scroll down for the pictures

     


Merry Christmas 2014 and a Happy 2015 from Ted & Cathy Morris!

            Cathy retired from teaching this past summer, and is enjoying not having to drive to work in the dark, and drive home in the dark!  She finished up the year teaching elementary remedial reading and 7th & 8th grade history.  I went with her to the District ceremony for the year’s retirees and she received glowing thanks – and requests to not retire – from the Superintendant and several members of the Board.  As you may recall from previous letters, her school was in the middle of Gang Central, but even the gangsters respected her.  She had an end of school pool party for her middle-school students, and there was not a bit of trouble.  It just goes to show that a teacher who insists on student achievement and good behavior – and who isn’t afraid to flunk the slackers – is valued by the public in our educational system, at least here in Southern NM.


            In past years I’ve been able to talk my friends in a local living history outfit to set up WW2 and Civil War camps for her classes at the end of the school year.  This year they had too many other commitments and that ended up with me taking some of my guns to the classroom and giving my “how gun technology changed American history”, from the Kentucky Rifle to an M4 and many in between.  Of course it was all approved by the Principle, and the kids loved it, but all day I wondered how long it would be before a SWAT team showed up!  Fortunately, nobody in Gang Central seemed the least perturbed at someone unloading a dozen rifles and pistols from the back of their car at the local school!!!


            I turned 62 last December and applied for Social Security retirement, having calculated that I’d have to live for 14 extra years to make up the difference of waiting until I was 66.  Then, as fate would have it, I learned the hard way that I should have waited, because in March I was out taking photos at a friend’s ranch, and tripped while just walking along.  I tucked the camera & lens up like a football, and landed on my left shoulder, which promptly broke.  So, I could have gotten Social Security disability for a few years instead!  It is taking a LONG time to return to normal operations.  The doc thinks I may have something else wrong and we’ll see after a while.  The worst thing is that my post-injury laziness resulted in a lot of weight gain, which is proving very difficult to get rid of.  At any rate, I guess I’m really retired now, and next year Cathy will be eligible for Social Security and we can claim true White Hair status.  Provided she doesn’t qualify for disability first!  BTW, next time, the camera gets sacrificed!


            The family is doing pretty well.  Our youngest son Greg and his family visited at Christmas time last year.  It was very pleasant having Rebekah and our granddaughter Kirstin here for the holidays.  It may be a while before we see them again, as they transferred from Florida to Hawaii this past summer where they live on base at Hickam.  Kirstin, who just turned 9, has her first skate board and is amazingly good at it.  She is also into gymnastics, and various other extracurricular activities.  Greg is getting better at surfing and Rebekah is into Cross Fit fitness training.  They’ve already seen most of the local sights, and have even climbed Diamond Head and Koko Head!  Somehow, they seem to spend a LOT of time on the beach; I wonder why?


            Chris & his family are still at the Navy Base at Naples.  Since Geoffrey and Connor are now Boy Scout age, Janna can finally get a break from Cubbing, since Chris got talked into being the Scoutmaster of Troop 007.  He even took the troop to Summer Camp at Garmish in the Bavarian Alps in Germany.  Janna even bought the boys turtles so they can complete Reptile Study Merit Badge.  Geoff’s voice changed this year – it’s a good thing we’ve got SKYPE and can video call them or I wouldn’t have known who the new baritone was in the family!  Connor is doing pretty well and seems to especially enjoy gaming.  He says he wants to write code for games when he grows up.  They’ve all managed to take in a lot of the sights of Italy, and most recently went to Florence and Pisa where they saw what Janna described as Michelangelo’s “very naked” David, and of course the famous leaning tower.


            Last year’s letter mentioned that Dad had been in the hospital/rehab since September 2013.  Well, he finally got out on New Year’s Eve and rejoined Mom in their apartment.  We had Mom stay with us much of the time he was in the hospitals, and we kept their dog for another month to permit Dad to get well enough to take Charlie out for walks.  This year, both Mom and Dad have been in good health, considering.  Mom had some back surgery, but recovered nicely.  We bring them over to the house to watch the latest DVD movies, and Cathy has Mom over 3 afternoons a week to knit and do cross-stitch in Cathy’s new hobby room.  Kerry is still here in town and she is a wonderful help to Mom & Dad.  We all go out to eat on occasion, and celebrate the holidays together too.  Kerry’s kids are in Tucson and Austin, so she’s able to go see and help them out too.


