Christmas 2000

Seasons Greetings!

It’s not that difficult for the six of us to get together for a Christmas picture. However, this year’s Christmas card photo, featuring only half the family, just cried out for publication. So the rest of us, not fortunate enough to be present for that “official” photo (taken in Florence during their month-long trip to Europe in September), assembled in the back yard for the supplementary digital camera photo shown below. Together they should assure everyone that we’re all healthy and wise if not wealthy.

The card photo shows the clan looking relatively clean and tidy, notwithstanding the difficulties of trying to get laundry done in Italy—still a challenge for tourists on a budget and with a tight schedule. The itinerary took them to England, where they saw friends, checked out the kids’ old school (now a mosque), and toured our former house. In Greece, they saw the requisite antiquities, met up with Larry’s son Volker and girlfriend Marion on the island of Santorini, and enjoyed great weather. The final part of the trip in Italy included visits with friends but most of all, the sites Brian had mapped out as part of his ancient history tour. I think they had a pretty good time, though I saw them kiss the ground when they arrived back on U.S. soil.

Mary, David, and Jenny in our yard in September

For me, it was a novel experience, never having lived alone in my entire life. Eternity, I think, is one person with a casserole. I soon realized I didn’t have to make the bed unless someone was coming over, and it’s quite liberating.

The opening of school kept me pretty busy, and Larry managed to find cybercafes from time to time so they could report in. Though John Kinnear suggested the “bachelor salad,” I really never sank that low (I know you’re curious: take a wedge of iceberg lettuce in one hand, a bottle of dressing in the other, stand over the sink, pour the dressing on the lettuce, eat, and then wash your hands—no dishes to clean up!) I did maintain some standards, I assure you.

Lest you think I’ve only had my nose to the grindstone this year while they were off cavorting through Europe, I must confess we did some travel: two weddings (Seattle and Pittsburgh) and a side trip to Victoria, B.C., and ten days in Kauai and Maui.

This was a good year for all sorts of reconstruction—we got rid of the spa because it was leaking under the patio, redid part of the patio, had double-glazed windows put in throughout the house, tore out the bathrooms and had them redone top to bottom, put in new outside lights, and reworked the sprinkler system in the back yard. Some trees had to go—lots of over-growth in twenty years time. It really helps to have a housewimp at home to schedule workmen and oversee the projects.

And I decided to have some reconstruction of my own, to replace the missing “headlight.” The first two operations in July achieved the intended result and I’m really pleased. One more surgery to fine-tune the project, and then I’m basically a new woman. It’s really miraculous what plastic surgeons can do these days. I told the doctor I wanted to travel to Pittsburgh for nephew Tom’s wedding to Lisa in August, and he assured me I’d make it. Though I couldn’t dance, I had a great time and enjoyed the reunion and festivities.

Jenny’s legal work took her to San Francisco occasionally during the year and she found herself putting in many six-day weeks for the Firm. She had Lasik eye surgery and threw away the glasses, so can now see the alarm clock in the morning whether she wants to or not. She devised interesting things for the two of us to do on the weekends when Larry was away, and that was fun.

Cathy finished her probationary period as a sergeant and continues to occasionally teach a drug recognition course through the LAPD, teaching officers about drunk and drug-impaired driving. During the Democratic National Convention she had a friendly encounter with protesters; as a result, she was favorably quoted on the front page of the LA Times. Since she took out a subscription to books on tape, her lengthy commute from Huntington Beach to Rampart Division has become much more bearable, she says.

Brian came back from Europe to find Intuit had given him a big raise (guess they missed him!) plus additional stock options. He’s still in Pacific Beach, and still seems to enjoy it and the proximity to the ocean. He was the prime mover in organizing the trip to Europe because of his interest in Greek and Roman history.

He has become the bass guitarist in the embryonic band “Rita’s Simple World.” For his birthday in late November Cathy and Jenny took him to LEGOLAND, agreeably fulfilling a wish he’s had for some time—who says you have to grow up?

David, now a junior at UCSB, spent the summer in Santa Barbara, working for Expertcity.com (acquired by Citrix.com in 2003 for $225 million). He lives in the Theta Chi fraternity house, where he’s now treasurer, and to improve their cash position he sublet several rooms to an Irish rugby team for the summer months. It worked out well all around, and the cultural exchange was quite interesting, with the Irish trying to teach the Yanks how to play rugby and the Yanks trying to teach the Irish baseball; eventually they settled on soccer as the most satisfying male bonding activity. To further solidify his position of responsibility, David has replaced incandescent bulbs with fluorescent, contracted with a new electricity provider (for a cost savings of 20 percent), and purchased a soft drink vending machine which the pledges keep stocked. I wonder why we never observed this budget obsession when he was living at home.

Larry remains semi-retired, and for the first time since he was a teenager, has earned no money from work all year. He says this could change next year. He keeps busy working on various projects around the house, running more frequently than ever, taking an occasional computer-related class, and staying in touch with old friends over lunch. He privately confides that he is on the verge of discovering the perfect stockpicking system. Yeah, right!

I’m still teaching at the high school, and I teach one evening at the new California State University at Channel Islands (CSUCI), just over the hill from where we live. It’s still technically a satellite campus of CSU Northridge, located on the old Camarillo State Mental Hospital site, and is a perfectly lovely setting for a university. There’s more technology available than faculty to use it, so I have the luxury of presenting my lectures each week directly from the website that Larry created in his spare time.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday season surrounded, as we will be, by family and friends, peace, love, and harmony.