This week's topic is sooo easy, since we just finished drafting our Christmas letter. The 2014 letter is in the form of a newsletter and I will give you its ten headlines, plus the paragraph about each one. It's like we knew this ToT post was coming!
Ten Headlines In Our 2014 Christmas Letter.
- Beloved Dog Saved by Her Tail.
Last spring we took our two dogs with us on an extended road trip (see below for more details on the trip). When we got home we let the dogs run free, to erase from their doggy brains the memories of motel rooms, kennels, and hours trapped in the van. Normally, the dogs come back within an hour when let out for a runaround, but this time, Lucy, the 14-year-old, was missing for more than a day. We searched and called without success. While posting Lost Dog signs on the second day, Smokey caught a glimpse of something white moving in the woods. He thought it might be a plastic bag, but upon investigation, he found it to be Lucy’s tail. That tail was the only part of her visible outside the brush pile into which she had, most likely, chased a rabbit. Wagging her tail saved her life. We dismantled the pile, carried Lucy on a blanket to our nearby car, and rushed her to the vet. She was too stiff to walk, and her eyes and mouth were packed with dirt and leaf litter, but within a day she had largely recovered. We cautioned her about the dangers of chasing critters into brush piles – according to a neighbor, that brush pile was full of rabbits – and she promised to be more careful in the future.
- Local Wife Tries on Widowhood for Size.
In March Smokey went for a total knee replacement at Fairview Medical Center in Wyoming, MN. For an unknown reason, the spinal anesthetic stopped his heart for eight minutes before the surgery had even started. Kathy heard Code Blue in operating room 1! a couple times on the hospital PA but kept telling herself that that announcement could not possibly have anything to do with her. When two of the nursing staff approached her with solemn faces, she realized differently. The good news, however, was that his heart had already been restarted and it was beating normally on its own. (For the curious among you, he saw no white lights, no tunnels, no departed relatives, nor his life flash before his eyes.) He simply woke up a few days later in the U of M hospital ICU in Minneapolis a bit dazed from all the medications and treatments he had been given, including the medically induced coma. The heart stoppage was not a heart attack – his heart just stopped beating, no clots, no damage, no fibrillations – and he only missed four days of work despite having a cracked sternum and several broken ribs from the (perfectly administered and completely successful) CPR. Since he has always been kind of an idiot, it’s hard to tell if there was any brain damage.
- Lifelong Student Pounds the Pavement Looking for Work.
At age 29, Andrew graduated from medical school, plus earned a master’s degree in public health. You may now call him Dr. Jensen, although he does still respond to Andrew. That road trip we mentioned earlier was to observe the graduation ceremonies in Ann Arbor for the MPH and in New York for the MD. The latter graduation was held at Lincoln Center. He is currently doing his residency in family medicine in Sioux Falls, SD. (Remember how we told you last year all the best family medicine programs were in smaller cities?) After living in student housing and apartments for more than ten years he happily bought a vintage-1900, two-bedroom house not far from the hospital. Before his offer for the house was even accepted, he had rescued Moose, a very friendly and energetic 105-pound adult Rottweiler/golden retriever cross, from the local humane society. Andrew likes his job, he likes his house, and he really likes his dog.
- Long-time Mental Health Professional Calls It Quits After 25 Years.
In July Smokey completed 25 years as a psychiatric nurse with the Fairview - University of Minnesota Medical Center. He received a fishing rod/reel and a special pin to wear on his ID badge. Two weeks later he gave notice for retirement and two weeks after that he was gone. Former co-workers report the hospital is doing just fine without him. He is happy to say that he is getting around to projects long overdue, including getting rid of six cars since retirement.
::sound of wifely clapping::
- New Car Qualifies for Collector Plates.
Smokey was delighted to find a new-to-him car to drive for winter, a 1993 Isuzu Trooper. His summer car has been a 10+ year-old Chrysler convertible; it was a little chilly in the winter. Since the Trooper is more than 20 years old it qualifies for collector plates, although because it will be his daily transport it requires regular plates. The Trooper is a four-wheel drive SUV with standard transmission, no air conditioning, no power locks or windows or mirrors, and it can only be shifted into 4WD when the vehicle is fully stopped. He loves that old school ambience. For the first time ever, Kathy and Smokey each have a four-wheel drive car. The boys wish that had been so when they lived at home and had to push our cars up the icy hill that is our driveway. Sorry, boys, it is a Jensen family tradition: when your father went to college your grandparents bought a dishwasher, a snow blower, and power lawnmower.
- The New Guy.
After six years at the video post-production firm, Matthew changed jobs near the end of last year; he now works as a technical services representative at a small company that designs, builds, and installs computer storage networks. He has flown around the country to install and maintain clients’ systems, plus working with them via telephone, Skype, and e-mail. His phone and laptop are never far from his grasp, even when he is hanging out here at the lake. So far his travels have taken him to Los Angeles, San Jose, Las Vegas, Denver, San Antonio, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Williamsburg, Greenville (SC), and most recently, Oklahoma City. He has developed relationships with other technicians in Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Russia, and China. In October he vacationed in Berlin for a week, staying with a technician friend there. He is having a great time and actually makes enough money to pay the bills with a bit of cash left over – a neat trick in today’s economy. After a year he is no longer the new guy; he is the one who trains the new guys.
- "80 Is Not Old. It Is Not Even 100."
Smokey’s grandfather spoke these words on his eightieth birthday back in the 1960s. So when Smokey and Kathy reached their fortieth wedding anniversary on October 19, there was no weekend in Paris nor vacation at Club Med nor purchase of ruby jewelry. Like the Scandinavians they are, they just looked at each other and said, “Whew, 40 years is quite a while, isn’t it?” Then some friends took them for a nice breakfast.
- Incombent Supervisor Loses Re-election By Seven Votes.
Kathy ran for her fourth term as county supervisor last April, but because of redistricting and because she was caring for her late husband, she couldn’t knock on enough doors to get re-elected. No matter, she is immersed in community activities serving on boards and committees while doing volunteer work and fundraising for several of them, not to mention knitting up a storm every evening.
- Help Make It a Merry Christmas for Everybody!
Remember those that are less fortunate than you -- the single parents, the homeless, the mentally ill, those who can’t find a job with a living wage, the disabled, the ex-cons, the abused children, the addicts (except Brian, the alcoholic who got kicked out of Matthew’s apartment building for being such a dufus), and all the others that need a helping hand.
- And, most importantly, have a merry Christmas yourselves!
Kathy & Smokey