As I write this 2014 installment of the NC Haslup Clan Christmas Newsletter, I have already missed the first (Partridge in a Pear Tree) through the fourth (Calling Birds) days of Christmas. But there are 8 more so hope remains. I do need to hurry, though, because of the plumbing issue.
As it turns out, of the houses owned by Irene and me, and by our grown, married children, all three have had significant plumbing problems in the past year or so. Chris and Reid had to replace all the water pipes in their house, Amber and Lee had to tear up their bathroom floor to get at a pipe, and we replaced a burst pipe near our upstairs water heater.
Because of these painful (and expensive) events there are some days of the song that may have unpleasant connotations: "Twelve Plumbers Plumbing, Eleven Pipers Piping, Ten Loos a-Leaking, Seven Drains a-Swimming, Six Bills for Paying, Five Wax Bowl Rings, Four Floating T-" ... well you get the idea. Days 1,2,3,8 and 9 -- Partridge in a Pear Tree, Turtle Doves, French Hens, Maids a-Milking, and Ladies Dancing, respectively -- are OK because I haven't thought up anything funny that rhymes. So I have to get cracking to try to hit days 8 and 9 for those few people who will be getting a paper Christmas card this year..
With one notable exception*, we are all reasonably healthy and seem to be thriving. Chris still has the same job as a graphic designer/art director for a communication firm, Amber is continuing her residency in Emergency Medicine. Amber's Lee and Reid are both teaching (college chemistry and high school physics, respectively). Lee and Irene are largely unchanged from last year so I will refer you to last years holiday letter for details..
Most of this year's newsletter is being presented as an online slide show because, um, I sorta ran out of time to lay out the newsletter. The link (immediately below) is followed here by an exhibit guide for the photos. You might want to skim the guide before you click the link to decide whether you need to see the photos just now.
1. PineCones in Fairbanks AlaskaTaken in June, near the Morris Thompson Visitors and Cultural Center along the walking/bicycle path beside the Chena River. Christmasy-looking, I think.
2. (Big) LeePhoto of your obedient servant. I am sitting in my comfy chair and kitchen clutter in background is nicely blurred. Chris probably took this one while trying out my new lens.
3. Irene on the BlueRidge ParkwayNice shot of Irene taken at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, mid October, just before sunset.
4. BBQ w/ Amber, Lee, the twins, Calvin and PatHere we are, the whole family... except that our friends Calvin (second from the right) and Pat (leftmost) are standing in for Chris and Reid. (Didn't get a family portrait this year.)
5. James and Ashleigh, newlyweds.Dancing at the reception after their beach wedding. It was pretty dark in the tent and most of my photos were blurs. I like this one though.
6. Random Newlyweds Who Asked Me to Take Their PhotoNo idea who this couple are. They had just been married on the beach and were looking to have their picture taken at Sunset at Fort Fisher. The lighting is the high-beams of our Subaru Outback. The is possibly my favorite wedding photo I have ever taken. I emailed this and a few similar images to the man on the right who had officiated at the ceremony.
7. Christmas Dinner Last Year at Cousin Bill's House.Very nice affair -- good company and fabulous food. Irene was there, too, acting as photographer for this shot.
8. Foggy bit on the BlueRidge Parkway.Richland Balsam overlook. Bit of a different driving experience on a foggy day, offering bottomless gray vistas yawning inches from the passenger side window.
9. Chris and Reid on the Appalachian Trail (Note White Blaze)Reids first time on the AT. Chris appears to be doing a movie impression -- the hat, the intense gaze, the stubble -- Kenneth Barnaugh? No, that's not quite it. I can almost... Don't tell me... Um... Ok, tell me.
10. Chris and Reid's New Dog, Miss ScarletNice dog with soulful golden eyes. May be a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. At least that's what Reid thinks.
11. Granddaughter, EvaEarlier this year, I think. They grow so fast at this age. Love the light here... And, of course, fond of the girl, too.
12. Grands Liam and EvaBeing adorable. Obviously plotting mischief.
13. Amber's Lee and her Eva, too.Irene took this photo of Lee and Eva posing with the lion beside the steps of some-building-or-other, somewhere, probably in New Jersey. Princeton, maybe. Irene took this one.
14. Eva with some Over-sized Art.She is three now. I think the Munch-man is overreacting to the Munchkin. Although she was still in the "terrible twos" at the time.
15. Lee in The Dr Zeuss Themed Part of Universal Studios, Orlando.Kinda like that part of the park although there might be more to actually do there if I had the grandkids in tow.
