As usual the advent season catches us unprepared for Christmas and busily trying to get ready for the holidays. One of the nicest thing about Christmas is getting your cards and letters telling us how you have been and what you have been up to. Hopefully you receive our letter in the same spirit and in that spirit we would like to wish the happiest of holidays and our best wishes for the New Year.
We are starting our third year of retirement (Bill’s that is) with still so many of the things we were going to do when he retired undone, that it is doubtful we will ever run out of things to do. We are thankful that we have enjoyed good health so that we can look forward to another year full of plans and activities.
Looking back on the year though, we certainly will not forget the winter, which seemed to produce more snow than the last three combined and to last forever. The bright side was that we got a lot of cross-country skiing in. Bill participated in three races, more than he had done in the last five years (one of them at -35º), just to demonstrate that maturity does not necessarily come with age.
Also, we were able to escape the cold for at least a small part by going on a safari tour in Kenya and Tanzania. Other than for short stays in Nairobi we spent two full weeks traveling to and in the game parks and reserves. Despite a serious effort to protect the wildlife, we still wondered how much longer all these beautiful animals can survive since the living space necessary for their survival is constantly being diminished by man. The two areas we enjoyed the most were the Masai Mara for its lions, cheetahs and giraffes, just to name a few of the animals we saw there, and from a standpoint of scenery the Mount Kenya area. Because of the altitude the climate is very pleasant most of the year and not what you would expect being on the equator. The most discouraging aspect was the abject poverty and crime resulting from an explosion of the population and the lack of work in both countries. In the cities you could not walk out of your hotel at night and even during the day we were told to go out only in groups. We returned to a raging blizzard and then and there decided we needed another escape.
So we flew out to Los Angeles and visited with Nancy’s brother for a week, including a very relaxing time at his condo in Carlsbad. We did a lot of the touristy things including an Andrew Lloyd Webber show, a Universal Studios tour and sailing on San Diego Bay.
Well, spring and summer finally did arrive in Michigan and so it got to be Omena time. We put the boat in the water and started spending more time up North. First Leslie and Joseph and then Paul and Sue visited and had their kids inspected by the grandparents. Hannah, Leslie’s five-year-old, had completely changed from a year ago to a self-sufficient little girl attending Kindergarten and very much occupied with learning her letters and numbers. Zachary and Lindsey have similarly changed from babies to a little boy and girl. Michael and Brian, Paul and Sue’s boys, also are growing up in a hurry. Michael also has started kindergarten and is learning to read at a fast clip. Brian loves puzzles and is solving some that are way beyond his age group. You read about it but it is still amazing to see these youngsters master a computer as if it were just another toy, which it probably is for them.
One of the items on our retirement to do list is to see more of our own country. Although by no means accomplished, we did spend a week in the early fall touring Southern Utah, ending up in Las Vegas and visiting such natural wonders as Capital Reef, Bryce and Zion National Parks with their unforgettable sights. Short trips to visit Paul and Sue in Washington, and Joseph and Leslie in North Carolina for Thanksgiving rounded out our travel activities.
Bill still does some professional work for Dow and others (the others being responsible for a short trip to Paris and London in October) and Nancy is involved in doing bookkeeping for various organizations, including our little yacht club. Eric is finishing off his Ph.D. in Engineering at Texas A&M and will be home for Christmas and hopefully some skiing. We look forward to another busy year with a trip to the old country in the spring and hopefully the Northwest in the fall.
Bill and Nancy Sandt.
© 2004 Bernd W. Sandt. All rights reserved.