Merry Christmas from the Jolley McSmith Farm

Here it is, the longest night, and almost Christmas Day 2016, and here in upstate NY we have pretty snow everywhere. It is time to work through the seed catalogs and dream of next summer's bounty.

The story of our year begins with the week before last Christmas (2015) which was such a delight. My brother, Jim, gave us and his kids and grandkids a glorious week in Telluride, CO. There was a lot of skiing, snowmobiling, quiet reading/knitting before the fire, great food, and lots of fun and warm companionship.

The view from our window!
John's mustache after the snowmobile tour (It was COLD!)

We have two dogs now, Rush, who just turned 11 and Teasel, who is still very much a puppy at going on 2 years old.

Rush (left), Teasel (right)

Teasel started his training for herding this year. So far he mostly just wants to chase the sheep. But our teacher assures me that he will settle down and become a fine herding dog. We will see....

His first lesson

In May, John headed west in the motorhome, landing in Olympic National Park, WA. I joined him for a week when we celebrated the high school graduation of grand-daughter, Sarah Smith with others in the Smith clan, and then we spent several days sight-seeing and hiking in the park. One sad thing: when we visited there quite a few years ago, one thing I loved was the banana slugs and this year we found very few. Consulting with the park rangers we learned that an invasive slug is competing with them and also preying on their eggs. It would be very sad to see them vanish. However (see later on), there are still plenty of them farther north in British Columbia.

Here is a family picture on graduation day:

Left to right, back row: Wes, John, Brendan, Laura, Fred; front row: Polley, Susan, Emily, Kelly, Sarah, Sandy

I made this quilt to mark Sarah's big accomplishment

Sarah's Quilt

After I flew back home to take care of the homestead, dogs, garden, etc. John continued with his adventures in Olympic NP, Theodore Roosevelt NP, etc. Here are just a few of his pictures....Others can be seen by clicking the button below:

A few of John's pictures

The highlight of the year for me was a week we spent on the coast of British Columbia in late September with my PhD advisor, Gray Merriam and his wife, Aileen. We traveled to Knight Inlet Lodge where we had an amazing opportunity to watch wild grizzly bears in the peak of their fall hyperphagia during the salmon run. Click on the button below to see gorgeous pictures of the bears.

Other than our big adventures, these days my weeks revolve around the dogs, of course, the gardens in summer, and my continuing piano lessons (this year I got a new (to me) piano which has made a huge difference....it is much more fun to practice when it sounds pretty!) I make time for quilting, spinning, and weaving, especially when it is frosty outside. I've been involved with a Tai Chi class for a couple of years, which I really enjoy and believe that it has helped improve my balance and some of the aches and pains of "elderliness". John comes back from his trips with thousands of photos and enjoys editing them and making them into slideshows. He has worked to rebuild a dam on a little stream through the back of our property to reclaim the wildlife pond. It is a very pretty picnic spot.....And he "putters" in the workshop (my label, he probably wouldn't call it that!). And already now he pours over maps and books to plan his trip for 2017

I said I wouldn't mention THE ELECTION and so I won't.

Looking forward, John's big trip in 2017 will be in May to southern Utah. He has list upon list of places he wants to visit. I'm happy that Brendan will be joining him for about a week of jeeping and canyoneering. Maybe they can do some of the scariest trails then. He will probably be gone for a couple of months and still not able to see all the sights he hopes for.

Thats it for this holiday letter. I want to thank our good friend, Ron Bleed, for telling me about the Adobe Spark tool that makes it so easy to build a letter like this.

As always it is a time to remember "old" friends and to be grateful for all of our many blessings. We are wishing you all as much comfort as possible in these times, good health, and the love of family and friends.

Credits:

Polley McClure & John Smith

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