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Friday, December 16, 2011

2011 xmas letter

December, 2011

Hello friends and family,

We hope you are well and enjoying the holidays. It’s a rough time for many people, so our hearts are with you if your family has suffered job losses or other difficulties.

It’s been a relatively quiet year for us. Wendy is still, luckily, employed fulltime at Pearson as a Digital Writer/Editor. Fred continues his small business, Regina is living with us now and just started a “real” job at Banner, after a long and discouraging job hunt. Ethan is a junior at School of Visual Arts in NYC, where he’s doing well with his major in film/editing.

Wendy’s brother Dennis and daughter Alison visited in March while Regina and Ethan were here for spring break. We hiked a little but mostly just hung around and enjoyed our (finally) completed renovation of our home. Mid-August, we very much enjoyed a brief visit of Wendy’s cousin Eleanor, together with her husband George and daughter Allyson.

Regina moved back “home” end of June, and wanted to keep her car, and Ethan wanted to visit for part of the summer as well, so we decided to turn it into a “road trip” vacation and flew to Boston. Then the three of us drove to New York, picked up Ethan, and all drove home starting with a stop at Niagara Falls. After enjoying the “Cave of the Winds” tour (which has no cave!?), we took turns driving and hurrying (due to Wendy’s limited days off), and saw the northern part of the country, including Chicago, Minnesota farmland, The Black Hills, and timed it so that we were in Estes Park, Colorado for July 4th fireworks, which were the absolute best we’ve ever seen! The next day we toured the “haunted” Stanley Hotel, however, there didn’t happen to be any supernatural phenomena that day. Hmm. In the Badlands a buffalo walked right by our car, we stopped and ate at Wall Drug, and we toured “The Wind Cave”! (which had no wind?). With a surprising lack of arguing, the trip could have used a few more days, but it was still fun to see some parts of the country we’d never seen before, even if just through the car windows most of the time!

Having Regina “home” has been a delight. We love having her (even if she does spend the majority of time at her new boyfriend’s place!). In late July, we all went kayaking on the lower Salt river with Fred’s brother Tom and his wife Samantha. And although the RV was down for repairs, we hopped on our Vespa motorcycle one weekend and went up to the cool mountains, hiked a bit, and stayed at a nice little cabin in Christopher creek.

At Halloween, Fred helped put on another charity fund raising haunted house (his biggest, by far), and Regina helped by directing the actors. For Thanksgiving we visited Ethan, enjoyed the city, helped him decide whether to renew his lease, saw some old friends, and really lucked out with absolutely gorgeous weather!

The other major change for us this year is that we’ve stopped buying electricity and gasoline! We bought a solar panel system (and water heating panel) and a Nissan Leaf electric car. It will take 10 years to break even and pay for the solar, and then we’ll have really free power ‘till the system needs replacing. But the Leaf has already started to pay for itself. Wendy drives it every day about 44 miles to get to work and back; there’s plenty of charge left for running errands in the evenings. We plan our weekend errands as well, so that we hardly ever have to use the gas car anymore. In fact, in 3 months, we’ve put over 6,000 miles on the Leaf. We really love the smooth quiet ride, and Fred loves the linear torque that is double a regular car, and the zero-to-sixty-in-8-seconds acceleration. We estimate it will save us $4,000/year in gas alone. Not to mention greatly reduced repairs since it has over 300 less moving parts than a gas car!

We hope things start to improve in the world in 2012, although we fear it might take much longer… In the meantime, let’s all be grateful for what we have, not the least of which are caring, supportive friends and family.

Love and peace to all,

Wendy, Fred, Regina, and Ethan

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