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The nice thing about having a cat is that if something goes awry in the house--out of place, messed up or broken--you can always say, "Well, it must have been the cat!" (And who is to say it wasn't?)

Another nice thing right now this year is that THE ELECTION IS OVER!!! No more blatantly partisan ads & screaming charges & counter charges! (Wow, too many !'s already in this letter...)

We empty-nesters are well. Steve is still in Columbus, Ohio, doing research & development on safety issues for Honda. Cindy & Israel & four grandkids still in Tiberias, Israel. Highlight of the year was their 17-day visit in March--first time we'd seen the boys. (We only saw the cat four times while they were here!) Steve got back as well--that's him above with the girls, second from left.

The patio project was again stalled--as was publication of my book ("My Daughter Said She'd Burn This Book!"--but you can read some chapters on the Web at www.erols.com/ldmark/pre/pcontent.htm).

But we do have license plates: Most notable, seen on TV in the parking lot of FedEx field before the Skins first game: JOS BAK (I guess my contribution--GLRY DAZ--will have to wait till next year).

ITZ BTZY (a silver Toyota MR2 Spyder); 2DV US; GLD8R; DAN D1; WLBHVN; MPETUS; H8SUVS; PRITI GL; HKNGRL (with a sign, "My other car is a pair of boots"); MATRNL 1 (a van); 52BNTLY (and it was!--a beauty); TIVO IT; E-LONG8; ES2ARY; B CHASTE; B COOL & 4 BYE 4 (a Dodge 4x4 truck).

Describing their owners? 1 BLKHNY; BIG MAWD; 1 OLGOAT, 4MEWZIK; I12BN8KD; NO1GUY; LTL CAT; ROLY PLY; CLUMZE; JRZY KD; OLDE BOY; VA KYAKR; GLFN DAD & JNGL CAT. And some with a religious bent: LORDYES, ONLY GOD; JOY 2C; TRN2HM.

Do you know where the term "vegetarian" originated? I heard it's from an Iriquois word meaning "poor hunter." And how about the guy who sued his fortune teller because she swindled him? He called it a seer sucker suit!

'04 travel: We went "down the Cape" in August for a week. Out to Council Bluffs in September for high school reunion. And to Greensboro, N.C., in October for USAHA meeting. Mary does volunteer work with ECHO (Ecumenical Community Helping Others). I continue as League Director for the Springfield "Senior Girls" soccer teams & keep on gardening. Beans were great this year!

Modern-day double ring ceremony: When the bride and groom get simultaneous cell phone calls at the alter! The two biggest problems in the workplace: Making ends meet & making meetings end.

"Close but no cigar" in the Virginia Senior Olympics ping pong competition. And I just realized I may be named after one of the three stooges! Oh well...have a Merry Merry Christmas - Mary & Larry

PS - "Just when I finally got a grip on things--the handle fell off!"