Holiday greetings to all of our friends (and anybody else who stumbles upon this annual letter!)
This was our fifth "year of the dog," with much of our weeks and months taken up with foster dogs and especially foster puppies.
(The "Royal Puppies" -- Princess, Harry and William -- and
Dexter all had "demodex," a kind
We started out in January with two little brown lumps who looked like fuzzy potatoes and whom we named Tater and Tot. Tot was with us for about six months, was eventually re-named "Lester" and now lives in Boston with Jeri and Phil. They had been looking for a dog for a year or more and Tot just seemed made for them. Phil eventually flew out and took the renamed Lester home to Boston. When September came around and we had a big party for my mothers 90th birthday, Jeri and Phil drove out with Lester because they couldnt bear to leave her at home with a dog-sitter.
Jeri flew home the day after the party because she had a class to teach, and Walt drove back to Boston with Phil and Lester.
One of our biggest joys this year was watching Jeri and Phil bond with Lester and how much that dog loves them.
This was a good bonding year for Jeri and me too. She and I, along with two women from the Pinata group, 3 other daughters, and one granddaughter, went on a two week tour of France and Italy.
The link above will take you to my journal about the trip, but, briefly, after 3 days in Paris, we went to the south of France and then to Italy, where we spent the last three days at a winery about half an hour outside of Florence.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There were many high points (physically and emotionally!) and more than a few low points for me, being out of shape and having difficulty keeping up with the group and our Energizer Bunny tour guide, Ian Graham. But Jeri was my "Sherpa." She kept me in water, cloths to mop the sweat off my brow, and encouragement ("C'mon, Mom--you can do it!")
One of the high points for me was getting to meet Kate Magovern, with whom I had worked on a transcription project for WGBH's Morning Stories the previous year. We had corresponded and had a Skype conference, but had never met. Kate and I met up on my very bad day in Florence and it was the best part of the day!
The whole thing was absolutely an unforgettable experience and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to spend so much one-on-one time with Jeri, and also to watch her "playing" with the friends of her childhood, all of them freed from the responsibility of jobs, husbands, children, and pets. It was like they were all back in grammar school again, briefly. Except they got to drink wine this time around!
Since I got my trip to Europe, Walt took a week and went off on another voyage of discovery to London. He loves walking around London and taking in shows, which is pretty much what he did.
But we also traveled together. In February we flew to Los Angeles to see 3 tapings of the radio show Says You again--this is becoming our annual treat (we are flying to Pomona College in February to do it again). I also saw 3 tapings in San Francisco. Walt was, unfortunately, in Santa Barbara with his mother and unable to join me.
In November we flew to New York for the opening of our friend Jim Brochu's play, Zero Hour. What a perfect weekend, which included seeing Danny and Sylvia, a quasi-review about Danny Kaye and his wife Sylvia Fine; lunch with my friend Lynn, who, just coincidentally, was in New York from Houston with some friends; Jimmy's opening performance -- which was fabulous -- and the after party at Sardi's, where I got to mingle with Piper Laurie, Robert Osborne, the stars of Danny and Sylvia, 90 year old Marge Champion, Michele Mais (from Rock of Ages) and Theodore Bikel.
We also took the backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall and went to see the Christmas Show, which I've wanted to see for years and which is such a spectacle that it must be seen to be believed. It's definitely unable to be described accurately! The show included a special 3-D effect, hence the glasses!
I had cataract surgery in February. My vision had become so bad I was no longer able to drive. I can honestly say that the surgery, which was painless, changed my life. I can see again. I can drive again. I can read again. I don't know why I waited so long.
Brianna is now a year and a half old. We've been able to share in several big moments in her life this year.
Tom and Laurel? Oh yeah. Them too. :) Laurel changed jobs this year and seems hopeful of less stress in her new job. The three of them went to Hawaii to celebrate Tom and Laurel's anniversary in October. Naturally Dad and Bri had to do her trick over Waimea Canyon.
Ned, who continues to fight the good fight against the idiots of the world, has mastered Adobe Premiere Elements this year and has made some really...uh...interesting videos, both personal ones and ones for the radio station for which he works. Marta is working to keep her massage business afloat...sometimes personal luxury is the first thing to go in a recession.
The two of them joined other members of Preoccupied Pipers this summer for "Troutstock," their salute to Woodstock. It was a fun afternoon out in the country in a field, surrounded by people we've known and loved for a long time.
You may wonder about the gap in the front of Ned's mouth. When he was 10 and in Little League, his front teeth were knocked out during a practice. Fortunately, our dentist was his Little League coach, so he rushed him to the office and re-implanted the teeth. He told him they would probably have to be removed about the time he turned 18. Well, the teeth lasted until he was 40, but they finally had to be taken out and he's going through the process of getting implants. But he certainly is having a great time making the most of being toothless.
Walt's mother is going strong at 96 with fewer medical scares this year than last. My mother is amazing at 90, and recently had a big birthday party to celebrate.
Walt has become involved with Citizens Who Care, a group which advocates for the frail elderly. He also returned to his roots in October and joined with some people from the Davis Comic Opera Company to build a set for a production of Amahl and the Night Visitors. And with stimulus money made available for water projects in California, he has gone back to work part time, for a short-interval. He works regularly 2-3 days a week, from about 10 or 11 in the morning to 5 or 6 at night.
I am finishing my 2 year term of office on the Davis Community Network board. I've taught two classes in blogging for DCN and enjoyed that. I also continue reviewing stage shows in the area. I figured out recently that we often attend more shows in one weekend than we attend movies in a year. Four show weekends are rare, but happen sometimes.
In August I had great fun meeting some friends from grammar school We had not seen each other since graduation in 1956 and it was fun meeting up for lunch. The amazing thing was that none of us had changed a bit in all that time.
And Cousins Day remains my favorite part of each month, when my two cousins and I have an overnight at my mother's, play cards, laugh and enjoy each other.
Walt and I really enjoyed watching our 2 groups of "babies" grow from birth to teenager this year,
2009 has been a fairly good year, all things considered. There are some potentially exciting things coming up in 2010, but you'll have to wait a year to find out (a) what they are and (b) if they actually happened!
We will be spending Christmas in Santa Barbara again this year. Jeri will be here (Phil is staying in Boston with Lester). We wish for all of you the warmth and love of family around you as you celebrate whichever holiday you celebrate at this time of year.
~ The Sykes Family ~
Also, the children we sponsor thru Compassion International