Year end Greetings from George, Mary Ann and David Drake
December, 1994
Bellingham, Washington

We hope our annual newsletter to family and friends finds all of you in good health and ready to take on a new year full of joy and new adventures.

Now that we are retired and spending more time enjoying what we have we figured it was time to call a halt to more major development in the yard and gardens. We decided to finish up those last projects that have been on the “to do” list and remove the excess lumber, pots we were going to use “someday” and, as much as possible get the physical surroundings of the house set for the next several decades of our life. We removed all the azaleas that had grown too high and hid the wet pond view from the house. They will be replaced with very low growing ones. A number of very large cottonwood trees were cut down to allow more light into the yard and stop their root systems from destroying all the nearby paths.

This summer is noted for being one of the loveliest in many years. Taking advantage of all that sun we went on hikes in the alpine forests and meadows in the Cascades almost every week. We would go on a Monday or Tuesday when few, if any, persons were on the trails. The incredible beauty of the terrain, with magnificent views of the glaciers on Mt. Baker or Mt. Shuksan, is impossible to describe.  One has to see it to believe it.  Who knows how long we will be able to take those hikes?  So long as we can we will be up in the mountains every chance we can get.

This past fall we went up to some of our favorite places for picking blueberries and found that the picking equaled the best of commercial fields!  We literally could fill a 3 lb. coffee can in just about 500 square ft. of alpine shrubs. Can you imagine the amount of berries that went begging in the thousands of acres that we did not pick?

We began this year in Mexico, as usual. All of us enjoyed several weeks on the beach in Rincon de Guayabitos but then George took off for Guatemala City and Mexico City for a two week jaunt by himself.  George was working up contracts for nativity contests in the countries of Mexico and Guatemala, the winning works coming to Bellingham. On his return to the beach we sold all the goods that we had been leaving there from year to year, with the intent not to return but rather to visit other parts of Latin America. We have been going to Rincon de Guayabitos for about 15 years. Nonetheless, it seems we will be going back to the same place for the first week of our 1995 trip so we can join cousin Louise, husband Jack and friends Estelle and Shirley for a joint visit on the beach.  David will remain home and stay with friends from church. (His decision).

During the year Mary Ann had several mini-vacations.  Early in the summer she went to a spinning retreat in a mountain ranch located in Stehekin, Washington, at the end of a 30 mile long sliver of a lake (Land Chelan) where the only access is by bat or sea plane.

Later in the year she took a week off of her many activities here and went to Monterey for a visit with Miyo Enokida and friends on the Monterey Peninsula where she nursed for about 10 years and where we were married, David was born and where George taught for several years before joining the foreign service. Such escapes are renewing for the soul and are called for more frequently as our peer group ages and some of us pass by the wayside. Now is the time to visit.

George has been totally engrossed in the creation of the creche festival for the City of Bellingham. He spends full time on it every week of the year! This year he sent out over 2,000 letter to over 225 countries seeking participation. He ended up with hundreds of nativity sets from over 37 nations which were shown in the windows of 43 stores in the center of the city. Prizes were given to artists from 12 nations. He received calls from as far as Los Angeles for newspaper interviews. Sunset magazine had a write up that brought visitors from Salem and Portland, Oregon and from many parts of Washington and lower mainland of BC, Canada. If you want more information on the festival George will be glad to add your name to the mailing list for their literature.

David still volunteers many hours each week at Big Rock Garden Park (averaging about 20 hours per week) and helps greatly in our own garden. He is still going swimming several times a week at the YMCA, goes bowling on Saturdays (not his forte), and goes to the local “drop in center” several evenings a week to play billiards (at which he is fairly good). He is also one of the most expressive dancers at the monthly SPIN dances where he can move his body to wild music. We hear from Todd once in awhile. He sounded great in our last phone conversation and we are hoping to see him up here with us for the Christmas holiday.

Mary Ann is just about out of inventory for the craft fairs this year as she has been so successful with marketing her hats. This year she has been selling through the spinning guild (with over 50 members) rather than having her own booth at various craft fairs.
That way she can still sell even though her inventory is down. It has reduced the pressure on her to have a high inventory at all times and allows more flexibility in determining the next project. Recently she has been having fun with felted hats! And they, too, seem to be selling well.

One of George’s activities is to engage in conversations on the internet with persons all over the world on various topics of mutual interest. His favorite is the civic values group which discusses issues relating to local community development. George feels it is one way that he can share his experiences of over three decades of community development research and activism with those who are now entering the field. His e-mail (internet) number, for those of you who also play the net, is: gdrake@henson.cc.wwu .edu. George was also recently honored by the local Whatcom Hispanic Organization with the Benito Juarez Award for service to the Hispanic community. It was a wonderful ceremony and he is very appreciative for the award.

With love to all: