2023

Christmas Letters

Ah… 2023. What a year. What a fun beginning!

Obviously, we must start right off with Politics! Could there possibly have been any more fun than watching that little weasel, Kevin McCarthy humiliate himself in his quest to become Speaker of the House? The dictionary sums it up quite well… to debase oneself:  the act or process of lowering oneself in status, esteem, quality, or character. Now, one could argue that he never had any of those traits to begin with, but, still… it was so much fun to watch it play out.

Immediately after that, we finally got our new bathroom!


2022

Christmas Letters

2002. What a year. It seems we say that every year, but, really… what a year!

We know you’re just dying to hear our take on The World Series and The Midterm Elections, but there’s just so much that happened before then. As Tim’s great-great Aunt Katherine would often tell him when he was but a wee tyke: “When a string is in a knot, patience will untie it.” Patience, boys and girls, patience.

2022 started off on the wrong foot when we lost our beloved Blanche 10 days before Christmas. Definitely not the way to finish off a year – or to start a new one. Words really can’t describe how much it totally sucked. We’re pretty sure there will be another furry friend in the house, but only time will tell when it will happen.

So… one stoic foot in front of the other, we marched on – right smack dab into the middle of the Medical-Industrial Complex!

We both went in for our annual “Wellness Visit” – we no longer have annual physicals, because we’re old. Now, it’s a sit-down and let’s talk about falling and elder abuse chat. Victor scored pretty well – keep taking this, keep doing that, see ya next year. Tim, on the other hand, was handed a whole bunch of fun, new things to do.

First, was a sleep study the first of August. It’s where you go into a strange place overnight, they hook you up to all sorts of wires and electrodes, and then they tell you how bad your sleep was. Like – no shit. YOU try sleeping normally with 500 wires attached to you! Midway into it, they woke him up to hook him up to yet another machine – a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure)    because, it seems, not only does he have sleep apnea, he has extremely severe sleep apnea. Oh, joy. (It actually explains a lot…) There was a HUGE recall of CPAPs, so, sadly, even with “extremely severe” apnea, he has still not received his machine—although he just got word it will be here before the end of the year! (Remind us again how superior our for-profit healthcare system is…)

The second was heading back to the gym. Naturally, during the Time of Covid, Victor gained back much and Tim gained back all that weight we had lost during our year of being gym rats. (Actually, Tim gained back even more—he’s such an overachiever.)

With minimal effort we had both been dropping a few pounds here and there, but Tim – having the gift of being able to justify just about every M&M Peanut he consumes – wanted actual accountability to stay focused. He was supposed to join a pre-Diabetes Program in September. It was postponed to October and then postponed – yet, again – until November. Tim, not always the most patient of people—see above quote—basically told them no thanks—and has been doing the program on his own. We got our 5th Covid jab and the Senior Flu Shot and we were back to the gym a couple days a week until Tim ended up in a boot because he got a tad too overzealous with a certain leg press routine—not one of his more intelligent moves. He hobbled around like GrandPappy McCoy for a couple of weeks, but the gym is on hiatus until the first of the year.  Victor, being a tad more intelligent, is balancing gym and weight-loss much more painlessly.

Lest you think that all we did was go to Doctors… we actually had a lot of fun outside of the medical establishment.

We finally made it to Spring Training! We met Tim’s sister in Scottsdale and really had fun in spite of $10 hot dogs and $16 beers. Arizona really is a beautiful state, if you ignore the politics (which, sadly, is not all that easy.) Besides baseball, we were able to get out of the city, see some sites, and, had a really fun time. (And ain’t it too bad that Kari Lake lost?!? Tee-hee.)

No sooner than we were back from Arizona, we were off, again – this time to see Victor’s family back east! What fun we had! We got to meet two new babies, eat fabulous food, drink fabulous wines, and just have fun and relax with some really great people. The trip was way too short, but there’s always a next time. Philadelphia, we’ll give advance notice!

Not wasting a moment, we were off to Bend, Oregon for a few days. Tim’s brother rented a house and had his kids and grandkids down, then we headed down for a few days—having some quality family time and seeing another part of our new home state.

Finally home, and time to relax before Tim’s 70th birthday. After last year’s throwing out the first pitch baseball game, Tim pretty much wanted a low-key, quiet, local family event – and he got it!

Fun gifts—including new camping cots to go with our new tent and sleeping bags – for a fabulously fun family camping trip to Silver Falls State Park, near Salem, Oregon. Tim, the West Coast boy, did a lot of hiking and camping in his youth, and Victor, the East Coast boy, firmly believes that camping is a Holiday Inn without room service. The compromise was a state park with drive-up campsites, showers, running water, and actual flushing toilets.

The plan was to have all 18 of the local family take over several campsites with tents, fabulous food, and full bar over Tim’s brothers’ 73rd birthday. This part of the family does a lot of camping and they do it in style. Different family units and/or age groups plan and cook some fabulous meals for everyone. Everyone does their part and it’s not a hassle for anyone.

Camping to start August 26th. Victor gets Covid, August 18th. Where, why, how, we have no idea. We moved completely across the country in September of 2020 – right in the middle of the pandemic – with no vaccines, no nothing. Not a problem.

