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Monday, December 5, 2011

My Annual Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas from the Ritchie’s where Christmas stays year round
Christmas 2011

It’s hard to imagine it’s Christmas again. Time seemed to stand still at 10 Bogey Drive, no wait, time didn’t stand still, I never put the decorations away last year making decorating this year a snap.
I’ll get the sad news out of the way first, so I can leave you with a smile at the end. My dad’s health went down-hill this past year. In November of 2010 he broke his hip while learning how to safely get in and out of bed, irony at its best or worst. I rushed to Gainesville to sign the consent forms for surgery. To make a long story short, we lost him on February 3rd of 2011. Mac, Edward and I took his ashes to Camden this past August and among friends and family buried him next to his parents and brother.
So far Frank has survived Governor Scott’s drastic draining of the Water Management District. The Bartow office is scheduled to close in January. Frank and the remaining engineers will work from a smaller space or commute to Tampa or Brooksville.
Frank had minor surgery this year on his right leg. He had a calcium blockage in the main artery. The doctor went in and chiseled it out. The procedure was successful and he’s back to his normal activities.
Susan is in her third year at Belmont Abbey, officially she is a senior but with her double major will graduate next year, then it’s on to Veterinary School. I can’t wait to get my discounted vet care for all my furry children.
Susan turned 21 in September, in October I got a phone call, “Mom, don’t sound so happy, I have bad news.” Being the concerned parent that I am, I immediately asked if she and Flo (her car) were okay. Turns out she was sipping a glass of wine and tipped it over into the keyboard of her MacBook. She quickly said she was not drunk, just clumsy. Her friend Frank who is a computer whiz helped her find and purchase another laptop, not an Apple but good for what she needs. The conversation ended with how she set a piece of bread on fire in the cafeteria. Only Susan could do all this in the same week.
I belong to the Florida Writer’s Association, every year they sponsor a conference and writing contest. I have been a finalist for the last three or four years, this year I finally won third place for my picture book manuscript, Daisy’s Hat. I showed it to an agent at the conference who liked the idea but suggested I tweak out one third of the words. I have been working on the revision, writer’s always say writing is easy, it’s the revision that is H@**. They are right.
I am convinced our house is on a yoyo diet. No sooner do I recycle pounds and pounds of paper, an equal amount plus some sneaks back in. Every year I commit to cleaning out our house, every year flies by with only minimal progress. Maybe I should just get some TNT and blow it all away in one swoop. Or I could hold a contest, the person who fills the most trash bags and puts away the most keepers wins a Classic French Dinner, cooked by none other than moi; after all, I am a trained French Chef. Any takers?
Angel has sprung back to life this past year, she started slowing down until the little Twit (Gabriel’s nickname) moved in. Just when you start relaxing he comes along and stirs things up. He, Angel and Rocky get out and zoom all over the yard, I have never seen a dog run as fast as Gabriel. There’s a sign with a dog that says, “I can make it to the fence in 3 seconds, can you?” That could be Gabriel talking. Of course, once at the fence is drown you in slobber. Angel does her best to keep up but age and arthritis has slowed her down. She has lost weight this year from all the extra activity. Dr. Ezell was pleased about that. Angel has never liked to swim but Gabriel has turned into a champ, we have a clip on YouTube of the two of us swimming laps. He now jumps in whenever he gets on the pool deck. I always have towels on hand for drying. Gabriel has other tricks too, if the door is unlocked, he lets himself and any other critter lurking about, into the house. Another thing he does is eat then put his head in your lap and let out a loud burp. One night we left him in his crate, to our surprise he met us at the door when we got home. He learned to shake the crate until the back side collapses, I guess it’s a good thing he is house broken.
Gabe, Frank and I all graduated from obedience class. We did the basic and the next level. Now that he is over a year old, I plan to have him evaluated as a reading dog.
Our young family next door stays on the go. Little Alexander who joined us the week between Christmas and New Years has grown from a tiny, wrinkled bundle to a whopping one year old. His smile is disarming and his blue eyes make it a doubly so. His big brother Pito keeps growing too and maturing too. He keeps everyone on their toes. He loves the pool and playing Ninja warrior.
Well that’s, that’s all folks until next year. Remember to visit my blog, fruit2nuts.blogspot.com for some comic relief during the year. I’ll leave you with this image,
My brother Edward and I went to Camden in the spring to take a look at our family property. The once clear fields were waist high in growth, it was not a walk in the park. Through the middle runs a creek. Edward made it across without incident, I stared at the rocks and shook my head. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll help you. Just step where I did” I stepped on the first rock, stoped to regain my balance before taking the next. I got to the middle before I slipped landing on my feet. I blew out a breath of relief, I could handle wet feet and now that they were wet I didn’t have to worry about balancing on rocks. My next step landed in a hole where my foot wedged between two rocks. I went down without warning. I was drenched. Edward helped me up. I finished our survey in squishing shoes and clinging Levi’s.
Take care, and if you visit Lego Land, come by and sit for a spell. I’ll leave out a glass of my famous Cranberry Liqueur or homemade wine for you.

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