The year started out with a “Bang!” … by watching New Year’s Eve fireworks at Poipu Beach on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Our whole family went there for a couple of weeks over the holidays. What fun it was to go swimming, snorkeling, and hiking in warm sunny weather instead of wrestling with cold, darkness, and snow. Our three granddaughters, especially, loved playing together on the beach.
In February, Gary, Heather, Tazlina, and Marley had an incredible experience. They went to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. Luckily, Liska’s brother Chris and his family live there, so they had a place to stay. It was very exciting for them to watch the cross- country ski races, because the top U.S. woman skier, Kikkan Randall, is from Anchorage and Gary was one of her first coaches. She did well, and they were able to cheer her on. They also saw speed skating, curling, hockey, and many patriotic Canadians.
David also had an unusual experience. He is a specialist in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) comput-erized mapping. In June his office got a contract from BP to operate the GIS Lab for the oil spill. So David spent two months in Houma, Louisiana. He was smack in the middle of the “command central” and his principal task was to acquire, organize and load all the different data collected by the many agencies involved in the spill. He worked 12-15 hour days, seven days a week. BP did pay for two very short trips back to Alaska, a large chunk of which David spent in an airplane traveling back and forth. David found the experience challenging, energizing, but also exhausting. (In addition to providing food and lodging, BP also provided free massages!) Iona told people that “Daddy is working in the swamp helping the turtles.”
During the 43 years we have lived in Anchorage, moose have wandered into our yard on a regular basis. But this year, for the first time, we saw a black bear twice. The first time, one just strolled through the yard. The next time it (or another bear) tipped over a small metal trash can that holds bird seed. It smelled the seed and decided it would be a good snack. Dick yelled at it and off it ran. Although bears have always been seen on the outskirts of Anchorage, they are becoming more and more common within the city.
This summer, we had a delightful houseguest for almost seven weeks. Agnieszka is originally from Poland but has lived in Germany for eight years. She came here to practice English before starting a job this fall in Frankfurt. Agnieszka slipped into our family life beautifully. We all enjoyed her warmth, sense of humor, and her enthusiasm for doing anything and everything. Her boyfriend Felix (relative of Liska) arrived to spend a week sightseeing in Alaska before they both went back to Germany.
Trips this year included our annual trek to the southwest canyon and desert country with many old friends. In August we took a quick trip to Vancouver, BC, to visit Chris and his wife Rhoda. Our most “different” experience was attending the extremely elegant wedding of our niece, Natasha and her husband Ayo, in New York in November. Dick actually had to buy a suit -- the first one in more than 45 years!
Our granddaughters keep us hopping. Tazlina, who loves art, is in third grade. Unfortunately on Thanksgiving Day, she broke her arm while visiting Heather’s relatives in Maine. Marley, full of energy, was very excited to finally start Kindergarten. Cheerful Iona attends a preschool for kids with hearing impairments.