December, 2017

Somehow, we missed sending cards and a letter last year. Mike will have to take the blame for that one. He let the household web domain get screwed up so putting up an online letter wasn't possible, then got distracted and didn't send cards, and... well, these things happen. Anyway, we're back in business and will try to catch up. The pictures are generally larger than how they're presented here. You can do whatever's normal for your browser to see them full size.

People in the family picture. Back row, left to right: Austin Martinez, Katie (Moeller) Martinez, Martha (Cain) Moeller, Melissa Bukovsky, Jeremy Cain, Ginnie Smith, Stacy (Cain) Smith, Steve Smith, Charlie Smith, Roger Moeller, Jonathan Moeller. Front row, left to right: Michael Cain, Phyllis (Hawkins) Cain, Mary (Love) Cain.

Granddaughter Virginia Phyllis Smith (use name "Ginnie") arrived on December 6th last year. As Stacy describes it, it was hectic. Steve's mom arrived to take care of Charlie, Steve and Stacy raced to the hospital in the wee AM hours, Steve ran in to get a wheelchair at the emergency room, Ginnie was born in the ER and moved up to maternity later. When Charlie got her first chance to see the baby, she reportedly walked into the room, arms held out in front of her, and demanded, "Where's my baby?"

Charlie is a typical four-year-old terror. She comes by it honestly, of course: her maternal grandfather was noted for his bad marks in cooperation when he was in kindergarten. Charlie's birthday party this year was at one of Larimer County's large foothill parks. The season for campers had wound down so at one point a couple of the rangers came by with their truck. One of them said, "I understand someone is having a birthday today." Charlie stepped up and announced, "My birthday is today!" The kids got a chance to climb through the truck, turn on the flashing red and blue lights, and hit the siren button. It should be a party that all the kids will remember.

We had to put Mary's dog Shelby down this year. Our best estimate of her age was 18 years; she was a pound dog and the people at the pound didn't know exactly. This past year the vet described her as "well in excess of a hundred" in people years. Over the last few years she had increasing trouble navigating the house and yard. When she was younger she would cheerfully plow her way around after every snowfall – and with all that long blond fur, acquiring a mass of little snowballs that had to be combed out. Mary had built ramps so that Shelby could get to some of her favorite places. Enticing her to eat had become a challenge, but when she stopped drinking we knew it was time. Shelby was probably our last pet. Another pet as long-lived as she was might well outlive our ability to take care of it.

Lots of work on the house all became necessary about the same time. (Isn't it strange how that works?) We had the roof replaced last year – there was enough hail damage that State Farm contributed – and had everything painted this year. The summer before last Mary asked, "Why is the deck so 'bouncy'? Why are some of the boards higher than others?" After taking up a couple of the planks, the answer was obvious: because the 28-year-old redwood support structure was rotting away. We replaced the supports with proper pressure-treated lumber and the decking with synthetic material. It has been a long slow slog, done in two installments over the two summers. We're almost finished now, but the last bits will have to be done on those days when the weather cooperates. Fortunately, this is Front Range Colorado and there are plenty of nice days scattered across the winter.

Mike's mom had her 90th birthday last month! The picture here includes Mom and all her descendants: her two kids, her four grandkids, her 2.7 great-grandkids (Katie is seven months pregnant), and assorted significant others. Give the photographer credit, everyone is smiling and no one is doing silly things. Mike's sister Martha did a bang-up job of arranging the celebration. Mike was surprised by the number of people who came up and said "You probably don't remember me but..." and "You don't know me but I've heard your Mom talk about you for 50 years..." He was also surprised by the number who remarked how much he looked like his Mom.