SOULE FAMILY CHRISTMAS LETTER 2017

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It has been a busy year for us and we have had many opportunities to count our blessings, which we try to do as often as we can. We have really enjoyed living in Albuquerque, and have been able to share local findings, and the famous Albuquerque Balloon Festival, with visiting friends and family. We've spent our first full year here if you don’t count our trips to Ireland in March, Montana in May to fix up Ralph’s grandparents’ ranch house (a project with his two older brothers), Lisbon and Porto, Portugal in June to attend an academic conference, and Wyoming to be in the path of totality for the solar eclipse in August. We are grateful for another year of good health, good friends, dear family, good work and travel opportunities.

This past year, we’ve had some great travel experiences. We went to western Ireland (Limerick, Killarney, and Galway) in March with Pam’s brother, Rich, and sister (in-law) Valerie. It was a delight to experience their first trip to Ireland with them. As usual, Ralph could not get enough of the “full Irish” breakfasts, and as many scones as possible. In a pub, we enjoyed country dancing and Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day, more very windy roads, exquisite wild scenery and intense wind that made Pam go a bit batty. We also experienced Irish hospitality when visiting Powers’ Thatch Pub, in Galway County, when brother Rich (surname Powers) was not allowed to pay for our drinks.

We went to Lisbon for an academic conference in June, visited Navy friends near Europe’s most western point, Cabo Da Roca, and traveled by train to Porto. We visited an ancient nunnery, history and modern art museums, ate the signature Portuguese custard dessert pastry Pasteis de Nata, found out what real port tastes like, listened to Fado, almost lost Pamela’s backpack in the train station, and learned that “thank you” in Portuguese has a gender (women say it differently than men).

Once back in the States, we drove to Huntley, WY, to be in the path of the eclipse totality. Along with some friends, we camped on the grounds of Table Mountain Vineyards, enjoyed live music and of course some wine. The eclipse was fascinating! Our short video is here.

Ralph continues to work part time and travel as much as he can. He has moved on from his work with the Naval Sea Systems Command, which allows him to focus on more academic activities and research. In the spring, he was in Europe and Alberta, Canada March to May for conferences in Holland, Spain, and Canada,. in Spain, he walked the Camino de Santiago (334 kilometers, 15 days, no blisters!). When not traveling, he lifts weights twice a week and tries not to get lost, eaten by bears, or deeply wounded by cactus running on the extensive network of trails in the hills near our apartment. His biggest challenge after avoiding the cacti is finding enough oxygen to breath at 6160 ft.

Pamela is very active providing massage therapy to hospice patients, UNM hospital staff, and at UNM’s Cancer Center. She attended a conference with local therapists here in New Mexico and met up with Society for Oncology Massage (S4OM) friends in Virginia for more specialized training.. She firmly believes that hospice care givers and family members need massage as much as the patients do, which creates a vast wake of very happy people in what can be very stressful conditions.

Beau still lives in rural North Carolina, not too far from Elizabeth City. He has been doing part-time work remodeling rental properties between tenants. He visited us, and Albuquerque, for Thanksgiving. and the whole family had a wonderful time together.

Love, Ralph and Pam Soule