December 1997

Merry Christmas!

(Our "Web-ized" Christmas letter with clickable links to pictures.)

Well, a marriage, a trip to China , retirement , and the "Beast" is gone! -- not necessarily in that order, but it made for a full and eventful year!

In chronological order, then, last February or March when we were thinking about travel & where we might want to go--Egypt? Greece?--I stopped by the USDA Travel Club, picked up some brochures & brought them home for Mary to look at. She came to one & said, "Hey, China! That looks interesting." The price was right, so we said, "Why not!"

We left May 22. During the 12-hour flight from Detroit to Tokyo, Mary kept looking outside & saying, "The sun is still up!" For some inexplicable (& delightful) reason, they bumped us up to business class for the 3 1/2-hour last leg from Tokyo to Beijing --after the "cattle car," it was heaven!

China is a lot of people & perhaps even more bicycles. No traffic lines in the streets, but somehow they seem to avoid each other. We visited Tian'anmen Square & the Forbidden City (huge!), saw the Ming Tombs, the Summer Palace, and the Temple of Heaven & CLIMBED --and I want to emphasize that because it was STEEP!--the Great Wall. Never thought I'd do that. Then flew to Xian where we saw the Terracotta Warriors & took a walk down the street at night with people selling food & merchandise where--except for some of the electronic stuff--it must be the same as it was 2000 or 3000 years ago!

China images -- clickable





of Heaven

The Great




Then to Guilin with a river boat trip down through some gorgeous scenery. You know those stylized Chinese mountains you see in paintings? Well, they're real! A brief stop in Canton & then two nights & a day in Hong Kong. Neat city; nice subway. Bought a cap that says 97' Hong Kong. Then home 12 days later. Henry (our cat) was glad to see us.

Experience--that's what lets you recognize a mistake when you make it again.

On June 30, Cindy returned from a 9-month stint as a nanny in Israel--engaged! She met, fell in love with, and--on Sept. 20--married a young American named David Israel Nelson (but he goes by "Israel"--which causes some confusion as we have to specify "the person" or "the country"). Israel (the guy), who had been living in Israel (the country) for the past 6 or 7 years with his family, works as a production manager with Galtronics, a company that makes telephone antennas.

The wedding was unique and very lovely--the bride was beautiful & the groom handsome. They are now setting up housekeeping in Tiberias, which is a beautiful city on the west coast of the Sea of Gallilee.

No real work on the patio--aside from the usual amount of time spent on planning--but we did cut down the 60-foot sycamore & that changes a lot of the parameters. May have to revisit the whole thing....

On Oct. 3, after nearly 39 years of Federal service (note the capital F--that's government style) including time in the army, I hung it up & joined Mary in retirement. But I seem to be keeping pretty busy. Finally got thru the many boxes of "stuff" I brought from the office. Mary has many ideas of things I need to do. And I took over info duties for the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA), so Mary & I went to their annual meeting in Louisville, Ky., Oct. 18-24.

Stopped on the way back to see son Steve in Columbus, Ohio, where he works as an engineer with Honda. He's still "the busiest man in the world" what with karate, church group, parties & who knows what else!

On Thanksgiving weekend, he came back & we reassembled "The Beast"--the '68 fastback mustang with the 427 engine that has been on our carport for the past 2 years & 10 out of the last 12--that had been partially torn apart for painting. On Sunday, Nov. 30, 1997, he drove it back to Ohio & our carport is finally free! The albatross has flown!!

The other part of my USAHA job involves being the organization's Webmaster! Am still using these newly learned skills, so check us out ( Note: Unless you're deeply into animal health, the content may not be that exciting.

Do you listen to talk radio? Dr. Laura or Rush? I call 'em "the giggle and the gasbag!"

License plates of note: NDULJ ME; UPNATOM; BY A HSE (a realtor?); DOIT2IT; RBNZ NST; GLD RTRVR; XQUIZIT; XLR8RS; 40 SOMTN; & CRE8R.

Another sad note: My cousin Marilyn died of lung cancer this spring. Mamie was a lovely person.

We have a new e-mail address ( & we welcome your electronic correspondence (it's so much easier than licking a stamp!).

Two cannibals walking through the jungle; one complains of a belly ache. "What did you eat?" asks his companion. "Just a missionary." "How did you cook him?" "As usual--boiled." "Was he tall, thin & wearing a black robe with a white collar?" "No, he was short, fat, balding & wore a brown robe." "Aha! You shouldn't have boiled him--that was a Friar!"

My "duties" as soccer league director for the high school girls group with our local youth club continue--16 spring & fall seasons now since 1990 when Cindy was a senior & they asked me to take over. Program expanding--now have 10 teams, up from 8 last year & 6 before that. Girls took championship honors at All Star tourneys on Father's Day & Thanksgiving.

"Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."

Walls. Most are dual purpose--they keep things in and keep things out. Some put more emphasis on one than another; i.e., a prison versus a fort. But what if we had a wall that was truly one-way? That is, it would let everything in but keep anything from going out. Interesting thought, but I don't know where I'm going with this black hole...

"Dear Abby: I'm having touble warming up to my girlfriend 'Nauseous' (not her real name)...."

For those of you who read the comics (& I do, almost all of them; my all-time favorite is "The Phantom"): Hopefully you're lucky enuf not to have "Liberty Meadows" in your paper. Of all the inane, obtuse & unfunny strips, this has got to be it; don't know why I read it. Bring back the Phantom!

The graduate with a degree in Science asks, "Why does it work?" The Engineering graduate asks, "How does it work?" The graduate in Accounting asks, "How much will it cost?" And the Liberal Arts graduate asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Well, Mary (as usual) said, "keep it short" & here I have been rambling on. But, hey, I'm retired & I can do what I want, right? (Oh--I forgot that I'm retired AND married!)

Wishing the best to you and your family at this holiday season....

The Marks (Larry, Mary & Henry)

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