December 2005

Seasons greetings to all!

2006, according to the Chinese calendar, will be the Year of the Dog. 2005 is the Year of the Rooster. Well, we appear to be a year ahead of ourselves, because 2005 for us was definitely the year of the dog around here. It started with my agreeing to bottle feed a litter of orphaned puppies and over the coming months, I bottlefed four different litters of puppies, and we were a foster family for more than 10 different SPCA dogs awaiting families. It’s been an interesting--and fun experience, having different dog personalities here for brief periods of time, and finding out who has what quirk.

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Harry, Weasle& Hagrid / Sllingshot/ Hamlet & Demetrius / Leo / Jed  & Toby / Petey / Sydney / Eddie / Sydney (another one)
Latte / Bruiser / Rosie / Paul / Jasmine / Bud / Trixie / Pepper / Katey

"Dogs" is mostly what I did when Walt was in D.C. for 2 months this summer (definitely bad timing -- Washington, D.C. in the summer!) He went on a temporary assignment for his job and came home for 2 weeks between the months (because we had tickets to see Wicked in San Francisco and because he wanted to check mail!) I flew to Washington for a weekend during his time there, to attend a birthday party of a mutual friend. But mostly I sat home, took care of dogs, continued learning PhotoShop and started getting into Internet video.

I flew to Los Angeles in May for the re-opening of The Big Voice: God or Merman, the show for which I had written a song (long since discarded--but I still consider it "my" show!).  It was an incredible triumph when The Big Voice won the Ovation award for "best musical, intimate theatre."  The Ovations are Los Angeles' version of the Tonys.  I am so proud of that show and so thrilled with the award.  (If you'd like to see the guys receive the award from Jerry Herman, check here.)   They later went on to win other awards including "Best Singer of the Year" for Steve's partner, Jimmy.

In June, I spent a week at Lake Tahoe and in San Francisco with a group of female friends.  We all met on line and all began doing craft projects together (I met them all face to face the year before, in New Jersey).  The crafts seem to have fallen by the wayside, but we remain friends. 

Walt and I took some long weekend trips, one to St. Louis in April when our friend, the talented young Rachel Blackburn, directed her first show, as her college graduation project. We were pleased to join her family (including her mother, Susie, who is the niece of my best friend, the late Gilbert Russak) in cheering Rachel on.

In July we joined with the family in Santa Barbara for Tom's annual 4th of July barbeque on the beach, where he and Walt's sister's fiancÚ cook tons of food and feed the multitude.

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(and this is only part of it!)

In October we spent a long weekend in Milwaukee visiting with some computer friends. We had a great time and were glad to have the opportunity to visit a state we had never visited before.  Milwaukee was a lovely city and we'd like to return some day.

The kids seem to have all had a good year.  Tom ran his first marathon in San Diego.  He and Laurel trained for months and shortly before the run, Laurel hurt her leg, so was only able to do half the run but she was there to cheer Tom on when he crossed the finish line.  In November, Tom came in #889 and Laurel #990 (out of 1445) in a half marathon in Santa Barbara.  He ran in 2:11:15 and she in 2:15:35 (stats for those who understand those things!)

He and Laurel took a trip to Spain this fall and are now embroiled in a massive house remodeling project on their home in Santa Barbara.  They were with us for Thanksgiving, but will be with Laurel's family for Christmas.

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It always tickles me to watch the friendship between Ned and my friend, singer/songwriter Steve Schalchlin, develop.  This year they, along with Marta, Jeri and others, arranged and recorded a song that Steve had written, based on an idea Ned had given him.  Steve came up from Los Angeles to perform the song with the Preoccupied Pipers in San Francisco in August.  "Franco Ate the Paperwork" was one of 43 songs... which are all part of a thought-out concept album, The Trout Supershow, that Ned and his friend K.C. worked for two years to put together.  Ned is justifiably very proud of the work they've done.

Marta's massage business is going strong and she is working on completing her teaching credential so she can open her own teaching studio.

Jeri got more involved in cyberspace this summer when she taught an on-line class in composing and arranging for Berklee College of Music in Boston (she's been on the faculty for 3 years now).  She was able to come out to California for a couple of weeks in August and she manages to hook up with Tom every now and then, as his company's headquarters are now in the Boston area, so he travels there periodically.

Jeri and her life-long friend Phil have recently discovered a deepening of their relationship and he will be relocating to Boston soon.   We couldn't be happier.

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Walt and I celebrated our 40th anniversary in June by having a new floor put in all over our downstairs -- we figured it was a good way to mark the occasion.  We are loving the new Pergo.

Most of our "play time" this year has involved theatre, since I continue to be the theatre critic for the local newspaper, but we even paid money to go and see Wicked in San Francisco and it was quite a sticker shock to discover how expensive ticket to the theatre are, since I get the best seats in the house for free (and then get paid to see the show on top of it).  I am the only theatre critic in town at the moment, so I often have 3 shows a week to review and am doing regular feature articles as well.  I'm starting to feel more comfortable in this job, finally, after five years.

Walt still talks about retiring "next year" (which he's done for the past several years).  One of these days he'll surprise me by walking in the door and telling me he's never going back to work again!

My biggest new thing this year (second only to fostering all these dogs) is that I've joined the "vlogging" community"--that would be video bloggers, who take, edit, and post videos on line.  I've posted one video a day for the past several weeks now and don't know how much longer this will last, but I'm having a good time.  Everything from  personal reflections, to cooking hints, to reporting local events, to posting old 8 mm home movies and slide shows, to lots and lots of movies of our various dogs (often with original music written by Jeri).   I've made about 100 short movies now and am having a wonderful time with it.

We hope everyone is happy, healthy, and enjoying the holiday season, whichever holiday you may be celebrating.  Our hearts go out to anyone whose life has been touched by any of the natural disasters or the ongoing war in Iraq.  May 2006 be a year free of natural disasters and one which brings about some sort of vision as to when we can bring the troops home.

"We have a whole new year ahead of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe - next year at this time - we'd like each other a little more."

(-Judy Garland)

The Sykes Family

Walt - Bev - Jeri - Ned - Marta - Tom - Laurel -Sheila - Kimba
(and, in absentia, Paul and David)