In January my sabbatical I began to take
Which left two papers and a publication in its wake.
The five months off were nice, because we got to travel, too:
Much farther than Shaw's Gardens or our own St. Louis Zoo.
At first we drove to "Nagadesh" to visit good friend, Rick,
And leave behind those snowy streets that always get so slick.
We found a bed and breakfast and explored the Delta ways,
And then we set out on a cruise that was to last five days.
We floated down from Vicksburg on the huge American Queen
To sexy old New Orleans with its jazzy Creole scene.
The food was really marvelous, the Dixieland was hot.
And with our old friend, Mariam, we thumbed a Mark Twain plot.
In March, we went to Phoenix, where I gave a paper there,
I talked to colleagues new and old, but had some time to spare,
So Steve and I drove out into the desert, all in bloom
And also found that we enjoyed the food, the pool, the room.
I have an old friend, Beth, whom I knew many years ago.
She took us to Sedona and led us to and fro.
We found a neat old shopping mall and probably bought too much—
Like rugs and bizarre door knockers and pottery and such.
My nephew graduated from Ohio Wesleyan
And I was there to see Joe, and to watch my sister grin.
My brother's twins were graduated out of high school, too.
And we were there to celebrate with that whole family crew.
I taught again in summer, but I spoke again at Boston,
And gave a little thought to what these travels all were costin'.
We got to visit Stephanie, and Dawn, her lovely mate,
And sit and eat clam chowder on a Cape Cod visit great!
We also went to my reunion, 40th, that is.
How nice to visit high school when you have to take no quiz.
There Bev and Dave and Caroline and Will and Dee and Kay
And Walter, Myra, everyone, had lots of things to say.
Then Stephen's sister, Janice, came to visit for a week.
We took her out and floated down an old Missouri creek.
We showed her all around the town, but what impressed her best
Was watching Ted Drewes' soft serve dribbling down upon our chests.
There were some difficulties, it's true for every year.
You can't just have the good times and never shed a tear.
Now Stephen's parents both have left their earthly cares below,
Although it seemed for each of them, it was their time to go.
And both of us have struggled with our health from time to time.
Though I've been learning Tai Chi Chuan and now am feeling fine.
Stephen has been learning how to live in harmony
For many challenges this year with him did not agree.
He's been remodeling our kitchen now since early Fall
He pried and ahmmered much, and cabinets white now grace each wall.
A washer and a dryer are installed, a vented stove,
And many other fineries in his neat treasure trove.
We still are active in our church; of our new priest, we're fans.
With Stephen, it's the Choir and he's Supreme Sacristan.
With me, I'm the Head Usher, but while our church is great,
I also find from time to time I like to meditate.
We're thinking hard about the house that will fulfill our dreams
But making this reality is harder than it seems.
I hope this time next year we will be moved and settled in
A cozy house with yard and dog, and park-side walks again.
With all these many blessings, there's more still: the cherished friends
We see on rare occasions as our life together wends.
Through marriage, separation, birth and death, and good and bad,
We're grateful to each one of you for the shared times we've had.
We wish you Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah
Or Festive Winter Solstice; whatever turns you on.
Because we're all God's children, one human family.
We pray that it is love and peace on which we can agree.
Jim, Stephen, Leonard, and Gilbrit (our new parakeet)