Christmas 2010

Season's Greetings!

We hope you are all well and looking forward to a happy and healthy new year.

Reconstruction: Garden

Backyard slope at start of construction, February 28Back yard renovation had been in our plans for years. Larry’s mantra had become, “Let’s stop talking about it and just do it!” It had become impossible to work safely on our steep hillside. Two interviews, three months, and more than four checks later, voilá! Steps, terraces, pathways and a drip system transformed our slippery slope into the No More Excuses slope.

Backyard slope after construction is complete, April 2All parts of it can now be reached for tree trimming, fruit harvesting and, of course, weeding. The apricot tree responded by presenting us with thousands of apricots for processing, sending us into a horticultural frenzy. The improved vegetable garden is still producing cherry tomatoes and baby red bell peppers in mid-December.

Reconstruction: Heart

In mid-January my dad underwent bypass surgery along with a valve replacement, a process that reversed the lethargy he had been feeling since before Thanksgiving. “I feel better every day,” he told us during the summer. He’s put on a few pounds, can go for short walks, minister to the garden, and write.

My mom’s about the same, stays mostly in bed, watches a little television in the evening, and still has a sharp memory of the old days. We laugh about some of the things we all used to do. Good home health care to help with the daily bathing and light housekeeping gives my dad a break and time to work on his writing.

Cathy’s Facial Surgery

Mary, Cathy, and Tori in Valencia, 16 weeks after surgeryOn July 5, Cathy underwent surgery to have a fast-growing malignant melanoma removed from her left jaw, and reconstruction using grafts from her arm and leg. Her chemo will finish just before Christmas.

Once her stamina has returned to its pre-op levels, she will return to work, a day which cannot come too soon. She misses the excitement and challenge her job as LAPD Assistant Watch Commander provided.

Jenny to the Rescue

Mary and Jenny in Buda's Castle DistrictIn February Jenny quit her job as lawyer at Jones Day to pursue other opportunities, such as rest and travel. She became Cathy’s aide during the daily chemo trips, a role that continues today. Kirk’s frequent trainings in San Diego allowed us to have Tori on several weekends during September, introducing her to hiking, playgrounds, and the fish tank at the local library. Jenny may join the ranks of the employed next year, but she is making the most of her time off.

Brian and Marion’s Family of Five

Princes Nicky and Jamie and Princesses Tori and Lucie Arriving home from work, Brian says he stops on the front porch, takes a deep breath, puts a smile on his face, and walks in. “Hello, Marion, Lucie, Nicky, and Jamie.” This transition from Adobe-mode to daddy-mode eases Marion’s job of tending to an almost 4-year old and the 15-month old twins.

In October, Adobe acquired Basel-based Day Software, a web content management company. Brian is heavily involved in the assimilation of their solutions into Adobe’s existing portfolio of products.

David’s Expanding Enterprises

David at top of our new slope with 14-month old JamieDavid and Larry chat over lunch at WEST Restaurant at Hotel AngelenoIn August, SafetyWeb, which offers a product to monitor and protect children’s privacy online—think of it as a supplement to NetNanny—hired David. Co-founder Geoffrey Arone recognized that the web tools David has developed over the past several years were well-suited for promoting the site. Travel to San Francisco and Denver, enhancements to his web advertising software, and optimizing Google AdWords, keep him busy.

Travel to Munich and Budapest

Dining with Brian and Marion along the Isar in Pullach upon our arrival in Germany Jenny and us in Budapest, sampling Heiniken-made Soproni beerSummer vacation was perfectly timed to coincide with a July heat wave. Jenny traveled to Munich with Marion and Brian and kids—the Berkeley-Bayern Traveling Circus—and at the airport, Operation Drei-Opis was perfectly executed: three grandpas bundled up the three little Riggsies, luggage, baby gear, and three adults into three cars and whisked them off to the Hornungs’ house, an hour away.

Standing by Prince Eugene of Savoy Statue by Royal PalaceWe arrived three days later, spent two nights in Pullach outside Munich catching up with Marion’s family, and then traveled to nearby Starnberg, staying at the Gästehaus Maria with my sister Teresa and husband John for a week. We visited Munich several times, boated on the Starnberger See, and took a day trip—joined by Larry’s son Volker and wife Marion—to King Ludwig’s Castle, all the time contributing generously to the German economy.

Larry, Jenny, and I continued by train to Budapest, staying in an apartment with air conditioning. For five days, we traveled back and forth across the Danube between Buda and Pest, dining cheaply, while visiting sobering sites chronicling the country’s transition from Communist rule to participation in a modern, open European society.

Thanksgiving and Christmas

Larry’s 70th: Tori, Cathy, Kathy, Mary, Brian, Larry, Jenny, David, Marion, LucieThanksgiving was quite an experience, with four little ones, their parents, and Jenny staying here for a week. The twins, Jamie and Nicky, are lightning-quick and slippery, evading efforts to corral them. Lucie and Tori played together till they dropped—dancing, singing, running, shrieking, laughing, and arguing like sisters over toys. The weather was mostly cooperative, though unseasonably cold at times, but a Friday beach trip to Ventura proved sunny and warm, and lunch on the pier was delicious. And Christmas is likely to be more of the same, with the Berkeley brood planning another week here, joined by other family members.

About Us

Larry’s new supercomputer with three 24-inch screensFrigid January sunset at Epcot in OrlandoLarry’s been setting up software and peripherals for new computers, a process now driven by a 50-page document he created. The 12 he has set up this year include two for priests, five for family—yielding extended work/pleasure trips to Seattle and Florida—and the rest for friends and church staff.

I’m still teaching at CSUN, four freshman classes this fall, not bad for a part timer, especially given the cutbacks in California’s higher educational system. Retirement is still a ways off, I think, because I’m still enjoying what I do and I’m still able to paint one day a week.

The latest big project is a very large triptych of Argentina’s Iguazú Falls for David’s living room. And he may actually get it before 2011!

We are looking forward to the gathering of the Clan for Christmas, preparing by taking naps and vitamins, and continuing the baby-proofing of the house!

Our best wishes to you all for a peaceful holiday season and a healthy new year.