624 Belle Springs Road
Athens, GA 30607-2706

Happy New Year 2011!

We hope you had a fine winter holiday!

This is our second year to attempt e-greetings. If you missed the 2009 inaugural, you can find it at: http://www.toominator.net/shire/xmas2009

We had some fun with the year itself—insisting our family help us celebrate 10-10-10 at 10:10, twice no less. And Jude had some déjà vu, beginning both 2010 and 2011 with dental surgery. Happily it beats the alternative of George Washington’s wooden teeth.

This year we’ve had to slow down our fostering activities because the family dogs are getting frail, and we sometimes feel like a doggie hospice. Even so, all five dogs are still eating well and enjoying roaming around the yard.

Having recovered from his holiday 2009 surgery, Bilbo Baggins can still hippity hop to his dinner bowl,

Gus is mellowing with age, but Miss B out spirits them both. She falls much more often than either of them, but picks herself up lickety split and moves right on. This 12-14 year-old rescue pug surprised us in the spring when she came into heat.

Charlie and Jolly were glad that it wasn’t them.

Gus was overjoyed although neither male dog is sufficiently equipped to take action. Nevertheless, Miss B was spayed shortly thereafter.

Meantime the tuxedo cat Natty still rules the roost—or tries to.

The one fostering exception was September when our county humane society got a litter of seven miniature schnauzer puppies. We pitched in with two of them. We called them Pippins and Strider. After three weeks it was hard to give up our two sweethearts, but all seven puppies found good homes.

We tried to balance our animal activities with a seminar on summer tree identification at the local botanical gardens. We are still practicing on our trees to which we added some new evergreens this year. And now that we have a new lawn tractor, we are hoping to make more progress on the property.

Mark joined Jude for the second annual Joann Thompson grandchildren gathering in St. Louis, Missouri. Cousin Ginny Thompson Ryan put us up for the weekend where her sons, her two Shih Tzu’s, two pugs, and a golden retriever made us feel right at home. Eileen Thompson Bader hosted the crew of grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even some great-greats who showed up.

Later in the summer we visited Jude’s brothers and families in Columbus, Ohio. Nephew Frankie and niece Jacquie from Michigan joined us with their families. We watched grand-nephew Josh get his first car, and we then took a side trip to the Detroit area to visit Patti Preissle Horvath and her children. Jude returned there later in the fall to help out after Patti had some surgery and got the bonus of more visiting with all the Michigan Preissles/Horvaths/Matas. Patti’s husband Mike has a new job on the New Jersey shore so we are looking forward to some beach time in the future.

Jude had business trips to Denver, Colorado, and Urbana, Illinois, in the spring, but was happy to travel to family events the rest of the year. We enjoyed the local spring Pug Meet in Athens at Sandy Creek Park and then had a great time with the pugs at PugFest in Atlanta in October.

Movies we liked this year are Winter’s Bone, Get Low, Inception, Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Shutter Island, How to Train Your Dragon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The King's Speech, and True Grit. Jude’s favorite 2010 book so far is Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. And as far as music is concerned, we have too many favorites. What a blessing to have so much art to enjoy.

We wish you all the blessings you enjoy and a wonderful 2011. Love and hugs from Mark, Jude, Bilbo Baggins, Gus, Jolly, Charlie, Miss B, and Natty here at the Shire in Georgia