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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Caution! Christmas Letter from the Brooks Household-Proceed at Your Own Risk!

The image above is of a Christmas Card Holder that Paulette made in needlepoint for me. Isn't it beautiful? Ron and I are looking for actual, not virtual, Christmas cards, to put in it this December, of course, but, here we are, sending a virtual Christmas Card Letter........isn't that just the way it goes!

I'm surprised how many people ask me how I'm  enjoying my first year of retirement.  I truthfully answer that being retired is a challenge for me, but that I'm starting to get the hang of it. Ron, on the other hand, retired six months ago and will tell you that it is the greatest and easiest thing in the world to do. Paulette, also now retired, keeps all of us busy, and Bob, with the most experience, shows us all how to relax.

We adopted two additional cats last February. It was a bitterly cold winter in Sandusky. Lucy, a kitten of about six months, entered our garage and gratefully joined us inside. It took us all month to get AllieCat to calm down and share her surroundings and even longer to have all three dogs accept the newest member of our family. When Lucy discovered that this house was filled with yarn to play with, she was extra glad she picked us for her new home.

It was only a month later that we added Emma, Lucy's mom, to our brood.

Yep, we are now a 3 cat family. Emma, however, isn't too thrilled with the other furry animals and rarely leaves our library-she is truly a Library Cat!

 The additional livestock made camping a bit more challenging and so we stayed closer to home this summer, dropping in feed the cats once a day and then heading back to our seasonal campsite just 20 minutes down the road.

In fact, it wasn't until November that the wheels on Nina turned at all when we ventured across the bridge to East Harbor State Park for a week. Now that Ron and I have agreed that I love to drive the RV and he doesn't like it AT ALL, we might make a westward ho! next summer with me in the driver's seat. Fair warning.

Not to say that we didn't travel in 2015. I headed to Las Vegas to meet up with Amy and Anne, two friends from high school. We had a wonderful time catching up and comparing aging dilemmas just as we had counseled each other with teenage issues so many years before.

In the fall, Ron and I traveled to Columbus, Ohio for the very special wedding of Ivona and Ben Dunnavent. We met Ivona, a Serbian college student,  last summer when she was working at Cedar Point, and falling in love with Ben,  an Ohioan working at the Point. When Ivona left last fall, I didn't know she meant it when she assured us we would see her the following summer. Sigh. Young Love.

The travel bug hit again in the fall. Janet Ford and I took our second annual fly/road trip. This time, we headed to Boston and drove through Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and the southern coast of Maine. 

It was an extra treat for me to gaze at this  beach scene again,  having vacationed at Kennebunkport Beach, Maine for most of my summers growing up.

We stayed at P.E.O. b&b's for the most part -  having the extra bonus of donating our lodging costs to scholarships for women. We drove for 6 days, and never put more than 700 miles on the rental car. I really didn't know how compact New England is.

One of our favorite P.E.O. homes was located on 60 acres near Weston, Vermont, and just down the road from the movie settings of Baby Boom. In fact, when our hostess was lamenting the many apples in her orchard that needed tending, I mentioned that reminded me of the movie, Baby Boom. With that, she abruptly asked me if I had been to Peru. Thinking she was a bit daft in making that transition in conversation, I admitted that, no, I'd never been to Peru?  She offered to take me-yikes. Turns out, Peru, Vermont, is where the movie was shot on location. What a hoot.

As some of you know, both Kate and Marilyn had major illnesses in August. Kate, after having a large kidney stone removed, is doing better than ever. At age 5, she seems to have the energy and joy of a little puppy now. Marilyn, however, at age 14 1/2, just couldn't recover from liver and brain tumors, and we lost her to pneumonia in early November.  

Jack is our oldest (age 10) and has been especially comforting since Marilyn passed away.

My mom, who's birthday is today, December 13, came to visit us in July. We enjoyed shopping in Oberlin, dining at Sunnybrook, hanging out with Paulie, and spending time on both front and back porches.

Speaking of porches, Ron's favorite porch was at the b&b, Welcome Home Inn, a screened in beauty in peaceful surroundings....that didn't require Ron to so much as lift a finger to maintain. Notice that broad retirement smile on his face.

Ron and I wish all of you the very happiest of times in the days ahead and extra wishes for a happy and healthy 2016.