We were double vaxed, double boosted, always cautious on airplanes, concerts, shopping, out to dinner. Not an issue. And then out of the clear blue Pacific Northwest sky – whammo!

We went into isolation mode, slept in separate rooms, literally stayed out of each other’s sight for 4 days. Victor spent most of the time in bed watching bad TV. Not feeling sick as much as just tired. Bit of a sore throat, bit of a cough. General malaise.  Tim was testing daily and four days out, was starting to feel pretty smug – he had escaped it! But on Day Five, it got Tim, as well. He called his PCP and got a prescription for Paxlovid. Within a couple of days, he was feeling pretty much back to normal – whatever that is.

Needless to say, we missed the camping trip.

While recuperating from The Covid, landscapers started on our yard renovation! All we can say is WOW! What a difference! We now have an actual patio in front instead of an uneven pea-gravel pit – with lots of seating—and the back has become a maintenance-free oasis. We gave them a general idea of what we were looking for, and they took it and ran. Really pleased. We’ve been having a blast finding fun, quirky yard art to match our fun, quirky, house.

Totally awesome news is in the middle of all of that, our niece, Emily, got engaged to a really great guy named Jacob. Wedding date is September, 2023! We’re all psyched. He’s the perfect addition to the family!

Because it hasn’t been a crazy enough year – we are finally going to remodel our 1980 bathroom! Naturally, there have been more delays there, too—starting with being ghosted by one contractor and a ridiculous bid by another who obviously didn’t want the job.

The bathroom is fairly large, but a third of it is taken up by a jet tub placed at an angle at one far end. On the opposite end is a stall shower the size of a 1940s phone booth. Serious wasted space at one end, and a shower where one couldn’t bend over to wash feet without smacking a head into the seriously outdated frosted glass, at the other. In January, the tub area will become a full-sized walk-in shower and that shower stall thing will become a linen cabinet. Luxury in our dotage. We deserve it for making it this far.

And we finally end with what you’ve all been waiting for—Baseball and Politics—because we just know you’ve been dying for our take on the  outcome of both!

First, The Phillies! There was one game that was a total heartbreak, two games that were absolute thrillers, and three games that just sucked. But… they were total underdogs the entire time and still made it to Game Six. For a team that no one expected to be there in the first place, they did pretty good. And, as much as we both really dislike Houston, it’s nice that Dusty Baker finally got his ring.

It’s also nice that Democracy is still hanging on, albeit, by a thread. As of this writing, it appears the Blue Side will gain a seat in the Senate and the Red Wave ended up being a ketchup stain on a wall at Mar-a-Lago. 51/49 will really dilute Manchin and Sinema! It was sad to see the Republicans retake The House—but gerrymandering really is effective. It’s difficult to understand people voting to keep abortion legal and then voting for the people who want to make it illegal, but no one has ever accused the voting public of having any common sense. It was also sad to hear Nancy Pelosi say she’s stepping down. She is a smart, savvy woman and we really hope the up-and-coming legislators pay attention and learn from her. We were really hoping we’d have a 20 minute respite before we have to start on the 2024 campaigns—but the Orange Menace had to announce another failed run. Life was so much better before we had to deal with 24/7/365 politics.

But Baseball, Politics, and Doctors aside, we’re loving retirement, having a great time in Oregon, enjoying the Holidays, looking forward to Cabo San Lucas in April, and wherever else our wandering feet and Social Security checks will take us!

Happiest of Holidays to all!

Tim and Victor


2021

Christmas Letters

Happiest of Holidays, one and all!

2021… what a year!

Vaccines, a wedding, first birthdays for the twins, a new baby back east who we haven’t met, yet, and another on the way. Quick weekend trips, getting fully ensconced in the Medical Industrial Complex, living the dream…

We played the Vaccine Lottery the moment we were able to apply—Tim got Pfizer and Victor got Moderna—and we have also gotten our boosters. No arm pain, no side effects, just science doing what it does best. It was quite the challenge trying to sign up in those initial confusing days, but that is all behind us, now… the virus isn’t, but the shots are—for the time being. If the CDC recommends another booster, we’ll get it just like our annual flu shots. ‘Tain’t no big deal.

In January, Tim is finally going to see an audiologist about his hearing. Victor has a love/hate reaction with the idea—great that Tim won’t constantly be going “WHAT?!?” but bummed that Tim will be able to pick up on under-breath comments. Oh, well…

On the home-front, we did not win the lottery, get a Nobel Prize, nor otherwise partake in any earth-shattering scientific discoveries. What we did do was settle into our new home and community. The Pacific Northwest is such a beautiful area. And it’s a great place to be retired.

We had a rotting deck removed from our fully fenced-in front yard and built raised garden beds in its place. Sadly, we did not have a lot of luck with our tomato crop—they did not like the week of 115°+ temperatures, among other things. Tim did make a really good roasted green tomato sauce with the last of the harvest, though. It’s all a learning experience, so we’ll see how next year fares.

Vacation-wise, we stayed pretty close to home—a couple of treks out to the coast was it. We had tickets with Phoebe and Nancy for a week at the Grand Hyatt Kaua’i that we cancelled. The governor was asking tourists to stay home, and for the amount of money we were going to spend, we decided it wasn’t worth the hassles and
restrictions. We then decided to spend a week in Los Angeles. What the heck… beaches, Catalina Island, Santa Barbara, Malibu… and then that fell through. It was also the week they had the oil spill down there, so it all worked out.

