Christmas 2014

Happy holidays to all of you!

It’s been a year full of adventures, some good and some not, but we’re still putting one foot in front of the other, doing some traveling, and enjoying life.

Hot Showers? Totally Underrated!

Stucco Hole for Repiping Reveals Red and Blue PEX Pipes for Hot and Cold Water Last Christmas we discovered a hot-water line break under the house’s slab, and had an interesting challenge for a few weeks living without hot water. The gym, Cathy’s station, and neighbors’ bathrooms became our go-to places for such amenities as showers. We repiped the house in mid-January, replacing the under-slab pipes with new ones in the walls. After patching and painting 72 holes in ceilings, walls, and stucco, we were as good as new.

Winter in New Orleans and Florida

I'm Standing in the Cold St. Augustine Air in Early January Larry and I left Cathy and Tori to fend for themselves while we took a break into the new year to Louisiana and Florida, experiencing unusually cold weather. Inside attractions like museums were the order of the day, and we got in a good visit with Uncle Charlie in Boynton Beach. You might not believe that a Shell Museum could be remarkable, but it was just one of the many attractions on Florida’s charming Sanibel Island.

Starting Our Summer in London Town

Tori and Cathy Riding the Tube to Hampton Court We began our summer vacation by accompanying Cathy and Tori to London for a few days. There we focused on children’s activities—riding the London Eye and double-deckers, cruising the Thames, traveling on the Underground and Overground trains, seeing Hampton Court and Buckingham Palace, and exploring Princess Diana’s Playground at Kensington Gardens.

Larry and I Stand in Front of Buckingham Palace with Tori Tori was a great traveler and loved it all. She and Cathy then joined Brian and Marion’s family in Pullach, Germany, where Omi and Opi somehow survived the chaos of four little kids—and sometimes more—for several weeks.

Larry Breaks Wrist—Transylvanian Curse?

Romanian Travel Map Showing Our Start, End, and Where Larry Was Injured Larry and I flew to Bucharest to begin an EXPLORE! tour through Romania, an experience which proved more adventurous than we had bargained for. Larry’s sister Sue joined us from Chicago, and we had a couple of weeks to catch up while seeing churches, monasteries, and Vlad’s Castle.

Larry’s Facial Injury (5 Stitches Needed) upon Arrival at the Borșa Hospital Larry’s face-plant fall on a hiking trail in the mountains near Borșa in the middle of our holiday put a damper on things, and though his split lip was stitched up nicely at a local hospital, the left radial distal fracture has turned out to present a longer term problem.

Larry’s Sister Sue, Larry, and I Visit Revolution Square in Bucharest We opted to leave the arm splinted until we returned to California, where the follow-up care is still going on, with hand exercises and physical therapy, but the prognosis is not entirely optimistic. Our experience with Romanian medical care revealed Soviet-era infrastructure, but competent medical providers, though the language barrier provided some interesting moments.

Larry’s Son Volker, Wife Marion, and Son Alex in Wiesbaden’s Schlosspark Biebrich The final leg of the trip took us to Wiesbaden, outside Frankfurt, to see Larry’s 3-year old grandson Alexander, and, of course, his adoring parents, Marion and Volker. We visited, did some walking, and saw a castle with lovely grounds—essential activities to keep a restless little guy busy.

No More Pencils, No More Books…

Draped as a Survivor and Walking with Dave, Jen Bailey, and Larry for Breast Cancer My own adventure has been interesting and challenging: I retired completely during the summer. Did I have withdrawal symptoms? You bet! But I do not miss grading papers at all, and love being able to get up early to go out walking instead of commuting to class.

I was told that the paperwork to prepare to retire was overwhelming, and that’s it’s easier to get the job than to leave it, and it was certainly true. However, everything has been filed and signed, sealed, and delivered and now they pay me not to work! Strange, but true.

Our Garden—Growing and Giving

Cathy and Tori Have the Garden as a Colorful Backdrop During Our Annual Easter Egg Hunt The gardening has expanded to fill the time available, and summer produced a bounty of beans, cartons of cucumbers, a ton of tomatoes, and a surfeit of squash. This winter we’re preparing to harvest an avalanche of avocadoes, gallons of guavas, and, most prized, a peck of peas. The big disappointment: we did not have an abundance of apricots. Oh, well.

Cathy, Jenny, David Keep Busy

Cousins Tori, Nicky, Jamie, and Lucie React to Dave’s Juggling Act Cathy continues working on various training projects for the LAPD, and has created a video on Ability Awareness, an educational program used at Tori’s school. Tori enjoys the second grade, reads chapter books now, and has an unparalleled enthusiasm for life and all things “Frozen,” especially Olaf.

Cousins Nicky, Tori, Jamie, and Lucie Take Dave’s M4 for a Test Drive Jenny continues her work for Meyers Nave in L.A. and has little opportunity to get out here for recreation, though she did squeeze in a couple visits this summer, sometimes following a deposition north of here.

David continues to impress his bosses at Experian, enabling him to upgrade to a BMW M4, a car that the valet at Gladstone’s in Malibu parked prominently when David treated us to lunch there in September. He and girlfriend Jen Bailey have spent some time and effort in remodeling the inside of his Santa Monica pad.

Car Totaled but No Injuries

Our Beloved Lexus Shown Before and After the Accident In late August our trip to Berkeley was interrupted when we were rear-ended on the freeway near Livermore, resulting in the total loss of the beloved old Lexus. Brian responded to our call for help, piled us and our luggage into his car, and took us to the hospital for x-rays and meds. We managed to stay in Berkeley for a few days to help out after all. A rental car got us home, and to avoid research, Larry replaced the car with a new Lexus with more technology than an Apollo capsule. It’s a nice car, but more difficult to love than the old car.

A Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving: Marion, Brian, Lucie, Nicky, Jamie; Larry’s Sister Sue, Cathy, and Tori Brian, Marion, Lucie (8 on Jan 1), and twins Nicky and Jamie (5)—aka The Berkeley Brood—came for Thanksgiving, along with Dave and girlfriend Jen, Sue, my sister Teresa, John and my dad, great-grandpa Jerry, now 93. On our best night, we slept 12 here at the house, close to a record. It was great fun, good company, busy little kids, and lots of cooks. Oh, and two wishbones to pull, of course!

The New Year Beckons

As the year winds down, we’re doing hand therapy (Larry), keeping the streets safe (Cathy), enlivening our days (Tori), painting landscapes and portraits (me), and thinking about projects other than replacing cabinets, installing solar, and doing termite repairs, which we checked off our list this year. We hope that only fun, excitement, and pleasant surprises await us in 2015.

Have a wonderful holiday!