December 1993

Dear Friends:

As 1993 draws to a close we wonder where the time went. It seems as though it were but a short while ago that we were in Nebaj and Chajul, Guatemala or enjoying concerts in Antigua during their cultural festival in February. Since then we have been active in several major projects.

While in Guatemala visiting all the normal tourist sites such as Tikal, Rio Dulce, Chichicastenango, etc., we collected nacimientos (nativity sets) for George’s newest endeavor. He is developing a new festival for Bellingham to be called the International Creche Festival. The festival will consist of a showing of traditional nativity sets from public and private collections and a showing of modern sets from as many parts of the world as possible. There will also be an annual competition among crafts persons world-wide for the best new creche. This year the festival association is showing 164 nativity sets from 17 nations and 27 different parts of Mexico. The displays are being shown in 31 store windows in the central business district of the city. So far public comments have been overwhelmingly positive.

In our last letter we told you of our selling most of our land to the city for park and open space use. We decided this year to donate almost all the income from the sale of the park land to a program for horticultural therapy. Providing a work opportunity in horticulture for persons with mental disabilities was the reason for the founding of Big Rock Garden in the first place so, essentially, we are seeing our dreams come true in this regard and, with our donation, the program will be funded for 30 years. The first activity by the newly formed Horticultural Therapy Committee of the Big Rock Garden Society is to hold a major conference and training session in Bellingham on Horticultural Therapy.

David writes, “I am swimming at the YMCA every Tuesday and Thursday again. I’m trying to learn the butterfly stroke. I get a weekly lesson. I go to the community college where I work on math (making change), typing and on the computer. Thursday evenings I play volleyball. This year our team won second place in the State Tournament! I have been raking leaves. All are off the trees now.” He still volunteers about 20 hours a week work in the park.

Mary Ann is still working up a storm spinning, knitting and selling her hats but this seems likely to be her last year of attending so many craft fairs. She is seeking retail outlets that will purchase her hats at wholesale prices or take them on consignment. Attending the craft fairs is just too exhausting. She would rather spend the time more creatively.

In late summer we bought a new car (Honda Accord LX Station Wagon) and in early September took off for Wisconsin. We went by way of Kelowna, British Columbia; Edmonton, Alberta; and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan where we visited friends and enjoyed the marvelous scenery of the Canadian Rockies and prairies. Wisconsin brought us visits with friends and relatives. Of special importance was celebrating Jack and Louise Monahan’s 40th wedding anniversary. The long trip home took us through Yellowstone National Park which we loved – especially since the mobs of tourists were gone. Wild life came out of the bush to pose for the few of us still on the road and the sun shone brightly to show off the colors of the hills, lakes and mountains. It was a long trip and all of us were glad to get home.

David did not go with us to Mexico and Guatemala in January and February of this year but he has announced that he is going to go with us this coming January. We face the problem of how to get him back to Bellingham while we spend another month “on the road”. We are not sure where we will be going. George wants to bus on down to Panama through Central America. Mary Ann is not at all excited about such a trip. Oh, well, we’ll work it out and let you know next year what we decided.