Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Now that Dave and I have ensconced ourselves in our car for the next two weeks, we can acknowledge that it is truly the Christmas Season. We celebrated with the local families: Randy and Shari, Micah, Serena and Elias came up to the farm to celebrate with us and Tessa and Reuben, Annika, Simeon, Britta, Blaise and the two Spanish twins: “Whan” and “Ita” as Gwen and Isa call themselves. The farm is a busy place with Willow Haven Organic Farm Market plus the chickens for meat and eggs, three goats and six Jacob sheep. The spotted and speckled sheep provided more adventures than strictly necessary when they arrived, but now all the neighbors, far and wide, know that we have taken up shepherding. This is good, right? I am anxious to get my hands on the fleece and see new lambs but that must wait until summer when I come home again. Hopefully for the last time from Scotland.
The beginning of the year saw me winging back to Scotland to take up thesis writing again after a two year break. The first couple of months were rough what with getting a new room rented and set up and especially getting my mind back into the academic flow. My room is an upstairs bedroom right on campus in Morag’s flat, a local woman who has become a delightful friend. Although rewriting my thesis “from the beginning” felt very stressful at first, I have been able to use most of what I wrote before so the process has gone quickly. My two new supervisors are pleased with my work and believe I can accomplish my goal to finish by the end of the summer 2012. The sheep and the grandchildren are calling me!
In October, research required a trip to Basel Switzerland for a week’s study in the Balthasar archives. Because I thought this could be the last excuse to travel in Europe for a while, I first flew to Amsterdam to spend a weekend with my seminary Greek teacher and his family. He now teaches at Tyndale Seminary there. The whole family embraced me and shared their Dutch life of windmills, polders and contented cows. In order to see more of the countryside, I took the train from Holland through Germany, stopped at Cologne and finally to Basel. The B&B I chose turned out to be a half mile walk along the Rhine four times a day in beautiful summery weather. It was a welcome change from Aberdeen’s unfortunate lack of summer temps this year. Besides the help and company of the sisters who work in the archives, I was able to have tea with Adrienne’s daughter-in-law and grandson. They put her crossstich tablecloth out for the tea and told stories as well as providing written memoirs of their beloved Grossmutter Munsterplatz! They made a long foreign visit pleasant and memorable.
After finishing my work in Basel, I took another set of trains to Nancy, France where I bought some postcards instead of risking getting lost and missing my next high speed train to Paris. A good friend from Aberdeen met me there, settled me in a hostel, and oriented me to the metros and trains. I had never expected to visit France, nor was it ever on my list of places to go. Pretty much all the places I’ve visited have not been on my bucket list. How does that happen? But I am glad that I have seen and touched Fontainebleu, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, and Musee d’Orangerie, the home of Monet’s Water Lilies. I even managed to hike to the Eiffel Tower and found a bus back to the hostel the very same day! With all the traveling, I was gone nearly three weeks and ridiculously pleased to return to ‘home’ to Aberdeen. I want a tour guide for any further adventures, please and thank you!
In November, my father journeyed to his heavenly home after eleven years on dialysis. Although I could not return for the funeral, all my kids and the 17 grandkids were there. My sisters kept me in the loop through texting and skype and videos, so I did not feel left out of the process. We’ll see my mom in January and visit the family cemetery to review our roots.
Dave seems to enjoy his job which was bought out by eBay this year. We now have an EBay mug. The 24/7 on call days have been working out well even though the grandkids think he should spend more time playing with them instead. At least he doesn’t have to drive on the turnpike those days! He also enjoys all the choir and Summer Harmony practices and socials.
The kids are doing mostly the same things: raising kids and gardens, bees and animals, bringing home the bacon, literal and metaphorical. Two new things happened: the bright spot of spring was the birth of David Michael (#17) the fourth son of James and Tina. And Karl has found a new band called Petibone (www.Petibone.com) who needed a lead singer. They are excited by all the original songs he brings with him and they have recorded their first album, Unwound. This spring they will tour with the Amazing Kappas in the UK and the US. (“Like” them on Facebook!) It will be an amazing journey for sure! They even have t-shirts!
Of course there are many more things that have happened. More stories and pictures can be found at my blog at http://www.lommiles.wordpress.com. We have enjoyed all your cards and letters, pictures and stories. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers throughout our wanderings.
Blessings and Grace for the New Year!
Dave and Lois Miles