Our next attempt at a getaway was to Astoria, Oregon. On the northern edge of the state on the Columbia River—just miles from the Pacific… We had a great time. It’s a beautiful area with lots to see—lots of history, several really good craft breweries, and a really good distillery! And then Victor caught pneumonia and Tim caught a nasty cold—less than two weeks before our niece, Katie’s marriage to Ben. Their wedding had already been postponed a year because of the pandemic.  We stayed isolated from the family until just a few days before the ceremony.  It was not fun. Living on Mucinex and Sudafed—which ended up causing another problem for Tim—more on that, later…

Fully recovered, we got to witness a fabulous wedding between two fabulous people. It was a blast—and Katie
finally got her YMCA! All of Tim’s siblings were actually in the same room for the first time in several years, and we got to visit with folks Tim has known since childhood in the early ‘60s. People who not only know where the bodies are buried, but helped bury them. Fun, indeed.

In other fun health news… It seems that decongestants can have a negative effect on men with enlarged prostates—and just days after the wedding—Tim and Victor had been taking copious amounts of decongestants for their colds before the wedding—Tim was diagnosed with a Citrobacter Koseri (diversus) Urinary Tract Infection and
Prostatitis. Not fun. 21 days of antibiotics cleared all of that up, but it was quite uncomfortable, to say the least. Needless to say, Sudafed is off the list of OTC medications.

And speaking of fun… 2021 was definitely the year of baseball! We probably watched more baseball this year than the ten years prior. We really got the most from our MLB.TV subscription. The time zone difference is perfect—between the Phillies and the Giants, there is always something to watch—and we don’t have to stay up ‘till the wee hours of the morning to see a 9th inning!  Sadly, the end of the Giants season was bogus, but… the Dodgers didn’t get to the World Series, so that helped take the sting away.

On the baby-front, our newest great-niece, Emelia Eva – ’Emmi’ – was born on October 29th. She, of course, is as gorgeous as her mother, Leah. If the travel gods are willing, we’ll see her in the Spring. It will be our first trip back east since the move west. And, if the baby gods are willing, there will be one more new baby to see when we’re there… Our nephew Nick and wife Sam are expecting their second…  This is fun.

And then it was First Birthday Time for Finley and Elise! My, how time is just flying! Last Christmas they were a month old and we were singing Christmas Carols to them outdoors because we were in different Covid pods and couldn’t be together. Fortunately, vaccines have brought us all back together, again! They are just so adorable and they have phenomenal parents. It is so much fun to see them learning to walk, talk, and develop their personalities. One of the best parts of coming from large families is we get our kid-fixes and baby-fixes and then we get to give them back! Dirty diapers?!? Fussy?!? That’s now a different generations’ responsibility. Gotta love it!

It has been a non-stop year and we’re looking forward to 2022. It already looks to be just as busy and just as much fun.  We’re definitely hoping we can enjoy it mask-free.

Here’s hoping your holiday season and new year are the best they can possibly be!

Hugs and Holiday Kisses!

 

Victor, Tim, and Blanche


2020

Christmas Letters

Seasons Greetings, one and all!

2020—the year we want to remember and the year we want to forget.  The high points were high, the low points lower than low. We lost Victor’s Mom to Covid-19 two weeks before her 94th birthday.  Pandemics, lock downs, toilet paper shortages, flour shortages, massive misinformation – all were the tip of the negative iceberg. Besides finally making it back to the west coast, the real high was welcoming twins into the world! Our nephew, Bill, and his wife, Christine, brought Finley and Elise into the world on November 23rd!

Naturally, they are completely adorable. And so are the new babies!

We won’t bother to mention the election, except to say the outcome was delicious. We were able to vote absentee ballot from Pennsylvania, so it’s nice to think we had a hand in putting Biden and Harris over the top!  Stay vigilant, boys and girls. There’s a lot to undo, redo, and do anew.

After almost 20 years on the east coast and a false-start in February before the pandemic hit, we finally had the house on the market for our move west. We sold to a really nice, young couple with a pretty new baby. They are going to fit well into the changing demographics of the neighborhood. They asked for a 2-month closing so they wouldn’t lose out on a lease. We said yes. The wait was difficult, especially since patience is not a virtue either one of us possess in great quantity, but moving day finally came in late September so we loaded up the truck and we moved to Beverly… er… Beaverton. Right into  an Extended Stay Hotel. We know that for millions of people, moving into a place like that would be the epitome of luxurious living.  However, a 2-burner stove, no oven, and a dinky refrigerator was definitely a step down for us.

We managed a few culinary masterpieces, of course. We are us, after all…

We did a five night/six day drive from east coast to west since we’re dragging the Benzedrine-fueled days of our youth behind us. This probably won’t surprise many, but the culinary choices along I-80 are reasonably dismal. In these days of Covid, we weren’t about to do dine-in, so most of what we ate was drive-thru. It was quite painful, but we did get some really good takeout from a tavern in Evanston, Wyoming and great delivery from a restaurant in North Platte, Nebraska.  All of our hotels offered some sort of breakfast—most of which consisted of things that probably would not be classified as food in the European Union.

