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December 15, 2003: Dear Friends and Family

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By the time I got home from work this afternoon my throat was seriously hurting. An hour or two later it is on fire. It hurts so much to swallow that I wince every time I have to do it, and I cannot talk at all - the simple act of trying to force out sound practically has me in tears. So in lieu of an entry I am sharing with you the letter we sent out to our friends and family this year. I would put in all the cute graphics Richard included in the letter we actually mailed out, but I am too tired and hurt too much to bother with them right now.

Dear Friends and Family,

Once again, it's been a blast. Somehow, 2003 managed to slip past us while we were busy with other plans, and a lot has happened to the Crawfords since last year.

At this time last year, Richard and Jennifer were both working for Benthic Creatures, traveling up and down the state of California teaching public assistance recipients how to use their new benefits cards, and teaching social workers how to administer the cards. It was surprisingly grueling. In fact, it's safe to say that by February, we both hated the job with a mild passion. Neither of us actually enjoyed the work, and the constant travel was wearying, and the benefits were miniscule. Finally, in March, Jennifer switched jobs to work as a research associate at a construction cost consulting firm in Sacramento. She loves it there, since she gets to read a lot, write a lot, and surf the web looking for important information about how much it costs to build things that are ecologically friendly. She also gets to play with databases, which makes her happy.

In April, Richard decided that even working as a temporary clerical worker at UC Davis would be better than Benthic Creatures, so he gave the Temporary Employment Pool a call, and within two days had landed a position as a database administrator and Solaris systems administrator for UC Davis Extension's Distance Learning Campus. This was pure luck, but Richard loves his new job as well. If all goes well, Richard will soon be hired on to this job permanently.

Our back yard, meanwhile, has slowly been transforming itself. Over the summer, we bought about five tons of rocks and built a circular wall with them; then we bought about six tons of dirt and filled that circular wall with it. Yes, we did it all by ourselves, by hand. Yes, it was hard. And yes, we hurt afterwards. But now we have a circular wall full of dirt in our back yard, and soon we will be planting things in it. Meanwhile, we've also had landscapers come out and lay down some sod, spread some decomposed granite into nice paths, and plant a bunch of nice trees. Already birds have found that the trees make a nice place to rest and taunt the cats in our house, providing endless amusement for the humans watching them. It's a win-win situation all around. Pictures and periodic updates on the house and yard can be seen at

We've both been in good health this past year. Richard had a bout with diverticulitis, which entailed a visit to the emergency room at about 1:00 on a Saturday morning, but that's about the worst of it.

The cats haven't fared as well, unfortunately. Rebecca was diagnosed with thyroid tumors and given a treatment with radioactive iodine. Richard was excited about the prospect of having a cat with super powers (or at least one that could glow in the dark), but all we got from that was a healthier cat. Unfortunately, she also suffers from kidney problems, and had to be put on a special diet. Another of our cats, Rosemary, came down with bladder stones, and now she has to be on a special diet as well. All of the other cats -- Allegra, Azzie, Tangerine, Sebastian, and Zucchini -- are doing well. None of them have jobs yet, and none of them are going to school, although Jennifer has not yet given up hope that she can persuade at least one of them to learn how to operate the vacuum.

Richard is still in library school, and enjoying it immensely. He volunteers at the Davis Public Library, and has been appointed to the Library Commission of our town. Jennifer is enjoying the power and prestige that come with being married to a local politician. It's not as thrilling as she had imagined it would be, though. While Richard has been off doing library things, Jennifer has kept busy as well, working out at Curves (which she loves), learning to knit (with seven cats 'helping', no less), and wandering around trying to find things to photograph for our newest joint endeavor, an online photo log ( Both of us are still active in the choir (where Jennifer has the distinction of being the entire tenor section this year) and other musical ensembles at the church.

So 2003 was relatively busy for us, but a very good year overall. Here's hoping that 2004 is a healthy and prosperous year for all of you as well.

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