All Graduated!

This has been the craziest fall, weather wise. Early on it was way hotter than normal but it’s turned unseasonably cold since Thanksgiving. I’ve had to cover the garden twice this month which is normally something that happens in January. I don’t actually think we got any frost although the weather guys swear we did. Nothing seems hit in the garden where the tomato bushes are loaded with little green ones. The tenderest plants are the peppers and eggplants and so far, no signs of frost bite. Theres a low hanging cloud of fog over the lake so I’m confident that provided the protection we needed and the lake will probably cool dramatically over the next couple of days meaning it will provide less protection next month. The other thing I did which I never thought I would was try out the remote starting feature on the new car. Seems kind of wimpy to me but ………… It worked and Nancy was a happy camper to get into a warm car. The other “environment” surprise is that the lake is still quite high – like mid summer high. I think we’ve had almost 10” in the last month which is very unusual.

Wonderful graduation week. Simon/Amy came home to attend at the personal cost of not walking for his own graduation – his master’s from Auburn. I think it was a good decision since our celebration of three graduations was the big family event of the century. There were two academic gatherings for Tom – one for an intimate group of invitees – people who worked with him on his thesis and research and the prof’s who worked with him. It was him and several others who were getting advanced degrees, many of whom shared anecdotes of their own process. This event occurred the day before the big time formal graduation ceremony/“the hooding”. The hooding was a classic graduation lasting several hours but the PhD’s got much more time and attention so it was special for us. They had set up an area right on the arena floor for people with impaired hearing. We asked them if that included people with vision problems and they said sure so we were up close and personal. Nancy and I along with Tina’s parents called it a day at that point whereas all the younger folks headed off for a couple of Christmas parties – a work party, and a party with his students. These were open bar, live music kind of parties and I didn’t think my body could handle one of those. The next day brought us back to the arena for Olivia’s ceremonies. It was almost a duplicate of the day before with a mostly different cast of characters. (we got the same advantaged seeding and several folks from our party joined us. We were so close to the procession that we got to hug Olivia as she headed for the stage. In this one, since Tom is officially faculty, he came into the arena differently than the regular graduating seniors. Example – faculty was ushered in by a couple of kilted guys playing bagpipes. The after graduation event was all family at a pub and we were back at the hotel by 8. The next day, Sunday, was a party at Tom’s with friends and family. Lot’s of food including a large layer cake with one layer in Auburn colors and the other, UCF. We broke away about 4 PM and headed to home to the lake for a good night’s sleep – no hotel beds. The friends/family socializing continues, more or less, for the rest of the year so we’ll be ready for some serious rest and recuperation after the first of the year.

Simon and a buddy are taking off right after Xmas for a 4-5 day kayak adventure on the Withlacoochie river. They’ll put in about 20 miles due west of Orlando and kayak north and west, eventually to the gulf of Mexico. At that point they head south to the Crystal River, ;near Tarpon Springs. I have a cousin that lives on the river so they’ll have an interim destination. He was going to do a similar length trip in the Everglades but I think this one will be much safer.

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