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Winter 2000

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November  2000

Festive Greetings from the USA!

Dear Family & Friends

Believe it or not but another year has flown by. I often hear the saying that the older one gets the faster time flies by and it is one of those things I never want to believe because I don’t want to admit that I am getting older – nevertheless Christmas is almost upon us. Our town is already decked out in Christmas lights and banners and Thanksgiving is still a week away! This is actually one of my favorite times of the year and more so here in the US with all the holidays following from one to the other and all the trappings that go with it.

Halloween was October 31 and we had a lot more kids this year than previously. Our neighborhood is growing by the day and every year there are more kids coming around to Trick or Treat. Tony had a mask of the Grinch (from Dr Seuss’ tales) to scare the kids, but they didn’t seem to take any notice. Buttons once again guarded the bowl of candy and checked ever so often if there is some left for him. We also had to keep an eye on him because he takes off after the kids. The little kids tell the corniest jokes for example: "Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? Because he didn’t have the guts to do it!"

Thanksgiving is on November 23 and we will probably go to our friend Nancy (Tassie’s Mom). We will be in Washington DC from Sunday to Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Tony is conducting a Disaster Recovery test for Firstar at a backup site in DC and I am going with for the fun. I will be visiting all those wonderful monuments and museums like we did when we got to the US. Can you believe we have been here now for 5 years? We have all the documents to apply for citizenship – I still find it so unbelievable.

This year the fall trees were a big disappointment. There was almost no color. We had a very hot September and the first weekend in October we had severe frost and then it was warm again. The leaves turned brown and fell off. We didn’t see much of the reds and oranges as usual. Now it is cold and wintry and we had a forecast of snow twice this week, but so far nothing.

I have been very busy with my painting and my work with Christian Women’s Club. I have been on the Executive Committee of CWC for almost two years now and we put together a luncheon every month at a local hotel for about 100 ladies, with a wonderful programme. Last month we had a silent auction and we raised $2500 for the missionaries of Stonecroft Ministries. CWC is affiliated to Stonecroft Inc. and this is an international organization based in Kansas City and I believe they meet in South Africa as well. As for my paintings – I enjoy it so much and I still can’t believe what I can create with a brush and some paint. All my paintings are on our web site, so go have a peep. We moved our web site to a new address and I know most of you know about it, but here it is again:

http://members.tripod.com/astoker

We went on our to trip to the Florida Keys in May and that was quite an experience. We left Eureka and drove down to Orlando with an overnight stop just outside of Atlanta. We visited Epcot Center and Seaworld while Button waited patiently at the hotel. Then we went south towards Miami and the Keys. The Florida Keys is a string of islands off the coast of Florida between Miami and Cuba and they are connected with a road. On one stretch the road runs for 7 miles over the sea between two islands. This is a very popular destination for the scuba divers with the Atlantic ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Key West is the most popular and is last island of the Keys. It is also closer to Cuba than Miami and is the Southern most point of the US. It is probably the most famous because of Ernst Hemmingway. When we got there I soon learned that in most places clothing was optional and we almost booked into a hotel were this was the norm, needless to say we hightailed out of there and found a beautiful Bed and Breakfast in the historic district. The next island we visited was Marathon Keys and here I learned to snorkel. We had a little motorboat and there was a reef about a half mile out. I felt safer while I could still see the hotel and bravely launched myself into the Atlantic (I don’t even like to wade into the sea never mind swimming!), now I still had to put my head under water, which I did and I saw some little fishes! I won’t describe the spectacle I made of myself trying to get back into the boat without a ladder…. We drove back along the Florida coast towards the Great Smoky Mountains with a stopover in Historic Savannah, Georgia. The mountains are beautiful and the trees were magnificent. The national park is on the border between South Carolina and Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains got their name from the Indians because after a rainstorm the mist rises like smoke from the lush trees. We arrived in a thunderstorm, much to the dismay of Buttons, and the next day we could see where the name came from. From here we went home and ended another 3000 mile road trip.

We also visited our friends in both South Carolina and Dallas during the summer.

Tony will be leaving for South Africa on the 3rd of Dec and will return with my Dad. In the mean time I will be getting ready for Christmas because as usual this is a big deal here. I am excited that my Dad will experience a Christmas in North America purely because it feels so different being cold and wintry. I will never forget the impression it made on me the first time I experienced Christmas in the Northern hemisphere.

We are planning a ski trip to Vail, Colorado at the end of January to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary -another unbelievable milestone!

The bank Tony works for bought another bank and the new company will be known a USBancorp and I tease him that he has now come full circle and are working for Bankorp yet again. The new company will be based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and we are back to square one wondering whether we will have to relocate – maybe it is time for him to find another job outside the banking sector? We will see what the new year holds for us.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and 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