Another Year & We’re Still Here!

December 31, 2012 on 5:47 pm | In xmas

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© 2012, Merri Rudd, All Rights Reserved

Holiday Greetings, Family & Friends,

Mark and I attended an “end of the world, maybe” party on December 21. Just in case, we wanted to be surrounded by great friends, food and merriment. We were! But since the world didn’t quite end, I must now ruminate about 2012 on this last day of the year.

All in all, 2012 was a fine year. Much of January was spent socializing and showing off our newly remodeled kitchen, which we love. I drove to Las Cruces in southern New Mexico to dance and visit friends, stopping at the bird refuge along the way. Lonnie and I literally walked across the Rio Grande, a giant dried-out swatch of sand. While the dry river was desolately beautiful, the forlorn great blue heron surveying the sand from the bank encapsulated the impact of the severe drought that has desiccated New Mexico for several years.

The biggest news of January was Mark reading a book called Wheat Belly, written by cardiologist William Davis. Mark asked if we could try going “wheat free” for a few weeks. After we both noticed healthy results, we kept it up. Eventually Mark lost 25 pounds doing nothing but giving up wheat. We didn’t feel terribly deprived and enjoyed experimenting with new recipes. We’re not fanatics and occasionally eat regular pasta or a flour tortilla. But the overall health benefits for both of us are happily evident. We recommend people give it a try! Months after Mark read the book, it became #1 on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list.

Mark and I continued to hike almost weekly, seeing a variety of birds and wildlife along our river and at Bernardo Wildlife Refuge south of Belen. In February the national dance organization, Country Dance and Song Society, held a board meeting in Albuquerque. My friend Meg and I hosted a brunch for them and local folkies the last day, which was fun. In March I visited my mom, and we had fun driving around looking at the blooming azaleas and cherry trees. I also taught some sessions at the annual probate judges training. Sadly, our neighbor Paula across the street died on Leap Day. We were neighbors for 25 years and greatly admired her spunky walks even when her cancer turned deadly. Her Marine son Ben made it home from Afghanistan in time to say goodbye, and for that we were grateful.

We found another camper, a 2007 Sunlite popup, and got the truck ready with suspension enhancements and tie-downs. We added a concrete pad extension to our driveway so we can still get both vehicles into the garage. Due to a slight miscalculation resulting in the pad being a few feet too small, Mark must ‘jig’ his truck around the camper, but he has become expert at doing that. The heater actually works in this camper, a first! It’s quite swanky compared to our other two, and we are learning its tricks and idiosyncrasies.

Meanwhile, my friend who had the double mastectomy had her final reconstructive surgeries in 2012 and has been declared cancer-free. Having shared this journey with her as her health care power of attorney for four surgeries spanning several years, we are all happy, relieved and hopeful.

Mark and I celebrated thirty years together in February! They passed rather quickly and we are hoping for thirty more. He began working on another book project for Wiley Publishers: Windows 8 for Seniors for Dummies. In typical small world fashion, his editor, who lives in Maine, was also a contra-dancer and knew people I knew. His Windows 7 for Seniors for Dummies book sold more than 100,000 copies and was almost always in the top 10 of computer software books on amazon. com for several years!

My friend Ann from North Carolina visited the end of April, and we had a fine time attending a concert, hiking, and taking the camper out on its first trip. We went to the Gila during a fierce windstorm and just before devastating fires, but we saw tons of birds and enjoyed nature despite her ferocity. And yes, due to global warming, we wore shorts for some of the trip until it turned cold the last night. Ann is a dog-lover, so Luke loved her right back!

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© 2012, Merri Rudd, All Rights Reserved

In early May I travelled to north Florida to visit my friend Susan. She and I celebrated FORTY years of friendship in August. She was my next-door neighbor freshman year at Vanderbilt. We had fun hiking, bird-watching, flower-watching, and spending time at Susan’s sister’s beach house on St. George Island. We love sea-kayaking with dolphins, cooking together, and talking for hours. When we got back to her house on Mother’s Day, husband Paul presented Susan with a white lab who found him while he was jogging with their other white lab Buddy. I promptly named the new dog Honey, went with Susan and Honey to the vet the next day, and persuaded them (didn’t take much!) to adopt her (Susan and Honey are pictured below). Honey is older, but very sweet and mostly healthy after Paul gave her a few flea baths. I also saw my first ever pileated woodpecker near their house, a very special treat!

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© 2012, Merri Rudd, All Rights Reserved

I got to be publicly politically active for the first time in ten years, working on my longtime friend Christine Trujillo’s legislative campaign. She won the primary and the general election, so will serve our district in the session that starts in a few weeks. At the end of May Meg and I attended the 20th annual Folkmadness music and dance camp in Socorro. We were roommates and twins in our matching turquoise fiesta dance dresses. A few days later I jumped in the Volvo and drove to Memphis for my 40th high school reunion.

