December 8th, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
January, Mark and I flew to Phoenix, Arizona to visit my sister and his aunt Debbie
for a couple of weeks. Mark was pleased; he hadn't seen Debbie since 2006. While Debbie taught school, Mark and I drove to a shopping mall to see "Avitar"
on the largest IMAX screen in Arizona: six stories high,
in 3-d, of course. I left the theater floating.
brother Brian arrived with the first of two U-haul trucks loaded with furniture and possessions from his recently-sold
Santa Barbara house.
We all worked together unloading into his new home. Mark's muscles came
in very handy.
and I walked Molly, Barnie, and Yankee, her three bulldogs, in a nearby park each morning before school. I got to feed her two feral cats, Bodie and Cheyenne. Bodie even let me pet him! A high spot
was a trip to a botanical garden in the desert with Debbie and Brian, a beautiful day ending with dinner at the famous Mining
Camp restaurant nestled at the foot of the Superstition Mountains.
returned to Switzerland the day before I was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas to visit my favorite boss of all times, John Bradfute, and
his wonderful wife Clara. John collapsed suddenly the Sunday before my flight
in. He was taken to intensive care. Though
Clara never said so, I felt the last thing she needed right then was a houseguest. I booked a different flight to leave
Phoenix the following weekend. John passed away a few weeks
later. He had been in great form living life to the fullest up until that Sunday. He fought hard, Clara said. He was a
wonderful man. All who knew him will miss him.
visit of a dear college friend, Ben Shank, coincided with my extended stay in Phoenix. What a treat to meet for the second time in forty years!
I flew to San Francisco to visit my Aunt Marjorie. Marjorie worked so hard getting ready for my visit that she came down with pneumonia before I arrived. She feeds a flock of about forty doves every morning.
For the first time, I saw her birds arrive to land in the plum tree outside her bedroom window: an amazing display
of grace in pastel! Her two cats, Kitty and Hopi, passed since my visit last
winter. A feral cat had arrived to keep Marjorie company, showing up outside
her kitchen door each morning (expecting to be fed, of course). My cousin Wendy
arrived on the second day of my visit. In spite of Marjorie's illness, we were
all able to attend lunch together at "The Neighborhood House" where we saw familiar, friendly faces. My cousin Cheryl arrived from down the peninsula and a college friend, John Oram, drove over from Stockton to join us. John
repaired a typewriter for Marjorie after lunch. Thank you, John!
her way home to Calistoga, Wendy drove me to my stepsister Nancy's where we spent the night in Nancy's
beautiful blue bedroom while Nancy slept on the couch! Nancy, you are a wonderful
hostess! Niece Kim arrived for dinner.
Nancy brought a plethora of little white cartons filled
with (nearly) countless Chinese dishes. My stepmother Elaine was like
an angel. It was wonderful to see her doing so well, though wheelchair-bound. One of her round-the-clock caregivers played scrabble with us after dinner. Elaine recently moved to a lovely large house where three other seniors receive full-time care. She seems very happy in her new home. We send her hugs and
Maxwell from the Raymond College days
arrived at Nancy's to drive me back to San Francisco. She and I spent the afternoon walking by the San
Francisco bay, eating gourmet vegetarian food at a window table overlooking a small marina, and
Kathy invited her sister Cheryl and me to attend a lecture on Turkish mosques at the Asian
Art Museum. One day, I must see these astounding constructions in person!
In the gift shop, I bought a silk jacket-of-many-colors, just like Cheryl's. I
Friday and Saturday evening, I went next door for dinner with my cousin Pierre, his lovely wife Yesilee, and their four-year-old
daughter, Andrea. Move over, Shirley Temple, the child actress! These were my final visits with my Uncle Henri. Though his
health was failing, Henri talked about his optimistic and inspiring philosophy of life.
You can see and hear him on youtube in the video I made. Just search for
Henri Marie-Rose. Henri passed away three weeks later.
morning, Marjorie woke before the crack of dawn to see me off, waving from her front porch on Petrero Hill as The Blue Van
pulled away with me in it, headed for San Francisco airport. At 4.30 a.m., I arrived three hours early, as prescribed by homeland security, to
an empty airport. The people who warm
the coffee hadn't even arrived yet.
in Switzerland, Hubert and I got busy
learning Russian in anticipation of an overseas assignment.
February Hubert and I drove to Saanen for two nights in a hotel for our ever-shorter annual ski holiday. After day one, my back went out. I spent the next day in bed
learning the Cyrillic alphabet. (When Hubert retires, I think we should always
be learning a new language. It's good for the brain, fun to do, and might come in handy when we're traveling). Hubert nearly froze on the slopes! (Glad
it wasn't me).
In April, I started joining Hubert whenever he went jogging.
