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December 20, 2004: Recap

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Yes, it's 2004 in review ( because I have decided I am not going to subject you to the entirety of the letter we mailed out, and instead do a slightly modified version that might have a wee bit more snark than Iím willing to send to distant relatives).

I'm still happily employed at the company by the river, poking at databases, collecting data on random things like the number of cell phones in Lichtenstein, writing papers, organizing food drives. We entertain ourselves by trying to identify the various birds (Finches! Starlings!) and river critters (Otters! Sea lions!) that pass by in the river down below, and the blue heron across the river entertains itself by occasionally swooping right past the window and trying to give me a heart attack. Back in February Richard was finally offered a permanent position for the job heíd been doing nearly a year already as a temp. We cheered. We celebrated. We eyed his insurance and my insurance and immediately switched both of us to his insurance because the one I have access to stinks. We checked out all the nifty new benefits he gets as an employee of the university. For example, since I am now married to an employee of the university, I qualify for a discount on classes through the university extension. You would not think that would be all that complicated, but apparently I just might be the first employee spouse whoís attempted to take advantage of this nifty deal. Great merriment ensued as faxes and emails zipped back and forth among departments as everyone tried to figure out just what this whole thing actually entailed. Luckily we finally worked it out by Thanksgiving, which meant that I started my Adobe Photoshop class (which is online so I do not even have to *go* anywhere to take it. Yay!) last month and am looking forward to finally learning the secrets of how to remove red eye from photographs without manually coloring in every stupid bit by hand and thus ending up with family portraits full of people with large black irises, much like scary cartoons.

This year we've done a bit of traveling Ė for once, most of it not work related. I zipped up to Seattle in May to take a class in chocolate making with my little sister. We had a marvelous time. We made piles of beautiful, delicious chocolates. I could not repeat anything we did now to save my life, and itís probably just as well, because the last thing I need is recurring knowledge of how to make perfect truffles. Less than one week later we drove to Ashland for five days and four plays, and had a marvelous time. Being good little nerds we tracked down a pub with free wireless access and made use of it, even though we had a perfectly good (okay, I cannot type that without laughing) dial-up connection at our hotel just a few blocks away. After we'd recovered from that I zipped off to the mountains for our annual girls-only weekend with my sisters, and instead of regaling strangers in a bar with karaoke and gambling away tens of dollars in quarters, like we did last year, this year we decided to rappel into a big bottomless pit. Okay, it had a bottom Ė it was just very, very, very far down. It is important to note here that we were all scared out of our wits, but it was marvelous fun and we ate a lot of ice cream to recover and have decided that one time dangling from a rope over certain death is enough for one life time for our family.

Chocolate making and rappeling haven't been the only new skills I've picked up this year. Thanks to two very long Saturdays spent at Habitat for Humanity workdays, I now know how to pour (and smooth) cement, dig (and fill) a french drain, and hang dry wall. We also learned that after you spend eight hours breathing gypsum dust from hanging dry wall you start getting a little punchy and pose with your fellow drywall hangers and your matching cordless drills in Charlie's Angels poses. Also, cement is heavy. And pea gravel. And, for that matter, sheets of drywall. Oh, and this year I also participated (sort of) in an emergency goat c-section, but I figure thatís not a skill Iím going to be using again and again.

After putting our names on a waiting list last Thanksgiving of 2003, we finally got our Prius. I can now obsess about miles per gallon with the best of them. Cruise control is my friend. Also it does really well on road trips over mountains, even though it seems to not be too crazy about the cold. Pretty much as soon as it arrived we got antsy to take it on a road trip, so in October we took another five days and decided to do a whirlwind road trip up to Seattle, and then back down the coast of Oregon. I do not recommend doing this in only five days. I also do not recommend doing this in a really big storm. Whoosh

Richard and I have found new ways to share experiences together this year. In August I finally broke down and decided that I could either live with the chronic sinus infections, or I could suck it up and go get stabbed with tiny needles in the hopes of making it better. They tested me for all manner of allergens and it turns out Iím allergic to dust and pollen and pretty much anything furry and four-footed. Yes, that includes cats. Luckily Iíve now graduated to only one shot a week (although the nurse still shakes her head every time she has to measure my hives and welts), but since Richardís been getting his for years, every three weeks we get to go in and get stabbed together. Heck, we even recently started getting our quarterly allergy check-ups together. Itís all kinds of romantic.

This year Richard and I also got to share another experience - leaving school. After lots of thought, he decided to withdraw from the Master of Library and Information Sciences program because, although he still loves books and libraries, the MLIS program was not meeting his interest in information technology and computers. At least he was smarter than me and made the decision more quickly, instead of waiting until the last minute to drop out (like I did after four years in graduate school, when I knew I didnít want to be there after the first quarter!). Heís still serving as library commissioner, however, which is really cool because, as his wife, I got to take part in the library drill team during a parade this summer. I got a free t-shirt out of the deal, plus the realization that some people cannot spell ĎBookí while marching.

I am still obsessed with yarn, and knitting, and yarn, and needles, and did I mention the yarn? This year I have made some gorgeous sweaters and afghans and other things which I will not mention here because some people who read this journal are quite possibly getting them for Christmas. I still have not yet tried socks, but once I get over my next spate of gift knitting (and by the way it would be nice if my friends could plan their pregnancies better and not have their babies due all in the same week!) I may just break down and tackle the sock mystery. Weíll see.

While this yearís been pretty good to us, it hasnít been so good to the cats. There was the whole incident with Zucchini in April (involving daily x-rays and all manner of fun, and the realization that there are times when you actually look forward to the nastiest hairball you have ever seen in your life). In October, our oldest cat Rebecca died unexpectedly and with no warning. And not two weeks later Allegra was diagnosed with bone cancer in her jaw and given a window of about six months. Luckily the other cats remain fairly happy and healthy, even if they are starting to put on a couple of pounds as they grow older, and continue to take an active part in 'assisting' me with my knitting, distributing small stuffed toys all over the house, pruning the indoor plants, and holding down the furniture by taking extended naps.

So that about sums up my year. Thereíve been ups and downs, but itís mostly been a pretty good year. Hereís hoping next year brings more of the same.

This has been a Holidailies entry.

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