December, 2015

Granddaughter Charlie continues to grow up so fast! She went to her Aunt Katie's wedding just before her second birthday. One day on that trip we went to the Henry Dorley Zoo. Charlie walked pretty much the whole rain forest exhibit on her own. If the grown-ups were taking too long, she took the lead. This independent streak will no doubt cause trouble in the future; Mike is already plotting mischief that he and Charlie can get into.

This year at Halloween she went out dressed as a black cat. Charlie got to watch someone else put on their costume, so she understood about the strange people on the street and wasn't frightened by how they looked. Halloween proper was an unusually nice evening – the traditional weather along the Front Range for that evening is cold with sleet or snow. Stacy doesn't get much mention of her own this year; she's reached the point in her life where she's defined as "Charlie's Mom." Her husband Steve is working in Golden, which makes for a long commute to and from Fort Collins.

Jeremy and his girlfriend Melissa tried to start a colony of honey bees this year in Melissa's back yard. Spring here was unusually cold and wet so the colony didn't have a chance to gather food on its own and died off. Jeremy has one of those nifty white suits that the beekeepers wear. Mike and Mary also learned a lot about honey bees – did you know that you buy them by the pound? There's a large feral cat colony in Melissa's neighborhood, so she and Jeremy have been trapping cats and having them neutered.

Shelby, Mary's Tibetan Spaniel, is getting up in years. She was starting to act rather senile, but the vet recommended a change in diet that seems to have helped. Shelby has a degenerative nerve problem so she's losing control of her back legs. As a result, she doesn't handle stairs very well any more. But she's learned a new trick. When she wants something, she sits at the bottom of the stairs and barks at Mike's office. Usually, she thinks she deserves a treat for doing such an excellent job of communicating. Shelby is also losing her hearing, so sometimes she barks up the stairs when Mike is somewhere else in the house. She seems startled when Mike shows up in the living room without coming down the stairs.

Mary is still a volunteer at the Jefferson County Library. Colorado is a strange state in that every new tax or tax rate increase has to go on the ballot and be approved by the people. This year, the library asked for a tax increase that passed overwhelmingly. The voters also approved a change in the way the county handles its cash so that the county commissioners can't "borrow" this new revenue if they have a hole in their budget.

Mike hasn't fenced much this year but is still an officer for the Colorado Division of the US Fencing Association. He takes care of their web site and sits on the bout committee for the tournaments that the division has to run (eg, the Junior Olympics qualifiers). Mike's gotten quite good at looking a teen-aged fencer in the face and asking, "You want me to break which rule for you?" His fencing club runs a fun annual team tournament that doesn't match any of the standard formats. Mike took pity on the coach that ran registration and scoring and has written a piece of custom software to do that task. Well, started writing it. It remains a work in progress.

Grandma Cain's music box moved back from the restorer's workshop this year. It's a wonderful-looking antique and now it plays music as well. More information about the restoration and a video of the box in action are here. Getting it repaired has been a long, slow slog. Could have been worse – how many people are lucky enough to have a world-class restorer living a mile-and-a-half from them? Mike says he gets jealous every time he visits the restorer's workshop and sees all the nifty little tools he has.

People say that things in houses wear out in ten-year waves. This year the wave struck in the kitchen: new dishwasher, new range hood where the under-cupboard microwave oven lived, new garbage disposal. The range hood was one of those projects that keeps getting bigger. There was a substantial hole in the wall behind the microwave that had to be fixed. That required painting the whole wall. (The paint-matching process at the paint store we use takes a long time to run, but the result was almost perfect.) Before we could paint, the small cabinet next to the stove needed to be removed and remounted. It's nice to have enough light over the stove again, but getting there was a pain.

We've slowly started cleaning out the stuff that accumulates when you live in one place for almost 30 years. Fortunately, there's a very good recycling place here in Arvada that will take almost anything. Here's to everyone's lives becoming less cluttered with worthless things in 2016.

Technical Discussion

Mike here. I feel somewhat like Warren Buffett, when he announced that Berkshire Hathaway had purchased a corporate jet. So, in little tiny letters: we bought a domain name and web hosting service this year. Comcast forced us into it by dropping the personal web space part of their internet access service. I chose the name because I've been "mcain6925" for many, many years in many, many places on the internet. So much so, that if you google for "mcain6925", most of what you find is me. The hosting company provides a more complete web server than Comcast did. I have a whole list of things that I need to put up there.

The bad part of doing a holiday letter online instead of on paper is that you can run on forever.