Season Greetings from the Gulf Coast

After two unhappy years we are now able to tie in with our old tradition and write a more comprehensive Christmas letter to our friends. The outstanding 2010 event here in Florida was, of course, the oil catastrophe originating from the BP/Transocean rig in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico that fortunately spared our Casey Key beaches. Nevertheless, nature suffered and we can substantiate damages with numbers. Besides a huge chocolate carpet asphyxiating seafloor, exuberant oil killed 6104 sea birds, 609 turtles, about 100 dolphins and other nautical mammals and of the 2500 saved animals most survived and could be released into the maritime battlefield. Yesterday, however, Dietmar saw a tar ball at the beach for the first time .With reagard to breeding activity of our Casey Key Sea turtles, we can report that since 2008 the upwards trend has continued and the number of nests was higher than any year of the century: that in spite of the disaster. Maybe the turtles were looking for the cleaner beaches. Most of them carry a transmitter and their activity is monitored and recorded. See http://www.seaturtle.org/tracking/?project_id=470). Even in spite of the last long, cold winter turtles came for nesting. Many tropical plants, however, and about half of our beautiful coconut palms died. The first weeks of this December are equally cold and we fear all the remaining plants will suffer from that second hit.

The second paramount event was our midterm election resulting in a mandate for augmented political quarrel and additional paralyzing clash between political powers. This in the presence of self-induced miseries of the financial, legal and military system and a new superpower in sight that may want to take over. Bush politics ruined the country financially and Obama missed his chance to give the Churchill speech telling the nation straightforwardly and frankly that they have screwed up and, rather than to make more debts, needed to clear their debts e.g. by imposing a $5 tax on every gallon of gas bought. That would have not only restored healthy finances, but also made American companies competitive by forcing more efficiency. Right now, they are producing at cheap energy prices and other countries that pay twice as much for energy, still outcompete American productivity on a per individual basis. Remember, how happy we were at the turn of the Millennium with financial surplus (see our Christmas letter 1999). Compare this to the present sentiment in this country.

We did not travel much this year. The exception was a flight to Milwaukee to say goodbye to our late friend Charles Aprahamian. Instead, we had many visitors until August, partially because of Dietmar’s 70th birthday that we celebrated with family and friends. Once it was all over and tranquility slowly settled in, Heidi needed to be hospitalized for treatment of a bilateral pulmonary embolism from deep vein thrombosis in her leg. Nevertheless, we are planning to visit New Zealand in January 2011 to have after all a vacation, although living on Casey Key may be considered eternal vacation in the first place. 2010, being so hectic for us prevented Heidi’s art productivity – she did not do much this year and hopes to do better in 2011.

Since Dietmar’s neck and thoracic spine fracture, we have not had the contemplation to appreciate all the events of the years. Reviewing all events of 2008, 2009 and 2010 clearly leave the massage, it is simply too much for a simple Christmas letter and we decided, to put most information on our website and focus only on important events of 2010 in this letter. If you want to know more, go to our www.wittmann.us/christmasand read our extended Christmas letter.

Heidi und Dietmar's mother in front of the 2009 Christmas tree

As you can see, this was a very busy year for us and we enjoyed most of it. We wish you, our friends, a happy holiday season and a peaceful year 2011.

Dietmar und Heidi