The Christmas Missives


Christmas 2013

Yuletide Greetings and Holiday Salutations!

Here it is! The 2013 Tim and Victor Christmas Letter. It’s been a wild, life-changing, fun-packed year, so sit back and savor the moment. Let’s start with the life-changing… We asked Victor’s mom to move in with us back in March.

Yes, we now have an 87 year old little old lady living with us and the past year has definitely been a time of adjustment. We had been seeing her regularly, spoke with her daily, Tim did her grocery shopping for her weekly, but it was becoming evident that she just wasn’t doing as well on her own as she had in the past. Her walking was becoming more difficult, and her apartment – at the end of a 4-mile-long hallway – was so far away from the elevators it was becoming a challenge for her to do even the basics like get her mail or go down for Bingo.

And she lived for Bingo. We were contemplating getting her a skateboard but the office management was dead set against another incident of residents riding the hallway handrails. The deciding factor was her falling and her neighbor calling 911. We, of course, found out about this well after the fact.

Imagine the conversation between son and mother when son finds out his mother had been in the hospital Emergency Department and didn’t bother to notify any of her children. And then add the conversations between siblings and in-laws. Imagine it as a loud conversation. Louder. Italian-Loud. You’re getting close.

So… after careful consideration (conversation: “She can’t live by herself, anymore.” “No foolin’. Let’s get the Guest Room set up.”) we moved her in. The first month was pretty crazy. There was a parade of nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and social workers all asking the same 10 questions and duplicating what the last person did. While most of it was well-intentioned, we needed to settle down and get into a normal routine.

Nonna is fully ambulatory with her walker and cares for herself, dresses herself, feeds herself – all that stuff. She’s not bed-ridden, she’s just not able to live on her own, anymore. We got rid of all the “help” and went for it. She commandeered the comfy-chair and the remote and settled into a pretty good routine. It’s amazing how much better a person becomes when they’re eating regularly and taking their (numerous) medications at the proper prescribed times.

And speaking of medications… what moron thought it was a good idea to prescribe HALF pills to senior citizens who have trouble cutting a sandwich, let alone manipulating a pill cutter. ::SHEESH:: It completely boggles the mind. But her test results are much better and her diabetes is under control. When we think she’s been sneaking too many cookies Tim just makes sure the next batch is double chocolate or pumpkin – her least-favorite flavors.

Having a little old lady living with you does change things – like vacations and weekend jaunts – or walking out of the bathroom naked.

Our first test was Tim’s nephew’s wedding in California in July. Victor’s brother and sister took over for us and we had a fun-filled 10-day vacation out west. We flew into Portland, spent time with Tim’s sister, and then drove to Arcata, CA for the wedding. It was great. In the redwoods, 78° and crystal-clear blue skies. The wedding was just spectacular. Bill and Christine both looked fantastic. It was just too much fun. We had a blast seeing all of the family and old friends, playing with the newest babies, and just catching up. We headed back up to Portland, and then took off to Seattle to see some very dear friends. We were wined and dined, ate fresh-caught salmon right off the grill, and took a really neat lock tour of Union Lake into Puget Sound. More perfect weather and even more perfect company. It was so much fun.

We headed back down to Portland for a few more days of total relaxation and then back home. Vacations are good. And necessary. We’re planning a trip to Sicily in 2014.

And then there’s the fun-filled… We have a new great-nephew on the Martorano side! Miles Henry Hatton was born in February and, needless to say, is a joy to have around. Notice that this is listed as “fun-filled” and not “life-changing.” It’s great being an uncle. Play and spoil and ooh and coo… and give him back when there’s a load to be taken care of or if he decides to be Mr Cranky Pants. No dealing with the 3am feedings… Just playtime and fun. It’s the best!

And Nonna is loving that new great-grandson of hers. For the record, there are 13 nieces and nephews on the Dineen side and we’re up to 13 greats as of this writing. The Martorano side has 4 nieces and nephews and 1 great.

Work-wise, things are pretty much the same… Tim is into his 13th year at his job and is back to putting little pieces of food in little paper cups for the great unwashed masses. It is now the longest job he has held, surpassing both the University of California San Francisco and Hyatt Hotels. He still writes the food blog so stop on by for a recipe or two.

Victor is still helping corporations save money on their travel. Notice we said corporations. Not people. He’s not in the leisure travel end of things and doesn’t get deals of any sort. Gone are the days of the great perks we used to get. Those first class upgrades and hotel suites for mere pennies are distant memories…We buy our tickets on Travelocity and fly steerage like everyone else. It sucks.

And speaking of travel… Tim headed back west for his niece Julia’s wedding in October. What a blast! This one was just south of San Francisco at Half Moon Bay. Another fun-filled weekend. Yes, weekend. Tim flew in and flew out – 48 hours on the ground. Julia and Grady threw the perfect party – and everyone was in perfect unison for YMCA!

Victor stayed home with Nonna and the construction guys putting in our new front window, crown molding, new doors, and additional insulation in the attic. We had a really neat 8′ x 16′ bow window in the living room. It was really nice – and really not insulated. At all. It didn’t bother us all that much but we quickly realized that it was really uncomfortable for Nonna and to keep the front room warm enough for her was baking the rest of the house – even with vents closed everywhere else in the house. She’d sneak over to the thermostat and raise it to 88° while no one was looking and then ask “Is there a window open?” or “Did you close the door?” “Is there a draft?” while we were running around barefoot and stripped down to the barest of bare necessities.

And even with the heat blasting, Nonna was wearing sweaters and thermal socks while using an electric throw blanket over her lap and covering her hands. And this was in July. Cybil would go outside and lay in the sun to cool off. The choice was to insulate or dehydrate.

Sharpe Builders did the work – and it is stellar. We highly recommend them – and it doesn’t hurt that they’re all easy on the eyes…

We celebrated our 19th Anniversary on November 23rd – the same day that Tim’s sister Phoebe renewed hew vows – legally, this time – with her wife, Nancy, in Washington. We were there via Facetime. Gotta love modern technology!

So 2013 is drawing to a close… It’s been a roller-coaster ride of a year – but then they all are if they’re done right. And we do plan on making 2014 a year to remember, as well. Our 20 year anniversary and Sicily.

It’s rough being us…

Happy Holidays!

Victor, Tim, Nonna, and Cybil