Thursday, December 26, 2013

2013 Christmas Letter

Greetings, All, and Happy Holidays,

I’ll start out with 2013 disasters: (1) Golf club swing gone wrong late in March, in the midst of a golf lesson.  Sammy took a big swing and accidentally socked Bob on the arm – ulnar fracture: Surgery > rehab. (2)  Rav4’s steering went wonky on my 80th birthday trip to New England.  Car upside down in ditch.  Side airbags and seat belts  > no injuries. (3) Hand surgery for me for ring finger tendonitis  > rehab (4) Diagnosis of lactose intolerance for me. (5) Back problems for Bob > exercises.

Otherwise it was an excellent year. We went to Santa Cruz and San Francisco in January, and saw Clifford, Dixie, Adrienne, Judah and Zoe, and did a little birding. We bird-sat with Bert & Les’s famous over-wintering Rufous Hummingbird. We watched many of Sammy & Ethan’s basketball, and later, baseball games. As part of my 80th birthday celebration we attended a Red Sox game, visited Linda and Blase at their farm, and visited Bill in Vermont. In late September Jim and Sharesa came to see us and we all toured Philadelphia, driving by all our previous residences.

We saw Sam Cush perform in a couple of excellent Severna Park High School musicals. Sam will graduate HS this year; Biz will graduate from Towson with a MS. Andy & Tom both live in New York now, Andy in BedStuy, and Tom in Williamsburg. Tom has a job with Fox TV, and Andy works for Animal New York.

We went to Belize in late February to meet Don and Carol Scott there. It was a birthday surprise trip for her. Oscillated Turkeys, Emerald Toucanets, Mayan ruins at Lamanai, and a ferocious chigger attack.

 We had Common Redpolls at our backyard feeder, an unexpected  treat. I did a program on “Birding the 5” (California Interstate) for Wyncote Audubon Society, and lined up speakers for WAS 2013-14.

In March, because of Bob’s broken arm, we hired a landscape company to clean up the yard. They did the lawn all summer too. I spent a lot of time gardening from March to September. Mostly flowers out front.  After more power outages we bought a generator and had an electrician install the hook-up. We have not needed it yet. With the Rav4 totaled, we settled on a Nissan Rogue. We like it a lot so far.

In May we went to Magee Marsh in western Ohio again, and had an honest-to-goodness fallout of warblers and other birds. We even had a halfway decent look at a Kirtland’s Warbler. We ran into a lot of friends there, as usual. All things being equal, we’ll go again in 2014.

In early June we went to Alaska with Road Scholar. We flew into Anchorage, rented a car, and drove to Denali to meet the rest of the group. We spent 5 days at Denali, and drove south to Moose Pass.  We made a few driving trips to Seward, and did a day trip out on the Kenai Fjord.  The major highlight was a trip in a Cessna to see glaciers from above. Alaska is amazing. We want to go back.

In August we went to Santa Cruz for the Dickens Universe. The Mystery of Edwin Drood this time. We stayed most of the time at Cliff & Dixie’s, and also visited with Adrienne & family in SF. We helped Zoe balance on a borrowed bike, and read her lots of bedtime stories.

I still attend HDTV Met operas and Philadelphia Orchestra concerts. Bob comes along sometimes. We’ve both enjoyed Cheltenham Township Adult School trips to different parts of New York.

End of the Year Summary of Books I read in 2013

January: The Moonstone, Willkie Collins (for the upcoming Dickens Universe) - reread
Silent House, by Orhan Pamuk, another book about Turkey.

February: Middlemarch, by George Eliot.  I hadn’t read that one since college. Terrific.
The Theban Mysteries, by Amanda Cross

March: Charles Dickens, by Claire Tomalin, now a movie, "The Invisible Woman"

April: The Life of Pi, by Yann Martel, reread after we saw the movie
A Song of Ice and Fire #1 by George Martin, the first in the "Game of Thrones" series

May: Code to Zero by Ken Follett

June: The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens (for Dickens Universe) - reread
A  Song of Ice and Fire, #2 and #3

July:  A Song of Ice and Fire #4

August: A Song of Ice and Fire #5
Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver, about butterfly migration. Not one of her best.
Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  I identified with the “Amazing Amy” theme
Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, one of the outstanding reads of 2013

September: The Cuckoo’s Calling by (really) JK Rowling. Not one of her best.
And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini, about Afghanistan
The Story of Beautiful Girl, by Rachel Simon.  Based on a true story, but hard to believe
Junius and Albert’s Adventures in the Confederacy, by Peter Carlson.   Journalists caught up in the Civil War.  Very powerful.

October: The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Very interesting. Glad she’s gone back to writing novels, instead of contemplating her navel through memoir.
The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, about the Washington U crew team that won the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Very inspiring.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt . A painting taken from the bombed out Met Museum. Excellent read.

November: God and Baseball by JH Sauls. I didn’t finish it. Enough said.
The Kurt Wallender series (four books) by Henning Mankell. Good murder mysteries.
The Round House, by Louise Erdrich. Native American life.

December:  The Luminaries, by Eleanor Catton. New Zealand gold mining. Excellent read.
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. Reads like Young Adult.
The Bully Pulpit, by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Terrific history of an interesting period. If I don't hurry up, I'll still be reading this one into 2014.