The remarkable news is we found a house immediately! It was the second house we looked at on our first day of looking—in the exact area we wanted! The housing gods were definitely smiling down upon us! The sellers wanted a 45 day closing and up to 30 day rent-back, meaning we could have been looking at moving in the week before Christmas. Not exactly what we had hoped for, but we really liked the house and location, so we agreed. The good news is they found a house immediately, upped the closing date, and we were able to move in November 16th—55 days after leaving Pennsylvania.

Naturally, there had to be a hiccup in the process—Bekins screwed up on our furniture delivery date. We had put everything in storage when we moved out here—bringing minimal essentials with us—and expecting delivery a few days after we moved in. Those few days ended up being November 30th. We lived with an inflatable bed, a folding table, a borrowed TV, and high speed internet access. Priorities.

We wanted to take advantage of the time to carpet the living room and hallway, install an air conditioner—we’re old, we want cool air in the summer—and gas lines for a new gas stove, and gas grill on the deck. In typical fashion, they couldn’t get anything scheduled before the furniture arrived—that would have been too easy. Not to mention we had way too much furniture for our downsized house in the first place. But… lots of local charities made out well and we survived.

Blanche adapted extremely well to losing her home, being driven across the country in the backseat of an SUV she could barely jump into, living in two rooms, and meeting new dogs, cats, and people…  We brought her bed, her favorite toys, and gave her plenty of encouragement and praise. We’re sure she was ready to just go home and lay under her favorite bush and bark at the UPS driver, but she now has a new backyard, new bushes to lay under, and new UPS drivers to bark at. She adapted better than we could ever have imagined.

And one final piece of good news… Tim paid a hacker to get TJRecipes reinstated back onto Facebook—more fun recipes and food blogs to come!

So here we are at the end of 2020. In the immortal words of The Grateful Dead, What a long strange trip it’s been.

Happiest of Happy Holidays to all—and a readily available Vaccine, quickly!

 

Tim, Victor, and Blanche


2019

Christmas Letters

Here it is, boys and girls, our 2019 Christmas Missive!

Grab a cuppa or a nice hot toddy and settle in for a fun read.

2019… what can we say?!? So much happened—like impeachments and stuff—but the Main Event was our 25th Anniversary!  Twenty-Five Years of fun and laughter. More about that, later…

The other big deal this year has been the continued weight loss. We have both lost 50 pounds since July 2018—and, so far, we’ve been successful at keeping most of it off.  It hasn’t been easy—a lot of gym time and a lot of smaller meals. Looking back, it really does feel like all we did was go to the gym and get the [expletive deleted] beat out of us, but… it’s a small price to pay for our Senior Stud Muffin Status. We still see our Trainer one day a week and most days hit the gym for a bit of work on our own. Tim still can’t touch his toes, but he can clearly see them. Victor has much better flexibility.

On the food front, desserts are pretty non-existent and we actually think about what we’re eating, nowadays. We never did diet—we just move more and eat less. Of course, 12 days out west with family and friends definitely threw a wrench into the works because neither of us have that sort of strength of will or resoluteness. Oh well.

Garden-wise, it was the Year of the Tomato!  Last year, as we’re sure you all remember because you do tend to savor and  memorize our little missives—like in 2004 when we wrote about getting our new Dixie Gutter Guards or in 2012 when Tim reorganized the basement while Victor was in London—the tomato crop was pretty bleak. This year?!? The exact opposite! We had something like 16 plants—all heirloom varieties or seeds from Italy—and they really produced. We made tomato-everything, from tarts and galettes to soups and slices. We canned jars of sauce and made fresh tomato paste that is to die for!  We had fresh tomatoes up to the middle of November. The only positive aspect of Climate Change.

In other gardening news, the eggplants sucked and the hot peppers were almost non-existent—although we did get to make a few bottles of hot sauce. We also had so many cucumbers from one plant that we finally had to commit planticide on it. We had baskets of cucumbers on the curb, we made 24 pints of pickles, we cooked them, canned them, grated them, sliced them and diced them. We reached the point where we couldn’t give them away, anymore… and the thought of actually eating another cucumber… It was time for it to go.

In other fun food news, the TJRecipes website has been banned from Zuckerberg Enterprises.  We cannot link to Facebook or post the url on Instagram. It’s quite heartening to know that politicians can flat-out lie on their sites and Russian bots can spread hate and misinformation with impunity, but a recipe for fresh pasta and home-grown tomatoes violates their community standards. The biggest surprise, though, was finding out they think they have any sort of standards.

The recipe site is still up and running—with more than 5000 pages between the TJ Recipes site and Tim’s Mom’s Cook Books—and new recipes are still being added all the time. It’s just not accessible through Zuckerberg Enterprises. Their loss.

On the travel front, we were pretty much homebodies for most of the year. Our first big trip was in mid September—we  flew into San Francisco for Tim’s nephew, Michael’s wedding to his lovely bride, Heather, in Capay, CA. Our families do good weddings.

It was a blast.

It was just shy of a week, but we were saving up for the Anniversary Trip in November—Portland, OR and Port Townsend, WA.

Talk about a wild and crazy time!

The trip started out uneventful, even though we splurged on First Class tickets. 25 years is a definite reason to celebrate—and we’re not putting any kids through college. Actually, we would have splurged even if we did have kids in college—we would have just taken the money out of their college fund. We’re so totally worth it.

