Christmas 2003

Holiday greetings!

Best wishes to you all from the land of wind and fire. We escaped the infernos but are still washing off ash from the worst conflagrations in California history—as you no doubt know from the news.

The newlyweds at their reception

A joyous event this year brought family and friends from far and near to witness Cathy and Kirk's wedding in late August. Kirk works as an LAPD sergeant in West Valley, and, as the Christmas card photo shows, has been totally corrupted by the Riggs kids. Cathy still commutes to downtown Los Angeles from Valencia to work on the federal audit for the LAPD. A long weekend on Catalina Island constituted their “mini-moon” but they plan a delayed honeymoon early next year when their vacation periods coincide. They are considering a move into a larger home in the Valencia area sometime next year.

Jenny still grinds away for Jones Day and has been on a major court case which will keep her up in San José till springtime. The firm's client, IBM, is being sued by former “clean room” workers who claim to have contracted cancer from exposure to carcinogenic chemicals. The suit alleges that IBM was aware of the cancer threat but did not inform their employees because they feared losing their workforce. The suit has received widespread press and on December 10 was featured in a segment on 60 Minutes II: "How Much Did Big Blue Know?"

Jenny says she can only tell what day it is by how the Starbucks customers are dressed (jeans means the weekend). She found a great cat-sitter, so Pete and Honey are doing okay. She was home for Thanksgiving and will get a few days at Christmas. Though the schedule is exhausting, she finds the opportunity to work on such a demanding case exhilarating.

Brian and Marion at Trafalgar Square

Forty-two countries later, our peripatetic Brian has decided he'd had enough world travel, and has made London his new home.

Returning from Johannesburg in April, he told us that Marion—his cooking partner on his African overland trip late last year—and he wanted to spend more time together. In June he was off again—to Munich so Marion could introduce him to her parents. He passed the test with flying colors; afterwards they motored around Germany and France for a couple weeks.

Brian on Olkhon Island in Lake Baikal

Then, bidding Marion Auf Wiedersehen, he headed solo into Eastern Europe and Russia, where he boarded the exotic Trans-Siberian Railway. Whiling away the time playing дyрaк with his Russian cabinmates, he observed that his companions “were amazed by my card shuffling, baffled by my handheld computer, and befuddled by my zipoff pants.” Avoiding the hordes, he concluded his round-the-world journey by visiting Ulaanbaatar and Beijing (SARS-central), returning home just in time for Cathy's wedding.

Marion joined us for the event—along with Larry's German son Volker and Volker's girlfriend Marion—and afterwards traveled around California with Brian for several weeks, before heading back to Munich. Then, in November, Brian left to make a new home, joining her in London, where the two have settled into a flat in Bethnal Green, on the east side. They hope to find gainful employment while sampling life in the big city.

David went to work in early January for Citysearch in the mid-Wilshire area in Los Angeles, moving in with Jenny for the first half of the year. Her cats eventually stopped hiding themselves in the closets and under beds when his booming voice and overwhelming presence startled them out of their wits. They enjoyed draping themselves all over his person when he watched TV and missed him when he moved out. Mid-year he changed jobs; he now does Perl and Java web programming for Moviso, a part of InfoSpace Mobile. His high productivity has been rewarded with stock options and great benefits, even including free ringtones! A Beverly Hills apartment shared with two other UCSB roommates has completed the cutting of the umbilical cord.

At Half Moon Cay in the BahamasAboard a jet boat near Queenstown, NZ

Our travel opportunities this year included our first cruise, in the Caribbean in January, a wonderful and relaxing introduction to the pampered life. We spent the entire month of April in New Zealand exploring, touring, hiking—we walked the Milford Track—and learning a lot about Kiwi life. The scenery is varied and often surprising—from tropical to volcanic to alpine to beach, all within a short distance. Kiwis are friendly and open and we enjoyed traveling in a country that is less crowded than most. We visited one of The Lord of the Rings filming sites, while The Last Samurai was being made on the North Island, and Tom Cruise sightings were frequent and popular news items.

“This Old House” needs a face-lift so several projects are planned for the new year, ideal for Larry and me in our state of semi-retirement.

10K winner's medal -- time: 55:36

For me it's just enough teaching to get me out a few days a week, with one free day to go to oil painting class—after 20 years, I'm glad to be painting again. Larry keeps busy with various projects around here, including helping friends and neighbors upgrade their computer systems and enhancing his computer skills by developing websites. Running and working out keeps him fit, and his efforts enabled him to win a first place medal in his age group in a 10K run in March. (The fact that he was the only entry in his age group is beside the point, he says.) He orchestrated the replacement of our old garage doors just before the wedding and got a contractor in last month to remove the old cottage-cheese acoustic ceilings throughout the house.

We called ourselves the Psychedelic Chefs

It's surprising to realize that I've been in remission six years and will go off the cancer meds early next year. My sister Teresa and I worked at the 3-Day Walk (Susan G. Komen) in November on the Food Service Crew, had a wonderful time slinging hash and met lots of great people. Maybe next year we'll walk the 60 miles again—or work on crew, depending on how much training time we have. It's quite an experience to be with so many passionate, committed people who give their time and energy to try to fund a cure.

We hope your holidays are happy!