Our Christmas letter 1999

This is the 1999 Letter. For the 2000 Christmas Letter, click here.

Merry Christmas!

 from Tam and Michael Dunn


Whew! What a year! We've both been working hard -- we now have three jobs between the two of us, since Michael took over as Editor of The Middle East Journal in 1998, while continuing to produce his biweekly The Estimate (now in its 11th year); Tam continues as Associate Editor at Air Force Magazine and the person in charge of the annual Air Force Almanac.

So, faced with all this spare time on our hands, we've spent much of the year working on a Chinese adoption. Anything involving China's 5,000-year-old bureaucracy and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service is, of course, a slow haul, but the paper chase is nearing an end and then the waiting will begin. It's a little hard to predict right now but we certainly hope that by the holiday season next year, there'll be another of us. Michael says that while many of his contemporaries are dealing with the "empty nest" syndrome, he'll be dealing with the "full diaper" syndrome. And of course, everyone will be kept informed.

Between our three jobs, various other duties and the adoption process it was a pretty full year. There was no overseas travel for either of us. Next year, we expect to spend a couple of weeks in China enlarging the family (and of course Middle Eastern trips do come along from time to time).

Our domestic travel -- how we stay sane, by getting outside the Beltway -- saw several adventures. The continuing De-Yankification of Tam and Barbecue Research Project was in high gear in the spring with a visit to the Mississippi Delta, northeast Mississippi and Memphis. Good (if fattening) food (but isn't that redundant?) and good blues; in Memphis we were joined by Tam's sister Kate, who had studied and taught there previously, and knew some of the good spots. That's the two of them at Graceland at right, though Tam and Michael had made the pilgrimage to Elvis' Birthplace at Tupelo, Mississippi earlier in the trip, since just everybody goes to Graceland . . .

For barbecue, we certainly recommend Abe's in Clarksdale, Mississippi (the tamales as a side are not to be missed), Custom Cooking in Tupelo, and of course several spots including the famous Rendezvous in Memphis. For Blues, besides Beale Street, we can speak highly of Wild Bill's in the wee hours, in some part of town or other . . .

The southern jaunt also included Michael tracing a bit of the experiences of a Confederate ancestor who died during the 1862 Mississippi campaign, allowing us to wander through some small towns in Mississippi we might otherwise have missed, and meet the 90-something-year old Mrs. Waits who still runs a jewelry store in Corinth and will be glad to discuss the last century and a half or so with you at great length.

We also took a long Labor Day weekend in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area. So, as it happened, did Hurricane Dennis, leading to a very wet, very windy stay, and a very difficult drive back home. A couple of weeks later Hurricane Floyd, passing through, took out our plum tree. So our summer of drought ended with two hurricanes. Feast or famine . . . In November, we paid a visit to Michael's relatives in Joplin and Springfield, Missouri, and also spent time in the Missouri Ozarks (with some slippage over into Kansas and Arkansas), getting away to the hills, where Tam revived her talents at skipping stones across mountain streams and Michael hunted ancestral settlements and stared at the hills a lot. He still is writing his family history in his spare time, which is considerably less than it once was.

We wish everyone a happy holiday and a happy new year! (We will wish you a new millennium in 2001, when it really begins.)

See Our Christmas Letter for 2000

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