden looked the best ever.  I took tons of photos in case this was an aberration that will never be repeated again! Ron and I are not gardeners. At All. And the dogs do what they can to destroy any grass, flowers, birds, etc, on a regular basis, so, I can only admit that our garden looked great because of Jim, owner of the Gardenport. We wanted everything to look extra nice for Mom's visit for the month of July, and so it did!

We tried to convince her to buy this small bungalow around the corner from our house. She pointed out that it gets cold in Ohio, and that her grandchildren lived in California! All true.

In October, Ron and I ventured for our second camping trip. This time to Nashville….Indiana. It was here that we discovered that not all campgrounds are alike. And that it is easy to back up and bash in the back of an RV, even when the co-pilot is yelling at you to STOP BACKING UP!!!!

Moving on to a more aesthetic campground, we explored the countryside, falling in love with barns, covered bridges, and Nashville artists. We also discovered that bringing 3 dogs is a lot of work!  We let them out, let them in, walked them, and wiped off 12 dirty paws when it rained!

Then, it was off to Seattle, Washington with BFF, Paulette. Wow! What a great trip we had, heading to Whideby Island to pick up Paulie's handmade spinning wheel.

It was a short trip, with more laughter tucked into 4 days than a Saturday Night Live show with Jim Belushi. We were the only two that were thrilled with our plane departure delay as it gave us more time to knit, laugh, and knit some more.

In mid October, the Ohio Library Council's annual meeting was held in Sandusky-the first time since 1901! We hosted an all conference reception for 300 of our colleagues one evening and the entire staff spent 2 months spiffing up the Library for the event. Above, left to right, Lindsey Levinsohn, Associate Director, Children's Services, center, Samantha Chada, Director, Technology & Communication, and right, Terri Estel, Chief Operating Officer, part of the great team at Sandusky Library.

Ron, had a great work year, too. He went on two Honor Flights to D.C. with his hospice veteran patients this year ( not the day the WW II memorial was closed, however). He often is asked to  speak to service clubs and veteran groups about the hospice movement to recognize and thank veterans for their service.  This is his twelfth  year as a hospice nurse, and he now has seniority among nurses at Stein! (The average tenure is just 3 years).  Ron turns 67 in December….we've both begun talking about retirement on a regular basis!

In November, Paulie and Bob purchased an RV similar to ours.  No, that is not them above! That is Marilyn and Jack, getting ready to camp with us for 4 straight weekends! Bob and Paulie have 3 large dogs, so, it was a good thing that we were the only ones in the entire state park. Camping with 6 dogs takes some fortitude.

We ignored all housework, yard work and any other work, for the last weekend of October and the first three weekends of November. We even ate outside in the middle of a hailstorm one evening!

Last week, we brought the rigs home and have them parked in a heated storage place near our houses!

Ok, if you've read this far, you know that it has been a really fun year for us and that makes me a bit nervous, to tell you the truth. We're heading to California for the holidays, leaving the snow and pets behind with our house/petsitter. As we're not yet ready to drive the RV that distance, we'll save that for a future adventure!

Merry Christmas to all of you, from, AlleyCat,

                    Marilyn                                                                                  Jack

 and Kate

 We hope you have a happy and healthy new year!

Love, Julie and Ron