The 1st Thomas Generation- Ted & Beth Thomas
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Pictures and Notes

    In October of last year Ben Allen and Emily (Ted's parents) went to a Navy WW2 pilot's reunion in Baltimore, MD.  At their invitation, Ted and all of his siblings (from California to England) attended as well, and had many good times sight seeing, talking with Dad's Navy friends and eating (too much).  One of the most impressive sights was the new World War II Memorial, which now sparkles between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument in Wash., DC.  If you haven't seen it, go-- it is both understated and very impressive.  Though many are unhappy with the Long War we are in now, no one doubted that America was in the fight of her life from 1941-45, and hundreds of thousands bravely gave their lives to defend our freedoms.  Another very impressive sight was the new Air Force Memorial, which everyone got to see on the evening of the very first day it was open.

Vagaries of the Feline Condition
    For those of you who haven't been keeping up with our news from the animal kingdom, our bigger cat is a beautiful, orange manx named Murgatroyd who just showed up on our doorstep a number of years ago and adopted us.  As you can see, he sometimes pays a price for his taste in humans.  Serena hasn't dressed him up in a tutu yet (that we know of!) but she and our dog have been known to join forces in ways which must try his patience.  The picture we aren't showing you (and we dearly wish we could) comes from this story about Murgle and Serena's new dog, Ginny (see Newsletter).

Murgatroyd, don't you see, is a male, and is quite protective of his women.  Our other cat, Midnight, is only barely aware of this, since her kitten making plumbing is gone and a bowl of milk is therefore much more interesting.  Ginny, being a puppy still, has a bad habit of chewing on any available hand, and Serena was recently sitting on the porch petting her when this happened.  In order to teach her dog the proper hand etiquette (eat dogfood- sniff fingers), Serena loudly yelped as a way to get Ginny's attention (much as another puppy would yelp if Ginny were chewing an ear).  Serena got the attention of ... Murgle!  We think he decided one of his females was in danger, and the foul dog had gone too far, since he arched his back, started hissing and clawed Ginny on the rump!  Surprised and frightened, she jumped.  He swiped her again, razors fully unsheathed.  What happened next almost had Serena in stitches of laughter on the porch floor, and almost too breathless to tell us about it afterwards.  Murgatroyd began chasing Ginny around the yard!  Around and around the flower garden they went, for at least several minutes, with Ginny's tail tightly between her legs and Murgatroyd galloping and swatting for all he was worth.  Finally he lost interest, Serena almost passed out laughing, and not a picture or movie was to be had!  When Serena first talked about getting her own dog, we were concerned about the feline/canine integration, so we said, "Get a puppy the cats can beat up."  We were actually joking... but by golly, we've got a cat that can beat up a dog twice his size.  Wow...

"This Is Not What You Think" Department
    Some of you have brothers, don't you?  <show of hands in the audience>  In that group, there are no doubt a few who have brothers on the west coast, who (being men of courage and fortitude) have taken up the so-called sport of surfing.  Understand that I have nothing against brothers or surfing, as long as my own, unique body is not caught on the back side of some monster wave due to an interaction between the two.  As you may have noted in our newsletter, last fall found me in sunny LA on a business trip, after which I stayed a few days in Irvine, CA with my brother Stephen.  "Ted," saith he one morning, "I'm going to teach you to surf."  Now, if we could stop the Powerpoint presentation right there for a moment while I note the following:
  • Surfing involves surf, sand, sun, surfboards with sharp fins and big rocks (and waves)
  • Suntanned, handsome, muscular men surf, and shapely women in almost no clothes sashche up and down the beach pretending to ignore them
  • Surfing looks easy
  • Surfing isn't easy
  • Did I mention the big, sharp rocks?  Did I mention that the long, hard thing (surfboard) with the sharp-enough-to-cut-flesh fin on the bottom is tied to your foot to avoid damaging the other surfers?
  • When your brother, whom you love, and who is at least somewhat suntanned, handsome and buff announces that you (with the only body you have had since childhood) are going to surf, you are in a pickle
  • After several nights in a hotel near the Mascone Center in LA, your company credit card will not take kindly to another few nights in an Irvine, CA hotel after you correct the misunderstanding about who was going surfing on what
  • Your young nephew, who can surf like a fish, is standing there looking right at you during this announcement
    I gulped and pretended to be happy.  We got to the beach, set up camp, played bocca ball (throw little ball behind sand dune and take turns trying to land big balls on top of it by guessing where it went-- requires radar vision) and watched Riley do everything the big guys were doing.  After awhile I thought Ted surfing had been forgotten.  Ugh-ugh.  Stephen handed me his new wetsuit to put on (here's the picture) while he put on his old one.  (The water, for those of you who haven't been swimming in the late fall near LA, is about 56 degrees.)  "Ok... where's the dressing room?" saith I.  "What dressing room?" saith he.

    Stop... halt <turns off Powerpoint projector>.  I need another show of hands here, please.  How many of you know what this means?  <blank stares, and no hands up>  Obviously, you have never put on a wetsuit.  The situation, you see, is that a wetsuit is very tight, has only one zipper (which goes across the chest) and cannot be gotten into except by an individual who is wearing precisely nothing during the process.  At this point I've got a baaddd feeling bout what happens next, since I am not particularly buff, definitely not suntanned, married and unable to disappear behind the only trees I can see (trunks are only 6 inches thick).  "Don't worry," says Surfer Dude, "you stand behind the car and use a towel."  Young Surfer Dude (Riley) appears to be watching for my reaction.  "O..K.."

    As you may have correctly deduced, I survived surfing in LA, and managed to avoid all the sharp rocks and fins in the process.  I did actually surf (with a lot of help from my brother), although it was on my knees for about 5 seconds.  Just like the story before this one, the camera was unavailable during my harrowing feat, so you'll have to take Stephen's word for it.  HOWEVER, there is a video record of the most frightening and dangerous thing I did that day, and I have preserved it for your edification on YouTube.  I'll give you a hint: towel + wetsuit + furious struggle behind the car + Mexican chick in the next car who might turn around at any moment... watch the video.  And (for you intellectuals out there) no, you can't put the wetsuit on back at the house.  It works by trapping a thin layer of seawater against your skin, and if you put it on and not go in the water soon, you burn up.

    Please note: in this picture from the newsletter, you will note that my brother and I are smiling.  We are both happy (I'm still alive, no blood in the water, life is good, etc.)  Riley, on the other hand, is looking somberly at the ground.  This is because he is meditating on the tremendous struggle he has just seen (Ted vs. wetsuit) and is overwhelmed by the spectacle of it all.  Watch the video... and be warned.

News Coming Up
  • We live in a big house with a big attic, and over the years various generations have made copious use of it.  This past summer Sarah and Lydia engineered a big cleanup operation, and all went well ... except for certain unnamed boxes.  Later this year we will make available an exciting, informative video titled "The Goodness of Keeping Boxes".
  • Lydia has recently forayed into state politics... coming up: a report from Frankfort.
  • Don't miss our new blogs with lots of interesting discussion and pictures about our new home and various adventures!  You can find them at (family news) and (house building news).