Christmas, 1987

Greetings, One and All --

I am still in Algona, and I am getting well settled into my apartment on North Street now.  I've considered moving from time to time (especially last summer when an extremely noisy couple moved in next door), but over time the place has become more and more like home.  It seemed especially homelike last Christmas, when much of the rest of the family stopped by for food and gift-giving.  While I enjoy visiting, it's nice to play host for a change.

November 21 marked the start of my fifth year on the faculty of Garrigan High School.  I still teach geometry and advanced mathematics, but now I am teaching algebra instead of the general math I had last year.  The school year has gone okay, but I can't say that much about the motivation of our sophomores and seniors this year.

I still work with our school's contest speech program.  Our numbers were way down this year, and we were far less successful than in the past.  I am pleased to say, though, that the one-act play I directed went quite well.  "Out at Sea", a rather bizarre comedy about three shipwrecked eccentrics, won excellent ratings and many compliments.  Most of the credit goes to three very talented young actors, but I also think it is the best job of directing I have ever done.

Some of you will recall that I applied for a teaching fellowship in Australia last spring.  No, I will not be going down under.  Due to a reduction in government funding, only one out of over 500 applicants was accepted.  Who knows, though, I just might try again later on.

My main vacation this summer was interesting to say the least.  I went with Margaret and Brian and their son Paul to eastern Canada, with plans to go all the way to Newfoundland.  Unfortunately Brian had an accident, and we ended up spending a week in a small city just inside Nova Scotia.  I had car trouble later on the trip, so I can't say it was the best vacation I have ever spent.  For the most part it was fun, though--especially in retrospect.  I also made a number of shorter trips during the summer--mostly to scenic areas in Iowa and its neighboring states.  Almost every summer weekend I was off exploring somewhere, enjoying my car's air conditioning rather than the summer heat.

This fall I officially became a member of the local Congregational Church (or United Church of Christ).  I had, of course, been a Methodist ever since the family moved back from Michigan to Iowa years ago, but for various reasons I disliked the local Methodist Church and had been attending very irregularly.  I like the Congregational Church; they have the same type of simple, reverent service Brian does at his churches, and the people there are neither aloof nor overly friendly.

I have been walking a lot this fall--to school and while running errands.  I am pleased to say that the exercise has caused me to lose about thirty pounds.  I could certainly stand to lose some more, and I will probably gain it all back during winter and speech season, but I am happy with the success nonetheless.

The rest of the family seems well and happy.  I talk with my sister and brothers on the phone regularly, which makes for high phone bills but interesting conversations.  We also visit on holidays.  I see the aunts, uncles, and cousins less often, but from what I hear they are doing okay too.

After moving several times, Steve has now settled into a pleasant little apartment in one of those huge complexes in Coralville.  He works evenings in a semi-professional, semi-clerical position at the Iowa City branch of Kirkwood Community College, and he really seems to enjoy the job.

Margaret and Brian are still in Galva.  Brian, who has been ordained as a Lutheran for years, came one step closer to being a full-fledged Methodist minister this year.  Margaret continues her work as a traveling Spanish teacher, with mixed classes at small schools all around the Storm Lake area.  She seems overly busy, but still happy.

John and Janet are busy, too.  They vacationed in the Caribbean and spent getaway weekends in San Francisco and Minneapolis, with all that rest well deserved.  I visited them last summer while they were busy as John directed and Janet acted in their community theatre's production of "Something's Afoot", a murder-mystery musical that came off as a truly delightful show.

Paul and Nancy vacationed in the Canadian Rockies last summer.  I don't envy that long trip with the kids, but apparently they had quite a nice time.  Believe it or not, Rachel is going on five and will be starting school next year.  Both she and Timothy greet me on the phone whenever I call down to Oskaloosa.  I visited them all at Easter and had a wonderful time.

The rest of the family also is well.  Happily there were no deaths in the family this year (although we've had more than our share of funerals at school).  Instead the big event was my cousin Ceil's wedding.  At the end of the summer we gathered in Iowa City to see her marry Guy, a French businessman she met while living in Paris.  He is a fun young man, and together the Bouchet-Millers are a lovely couple.  Right now they are back in France, but I understand they will be moving to New York before long.  We all had a good time at the wedding, and my family had an especially nice visit with my Aunt Alaire and with Dale and Lois' kids.

Alaire welcomed us again for Thanksgiving dinner, in what is becoming a new family tradition.  Her apartment is small, but there is room enough to eat and converse, the two main activities at any Burrow or Miller gathering.  We always have a lot of fun there.

I see the Burrow relatives less frequently, especially since Garrigan's graduation is always the same day as the Burrow reunion.  I have seen and written to Aunt Macky a few times, though, and Steve sees the rest of the family.  From their reports I understand all is well with them, too.

My family and I have had a good year, and hopefully the seasons to come will also be happy.  I hope you are well and happy, too, and I send you the warmest of Christmas greetings.

Best wishes for the holidays and for all of 1988.

Merry Christmas!

The background music on this page is "Up on the Housetop".