Dear Friends and Relatives: Christmas, 1988
Well, it has taken a whole year, but here it is...the second annual, new-and-improved Paukert Christmas Letter, (by the way, don't miss 'The Best of Paukert Christmas Letters' available at bookstores everywhere). As you have probably guessed by the return address and the red dust drifted inside the envelope, we are still living, (if you can call it that), in Wonderful West Texas! Please do note the new-and-improved mailing address conveniently located on the envelope. In may, as this blast-furnace began to heat up, we decided that another summer without central air-conditioning would surely kill us, so we picked out one of the many fine repossessed houses available here in the vibrant Midland economy and moved out of the old place, (now fondly referred to as 'that dump').
Barb has been working most of the year as a permanent temp, (or is it a temporary permanent?). Anyway, the temp firm she works for found her a fine joy working for Chevron at their pipeyard. Barb basically holds the place together as she keeps track of all the oil-field pipe coming and going between the yard and wells being drilled in the vicinity. She does some secretarial work, some receptionist work and work on the computer, plus she gets a lot of free lunches from contractors. I am still assigned to the Frontier Exploration Group at Exxon, which is looking for oil in Nevada, (I found a case of Pennzoil 10W-40 at the K-Mart in Ely, but no one was very impressed). I love the work, though, and I'm lucky to be one of the few Geophysicists who get to do real-live walk-on-the-rocks field work instead of sitting in an office all day. I spent the better part of a month on three trips to Nevada this year, doing field work in the mountains and monitoring the progress of a well we drilled near Elko.
This is the part where we get to bore you with endless details of all the places we went to escape West Texas this year. Well, of course there was Paris in the spring, we always go to Paris in the spring, and then in June we decided to fly to New Zealand just to....Ooops, wrong script. Actually last year ended with a trip to Saskatoon to visit with Barb's family. A wonderful time was had by all, but a funny thing happened on the way back home - a blizzard in Denver fouled up our plane connections and we were forced to spend three days in Minot, North Dakota. This may surprise you, but there isn't much to do in Minot even for a few hours. After three days cooped up in the motel room the police had to pry our fingers from each others necks and send us home, but we eventually made it. We had a much better time with Mary and Winston Marugg at their Colorado Christian Camp over Easter (despite the hailstorm that made the car's surface much like that of a golfball), and with Van Martin and Judy Baker in Santa Fe over Memorial Day. (See how this works, you invite us somewhere, we're so happy to get out of town that we mention your name in the Paukert Christmas Letter.....OOoooo!).
Our big trip this year was a nostalgic one up to Washington State, which we'd not been back to for almost 5 years, to climb Mt. St. Helens. (People ask us why we wanted to climb that mountain and we reply: 'Because it's there...or at least part of it still is). We first spent 3 days camping with Larry and Alice Hager, our friends from Edmonton, in the area north of Glacier National Park. On the way up we reduced the deer population by one and probably increased our automobile insurance at the same time. Then we headed back down to Washington to see good ol' Spokane and our friends Vickie and Al Hager (no relation to the others), and then off to conquer the volcano with Whitworth Professor Ed Olson. What a sight from the top of that crater - we were lucky to get a perfectly clear day and the view into the maw of the crater is unlike anything we've ever seen, a great experience. On the way back we stopped in Portland to see friends Phil and Carole Clark.
Exxon paid for much of our other trip this year as my name finally came up on the list to go to a geophysical convention. Boy, are we glad it was this year in Los Angeles and not next year when it will be in Dallas. So we had a week of conventioneering in L.A., and then hit the road for a week around California. We hit San Diego, then drove up through Sequoia and Yosemite before driving back down the coast, all the while living out of car and tent. By the most incredible of coincidences we ran into old friend (he doesn't look that old), Doug Garnett in L.A., what are the odds on that? And got to spend some time with Gary's former Youth Pastor in Fresno.
Barb got to go home in July to Saskatoon to visit family when sister Judi got married. Both sets of parents visited this year, hers in April and mine just in time for all the nearby tornadoes in May. Hmmmm...last time they came it was just in time for a blizzard. Do you think vacation planning disasters could be hereditary??
And finally (wake up, you're missing some good stuff here), our family has grown by one since last year's letter, (you are saving these aren't you?). Yeah, we got another stupid dog that we can talk about all the time, aren't you excited? Well, 'Kootenai' was getting bored lying around all day with both of us at work, (it just wasn't working for me to take her into the office everyday), so we got her a friend. 'Toquima' (Shoshone name for a mountain range in Nevada), is 4-1/2 months old and is something approaching a full blooded German Shepherd. Although they fight most of the time we think they really like each other and besides they haven't killed each other yet, and that's a good sign. It's very entertaining to have two dogs, but it does mean twice the work with the shovel in the backyard every weekend, (think about it, I'm trying to be subtle here - it's a family Christmas letter).
It's been an active year in our little church where we still strive to find our little niche. I've decided my gift is for singing too loud and annoying the choir. We try to help out by babysitting 3-year olds during services every few weeks that probably explains why we don't have children of our own. It is a good church, though, with lots of good people and we are happy to have found fellowship with other Christians here.
We do hope that you have had a very blessed year (and that receiving one of these horrible Christmas form letters at the end of it hasn't messed things up). May God be close to you in the coming year and be a comfort and joy. He has died for us and nothing can compete with that. Merry Christmas!
Love in Christ,
Gary & Barb