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Today in My History

2001:  Alphabet Soup
2002:  I Am Woman, Hear Me Scream
2003:  Why Medical Staff Goes Grey
2004:  A Good Loss
Comedy and Tragedy
2006:  Five Random Things
2007:   There Comes a Time

2008:  Round Babies and Pointy Babies

Hello, Dolly

Books Read in 2008
Updated: 12/28
"The Black Echo" 


Tater and Tot from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.

You Tube

Look at these videos!
What was Orson Wells' Last film?
Eddie Izzard on "Whose Line" UK
Letterman's Favorite Bush Moments
Uncle Jay Explains 2008

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Napa Valley Get-Away

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Airy Persiflage

Bev's 65 x 365



17 January 2009

guestbook.jpg (23909 bytes)It's hard to believe that it was nearly 30 years ago when Curtiss Reed, my "boss" at The Experiment in International Living, visited our house and left behind a guestbook, in which he inscribed "May all your guests find you in good health and high spirits.  It was a pleasure to be here."

We had guests in those days and had no way of realizing how many of them would end up filling the guestbook--or how many corners of the world they would come from.  Peggy was the last person to sign (in 2000...the previous people who signed were people who had come for Paul's funeral in 1999),   With Peggy's signature, we now had visitors from 6 of the 7 continents (I doubt we will ever have a guest from Antarctica!)

On the first page alone, which runs from November to December of 1980, there are people from Brasil, Israel, Chile, and Japan (not bad for only 12 signatures!)

The next page adds Zaire (now Congo) to the list.  It's also the page with family signatures, my father's distinctive signature, and Walt's mother's, when her hand was still steady.  It was a Christmas after my parents separated because my father was here on the 25th of December and my mother and her soon-to-be husband were here on the 27th.

A new group of Brasilians came here and all signed the next couple of pages.  It was when I met my Brasilian Brother, Nelson.   The page has signatures of some of the host families who met here to pick up their assigned exchange student, including Walt's old secretary, whose student ended up in the hospital and made things tense between the secretary and me for many years--it was not a good situation at the time.  But Charlie was here also.  He had met our Brasilian daughter, Sonia in a local bar.  After a stormy relationship that lasted many years and spanned the distance between here and Davis, they finally married, and now live here.  Their two kids are grown now and are Facebook friends of mine!

Ari is on the next page.  Ari was from Brasil and in retrospect I understand that he was weird because he was on drugs all the time.  When he left here, he left us with a bank account with $300 in it, which we were to send to him when he sent us an address.  After a year, we just took it and figured it was our reward for putting up with him.  That was 1981 and we still have never heard from him.  He was going from here to Colombia and I always assumed he ended up in prison there.

Damar and Gaby were from Zaire and had been introduced to us as cousins of Ndangi, the student who came to us through The Experiment, but we learned later that they were not.  They were terrible people who abused our hospitality and later, when they moved in with Ndangi, who was by now living in San Francisco, they abused his as well.  Ndangi did ultimately apologize to me for putting us through Damar and Gaby.

On the next page we have a couple of people from France and another person from Japan.  Hitomi still writes to me from time to time, usually at Christmas.  She has e-mail but rarely uses it.  But she was a lovely woman from Osaka and we enjoyed getting to know her.

The next page adds Italy to the list.   I don't think this guy stayed with us, but I think he was someone else's exchange student.

Suzanne was from Switzerland.  Jeri stayed with her when she traveled around Europe.  What I remember most about Suzanne is that she rode a bike from Davis to the north end of Sacramento to check out a car she was thinking of buying--that's a distance of 20-30 miles.  (And then she rode back again!)

Faouzi and Kamal were brothers from Morocco.  I haven't heard from Kamal since he left Davis, but Faouzi still writes to us at Christmas time and we visited him and his family once--I don't remember where, but somewhere in the midwest.  Ohio, maybe, when we went to visit Jeri, doing summerstock there.

Matt was a guy the local priest asked us to host.  We were told he was a Korean student who needed a place to stay.   Well...yes.  Sort of.  He was Korean by nationality, but was born and raised in Los Angeles.  But that was OK.  He moved in with us for several months and was here to tutor Pujol, our year-long exchange student from Brasil, with his math classes.  Matt still lives in Davis and walks everywhere.

Fouad was also from Morocco and I'm the only person who ever met him.  He was a friend of Faouzi who was traveling around the United States and needed a place to spend the night.  Everyone had gone to bed when he arrived.  We visited for maybe 10 minutes, he unfolded his prayer rug and prayed, slept, and I fixed him breakfast at 6 a.m.  He was gone before anybody else in the house was awake!

Henriet was an AFS exchange student who was living with another family, but became best friend of our exchange student Pujol.   They went to the prom together.  The two of them both just joined Facebook, so are in contact again, as are they with the host of Chilean students who were also part of their group.  Those pages also include Raul from Argentina and Miguel from Uruguay, whom I don't remember at all.

So many names, so many memories.   Fiona from England who played a lovely piano duet with Jeri; Pepe from Venezuela who (probably) stole a telephoto lens from me.  (We have no proof, but never saw it again after he left.)  Rodrigo who had such a unique stance when you took his photo that Walt still assumes it today, when he thinks of it.  (And who thought Walt's "Pie are round, cornbread are square" a very funny joke.)  Henrique from Brasil who came to Davis unannounced, invited himself into our house and stayed five months.  Kaoru from Kanagawa, Japan, who was very nice and totally unable to communicate.  I was always sorry that the language barrier was such a problem for us.

Eduardo, our very first student, didn't sign until 1987 because I didn't have a guestbook when he was here.  But he came back in 1987 for a visit along with his friend Celso, who was also here with Eduardo in 1981.

There is Marie, from Mexico, who now runs her own restaurant outside Sacramento, Nora from Ireland (Walt's mother's cousin), Felix from then-Yugoslavia (now Croatia)

There are signatures of people who aren't here any more:  David, Paul, Michele, my father, my mother's husband, our goodfriend Stan Morrow and probably others.

There start to be more friends and fewer foreign students, including a guy named Phil, who signed in 1993.  I think he married Jeri last year.  Heck, even Walt signed in 1993.

Probaby a good thing I never had a guestbook designed for dog paw prints....



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