by Lisa

Hello, Friends and Family!  Thundergirl and I want to wish you a happy and healthy holiday season, and also to tell you a little about our 2013.

We started the year, as usual, with the rainbow Christmas tree still aglow from ’12.  It’s so hard to say goodbye, and with an artificial tree, there’s no expiration date!  So, we kept it up until Valentine’s Day.  We did consider hanging hearts over the snowmen, but changed our minds when we realized that the “adding” could go on forever, with shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day, eggs and bunnies for Easter…

In March, I began a new job working out of state.  My dear friend Kelly’s family started a new jewelry store in eastern Kentucky, and he asked me to travel there on days when Thundergirl stayed with her father.  What an adventure!  Traveling to a new part of the country really felt like traveling to a new country.  Sometimes, the town of Hickman literally became an island.  Being right there on the Mississippi during spring rains can get pretty soggy!  And I never really did cross the language barrier, but I learned enough to get by.  Before I left for good, I was lucky enough to get to know Squirrel the Cat.  She has been part of the family since May, as an early birthday gift for Thunder.  She earned her name with her lovely half-Tabby-half-Abbysinnian coat and her amazing climbing skills!  We almost lost her to a lung infection after a surgery, but we learned that the stress of separation is too much for her to bear and her immune system becomes compromised when she is alone in strange places.  Lots of TLC and tuna worked magic, and she has been one of the best things to come out of my temporary life as a gold dealer in Kentucky!

I stayed in that position with the company for three or four months, and now I work locally for Kelly’s other business that he co-owns with my cousin Bill.  I am a salesperson-slash-researcher-slash-token “girl” at Marine Coin Company in Marine, IL.  Our customers range from little old ladies getting rid of broken jewelry to young numismatists searching for that exact date of that exact penny to finish off their coin collections!  We also do a brisk business in gold and silver bullion sales, which our customers see as a smart investment for the future.  Speaking of the future, we also offer dehydrated and freeze-dried meals for your long-term food needs.  If you get snacky in twenty-five years, you can pour some boiling water into a foil pack and have amazing pasta alfredo with chicken in under twenty minutes.  Our unofficial motto is, “It’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!”

Thundergirl and I have experienced some big, big changes this fall, too.  After experiencing an assault (on the heels of a break-in earlier this year)  at the Yellow Cottage, Thunder and I have a new home.  We live in the house on Troy Road where I first lived in 2003, which by coincidence is now the home of my sweetheart, Geoff.  He christened it The Charming Wreck, and he sure got the “charming” part right! I can’t bring myself to call a home filled with so much joy a “wreck” of any kind. He and his amazing daughters have welcomed us–and Squirrel–into their lives, and we are blessed to be a part of such a wonderful family.  What could be seen as a tragedy, a shocking random attack in the night, has become a confirmation of the true meaning of love.  Many friends lent help with our move while we recovered, and we owe great thanks to the generous people who stood up for us when we could not do it for ourselves. We are very, very lucky to be safe and healthy.

Geoff is a joy to share a home with, and our natures seem to compliment one another well.  I love to cook and putter in the kitchen, and he claims to enjoy doing laundry!  I may never stop being amazed at my clothes appearing clean and folded with no effort from me!  I am re-learning the art of preparing meals for many tastes, but so far, I haven’t had too many serious “flops”.  We have three uniquely-opinioned palates to please: one committed vegetarian, one suspicious of anything not composed of peanut butter and jelly on white with no crust, and one who would maybe rather leave the veggies off the plate entirely!  Planning suppers keeps me creative in the kitchen, and I really enjoy the process. I hope my captive audience enjoys my results!

Squirrel the Cat has new playmates here, and they are learning one another’s habits bit by bit.  I am not sure if Squirrel had ever seen a dog in real life, but Jake the Dog has been patient and gentle with her.  We all hope that their galloping games of tag will someday evolve into naps together on Jake’s big couch, but for now, we are happy with the mutual playfulness.  Tommy the Cat isn’t so sure about her new “sister”, but she has learned to assert her power in the household pet dynamic: she is the boss, applesauce!

School goes on for me…and on…and on…but I’m taking a light class load and really enjoying every minute.  I’d expected to graduate in May, but that date has moved a little further into the future.  Missed classes have been a problem, with one doctor or another poking and prodding.  Maintaining my GPA has been challenging, but so far, so good.  Fortunately, my broken nose is almost healed for Christmas, and it seems to be in a nice symmetrical shape!  Graduation is still a light at the end of my tunnel, and I look forward to where my degree takes me, whether it be a new career or further education to get that now-less-elusive career.  My dream job is to work in family counseling, and I can see the steps along the way to that dream. I am blessed with so much support for my dreams!

Thundergirl’s third grade year has been a huge success for her, too.  Just last night, her teacher described her as “a friend to everyone” and “a joy to teach, a self-starting learner.”  Raising this small person to be kind and thoughtful is the greatest accomplishment I hope to achieve in life, and again, I can say, “So far, so good!”  She works so hard for her good grades and has just learned to truly love reading.  All it took was a move from Tinkerbell’s Fairly Adventures to the Guinness Book of World Records!  She left the book in her desk this week, Thanksgiving break, and her little heart is nearly broken over it.  She also recently made a big choice to let me trim her long, long hair into a chin-length bob, and she looks so adorable.  She is very happy with her decision and even happier to be able to brush her hair alone in the morning!  Seeing her personality evolve and grow fills me with so much joy.  She also loves to teach herself to play songs on the piano and recorder by ear and to take walks in the neighborhood with Geoff and Jake the Dog.  Her baton-twirling skills have also exploded since starting baton lessons in September, and anything and everything gets twirled, including her recorder!

As we settle into this new version of life, we feel so grateful to be happy and safe and warm here in our new home.  Sitting here on the couch, listening to many many renditions of Heart and Soul, finishing the last bit of our first Holiday Letter, with Geoff away at his daughters’ parent-teacher conferences and those daughters on a plane to Florida for Thanksgiving with grandparents–have fun at the beach, we miss you already!–I feel like life couldn’t get much better.

We wish you a healthy and happy Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Yule!

The Witches formerly of the Yellow Cottage and now of  The Charming Wreck




Okay, that wasn’t so bad.  I read a few online holiday letters to get a feel for formatting.  Exclamation points everywhere!  Everywhere!  And wow, we don’t hold back about medical conditions.

I found myself grasping for ways to explain some major life events without being morbid but without candy-coating, and I wish I felt entitled to brag about how well my step-daughter is doing, and what a wonderful person she is, and how happy I am so see her grow and evolve into herself.  I can’t take much credit for that, so I left it out.  She lives with her mother and her father now, and they must be doing things very right.

I also suppressed the urge to crow about Geoff’s girls, amazing as they are in their own ways.  Again, those sentences were edited out because I don’t feel like I have bragging rights just yet.

This time of transitions will come to an end.  Next year, I might send out a real holiday letter that includes absolutely everyone.  Until then, I’ll just watch them all bloom closeby, and continue to take partial credit for this one small person’s loveliness.  That’s the thing about transitional periods: they end, and evolve into other things.  Next year, I might believe every sparkly thing I might write, Christmas-candy-coated things to make people laugh and smile and feel happy for us all.  And maybe a little jealous because those awesome things aren’t candy fluff, but real as real can be.

Give me time.  We’re busy transitioning, joyfully and gratefully and in our own time.