Greetings and Happy Holidays,
Allow me to start with an explanation and apology. The tongue-in-cheek Christmas letter was long-penned by my better half. I know it was well-received by many as a way to lighten the mood of a stressful holiday season. I’m willing to give it a good attempt this year, although I’m sure that – much like her culinary skills – I won’t match up as her equal.
While 2011 was a year of just getting to the end, 2012 was the year we surveyed the wreckage.
The first major project for the house became a new heat source. While coal stoves are common in Northeastern Pennsylvania, I grew up in a house with geothermal – or as some people prefer to call it – magic. In brief, heat from several hundred feet below my back yard heats my house. (There’s physics and chemistry involved too, but that’s a little dense for Christmas unless we’re talking about the effects of gravity on Christmas trees and what to mix with your eggnog.)
When it came time to drill the well for my heat source, the drillers discovered an underground spring in my backyard. In the words of one neighbor, the 40-foot spray made it look like they struck oil. The drill rig sat in the backyard for more than a week, and other neighbors began to ask whether my geothermal was really an attempt to drill for natural gas. The project was also delayed while I demolished the coal bin in my basement after the help of family and friends in claiming and moving the coal.
Speaking of wreckage and landscaping, another year means another tree lost in the front yard to a hurricane. While the 2011 hurricane victim fell toward the house and hung suspended by dead branches of two other trees, the 2012 casualty fell toward the line that provides electricity to my house. I wasn’t surprised to lose power in the storm, but I was a bit shocked to see the very low hanging wire that I had to step over the next morning on my way to start the generator.
I’ve returned to the water for the first time since I was a teenager, this time competing in a kayak race down the Lackawanna River. The Lackawanna, not normally a large river, was particularly shallow that weekend. I spent more time in the river than in the kayak, and it had nothing to do with my ability to stay afloat. In fact, I never fell out without meaning to, and demonstrated my skills at water navigation by going through the rough parts, including a nice 5 foot drop over some rocks, backwards. Some of the people watching thought it clearly showed that I couldn’t control my kayak, but I knew I was just showing off for the crowd.
Finally, the house has been dubbed the beach house by a number of friends. While that elicits strange looks in Scranton, the repeated hurricanes, backyard spring, and general ambiance and decor on the sun porch definitely resemble a warmer locale with white sand and not the white powder that may have fallen since this was mailed.
Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2013, and I hope this letter brings a smile to your face or happy memories of a better author. I promise to try to do better next year.