Christmas 2012

Happy Holidays to All!

Lucie and Tori, Berkeley Flower Children We wish you all the very best of holidays and peace and prosperity in the New Year. The texture of our lives changes as we watch the progress of our children and their children, and we deal with the infirmities of age. We still get in some traveling, take on house projects, try to keep up with the questions of the resident kindergartener, and sometimes enjoy a moment of blessed solitude.

Chile in January, but warm in Santiago

From Santiago to Isla de Chiloé and Back Our Visit to the Viña Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley We traded our SoCal winter for a summery and smoggy Santiago, alas arriving there two days sooner than our luggage; but clean clothing, we concluded, is highly overrated. We confined our travels to southern Chile, avoiding the heat and altitude of the north. Our travels along Ruta Cinco, the Pan-American Hwy, took us as far as the cooler picturesque Isla de Chiloé. During our lengthy journey by car, bus, and boat, we saw lakes, waterfalls, volcanoes, beaches, and postcard-perfect scenery. Evenings we relaxed with glasses of Chilean wine and a smorgasbord of seafood.

Perfect Mt. Osorno from Puerto Varas--8,701 ft Our time in Chile was fascinating, particularly as it was punctuated by various encounters with interesting people. We learned a lot about the history of the country and my dialect of Spanish is so similar that we felt comfortable chatting up strangers and learning how Chile has progressed in recent years.

Europe and Iceland in the Summer

Marion, Alex, Volker, and I in Wiesbaden June found us in Germany, Scotland, England, and Iceland. We arrived in Frankfurt after a harried journey through Toronto and the next day drove to nearby Wiesbaden to see Larry’s son Volker and his wife Marion and meet Larry’s 1-year old grandson Alexander.

The Abbey on the Isle of Iona off the West Coast of Scotland Heading north to Edinburgh, we met up with my sister Teresa and her husband John. After four days in the Scottish capital, with a side trip to St. Andrews, we moved on to the port of Oban, our base for a ferry/bus trip to the Isle of Iona and a day trip north past Loch Ness—no Nessie was sighted—to Inverness.

Mary and Teresa with Friend at Ashness Farm near Keswick Our U.K. visit culminated in a trip to Keswick in the English Lake District, where we spent a week in a farmhouse at night, while navigating narrow roads and taking boat trips by day.

The Faxi Waterfall along Iceland’s Golden Circle Route Parting company with John and Teresa, Larry and I flew to Iceland, where Reykjavik greeted us with the warmest weather yet on our trip. It’s quite a country; harnessing geo-thermal energy to heat the cities was a herculean task, but it has made Iceland one of the world’s most prosperous economies. The Icelandic horses, standard-sized but able to lie down on the ground, look like a field of dead horses at first sight, but then they move! Larry raved about the Icelandic ice cream—simple matter of cows, I think.

Sgt. Cathy, transitioning to K-mom

Tori and Cathy on the First Day of Kindergarten Cathy and Tori are thriving here, with LAPD and kindergarten keeping all of us busy checking schedules. Larry does lots of the school runs to the same school our kids attended on our return from England in 1980, and Tori has David’s former 3rd grade teacher! Hope she doesn’t learn that he and his buddies climbed on the roof and jumped between the buildings back in the day!

Jenny, temping and being awesome aunt

Jenny Catching Fearless Lucie in the Pool Jenny is doing some freelance work as lawyer jobs are scarce, and we are all hoping something opens up in 2013 for her. Meanwhile, she’s the favorite aunt who knows just what each little niece and nephew needs at a given moment—a story, a game, a walk, a hug, a romp or whatever.

Meanwhile, up in Berkeley…

Marion with Nicky and Jamie; Cathy with Tori; and Brian with Lucie Brian and family deal with their busy household day-to-day. He’s still at Adobe and Marion is doing some freelance graphic design work, having graduated in May from the S.F. Academy of Art with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with all of us attending.

Nicky, Lucie, Tori, and Jamie with a Summer Bedtime Snack Lucie loves kindergarten and the extra classes in gardening, cooking, ceramics, and drama. Jamie and Nicky turned 3 in September and attend Lucie’s old preschool, running around the playground with a “cabal” of other little boys, owning the sandbox and generally being noisy boys. The Berkeley brood skipped the Germany trip this year, but Omi Christine and Opi Klaus were able to visit a couple of times.

David, working in the O.C.

Lucie, Natalie, David, and Tori with Luka the Pup David is still at the credit-reporting company Experian, spending half of his time in Santa Monica and the other half in Costa Mesa, where he has purchased a live/work loft with his business partner. His work involves online marketing initiatives, including promoting, one of Experian’s many sites. When not working, he may be seen at a Lakers game, wine tasting in Los Olivos, or hosting football watching on Sundays.

Larry and I, keeping busy

Our Christmas Lights as an HDR Photo Larry continues to assist others with their computer needs, maintains three websites, and tries to keep up with ever-accelerating changes in the world of technology. He’s been toying with HDR (high dynamic range) photography, which marries the camera with the computer. And while expanding his volunteer activities at church, he keeps fit at a local gym; after lifting over a million pounds of weight last month, he had to settle for only 2nd place.

The Cal State Northridge Mascot, El Matador School started in late January for me, so it was back to CSUN for more fun and games with a new crop of freshman students. In the January 2013 semester I’ll be teaching three writing classes and a freshman seminar course—a full load for a part-timer.

My 50th reunion in Riverside in late July proved to be a lot more fun than anticipated: reconnecting with long-ago classmates, taking a bus tour of the city and the old hangouts, and visiting the high school, now a technology-rich environment for students. Larry’s 55th in October took us to Cerritos for a dinner and a chance to renew old acquaintances.

A spring remodeling job

A remodeling project on the home front included making the stairs more twin-worthy (less space between balusters). We replaced almost all flooring and carpet, painted most rooms, and added crown molding and baseboards to give the home a fresher look.

Our changing domestic ménage

Tori and Lucie at the Santa Barbara Zoo with a Chinese Alligator Our “Grandma Camp” with Lucie and Tori for a week in July featured trips to the library, the Santa Barbara Zoo, the Reagan Library for the Disney exhibit, swimming at Jenny’s, and lots of crafts, stories, and running through the house and yard shrieking and giggling.

Mary and Teresa with Dad Jerry as He Leaves for Atascadero Then it was time for a test-run visit from 91-year young Jerry, my dad, to see whether living here would work for him. We voted for 4-generation life, and in August he packed up, sold his car and house, and moved in. Some sweet moments: Tori taking Great-Grandpa’s hand getting out of the car, each thinking the other was in charge; Tori getting him to kick the ball back to her as he sat on the patio; and playing the “empty tangerine” trick (peels in the round with nothing inside). But climate, suburbia, and our busy lives didn’t work well for him, so he has decided to try ranch life on the Central Coast (where the deer and the wild turkeys roam), moving in with Teresa and John in Atascadero in early December.

We wish for all of you a wonderful 2013.