Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas -- er, New Year's -- er, never sent -- letter from last year

Happy New Year!
            As we begin 2014, we resolve to become better organized in all aspects of our lives!
            Sound familiar?  We say that just about every year!  But this time, we really mean it! For the first time in 38 Christmases together, we passed on sending cards in favor of New Year’s greetings.
            We could blame it on the UK Faculty Senate, which made the academic calendar as late as it’s ever been; or Franklin D. Roosevelt, who decreed that Thanksgiving would be on November’s last Thursday, not the fourth one; but the real culprits are a couple who just can’t get as much done when they’re 59 as they did when they were 49. But we hope you and yours enjoyed the holidays and are looking forward to 2014.
            We told you a year ago that we had picked a contractor for a major renovation: master bath, closet and dressing room, and after several delays, it is done, but we’re still getting the house back in order after moving stuff around for the construction, so please call ahead if you plan to drop by soon.  We’d love to see you; just need to move some boxes out of your path.
            Our big trip of the year was to Tybee Island, Ga., in August, with Al’s brother David and his extended family. We had a big house near the beach and enjoyed trips into nearby Savannah, one of our favorite places. And Henry, our West Highland White Terrier, even got to go. Later in the month we went with David and his wife, Jennifer, to the Kentucky-Western Kentucky football game in Nashville. Our alma mater won!
            We’ve been going to Tennessee more often, now that Al and members of his extended family own half of The Gatlinburg Inn, the oldest hotel in the town next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 69-room hotel is a quiet spot in the middle of town, right next to the chairlift. The entertainer at the grand re-opening May 31 was Bobby Osborne, who with his brother Sonny did the first recording of “Rocky Top,” the most famous song written at the Inn by Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. The Inn will host the Smoky Mountain Songwriters Festival in 2014.
            We were glad to welcome Al’s cousin Allen Barker and his wife Anita to Frankfort for the NAIA Division I women’s national basketball championship, in which their daughter Melanie’s team from Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., was runner-up. Go, Flames!
        We went to Anaheim for the Society of Professional Journalists convention, where Patti accepted the national award for outstanding member of a small chapter, and to St. Louis for the SPJ regional conference. Al also went on business to Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Charleston, W.Va., and Chapel Hill, N.C., and gave a speech at the library in his hometown, Albany. And if you go through there, stop at Albany Full Service, now owned by Al’s niece Lora Brewington and her husband Matt!
            Our extended families continue to grow. Al’s other niece, Terran Cross Helm, and her husband Derrick had their second child a few days before Christmas, and Patti’s cousins are multiplying like mad; she now has 10 first cousins once removed, up from five at this time last year.
            Patti remains on the Frankfort-Franklin County Joint Planning Commission and its Architectural Review Board. She remains a very active volunteer and board member for the county fair, Habitat for Humanity, Capital City Woman’s Club, and SPJ’s Bluegrass Chapter.
            Al continues to teach a class or two each semester and publish The Rural Blog, Kentucky Health News and the Midway Messenger, a student-fed news site for the town between Frankfort and Lexington. His health work won him an award from the Kentucky Psychological Association, and the Midway project, now starting its seventh year, was recognized by Columbia Journalism Review. In addition to his work as an extension professor and director of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, he writes a fortnightly political column for The Courier-Journal, in which he will track the nation’s top U.S. Senate race and the 2015 race for governor.
            We’ll probably be as busy as ever in 2014, but never too busy for our friends and family. Call, write or come by! Again, tardily, Happy New Year!

We’re both on Facebook, and Al is on Twitter @ruralj

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