Merry Christmas!                                                                                                     December 2011

A new grandson, a flash flood & - oh yes - the earthquake! But not necessarily in that order. On Oct. 21, Cindy & Israel presented us with a new grandchild -- our ninth, child number eight for them -- as little Derek came into this world. Earlier, on Sept. 8, we experienced a flash flood in front of our house after heavy rains and a plugged storm drain brought nearly 4 feet of water on our street. You can see pictures of Derek and the flood on my website - (http://www.ldmark.com).

Did you get a "futility bill" this year? That's the one you have no chance of being able to pay! What do you call a city dwarf? A metrognome. And whatís a polygon? Thatís what you say after your parrot has flown the coop. Did you hear they found Abe's civil war diaries and are publishing them? Tentative title: "The Lincoln Logs."

I continue as League Director for Springfield's U-19 girls soccer. Our four teams did very well this year, with three of them finishing 1-2-3 in the fall in a 12-team league and taking the tournament championship for the seventh consecutive time. The difference between being "smart" and being "brilliant" -- Smart is when you believe only half of what you hear; brilliant is when you know which half!

We had a nice two-week visit in June from our Arizona granddaughters Noah (12) & Maggie (11). While they were here, Steve & Jenny & daughter Teagan (16 mo) came up one weekend, so the cousins got to meet. The only downside was that I didn't get my tomatoes staked up in the garden. Next year, will retreat from the rented plot to just my backyard. Mary continues to be a volunteer for ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others) & is active in our church "49ers" group.

"You know you're getting old when your knees buckle, but your belt won't." Not social or friendly; but graceful. That's Suzi, the cat that lives with us. Remember this next 4th of July: "Only in America do they sell hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight!"

A satellite is falling over North Africa. Question: How do they ask NASA to divert it? Answer (don't groan): "Good golly, miss Mali!" And remember: It's better to be a "has-been" than a "never-was!"

Nice visit from Steve & Jenny & Teagan (now 21 mo.) on Thanksgiving.

License plates: XPLOSIF, XILER8N, U UGLY2, PUNZRUS, ONE 2 NO, NU TOY, MR ATA 2UD, 2TH DOC, (& on a hearst) EWENEXT, UR2 CLS, HAIR IGO, X-PHYLES, 4NTRDME, BTBAMA, LSUTIGA, FOKSNGR, 02BNDXE, CLD 9, NQQQQQQ, NANTCT, IAM2HOT & HIQ BLND. And a bumper sticker: "Give Blood - Play Hockey"

This past February I was listening to Lake Woebegon where Garrison Keilhor was describing last Sunday's sermon by "Pastor Liz" in the local Lutheran church there. The topic was the "Sermon on the Mount." He noted that one of the admonitions was that the meek would inherit the earth. "But," he said, "So far, all we've got is Minnesota and North Dakota."

Finally, my ten-word definition of life: "Eat, sleep, excrete; and, when the opportunity presents itself, procreate."                             Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year to all! - Larry & Mary