What's Christmas unless somebody sends you one of those AWFUL CHRISTMAS LETTERS where they detail every pit stop and rest stop in their life over the past year? Well folks, here's your digital edition. I'm proud to present to you, on Christmas Day 2013, THE HOLIDAY WHAT'S UP LETTER!
Don't worry, I'll summarize. Maybe.
First up is family. Overall, they're all doing well. Rick and I have caught every darn virus going around since he had to start working with student iPads at his school. It takes a while to build up an immunity to that crap, and it seems we'll both have to do that. As you know from recent social media posts, he also got an infection in a root canal he had in 2000. They had to go in, clean it up, clear up the infection, and then go back in and redo the root canal. They finished that on Monday and gave him a clean bill of health - finally, after 2 months of struggling with that.
The birds are doing well. Zack got an upper respiratory infection in September, but that cleared up quickly. He has a birthday coming up next week - he'll be 14! And before you blurt out the spontaneous "holy crap!" that's not even middle age for sun conures. They can live to be 30. Chloe is 10, and Ollie, our budgie, is 3. We hope that youth being on his side will help him. Ollie got a kidney infection in October that caused nerve inflammation in his left leg. We got the infection cleared up, and then he took a tumble earlier this month that caused a strain in his groin muscle - so now he has 2 leg injuries! After 4 visits to the vet and 2 rounds of antibiotics, they finally sent us home with a "make him comfortable and settle in for a long ride." Nerve inflammation takes a while to heal, and they said it could be spring or summer before he completely recovers. He also seems to be a slow healer (poor fellow, just like his mommy!), so this has been quite tough on me and Rick. It's hard to see him in pain and be able to do - nothing. They've given him a couple of anti-inflammatory shots and those really helped, but the problem is that they don't want to keep doing that because he's so small and it's very easy to overdose. So we're back to toughing it out. As I said, it's not easy, but we're committed to his healing. It's possible, and we want to give him every chance at living out his maximum life expectancy.
Mom and Dad are doing well. Dad cut back his work schedule to three and a half day weeks late last summer. He's thinking about retirement, but I don't think it's gone much past the thinking stage at this point. He's half owner of the company, so it's not a simple matter of "sign here and enjoy your retirement." It takes a bit more planning when you're an owner. For now, he (and Mom) are enjoying the shorter work weeks. Mom's very glad he's home more. People who work in the Engineering field put in some long hours. Even at part time, he still averages about 7-8 hours less per week than I do working full time for State Government!
My brother and sister-in-law, Nicole, are doing well. Stephen is still working for State Government as a CPA (different department than me), and Nicole is still doing medical transcription for the hospital. She has changed her schedule to work half her time at the hospital and half her time from home. She actually liked the change. She said working from home all the time was a bit confining, and it's good to get out. I don't know. It seems that would be a sweet deal to me, but I guess it's not all it's cracked up to be. She's happy with the change, though, and that's what matters. We saw them yesterday and they were happy and in very good spirits.
The in-laws (Rick's family) are about the same. His dad's dementia is like a yo-yo, which is pretty standard for dementia. They always joked that he never had a bad day in front of me, but that's changed in the past 7 months. He gets "fixated" on things, and he does get quite confused. It can be frustrating and difficult because he has spells where he's not "with us," and we can't figure out where he's at, mentally. Thankfully, I've heard that the kind he has generally doesn't lead to losing recognition of people, at least until the very late stages. In other news, our oldest niece will be graduating high school in the spring. She's considering either Auburn or Clemson. She wants to be an Engineer, and I can vouch for those both having great Engineering programs.
The reason I can vouch for where the great Engineering programs are at is because I had to fill in as the program assistant for that Board for 11 months. My counterpart on that Board moved on to another position in the agency a year ago. We split the duties amongst the staff, but my boss (at the time) wanted me to handle the Board, so I got to take that over. Wow, it was a shock. The Engineering Board is HUGE compared to my landscape architects (5 members with about 650 licensees), and soil classifiers (5 members with about 50 licensees). They're an 8 member board with around 17,000 licensees. One of the members resigned in January to take a post on another board but still, it was a shock. I made it, and I learned A LOT in the process. It was stressful. This was compounded by the fact that my boss retired in June and the first replacement we got for the position resigned in July to return to her former job in her family business. Lots of transition in the workplace over the past year. At one point, I called 2013 "the year of resignation," but I realized how awful that sounded. I understand people "doing what they gotta do" and would never begrudge anybody an opportunity to improve themselves or their lives, but you have to understand that people live in a community, and when one member leaves, it causes waves through the whole system. And when three leave, well, it's a period of a tidal wave there. Not easy, but by the grace of God we made it. All of the vacancies are now filled and everybody's been trained and taken over their duties, so we're settling back in. But we do miss those that left us in 2012-2013.
Writing wise, it was my best year yet. I self published Feathered Frenzy and Move through Smashwords in February, and Splinter was released through Whiskey Creek Press in November. All of these books were big efforts, and I was happy to publish them. In fact, I'm starting the brainstorming and research for a sequel to Move now, and I have a sci-fi novella titled Incursion in progress now. It seems I've gotten into working on two projects at a time, which can be challenging sometimes. The key is to make sure each one is at a different stage of progression. The sci-fi novella, for example, is ready to edit and finalize when I return to it in January, whereas the sequel to Move is, as I like to say "on the drawing board" (it's in the planning stages now and I probably won't start writing until late January or February). I've also written a few short stories and articles, and I continue to write for a mystery newsletter and to promote my published works as best as I can.
Church is also making good progress. We finally called a new pastor after a year and a half without one, and he's starting in January. Rick continued to serve on the technology committee at church even though his term on church council ended last year. I didn't do any committee work this year with the church because of my extra job duties and having so much on me with my writing, but that bothered me. I liked being more involved in church, so I've rejoined the technology committee for 2014. My role on that committee was mainly administrative before and the new chair has that covered, so I guess we'll see how else I can contribute to it when I return. But it's good to be back and to get involved again. I really did miss it. But I think taking the year off from volunteering helped me to see how much it meant to me and where I felt I really fit in. I'm excited about it.
Rick and I had a fantastic opportunity in late February and early March. My landscape architect program sent me to Scottsdale, Arizona for a conference. We decided to take advantage of our time out there and took a couple of extra days to drive up and see The Grand Canyon. I'm glad we did. Pictures can't do it justice - it's absolutely amazing. The whole trip was great too - you can click back to March 2013 for an entire entry on my Arizona trip. Historic Scottsdale is a great place too. It was kind of neat to be there where it was 80 degrees, and seeing posts from back home that it was cold and windy (I tried not to brag, but it was a nice break from winter!). Arizona is just a great place. The whole trip was a once in a lifetime experience, a
There's been a lot more that happened in 2013, but this entry is long enough and the excess is just that - minor things that really didn't amount to a hill of beans. I believe this hits the high points, and if I think of anything else, I'll add it in another entry.
That's all today. Thanks for reading and for supporting this website and my writing. You're all great friends and I wish you all the best, now and forever. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas!