xmas-manger-scroll.gif (15425 bytes)

xmas-lamb-merry.gif (9512 bytes)


December 2003

This was a big year around here–we acquired a new daughter-in-law. Tom and Laurel were married at a beautiful service at the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. They have been going together for several years and bought a home together earlier this year. The first time I met her, I thought to myself "don’t let this one get away." And he didn’t. The wedding was perfect down to the butterflies which were released at the end of the ceremonies and the Hawaiian honeymoon which followed was likewise perfect.

collage.jpg (39246 bytes)

Laurel works for Santa Barbara Bank and Trust (which is where they met) and seems to be related to everybody in Solvang, the Danish community just north of Santa Barbara. Tom is a software developer and instructor for Advanced Information Management (AIM), headquartered in Santa Barbara. He does quite a bit of traveling in his job, and even made it to Paris a couple of times for work this year. Such a deal!

jerilaurel.jpg (26417 bytes)Jeri is in her second year on the faculty of Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she teaches composing and arranging. This year they gave her two additional classes, so she was able to cut back on the music lessons she was giving to local junior high school students. She continues to play in the pit band for musicals that are playing in Boston, though, and may be specializing in Cabaret and Chicago, both of which she has played several times. She’s been able to come out to California a few times, and we were happy to have her here for Tom’s annual 4th of July barbecue on the beach at Santa Barbara.

nedjeri.jpg (39214 bytes)We haven’t seen a lot of Ned and Marta this year. Ned works the early-early shift at his radio station (as in numbers like 3 or 4 or something like that). He punches the buttons that allows the Sacramento area to hear Howard Stern. He’s also on air from time to time, but I usually miss him. In the afternoons he’s been helping his friend Greg, who runs the two theatres in Davis. Ned and Greg got their start back in high school, working at the same theatres. Now they’re both grown family men and still working for the city at the Veterans Memorial Theatre. I love it. One of the jobs Ned has taken on himself is to keep the shrubbery cleared away from around the plaque that marks the memorial tree which was planted after David died. Marta is very busy with her own massage business, which appears to be doing well...if there’s anything which seems to be "hot" these days it’s getting a massage!

Walt and I had an unusual year–we took separate vacations. In the spring, he went off to London to take another river cruise (we took one together two years ago). It was the weirdest thing. This started when our friend Mike suggested that Walt and I go with him and his wife Char on another cruise he’d found. Walt was excited about it, I wasn’t. But I encouraged Walt to go without me. Reluctantly, he agreed.

Then I told Char that Walt would be joining them, but it turned out that Mike had forgotten to tell her about it, and she wasn’t excited about it either. So we both worked on the guys and ultimately they decided to go off and have a men only trip.

Then Mike got sick and had to cancel. I convinced Walt he’d have a wonderful time, pointing out the wonderful characters we’d met on our trip last time and how much fun we’d all had. He agreed to go alone.

waltboat.jpg (86334 bytes)When he arrived at the boat (which carries 8 passengers), he asked if he was the first to arrive. "Actually, you’re the only one on the cruise," he was told. The other passengers had cancelled as well.  But he says he had a wonderful time and he was able to fly over to Ireland to spend some time with the relatives after his cruise. He also enjoyed the usual theatre orgy in London, able to fit in three plays while he was there.

As for me, my year was pretty interesting. In June, while Walt and I were completing a 30 mile "Ride against Hunger" my bike hit a dead spot in the bike path and I went flying over the handlebars. It was actually my second fall of the day, but this was more serious. I knew as soon as I landed that I was not OK. For awhile I had police, firemen, spectators, paramedics and a meter maid taking care of me. I was taken to the emergency room in an ambulance, where I was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder. I was in an "immobilizer" for several weeks and then started physical therapy. I’m still not quite right, but oh so much better than I was.

Because I wasn’t able to handle the physical aspects of my job, I ended up quitting so I could stay home and recover and my boss could get someone in there to work (since it was a 2 person office and without me, he was really up a creek). I’ve been off work since June, but was just hired to work for Suicide Prevention of Yolo County, a job which I will start after the first of the year.

koala.jpg (34612 bytes)But my biggest event was in September when I flew to Australia to spend 6 weeks with my girlfriend Peggy, who had stayed with us for six weeks three years ago. It was a wonderful vacation, alternating between brief 1 week or less trips out of Perth (where she lives) and stay-at-home time, where we just did things around Perth. I fed kangaroos, petted a koala, took pictures of exotic birds, had dolphins swim at my feet, rode a camel, and enjoyed the trip of a lifetime. It was so wonderful that I plan to go back again in 2005, when Peggy and I will drive from Perth to Melbourne, on a road which has been promised to be the most boring I will ever travel.

Each year I say that my wish list for Christmas is world peace and a clean house. Our illustrious president seems determined to keep me from getting the first, but in what I hope is a change of lifestyle, I have actually begun to achieve the second. Realizing that we are in our 60s and thus on the downhill side of our first 100 years, and that our offspring have little interest in most of the junk I’ve saved all my life, I’ve started tossing out things. I am actually approaching Christmas without my usual yearly nervous breakdown over having company in the house. May this be a end-of-year resolution that will carry me over thru the new year.

Our love and best wishes to all of you for a happy holiday season and for the best of everything in 2004.

The Sykes Family: Walt, Bev, Jeri, Ned, Marta, Audra, Tom, Laurel and, in absentia, Paul and David

wedfamily.jpg (44283 bytes)

Who's Who?: Left to right:  Cousin Gerald Baur and wife Melissa, Walt's brother Norm and wife Olivia,
Jeri, Grandma Sykes, Grandma Rynders, Laurel, Tom, Bev, Walt
Walt's sister Alice Nan, her S.O. Joe, Marta, Ned