The Coyne'r'Butch Christmas Letter 2007

  Hi, Everyone! It's another Christmas letter from Coyne'r'Butch.


May we always keep a little of the Christmas spirit tucked away in our hearts.


Christmas Again?

It is pretty clear to me that another year could not possibly have gone by. Yet, here it is, Christmas time again. Pretty soon it'll be 2008...except for me. Like the saying, it can't be 2008 for me until I finish 2007 (and that won't be for at least 4 more months).

Part of the problem is that I spent a good part of this year not doing my job.

First, there was the carry-over from my 2006 participation in the "Capacity Management" project. I never did get around to mentioning that in my previous letter, but basically we had this project that was to be done by a vendor...and the vendor failed (abysmally). A group of us, including myself, were called upon to pull the project out of the ditch, which we mostly completed by Octoberish (2006). Unfortunately, there was the "dreg", which is still waiting to be addressed even now.

But there were a lot of other things going on and so the dreg didn't get addressed by June. In June, a new problem hit: New client activation in our Payroll system. Payroll team did one activation, which didn't go very well (despite some late help on my part). Then (just 2 weeks before the next 2 activations) the person doing the activations resigned, abruptly.

Because they had no one else they could assign to the task and I had previously worked in Payroll; and because I had tried to help late in the first client activation (see what helping gets you?) I was asked to pull Payroll out of the ditch. By this writing, I have helped to activate all of the remaining 5 clients (the last went active the week before christmas).

Let me tell you, those first two activations were a challenge—or at least they would have been if they hadn't both been delayed by the clients (one of them, on the last day prior to activation). We had sweated a lot but we were ready; it was the clients that needed the delay.

So, anyway, I did lots of other peoples' jobs this year, but not much of my own. So, as you might guess, things are a little behind in my real job. (Not to mention the Capacity Management dreg, which is still waiting patiently to take more of my time.)

Oh, well.

Picture Again?

Here's this year's picture of me. It was taken on the 8th of December, at a place called "Hickory Bluff Preserve". This is on the St. John's River, in Volusia county (here).

I was a bit east of the actual bluff which, for those of you that live in places like Wyoming, hardly qualifies for the name. The Floridan idea of a bluff is a bank that rises about 8 feet from water level. Of course, since the majority of Florida is less than 200 feet above sea level, I guess we have to magnify what we've got...

Here's a link to Topozone. The red cross indicates about where the picture was taken and the triangle to the left is "Hickory Bluff". The contour lines indicate it is about 12 feet above sea level at the triangle.

(It's also about 160 miles to the ocean by way of the river, which has a surface about 4 feet above sea level at this point. A 4-foot drop in 160 miles should give you a whole new definition for the word "flat". Also, like most of the rivers in Florida, the river runs generally north-northwest; this westward section is unusual.)


Did I decorate? Well, if you count my new tree (right). Otherwise, no. (Pathetic, huh?) But the colors are much more intense in person.

I'm also clearly not ready for the arrival of Christmas. Partly that has to do with my work schedule (above) but just generally the fact that years now seem to fly by.

Like the proverbial "Grinch", I haven't done much shopping this year either. But other people have been and I am buried in food.

I'm heavier than I've ever been in my life and people still think I need fattening up. ;-)

But I've been singing Christmas music to myself for three weeks, so maybe I still have some Christmas spirit.

My "Kids"

I still have kitties; more than enough to tow a sleigh: "Now Arnie and Bandito and Badger and Freckle; Fluff(-ie) and Moon(-Man), Mom-a-san and Neo." That's just the ones that officially "own me". (I've just gotta get pictures of them on this site.)

Then there's the crowd that just mooches: Edie, Diamond, Ebony, the orange male, the black male, the long-haired calico kitten and the white and black kitten (neither so small anymore).

(...not to mention, of course, the crowd of mooching raccoons.)

More Family

Qualifications on this section include the fact that this is the first (!) time that I've ever really tried to do a family summary. Also, unfortunately, many of the members of my family have not had a very good year. So forgive me if this seems a bit gloomy.

Not long before Thanksgiving, my Dad had to go into a nursing home. He is 70 and has Parkinsons disease; I am not sure if he will ever again be able to live at home.

My Mom, sadly, is still having to work, because of stingy Social Security. She had problems with her shoulder last year and had to have surgery. It still hurts her a lot, which makes working miserable.

My sister Diane is mostly healed up from the dog attack in 2006 (which I never mentioned). Also, her husband, Glenn, is not well right now.

My brother Mike's ribs are mostly healed up now from his accident on the gas drilling rig. (He was sliding down the escape cable when the stake pulled out, swinging him hard against the rig.)

On the same day he fell, his son, Christopher, managed to tangle himself in blankets in his crib and nearly suffocate. He is doing fairly well, but has some brain damage. Time will tell how well he recovers.

Susan and her son Gabriel are doing okay, but Susan's husband, Mars, is not well, either.

Beth and her husband Harold are the only up news in this. Harold is about to reach the end of an electrical apprenticeship, which will place him in a better earning position. Beth obtained a really good job at the Wester Center for Archaeology and Palentology (here), a museum. (She selected the coloring scheme and has done much of the design for the web pages from the link above.) Her son, Paul, 4, is very intelligent: He can already read low-end books and count to 100.

We still don't know much about my brother David, except we think he is in Maine somewhere.

"Gimme, Gimme, Gimme..."

I would like everyone reading this to make sure I have their personal (or at least a work) email address. Now, of course, if I publish an email address here, there's a good chance the spammers will steal it and start spamming me to death.

Ha, ha, just kidding. This is why I use "throwaway" addresses. Here's one, which I will promptly change if the spammers do start spamming it:

Remember that this is temporary: I will write back to give you a more permanent address.

(You can also reach me by sending a message using my comments page. Be sure to include your email address.)

A Helpful Perspective

I received this in one of those emails that go around and kept it because it seemed so appropriate.

A Helpful Perspective

"My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times.

I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world right now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking.

Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement...

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind... Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails. We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn't you say you were a believer? Didn't you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn't you ask for grace? Don't you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?...

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take "everyone on Earth" to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these—to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I, too, have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours: They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here.

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall:

"When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for."

This comes with much love and a prayer that you remember who you came from, and why you came to this beautiful, needful Earth.

- Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D

Clarissa Pinkola Estes is the author of Women Who Run with Wolves.

Psalms 23:4: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Merry Christmas
and a
Peaceful and Happy New Year.