Christmas 2007

Merry Christmas!

Emotions Flow from Australia to San FranciscoGreetings and best wishes for a happy holiday season! We’ve added two new little people to the family circle: Lucia Marlena Riggs, born January 1, and Victoria Rose, born January 18. The news of Lucie’s arrival came to us via a phone call to our cruise ship sailing near the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Through the magic of technology, we were able to talk to Brian in Marion’s hospital room in San Francisco and hear Lucie exercising her lungs in the background.

That evening we and our travel companions, Warren and Judy Searls, toasted Lucie’s birth with a celebratory bottle of champagne presented to us by the ship’s captain.

Two-Hour Old Tori with Daddy Kirk Lucie and Tori, All Grown Up at ThanksgivingWe got back from Australia the day before Tori’s arrival, and were at the Valencia hospital in time to hold her when Cathy got back to her room. The cousins are healthy, active, and quite different from each other—Lucie is compact like a VW Beetle, and Tori is the stretch limo model—long and lean.

The babies met for the first time in March at a four-generation family get-together in Newbury Park, but weren’t especially interested in each other. In August, when we celebrated my sister Teresa’s birthday, they were at the grab-the-pacifier and stick-fingers-in-the-baby’s-eyes stage. By Thanksgiving, however, they were each quite excited to see another small person to push, pull, giggle at, and tumble down with.

At the Awe-Inspiring South Rim of the Grand Canyon Catalina Island and its Famed CasinoIn comparison to the gift of grandchildren, the other events—travel to Australia in January and Arizona during spring break, Larry’s church-group trip to Mexico to help build ten homes, an Alaska cruise in May, and a July get-away-from-it-all trip to Catalina Island—seem pretty ho-hum. Only grandparents would understand that! We appear to be working on the “A” destinations—but I’m not sure how far we’ll carry this. Albania, Algeria, and Azerbaijan don’t hold quite the same appeal as Andorra, Argentina, Australia, and Austria, but the world is changing, so you never know.

On the Mendenhall Glacier near JuneauIn three weeks we saw but a fraction of what Australia’s east coast and outback have to offer, and the west coast awaits another vacation. My luggage got to visit Darwin, but I didn’t! And Alaska—wow! Glaciers, bald eagles, Iditarod sled dogs, whales, grizzlies (including a mom and her triplets), and a lot of sea life, some of which ended up on our plates.

My mother’s serious stroke in April became the focus for family councils, get-togethers and confabs; after almost two months in hospital and rehab facilities, getting her back to her home was a big accomplishment.

John and Mary with Parents Jerry and MaryWe’ve all learned a lot about the health care system, the progress back to mobility, and various bumps along the road to recovery. Mom has a home health aide a few hours each day to assist with her care, but it’s still frustrating for her and a challenge to regain her independence. My dad’s been a rock of strength and patience during all this. The help and support of all my siblings has been invaluable, and I don’t know what we would do without email and Dad’s updates each evening.

There are many challenges ahead, but she has made significant progress and we hope this next year will be more manageable for her and for them.

With Michael and Isaac at Angel Stadium: Bos 9, LA 6Both my brothers made trips to Riverside to see Mom. Despite Seattle John’s recent knee replacement, his mobility in October was impressive. Amherst (MA) Michael and son Isaac came in August and we had a preview of what it will be like some day to ferry grandchildren to amusement parks, baseball games, the beach, etc. The Angels graciously allowed the Red Sox to win the night we went to the Anaheim stadium, but the four hour contest took a toll on the jet-lagged Right Coast contingent.

My sister Teresa has made multiple trips from Atascadero to Riverside, a tedious five-hour haul, to keep the old folks company, cook some gourmet fare, and check on things. My weekend trips to Riverside pale in comparison at just under two hours if I go early on a Saturday morning. In between visits we cook, freeze, label, and then re-stock their freezer to give Dad, the chief cook and bottle washer now, a little break.

March 11 Family Photo, Seven Weeks before Mary's StrokeCathy and Kirk still keep the streets of L.A. safe for the citizens while chasing after and corralling the beautiful Tori in Valencia. Their stress is reduced knowing Kirk’s mom Kathy both manages the house and cares for their daughter, who just happens to be her own highly accomplished granddaughter.

Jenny has finished a long and arduous pesticide trial defending Dole Food, and is finally getting the rest and recreation she desperately deserves. Sadly, she lost both her cats this year, Pete in March and Honey in December. “After 15 years with them, the house seems so very quiet now,” she writes.

As technical lead on Adobe’s soon-to-be-released Adobe Media Player (AMP), Brian is busy, excited, and challenged by his work. Marion is back taking night classes at the Academy of Art. An upgrade to a house may be in the offing for 2008—Lucie has requested more room for play.

The three will spend Christmas with Omi Christine and Opi Klaus near Munich this year. Skype and videos on the web have provided frequent progress and growth updates for all throughout the year.

David’s Santa Monica condo—replete with LCD and plasma TVs and a Wii—is now a popular bachelor pad. When InfoSpace, his previous employer, closed its LA office in mid-year, he was snatched up by a growth company selling mobile applications, FunMobility, with three-year sales growth of 1921%! He’s sharing in their success and life is good.

Fall Colors at Dixville Notch, NHBecause I’m still teaching at the university (five classes this fall!), Larry gets to do some traveling on his own. This year he saw friends and family in northern California in early April, and headed to the East Coast for fall foliage, visiting family from Massachusetts to Maryland to Florida, touching eleven states and experiencing wild variations in weather.

I can tolerate his solo travels with equanimity except when he calls me from one of Boston’s Legal Sea Foods restaurants and describes the cuisine in excruciating detail. What’s painful is that I take the call while standing over the sink eating the Bachelor Salad (brother-in-law John Kinnear’s contribution to family lore). But we’re still married.

I accompanied him to his 50th high school reunion in September (lots of old folks there!) and we celebrated 41 years of wedded adventure a couple of days later.

Relaxing with John and Teresa after the 3-DayThe annual event for Teresa and me and our husbands is the 3-Day Breast Cancer walk, this year in San Diego in November. All of us crewed, the sisters on check-in crew and the brothers-in-law on traffic and safety crew. As always, it was exhausting, exhilarating, emotional, inspiring, and not to be missed.

I have celebrated a milestone: ten years since my diagnosis. It’s been a real gift, being able to see our kids grow up and become interesting adults with fascinating lives, welcome Kirk and Marion into the family, and now greet Lucie and Tori.

I still go to oil painting class one day a week, and have done several portraits this year, as well as landscapes and florals. Larry is off the Homeowners Board and is far less stressed. He continues to put in volunteer time at church, doing their computer stuff, and helps friends and family set up and tune up home computer systems.

We hope your holidays are peaceful, joyous, and full of all good things.