He goes his way and I go mine. He's faster. I had stopped in 2006 and thought I would never jog again. I
began slowly, but noticed progress each day. Unfortunately, we stopped when the
days grew shorter; no daylight left by the time Hubert returned from work each evening.
We work out at the gym at least once a week. (More is better).
the spring I had the amazing privilege of collaborating on the creation of a book of short stories written by a new friend,
Shadowhawk, who grew up on the Washo Indian reservation behind the Sierra Nevadas. As
he told his stories, I encouraged him to write them down. I edited and formatted. You can read and purchase "The Lessons of my Grandfather" at Shadows storefront at
and Christian arrive for a visit whenever they can. Their apartment in Zürich
is now fully-furnished and decorated just the way they want it. They travel together
to romantic locations in Italy, Spain,
her last busy season at PWC, Micha dedicated herself to studying eight hours a day for several months to prepare for the exams
to become a licensed CPA, Swiss-certified public accountant. She wrote 50 pages
during the eight-hour written exam. I arrived the Sunday before her oral exams
-- Christian was away on a business trip -- and stayed with her for four days. We
practiced her speeches over and over. On November 12th, the whole family celebrated
her success at the Casino, an elegant venue in Bern. She is now an assistant manager with PWC and a fully-licensed CPA. She recently turned 27.
25, lives with us in Uettligen while attending Bern University. He cooks many of our dinners. Maravillosa! In the summer we eat on the terrace with our view of the Eiger,
Monch, and Jungfrau in the distance. This year he added computer science as a minor
to his business major. He expects to land a "Prakticum" -- an apprenticeship
job -- next year to finish off his Bachelor's in business.
recently organized a workman to hang an exercise bar from the ceiling of his computer room to complete his new home training
center, replete with professional workout bench and weights. He now trains at
home during study breaks instead of going to the gym. Yesterday, with his friend
Stefan Lienhard to spot him, he discovered just how much he can actually press: 300 pounds.
Kids, don't try this one at home!
is getting ready for the possibility that Hubert and I will take an overseas assignment in 2011. He has bought himself a new computer, a new laptop, and a box which greatly increases our ability
to watch movies and TV series on high definition TV. He even signed my WOW character, Leil, up for
her very own WOW account (without asking). When (and if) I'm living abroad,
we can play together!
and I did two Biotta wellness weeks this year. After the first, I regained the
three kilos I lost sipping organic fruit and vegetable juices for a week nearly instantaneously. Mark just had to try out his new pizza stone on the grill the day after we broke our fast. Que montón de calorías, pero deliciosa!
April, I continued to meet with the ladies from Lorrie Scheller's little choir, Melodia, each Tuesday evening to sing our
beloved Eastern European folk songs. In April we held our farewell concert for
Lorrie in honor of her move back to America
with her family. We miss her! We
didn't know if our little choir would survive without her. We have managed to
meet a few times since then. It isn't just the songs we know and love, it's the
bond that exists between us. Lorrie gave us something beautiful and lasting. We
September, my good friend Moira Hotz came over for lunch and stayed to help me plan a two-weeks driving trip in England, her home country.
I had reconnected with Theo MacDonald, my college math professor and promised him to come for a visit. Since
his successful cancer surgery nine years ago -- 22 tumors removed from head to hips -- Theo is nearly blind. Now 78, he walks with a white cane alone ten miles every day
along the seashore. Hubert and I walked six of those miles with him. A true inspiration, Theo continues writing his books. He recently
published "Preserving the United Nations":
England trip was simply wonderful!
The people were so very friendly and helpful and caring. I felt like I had come home. Debbie says, "England is our home! We come from there." (Way back).
After our return to Switzerland,
Hubert and I began to enhance our knowledge of Spanish, in case the next assignment is in a Spanish-speaking country. If we move away, Mark will live here with Diamond. I would need to empty the
house so he could rent a bedroom to a friend or a couple. I recently delivered four bags of books to my friend
Franz Morrissey to pass on to his English students at Berne's university. I am dedicated to cleansing and purging things, discarding all that is unnecessary, and doing
the first of November, for the third year in a row, I stopped gaming, again, and started writing as part of Nanowrimo's national
novel writing month. I had written 60,000 words by the time Hubert and I flew
to Madrid for intensive emersion in the Spanish language. Monday to Friday, at a Spanish language school, we took private lessons for four hours
each afternoon. We lived with Señiora Lourdes Garcia and her ten-year-old son
Vayu. In the evenings, Lourdes,
a professional chef, cooked amazing Spanish dishes, each one tastier than the last!
We conversed together for hours and hours, all in Spanish. At the start
of the week, Hubert and I felt slightly overwhelmed, but with each day, we could understand and express more. We returned to Switzerland,
turned on "Hola, que tal?" on Spanish TV, and discovered that rapid-fire strings of sound had separated into individual words! Que sorpresa!
We wish you a joyous Holiday Season and a great year in 2011
"con mucho gusto!"