Merry Christmas, 2009
And Best Wishes to All for a Better New Year, 2010
There have probably been worse years than 2009, but Saints preserve us from another like it. Nevertheless, I promised Bernice that I wouldn’t whine any more than necessary, so with the exception of April (there is no way around the gloom of April), I’ll just hit the high notes. Also, I promise herewith not to mention the name of the Nobel laureate who is also our elected leader in a negative way, so whenever you see his name here in this letter, it will be accompanied by fulsome high praise for his works and to his glory.
On the other hand, I’m too dispirited to try to make this all bubbly and amusing, so you’re just going to have to put up with a straight chronology, trudging through season by season. I’ll include a picture for some event mentioned, but there will be more on my website, here:
When you visit the site, you can go to ‘Thieblots’ 09′ to see a number of captioned photos of the events of our year—more than I wanted to print out for the letter. (There are other galleries, too, if you have even greater interest or have too much time on your hands.) For those of you who remain paper bound, here’s the summary of our year, 2009.
Everybody says that Florida is the place to go when it’s cold, and we’re willing to take advice, so in January we went to visit Harold and Judy, their dogs and family, and also to see the Ringling museum and art gallery. (Ringling is pretty neat and probably worth the trip, even if you don’t have relatives nearby.) Bernice bought a fur chubby from an antique store for $25 that I think is swell. In February, after a side trip to the Philadelphia flower show, we were off to Japan to see the sights of Tokyo, the Japanese Alps (where we went to see the snow monkeys—cuter than envisioned), and then to Kyoto for, among other things, geishas.
My brother, Bob, died in April, and it’s hard to come up with any amusing visuals that would offset the gloom of that. Suzie, Aline and Harley, Maxine and Robert, and Bernice, Louis, and I scattered his ashes in May at his Baltimore County farm. Here are some pictures of the Taj Garage, his favorite modern folly, and I’ll leave it at that. Suzie had arranged a wonderful gathering in his honor at the Bar Library in May. If you were not able to attend that and are interested in a copy of his valedictory, one is posted on my website, or ask me and I’ll send it to you on paper.
Went to visit with Nina where she was, then, in Middleburg on a fancy estate belonging to the woman who co-founded Cisco Systems and amuses herself with large horses and old carriages. Bob and Pat Brier came down from New York for the Fourth of July, which we watched this year in Lovingston—perhaps the most home-grown parade in the country. Later, we dropped by for Ralph’s (Nina’s father’s) birthday party. Old office mate Bill Chernish and his daughter (my goddaughter) Sydney#8212;recently graduated from University of Chicago#8212;stopped in. We went shooting and did other stuff.
Our big event of the fall was a cruise to the Baltic (7 countries in 9 days) with 3,098 of our nearest and dearest friends. We now know all that is essential to know about Stockholm, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallin, Gadansk, Oslo, and Copenhagen, having spent as much as several hours in each. (Actually, the cruise was fun, and well organized.) Surprisingly, our favorite place was Tallin, in Estonia. Other fall activities included Segway polo (that I may take up next season), a couple of photo classes, and dinner in Washington with Ed Meese while listening to Antonin Scalia—thanks to Suzie and Bob’s having supported American Heritage, the conservative think tank, so well.
Bernice spent last spring becoming certificated as a Master Gardener and consequently has become expert on garden insects, plant funguses, and domestic chemicals. A.J. (Louis) continues to live with his dog, Milo, and cat, Bruce, in Towson, and continues to resist the temptation to add a female person to his domestic establishment, effectively keeping us out of the grandparent business. Nina has taken up a new job, again with horses, in North Carolina, and has also taken up with a new boyfriend, Jake, a world-class old-time fiddler and (from what we can tell) an all-around good fellow. My hydro power plant in Covington at last got on line this year to produce electricity—just in time for the bottom to fall out of the market. (Producers’ prices are now down to about where they were in 1975—2.5 cents per kilowatt hour. Maybe it will improve, with global warming, cap-and-trade, and all.) Bernice and I now spend Tuesday night through Sunday in Schuyler, and work in Baltimore only the first part of the week. It’s a pattern that seems to suit pretty well. We’ve decided to travel while we still can enjoy it and while the dollar continues to retain some value, so we’re off to the Caribbean right after the first of the year, then to Guatemala (with Louis) in February, the Mediterranean in April (also, then, to visit Maurice and the French half-family), and possibly Alaska and other places in the fall. So I have to say that this semi-retirement stuff ain’t all bad. – Armand