We spent a quiet few days in Portland with Tim’s sister, Phoebe, and sister-in-law, Nancy—and got to see the oldest Drag Queen in the USofA. It was an absolutely fabulous show, but seeing the bare butt of an 89 year old drag queen dressed as the Rhinestone Cowboy is something we’ll never be able to unsee. We then headed up to Port Townsend, WA to clear our eyes and visit with friends for a couple of days. More fun and fabulous food—and lots of relaxation—we were storing energy for the onslaught of family pouring into Portland.

Sadly, but what ended up as being fortunately,  Tim’s sister, Eileen, was turned back at Redding, CA because of the #$@!%$ Bomb Cyclone that hit Northern California and Southern Oregon. Sadly, because they missed Thanksgiving with us and our renewal of our vows, but fortunately, because people were stranded in their cars for more than 17 hours. We’re definitely worth a car trip to see us, but even we would have to concede a 17 hour stranding in a snow storm might almost be a bit much. Almost. Kinda.

The highlight—other than seeing so many family and friends and having a dozen different pies all made from Tim’s Mom’s recipes—was renewing our vows on Thanksgiving Day. SIL Nancy performed the ceremony and we were able to FaceTime with the family who couldn’t make it in person, so everyone was there with us. Not that we’re an overly sentimental or emotional family, but there was not a dry eye in the house— especially ours . And we finally got our YMCA.

We made it back east with no issues—we flew in between the multiple snow storms—and even made our connection on time. No one flies non-stop from PHL to PDX, anymore, so we have to really watch the winter trips.

Back on the home front, Blanche is still terrorizing the UPS trucks and with Christmas and a score of other holidays coming up, the UPS trucks are plentiful. Nonna is pushing 94 and still with us and going strong.

We’re getting to the end of the page, so it’s time to bid adieu and plot how we’re going to handle the War on Christmas, this year. It’s not easy being left-wing radicals at our ages. Fortunately those months at the gym are giving us a bit more stamina.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season and try to celebrate every holiday you can—regardless of religion or national origin. Holidays are fun. Good food and good cheer abound—and that’s what it’s all about.

Victor and Tim
Nonna and Blanche


2018

Christmas Letters

Holiday Greetings and Salutations!

2018—The Year in Review. Where to start, where to start… It would be easy to start with politics—you must know how disinterested we are in the whole political spectrum—but that’s not the way to start off a holiday missive.  Let’s start with some other fun stuff:

Tim Is Retired!!! Yes, he hit the magic age and decided to start collecting Social Security while it’s still available. He spent almost 17 years at Trader Joe’s—the longest job he ever held—and they really sent him off in style. The old adage of ‘how did I ever find time to go to work’ is true. He’s loving every minute of it. Well… mostly every minute of it. Right after he retired, we joined a gym. Yes, the two guys whose sole exercise regime consisted of putting fork-to-mouth have become gym rats.

Ya get old and there’s this program called Silver Sneakers that gets you free or reduced price gym memberships. We went to the local LA Fitness and parlayed our free membership into a year-long personal training regimen—that was not free by any stretch of the financial imagination. It is not easy and as of this writing, Tim still cannot touch his toes—but, for the first time in 25 years, he can see them!  Victor can not only touch his toes, he has gone down half a dozen pant sizes—and he ain’t done, yet!

Our trainer, Charles, is a 64 year old former Marine DI. He was nice to us the first few times we went. Now he is relentless. But it’s working. We are starting to look like the disco versions of our youth and are rapidly approaching Senior Stud Muffin Status. We’ll be rockin’ Speedos by summer. It will mean having to get our backs waxed, ears plucked, manscaping, and all that, but… we will do what we need to do—we can’t disappoint our public.

Of course you know that it hasn’t been all work and no play. Prior to retirement, we flew to California and spent a fun-filled long weekend with Tim’s siblings in Sonoma doing wine tours and just having fun. And we do know how to have fun.

After retirement, we headed up to Rochester for another long weekend with some of our bestest friends. We spent Tim’s birthday at Niagara Falls and had so much fun we decided to go back in December because it wasn’t cold enough in July. Tim opened the Hyatt Hotel in Buffalo back in 1984 so he knew just how frigid the tundra would be—we did it, anyway. What a blast! It’s amazing just how beautiful it is—regardless of weather. And the city of Niagara Falls on the Canadian side is the perfect mixture of honky-tonk and class. Definitely fun.

In other news… We played the 1.6 billion dollar Lottery—and didn’t win. It was for the best. What would we do with a billion dollars? The hardest part would have been disappearing and never seeing any of you, again. Only kidding… You know that we would share—just like we know you will if you win. We have a Venmo account. And PayPal. And, of course, direct bank transfers. Call for details.

2018 was not a stellar year for our garden. Too much rain for the tomatoes, although the peppers seemed to love the end of the season. We did can some tomato sauce and we roasted, fried, froze and/or canned enough peppers to get us through to January. We hope. We do like hot peppers on just about anything.

Nonna is still with us and is pushing 93—the same age as Queen Elizabeth. Blanche is almost 7—and is the goofiest dog on the planet. She takes turns being Victor’s dog or Tim’s dog—following one or the other around the house at different times of the day, but no matter where she is in the house, if Two Daddies go into the kitchen she’s there in a flash—tail wagging and pretending to be good. We know better, but she usually gets a treat, anyway.

