Christmas 2004

To our friends and family: Greetings!    

The year started out with a goodbye to Jim’s mother, who had been in a nursing home for several years and had suffered from strokes for a long time. She died on Jan. 25 and our whole family was there for the funeral.

We also returned to Detroit in March for the funeral of Mary Margaret’s Uncle Henry Verhelst. In July we went to Ohio to for Fr. Ed Oen’s 40th anniversary, visited Judy Jacomet, and swung by Michigan yet again.

Without our kids we are free to roam, so in August we flew to MN for Jessica Van Hout’s wedding to  Mark Pexa, and in September to Toronto for a short visit.

We had a good visit with Marieke in Boston for her birthday (during the World Series) and got her backstage tour of the Old State House,  full of Boston’s history.

Here's a figurehead residing in their attic.

Marieke is in grad school at Harvard for a master's in museum studies, and has a real job at the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Kateri finished her freshman year at LeMoyne without incident. Then she spent the summer working at Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute. That sounds pretty cool, but she actually just cleaned the rooms at Pratt, the art college there. Now everything she sees looks a lot dirtier, and she doesn’t have any dust bunnies anywhere. So far, the highlight of her sophomore year at LeMoyne was her role in Much Ado About Nothing. That was in early November, but by my troth, she speak'st Shakespearian still in everyday life.  Here she taketh her bows.

Jan-Luc’s bohemian adventures are resulting in the production of 2 new documentary films. He resides in New York City with his 3 cats and orange walls. Culture jam with him here:

He discovered that his brother's pool makes a great green screen for special effects shots.

Mary Margaret is still part-time with the Catholic Deaf Community with a little real-pay interpreting on the side.  The ongoing genealogical search led to a trip to Toronto to meet one of her mother’s “lost” cousins and some of her family.  Good time!

Leo and his wife Katie still reside in Rochester with their two cats and two dogs.  This is Rudy and Mary Margaret playing catch with a slobber-covered tennis ball.

In June Leo and Katie drove to Saratoga Springs for a wedding, then to NYC to visit Jan-Luc and see the sights. They stopped in Connecticut overnight to see friends then arrived in Boston, where they stayed with Marieke and did the tourist thing.

They also toured Massachusetts’ second most popular city, Salem. Then it was off to Portland Maine for another wedding.

If that wasn’t enough driving for one summer they made the short 18 hour drive to Minnesota for cousin Jessica’s wedding.  

  We hung out at the New Prague Dairy Queen before the reception.

Jim still does radar research at the Air Force Research Lab, but retired in September after 35 years and now works for a small contractor company (comprising mostly retired AFRL guys) in the same building where he’s been since 1968. 
Here we are at his official retirement party. 

There was also a  Hawaiian-themed family party in Rochester.  You'll notice some leis in our  pictures this year.

He also took a trip to China Lake, California. That's between Death Valley and the Mojave Desert.  China Lake has a lot of beach.  And it's hot. 106.

The family got him a nice camera so you'll be seeing more pictures on these pages, such as this one of Trenton Falls near us, which is open for hiking again. Maybe some of you remember it from 30 years ago.          

MC the cat has always been retired.

At the party

       Now it's your turn to write us a nice letter with your news. Send it to vandamme (at) (no forwards, old jokes, inspirational/patriotic messages or hoaxes, thanks), and enjoy our older pictures.

We hope you are healthy and happy. Best wishes for 2005!

Jim, Mary Margaret, Leo, Katie, Jan-Luc, Marieke and Kateri

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