September 2002 Volume 22 Number 3

President’s letter

J. Claire Dean

A task that at first seemed somewhat daunting—three President’s Letters—is drawing to a close with this final offering.

I am having a hard time following up on my previous exotic writing locations (South Africa and Great Britain) for this one. The best I can do is to start it here in the west Texas desert, about 40 miles east of El Paso, and likely finish it in Los Angeles.

As I write notes for this letter I am taking a short shade and water break. It is about 10 A.M., and the temperature is pushing triple digits already. The scent of summer field work hangs in the air - sweat mixed with the dwindling fragrance of well intentioned but pointless deodorant, finished with eau de bug spray—and I still have at least 6 more hours to go. With luck we will have a corker of a thunderstorm late this afternoon or tonight that will clear the air.

Sadly, it has been threatening to do that every night for the past week but has failed to deliver. As a rule I work here in February to avoid the extreme heat, but a singular compensation for toiling in the desert at this time of year is the spectacle of those tremendous light and sound shows not uncommon for the season. It is hard to beat ending the day watching them from the safety of your motel window as they rip across Mexico and into town like a gang of fabled outlaws, turning the streets into raging mud gullies and making the earth ooze that particular smell that comes with fresh rain on desert ground.

Right now the idea of the WAAC annual gathering in Portland in October seems especially appealing. Thoughts of cool autumnal weather help relieve the heat. Plans for the gathering are almost complete. Immediately following this letter you will find a brief meeting update and, by the time you read this, all of you should have received your registration forms and other general information about the meeting. As always, should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact either Hiawatha Johnson (WAAC Secretary) or myself.

Along with the meeting registration information you should have received your annual ballot for the election of our two new Members-at-Large and Vice President. I do hope that you took a moment to vote and return the ballot - we make it as easy and cheap for you as possible by pre-addressing and sticking a stamp on it! So, you have no excuse for not voting. I also hope that those of you that have considered running for office, however fleetingly, offer up your name for next year’s election. Having now served for 4 years on the Board, first as a Member-at-Large and subsequently as your Vice President and President, I can tell you that it is an enjoyable and rewarding experience, and a great way to get to know other WAAC members.

This last letter is also my chance to thank several folks for their service to WAAC during the past year. Firstly, I would like to thank the current Board Members, especially Beverly Perkins and Susanne Friend, whose terms end this coming October. Our Vice President and President Elect, Mitchell Hearns Bishop, who I have counted as a friend for many years, has been a great source of help and encouragement, and I look forward to reading his epistles every few months. Mitchell, along with the other Nominating Committee Members - Maureen Russell and Eric Hanson—have done a great job of pulling together the ballot and running this year’s election. Two other stalwarts of the WAAC infrastructure, Carolyn Tallent (Newsletter Editor) and Chris Stavroudis (Treasurer/Membership Secretary), are once again owed a huge thank you for all of their hard work. And finally, the WAAC members and friends who valiantly spent one evening stuffing over 600 envelopes with meeting registration information and ballots, need to be recognized, as well as past President John Griswold and his wife Stefanie for providing the hospitality of their home in which to complete the task.

Lastly, I would like to make special mention of my friend and colleague, Hiawatha Johnson, who has served as our Secretary for the past year. I can safely say that without his general efforts, his particular ability to remind me to do things, and his boundless and willing aptitude for providing endless excuses why we should have lunch or support the local coffeehouse over the past year, my job would have been much harder and the Portland meetings much less well organized. Because of the amount of travelling I have to do in the course of my work, this year would have been hell without him.

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