Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas!

We send you the season’s greetings and best wishes for a happy and blessed 2009!

It’s been a year just chock-full of interesting and challenging activity, some geographical and some historical, but we mostly kept up with all the comings and goings, taking but an occasional nap to re-energize.

Larry’s African Safari

Buseesa Students Greet UsLarry did the lion’s share of travel, on a month-long safari in Uganda and Tanzania early this year. The trip involved a church committee working on the logistics of support for St. Julie’s Mission School in Buseesa, Uganda, but the group of five got to view a variety of African wildlife while adding topi, tortilis, and jacana to their vocabulary.

Zebra Crossing near Lake Mburo in UgandaCommandó—the name the 400 school children gave to Larry, presumably due to his backpack and purposeful stride—made computer presentations to rapt students, who have had little or no exposure to technology.

The Central Serengeti in TanzaniaAfter the “official” part of the visit, Larry traveled solo to Tanzania: more game drives and visits to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater—where he and guide Muhanga watched the birth of a wildebeest—Olduvai Gorge, and other places. Of course, somebody had to stay home and work…but he did bring me home a kanga—an article of clothing, not an animal.

A Visit to Arizona

Arizona's Painted DesertPetrified Wood DetailSpring break took us to some eastern areas in Arizona, including the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest, and Tombstone (site of the Gunfight at the OK Corral), where we enjoyed mild weather and beautiful scenery. Amazingly, though the Petrified Forest is continuously being (illegally) harvested by tourists, there’s still a lot of petrified logs and tree branches scattered over the landscape, and the mineral colors are dazzling—pink, blue, ivory, yellow, rose—unbelievably jewel-like.

From Louisville to Lauderdale

At the end of the spring semester we embarked on a sweeping tour from Kentucky and Tennessee into North Carolina, then Virginia to Maryland, finally south to Florida. This was the extended family visit I had longed to do for years, and it was an adventure.

Young and Old Tom with Mary in LouisvilleIn Louisville we stayed with my mother’s 95-year old cousin Tom and son Tom Jr. and heard many of the family stories from a different perspective. Later in our trip, another cousin, Cherry Parker, regaled us with more stories during a visit to Chapel Hill.

At Uncle H.H.'s Statue at WKUIn Bowling Green we visited my grandmother’s grave and Western Kentucky University, founded by my mother’s great uncle Henry Hardin Cherry, whose huge statue greets visitors out front. The bookstore gave us the 20% “cousin discount,” inducing Larry to buy the shirt he is wearing in our family photo.

Mary, Paul, Pat, and Jim at the OpryLarry’s cousins Jim, Pat, and Paul met us in Nashville to share some of the “down-home” sights: Grand Ole Opry, the Loveless Café, and Naomi Judd out in her front yard (she didn’t invite us in, but we were kinda busy anyway).

Near Chattanooga, nephew David Burke, Kelsey, and family hosted us and introduced us to a Southern pulled pork barbecue.

Along the way, we sampled the natural beauty of four national parks, from the solitude of Mammoth Caves to the wetlands of the Everglades, from the hiking trails of the Great Smoky Mountains to the vistas of Shenandoah.

Marie and Peter at CCC Statue in Shenandoah National ParkIn Virginia we rendezvoused with Larry’s office mate (when he worked in Germany) Peter Steiert and daughter Marie, who were en route to Michigan from Florida.

Mary and Vivienne near the National Indian MuseumAfter a day of shared travel, we continued on to Maryland, where sister-in-law Vivienne hosted us in Rockville, took us sightseeing in Washington D.C., and organized a barbecue with nephew Tom Burke, Lisa, and family.

I Wonder Why He's Always Smiling!In our Florida segment we visited with Larry’s Aunt Mary and Uncle Charlie, and drove into the Everglades, taking an airboat ride at an alligator farm. Feeding time was impressive—I still get chills thinking of 100 alligators stacked on top of each other at the fence line waiting for dinner—no missteps for the handler! On the causeway to Key West, we drove the famed stretch seen in the True Lies film.

Meanwhile, Back in California

After Brian and Marion purchased a home in Berkeley in June, we filled his Honda with boxes we’d been safekeeping and drove it up to spend a long weekend fixing up the inside and outside. The house is in a quiet neighborhood, about a mile from Lucie’s future school (UC Berkeley, of course), and has a lovely garden for her to romp in.

Check-In Chicks Teresa and MaryRoute Hydration Crew Members Larry and JohnOur Susan G. Komen 3-Day crew event was in San Francisco in September, where participants camped near the Presidio on the Bay, awakening to a clear view of the Golden Gate. The Berkeley brood joined us for closing ceremonies and dinner to recognize our efforts.

Summer ended all too soon, but we had a busy beach + pool party + Dodger game marathon plus a visit to the grandparents with the Amherst niece and nephew and their dad in August. It was great to catch up on their busy lives and see how the kids are doing.

Bye-Bye to Riverside Home of 40 Years Hello to New Home in el Paso de Robles Thanksgiving took us to Atascadero, following my parents’ move to nearby Paso Robles the first of November. Even with this difficult housing market, their home in Riverside sold in just days, and we all scrambled to help them find a place near my sister Teresa and husband John: a newish two-bedroom home in a 55+ community. They’re settling in, weeding out stuff from nearly 40 years in Riverside.

The Grandkids

Lucie and Tori at 23 MonthsNow for the really important news—the grandchildren! Lucie Riggs and Tori are almost two, and as you can see from the photo, absolutely adorable and totally unique. It’s a delight to see them and even better to relax afterward. That’s why children are given to the young—we wonder how we ever did it.

Family Update

Fortunately, our kids are all still gainfully employed. Cathy will be opening LAPD’s new Topanga Station as an assistant watch commander and Kirk’s been working downtown where he’s got his finger on the pulse of LAPD’s deployment throughout the city.

Jenny seems to be able to get away from work a bit more this year, though The Firm keeps her pretty busy. Brian (still at Adobe and survivor of a December layoff) and Marion (again taking classes at the Academy of Art) are learning the pleasures of home ownership.

David has started his own affiliate marketing company—creating Web ads. He says his finances should improve dramatically in 2009.

Aunt Mary at Her New ComputerLarry still does computer work for the church and various friends, and spent a fortnight in Florida mixing business—helping set up his aunt’s new computer system—and pleasure, visiting tourist sites near Orlando.

I’m still enjoying my job, though this semester was tougher than normal. The end is a week away.

We hope you and yours enjoy the holidays.