The Coyne'r'Butch Christmas Letter 2008

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


May your heart and home be filled with all the special joys of the season.


Christmas Again!

Several people have asked me if I was ready for Christmas this year. My standard response (as of November) was that I wasn't yet ready for the Fourth of July.

Behind again! <Sigh>

This was a funny year. I feel like I went full tilt all year long, but nothing actually got done. At least I was mostly doing my official job this year, instead of another.

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" (basically, the same place as last year, though I didn't realize that until just now).

If you're interested, this year I am providing two other versions of the image: The full-size original (BIG!) and a larger version of the portrait at right. The full size version is 2560x1920—1.3 megabytes—and you can count the hairs on top of my head.

(But you can do that with your eyes shut—you don't need any picture to know there's no hair on top of my head. Look at that shine!)

By the way, a good part of the preserve was under water earlier this year, after Hurricane Fay came through. The St. John's river was about a foot above flood stage. (Which is around 3 feet above its normal level—even our floods are flat!)

Since the area around the St. John's is very flat, this means flooded houses, roads and so on, so I visited the preserve to see if it was all afloat. Not quite—probably only about half of it.

But if the flood had been a foot higher yet, I wouldn't even have been able to get there; the water was within 18 inches of the edge of state road 415 in several places.

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.)

The Price of a Miracle

I received this in one of those emails that go around and kept it because it seemed so appropriate. The story was not titled or attributed.

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet.

She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way 6 blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention, but he was too busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

"And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages," he said without waiting for a reply to his question

"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick..and I want to buy a miracle."

"I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.

"His name is Andrew and he has something bad growing inside his head and my Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So how much does a miracle cost?"

"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you," the pharmacist said, softening a little.

"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs."

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does your brother need?"

"I don't know," Tess replied with her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick and Mommy says he needs an operation. But my Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money."

"How much do you have?" asked the man from Chicago

"One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely audibly.

"And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to."

"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents—the exact price of a miracle for little brothers. "

He took her money in one hand and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said "Take me to where you live. I want to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need."

That well dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a surgeon, specializing in neuro-surgery. The operation was completed free of charge and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well.

Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place.

"That surgery," her Mom whispered, "was a real miracle. I wonder how much it would have cost?"

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle dollar and eleven the faith of a little child.

A Prayer

Someone also sent me this in an email; repeated here for you (also unattributed).

Father, I ask You to bless my friends, relatives and those that I care deeply for, who are reading this right now. Show them a new revelation of your love and power. Holy Spirit, I ask You to minister to their spirit at this very moment. Where there is pain, give them your peace and mercy. Where there is self-doubt, release a renewed confidence through your grace.. Where there is need, I ask you to fulfill their needs. Bless their homes, families, finances, their goings and their comings. In Jesus' precious name. Amen.

Merry Christmas
and a
Peaceful and Happy New Year.