Happy Holidays to You

To paraphrase a song, this has been a good year. We began 2009 excited about the inauguration of President Obama and have been glad to see some signs of an improving economy. Elizabeth continues her work at the National Science Foundation, having taken on the lead for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education along with her other duties. Brian remains the condo web master and to keep up various web pages for the family.

We were so pleased that four grandchildren graduated from school this year. Rory finished his masters in business from SUNY-Albany, Stephen graduated from the University of New Mexico and has started graduate school, Hillary graduated from high school and started community college, and Shane graduated from high school and enlisted in the Marines. Erica is doing a dual senior year - mostly in community college, but leading her high school volley ball team. We also note that several nieces and nephews have graduated from kindergarten, junior high, high school and college. We look forward to newsletters from their parents!

But the most exciting 'graduation" was for granddaughter Sara and husband David who became parents of our first great- grandchild Rhiannon LyonSmith. Rhiannon shows promising signs of becoming the first red-headed female U.S. President.

We continue to enjoy traveling. In March, we visited several National Parks including Joshua Tree, Death Valley and Mojave Preserve. We survived getting stuck in a sand trap in the Mojave desert and had to walk a mile or so back to a gas station where a tow truck service regularly rescues hapless tourists like us. In October, Elizabeth went with NSF colleagues to Peru. A highlight of the trip was Machu Picchu, an Inca site from around 1500 that has been on her "to see" list since college. Her visit to the Amazon River provided lessons in how to shoot a blow gun (a useful skill no doubt) and a dance with a traditional village leader (one of her colleagues is convinced this was a marriage ceremony and she is now the leader's 32nd wife). An amazing adventure was a boat trip to the floating islands in Lake Titicaca. For several hundred years, people have constructed these islands from reeds for their permanent homes. She most enjoyed her visit to two schools on the islands where the kids sang some American songs.

Meanwhile, Brian returned for two weeks to the Sonoran Desert on the Mexican Border continuing his quest for the perfect saguaro. A highlight was driving an ATV across 60 miles of desert trails - a first for him.

As usual, we took several short trips to the Shenandoah National Park (one with sister Jean and friend Betty). Elizabeth also enjoyed her visit to Maine to see friend Barbara Richardson where they reportedly gorged on lobster

We wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year. Whether you travel near or far, we hope you continue to enjoy new adventures, experiences, and happiness.

Love to all, Brian and Elizabeth


Education remains a high priority.


"You can't get home from here."