News and Views from Dave Wilson

2019 Family Newsletter

Mac Wilson
My father, Mac Wilson, who passed away in late September at the age of 84.

As I sat down to write this year’s letter (and, yes, I missed a couple of years so please forgive me), my overriding impression was that 2019 had been a particularly awful year. After 20 minutes of rummaging through my photos, though, it became pretty clear that this assessment was driven by one hugely awful occurrence and that, without this, it would actually have been a rather good year.

The hugely awful occurrence, as most readers will likely know already, was the loss of my father, Mac Wilson, in late September. After an early career in mining which involved breathing plenty of gelignite fumes and coal dust, and thirty or so years of heavy smoking, lung disease finally caught up with him. It had been getting steadily worse over the last 5 or 6 years but I suppose we should be thankful that he was only really seriously incapacitated for the last 6 months or so of his almost 85 years. He’ll be enormously missed, not just by immediate family, but also by his huge circle of friends at home in Scotland and all around the world (he travelled extensively and made friends on every trip).

Aside from bereavement, all the family here in Austin have had a healthy and successful year. Starting with the boys, Cameron (who, I suppose, is not technically in Austin any more given that he spends 8 months of the year in Kansas) is now in his second/sophomore year at the University of Kansas. He appears to have settled in to KU nicely and is enjoying his studies towards a degree in Music Therapy. Apparently his academics are going well since he’s on the Dean’s List. His social life centres around his membership in the Marching Jayhawks band, and he’s found a great group of friends in the baritone section. We’re just back from a Thanksgiving trip to visit him and the rest of us have all fallen in love with the town of Lawrence (where KU is situated). No doubt we would visit a great deal more often if it wasn’t for the 12 hour drive to get there!

Jayhawk Cameron
Cameron, and the rest of the University of Kansas Marching Jayhawks band, waits for the beginning of the half time show on the sidelines at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium in Lawrence during the home game against Indiana State on Saturday, August 31st, 2019.

Drew in Band Uniform
Drew’s Dripping Springs High School Tiger Band registration portrait, August 3rd, 2019.

Drew is now a junior (second from last year) in high school and is also spending a great deal of time involved with things musical. He’s a saxophone section leader in the Dripping Springs High School Tiger Band and has just auditioned into first chair of the area band and is looking forward to his upcoming audition for the Texas All State band. Earlier this year, we visited the University of Houston where he auditioned into the finals of the prestigious Houston Underground Saxophone Competition and performed beautifully even though he was a couple of years younger than many of the other competitors. Here’s his performance of the first movement of the Creston saxophone sonata (with apologies for the terrible audio quality).

As if his time wasn’t already full, he’s also spending two evenings a week teaching Taekwondo at the Dripping Springs YMCA.

Another activity that Drew is passionate about also pulls in Nikki and me. Drew is on the hardware design team for The Spring Konstant, Dripping Springs High School’s robotics team that competes in the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, and Nikki and I act as mentors on the business and software teams respectively. This is a huge commitment between January and April but is great fun and we’re all looking forward to the announcement of the 2020 game on the first Saturday of January. Last year’s robot didn’t perform quite as well as we had all hoped but everyone learned some valuable lessons (about not biting off more than you can chew, for example) and we’re all fired up to be more successful this season.

The Spring Konstant, 2019
Members of FRC team 6357, The Spring Konstant, seen at the Austin regional competition on March 3rd, 2019.

Nikki continues to write and visit schools and libraries to give writing workshops. She has had two short books published this year and has several novel-length manuscripts on the go. She’s also still teaching Zumba at the Dripping Springs YMCA and in a local community gym, and has recently started helping out by playing music at our church’s Alzheimer’s Support Group.

I am still working at Apple and spending a fair bit of time on photography. The annual photoblogger expedition this year was to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island in Canada and I came back with a good collection of fishing village and lighthouse pictures. Nearer home, I’m still photographing the University of Texas Longhorn Band at home games in Texas Memorial Stadium, the high school band and local rodeo events at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park. Here’s a gallery of a few of my favorite shots for the year:

Travel this year has been somewhat limited compared to previous years. All four of us went back to Scotland for 10 days in July. This was mostly to see Dad and help out for a while but we did manage to visit some friends and do a couple of days sightseeing while we were there, getting caught up in the Outlander/Game of Thrones frenzy that appears to have gripped a number of previously-sleepy castles that are now inundated with tourist traffic thanks to their having been used as filming locations. The boys both spent time in New Mexico visiting Nikki’s mom Rae and step-dad John at various points.

August in Austin is typically a month to avoid but, despite our warnings, brother Al and his family decided they wanted to experience the Texas heat and came over to stay with us for a few weeks. We had a lovely time and did all the local tourist things, concentrating heavily on those involving getting wet!

Nikki and I made a second Scotland trip in September which was, obviously, very much less upbeat than usual. Despite the sadness of dealing with Dad’s funeral, however, it was lovely to see so many family and friends again, some after a gap of over 30 years!

We rounded the year off with a family trip up to Lawrence, Kansas to spend Thanksgiving with Cameron. Rather than just drive straight up the interstate (12 hours on the same road), we opted to take 4 days and a longer route through Arkansas, visiting the historic towns of Hot Springs and Eureka Springs along the way.

I think that about wraps it up for our year. It was a year up major ups and down so let’s hope that 2020 brings more of the ups and fewer of the downs!

Wishing you and yours all the very best for 2020,

Dave, Nikki, Cameron and Drew.

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