The Christmas Missives


Christmas 2015

‘Tis the Season and all that good stuff.

Where to start, where to start?!? The best place is probably December of 2014. That would be when Victor quit smoking. Yes, after 45 or so years, he done did it. Tim was pretty stoked about that, but wasn’t exactly happy about the reason – Victor had a tumor on his neck. Not the kind of news you want to hear before the holidays, but it was non-malignant and a skillful surgeon took care of it. The recovery was fun… Half of his face was numb and he dribbled when he drank coffee. Tim, of course, mocked him and made fun of him to no end. Fortunately, all is finally working fine – except if you scratch his scar he feels it in his ear. It’s a great parlor trick and we’re trying to figure out how we can monetize it. Stay tuned.

So 2014 ended kinda sucky and 2015 started off even worse. We lost our Cybil Shepherd on January 15th. Words can’t describe what we went through and we swore we would never go through it, again. It really, really sucked.

The January snow kept falling and we headed to San Francisco for warmth and some Quality Family Time. We had a blast, bought a score of t-shirts, played tourist, ate like kings, and just had a great time. We made it back home and three weeks later we were at the Chester County SPCA meeting Blanche. So much for never doing this, again.

Blanche. What can we say? She was about a 2-year old purebred German Shepherd who was brought in as a stray. And is she ever a shepherd! Cybil was a border collie shepherd mix and, at almost 13, had reached that calm and quiet stage in life. We came home with an energetic puppy – 12 years older than the last time we did this. It took a bit of getting used to. The high energy has actually been a lot of fun. We extended our yard to give her more room to run and her constant barking at the UPS man – and every other delivery truck, mail truck, school bus or trash truck – is pretty much guaranteeing we will never be burgled.  She is one vicious-sounding dog, but really is as sweet as sweet can be.

Winter rolled on and next thing we knew it was April and Victor’s Birthday! That meant a trek to New York City and Jersey Boys! We rented an apartment – a lot cheaper than a hotel room – and had a great time. Less than 6 weeks later, we were in NYC, again – this time for a Trader Joe’s Company Party. This trip was relegated to mere eating, dancing, and shopping – the first two company-paid which made the last part fairly painless.

Back home again, and we’re sitting around waiting for The Supreme Court to rule on Marriage Equality and – voila! On June 26th, we became actually married everywhere! We came a long way from when Tim was denied unemployment benefits from California when we moved back to Pennsylvania in 2001, our non-wedding in San Francisco in 2008 after Prop 8 passed, and our 2010 marriage in New Hampshire that was only recognized in 6 states. Who woulda thunk that gay people would be able to get married before women got equal rights in this country?

We’d love to interject some great political banter here, right now, but will pass since everyone already knows we’re Left-Leaning Liberals. Go Bernie. And let’s get serious about Gun Control, huh?!?

Summertime… and the livin’ was easy… We planted our tomatoes and peppers but didn’t see a great return, this year… Part of the problem was our historical planting beds have lost a lot of sunlight due to bushes and trees that have matured in our neighbor’s yards. Plus, we weren’t doing a lot to amend the soil every year. So… one day while out back we took stock of our new side yard and decided it was time for raised beds.

>Being the industrious duo that we are, we hired someone to come out and design, dig, and build them. They came out great – and right before we flew off to Portland at the end of August, we planted a Fall crop of all sorts of fun foods from beets to cabbages to arugula to spinach and a half-dozen other things—and lots of garlic for next year.

With plants barely in the ground, we flew off to Portland for Tim’s niece Megan’s wedding. What a grand time we had! We flew in a few days in advance and the family party at Phoebe and Nancy’s – the mothers of the bride – was one of the greatest times in recorded history. It really is great having a family you actually like and like being around. We laughed until we cried and then we laughed some more. Alcohol and numerous shots had nothing to do with it. Really.

After the wedding, we bid adieu to the California Family and headed up to Seattle to see two of our bestest friends for a couple of days. More fun, more food. See a theme, here? We always have so much fun when we visit, and Bonnie and Nancy had such a comfortable guest bed, we bought the same mattress topper they have for our bed at home. Online shopping is such a wonderful thing.

We made sure to hit the local Cannabis Store while we were there. We picked up some great liquids. Highly recommended if you travel up to the Pacific Northwest. It’s so nice to be treated like an adult. And they made it through our TSA-searched baggage with no problem.

Back home and more home repairs… Sharpe Builders came back and did new siding – a pre-painted concrete board that will not rot like the cedar that was there, before. If you ever need a contractor, they are the BEST! The house looks fantastic.

So no European adventures, this year, and possibly none next year, either – we have two weddings on opposite coasts that take precedence – but we’re planning our next adventure, anyway. The passports are always at the ready.

Nonna is still with us and will be 90 on her next birthday. She and Blanche are finally getting along. Blanche didn’t care much for Nonna’s walker – or being run into by Nonna’s walker – but they sorted it out as ladies do.

Tim is still writing the food blog and Victor just keeps getting better with his photography. Both can be accessed through so stop by and see what’s new for dinner or the latest in photojournalism.

The house is now decorated for Christmas – inside and out – and we’re ready to settle down and let the snow fall.

Here’s to a great Holiday Season to you and yours and to a great 2016 – and a functioning Congress in November.

Happy Holidays!

Victor, Tim, Nonna, and Blanche