[Ohio-talk] A blessed holiday season
bpierce at oberlin.net
Fri Dec 19 14:45:29 UTC 2014
I sent this to some people dirtily, but some email addresses were not right. so here is our Christmas letter. It comes with sincere wishes for a blessed and peaceful new year to each of you.
Dear Friends and Family,
This has been a busy and challenging year for the Pierces. We had thought that we might have completed our move to the Kendal Retirement Community here in Oberlin by this time. We are closer to being ready for that move, having spent the summer cleaning the attic and packing up and moving nineteen boxes of books. But there is still no open cottage of the type we are hoping to move into, so we wait and watch, a fitting activity for the Advent season.
You will recall that last year, when our Christmas letter arrived at your house before Thanksgiving, we were anxiously awaiting the birth of Margy's baby boy. We spent Christmas and half of January in Boston with her. She had immense amounts of grading to complete before she could seriously turn her mind to having that baby. We slipped into the hospital ahead of a massive snow storm on January 2 for an induction. In fact she kicked over into labor late that day and had the baby by c. section mid afternoon on January 3. His name is James Bowman Coyle, and he weighed in at nine pounds, four ounces and twenty-one inches long. He is an amazing little boy who has transformed all our lives. He walked at nine months and is now running. His mom has barely survived this semester of teaching since he gets every cold in the daycare center, which immediately transforms into an ear infection. Ted is clearly devoted to Jamie, and he and his sister and mother have been very helpful with babysitting. We are planning to be present for his first birthday and are just hoping that the New York snows will stay out of that area while we are driving to and from Boston.
Steven returned to the University of Manchester this fall to resume his teaching of African history. He had been in Kuala Lumpur for nine months with his partner Siva and their little boy, Elango. Siva's adoption of Elango had come through, but Steven will have to wait until the family is together again in the UK or the US before he can file for adoption. Elango turns five on December 17, and he is a charming and bright little boy. Luckily Steven returned to KL in time to bake his birthday cake. I know that the three of them are delighted to have the family reunited this Christmas. The great news is that Siva has resigned from his job in KL and is planning to relocate to Manchester in February. This will be a big shock to Elango, who has never known cold weather. We have given him a warm coat for Christmas. His English is remarkable, a real tribute to Siva's work with him. He has also seen to it that Elango keeps up with his Tamil, which was his first language.
Somehow Steven has managed to continue his scholarship. He has several articles coming out, and his second book in in press at Duke. It will be out in the fall. All this we hope will make him an attractive candidate for a job on this side of the Atlantic.
Anne's family continues to thrive in Oberlin. Miranda has her learner's permit and is being very careful and responsible behind the wheel. Jack, who broke a leg last year, broke his wrist this fall. He is now again out of plaster—except that casts are plastic these days—and playing basketball. He is six feet tall and still growing. Miranda is a sophomore taking chemistry, French, and precalculus in school. Jack is in eighth grade and working hard as well. They both do very well academically and both play in their school orchestras. Anne is making contributions on the school board as well as continuing to run First Church, the Girl Scouts, and Oberlin softball. J.J. is also active in Scouts and coaches Jack's baseball team.
Barbara's most notable undertaking this year has been switching to a Mac computer with VoiceOver as the screen-reading program. The learning curve is formidable, but she is gradually mastering the various programs that she has to use. She does look back at her Windows days as a land flowing with milk and honey, but this computer is at least stable and very portable.
She is still active with the National Federation of the Blind. She spent two weeks this summer working with elementary-school-age students to teach them Braille and the necessary skills of blindness. This was a clear reminder of why the good Lord gives small children to young people, but it was immensely satisfying and rewarding. As we all grow older, please keep in mind the fact that, if you know someone losing vision, the most constructive thing you can do to help is to put them in touch with the National Federation of the Blind.
This is Bob writing now. Our big trip last March was a two-week visit to Steven, Siva, and Elango in Kuala Lumpur. We flew all the way with stops in California and Taiwan, and we arrived just about the time an airliner was presumably highjacked and then lost, but we had no problems except for getting very tired of airplane seats. The visit was a great success. We got well introduced to Elango and his toys. We did lots of sightseeing, including a trip to Malaysian Borneo, where we visited an orangutan preserve. It was fascinating to see the lifestyle of an Asian and largely Muslim country, though we also saw many a Starbucks and Pizza Hut.
We also made our annual trips to the convention of the NFB, still in Orlando, and to Stratford to see plays, without Margy, alas. Next summer we plan to have her, Jamie, and Miranda, Anne’s daughter, joining us for babysitting and attending some of the plays. (No pressure to become a Shakespearian, but you never know.) In the fall Barbara and I went to Niagara, Canada, for the Shaw Festival with friends, since I sometimes deign to attend plays by other playwrights whose last names begin with S. Also I continue to go to a couple of Shakespeare conferences, for which I write papers that occasionally get published in journals you will never have to read since no one else does either.
It is a strange feeling that I have recently turned eighty, though my joints and various organs still work reasonably well. Barbara and I test our remaining intellectual powers by continuing to teach the adult Sunday school class at the Episcopal Church, and I have a committee role for the diocese with the odd title of examining chaplain, which basically means that I meet and converse with people nearing ordination in the diocese. Barbara, a mere youth, also exercises her brain helping with the editing of the Braille Monitor, the national publication of the NFB. And we enjoy hosting various visitors to Oberlin College, our house being a bed and breakfast as a fundraiser for the church.
All our best to you for the holiday season, as we hope that the world will finally turn to an existence based on peace, justice, mutual respect, and a sustainable way of living.
Barbara and Bob Pierce
National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
bpierce at oberlin.net
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