Two Daddies In The Kitchen has definitely changed since we started going to the gym. Gone are those bazillion-calorie meals and desserts. In their place are reasonable-calorie meals and desserts. We are not dieting—we’re eating smarter. There are no off-limit foods—we eat breads and pastas and ::shudder:: white rice and potatoes—we just make sure they’re balanced with other things. And it’s working.

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for… Politics. The 2018 Mid-Term Elections… You all know of our Left-Leaning Liberalism, so you’ll get that it wasn’t quite the tsunami we were hoping for, but what a show, nonetheless. Too many of the wrong people were re-elected but a lot of good people made it to the House. Women, even. What a concept. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress! And Native Americans! Muslims! People of Color—representing Americans in the House of Representatives. It is a beautiful thing.

Beto lost by the slimmest of margins—but keep an eye out for a VP slot on 2020. It could happen… Our county and township went solidly blue in Purple Pennsylvania—and we were able to flip three House seats in our area. We re-elected our Democratic Governor—an actual really nice guy—and sent a few more Dems to the Republican-controlled State House. We will build on the little victories.

So… as 2018 comes to a close we look back on the good things—like Tim’s 1993 Ford Ranger pickup that he bought new for $10k in 1993. It’s now pushing 26 years of age and still going strong. We’ve definitely gotten our money out of that. Vacations and spending time with Family and Friends. Retirement. Becoming Gym Rats and getting in shape for the first time—ever. The time to do the things we love to do—even when that something is doing nothing at all.

So have a wonderful Holiday Season and try to celebrate every holiday you can—regardless of religion or national origin. Holidays are fun. Good food and good cheer abound—and that’s what it’s all about.

Happy Holidays!

Tim and Victor
Nonna and Blanche


2017

Christmas Letters

Рождество 2017

Дорогие семьи и друзья!

Что за год 2017! Места, которые мы были, то, что мы видели…

О… Oh… wait… We never met with anyone. Quick! Where’s our lawyer? Uh… Let’s just start over…

Dear Family and Friends!

What a year 2017 has been! The places we’ve been, the things we’ve seen…  It’s been a rollercoaster of a year—wild ups and downs— but it’s been a fun ride, indeed!

Being the Liberal Elites that we are, the downs have all been  Washington-related, but we’re not going to spend your precious time here ranting about politics. If you didn’t know our views on things, you wouldn’t be on the Christmas Card List in the first place. ‘Nuff said.

The ups have been numerous. One of the first ones was seeing Bette Midler in Hello Dolly up in New York. What a performance! The girl knows how to put on a show! We had seen her several times over the years, but Dolly Levi was one of the best! It was kind of a pre-Victor’s Birthday / Retirement present because, another huge up was Victor retiring!

Finally, after way too many years working, Victor has walked away from the corporate world and hasn’t looked back. Armed with a new camera, he’s out and about having the time of his photographic life. And, yes, Tim is jealous.

Retirement also gave Victor more time to spend in our vegetable garden, tending the crops. He picked, Tim cooked and canned. Well, except for the tomato sauce—Victor cooked and Tim canned. The garden has been great. We now know at least 378 ways to cook eggplant.

Another highlight of 2017 was Tim reaching his Medicare Birthday—and as of this writing, Medicare still exists. Keep those fingers crossed.

And then there was The Vacation. Four siblings and four spouses on a 10-day trek to Boston, New Hampshire, and Maine to see the foliage change. The weather was too warm for a lot of color change, but oh, what fun we had! Sadly, 2 siblings couldn’t make it, but we’ll work on them for the next time.

We started with a great house in Salem, MA for three nights. First it was tequila shots at 10:30am on the Boston waterfront with our friend, Dorrie, and  then VIP treatment at Fenway Park for a Red Sox game, courtesy of Deb and Ben. We did Witch Tours, the USS Constitution, and all the basic touristy stuff. Then it was two nights at Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire, getting to see our dear friends Marlene and Pat for dinner, then two nights in remote Maine—without cellular access— in a 90 year old vacation camp on a huge pond, and another two nights right outside of Acadia National Park on the beautiful Maine coast.  The weather could not have been better, the company could not have been better. The entire vacation really was perfect.

Then it was back home and back to reality—not a bad place to be when you’re us. The first area of business was clearing out the vegetable garden. We had decided against doing a fall garden because of our fabulous vacation and we’re planning another fall vacation next year to celebrate Tim’s retirement, so no fall garden, again. Next year is Tim and Victor’s European Vacation with Barcelona, Milan, and Lake Como the prospective sites. And we now have  Global Entry to speed things up.

Still on the home front, we did a bit of office rearranging and have started the slow purge of accumulated stuff. We seriously have more stuff than any two people could ever need and we have stuff we haven’t looked at or used in years and years. Tim is thinking of opening an Etsy shop. Stay tuned.

We all enjoyed good health throughout the year, but Nonna developed a cough that just wouldn’t go away. We finally got her in to see her Primary Care Physician the day before Thanksgiving and the next thing we knew, she was in the ER, being held for observation, and finally admitted to the hospital. 4 days of dealing with the Medical Industrial Complex is enough to make anyone ill—and it did not make for a happy 91 year old. After tests, being hooked up to machines, oxygen tubes, and changes in medications, she’s now home, still has her cough, and back to watching non-stop NCIS and Law & Order.

