December, 1985

Dear Friends: One would think that as we get older we would start slowing down a bit but the reverse seems true and not only does our frenetic life keep up but the pace seems to quicken.

Looking back on the activities of 1985 one of the real highlights of the year was the successful Gardens of Art sculpture show and landscaping competition held in Big Rock Garden Nursery. Twenty one artists showed art works and 18 landscapers created garden designs for the sculptures. The publicity was great and we had visitors from all over the US and Canada.

The summer weather was beautiful but to us that meant watering daily, mostly by hand. We had a wonderful crew of young folks helping us who were featured on a T.V. news show segment on employment of the handicapped. The show was sensitively done and reached a state-wide audience. David, as usual, is one of our best workers. We are proud of his sense of responsibility and his own sense of self worth. David had a two week vacation with his grandfather and Cele in Wisconsin during the summer. He is still active in Special Olympics basketball and volleyball

The MAD Hatter (Mary Ann Drake) is still spinning, knitting and selling hats at craft shows. Plans are underway for a trip to New Zealand to visit the sources of the wool used in many of the hats. Here, as in the nursery, David is a great help in picking apart the wool and carding it. Folks are quite surprised to find that Mary Ann is the MAD Hatter as well as manager of the nursery, not to mention cook and housekeeper

And Todd? Well, Todd went to Alaska to work on a fish processing barge this summer. Now that he is back in Bellingham he is working as a painter for a contractor remodeling an old hotel. Hours are long but he is one of the lucky young men in town to have a job. Wot with 9,000 students at the university the job market is depressed. We were happy to have him spend Thanksgiving with us. He is thinking of going to New Orleans.

George began his responsibilities as Special Assistant to the President for International Programs at WWU in July. He still holds the position as Director of the Center for East Asian Studies also. Between the two jobs he has been very active in developing programs with schools in Japan and in the People’s Republic of China. When the earthquake hit Mexico City his class in Community Organization put on a benefit musical featuring Latin music that raised about 3,000 dollars in aid. As we are spending two weeks in December in Mexico we are planning on going to Mexico City to deliver the money in person to the director of a small school that was destroyed by the quake.

Soon after the fundraiser for the Mexican disaster the Nevado del Ruiz blew its top in Colombia, not 25 miles from the city where we used to live in the early 60’s when we were with the United States Information Agency. George is exploring ways for WWU to get involved with the University of Manizales and will probably visit there in early 1986.

The sad news of 1985 was the death of Mom Drake in Santa Cruz, California at the home of George’s brother Stanley. When Mom was diagnosed as terminally ill Stanley took her to his home and with the aid of Hospice made her last days as comfortable and peaceful as possible. What a blessed act on his part that was for which we are all thankful.

The weather just before and after Thanksgiving was extremely cold with temperatures near zero and with snow and high winds. There will surely be some plant loss but that is the life of a farmer. Given the nature of the nursery business we can’t get away in the summer but that makes us look forward to those two weeks on the beach in Rincon de Guayabitos, Mexico.

‘Nuf for now. Happy Holidays to you all.
George, Mary Ann and David