Christmas 2016

Seasonís greetings to all of you!

Greetings to you all, and best wishes for a happy New Year from all of us. This has been a very different sort of year. We have had some joyous moments and some not so much.

Wedding

 Newlyweds Jen and Dave atop the Malibu Cliffs As you can see from our Christmas card photo, we all gathered for Dave and Jenís wedding in August on the cliffs above Malibu.

The wedding had been scheduled at a venue on the beach, but that site was shut down just two weeks before because of neighborsí complaints. Jen managed to find a new venue at the last minute and transfer all the catering, etc. to the new location. Jen is extraordinary; she found a new (actually a better) place and made it work, and we were all relieved. We really wanted to get that boy married!

Our highlight was that Larry and I registered as marriage ministers and performed the ceremony, making it a very personal experience.

Our 50-Year Anniversary

Onyx Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel Honors Us Cathy, Marion, and Jen Work on Thanksgiving Food Prep Larry and I celebrated 50 years of wedded bliss (what else?) in September and canít figure out where the years have gone. Itís truly a blessing to have our kids, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren enriching our lives and keeping us from doddering.

To mark the occasion, the kids rented a large home and guest cottage near Paso Robles for Thanksgiving last month, and we all gathered for Thanksgiving, our 50th anniversary, and Brianís birthday. And I didnít cook anythingóperhaps for the first time in 50 years.

Mary with 95-year Old Dad Jerry in Atascadero Brother-in-law John Kinnear barbecued two turkeys, and all the other folks cooked interesting side dishes, under the watchful eye of organizing Food Police Sergeant Cathy.

We were happy that so many of us could be there, including sister-in-law Sue from Chicago, sister-in-law Vivienne from Maryland, along with my dad Jerry Burke (95 years young), sister Teresa, and hubby John.

50-Year Reunion with UCR Roommates

In Solvang, We and Two Other Couples Celebrate Our Golden Year Cathy, Mary,and Elaine, the Wild Women of Solvang In April we had a group 50th celebration in Solvang with college roommates Elaine and Cathy, and their spouses John and Tom. Sightseeing, wine-tasting, and good food were on the menu, and it was great to spend some time catching up, reminiscing about our days at UC Riverside and what life was like back in the 60s.

Our Kids

Tori Brandishes Produce from the Garden Cathy and Tori are great roommates, and it is fun for us retired folks to hear about the work issues and realize we donít have to do any of that any more. Tori loves school and next year will be in the last year of elementary.

Cathy, Erin Molly, and Jenny, Old High School Friends Reunited Jenny still works for the Meyers Nave law firm and cajoles her ancient cats into needed shots. Brian is still at Adobe and wife Marion is doing graphic design part-time and herding small children to activities the rest of the time. A remodel on their 1920s bungalow in Berkeley gave them some much-needed additional space.

Dave changed jobs and now works for Santa Monicaís Science Inc, which is closer to home and more remunerative. Jenís doing a lot of national travel for Tuition.io and seems to handle it well.

LarryóComputers Still Keep Him Busy

Bill Sauer and I Rest after Hiking to Angel Vista Larry still does computer stuff for people and may be involved in setting up several new systems for our church office, as their computers are really old dogs that prefer to snooze rather than do any useful work.

My Cardiac and Cancer Issues

Tori Joins Mary and Cathy, the February Birthday Girls The second half of the year has been a real challenge for all of us; the cardiac problems I experienced in the fall of last year turned out to be damage to the heart probably from the Adriamycin chemotherapy and radiation I underwent for breast cancer in 1997-98.

Doctors repaired the mitral valve in May, but I have only recovered a fraction of the necessary heart function and canít walk for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. Worse, it turned out that a swelling above the right eye was a metastasis of the original breast cancer, and could possibly be controlled but not cured.

Those Were the Days, My Friend; We Thought They'd Never End So Iím on a different chemo regimen now, taking pills twice a day. Weíre told that when this no longer works or canít be tolerated any longer, theyíll try a traditional infusion similar to what I had 19 years ago. Weíre pretty floored by this development, which makes a mockery of the term ďenjoying the golden years.Ē Weíre hoping that this chemo continues to shrink the tumor. At one point my eye was completely closed for several weeks, and it affected my vision enough that I was uncomfortable driving.

I had thought that the cancer I had in the late 90s was gone and forgotten, but now itís reared its ugly head again. Still, Iím glad I got to see our kids grow into amazing adults and to meet the grandchildren. And Iím hoping to be around awhile longer.

Our Day-to-Day Routine

Oldest Photo of Us: Death Valley, July 1965 Meanwhile, I have a great support system hereóa chauffeur/servant (Larry) who takes me to appointments, does laundry, cleans up after meals, and takes direction on gardening and harvesting (which I donít have the stamina to do anymore). The chef de la maison (Cathy) cooks interesting stuff on the weekends and gets groceries on her way to or from work.

And that speedy little almost-10-year old, Tori, is getting quite good at running to fetch things for Grandma and has learned to heat up her own food in the microwave. Sheís quite nimble when it comes to harvesting tomatoes, blueberries, and snow peas, scrambling up the terraces like a little mountain goat.

Mary's Painting of the Invermoriston Bridge in Scotland Then there are our neighbors and the Helping Hands folks from church who have brought meals and kept us on multiple prayer lists, and are willing to help out as needed. Iím still painting when I have the stamina and find it helps my chemo-brain to recharge and regroup.

Think Good Thoughts

Our Advice for the Next Four Years We hope you all have a good holiday season, and we apologize in advance to all of our overseas friends for the political insults that are likely to come your way in the upcoming months as we navigate our rudderless status in this benighted and bedeviled country.

We prefer to believe that the evil spirit which has invaded this country will be controlled and contained by all the good people who refuse to hate. Keep us in your prayers and good thoughts, and letís hope that tantrums on the national and international level are few and far between.