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It’s that time again to look back on the year, and send holiday greetings. Along with sending cards with our holiday letter, I’m posting it online for other to read. Plus, it’s fun to add photos from our year’s adventures!

Dear Family and Friends,

When Rich and I lived in Round Rock, Texas, we had a somewhat carefree life, and until a year ago, I kept thinking, “That’s the best it’ll ever get.”

I was wrong.

This past year has been amazing, filled with activities, time with friends and family, and most of all, building memories. We started off the year scrambling to find hand-blown glass sea floats in Langley (south-end of Whidbey Island). A few weeks later, we participated in the Women’s March in Bellingham (near Canadian border). During a snowy day, we enjoyed watching radio control enthusiasts pilot their miniature vehicles across the rocks above Anacortes (Fidalgo Island). And we enjoyed the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Oak Harbor.

In March, Julie drove to Portland to attend March Music Moderne, a concert series organized by her cousin Bobby Priest, featuring music by Debussy and a wealth of unusual instruments, including harpsichords, modified toy piano and Javanese Gamelan.

In June, we spent three days hiking around the Olympic Forest, and staying at an Airbnb in Port Angeles. A few months later, we went on our first lengthy motorcycle trip on Gatsby (Rich’s Harley Heritage Classic) to San Juan Island. We had a sensational time sightseeing, relaxing by the water, and enjoying the company of other guests at a bed-and-breakfast in Friday Harbor. In September, we happily motorcycled to Anacortes and attended the Oyster Run rally, along with tens of thousands of other motorcyclists.

In late 2017, we both found work: Rich driving a bus on Whidbey Island for Island Transit, and Julie as a consultant for Bridge Partner, writing marketing communications for Microsoft partners. We subsequently attended the Island Transit bus rodeo and Bridge Partners picnic. Our willingness to be the first “rodents” to try out the human-sized, inflated hamster balls at the picnic netted us a cool drone, which we hope to fly over our bluff (and most likely into the ocean).

With months of sensational weather, we became crazy busy, seeing the Whidbey Island Roller Girls, madly cheering at the midget car races at the Skagit Speedway, touring the Skagit River Hydroelectric Plant, taking a power boat tour on Diablo Lake and touring the Diablo Dam, attending the funky, fun Whidbey Island Fair, sailing several times on the tall ship Adventuress, visiting the Electric Museum in Bellingham, and attending lectures on falcons to gain an appreciation for the “vicious murderers” who hunt the critters on our bluff.

In late June, Julie participated in the Langley Gay Pride Parade, marching with [soon to be] elected Whidbey Island Commissioner Janet St. Clair and her enthusiastic supporters, including Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, PhD, RN, who was one of the first openly gay members in the U.S. military.

We also pulled on our sneakers to bike and hike around Whidbey Island and several other Puget Sound Islands. In late October, three of our cats joined us in the motorhome for the Jujube Camping Extravaganza… and watched four movies while it poured outside.

Also, in October, we snorkeled, sightsaw, and ate traditional Hawaiian food on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai. To add to the adventure, we stayed at Airbnb’s ranging from a high-rise in Waikiki to a low-key resort in Kapaa, and a cute cottage in Wailuku. Along with climbing to the top of Diamond Head on Oahu, solemnly touring Pearl Harbor and being intrigued by the Haleakla Crater on Maui, we saw lots of colorful and varied fish, sea turtles, and a monk seal that swam within a foot of us.Panorama_Oahu.jpg

Last year was dedicated to moving into our Coupeville house and finishing home improvement projects. This year, the focus was on gardening. We cleared a large swath of our front lawn, and added a garden shed, green house, herb garden, and eight beds, which are currently marinating under heavy plastic until spring. They’re a mixture of mulch, sod, cardboard, horse manure, and marginally composted kitchen scraps.

This year, we also had several dinner parties for friends and spent time with family in Bremerton, Camas, and Vancouver, including Rich’s children Stacey and her husband Shawn, and Chris and his wife Shawnie, and their half-sister Chiemi and her husband Bryan. Together, they have five children: Zach (16), Coen (6), Caitlyn (4), Sawyer (3), and Maisie (9 months).

Our five cats – Lila, Lolitta, Lunetta, Jujube, and Zephyra – and two birds – Fidori and Mimi – enjoyed watching the host of wildlife around our house from visiting deer to rabbits, bald eagles, hawks, quail, doves, seagulls, hummingbirds, and countless song birds.

We hope this letter finds you in great health, enjoying the holiday season and looking forward to a prosperous 2019.

Happiness and peace!