Christmas Epistle

Christmas Epistle 2018

It may be said that a year is marked by the rhythm of seasons, life events – birthdays, weddings, births, funerals – and travel.   It seems that, for us, life’s rhythm is more structured by our six months spent either at Bergheim or at apartment 285, punctuated by family gatherings, which often involve dining.

We are spending our second winter in the apartment and sustained exposure to community life in a planned social environment. We are still learning the nuances of this sort of living and the interesting folks who have chosen to live here at The Highlands at Wyomissing.  We’ve unpacked all but three boxes that continue to hide in closets and corners, so much in the “background” that they are overlooked, even ignored.

This summer the humidity in the apartment was out of control, despite continuous air conditioning, which resulted in buckling of the floating bamboo floorboards. We later learned that this flooring is to have an ambient humidity between 40-50%. We will have an auxiliary dehumidifier next summer, and have already set up humidification for the winter months. The place is more comfortable at 40% than the 10% humidity of last winter, and we’ve been able to lower the thermostat by 2 degrees. All this attention to humidity was not necessary at the condo where we nailed the bamboo flooring to the subfloor. Needless to say, that option was not available here where the subfloor is concrete.

On the plus side, both Amy and I continue our regular schedule at the Fitness Center, mostly using the elliptical machine for cardio training. We both do appreciate the improvement in energy and stamina, and are pleased to read new guidelines (

that associate regular physical activity with improved cognitive function and longevity.  We hope that this activity and a healthy life style will make it possible for us to remain in our apartment for twenty or more years.

Our children and grandchildren are all well and a joy to be around. Calvin is not as frequent a siting, as he started at Haverford College in August, but is close enough to make brief appearances for important events such as his father’s 50th birthday. [On the cognitive front, I clearly remember the day we drove to Albany Medical Center for his delivery in our new 220 Diesel. I don’t expect ever to live down my comment to Amy: “Don’t lose your water here in our new car!”]

Tessa seems to have settled upon dentistry as her professional goal in life, and has applied to Ursinus and Muhlenberg Colleges to prepare for that.  I am hoping that she’ll specialize in prosthodontics to allow expression of her skills in art.

Helga and Pete continue to work full schedules and occasionally speak of retirement.  For his 50th birthday, Pete bought a Tesla 3. There is no doubting after a brief test ride, the thing has whiplash producing acceleration. Pete is pressuring me to purchase one, too.

Mason is starting to grow faster, and is sprouting teeth. He is in kindergarten this year and certainly knows his way around an iPad: we’ve had to institute controlled use of app purchases after a surprise bill arrived. We’ve had a similar experience with our Xfinity bill.

Tracie continues at Sweet Street Deserts and has been hanging pictures and making the recently occupied house on Dauphin Ave a home.  Paul has been hired by a sportswear company that originated in Reading and has purchased two other companies, one of which Paul is helping to have moved to Reading from San Diego, CA.  This is a whole new sort of undertaking for Paul, but not the first new endeavor in his career path.  In any case, he reports satisfaction with the challenge, and is hopeful for upward mobility within the company.

Demetrie, Alex, and Katie are all involved in sports and music. They are all growing apace and now the two boys are taller than I – no problem here.  All three have become involved with this year’s school play.

Laz continues to respond to the inevitable expansion of things needing storage by adding a shed to the back of the house – given my experience, an addition which I expect will need further expansion before a handful of years. In fact, Antje’s business has experienced significant growth to the point that a larger footprint is being contemplated.

Antje has purchased a second Teutonic Turbo seven head sewing machine (my designation, not the brand name) to enable her to keep up with orders that seem to take ever more overtime to complete. Good news, I guess, but I think she needs more machine capacity and perhaps a part-time technician – “Just Sayn”. She is also planning to purchase a heat press machine for appliqué work, for which she has been promised orders from several of her largest clients. Amy and I have been helping with product flow and book keeping respectively, both aids in our cognitive function.

All things considered, Amy and I are content with our living arrangements – six months here, six months at Bergheim.  We continue to travel; we just posted the blog for our trip to New Mexico in October  and now are preparing for a family trip to France in July  (, complete with dining on the Eiffel Tower, and a treasure hunt in the Louvre.  To explore my interest in 16thC Europe, especially during the Reformation, I am looking forward to a half day trip to the Basilica of Saint Denis (, only 15 minutes ride from our hotel. I have ordered several copies of a book on conversational French and hope to engage the group in learning from it.

Next Fall, we’re signed up for a cruise on the Persian Gulf a good friend from Victoria, BC.

We also want to arrange a trip with Katie to Branson, MO for a week of great fun, so 2019 looks like a busy travel year, and a couple of blogs as well.

We hope this epistle finds you all in good spirits and good health with a life full of all of life’s blessings.  More and more for us that means the joy of being with our loving family. We pray that this Holiday Season will bring you peace.

Amy and Jim Barrett

Amy and Jim


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