            We brought Eric home last April & he’ll be here for this Christmas.  He too is doing well overall, and still has his girlfriend, Robin, in Oklahoma.

            Some of you want to know whether our menagerie is doing o.k.  Well, the dogs, cats, parrots, and macaw are fat, dumb and happy.  We did get three new additions as Mom’s box turtles (which now reside in our back yard) successfully hatched 3 babies, which we’ve got in a terrarium to keep from the local predators – the roadrunners and coyotes.  Our neighborhood is filled with all sorts of wild animals and birds, but this year the pack rats seem to have discovered procreation and they are everywhere.  We’ve got 3 middens on the property (that I know of), but they are so cute I haven’t got the heart to kill them off, so we sow mothballs and hope they move on down the street!


            We’ve done some repair and improvement projects done this year and are trying to keep our “garden” alive and well in the face of the continuing 8 year drought.  A couple years ago we planted some flowering vines along the back yard’s rock wall, and they have done very well.  We especially enjoy the wisteria and honey suckle.  Except in the late fall when I have to clear away all their shedded leaves.  As part of my self-prescribed therapy for my shoulder, I’ve been working on clearing out the dead shrubs and cactus from the big freeze here 3 years ago.  Slow work, but it gets me out of the house.


            We also hired out some big jobs.  We had the back deck resurfaced with stamped concrete (it looks like a massive slab of sandstone now), replaced the old hot tub, put in some French doors leading from the Master BR and the guest suite out onto the deck, and took out a wall between a couple of the bedrooms to make Cathy the ultimate sewing room.  There are still a few things left to do, but the house feels much more livable now.


            Also this year, I had the brilliant idea that we should either buy a new 4x4 or rejuvenate our 2005 Toyota Sequoia.  She’s got 130,000 miles and still runs like a top, so I decided to get all the fluids changed out, the brakes done, replace the timing belt, etc.  The last time I did such a thing was in the 1980s when you could actually do a lot of that yourself.  Well, I can’t anymore, and I’ve now learned it is not cheap to do.  But the Sequoia is once again like new, and I figure I’ll be dead long before I have to spruce it up again!  We’ve got a Camry hybrid too, and really like Toyotas.

       Somehow I thought there was more to write about, especially since it seems that there is even less time for things than there was before we retired!  But that’s about all I’ve got for this year.


        We hope you and yours are doing well and never lose the spark, and wish you the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year.


Now, Here's This Year's Crop of Photos:


Cathy and me up at Cloudcroft last winter.


Cathy's retirement plaque.  She was ALL smiles!!!


I recently shaved and cut off most of my hair.  Haven't decided if I like it yet!


My Dad, Ted Senior, my son, Christopher, and me last winter during Chris' visit.


Our granddaughter Kirstin & my Dad last Christmas.


My Mom, Pat, and my sister Kerry.


Our Grandson Connor does his best to straighten up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!


Our Grandson Geoffrey (on the far left) with his Troop at Boy Scout Summer Camp in Garmish, Germany.


Geoffrey surveying the countryside around Naples, in preparation for crossing the Rubicon and conquering Rome.  SPQR!!!


Connor is up to something.  I just know it.


Grandson Connor, his loving mother Janna, and oldest grandson Geoffrey in front of the "very naked" statue of David...


Our granddaughter Kirstin and her proud father, our son, Greg on the beach in Hawaii.


Kirstin prepared to defend Oahu.


Kirstin and our beautiful daughter-in-law Rebekah doing that really creepy thing that mothers and daughters do.


My sister Kerry, my Mom Pat, my Dad, Ted, my wonderful wife Cathy, and me out on the town.

Uh Duh Bee, Uh Duh Bee, Uh Duh Bee ... That’s All Folks!


Here're some other Christmas e-cards you might want to see:
2002
(sorry, I was off to the wars and didn't do cards for 03-04)
2005
2006
2007

2008

2009 - 2010
2011
2012
2013
2015


Don't forget to check out my website at http://www.zianet.com/tedmorris/dg/

You can see a bunch of pictures I've taken over the years on flickr:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/30832662@N05/sets/