What was I thinking—driving along across country by myself when it was 102 degrees in Amarillo? For the reunion, we lucked out in Memphis and got cooler weather. I stayed with longtime friend Kathy, and our other best friend from high school Roxie joined us for some of the festivities. It was somewhat traumatic that I didn’t recognize or remember most people. But it was mostly fun and interesting to hear people recount stories about me that I had no memory of. Then I moved over to my mom’s for the rest of the week before driving back home.

Merri Rudd, Kathy Caradine, Roxane TaylorThe Whole ClassMerri Rudd

© 2012, Merri Rudd, All Rights Reserved

July proved brutally hot for Albuquerque. Mark and I vowed to drive north, no matter how far we had to go, until we hit rain and cool, even if it meant driving to Canada. Turns out we didn’t have to go that far—central Colorado was our home for two weeks of camping with Luke. It rained the first 11 days and was in the low 40’s each night. Blissful! We loved hiking and camping, staying put at one remote campground beside a lake at the base of a mountain for four nights. At the end we joined our friends Melissa and Lew and their dog Siska for two nights at a cabin near Pagosa Springs. We enjoyed cooking together, playing cribbage and hearts, and hiking. Mark even saw a bear wander past our camper at six in the morning, plus an eagle fly downriver next to the cabin.

DSC01264DSC01266Friends by Age Order

© 2012, Merri Rudd, All Rights Reserved

In August we added an unexpected member to our family—a baby roadrunner (New Mexico’s state bird) that Mark named Spike. He hopped down one day while I was feeding our baby turtle a burger ball. I fed Spike a burger ball and the next day he followed me around the yard, sat on the hammock with me, poked his head through a slat in our fence and acted like I was his mom. I tried to teach him to hunt worms in the compost pile and caught a grasshopper for him. We think his parents kicked him out of the nest a bit too soon. [Note: Spike turned out to be female, which we discovered months later when she barked for a mate.] Hawks Aloft, Inc., our local raptor rescue group, advised us to feed Spike mice instead of burger balls and sold us a bag of frozen mice. Spike is very personable and photogenic, even wandering into our living room on occasion:

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© 2012, Merri Rudd, All Rights Reserved

Mark posted a great blog entry about Spike, complete with a photo slideshow and some videos at:

Spike the Roadrunner

This year I turned 58 and my mom turned 85, so Mark and I headed to Memphis in September to celebrate both birthdays. We spent a lot of time eating, laughing and hanging out. At the end of September Susan and Paul visited NM and Colorado. Quite fabulous to see Susan twice in our 40th year of friendship! We hiked and ate and visited. They got to meet Spike before heading up to Telluride for a family reunion.

Also in September our longtime friend Gail moved into the house next door, which had been empty for many years. Now we enjoy all of our neighbors, on either side and across the street. We have formed our own neighborhood watch group and keep an eye on each others’ houses when one of us is out of town. Mark and I celebrated 25 years in our house this past summer…those years passed way too quickly!

Mark headed to D.C. area for a family friend’s funeral and to see friends in October, so I had the house to myself for a whole week. I enjoyed hanging out with Luke, reading and attending the musical LION KING with my former court administrator Lori. Mark and I reconnected with my old law school friend Michael and wife Didi this year, swapping dinners and stories. It was easy to pick up where we left off when we met 30 years ago, and we enjoyed catching up.

Did a bunch of socializing and got a new furnace (ours was 35 years old) in November. Mark and I hosted nine of us for Thanksgiving, an hours-long event that involved my favorite things: friends, community, food, laughter. I also started a short-term job, rewriting the Probate Judges Training Manual for the Judicial Education Center. I wrote the last five editions for free, but they’re paying me this time. A lot of laws and rules have changed, so the project is challenging.

In December our gang-of-six birding group—Dave, Kathleen, Melissa, Lew, Mark and I—did our 10th annual birding trip to Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. There weren’t quite as many birds as usual due to low pond levels, but we had fun. Mark and I went to Albuquerque’s River of Lights for the first time ever. It was breathtakingly beautiful and a wonderful way to get into the holiday spirit, with live Christmas music and hundreds of lighted shapes. I posted a slideshow at:

River of Lights Photos (note Slideshow button in upper left corner)

I danced more in 2012, went to yoga classes three times most weeks, and took up jigsaw puzzles (more proof that I am officially an old lady with my knitting, cribbage and puzzling). We ended the year with a rush of socializing—hosting dinner for friends Kit and Mary on 12/25, then Mark’s longtime friend Steve showed up from Bozeman, MT on 12/26. We joined Steve and family and the Mullany family out in the east mountains for a riotous dinner on 12/27. Now we’re resting up for the new year. Our last day of 2012 started with an inch of pristine snow and Spike nowhere to be found (roadrunners ‘hibernate’ in the evening and during cold spells). I walked to the post office in 36 degree temps to mail my belated holiday cards, and now I’ve finished my year’s review.

Happy old year, happy new year, good health and fun to all!

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