Merry Christmas Alaska

Dear Family,

In Jan. of this year Kathy began a concerted effort to earn a PhD in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology, and her curriculum does not have a Christmas break. I do a lot of things around the house to help her out, since she is also gainfully employed, and our division of labor is actually to my advantage. Since I could never, ever properly load the dishwasher, I cook and serve, and she loads the dishwasher. 

When Kath got her masters degree I often claimed that I got mine as well. Now I am working on my PhD. Now I am doing Christmas cards too, so please share your "card" with anyone not on the list above. Please.

Late this year Kath was relieved from duty as the research advisor to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Board, a job she truly loved. During her tenure she faced many trials and tribulations. One of her most successful events was the biannual research conference, a three day event that was highly acclaimed as the most successful and informative yet, although it was only the third or forth. I do not think that the Board knew that Kath was far more honored to have been able to work for them than they were pleased to have had the benefit of her dedicated and objective services.  

Needless to say, I am not too disappointed that she will not be responsible for the 2011 event, despite having been formally recognized during the closing ceremonies by the Chairwoman for my contributions as a househusband/partner that was influential in their successful event. I had profoundly exclaimed my disappointment when the possibility of another term and conference was presented to me, and I justified it by claiming that every one should be like Johnny Cason–leave on a high note. The term work was OK but the conference work sucked.

Kath has subsequently accepted a position as Principle Investigator for a statewide study of Native heart disease. I don’t pay a lot of attention to details, but I know that she is now affiliated with some really prominent senior researchers. One of them actually reviewed and approved the curriculum as a consultant for the university that will eventually award her a degree. I do not look forward to the day when Kath is mentoring a "young" candidate to continue their work, but I do think I can get accustomed to travelling to Australia, Africa and Europe, to conferences and the like for the cost of an airplane ticket. South America will be good in Jan./Feb. instead of Great Falls.  

Which leads me to Kristin, our youngest. She came over to get her gifts to put under her tree in her condo (hers and the banks.) When I told her she would have to wrap them it was acceptable, but she like her sibs, still gave pause to the fact that MOM is not behaving as expected. I do hope that Kath and I can get out for a couple of hours together, but I kind of doubt it. Nonetheless, I will be going out to visit family–Kath prefers I be seen and not heard, but she can deal with a few hours now and then where I am neither seen, nor heard.

Caleb is doing well distributing alcohol throughout the city. Fourteen hour days were not anticipated when he joined the company this spring, but surely it will slow down again to normal after the new year. Lucky for him he is not salaried like his mom.  

Richard will join his mother in the student business next month. We have trained his son and daughter to play quietly, so it should be easy for them to respect their dad’s need to study as well. Beginning this summer I began teaching Austin the value of hard work, and I am still working on it this winter. That mower was a bit hard to handle, but the snow shovel is much harder. Lucky for him we have a blower he can learn to use in a couple years, but rarely on the lower and never on the upper deck.

Kath & I will be in Montana for delivery of our newest grandchild 15 Jan. and Kristin and Richard will take care of Sampson, the great dane who is actually Kristin’s. Susan’s husband is a Journeyed plumber and has found a niche in alternative energy that I hope works out for them. That geothermal energy transfer from earth to houses has the potential to keep him busier than ever.

Me, I like the peace and quiet. As a matter of fact, I have stated more than once that Kath is a student to have an excuse to afford me the peace and quiet I enjoy. I know the grandkids have wondered why I have the TV on and no volume, but they think it is for grandma. I can turn on the captions if something interesting come on and rewind the DVR. Otherwise, many a football game has progressed without a bit of volume, and the news only gets my attention with an ALERT, which I am happy to say have become far less frequent this winter.

I am still the chief executive officer, senior vice president and chief clerk of the Bank of Hepatitis. Last summer I sent a thousand specimens to Atlanta CDC to help determine the efficacy of the hepatitis A immunization in children ten years after initial doses. Pretty boring stuff, but it is independent work AND QUIET. Those little tubes of serum don’t have any complaints, or needs to be met. And the pay is as good as it gets. What’s more, I work when I want to, with some limitations.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

ric and Kath

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