Blanche has taken it all in stride. As long as there’s a cookie to be eaten or a UPS truck to bark at, she’s a happy little girl. Why she goes bonkers over UPS trucks will always be a mystery—but it’s no mystery that she doesn’t like them.

So… 2017 is coming to a close… another great year of fabulous family and friends, of mostly ups and very few downs—personal, not political—and we’re planning on more of the same for 2018.

Be good to one another, stay politically active, and here’s to the best year, ever!

 

Happy Holidays!

Victor, Tim, Nonna, and Blanche


2016

Christmas Letters

Happy Holidays, one and all!

If you’re reading this, it means you made the cut. We had to cull the list a bit this year. Can you believe people actually were not rooting for The Cubs to win the World Series?!? The Cubbies! The denizens of Wrigleyville finally did it after 108 years! What an impressive team. We’ve
always liked Chicago, but have to admit that the pizza sucks. Deep dish. Why do they have to do that? Really. Gimme a New York slice. You know… real pizza.

 

 

It was also a roller-coaster of a political year but if you’re expecting a long drawn out synopsis of politics—forget it. We’ll be with the Resistance. Secret handshake will be sent in a separate missive.

 

The rest of the year was nothing but fun. For two guys who are mostly homebodies, it seems we were never home. No extravagant European trips, this year, although in one two-week stretch, we were in three different US cities in three different hotels. Literal Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

The most fun at home, though, was the garden. Who woulda thunk that we could grow so much food in our own yard? Everything about it was an experience—from the planting to the growing to the eating and canning. Literal gallons of fresh tomato sauce, eggplant, peppers, cauliflower… jams and jellies. Winter is going to be very good. We already have our seeds for next year and will be drawing up and planning the garden in a few months. Fresh produce. What a concept.

We also had a couple of auspicious birthdays, this year. Victor hit the mandatory sign up for Medicare birthday while Tim reached his will you still need me will you still feed me milestone.

To celebrate Medicare, we took off to NYC and met friends for a long raucous weekend. We stayed at The Grand Hyatt New York, saw Kinky Boots, ate lots of great food, and, just had a great time. Tim used to work for Hyatt  several lifetimes ago, and schmoozed the Front Desk clerk with tales of days gone by… We had booked a cheapo Hotels.com rate but were upgraded big-time… Corner room, Club Level, Wine & Cheese… Kinky Boots was a great show –and highly recommended.

From New York it was Hershey, PA and The Dixie Chicks. Neither of us had ever been to Hershey so we booked a couple of nights to see the show and see the town. The concert was excellent. Fantastic music, politically charged. It was great. They are simply great musicians and performers. The town of Hershey by contrast was fairly meh.  Hershey Park is an okay place to while away an afternoon if you don’t mind long lines and lots of direct sunlight. We thought the Hershey Hotel to be a better fit for us. Old, but well-preserved. Classic.

Victor got Kinky Boots for his birthday but Tim got Solar Panels for his! Yes, we did it. And they are just stellar. We are actually producing electricity from the sun. What a concept, eh?!? They look so impressive on the roof and really make a statement in the neighborhood—along with the Bernie sign that’s still in the yard. We ain’t going quietly.

And then things really got crazy. We bought tickets to see Barbra Streisand. Yes, they were ridiculously expensive, but… what the hell. We figured she’s not going to be doing too many more concerts, we had never seen her live… It was time.

A dear friend announced her wedding up in New Hampshire so we immediately RSVP’d. Bought airline tickets, made the hotel reservations, the whole shebang, and then Tim realized the wedding and Barbra Streisand were on the same date—and he had bought airline and hotel for the wrong week! Airlines are very unforgiving when it comes to changing reservations. Very unforgiving. But, damn the cost,  we changed everything.

Tim, feeling horrible about having to cancel Barbra, did what and red-blooded gay American male with a credit card would do—he went online and bought two tickets to see Babs in Washington, DC the week before—along with rooms at the DC Hyatt. More schmoozing, more upgrades… We were able to get rid of the Philadelphia tickets, the wedding was a blast, we got to see lots of dear friends, and all was right with the world.

September saw us in California for a couple of weeks. The impetus for the trek was Tim’s nephew’s wedding—and since we were traveling 3000 miles, decided we needed to make it a nice, relaxing stay. We landed, rented a fire engine red convertible, and proceeded to have fun. The wedding was at Clear Lake and was just too much fun. It was shocking to see the aftermath of the fires that had gone through , but the silver lining was seeing the infrastructure rebuilt to 21st century specifications. The ol’ good coming from bad.

Being with all of Tim’s family was a blast. A crazier, zanier, more fun and loving group of people will not be found on this planet. We all stayed at an Indian Casino with flowing liquor, live music, and 24 hour slots. A recipe for wild times, laughter, and fun. After the wedding we stayed with Tim’s sister for a few days at their Tuscan villa on the lake. It was rough. But we did it. Had to, ya know.

