9 Villa Verde
San Antonio, Texas 78230
Dear Family and Friends of Jean and Henry,
“Lost?” asked our ex family historian. We were talking about my diary, our only reliable record of the year.
“Well, not exactly lost,” I replied, “more like, borrowed.”
“Borrowed? Well, get it back,” she said, “I can’t work without it.”
“Impossible,” I said, “Don’t know who borrowed it.”
“You mean it was stolen, right?”
“Well, I don’t really like to think of it like that. I’ll bet that whoever borrowed it will send it back any day now.”
“Call me when he does,” said the historian, on her way out the door.
Here it is, December 22, and still no diary. And, here I am with no historian and the meager store of memories in my sixty year-old brain. All because I took my eye, for just one second, off our luggage at the Nassau airport. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Maybe my computer calendar will help refresh the little gray cells. Aha, it says here that on January 25th at 4:00PM, I got a haircut. Then, on the 28th, I flew to Orlando to brief the Navy. That, I believe, was the last bit of work for which I was paid this year. I don’t think I like this calendar.
I seem to remember that sometime in January I saw a sign on the bulletin board at my gym that said “Hour SwimEveryone welcome.” Now, not having been in a competition of any sort since 1996 or thereabouts, I figured I would put my new miracle anemia cure to the test and sign up. I did pretty good, 3250 meters as near as I can recallwhich, at my advanced age, may not be all that near. The group organizing the event was a local masters swim team, and their coach says to me, “Say, you’re a pretty good swimmer.” That did it; I signed up, and I now swim like Hell for an hour, three times a week. I even go to swim meets, where I almost always win medals. In all my years of running, I never even took a bronze. But, it turns out that not too many old guys swim. Showing up and finishing an event is usually good enough for a medal.
And, you know, one thing leads to another. There’s this Olympics-for-old-farts organization known as Senior Games, so naturally, I wanted to enter the swimming events in the San Antonio Senior Games (which I did enter and where I took lots of gold). And, I notice on the Senior Games entry blank, the event “5K Road Race.” I start to wonder whether I could do this. My wondering leads me to try a few little runs, a mile or so. I find that my gimpy hip can recover fairly easily from these runs. Soon my one mile is two, and then three. I check the box next to “5K Road Race” on the entry form. I do the race and finish in 26:34. Now, before March 19, 19932, such a finishing time would have been a challenge for me. It would have been a challenge for me to run that slowly. But I am delighted to be running at all. Soon, I’m running three times a week, ten miles total. Soon thereafter, I discover that ten miles a week is too much for the hip. After a painful research program, I settle on three miles, once a week. I’ve run a few races since Senior Games and even took a bronze in one, where I was the last of three finishers in my age groupvictory by growing old.
We’ve done a fair amount of traveling, Jean and I. I’ve tried to pay a monthly visit to the pelicans in San Diego. I’ve given up trying to get a squid sandwich out there since the very mention of one makes everyone else in my family sick.
In June, we went on something of a pilgrimage to Scotland and England. On the first part of the trip, we rode around on a bus with a bunch of new-age looniesnice people, but loony. Occasionally, the bus would stop, and we would wander in the rain across sodden peat bogs to look at big stones that had been stuck upright in the ground by Neolithic people. These stickers of stones, being Neolithic, did not record what the hell these stones were for. So we would gather in hotel bars at night and try to figure out the meaning of the stones. I didn’t have much to say about the stones, but I certainly did appreciate the malts.
The second half of the trip was spent in London, videotaping every place that Jean had been as a child. We also spent a fair amount of time with Jean’s brother, John, and sister-in-law, Carol, in the Magdala pub watching the World Cup on TV and trying to ascertain the average Briton’s capacity for beer. We never even came close to a determination.
In July, we took an interesting trip to Austin for a pentathlon (of the swimming variety: free style, butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and international medley). This trip was interesting, not because I disqualified in the backstroke, which I did, but because, on the way back to San Antonio, we got to see an SUV rollover, from the inside. That we survived, I take as a special sign that I need to qualify in next year’s pentathlon. Needless to say, I’m now driving something that’s closer to the ground than my old 4Runner.
In October, my father decided to take eight of us, family and friends, on a cruise along the eastern seaboard, with a few days in New York at the beginning and a few days in Nassau at the end. We ranged in age from 29 to 88, so the trip was more interesting as an experiment in intergenerational studies than as a sightseeing trip. I took a digital camera and a computer so that I could take lots of pictures. By the end of the trip, the pictures had all been transferred to the computer, and the computer had been safely stowed in the very same bag that held the diary. Otherwise, I’d be able to say more about the trip.
The mathematically inclined reader will have inferred that, since I am now sixty, I must have turned sixty this year. We celebrated here in San Antonio, with family and a few friends, in marked contrast to my fiftiethcelebrated in San Diego in the company of several hundred strangers. San Diego may have pelicans and squid sandwiches, but they don’t have Jim Cullum’s jazz band or any place to get a good steak for cheap.
Our vanishingly small church has, this year, been the source of one of my most serious of my numerous failures. In particular, I failed to find someone to replace me as president, and I therefore still occupy that position. We trimmed a tree at church last night. As I was setting the tree in its stand, I noticed that the latter seemed to be a bit small for the former. This morning, after services, Jean noticed, just a bit too late, that the tree was leaning just a bit too far. Those of you who read last year’s letter will understand why we are now called “the couple that topples Christmas trees.” At least, when the tree fell this year, it did not crush Jean.
Larry has headed for Murfreesboro Tennessee to spend the holidays with Jeremy’s family, or to escape the holidays with mine, or maybe both. We’re heading for San Diego on Christmas Eve. So, put on your Santa hat, tie some jingle bells to your shoelaces and take a nice long trot through whatever passes for winter where you are. When you get back, knock down an Anchor Celebration Ale, sing, dance, and we’ll keep the spirit of the season going as long as we can.
The wind is blowin' cold down the mountain tips of snowBadger Clark
And 'cross the ranges layin' brown and dead;
It's cryin' through the valley trees that wear the mistletoe
And mournin' with the gray clouds overhead.
Yet it's sweet with the beat of my little hawse's feet
And I whistle like the air was warm and blue
For I'm ridin' up the Christmas trail to you,
I'm a-ridin' up the Christmas trail to you.
 According the the ’96 Impersonal Christmas Form Letter (http://www.quiensabe.com/xmasletters/xmasletter96.html)
 See last year’s letter at http://www.quiensabe.com/xmasletters/xmasletter01.html.
 Details in the ’94 impersonal Christmas form letter at http://www.quiensabe.com/xmasletters/xmasletter94.html.