I have been adding pictures and links to this posting; but I got it posted while it was still Christmas AND 2008! 😉 Who knows?…I may add more!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Aloha Dear Family, Friends, and any Envious Unknowns 😉

Well, we have come to another year’s end and are readying to ring in another new year! … gulp … ALREADY!?! This year our Holiday Letter is here on my Blog!

One of the great floats in the Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade on December 6, 2008.

One of the great floats in the Waimea Christmas Twilight Parade on December 6, 2008.

May you have a safe and fun-filled Holiday 2008-2009 Season filled with pleasant new memories for your journals, photo albums, and scrapbooks! I don’t believe that I have ever attended this many pot lucks, parties, and get-togethers in this short of time before in my life! The sense of ‘community’ is GREAT! I rarely encounter a “Mr. (or Ms.) Grinch” 😀

As many of you know by now, Andy applied for a job at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii on the Big Island in early 2006 and major excitement ensued. After several telephone interviews were conducted with Andy, WE (not just He) were invited to the Big Island in October 2006 for face-to-face interviews (and a day on the summit of Mauna Kea to assess Andy’s ability to hold up and function at an elevation of nearly 14,000 feet).

While Andy was interviewing, I checked out as much of Waimea (Kamuela per the US Post Office) and Waikoloa as I could in four days. It was great! When we got back home, we anticipated the call because we felt that everything went so well and the possibilities were VERY attractive. He has been regularly posting his activities on his Blog at http://www.darkerview.com/darkview/ since.

After what seemed like weeks of waiting and high anticipation, Andy received a call while he was setting up a telescope for a school star party. On December 4, 2006 while he was participating at the School Star Party with the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Club (TAAA) they offered him the job!

Then the REAL considerations and concerns went into overdrive. After we assessed as many factors as we could think of and found the answers to be satisfactory, he accepted the job. Andy started his new job on January 29, 2007 so he moved to the Island of Hawaii on January 26, 2007; and I stayed behind to wait out a 120-day period of time with the kitties so they did not have to spend any time in quarantine when we got to Hawaii.

It was sooooo WORTH the wait! Dr. Mary Leuchtenberger at Four Paws Veterinary Clinic on Grant Road in Tucson, Arizona helped me meet all of the required exams and tests for my furry friends and the Clerk at the Honolulu Ag Center said that he could not remember seeing paperwork in such perfect order before!

At the VERY beginning of May 2007, Andy reluctantly came back to Tucson, Arizona to help “finish” the rest of the move as we packed “all” of our belongings (with the exception of the kitties and the items to be checked as luggage or carry-on) into a 40-foot container and waved a melancholy and pensive “see you later” to our stuff on May 10, 2007 as we watched it go down the road and on its way to Hawaii. We would not see it again for a little over a month 😐

My Kitties happy to have their favorite blanket back on their favorite Futon.

My Kitties happy to have their favorite blanket back on their favorite Futon.

On May 11, 2007, we packed our suitcases, our kitties, and ourselves into my Honda and drove to San Diego to drop my Honda at Pascha, the company that would ship it to us in Hawaii. Then we checked into our Hotel with the kitties. After settling them in the room, we went walking in the City down by the docks and found dinner.

Exhausted, we turned in early and caught our plane VERY early the next morning (May 12, 2007). We got the kitties and ourselves checked onto the plane and anxiously awaited arrival in Honolulu to see that our kitties arrived in good health. They were just fine; but I was the nervous wreck 😉

Since my paperwork checked out (as mentioned earlier), the Kitties did not have to spend any time at all in quarantine and were brought to us quickly. We waited with them until closer to our final flight time to the Big Island watching all of the travelers walk through the waiting area and listening to the occasional exclamation of “Mom, Mom…look at those kitties in those boxes!”

The W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes are on Mauna Kea at about 13,600 feet. There is a lot of information and details about Keck on their website and all over the Internet [http://www.keckobservatory.org]
so I will not reiterate it here in great detail but I will mention some. Risking repeating myself to some of you, I must mention that Andy is enjoying his job working on the Interferometer (IF) as an Electrical Engineer [http://www.keckobservatory.org/research.php]. Do note: This effectively gives him an ‘IFEE’ job title 😉

When I asked him if we should (the good Lord forbid) be forced to move back to the mainland before we had planned, what would he do? He thought for the shortest of moments and said, “Not likely to happen” which meant, “Not going, even if the Island were sinking”! I guess this means he REALLY likes his job and more so now since they have added a portion of maintenance responsibilities for the Adaptive Optics (AO) that significantly improves the image quality of targets through manipulation of the mirrors [see http://www.keckobservatory.org/instrumentation.php].

Many people told us it would happen; and now we believe!!! We have more family and friends visiting us off and on over the Holidays and throughout the year than ever before! We LOVE it because as Andy puts it, “It gives us a great excuse to explore more of the Island and revisit places to see if any change has occurred.” Some of the big attractions are these:

    • Andy’s expert tour of the Keck I and Keck II Observatory on the summit of Mauna Kea, especially when the sunset is in the mix,
    • Kilauea Crater for the lava’s ocean entry, and Halema`uma`u Crater’s activity after food in Volcano Village on the southeast,
    • The waterfalls and Botanical Gardens near Hilo with much to look at and explore, then food in Hilo and ‘maybe’ some shopping,
    • The snorkeling/diving in the ever beautiful waters around the Big Island with Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures at the Queens’ Market Place in Waikoloa,
    • The valleys like Waipi`o (along the Hamakua Coast) with its lush green vegetation, and Pololu (at the north point) with its black sand beach and spectacular ocean view,
    • Chasing rainbows for their sheer beauty on the northwest coastal area in North Kohala,
    • Spotting Humpback Whale from along the shore near Kawaihae (also in North Kohala on the northwest shore of the Island)!

Here we are finishing up 2008 and I find myself wondering, “now where did this year go, again???” Oh. Yes … I have been volunteering a lot more than I used to with programs like the and the at about 9200 feet elevation as well as Keck Open House Events and school astronomy star parties.

I have been keeping in touch with my many dear friends both far and near. I have also been sewing and a Little beading. I am VERY much into baking breads, and cookies, too! Andy is astounded because I have apparently been reading A LOT more than I ever did before? I guess this is something that happens when you refuse to pay exorbitant bills for cable TV! 😉 Oh. Yeah. I am now into ‘Blogging because Andy made it look so easy and fun!!!

As you might be able to tell by the time-line on the ‘letter’, time has seemingly slipped away so quickly and I have done this “would be Christmas letter … ‘come New Year’s letter … ‘come our ‘Fiscal’ New Year’s letter … now ‘come Holiday Blog” as much for myself as for those of you who are asking, “how and what I am doing now and what is Andy up to?” I hope you enjoy it and have your own VERY WONDERFUL AND HEALTHFUL YEAR! ALOHA and All the Very Best to You!