December 2015

To our good friends.

I can't believe we are coming to the end of 2015.  It seems like I just wrote this annual letter last month!  But I wish you all a wonderful holiday, whichever holiday you are celebrating.

We have had an eventful year.  We saw about 65 stage shows this year. In addition to being a critic for the Davis Enterprise I am also now a critic for the Sacramento News and Review, and so my "territory" has expanded!  I also just started volunteering occasionally at the information desk at Sutter Davis Hospital, my old stomping grounds and continue volunteering one day a week at Logos Books, a used book store which donates all its proceeds to charity.  Walt continues working with Citizens Who Care, which advocates for the frail elderly and their caregivers.  Right now he is embroiled in preparations for the spring fundraiser.  He also makes visitations to a home-bound friend periodically to give his wife some respite.

We celebrated our 50th anniversary, with a wonderful family party thrown by the kids.  It was great to be surrounded by all of the family (and Char, who is part of the family!).  Thanks to Tom, I finally got my fill of crab!  Ned & Marta took care of making the house party-ready.  I still haven't found everything they hid away (and haven't missed it).

If my head looks a little weird it's because Ned and I went together and had our heads shaved in March by St. Baldrick's Foundation to raise funds for children's cancer research.  I had hoped we would raise $1,000 and was amazed that we raised about $3,500.  I also learned, as it began to grow out, that I liked it short, so I am keeping it short for the time being (but not THAT short!)  The natural curl/wave has come back in the short "do."

(with my mother)

In October we took our anniversary cruise, our first ocean cruise, with our friends Linda and Bob from Texas (whom we met on our Ukraine cruise in 2013) and Char, because we always travel with Char.  This cruise took us from Barcelona to Venice and was amazing.

for weight distribution Walt was paired
with Linda on our Gondola trip

Gelato at Vivoli in Florence,
The oldest gelato shop.

Some highlights included Cassis (France), where we cruised in a small boat into steep canyons; Florence, where Walt and I wandered around on our own, which was a great improvement over my last time in Florence.  We saw the magnificent Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Dubrovnik and Split, both in Croatia.  And I'm glad to have seen Venice and don't ever have to go there again!  (I was hoping to find Rossano Brazzi, but since he's luck)

All the family is well, and pretty much doing all the same things they did last year.

Jeri's appearance changed this year, when she had the first short haircut she has had in her life, I think.  She donated her hair to Wigs4Kids, to make wigs for children with cancer. 

She is still teaching at Berklee College of Music and spends a lot of time on programs there, as well as playing in lots of pit bands for local musicals.  A lot of Berklee's stuff is streamed so we are able to watch her classes perform when we remember! (Always fun to see her with the conductor's baton)

She and Phil took separate vacations in the early part of the year.

Phil went off to Arizona right before the Big Blizzard hit Massachusetts, leaving Jeri and Lester to cope with the snow alone, until he got home.  At one point the snow was so high it covered Jeri's beloved truck.

(That little black thing sticking out is the mirror on the truck)

  I look at Ned these days and wonder where that little kid who used to fly around the house as Superman has gone.  He has turned into the distinguished man you see here today!

Ned and Marta are still in the same positions.  Ned still works at Jack-FM radio, writing jingles and doing other media events.  Marta still has her massage business.  This year they got into physical fitness seriously and are "buffing up."  Ned is proud of pumping iron, finally emulating his chidhood idol, Charles Atlas. 

The two of them were a godsend to me this year, as they took over care and feeding of Grandma while Walt and I were on our cruise.  One or the other of them visited her nearly every other day and I felt so much better knowing she would have that connection that I couldn't provide.

Ned also continues to be the best uncle in the world. He has made a video for Brianna every year on her birthday.  This was her 7th birthday video. (He also makes videos for Lacie).  He says he's going to keep at it until she turns 10.


Things are always busy in Tom's house, especially with two active little girls.  The family went to Hawaii again this year and the girls had a great trip to Disneyland over Thanksgiving weekend.  Brianna (7) is now in a rock band (believe it or not), is learning karate, plays soccer and baseball, and lost her first 2 teeth this year.  She even appeared in her first play this year (The Music Man, which was also Paul's first play!)

Lacie, who turned 4 this year is enjoying her second year in nursery school and following her big sister around everywhere.  She also got her first sorta haircut, when Mom cut bangs for her.

Being so far spread apart, we had to resort to technology to take a family portrait at Thanksgiving this year. We should have figured out how to include Jeri in the photo...maybe next year.

My mother is still going strong at 96, healthy as a horse, but with increasing dementia, which is very sad.  But she doesn't realize how bad it is and is happy in her little garden apartment, where she still lives "independently."

We have had a few sad losses this year, foremost among them my cousin/sister/friend, Peach, who succumbed to cancer the day after Thanksgiving.  Her death leaves a big hole in my world.  I am glad I had the opportunity to spend time with her last year when she began chemotherapy. In my heart of hearts, when we said goodbye, I knew it was for the last time.

We also lost our beloved companion of 11 years, Sheila, who also succumbed to cancer.  She was a noble dog and I still miss her.

We haven't figure out Christmas yet.  Ned & Marta are going with Jeri and Phil and some others to Jamaica to get somewhere sunny.  Tom & Laurel, who will be spending Christmas with Laurel's cousin in Sacramento, will probably stop by my mother's and we will have a brief Christmas with the grandkids.  Last year Walt and I went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner on Christmas.  We may do the same thing again this year.  Who knows...?

All our love to all of you and our wish for health and happiness in 2016.

Walt and Bev
Jeri, Phil, Ned, Marta, Tom, Laurel, Brianna and Lacie
Lizzie and Polly
and, in absentia, Paul, David and Sheila

And all our sponsored children through Compassion, International: 

Anjali and Venkanna (India), Annie Rose and Fred (Philippines), Edilsar (Mexico), Henrique and Adriano (Brasil),
Leniel and Banesa (Dominican Republic), Theresa and Emmanuella (Ghana),
Lovson, Miche and Briana (Haiti), Brayan (Honduras), Joham (Colombia)
Josphat,  Erick, Samuel, Emily, Mwogela, James, Lavenda, Mercy, Brightone, and  Michael (Kenya),
Rifaldi (Indonesia), Divine (Rwanda) and Eunice (Tanzania)
Link to Bev's web site