Christmas 2009

[caption id="attachment_140" align="aligncenter" width="604"]At the Alpha Kappa Zeta Christmas Party, 2009 At the Alpha Kappa Zeta Christmas Party, 2009[/caption]

At Stonebench, Christmas 2009

To All Sharing Our Genes or Journeys,

The final year of the Aughts found us once again in the thick of it, meeting challenges both expected and unexpected. We count ourselves supremely fortunate to have a family and a family of friends to share our adventures with.

Not long after last year's letter was in the in the postman's hands, Russell checked into the hospital as planned to have a benign meningioma excised. Several hours later, 98% had been successfully removed, leaving only a calcified trace clinging to parts too tender to touch. All was well until his temperature began to climb dangerously. Many tense hours later, he awoke to begin a course of Dantrolene, the only treatment for his newly-discovered Malignant Hyperthermia. Within a few days, having bested both tumor and hyperthermia, Russell was back home. By Christmas, the painful phlebitis caused by the Dantrolene had faded as well. With the results of his annual MRI check-up pending, the only reminders of the surgery are the impressive but fading scar and a slight numbness in his right shin.

January saw Christina return to the classroom as a student, beginning her first semester at the University of Texas School of Information (or "iSchool," as all the cool kids call it). Now finishing the third semester of courses for her master's degree, she has risen to the challenge of balancing her studying with her teaching, the assignments she completes with the assignments she grades. If all goes according to plan, she will be a licensed school librarian by end of 2012.

As if being a teacher and a student weren't enough, Christina is now also a president as well. From the start of her term this July until 2011, she leads her graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, presiding at meetings and representing them in the community.

Following on the hardscape project of last year, in August we removed the last of the carpet from the floors of Stonebench, and set about staining the concrete that lay beneath. Much to Russell's (budgetary) chagrin and (powertool) delight, the quarter-century old beige overspray from wallpainting needed mechanical removal with a heavy-duty hand grinder. The result, is a leatherlike tan finish bordered in burgundy in both office and master bedroom. Soot & Smoke's upset tummies are easier to deal with now, but keeping a grip on breakables is more important than ever.

This year wasn't all hard work, though. Spring was punctuated with a refreshing Hill Country getaway, wherein Russell introduced Christina to the charms of Fredericksburg and Luckenbach on a drizzly Memorial Day weekend. We enjoyed strolling, shopping, snoozing, strumming & singing, Shiner, sausages and even some 'splosions (of the professional, controlled variety). Without that relaxing interlude, summer might have proven unbearable.

This season finds us busily baking and organizing for events with colleagues, comrades and clan. Making a whistle-stop en route to Arizona, we'll host Christina's parents for her birthday weekend before celebrating with the Zetas as we kick off Christmas week. Come Christmas Day, we'll visit Russell's family, followed the next day with some old friends. When the calendar makes its next flip, we hope to be in a good spot over Lady Bird Lake to watch the fireworks. Work and school will dominate Twenty-Ten, but we do plan to visit Big D for the Zetas biennial Boulé come July. Wherever you are and whatever you have planned this holiday season, we wish you safety, health, and happiness.

And of course,
A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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