16. Amber, Liam and EvaIrene took this shot and I was able to pull Amber and Eva out of the deep shadow in post-processing without burning out Liam who was in the sun. But that is boring, I know. Sorry. I wasn't along on that trip and don't have much to say about the photos.
17. Dandilion Taken with Lee's New LensOne of several photos taken in the backyard to try out my new Sigma 18-250mm lens before our trip to Alaska.
18. Obligatory New-Zoom-Lens Moon PhotoYou may wonder: what is Christmasy about a photo of the moon? Well, you see the lens -- a Sigma 18-250 zoom -- was an early Christmas present I bought myself. ... or ... maybe it was a late Christmas present from last year. ... Yes, that is. It was last year's indulgence. Wonder what I will get for myself this year???
19. Roseate Spoonbill Taken Near Mims FloridaSpoonbills are on my list of things that can't be explained by atheists. Without postulating an odd sense of humor behind its design it is impossible to explain how the spoonbill came to be so funny looking.
20. Portrait of Leopard Frog, Taken with New Lens in Backyard.Yes, I know dear, there is NO reason for this photo to be here. You're quite right. But if I took it out now I'd have to renumber all the other photos.
21. BigLee and Irene in Dinali Park in AlaskaThe interior of Alaska is a dangerous place in the summer. It is so beautiful -- and there ARE people who live there year round. It's tempting not to go home.
22. Photographing Snow Plow last FebruaryThis photo looks like it ought to be part of our Alaska collection but actually it was shot last winter across the street from our neighborhood. I wanted to get an action shot of the snowplow and I got more action than I had figured on. It was a bit like losing a snowball fight with Optimus Prime.
23. BigLee, Pattye, Frosty and Irene with Alaskan PipelineFisheye lens selfie taken somewhat north of Fairbanks.
24. Irene Points to Our Location along Pipeline.Another fisheye shot. I like it because it makes her look 17 feet tall.
25. Huskys Go For a Boat Ride near Fairbanks, AlaskaPeople in Alaska have a different meaning for the word husky than do those in the lower 48. In the lower 48 a husky is one of several breeds of dog some of which have blue eyes. In Alaska it is any sort of dog that loves to pull a sled.
26. Irene in a Riverside Park in Fairbanks, Alaska.Taken along the river walk by the Chena river.
27. BigLee with Caribou Antler Arch in FairbanksTaken along the river walk by the Chena river.
28. Irene Talks with Alaskan Native Come into Anchorage to Sell HandicraftsThe woman in blue (left) had come into Anchorage to visit her daughter (center) and to try to place some of her handicraft items in some of the local shops. She lives on St Lawrence Island -- a large island in the Bering Sea, much closer to Siberia than to the Alaskan mainland. Among her offerings was a pair of seal fur gloves that were lovely and she assured us that the seal the fur had come from was very tasty and tender.
29. Irene, Frosty and Pattye in FairbanksOur first two nights in Alaska were spent in the River's Edge Resort in Fairbanks. Between jet lag and the midnight sun (not to mention the 1:00 am sun and the 3:00 am sun) we kept kind of strange hours the first few days. Lovely place to wander down the path by the river at 4:00 am although you had to keep moving or the mosquitoes would fly off with you.
30. Irene Sitting in an Exhibit at U of Alaska Museum, Fairbanks.Many Alaskans decorate their outhouses. This is an unusually ornate one. That blue foam pad is crucial for an inland-Alaska outhouse since it is an excellent insulator and your butt won't stick to it, even at 40 below.
31. Lee, Irene, Matt, Pattye, Frosty and Allen Embark on Alaska CruiseFirst few seconds on board the Norwegian Sun sailing from Whittier, Alaska in messy weather.
32. Lee and Irene in Times SquareHaving a great time despite cold rain. We stood in the Tckts same-day line and scored half-price tickets to a musical called "Side Show".
33. All Aboard the Norwegian SunThis is our official boarding photo from our trip to Alaska this June. The weather was lousy (we had half drowned, half froze trying to reach the terminal) and Irene did not want her photo taken. I LOVE this photo. Makes me laugh every time I see it.
I will close with a sincere wish that the remaining more-than-half of Christmas will be a joyous time for you and yours and that the new year that will start with the arrival of those Maids a-Milking will be a safe and prosperous one.
* The exception is our small gray dog, Cello who died on the 26th.
Click here to see photos as slide show.