How does this work? Our sideboard is covered with Christmas and Solstice greetings, it’s the middle of December and we’re only just starting to try and recollect our thoughts on 2013. Why is it that everyone is so much more efficient than us? We’re anticipating sending the bulk of these messages by e-mail this year, partly to do our bit for the environment but mainly so that we don’t contribute to the shareholder dividend for the recently privatised Royal Mail. So, if your copy doesn’t arrive because we have an old e-mail address or because your server accurately recognises it as spam, do let us know.
It’s been a good year. No spring pilgrimage to the States this year as we were saving ourselves for a lengthy visit in the summer. Still, we managed a great few days in Barcelona in April, a wacky, wacky place which we thoroughly enjoyed. The weather was fantastic and the various sights, sounds, smells and food were fabulous. We also got away and spent a few days in Norfolk at the end of November, partly to celebrate our anniversary but also to visit the alleged birthplace of Greg’s great-great-great [twelve or thirteen times] grandfather, Thomas Joy. Some of the records suggest he was born in Hingham, Norfolk and emigrated to the Massachusetts colony in 1636. While we couldn’t find any evidence to support the claim, Hingham (and Norfolk) was lovely and the autumn colours were at their best.
The big event of the year was a visit to the States for a fabulously fantastic family reunion in August to celebrate Greg’s dad’s 90th birthday. Lake George was at its absolute stunning best and we had three weeks of glorious weather with family and friends. At the height of the XCstravaganza celebrations there were 40 ranging in age from Greg’s father at 90 to his most recent great-grandchild at four months. You will be surprised to know that the food was fabulous, everyone taking it in turn to produce their favourite masterpieces.
Our three boys all made it as well, one of the relatively few times they’ve all been in the same place at the same time. An absolutely wonderful time.
And, speaking of the boys, they continue to fail to disappoint us. Ben is still living in Southern California working in the computer games industry and Donna continues to write about cutting edge technology, amongst other things, for Investor’s Business Daily. Nick and Lucy are still the proud parents of the most gifted and beautiful child in Christendom and Adam has finally seen sense and left the classroom. He’s now working as an architect and web guru in Yangshou. Both Ben and Adam have found musical outlets for their talents in what spare time they have.
Annabelle is a delight and treasure. She is now talking up a storm and is developing her own personality. Not surprisingly, she adores Grandma but for some reason she seems to think that Grandpa is a “naughty Grandpa!” I can’t imagine where she’s picked up that idea.
Pen’s mother Beryl has had a rough year and finds climbing the stairs a real struggle as she approaches her 90th birthday. Fortunately, the tenant in our granny flat/annexe has given notice and she will be able to move in there in the New Year where she will be considerably more comfortable. Oz, at 92, is still in sprightly form and sprints up and down the myriad of steps and stairs at their old cottage like a mountain goat.
Molly is still going strong at almost 14. We nearly lost her a few months ago when we discovered a large mass drooping from her undercarriage which, unbeknownst to us, had become septic. Fortunately, the tumour turned out to be benign and following some major surgery she has rediscovered her youth. Unfortunately, as well as being virtually blind and deaf, she is becoming increasingly disoriented, or at least that’s the excuse I am attaching to her behaviour. She barks vigorously to be let out, not infrequently at 3.00 am. When I eventually kick Penny enough so that she goes down to let her out, she [Molly, not Penny] sits on the driveway for two or three minutes and then trots back to be let back in, presumably expecting some sort of snack.
As well as caring for her mother, Penny also has the dubious responsibility of looking after me. I pretend to do a bit of work from time to time but, as last year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fool the punters. Penny’s business, SeamStress, is also now virtually a memory. She still receives the occasional enquiry and has to disappoint most as she is no longer making any new playchutes. The occasional foam ball or twelve go out along with the increasingly popular “Sticky Wall.” If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s probably just as well.
The year ended on a sad note when we lost one of the members of our extended family. Penny’s sister Judi lost her son Cell after a difficult struggle with colon cancer. As well as being just a splendid young man, devoted husband and father, Cell was a very talented and gifted artist and had a successful career as an animator in the old style, where the animations were actually hand drawn and painted rather than being computer generated. During his career he worked in every creative aspect of the animation industry from storyboard revisionist, animation supervisor to series director working on commercials, music videos, animated series and everything in between. I remember our boys mentioning projects he had worked on that they had seen with knowledge and genuine appreciation of his talents. He was much loved by everyone who knew him and will be very much missed.
And so, another year waddles its way to a conclusion. We’ll keep you all in our hearts and thoughts and wish you all the very, very best for 2014. Do take us up on our invitation to visit – Molly will be grateful to have someone let her out into the garden at 3.00 am.
Much love to you all.
Greg & Penny