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Christmas Letter 2006

Dear Friends and Family...

Chaos Central in 2005 was as chaotic as it's name suggests: groundbreaking change was the order of the day and we all got caught up in its frenzy. Thankfully it was almost entirely change for the better, and this trend has happily continued throughout a much calmer and more peaceful 2006 which has found us beginning to settle down to the future rather than frantically try to catch up with the past. We actually noticed the passage of time this year and that's an improvement!

We finally bought out Dee's ex-husband's half of our Pierce St address, so that both properties now belong to us. Given the scarcity of history in this part of the world, that almost makes us respectably poor members of the landed gentry. In 2007 we're planning to don red jackets and ride out into the desert to hunt jackalope, and two or three years in it'll be established enough to be legally called an Historic Hunt. We've even embarked on a series of home improvements that didn't entirely involve bringing in professionals, and our success in the plumbing department replacing fittings that must have been older than the city itself has stunned us both.

What else has stunned us both is the way our waistlines keep expanding. Admittedly there are no stairs anywhere in Phoenix, public transport is so bad that the only way to get anywhere is to drive and our greatest exercise is slouching in our recliners to watch movies, but even so buying a set of bathroom scales gave us a nasty shock. So we've officially had to recognise the existence of things like calories, diet soda and sit ups. Perhaps sometime next year we'll recognise ourselves in the mirror again.

The family is enjoying finally getting to introduce Hal to some of the area, given that he's probably still seen much less of Arizona than he has of certain other states. He was very happy indeed to finally get to a Renaissance Faire and we began to enjoy the huge free cultural festivals that the City of Phoenix hosts every year. In 2007 we'll build a calendar of them and try to get to as many as possible.


The bad news for the year was that Dee's mother Val-Jean passed away in November and the biggest surprise was that it was a surprise. She was 59 and had spent the last few years in a care home. We held a wake for her, surprisingly non-alcoholic given her Irish blood, which was so well attended that I finally got to meet my brother-in-law after being married to his sister for over two years.

Otherwise, 2006 has been much of the same for Dee. She's still working at Westwood Elementary School as a Teaching Assistant, but rather than follow certain children through the years she's stayed with the same teacher, Miss McDuffee. She's not quite as much at everyone's beck and call for rides and shopping expeditions but analysing that just makes hindsight even scarier. She's still a happy grandma and a busy goodwill fairy and all the rest of the pleasant jobs from previous years that keep her out of trouble.

She would also like everyone to know that she turned 21 again this year. Rumours that she reached a particular milestone are completely unfounded and can be safely ignored.


For the first time since 1998 Hal is no longer a contractor, having been taken on full time by Wells Fargo. He's working at the enterprise level in a huge company, running projects and thoroughly enjoying the challenge. He's also trying to get used to the concept of paid time off: getting paid to stay at home and not work is an alien concept to someone so used to the theory that if you don't go to work you don't get paid.

He's still hard at work on his book about classic cinema and is now over 130,000 words in, which positions him well to be halfway complete by the end of the year. Many of the 562 (so far) films he's watched in 2006 were for background purposes, including 68 from before 1930! The surprise of the year was to discover that a strangely high number of his personal favourite films of all time are now French: Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc, Jeunet's Amelie and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast are all now firmly in his top ten.

One of the highlights of the year for him was his return to the gig scene, courtesy of the Marquee Theater in Tempe which is wonderfully small, frightfully loud and thankfully non-smoking. Having seen most of the thrash greats in their eighties heydays, he's now catching up on those he missed, courtesy of many welcome reunions. He was especially enthused to briefly meet Celtic Frost who may well have issued the best album of the year.

Heather, Greg and Ivy

Heather and Greg are now well established in their own apartment. Heather has been working all year at Radio Shack, Greg is looking forward to work in January and Ivy is as precocious as ever in her terrible twos. Everything any of us owns apparently now belongs to her and she may not let us keep it!


Michael is now working as a teaching assistant at West Phoenix High School, from which he previously graduated. Those of us who remember the trouble it sometimes took to get him to attend school not that many years ago are now completely bemused by his current refusal to actually leave.

He has passed his driving test and obtained a car, though hasn't yet worked out how to deal with all the other idiots on the road, resulting in two accidents that weren't his fault. On a more positive note he is now a budding film director, courtesy of a videocamera his dad gave him last Christmas. His productions transcend inherent limitations of budget and acting ability, partly due to the presence of his biggest star Numby Nutterson, a toy squirrel. Outside of film he's just taken part in a successful production at school, for which he wrote some excellent work.


After many years of coping with ADHD with the aid of medication, Shawn is now completely off the pills, which makes us (and him) very happy indeed. While he still has much to do at school, he is progressing nicely and is often a pleasure to be around. Hey, did I really just say that?

We still haven't managed to get him to see the local wrestling federation, but he's been enjoying his first experience of gigs this year, both with Hal at the Marquee and with others at the Cricket Pavilion. It's good to get him away from all these nu metal boy bands and into real music! Watching OzzFest from the lawn a long way away from the stage didn't quite prepare him for being crushed up against the barrier about two feet away from Venom. He came back though for Exodus, Napalm Death, Celtic Frost, Hatebreed... and now it's only a matter of time before he ends up in the mosh pit.

The Other Monsters

Amazingly enough we've acquired more monsters, feline and otherwise, to join our existing throng. However we now have to be very careful indeed watching where they go, as I-10 caught feline leukemia early this year. After being given a few hours to live, he pulled through like a trooper, but now he can't go outside for fear of infecting our various outdoor visitors who haven't had the jab. He's doing fine, though he's a little nuttier than usual.

Our new arrival is very possibly one of his offspring via one of our regular visitors, Siameasy. Fuzzy Savage was precisely that for quite some time but has since grown into a much more presentable and sociable young lady who has adopted our old car, Nelly, as a very spacious home of her own. However we try to keep her off Antonio, our sporty little red Honda Civic who has enabled Nelly to enter a well deserved retirement.

We also picked up crabs at Arizona Mills. Behave! These are hermit crabs which are surprisingly social creatures and we named them Van and Buren after the Phoenix street on which you'd most expect to pick up such things. Buren sadly only lasted a few months but Van is going strong and we hope to pick up a new companion for him soon.


As always, we look forward to hearing from you in the future and hope that you'll look forward to hearing from us too. Please note that we have a new phone number.

Hal - hal@dawtrina.com
Dee - dee@wickedwinks.com
Michael - fuzznubb@aol.com

Hal - http://www.dawtrina.com/
Dee - http://www.wickedwinks.com/

From all of us at Chaos Central, we hope you're already enjoying a particularly Merry Christmas and that it will soon be followed by an astoundingly Happy New Year. All the best for 2007!

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