Saturday, December 08, 2007
Thank goodness for Christmas letters
Adapted from a response to my friend Tykie's Christmas letter
I was so pleased to receive your Christmas letter and hear all your good news. Getting married! I wish you the very best.
Even better is the overall tone of your letter. You just seem happy. And I couldn’t be more delighted.
I’m doing well…though not as well as you! I’m sitting in my Vermont farmhouse looking out at snow covered fields. We had an early snowfall, which has left us with about a foot and a half of really nice snow on the ground. This doesn’t usually happen until January, but it is a boon to the ski industry and awfully Christmas-y. I’m not sure when I last communicated with you, but if you want to track my acclimatization to Vermont, take a look at my blog... Some of it is pretty good (if I do say so myself), some is just dull, but I have had a good time with it. There are pictures, too.
I spent four years doing economic development work for one of the counties here, which was in many ways very satisfying—-helped me get integrated in the community--but not particularly well paid. Finally last January, I decided that I really needed to prop up the retirement funds a bit before I needed them, so I am now working for a very small wealth management firm...I will hear no whining about commuting—-I have an hour drive each way in the summer. How long it takes in the winter is still an open question…worst so far was two and a half hours to get in one morning. Our interstate is only two lanes in each direction, so it doesn’t take much to close it down completely!
Vermont is awash in former Morganites. Hugh Kemper is attempting to redesign the cost structure of the education system, Tom White is heading up research at Dwight Investment Management, and I see Karen Reukauf Sharf from time to time when she comes up to her Vermont house.
My household has been dog-centric since 2000. My dear old Max died in January of last year. He had been failing for some time, so I got a beautiful German Shepherd girl the November before he died. She is named Cassandra and called Cassie and is a complete delight. She listened carefully to everything that Max had to teach her and learned how we do things in this household. She allows Toby, now eleven I think, to be the number one dog, and he mostly adores her as long as she does not herd him too vigorously.
Cassandra takes her name from mythology, from the prophetess who was doomed to be always correct and never believed. When I first started working in economic development in Vermont, as I was ranting about the need for universal broadband or enhanced computer skills or something similar, someone said this to me: “You are probably right. You are almost certainly right. But in Vermont, you are Cassandra. They will never believe you.” What a perfect name for a German Shepherd! They rant and bark and try to herd everyone, but if you know them well, you know it is pretty much an act. And it helps keep me humble to be reminded that people here don’t believe things that people in other worlds take for granted.
It really is a very simple life here. Neither you nor I was ever particularly conspicuous in our consumption, but my life is pared way back. In a good way.
This morning I got up and made a fire in the furnace. I burn wood on weekends for warmth and economy. A little breakfast, then out for a snowshoe and a romp with the neighbor’s dog Acer (named for the genus of maple trees, Cassie’s best friend). A little later, a guy who once had a little crush on me will bring over lots and lots of evergreen branches, and I will make eighteen kissing balls for the Rotary Christmas silent auction. I’m not in the Rotary any more now that I drive to Burlington, but I still have good friends there and they like to rope me into projects—kissing balls in the winter, duck race in the summer. The ducks live in my garage. This afternoon, I will wash my disgusting floors (all that snow tracked in brings piles of mud), then bake cookies for the cookie swap. This evening, I will get together with friends who count on my good sense and perspective (as I do on theirs), and we will finish the evening with a trial run of Acer staying with us while his family goes away for vacation. I might do a little writing for work or for fun, will almost certainly do a little knitting. I am currently obsessed with socks. It’s a good life.
How do you Washingtonians like the tree we sent you?