Advent 2015

To our friends and family: Greetings!

This newsletter is earlier since we'll be gone to Patagonia in December; but that's next year's news.

2015 was even quieter than last year.  MM still has a few paying jobs, and Jim is getting used to retirement.

Winter 2015 was going to be cold, according to MM's onions, so we went to Nicaragua in February with the Unbound charity to see our folks there. It was 90 degrees in Managua and down to -20 back home. 

In the spring we got back into house renovation. We tore out the rotten flower bed in back of the solar room, and replaced it with a solid 4X4 raised bed herb garden, and a small patio.

We had our original 1960 kitchen, so we tore it all out, floor to ceiling, and replaced it. We did all the work ourselves.  In August we did the same with our front bedroom, which now serves as Jim's man cave, replacing the downstairs dungeon. The messiest part was replacing our tile ceilings with drywall. Sand, mud, wait to dry, repeat. 

We have a rather large vegetable garden. It seems like every spring it drowns, but we are starting to build raised beds to mitigate that. The onions were happy, though, and predict that winter 2016 will be mild. We've informed the NWS and they got out the word. Jim finally optimized the garlic patch and harvested 22 pounds.  He cleaned out a local cow barn and hauled 8 trailer loads of koeienmest / merde de vache / kuhscheiße to feed the garden for years to come.  It's an impressive sight … and smell.

We took our usual trip to Michigan (by way of London, Ontario, where MM's cousin Fay lives). Jim's Dad is doing well for 94; he's now recovering from a broken foot.  Our lives are always full of fun-with-the-kids-and-grandkids! A few pictures of our miscellaneous activities can be found here.  Make sure you open the info button (i) at the top right for the commentary.

Leo's family has had a rollercoaster of a year. There were a lot of highs and lows but it's ending with major highs.  For over 6 months Katie's parents lived with them as her father James “Ski” Kalinowski underwent a stem cell transplant that appeared to be unsuccessful.  He was given only a few months to live when by a miracle the cells took over and began to heal his body of MDS/acute leukemia.  Now they believe the cancer has been eliminated! The same week this news was received, Katies sister's family received news that a new baby girl was waiting to be adopted by them.  What a week!

Even with the stress of a major illness, and a change of living accommodations, Leo and Katie tried to maintain normalcy for their kids. The kids are involved in many, many activities. Avery is 10 years old and in 4th grade and having a great time.  She is on her 4th year of playing violin, being involved in Girl Scouts, playing softball, and doing drama classes.  She also plays soccer, altar serves, competes in Odyssey of the Mind, and swims.  Annika is on the verge of turning 9 and she's having a blast in 3rd grade. She continues to play piano for the 3rd year, is involved in girl scouts, drama classes, soccer, basketball, softball, and swimming.
Vaughn is now in Pre-K and loves it. He also takes swimming, ice-skating, and will be starting a beginner Hockey class in January.  He loves hockey, Star Wars, and all things sports.  Leo continues to work for Karl Storz Endoscopy and plays broom ball to relieve the stress of the week.  He also coaches the girls soccer and softball teams and will be assisting with Odyyssey of the Mind as well. Katie is active in the girls' school and spends a lot of time in the car going from one activity to the next. She has spent a lot of time getting to know the Wilmot Cancer Center Staff too. She and Leo continue to teach pre-cana classes at their church as well.

For Jan-Luc, 2015 blasted off with an adventure to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico to explore Mayan Ruins, cenotes and the crater that may have killed the dinosaurs.

He worked at a fabrication shop building brand experiences and installing them around New York City. His Prop stylings for TV commercials and print media have him working with glamorous, talented people.

A renewed interest in urban exploration led him to visit abandoned / haunted resorts and psychiatric hospitals in New Jersey and New York. In September, he took an epic journey with his domestic partner, Olivia, through the expanses of New Mexico and Arizona. Camping in the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley was unforgettable.

His latest interactive art piece is a mobile board game about his neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn.  He remains a fan of progressive scientific endeavors, and loves you all. “May the Force be with you”, quoth he. Twitter & Instagram: janlucvd

In Boston, it was a horrible, unending winter. Marieke found comfort in not leaving the house, while Curt left town for work several times (covering the Patriots in the Super Bowl in Arizona, for example, and missing two blizzards!). When they did leave the house, they felt like they were in an ant farm made from snow. They came out of hibernation in April, when the snow finally started to melt. Still, after living through the record snowfall in Ann Arbor the year before, they have been crowned back-to-back snow record champs.

In May, Marieke accepted a new job as Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Society and spent most the summer getting to know her new realm. There was still time for trips and visits with friends and family, though. This year they visited Hawaii, Acadia National Park, Western Mass, Pittsburgh, Portland (Maine), Cape Cod, Vermont, Atlanta, the Poconos, Upstate NY, Salt Lake City, and Idaho. Curt also spent time this summer in Germany and Poland with his parents, and also in Switzerland on a reporting trip. His work continues at WBUR, Boston's NPR news station.

While overall the year was filled with much joy, in July they said goodbye to their 14 year old chocolate lab mix, Gretel. There has not yet been a replacement. This September they moved into a new apartment in Cambridge, close to Harvard Square, and they welcome your visit. It is probably best to wait until the snow melts.

Kateri had a quiet year, with a few good milestones. Our baby turned 30! She also finished her two year apprenticeship, passed a national and state test, and got her Optician's license. She's still employed at LensCrafters as the Lab Manager and enjoys it. She also has been working with her boyfriend of five years, Laford, at his store, Syracuse's Original Carmelcorn, running supplies and being all around helpful. The store recently started a website where you can order online buckets of tasty popcorn. They're proud of it and want you to check it out!

We're still teaching natural family planning classes online, and even did one in the summer due to the demand. MM is still excited about genealogy. Email us at the addresses on the bottom of our home page. We hope you are healthy and happy. Best wishes for 2016!

Jim, Mary Margaret/Tunkin, Leo & Katie & Avery & Annika & Vaughn, Jan-Luc, Marieke & Curt, and Kateri

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