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A Letter From Opal That Ends Too Soon


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01 A practical joke
02 My grandparents die
03 English Tour
04 Barn swallows
05 Buying hubcaps
06 Group photos
07 Mr. Science
08 Backpacking, Middle English
09 Leukemia
10 Comfort Clothes
11 Marmots and Texas
12 Eagle, Turkey and Emu
12 Accident and Hike

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01 In the Foothills
02 Excess
03 Things unsaid
04 11 Kids
05 Multiple Choice
06 . . . bit my ear
07 Facts and Stats
08 Neiheisel Review
09 Family and Horses
10 Sing a Song
11 The Professional
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Around the World
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Defining Pretentious
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    This has been a mixed year for a cat like me who tries to keep her human, Bill M----, under some reasonable degree of control. I work at it as hard as I can, but he keeps slipping off the leash for something he calls "travel." Perhaps the problem is that I have not been feeling very well and haven't kept a sharp enough eye on him.

January was a good month - Bill was around most of the time. February was OK too. He did go to Vancouver Island for a Rotary convention, but I went along to stay at the Sooke house so I could keep track of him. But then, things began to spiral out of control. First of all, I was quite sick from time to time. Even though I spent some days at the Vet's, nobody could find what the problem was. Then travel began to keep Bill away from my control. Short trips were OK, I guess, like the time he went to a Botany students' reunion at Joshua Tree National Park and his 55th Pomona College reunion

I must complain that he was often so busy with Rotary that he did not give me adequate attention. He was responsible for a Rotary visit by five young professionals from South Korea. The only benefit for me was that one of the Koreans, Dr. Lee, stayed with us and I always like to meet nice new people.

In May Bill said he was happy that I was quite my old self, but I didn't realize that my recovery just allowed him to slip away for his usual month in Portugal - I know he enjoys that. I was happy enough, because Cathy, David and Ivy took such good care of me. I was outraged, however, to learn that Bill went from Portugal directly to a huge family trip to Africa. Bill told me all about it when he returned. Many of my friends went along - Brian and family, Alison and family, Leslie's brother Gordon and family, Mari from Canada plus four other friends.

Bill always forgets that I am family too, and should have gone along. They started in Egypt, where only Bill, Brian, Simone, and Mari braved the heat to visit the incredible Abu Simbel temples. Statues of Ramses II over 20 meters tall! Even I couldn't jump on those shoulders! Bill says he didn't know what was more remarkable - the ancients who created these magnificent temples or the modern archaeologists who moved both temples up the mountain to escape the rising waters of Lake Nasser.

The way Bill tells it I could almost feel myself the relief they enjoyed when the family assembled aboard a luxurious air conditioned Nile boat at Aswan. They enjoyed good food and great service as they cruised down to Luxor, stopping at many temples along the way. Throughout the Egypt trip they had an exceptional guide, Romani, plus the friendly help of a government-supplied armed body guard! Luxor must have been fun, as it included a ride in what was claimed to be the world's largest hot-air balloon. Too soon they were on their way north by a sleeper train. The last stop was Cairo. Bill told me he really liked the museum and the general hustle and bustle of the busy city. I saw pictures of their visit to the pyramids and a camel ride. Darn it all, I still want to ride a camel but Bill won't arrange for that!

Bill also raves about Ethiopia where they first visited the north and its fantastic Ethiopian Christian churches. Each church has been carved, both inside and out, from the living rock. He also enjoyed the south of the country, visiting game parks and wonderful tribal villages where people live much as they always have. His pictures there were acceptable, as they gave me no competition. I resent, however, all the pictures he took in Kenya. Now I have to look every day at framed pictures of elephant, hippos, rhinos, lions, and, worst or all, cheetah - he likes those best of all and I am never sure he is sincere when he tells me I am still his favorite cat. Finally Bill was home, a little tired but sun tanned, happy and healthy.

In September I had recovered so well from another bout of very bad health that Bill decided to make his usual two-week visit to Project Vote Smart in Montana where he joins other Member Interns to work side by side with the bright young students who are the core of the operation. Bill keeps talking about the Project, telling me again and again how good a source it is for strictly non-partisan information on political candidates and legislation. Does he really think I can vote? But all you humans should take advantage of this service at www.votesmart.org. Bill tells me that all that information is free for the asking! Just before leaving for Montana Bill drove me to Mari's house on Vancouver Island. She was wonderful to me but soon I was feeling very ill again - in fact worse than ever . . .

NOTE FROM BILL: I am so sorry to report that Opal's dictation ended at this point. She quickly became very ill indeed. Her life soon ended because of a massive liver tumor. I miss the little gal, and so will you, as I am not as good a reporter as she was.

Autumn moved along apace. I managed to take in performances by three opera companies, starting with the Victoria Opera with Mari, then the Seattle Opera with my usual "opera buddy", 15 year old granddaughter Simone. She is now a dedicated opera fan and can't wait for the 2009 edition of Wagner's Ring! Little sister Annika has started too - she chaperoned me to a Bremerton Opera La Boehme. Simone also made a hit with my Rotary Club when she reported competently and professionally on her project to support a needy school in Guatemala.

We had our usual Thanksgiving in Sooke and I have been up there from time to time fighting to stop the development of a new gravel permit next to the property. It's an uphill battle, but no decision yet.

I look forward to Christmas in St. Paul with Alison and family, and a year of much travel in 2008. And to reassure you folk who have benefited from Opal's good reporting, another Cornish Rex will soon be available to get me again under proper supervision. He is all black and will be named Osiris Bastet. (OK, I know Bastet is a girl's name, but some homage must be paid to the Egyptian cat Goddess, no?)

And so, I wish you a wonderful holiday season and a great 2008. If all goes well, you will hear next year from Osiris who will be, I hope, as good a reporter as Opal.

Bill

This is one page of over four dozen devoted to Christmas news letters. The main Christmas News Letters page has links to more examples, plus some general guidelines and specific suggestions for writing Christmas news letters. If you have an example, either good or bad, that you'd like to share with the rest of the world, send it to me and I'll add it to these pages.



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