Harris Holiday Newsletter 2011

Dear Family and Friends:

Hello, Happy Holidays, and Welcome to this year’s Harris Holiday Newsletter! This year our newsletter is available only online. We now stay so connected with email, Facebook and texting that it’s just a natural progression for the annual Christmas letter to move to an electronic format. (Of course, it also allowed us to procrastinate to the last minute, an unintended but very welcome benefit.)

Outside the Winter Palace with our tour groupSo let’s get to it! The big news for the year is our trip to Russia in May. It was a once in a lifetime trip to Moscow (seriously – you only want to visit Moscow once in your lifetime), St. Petersburg, as well as quick stops in Finland and Estonia. The best part of the trip was the unbelievable architecture and history of St. Petersburg. The worst part was the food. Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes, and salt. A LOT of salt. As in, it took a week before the bloating went down. Also, we learned that if you tell a Russian chef there’s a vegetarian in the group, you will almost inevitably be served a plate of French fries (with salt) as a substitute for your meal.

After the mud run but before the shower...Running still dominates life at the Harris household, but this year Blair joined in the competitive fun. A group of us ran the Virginia Beach Rock-N-Roll Half Marathon over Labor Day and Blair beat his prior time by over 30 minutes! We also ran the Marine Corp Mud Run in June. Blair is now running three days a week and is known to say things like, “I missed my run yesterday so I need to run tonight.” It’s a little Twilight Zone like.  He’s dropped almost 25 pounds since the start of the year and is now a svelte 180.

Dena had a stellar running year, with back-to-back marathon PR’s (personal records). She ran a 3:38:38 at Myrtle Beach in February, then smashed it with a 3:29:45 performance at the Savannah marathon in early November. Not satisfied, she participated (or, okay, “was dragged screaming, crying, and pouting”) in her first 24-hour ultra in December in Rocky Mount, VA on a 1-mile loop course. She didn’t make it 24 hours but she did manage to run 53 miles in just under 11 hours. The bug has bitten and she’s already signed up for her next 24-hour run in September 2012 with the goal to run at least Running at the 24-Hour Ultra Challengeuntil midnight.

For once we have nothing to report on the money pit! No major repairs or renovations to the home this year. We did finally purchase the last ½ acre of land behind the house that Blair has had his eye on since we moved in (and that he’s been mowing, gratis, for the last 10 years, hoping to induce the owner to sell earlier, to no avail). Blair did take a bee-keeping course over the summer but to Dena’s (and perhaps the neighbors) relief, nothing has come of it yet.

Dena stayed busy this year with speaking presentations at several writers’ conferences, local and regional. Her book, Who Moved My Mouse, A Self-Help Book for Cats, has now been optioned in 7 different countries and she’s working on a proposal for her next (you guessed it) cat book. Hopefully you’ll get to read about its publication in next year’s letter. When not writing or running, Dena spent long hours this year on the Executive Board for her local arts council and helped to plan and organize the first Annual Studio Tour of Artists.

Blair’s still loving his work at Hanes Brands Inc. Dena does all she can to support him, including spending copious amounts of cash on the Hanes Brand C-9 Sports Performance line available at Target.  

Halloween was another raging success this year with a “Dracula’s Candy Coffin” theme. Blair’s family came to visit for Thanksgiving and our niece spent a week with us this summer, talking about driving and colleges and reminding us how quickly time goes by.

We’ve been fortunate to spend a lot of time with friends this year and appreciate all the many wonderful people in our lives. We tend to travel in “herds” now to running events and celebrated the end of marathon season with a wonderful dinner out with 14 close friends.

Lucy & Olivia are still here, still fat, still spoiled. Lucy now has over 4500 followers on Twitter (@Lucy_Cat). Please consider joining if you’d like semi-regular updates on whether or not the food dish is full and why cats are smarter and better looking than humans.

That’s all the news from our neck of the woods. Thank you for checking in with us and, as always, we love all of you and very much miss those of you we don’t get to see on a more regular basis. Our most sincere wishes for the very merriest of Christmas’ and the very brightest and most prosperous of New Years!


Dena & Blair