December 2007

Anybody want to join me in an exorcism for 2007?

This was one of those years where it seemed that almost everything went wrong, not only for us but for everyone we knew.  However, that said, this was also the year that some of the best things happened in a long time, so it's hard to completely dismiss the entire year!

We started the year on January 3 with my then-87 year old mother falling down a couple of stairs on her way to the pharmacy at Kaiser, to get medicine for her friend.  She broke three bones in her ankle, required surgery and the insertion of pins, and wasn't pronounced completely healed until Thanksgiving.  She was in the hospital for a couple of days, in a convalescent hospital for 2 weeks, and then at home, non weight-bearing for six weeks.  Since she couldn't do lots of stuff for herself, I moved down to her house and stayed with her for a good part of her convalescence.  I shared the time with my cousin Peach and her husband and, when we both needed a few days off, my mother's step daughter came to help.

(the family together for the Super Bowl)

While the accident was a terrible thing for my mother, it brought about one of the most special things to come out of the year:  Cousins' Day.  My two cousins and I so enjoyed the time we spent at my mother's, that we now schedule a Cousins' Day each month, where we have an overnight together.  We talk, laugh, cry, drink, eat and play endless games of cards.

My cousin Peach, my mother, my cousin Kathy, and I

On January 4 (the day after my mother's accident) Walt became officially retired, so he was available to stay home with the dogs while I was living at my mother's. There was a big party for him in early February. 

Walt, Jeri, Tom, Ned, and Dave Johnson (Walt's first boss)

Nearly a year later, he still has no real "plan" for his retirement, though he does volunteer at the office regularly ... except for right now (about which I will write later).  He is mostly just "around" a lot and can now identify Paula Deen and Rachael Ray on the Food Network, as well as identify episodes of Matlock he's already seen.  (The man needs a hobby!)

He did manage to get in a great trip to Boston to visit Jeri, tho.

About the time my mother started being able to be alone, Walt's mother had a series of hospitalizations for bouts of pneumonia and other things and Walt spent a lot of time traveling back and forth to Santa Barbara (he retired just in time, apparently).  Fortunately, she is fine now and we recently celebrated her 94th birthday.

In February and March, first my laptop died, then my desktop (fortunately not at the same time).  I spent a very frustrating period of time trying to deal with CompUSA.  (The upside of this is that my mother bought me a wonderful new laptop (with wifi) for my birthday and a new local computer guru entered my life and is helping me keep my desktop running.)

In May, the downstairs bathroom flooded.  As in 1" of standing water, which had come from the washer draining into the toilet.  Every towel and blanket in the house was soaked--and I couldn't use the washing machine! Walt was in Santa Barbara at the time and repair involved lots of men, chopping up our hedge in front, and things I don't want to think about, but at least it's fixed now.  (And be advised NEVER to flush baby wipes down the toilet!!!) 

June was good.  We flew to Buffalo, NY to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our friends Joe and Shirley.  We took the time to go to Niagara and celebrated our 42nd anniversary at the rotating restaurant overlooking the falls.


July was good too, as we went to Tom's annual Barbeque in Santa Barbara and spent time with Walt's mother (who, by now, was pretty much recovered from her troubles of the first part of the year).


Ned and Marta also had to put their remaining pug, BooBoo to sleep, but July brought the arrival of Bouncer, who may be part pit bull, but is really a big baby who cries a lot when Ned and Marta aren't paying attention to her.

August had highs and lows.  The low came with the death of our friend, the Lamplighters contralto Jean Cardin Ziaja, who was 3 years younger than I am and who died of a sudden heart attack. 

August also brought a visit from Jeri and Phil, here for the annual IPO (International Pop Overthrow) concert and to visit everyone. 

Marta is learning how to play the bass (shown here at the IPO concert)

I was not able to make the concert in San Francisco because it was Cousins' Day, but was thrilled when I received a call from Tom, who had driven up to attend.  He was calling to give the news that he and Laurel are expecting a baby in April and it looks like we will actually have a grandchild after all.  We are all so thrilled with the news and enjoying following Laurel's on-line pregnancy journal.

Our granddaughter

In October we were shocked yet again with the death of our very good friend of 30+ years, Michele Havel who, like Jean died of a precipitous heart attack.  Michele's memorial was held on November 12, which would have been her 65th birthday.  Jeri flew out to be here for the memorial (and to join with Ned and Tom to play music).  She was only here essentially a day and a half.

Our "Pinata Group" at Michele's memorial
(Michele's husband is in the center, standing in front of me)

At the end of October, Walt fell off a ladder and broke his wrist.  He is now in a cast and finding out all the things that you can't do one-handed, like put on your socks or drive a car.  Ned brought him large size t-shirts to wear (since it's all that will fit over the cast) and also did some work around the house, like cleaning out the rain gutters--all we needed was for ME to try to do that and fall off the ladder too!

Tom and Laurel (as well as Ned and Marta) were able to join us for Thanksgiving Dinner at my mother's and it was such a thrill seeing Laurel's baby belly!

We have had the usual assortment of SPCA dogs, young and not so young, in and out of here, for varying periods of time.  As of this writing we have our own Sheila and Lizzie, and the "world's cutest puppy," Daisy.

I still work as a theatre critic and we have seen lots of theatre again this year. 

Brief kid update:  Basically all the kids are doing the same things they did last year, with Ned at the radio station, Marta and her massage business, Tom at Authoria and Laurel with Santa Barbara Bank & Trust.  Jeri signed a new 3-year contract at Berklee College of Music, so will remain in Boston.  She and Phil have been together for long enough now that we can start thinking about "anniversaries."  We're so happy about that!

We wish everyone the happiest holiday season, we hope for some semblance of peace in the world, and we pray that everyone stays healthy and reasonably happy in the coming year, despite all the negativity that a year-long presidential campaign is going to create.

Much love to everyone, and be sure to check my personal greeting to you all!  (And check out some of Ned's YouTube videos!)

The Sykes Family
Walt & Bev * Jeri & Phil * Ned & Marta * Tom & Laurel
Sheila & Lizzie
(and, in absentia, Paul and David)