Friday, December 28, 2012

NC Haslups Christmas Card Newsletter: Electronic Version

NC Haslups Christmas -- 2012

Christmas Day 2011: Lee’s sister Holly returns from Afghanistan

Let me start by wishing you and yours a happy and blessed holiday season -- a Merry Christmas, a Happy Chanukah, a Kwality Kwanza, or an Agreeable Paid Time-off from Work, whichever you prefer – and peace and prosperity in the new year.

About What Follows: All of the news that follows will be good news.  There were no funerals, divorces, bankruptcies or serious injuries.  Nobody is in Jail. I mention all this here at the beginning because Christmas is a busy time of year and some readers may prefer an executive summary, to wit:  We are fine. Merry Christmas.

Last Christmas and the Grandbabies: Irene and I first saw our new twin grandchildren, Liam and Eva, on Christmas Eve last year.  We had flown to Tampa and first saw the grandbabies in the airport.  They were one month and two days old.  It had been a difficult time for Irene; she had been a grandmother for five weeks and hadn’t been spat up on even once.

We did Christmas at dad’s house in St Petersburg.  When the presents were all opened we headed back across the bay to the airport again to meet my sister Holly when she returned from Afghanistan.  We stayed in St Pete long enough to see in the New Year and flew back on the 2nd.  The photo below was taken New Year’s Day on the Pier in St Pete.  It’s a nice shot of Holly and as for me… well… it makes a useful “before” photo of me for my diet.

The holidays in St Pete offered the usual lovely weather.  It was my turn this year to fall in the water while kayaking.  The camera was in its zip lock bag so there’s no photo.  You will have to take my word for the consummate grace I exhibited.

Irene had two more chances to visit with Amber, Lee and the twins.  They came over for a day at the Animal Kingdom Park when Irene was on her annual Disney Store Alumni retreat in January. Then, in July, Irene flew down again for a visit.

The McPhersons (Amber, Lee and the Twins): Lee teaches chemistry at a local college and to writes “apps” for smart phones and other mobile devices. His apps have won a number of competitive prizes, especially his 3D modeling program for visualizing complex molecules.  Amber will be graduating from medical school in May and is in the process of interviewing all over the eastern US for residency positions in her chosen specialty of emergency medicine.  This photo was taken at Disney World when they came over to visit spend a day with Irene who was doing her yearly Disney week with her long-time Disney Store friends.

Haslup – The Next Generation (Reid and Chris):  Chris and Reid are doing well.  They bought a house four or five miles across town from us. Chris still enjoys his job as a graphic designer at Capstrat and Reid continues to work as a chemistry lab manager at the university.  Most Sunday afternoons Chris and I go to the gym together to work out and then we join the ladies for supper.

In the photo below Chris and Reid have joined us for lunch at Fulton’s Crab House restaurant at Downtown Disney in Orlando.    Irene had arranged a long weekend Disney trip for my 22nd Annual 39th Birthday observation.  I hadn’t known Chris and Reid would be there.  It was a lovely surprise.

Momentary geek out: The photo above was taken with my new Rokinon f/3.5 8mm fisheye lens and de-fished using Image Trends Hemi Plugin installed in Photoshop Pro x3.  Lens and software were birthday presents I gave to myself.  I am very happy with them and am indebted to myself for the generous gift.  I must think of something nice to give myself to pay back the debt. It’s only fair.

Remodeling: Irene and I finally got around to having our kitchen floor repaired this past summer.  We had an icemaker leak a few years ago that had left the subfloor under the kitchen vinyl a bit soft. We had learned to step on the joists in the kitchen to avoid the saggy bits but had been unable to teach the refrigerator the trick. Last spring we noticed that the fridge had developed a noticeable list to port and decided to replace the floor before the fridge fell through altogether.  But you can’t just do the floor.  If you are going to do the floor you might as well do the cabinets at the same time, and if you are doing the cabinets …

Our floor repair wound up costing twice as much as our first house.  We had all of the downstairs floors and ceilings redone and had a new kitchen put in.  This meant that we had to move out of our downstairs altogether.  We rented one of those portable storage pods to park in our driveway and filled it with as much of our downstairs furniture as would fit.  What wouldn’t fit in the pod was moved upstairs and stacked in one of the bedrooms.

Since we were without a kitchen for about two months we turned our upstairs hall bathroom into a temporary field kitchen.

My Birthday at Disney World: My birthday weekend at Disney was an ongoing revelation.  I kept running into more and more people I knew, first Chris and Reid, then other family members, and then friends.  After the first few I knew that Irene had cooked up a surprise party for me but as I kept running into more and more people around the park, on the bus, in the hotel, my notion of the scale of the event kept growing. This slow-motion surprise continued until Sunday’s culminating dinner (for 30) in the Animal Kingdom Lodge where friends I hadn’t seen in years popped up.

It was a wonderful event and I was very touched that so many people turned up for my birthday party.  People came from all over the southeastern US.  Here is a photo of the lady who set it all up.  She did a good job.  I set up a surprise party for her once (a quarter of a century ago) and I may not have been quite as skillful as she was.  Last time I checked she was still mad.

Here is a photo that Irene took in front of the Tree of Life in the Animal Kingdom on my birthday weekend.  As well as being a nice photo of everyone in it – no one has their eyes closed, no one has a rude itch – it is also my selected “after” picture for my diet.

Halloween: Irene and I won prizes for our Halloween costumes at our friends’,  Calvin and Pat’s, party this year.  Mine was won under false colors, I am afraid.  I dressed up as the Monster from Young Frankenstein but everyone at the party thought I was a character from their favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I was the accidental hit of the party.
But, of course, we only won because the twins were so far away.  How could we have competed with this?

A few more things quickly:  Here’s a photo from our annual fall foliage photo safari to the NC mountains with friends Bill and Caran:
  (another fisheye shot, by the way.)

In closing, here’s one more shot of Liam and Eva at one year old.