Now it’s back home and time for a bit of hibernation before all of the treats that 2017 has in store for us—Bette Midler in Hello Dolly in March, Victor’s retirement in April, and Tim’s Medicare Birthday in July—assuming there still is Medicare, that is.

Nonna is still with us—she will be 91 in May—and Blanche is just about the sweetest dog you can imagine. She has the most ferocious bark you’ll ever hear but the tail is wagging a mile a minute. We will never be burgled.

So we leave you with happy thoughts for the coming year. We’re looking forward to another year of fun and excitement and hope you have a fun-filled and exciting year, as well. Politics, aside.

Love and Kisses!

Victor and Tim

Nonna and Blanche


2015

Christmas Letters

‘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 timandvictor.com 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


2014

Christmas Letters

Greetings and Salutations, one and all!

2014 started off just like a good Winter should – with lots of snow. And we do mean lots! Philadelphia and the ‘burbs broke several records this year for both cold and snow. Other than the freezing rain, downed trees, and loss of power for almost a week, we loved it!

Yes, winter wreaked havoc on us – but we survived and had fun doing it. Probably the worst was losing power for six days in early February. Frigid weather, ice, and then heavy wet snow brought down trees and branches everywhere. The neighborhood looked like an atomic blast zone. It was a mess.

Our saving grace was installing the new front window and adding  more insulation back in October 2013. We kept the fireplace blazing burning multiple Dura Flame logs and any other wood we could find and the living room maintained a comfortable low-60°s. It was like camping with a comfortable bed. Or a Holiday Inn.

We put a couple of bins outside and kept the food nice and cold. Frozen food stayed frozen solid and the refrigerated stuff was equally fine. While people were foolishly throwing away food by the ton, we were cooking by candlelight and enjoying some great meals.

There’s still no natural gas in our neighborhood but the propane line we installed when we bought the house has saved us a few times. We will always eat well.

Nonna would be looking for her sweater while standing in  front of a blast furnace, so 65° wasn’t going to make it for her. We shipped her up north to Joanna’s house and hunkered down.  That first hot shower was wonderful.

Spring tooks its time arriving, but when it finally did, we looked to the disaster zone that was our front yard. We lost 7 trees and the rickety old fence. One dogwood was split right down the middle. The weeping cherry we planted for Tim’s mom didn’t make it, either. Also a huge oak, a couple more dogwoods, and a couple of huge firs. The fence was shot – so it went. as well. The yard looked pretty bare – we decided to just let it be for the season – and we’ll see about some serious landscaping in 2015. Maybe.

Besides… we wanted to save our pennies for our little trip to Sicily!

We killed it, suckers. 15 days in a 4 bedroom 3 1/2 bathroom 4000 square foot Villa – with a pool—in Modica… the Chocolate Capital of Sicily. Sicily has been owned and conquered by just about everyone at some point in history, so the food and culture really is the best of all worlds. We ate like royalty at every meal—for mere pennies compared to Rome or Florence—and saw the oldest Greek ruins outside of Greece, and the craziest drivers anywhere on earth. It was heart-stopping fun!

 

 

We had three-hour-long meals with some of the freshest seafood imaginable and another based on fresh ricotta at a farm.  The food, the food, the food… We bought fresh produce from stands along the street—augmenting the organic garden at our villa.  We lounged along the Mediterranean Sea—a mere 15km from our villa.

We drove up to Caltagirone—the pottery capital of the island—and added to our collection of Italian plates, bowls, and the like. Many of the shops in Caltagirone are the actual studios of the artists and in one shop we were able to see the artist actually at work creating the pieces he was selling. He gave us a tour of his workspace, a look into the kiln… and we bought dessert plates—because one can never have too many dessert plates. It was pretty cool. We bought quite a few different pieces… more bowls, a cake platter, Christmas ornaments—because one can never have too many Christmas ornaments—lots of chocolate, and olive oil grown and pressed by our villa’s owner. Yes. Real olive oil where we even ate the olives from the trees. It doesn’t get much better.

Nonna and Cybil Shepherd handled our vacation quite well. Auntie Donna came to stay with them. I think they had poker parties every night while we were gone.

June, July, August, September, October. Nothing. Not a thing happened. Nada. We went to work, came home, and didn’t do a single exciting or newsworthy thing.

 

 

And then, in November, a new Family Member—great-niece Stella Marie—was born. She’s absolutely adorable. A keeper, indeed! It’s fun to have babies around—as long as they belong to someone else and no diapers are involved.

And then the really big fun… We celebrated our 20th Anniversary on November 23rd. Yeppers… 20 glorious, fun-filled years. It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve done so much in a mere 20 years.  The next twenty is going to be just as fun!

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Thanksgiving came and went, and we continued our tradition of decorating the house instead of mindless shopping on Black Friday. We have years– and years—of decorations stored in a score of bins in the basement. It takes most of one day just to get them all upstairs. It’s looking pretty good. Eclectic, one might say.

So… as 2014 comes to a close. we’re looking forward to more fun and more travel in 2015. No European trips are planned. Instead, we’re heading to San Francisco in late January for some quality family-time and to Portland in August for a fabulous wedding. We’re saving our Euros for a 2016 trip… destination, unknown… Of course, we will keep you posted on the details.

Stay tuned for more adventures!

Have a great Holiday Season and an even better 2015!

Victor, Tim, Nonna, and Cybil