On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
Nine Egrets Nesting

Eight Key Deer grazing, seven turtles hatching, six dolphins playing, five coral heads,
four parrotfish, three Key West hens, two manatees
...and a pelican in a palm tree.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, And Wishing You A Healthy 2019!

Happy Holiday Greetings,

It has been quite the year. Much of it, a blur. But, here goes. We have much to be thankful for. I am starting this letter on Thanksgiving Day, good a day as any, and better than most – to reflect.

In the wake of Hurricane Michael, and Paradise, CA - Camp fire, it is certain that we got off easy - relatively speaking. It took a year and then some to recover, but the end is in sight – and a new beginning too. All that’s needed now, for lack of a better word, is sod and stone in the yard, and some doors be be hung inside. We miss our dogs, Schooner and Dory terribly. They left us 5 months apart. It was thirteen years that went by in a flash. The entire year was one of loss, demolition, and renovation.

We built our home back better than before, and we owe everything to friends and family who helped make it happen. The renovation was constant and relentless, but it looks to be behind us. Now, after 16 months, we have begun to resume our lives.

The boats are in the water even though we are always working on one it seems. That’s boating for you. Our shop is operational. Summer business was good, but has since stalled. Still, we always manage to keep busy, so all is good. That said, we hope for a good winter work season – all the way into September of 2019. That’s the goal.

Allison and I will have been here in the Keys nine years come January. We have been together 20 years come March. Allison hits the big Five Oh! this February. Brian hit the big Six Oh! last March, and will move up a notch too soon. Our current state is all about appreciating what we have, being thankful, and enjoying life.

We do have a book soon to be published – You: Steer It, Anchor It & Dock It. It is a hands-on boating lesson book that also offers a chapter on sailing and fishing. PS: makes a great gift! The hope is that we can get an organization to partner with us somehow. If all goes well, the book should be out by the beginning of the year. Our other book, The Road To Key West, also hopes be updated around then. We update The Road To Key West every year, but skipped 2018 due to the hurricane. It is a book that maximizes the visitors time here in the Lower Keys by bringing them up to speed on what to do and where to go.

A 2019 writing project is based on a 5-day sailing adventure from Bahia Honda Key to Key West titled; Navigating The Florida Keys And Finding Yourself. The reader is the sailing companion. The book is one of perspective check, and love of adventure. It doubles as an actual expedition including GPS tracks that others can follow. It is a very fun project that is well under way, but a long way to go still. More about that next year.

We have a yoga platform in our yard - where our shed use to be. Namaste’ In Bed. We find that stretching each morning is an essential part of our daily routine. Brian motivated to get his bicycle set up for daily morning rides over the Spanish Harbor Bridge and back (6 miles). In truth, he hopes to do it four days a week. Then, some sit-ups and push ups, but just a modest amount.

Allison runs the shop at Sunshine Key and hopes to get her captain’s license in the coming year. She has regular design gig with a real estate company in New York, and a newer hotel client in Key West. She also does an annual design job for Windham Mountain. Allison’s mom, Esther, gifted her a 1978 Mercedes sports car that she bombs around in since we lost our truck. It’s a beauty. We traveled to PA in September and took the auto train back. Good times - really. Allison adorned the license plate with her dad’s old call numbers N9EC, his initials and old plane registration – a lovely sentiment. We had a nice visit with Allison’s mom too, and look forward to her return visit in February.

We already had our northeast Christmas, visiting NY and PA family, Brian’s mom, Betty in NY and Allison’s grandmother, Lee and Aunt Laura, and cousins Pete and Judy in PA. We then enjoyed a nice brunch get-together with Allison’s friends Lia and Anna. We wrapped things up in NY with a tradition; Chinese food and wine, then Christmas music by the fire. It was a great way to end the year and start anew. We really urge you guys; mom, grandma Lee and Aunt Laura to visit here sooner than later. No pressure! I mean, no - pressure! Being mid Dec, we obviously wanted to fit the whole year in – and did. Hope this gets to you before 2019. Thank goodness for e-cards.

So many toys; bikes, kayaks, paddle boards, and boats - and so little time. We really plan to use what we have and enjoy life, and to be thankful. But, no more stuff from here on out. That’s the plan anyway.

Our 50’ x 100’ property is a fenced-in compound now. That is to say, we have enclosed the entire yard with a 6’ high wooden fence, replacing a chained link fence. The layout is two driveways in the front separated by a walk path. There is travel trailer in the front too - all hooked up. There is another privacy fence at the end of one driveway shielding our back yard. Our newly renovated mobile home takes up most of the rest of the property, but we have another very cozy travel trailer in the back too, so 4 bedrooms and three baths in all. It makes a great writing room, and great guest room.

We were going for: rustic fishing compound meets earthy zen vibe, and think we achieved it. If you receive this end of year note, please consider it an open invitation. You would be comfortable here for at least several days and nights of your visit; bikes, kayaks, boat tour included.

All we can say is that we hope that your year produced positive results. We hope that you and yours is healthy and happy. And, we hope that your outlook for next year is bright.

Thanks for being a part of our life.
Brian and Allison

Happy Holidays 2018 •  Art by Allison • Words by Brian • IslandDesign.us