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November/ December 2001

Late Fall/ Early Winter Greetings from the USA

Dear Family & Friends

Hard as I try to write more than one letter to you in a year, I don’t seem to get it together! Before I can rub my eyes it is almost Christmas and time to think about Christmas cards and then I realize my good intentions to write a letter in the middle of the year did not happen. I also realize that after 6 years here we have become normal citizens, gone is the feeling of being tourists! We are very fortunate that we have adjusted so well and we are blessed to have a normal and sometimes boring lifestyle – this also means that my news is becoming less newsworthy (good excuse for not writing more often?).

Tony changed jobs in September (hoorah) and he loves his new job. We are very relieved to be out of the financial sector and the banks can now merge to their hearts content. Tony joined Spectrum Products, a company in St Louis that manufactures garden and home pesticide/herbacide products.

We still love to travel and since I last wrote we have been to several new places. In January we took my Dad to Atlanta Airport and en route visited our friends in Anderson, South Carolina. On the way back we drove through Alabama. We had a wonderful Christmas with Dad. He wished for snow and boy did it SNOW! We had about 18 inches on the ground until the 2nd week in January and it was bitterly cold. According to the weather people it was the coldest December in St Louis in a 100 years.

The last week in January we drove to Vail in Colorado for a skiing holiday. The route took us west from Eureka through Missouri and Kansas. What a contrast between these two states – Missouri is covered in natural forests and Kansas is as flat and bare as a pancake. The highway through Kansas is as straight as an arrow and one can see the horizon in all four directions. At the end of our first day traveling through Kansas we saw an approaching Snowstorm. While we were fueling the car the locals warned us to get to a hotel as soon as possible because they close the highways in the snowstorms. There are booms that are lowered at all the on-ramps to the highway. We no sooner got the hotel, than it started snowing. The next morning we had a foot of snow to clear off the car before we could continue to Colorado. We stayed a week in Vail and enjoyed the skiing, Buttons however hated every minute. It was very cold and he did not enjoy being plonked down in the snow and cold for his daily ablutions.

At the end of March we were ready for Spring and took a short weekend trip to the Lake of the Ozarks. It wasn’t really warm yet, but it helped to get rid of the winter blues. At last summer started and we went to Seaside, Florida on the Gulf Coast, for a week of sea and sun. Seaside is the town made famous by the movie "The Truman Show". Seaside is a very pretty little village; every cottage is a different pastel color and style. We rented a beach cottage and did as little as possible. We brought our bicycles and cycled were we wanted to be. The beach (white sugar) and sea (emerald green) is beautiful and I didn’t mind wading into the warm water.

In the middle of July we decided to escape the summer heat and go north to Minneapolis-St Paul in Minnesota. This is where USBancorp’s (Tony’s old company) headquarters are and Tony had a business meeting on the Monday, so we made it into a long weekend. This is where the biggest shopping mall in the US is located. So needless to say that we shopped till we dropped in the "Mall of America". We also didn’t escape the heat because there was a heat wave in Minnesota at the time.

Some of you know that I had a whirlwind trip to South Africa at the end of August and I apologize to everyone that I wasn’t able to see in the short time I was there. I had a wonderful time and loved to be back in the country and was overwhelmed by the sights, sounds and smells (weird I didn’t think I would miss that) loved to once again experience our unique culture and to speak and hear the "Taal". I got back the Tuesday before the horrendous terrorist attacks on the US and was very grateful that I didn’t have to travel during that unsettling time.

At the moment I have a South African friend, Pietrč Pieterse, visiting and we have been to all those wonderful tourist places I have been telling you about over the years. She also experienced Halloween for the first time and the kids didn’t disappoint, we had ghosts, ghouls, witches, fairies, princesses, vampires and many more traipsing through. We visited Chicago, Branson and Dallas and she will also celebrate Thanksgiving with us.

The trees were spectacular this year and we were in awe of the wonderful Fall colors. It is hard to describe exactly how beautiful the trees looked. It was especially thrilling to take a drive on our many country roads where the trees form a canopy over the road and one is bedazzled by all those warm autumn colors.

We are scheduled to go for our final interview with the INS at the end of November after which we will become US citizens. They usually have a big ceremony in our old courthouse under the Arch, where everyone present will pledge allegiance to their new country. We can also bring guests and just about everyone that knows us wants to attend. We will also keep our South African citizenship.

Tony’s Mom and Aunt will be visiting here for Christmas and New Year and we are getting really spoilt to have family for the Holidays, two years in a row. We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year and as always we miss everyone and hope to hear from you soon.

All our love,         Licks,

Annelise and Tony Buttons and Tassie