As I sit here and write this, another snow fall is heading our way. It has been a chilly and snowy early winter for us here in the foothills of eastern Colorado. The snow makes the holiday lights all the more lovely.
We have had an exciting year. Ellen traveled to Europe for eight weeks by herself (see her blogs at http://electricrider.net/drupal/?q=forum/17) and Dave got laid off and rehired by the same company and never stopped working for even a second!
In May, Ellen left for a research trip and vacation in Europe. Ellen took the Queen Mary 2 from New York City to Southampton, England. She then wandered through Europe visiting the places Eleanor of Aquitaine frequented when she ruled France and England as queen in the twelfth century. This took her to Paris, Auxerre and the Burgundy countryside, Caen, Falaise, Bayeux, Mont St. Michel, Angers, Saumur, Le Mans, and Poitiers. She then traveled to Zaragoza in Spain to do research on an eleventh-century battle between Muslim-Christian allies and Berbers coming up from North Africa. Finally she stopped in Barcelona for fun and to catch a cruise through the Mediterranean. She also visited friends who had moved to Dresden, Germany several years ago. She had an incredible time, both strange and amazing. If you have an account on facebook, you can see a lot of the photos she took. Here is a link to some of them: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150203992757636.313635.582482635&type=1&l=7cc39ba803
Three days after Ellen bought her non-refundable ticket on the QM2, Dave's company, Emulex, announced they were closing its office in Longmont. They generously gave Dave sixth months to find another job, so we decided that Ellen should take her dream trip to Europe anyway. By the time Ellen left, Emulex had turned around and “re-hired” Dave in another position where he now works for his favorite manager from home. He is ecstatic.
Dave worked hard all the time Ellen was gone, keeping his overlords at Emulex very happy. And he set up a beautiful home office for himself with both a work computer and personal computer with dual monitors and advanced graphics processors. While he was at it, he set up a Windows 7 computer with dual monitors for Ellen. The office was unrecognizable (in a good way) when Ellen got back. Now we never have to go anywhere! ;)
Our mostly no-car lifestyle continues to bring us pleasure and only a little frustration. Both of us ride our bikes or walk most places, using the bus when we need to go further afield. The city of Longmont and Boulder County keep making us happy with new bike paths. We can now go completely across Longmont and beyond into East Boulder County with only a couple road crossings. The path follows the creek and goes under all other major roads. That route takes over an hour, one way. (http://electricrider.net/drupal/?q=node/886) But that's not all! The county and the cities within it put together a trail that goes from south Longmont all the way to downtown Boulder. It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes. We can catch it a mile from our house. (http://electricrider.net/drupal/?q=node/923) We are really in great shape now! But Ellen is usually happy to catch the bus for the ride back from Boulder. :)
The little frustration we feel is that the local bus is limited. It doesn't run after 7:00pm Monday through Saturday, and doesn't run at all on Sunday. We walk or bike to the regional bus stop to catch a bus at these times (or if we want to shorten the trip, which is almost always). Ellen is active in the writing community here, and going to an evening meeting that is more than thirty minutes away by bike makes it difficult to get back home. And for some reason, fellow writers squawk when she tries to put them on the rear bike rack or the handlebars of her cross bike to take her turn carpooling to regular group events. Geesh!
Ellen hopes to purchase an all-electric Nissan Leaf in 2012. This is to replace the 1999 Honda Accord (with just under 80K miles on it) which she drives once a month. The Leaf has a range of 100 miles, so it isn't a long-distance vehicle. However, as more charging stations get placed along highways with the increasing Electric Vehicle infrastructure, Ellen hopes to eventually take it to places like Colorado Springs to visit cousins Kathy and Ted Lindeman and family. Wouldn't that be cool? Longer distances are for trains and buses and (eek!) occasionally air planes.
Dave has continued to improve his skills at cooking. This year, he learned to make tofu, mozzarella, and cheddar cheese. In previous years he has conquered feta, yogurt (anything with bugs, really) and ice cream. One of the wonderful side effects of tofu-making is the soybean mixture leftovers. Dave makes these into the yummiest veggie burgers ever. Who needs hamburgers (and what IS hamburger anyway)? ;) For the tofu recipe see http://electricrider.net/recipes/html/misc/tofu.html.
Ellen continues to work on her science fiction/time travel novel, Saving Eleanor. She is using the writings, photos and memories from her Europe tour to help her envision what it might be like to travel back to the twelfth century and meet Eleanor of Aquitaine as a young girl. It's hard work, but also a lot of fun to completely open the door of the imagination and see what peeks out (and now that process is fueled with a healthy dose of reality thanks to the sight of so many medieval ruins). An excerpt can be found here: http://electricrider.net/ellen/novel/excerpt2.htm
Ellen also keeps writing poetry and prose pieces while Dave writes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. We still hold a monthly poetry jam at the house and have a great time with friends sharing poetry, stories, and music.
We have had a very good year and are very grateful for all that it has brought us. We hope you and your families are happy and healthy and enjoying the season. May 2012 be as wonderful for you as 2011 has been for us!
Ever learning, Everlasting