Goodbye to 2015!

It's been an up-and-down year for us.   But let's start with a couple UPs:
  • We managed to get through the entire hurricane season without any hurricanes.   In the twelve years we've lived in Texas we've been hit by only two hurricanes: Rita (2005) and Ike (2008).
  • Our orange trees are finally bearing fruit.   Not much of a crop — about a dozen oranges — but still enough that we can call it a "crop".
This year had too much stress and struggle, and not enough good times.   Some of the downside involved that fact that we are getting older, which leads to all sorts of body malfunctions.   One major malfunction for Neal was his right knee, which he had replaced in June.   Now that we're six months on from that, his spiffy new titanium knee actually counts as one of the high spots of the year.   But it was a struggle getting here.

Through it all Neal has continued to volunteer for all of his usual groups.  Fortunately, running websites can be done sitting at home.
The one volunteer gig that got short shrift this year was working on the map collection at the Brazoria County Historical Museum.   The building, originally built in 1897 as the County Courthouse, doesn't have an elevator and it's difficult for Neal to climb the stairs.   On top of that, ongoing renovation has disrupted normal operations so much so that Neal can't even get to the map cabinets.

Ann has been gradually un-volunteering (also becoming an un-gardener.)   Spells of writing come and go (she's currently working on something about backyard critters).   She did the usual botany and zoology lectures for Master Gardener and Master Naturalist trainees, along with programs for garden clubs and community education groups.

Ann explains the use of an identification key to members of the Texas Master Naturalist intern training class.

Our rescued Corgi Robbie Rosco is a continuing source of amusement accented with bouts of chaos.

Robbie helping Ann harvest oranges.
A favorite activity: tying to catch water spraying from the hose.

  Almost caught it!

Robbie with Neal.

Ann recently learned to crochet a chain with individual interlocked links — it's so cool and easy to do that it's a shame it has no practical use.

Our kids and grandkids seem to be doing fine.   Sarah is still living in Katy and working as one of the two drapers in the costume shop at the Alley Theater in Houston.   (Drapers figure out how the costume designs are going to be made and cut and fit the patterns.)   Nathan is in first grade and Owen is still at day care.   Sarah and Clint are super busy with jobs, getting the boys where they need to be, getting home work done and trying to have some family life.   So sometimes it seems like Katy is as far away as Utah.   We wish we were near enough to help.

But we get together whenever we can.   In October we joined them at Houston's new Buffalo Bayou Park for KBR Kids Day.  Exhibits included live reptiles presented by the Texas Master Naturalists.

Kick the ball!


Owen meets a baby alligator.

And in far-off Utah, Laura is still taking care of furry patients.   She is now working half-time at an animal emergency clinic, along with half-time at Holladay Veterinary Hospital where she has been for quite a while.   And she's still serving the medical needs of the Utah Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue "canine assistants" that are "trained and able to conduct physical search and heavy rescue operations in damaged or collapsed reinforced concrete buildings".

Laura and the girls (and the dogs) have moved to an apartment closer to Holladay Veterinary Hospital to save commuting time.   Bridget is in fifth grade and Katelyn in third grade.   And Pippin the corgi and Ty the lab are learning to be apartment dogs.   Maybe we should be in Utah to help, too.

Briget and Katelyn making Christmas decorations with red and green construction paper.

Pippin the Corgi.

Ty the black lab.

The girls show off their new cell phones.

After a year like this one, it's good to remember that family and friends are what really matter.   So we are wishing for all of us a good year ahead, with more occasions to celebrate the ones we love.

   Neal and Ann McLain
416 County Road 912A
Brazoria, TX 77422-7695
979-798-2284 home
979-824-3586 Neal cell
979-824-3200 Ann cell