November / December


Starting with our new standard, the super-sized Thanksgiving, with all the kids, all the pets, extended family and friends:  below is the annual group shot, with Eric, Cathy, Ryan and Evan Haines, Will, Patric, Charlotte, Pam, Eli, Matt, Meredith and Pam Maker, Lauren, Noah, Alicia, Orwell, Brie, Maddy, Elaine, Debbie, Alison, Oreo, Bear and I.  Dobie was in the bedroom on a time out, as he tends to become overstimulated when there are too many people in the house and yowls at everyone (he promptly curled up and went to sleep on our bed). The big win this year was the punch made from seven different kinds of alcohol mixed with more alcohol.

Dinner table 1

Dinner table 2

Pam nails the Jello fish mold

The annual Eric Haines gaming table

The young adults

Orwell goes for a walk with his group of devoted fans

Eight of the attendees stayed over for the weekend, ten if you count dogs.  It made for large breakfast gatherings and a constant stream of eggs, bacon and coffee! 

Will and I took the opportunity to take Meredith and Matt shooting; below, Will demonstrates the use of the UTS-15 tactical shotgun and Matt and Meredith are using the 460 magnum and M&P-22 respectively.  We also shot the S&W model 41 .22 target pistol.  

We also took Noah and Alicia out for a celebratory dinner at No. 9 Park in honor of their engagement, along with Meredith and Alicia’s cousin Sara.  

Interspersed in the activities were a couple of board gaming nights at Rick and Elizabeth’s house… we had record crowds for one of them, playing two tables, while Alison and Elizabeth chatted in the other room. 

The Acadian Holiday party was on December 2nd.  The party was at the MFA… the entire MFA, Acadian rented the entire building and many of the wings were open.  The party was in the main room, with a live band, and almost everyone stayed there.  Alison and I took advantage of the pretty much empty art wings to explore! We spent the night at the Langham.   

The next day we left the hotel and headed to the Isabella Gardner museum to join Eric, Cathy, Elizabeth, and Carol to tour the multiple levels of floors with artwork and descriptions of Isabella's life. 

In early December, we made the painful decision to put Oreo down.  Her control over her back legs, always a little iffy after her stroke, continued to degrade and she'd reached the point where she couldn't reliably walk on her own and had lost control of her bowels.  At over 15 and a half years old, it seemed the right thing to do to let her go out while she still had moments of happiness.  Her last day was a good one.  Bear and Dobie have both been a little shaken up, although they seem to be consoling each other.  We will miss her stout heart and amazing ability to make the most of life in the face of adversity.  Run in Peace, Oreo.

As we reached the holidays, Maddy's classes ended mid December, so Alison flew out a bit earlier than Dave, which gave her the chance to go to Disneyland with Maddy and others twice, the second time with her eighty three year old dad.  They were joined virtually by Carol, Suki and Kevin (courtesy of Photoshop).  Dave flew in on the 22nd along with Brie, although she ended up with her Aunt Anne in LA while Dave was with Alison's family in San Marcos.  Kevin and Suki (exciting news about them below!) arrived on the weekend, with Brad and Huidi arriving shortly thereafter.  Brie came down for Christmas Eve; we all had a fine meal and swapped gifts.    

Christmas day, Alison and Dave drove up to Lisa Garber's house and joined Nick, Anne, Lisa, Bruce, Jesse and Janet for more food and presents.  This was the first Christmas that wasn't at Bill and Janet's house, and the first Christmas without Bill, making it slightly melancholy.  The news that Matt, Bill's son, had suffered a heart attack with serious complications and was just out of intensive care added to that.  But as usual, it was wonderful to see everyone and be with family, and we are hoping Matt recovers in 2018.

The day after Christmas, Ashley and Varick, her boyfriend, flew in and we joined them for breakfast in San Diego, then drove back to the Paul and Carol's house.  We could only stay a short time, however, as we needed to get to the LA house and pack for the next day, when we left for North Carolina.

The exciting news with Kevin and Suki… they were engaged at Disneyland just after we left California! 

North Carolina was a chance to visit with Liz and Ben Stern, who live in the area. and Libby, who drove down from DC to join the crowd.  We stayed at the Siena Hotel, which was a bargain for a Marriot Autograph Collection hotel, while Maddy stayed with her Aunt Liz.  We all had a chance to visit the Stagville historic site, a museum and set of preserved buildings describing life in the south before the civil war, with an emphasis on the plight of slaves at the time.

We also had a chance to visit the Carolina Tiger Rescue Center, where they rescue a variety of wild cats,  big and small.  Not housecats, mind you, although some of the breeds, like the Serval and Ocelot are not much bigger than a domestic animal.  It was both fascinating and educational.  Everyone got a chance to be a few feet away from the animals.  Some of them, like the tiger pictured below rolling around a giant ball, were playful and entertaining.  Some of them looked like they saw their next meal ticket a few feet away.  All of them were mesmerizing.  A lot of what we learned was more around the side effects of using these majestic beasts as tourist attractions, particularly when they are young, and it's not pretty.  Some of it was about how wide spread owning a predator cat is in the four states that allow in (of which North Carolina is one)... like, we had no idea there are more tigers in Texas that there are in the wild.  Some if it was incidental... like, who knew there were vultures in North Carolina (who help keep the center clean by picking the carcasses clean after the cat's meal).  All in all, it was an awesome tour.

And Dave finished off the visit with a game of Scythe with Saul, Liz's son, who also plays D&D and has a Star Trek communicator (from The Next Generation) tattooed on his chest.  A totally cool kid who needs to make it to Gencon next year!

And that's the end of the saga for 2017.  Wishing you all a fantastic 2018!