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The Morris Family Annual Christmas Letter - 2011

Right after I finished up last year’s letter, our youngest son Greg and his family and dogs came for Christmas from Florida.  It was wonderful to have Rebekah and our granddaughter, Kirstin, here for the holidays.  We also flew our oldest son, Eric, in from Oklahoma to visit too, since he’d never met his 5-year old niece.  We did all the usual stuff - Christmas eve down on the square in the old village of Mesilla, presents for everyone, and of course Cathy cooking the best dinner ever for all of us, plus my Mom, Dad and sister here at the house.  I even put up a tree for the first time in years, and hung lights outside too.  Good news!  This spring Greg got promoted to Master Sergeant, and Rebekah made Tech Sergeant!


Last February, this part of the country had a bone chilling freeze (for our part of the world).  It got down to zero, and did not warm up for three days.  General buffoonery by the utility company resulted in rolling blackouts and I had to actually start a fire in a fireplace for warmth for the first time in 23 years!  We lost several 20-year old shrubs and all the fronds on our palm trees, but in the spring new fronds grew out and the palms recovered.  All I can say is this global warming stuff doesn’t seem to have arrived here!


In part because of the freeze, I moved my office from the solar heated porch (heated from sun shining in the windows that is!) to the front room, so now the room we never used is my main hangout.  I replaced all the light bulbs in the room with those new curly-cue light bulbs, except I used black lights.  So now when I’m tired of this computer, I can sit in here and play my guitars and pretend it’s 1969 again...


In March, I drove my Dad over to San Antonio to visit his brother Jerry.  We drove back on US 90 which was the original but now seldom traveled route to El Paso before they built Interstate 10 a couple hundred miles north.  It is a fascinating drive, and we visited Langtry, Texas, home of Judge Roy Bean, and spent the night at the Lodge at Fort Davis State Park.  It is one of those WPA beauties, fully modernized now and one of the most enjoyable and reasonably priced places to stay I’ve ever seen.


Right after we got back, Janna, Geoffrey and Connor got evacuated from Japan following the melt down at that nuclear plant following the tsunami.  Chris stayed on at Yokosuka Navy Base, working in the Command Post, helping find housing for the victims.  Janna and the boys stayed with us four months, and Cathy got the boys enrolled at her school and acclimated to the real world.  They also got to go horseback riding, and we visited Shakespear Ghost Town near Lordsburg, and also to the invitation-only Memorial Day Bar-B-Q on the site of old Fort Filmore, which is now in the middle of one of the mega-farms in the valley here.  Re-enactors staged a WW2 fight, complete with Germans and machine guns.  The boys got to help out firing the cannons, but mostly enjoyed riding around in a genuine WW2 jeep.


Eventually though, all good things must end, and the Japanese got things under control, the evacuation was called off, and in June Chris flew over to pick up the family and take them back to Japan.  He was able to spend a couple weeks with us too, and so that was enjoyable as well - we went to White Sands National Park on “Full Moon Night” although the air was heavy with suspended dust and so it was more like a Red Moon Night.  We also watched the boys while Chris and Janna took some time off for themselves, and eventually we all ended up staying at the Hard Rock Casino in Albuquerque, and spent a couple pleasant days exploring the natural history museum, zoo, aquarium, and other sights.


I’ve mentioned these re-enactors a couple times, and ought to explain.  They are local historians and enthusiasts called the “Friends of Fort Selden”, after the old Indian Fighting Fort north of town.  I joined up last year, though I don’t dress up - I just take pictures...


My big trip of the year was in May back to London.  Once again, my hosts were most gracious and I was able to participate and follow up on important doings regarding the Chagos Archipelago and the Marine Protected Area surrounding it.  This time, the meeting was in the Royal Geographic Society’s auditorium where Burton and many other famous explorers described their discoveries.  I was lucky to spend a few days on my own and got to see the sights in perfect spring weather.  One of my favorites places was the Imperial War Museum, which ironically occupies the grounds and building of the original insane asylum, which was named “Bedlam”.


This summer Cathy and I finally got to kick back and relax, and in August, we decided to absorb some culture.  Every year they have the White Sands International Film Festival here in town, and this year we decided to attend.  We got to attend all four days of interesting little movies and evening events, and got to meet plenty of movie people, all of whom are interesting, and most (not all) are friendly.  For example, Cathy got to spend a long time visiting with Linda Hamilton, while Las Cruces as a whole got to get the finger from Val Kilmer!


Cathy completed her certification in teaching English language learners, and returned to teaching reading after the summer break, while continuing to work at her “National Boards” certification.  She really enjoys her school now that the administration has it humming right along - it was one of only 2 schools in the district to meet the national and state standards last year, and as far as I’m concerned, it is because of Cathy!  She always goes all out for her students.  For example, last month she arranged for the “Friends” to re-create a Civil War Camp on campus and the kids taking history got to see things they otherwise would not.  Of course she needs some time off too - it’s been a VERY busy year for her - and over the fall break, she flew to visit her brother Gary in Florida and got her annual, and critical, beach fix.


My Dad had a series of operations including a hip replacement beginning in September, and he’s taking a long time to recover.  Since Mom can’t drive anymore, my sister Kerry (now also retired) and I take turns as chauffeurs.  Mom and I like to wander around, and went to a re-enactment of the Gadsden Purchase Ceremony in Mesilla, to see the Budweiser Clydesdales, the city’s Art Museum to see paintings of manned space flight, etc.  Oh, and we all went over to Tucson to see my niece Jessie get married.  We also had some visitors (you know who you are) and invite the rest of you to stop in anytime!  To end out this year, we are thankful that we are still doing reasonably well, all things considered, and still have good friends and family, like you!


Meanwhile, all the best for 2012 from Ted, Cathy, Sheila & Brandi (the dogs), Pokey & Cocoa (the Amazons), Red (the Macaw), Willie (the Senegal Parrot), and Calista & Fatso (Chris’ cats)!

 Now, in no particular order are the entries for the 2011 photograveur...

Kirstin helps Cathy fix Christmas Dinner!

Rebekah & Greg show Mom and Dad pictures on their iPad.

Kirstin with Brandi.

Kirstin says good-bye to Cathy - now, don't cry!  I'll be back!

The gallopin' galoots - Connor, Ted, and Geoff

Connor becomes a horseman.

Jeff too!

Connor & Geoff get a ride in a real WW2 Jeep.

Chris and the boys foolin' around!

Janna and the boys out at the Airport checking out a fire-fighting helo.

Geoff at the Natural History Museum in Albuquerque.  The Coelophysis is the state's "official fossil".  hmmmm.

Connor over at the Shakespear Ghost Town - on the lookout for bad hombres coming up the street!

Eric plays with one of our guitars.

I turned 60 this year, and it ocurred to me that some of my friends might be losing their hair as they turn 60-ish too. 
So I've included this one so they can see what they are missing...

P.S.  Did I mention that I turned 60 this year.

If you would like to see a bunch of photos I've taken that aren't pictures of the family,
check out my albums on Facebook:  Friend me at

A-duh-bee, a-duh-bee, a duh-bee.
That's all Folks!

Here're some other Christmas e-cards you might want to see:
(sorry, I was off to the wars and didn't do cards for 03-04)


2009 - 2010

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You can see a bunch of pictures I've taken over the years on flickr: