Some people complain that Christmas letters are just one big brag about the previous year. Personally, I like getting the letters from friends who put together letters about their activities over the last year. I like getting the pictures from friends who send pictures. And some year, when I've a reasonable respect for the currency of my address database, we'll probably put together a Christmas letter, complete with pictures, and send it out. For now, I'll settle for a year-end journal entry.
This year was not a year to brag about. Exactly two years ago as of tomorrow, Flar started Woodstream Consulting. He started working as a telecommunications consultant with a company called Comsul, Ltd. in 1985. For a few years, when we first moved to Kentucky, he worked as an independent consultant, and used the name Woodstream Consulting. But even during that period, enough of his client list was provided through Comsul, Ltd., that he was able to count these years towards his overall experience in Comsul, when it was bought by Superior Consulting.
In 2001, Flar decided that it was time to dig out the name Woodstream Consulting and go independent again. He arranged for startup financing that amounted to three months of living expenses, and by the end of that period, he had booked enough business to prove his decision to go independent was wise. By the beginning of the summer, we were looking into painting the house, and talking about when to buy a new family car. He experienced some slow-down during the summer, and then 9-11 hit, and the economic slow-down that started in the tech industry with the dot-com bust spread throughout the country.
The first, amazing thing that I can say about 2002, is that we survived. The kids are both still in private school, we still have the house and two cars to drive. 2002 was a very hard year on us.
Right before the end of the 2001, Flar's car was totalled. He was smacked into by an unlicensed, uninsured woman driver, who was driving someone else's uninsured car, and not paying any attention to where she was going. It took a few weeks to determine that the insurance company would be totalling the car. Then it took another few weeks looking at the used car market, for Flar to decide that the insurance money could be put to good purpose replacing income that wasn't coming in from clients. He accepted his mother's offer to let him drive her car. She had been unable to drive for some time, due to her ongoing struggle with kidney disease.
Business was slow this year. Client checks feel behind normal household expenses, which are admitted high, with a first and second mortgage, two kids in private school, and various signature loans, including the one that paid the tax bill on Flar's Comsul stock when he earned a share of the company in 1998. Ordinarily such a loan is made on an interest-only basis, and the principal is paid off when the stock is sold. Unfortunately, sale of that stock was restricted for the first two years after the transfer over to Superior, and after that the stock price began a steady slide.
We made up the gaps this year by making margin loans against the Superior stock, and then by selling the stock as margin calls began coming in. It didn't provide us with the retirement money that Flar had hoped for, years from now, but it was there when we needed it.
In early March, a six-week old puppy showed up at our back door, during heavy rain fall. The creek was out of its banks by the morning, so the kids decided we should name her Flood. The vet says she's probably a Pit Bull mix. There was an ad in the paper the next week from someone that was giving away Pit Bull - Beagle puppies, so we've decided that Flood is a Bugle.
Our family already has two scotties, and one outdoor cat. Now we've added a dog that's going to top out at more than twice as heavy and definitely twice as tall as the others. She's turned out to be a dog that loves people, loves to play, and needs a more disciplined trainer than I am. The addition of a chain-link fence around a good deal of our back yard has helped to provide enough running space. And we're continuing to refine ways to burn up energy indoors before letting Flood have couch time with the other dogs. But she shows every sign of settling down to be a fine family dog eventually.
Critter made a stellar showing as a student in his first year of middle school at TLS. He made the first Heads list for two terms, and the second Heads list the last term. Which essentially means he did very well academically.
Unfortunately, Tigger was struggling. His teacher expressed concerns at the beginning of second grade, and he had worked very hard to overcome problems with reading, and to try to work on classroom behaviour. But by the end of the school year, it was clear that what would be best for Tigger would be to repeat second grade.
Meanwhile, Flar and I were pursuing relationships that were becoming more and more close. He and Gaucha and I now have matching rings and he is godfather for Gaucha's new baby nephew. I was able to live for a month with Wolf and Sydb, and trained to be labor coach for Sydb. The delivery didn't go as we'd planned, but Roo has turned out to be a healthy baby girl, and I have a place in her life, though now traditional title.
While new lives were developing, and our lives spreading out to encompass others, Flar's mother's life was coming to an end. She had a major surgery during the summer that she didn't expect to live through. She did make it through that surgery, and had a few good weeks before she started feeling sick again. It was in the beginning of September that she was hospitalized with a heart attack, and though she fought with all her strength, this was the one she didn't survive.
It was pretty rough on all of us, especially the grandkids, but we were together as a family and that helped. It was in October that we were all watching a movie together, with the dogs out in the yard, that the scotties managed to get through a gap next to the new fence, and out to the front yard. Flar had just gone outside to investigate barking, when he heard a car hit Ouchy. We thought she'd been killed until Flar tried to pick her up, and she moved. So we got her to the after hours emergency vet quickly, and she's pulled through. She had to have her lip sewn back together at the gumline, and her right hip was dislocated and will require more surgery later, but she's still with us. Flar fixed the gap in the fence, and the dogs get a lot more run of the house than they used to. This close brush reminded us how important our furry fmaily members are to us.
For an almost anti-climactic finale to the year, we had to replace the transmission in my mini-van. But we've gotten over the hump, and we're looking forward to 2003 being a much better year.
The first term grade reports have already come in. Both of the boys have done very well, especially considering the hard events at home. Critter made the second Head's list, and Tigger was named "a Wildly Successful Second Grader."
Flar's client base is picking up again, and he has more clients in the Lexington area, which means he gets to be home more. We've also had better than expected performance out of a new company we formed this year, Erosul. Knight and Flar formed a partnership late last year to form a company that makes custom leather clothing in Brazil. Gaucha runs the operation in Brazil, and I think it may even have gotten in the black the first year.
In November, Flar, Knight and I flew to Jamaica to meet Gaucha for a week at Hedonism III. It was the first time I got to meet Gaucha -- she hasn't been able to get a visa to come to the US, yet. We were able to put on a fashion show for Erosul while we were there, and made some useful contacts. Flar was introduced to the crowd as "an up and coming international clothing designer".
And we're looking forward to sometime in January, when Biker Boyz hits the screen, and Erosul leather graces the big screen on the backs of Kid Rock and Lisa Bonet.
So I end the year in the home of my parents, with my husband and children, watching DVDs that we got for Christmas. I'm about to go make some phone calls to send New Years wishes to the rest of my loves one, spread about the country.
Here's to a better year in 2003.