January 4, 2009
Due to my laziness and a case of writer’s block, there was no holiday letter last year. I will not be permitted to get away with that two years running, so let’s play catch-up.
Since establishing our nest more than 30 years ago, Kris and I have looked forward to the day when we would complete the cycle and become “empty nesters.” The prospect has been tantalizing-just the two of us in a cozy space, living a life suddenly made simple and uncluttered. Although both boys are grown and educated, so far the only nest-like thing to actually become empty is the nest egg. Oh well…
In April, 2007, Ryan finished his studies and flew the coop. He moved to his own apartment and took a job as a radiographer at Mass General Hospital. His apartment was small, so he left many (perhaps most) of his belongings in our cluttered home. Rather than turning simple, life actually became more complex- it turns out that cooking for two rather than three is more difficult.
Fast forward to this past March, when Ryan and his partner, Megan (a delightful addition to the family), purchased a classic Craftsman-style house in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire. Ryan gave up his Boston commute and now practices his trade at a local hospital. Although it took many months, we recently transferred the last truckload of his stuff from our house to his. You’d be hard-pressed to notice anything was missing.
A new baby settled into our semi-empty nest in June, and Kris in particular is thrilled. Now would be the time to retrieve this card’s envelope from the trash, because the baby’s picture is on the stamp. Huck is a Chinook puppy, one of fewer than a thousand surviving members of his breed. Developed in the early 1900s in northern New Hampshire, the Chinook was bred to be “the gentleman’s sled dog.” My primary descriptor for Huck is “sweet,” but he is also strong, curious, reasonably well-behaved and quite a lot bigger than he was when the picture was taken.
Being a surrogate mother to a puppy is a full-time job, but Kris still finds the time and strength to teach high-school biology. Otherwise, Kris spends her time teaching dogs-our own pair at home and other peoples’ one or two nights a week at the regional dog university. She is, to put it mildly, enamored with canines, and despite her protestations I call her the “dog whisperer of the east.” Neighbors puzzle at the sight of her leading Huck around the block, the dog pulling my 50 year-old Flexible Flyer sled loaded with firewood as part of his training.
In August of 2008, Wells completed his studies at the University of Arizona and flew back to the nest. He graduated with honors, earning a BA in Anthropology and Marketing, and ran headlong into the declining job market. He is currently working long-term substitute teaching assignments at the local high school, commuting every day with Kris. He may throw caution to the wind and move to New York City in February, joining his beau, Paige, in living the big-city life. Ah, to be young. I wonder how much stuff he’ll take with him.
Me? As of January 1, Agfa ceased operations in Massachusetts and I’m doing my part to contribute to the unemployment rate. If you know of a suitable position for an aged techno-wiz, especially in a warm place…
We’ll let you know how the empty nest thing works out.
All the best to you and yours,
Kris and “Chester” Holleran