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Dear friends....

As usual Ive left this rather later than I originally intended and this year the letter will be shorter than usual (sighs of relief all round). With luck Ill add some photos so that those receiving this "electronically" will be able to see them in living colour.

Only two trips to the USA this year the money there (and my currency) are both running out fast so its quite possible that future travel there will be as tourists. But Ive had a fabulous run 7 or 8 longish trips since I retired in Apr 1995. The last trip was in Jul/Aug this year and Betty came over for the last 2 weeks of my work.

Betty & John in Alaska

Then we took off on a great holiday. Cruised the "inside passage" from Vancouver to Seward Alaska, followed by a few days "up country" at B & Bs and a stay on Bainbridge Island off Seattle visiting my sister. The cruise was quite fabulous highlights (apart from the food!) were a floatplane trip out of Ketchican, landing on a remote lakeJohn on Seaplane floatThe White Horse pass narrow gauge railway trip from Skagway up to the headwaters of the Yukon river, and a great guided float trip for 8 Hrs down the Talkeetna river (near Mt McKinley). The float trip reminded me of the last days of the British Raj just Betty & I sitting on swivel seats being rowed/steered by our naturalist guide! Unusually for Alaska the weather was generally great and not a Mosquito in sight. Seattle was good as well specially the Boeing Museum of flight where I took an interesting ride in an F16 simulator (did loops & rolls, etc. best before lunch!). We also drove up to Port Angeles and took the ferry to Vancouver Island which was pretty "touristy" but good to visit. The famous Buchart gardens were in full bloom. My sister Jane has now moved from Bainbridge and is getting settled in Taos New Mexico so hopefully one day we will visit her there.

Betty retired from her medical coding job (mainly because they would not give her leave to go on the Alaska trip but also because she thought it was about time!). So now we are both learning our new retirement lifestyle its great actually but we feel that we are busier than ever! One day Ill get time to read a book again!

She is doing a great deal of craft work mostly making clothes and Teddy Bears and other gifts for children and Grand-children, plus keeping the house going, gardening, etc.

We are both working at the garden actually and its beginning to pay dividends. The Wisteria covered Pergola is great (beside the goldfish pond complete with fountain and waterfall and Betty surprised me by having a Gazebo built while I was on a trip, and that is now surrounded by flowers and the Western Red Cedar is beginning to weather nicely.

Sadly, Bettys Father died unexpectedly this year, but it was very sudden and at 88 he had a good innings in these days of debates about Euthanasia, Im beginning to consider that it is a real blessing to go out quickly and painlessly.

Samantha, Andrew, and NormaOn the happy side of the pendulum Grandchild number 6 arrived in September (our first Grandson as well!).

Catherine (our youngest daughter) gave birth to Andrew John in September on his sister Samanthas third birthday they are seen here with Norma (Bettys Step mother). Samantha is trying to steal the show as usual!

My mother is still going well at nearly 93. Her health is remarkable and she still catches busses to her various classes from time to time, and has just re-started Yoga after claiming that her previous Yoga meditation class was not energetic enough! John and Granny at MirinjaniUnfortunately her short-term memory is very bad, which can make life difficult for her at times but she still has her longer term memories and does not have difficulty recognising people only remembering their names! The picture was taken outside her flat at the retirement village where she is still living we were able to get her Government subsidised "Hostel type services in her unit" which are great and which means that she does not have to cook or clean etc!

All the rest of our family are going well Hilary, Penny and Timothy still live here in Canberra, as does my Sister Anna who is still having major difficulties and much pain from her progressive spinal degradation. Only Catherine and her family are living in Brisbane, which is about 1,000 Km from Canberra. Timothy is sharing a house with friends nearby and working in security at the new parliament house. We recently (a couple of weeks ago) brought a NEW car our first new one for over 20 years and the last great extravagance! Cost twice the price of our new house in 1966! Betty would like to move to a warmer climate perhaps on the coast about 300-400 Km North of Sydney. But Im resisting as I really like Canberra and our four seasons. The Internet has changed my life I spend 2-3 hours per day on items associated with it (probably less than 45 mins/day actually on-line). For those on the net check out my home page at http://www.pcug.org.au/~jsaxon or drop me a line at jsaxon@pcug.org.au. I also spend a couple of hours each week as a volunteer teaching senior citizens about the net they are really keen!

So we do hope you and yours are all well have a great Christmas, and a superb 1998!

All the very best........John & Betty

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