The joys of the holiday season are certainly a welcome lift this year. We have, as have many of you friends, lost a close loved one. Beth’s father passed away quite suddenly last February. Beth and her sisters have been coping with the loss and helping their mother. As the year has gone by, we have heard from so many of you of the passing of someone equally close to you. So, the traditions and memories of the season are quite a comfort to us this year, and we hope that they are a comfort to you as well.
As we write this year’s holiday letter, we are visiting Mike’s mother. We were quite happy to see that she is back on her feet after a nasty problem with her leg. She continues to live at the Bayview retirement center near Downtown Seattle. During this past year she moved to a new room on a floor which provides assisted living. She needs a little more help getting started in the morning. We are able to take her on short drives and even take her and some of her friends to lunch. While we are here, we will partake of Thanksgiving Dinner with her in the Bayview dining room. Beth gets a holiday from preparing the big meal!
Not that Beth should not have a little more time to prepare meals.J She celebrated one year of retirement this fall. In actual fact, she is busier than ever. She often says that she does not know how she had time for a job. She cancelled a couple of classes last winter to help her mother and to attend to her father’s estate. However, she has resumed classes this fall. Some weeks she is taking the train into NYC three or four times. Currently, her favorite class is a drawing class with live models. She has been hinting to Mike about his posing for her, but he has been too shy so far.
You can see from the painting for this year’s card that Beth’s favorite medium remains watercolor. She chose a subject from her trip to Egypt. Pictured is a small felucca, much like the one on which she cruised the Nile. Actually, she needed other forms of transportation to cover all the ground she did in 12 days from Cairo to Abu Simbel. Beth returned with stories of crawling through pyramids, going down into tombs and riding camels across the desert. The tour was conducted by one of Sue’s religion professors from Drew University. So, besides touring the pharaonic sites, they also experienced the range of ancient and modern religious places. Beth says that a good example is after leaving the Ben-Ezra Synagogue hearing the Islamic call to prayer while visiting St. Sergius a Coptic church which houses the crypt where the family of Jesus is said to have taken refuge.
Mike also was in the Middle East this past year. His work took him to Saudi Arabia for the second time. This time in July. He will tell you that the weather was better the first time he went which was the previous December. Though Mike claims to be a warm weather person, 120+ degrees, with not much for shade, was too hot for him. Even with the heat, he got around better on the second trip. He stayed in a downtown hotel and took walks or short cab rides to different sections of Riyadh each night. Not only did he find and experience more of the culture, he also delivered the project for which Lucent was contracted by the Saudi Telecom Company. On his way back from Saudi, he spent a long weekend with Jan and Jerry in Paris. They had rented an apartment for the summer and put him up for four nights. They were generous hosts as well as excellent tour guides.
When he is not using one of the computers at work, Beth says he is playing with one of the computers at home. His latest practical addition to the home computers is a firewall between the home network and the Internet. One of the down sides to an "always-on" cable modem Internet connection is that the home gateway PC can always be seen from the Internet. Mike says his favorite computer toy is the REALmagic Remote Control. It can be used to operate the DVD on the PC from the couch (so with a DVD-ROM remote, a remote keyboard and a remote mouse he is adding new meaning to couch potato-ism!)
No 1999 holiday letter would be complete without some reference to the new millennium. Our current favorite is Marjorie Pearse, whom we met this week at Bayview. She told us that on January 1, 2000 she will have lived in 3 centuries - the 19th, 20th and 21st .
Wishing you a merry holiday and a happy new millennium
and their two house guests (or is it the other way around?) – the cats – Shadow and Phantom.