Christmas 2014 or
Pass The Antacid
This year held more than a year's
share of turmoil for us. After a couple of attempts to lay out the
year, I've decided to lay it out by topic rather than chronologically.
The year was pretty stable for Ryan. He's still at NIU, another year closer to his degree in CS.
Gillian is looking for what's next, as she tries to get her professional life started.
Lyn's mother Pat continued to deteriorate, and was finally convinced to
move into a nursing home (named, "Warrendale"). Her affairs (and her
house, for that matter) were not very tidy. Carolyn took 3 separate
nerve-wracking trips to Shotton this year to try and get things
straightened out. What could go wrong did, what couldn't go wrong did
anyway. Pat's paid companion up and left ... after which it was
discovered that a significant amount of money was missing, withdrawn
over a couple of years from cash stations. Evidence of the theft won't hold up in court. The documents transferring house
title to Carolyn and her brother were missing, all four copies. The
solicitor didn't have them, Pat's copy couldn't be found, Bill's copy
was missing, the official version supposedly filed with the state by
the solicitor all those years ago was missing (can you say,
"Malpractice" ?) ... but Carolyn's copy turned up in her lock box in
Lisle. Without that document the house would have gone to the state to
pay for Pat's nursing home. The house was filthy, and guess who got to
clean it up, and guess who had to comb through the reams and reams of
unfiled papers (anyone still interested in the recently rediscovered
meeting notes of the UCM from 1949?). This adventure started in January
and didn't even start to come to an end until August. Now, finally, in
December, we can get the house ready to sell. Gillian accompanied Carolyn on one of these trips.
Selling a family home is not an easy thing, and preparing it for sale
is not comfortable (but needed to be done).
Suki and Vita continued to have problems getting along,
at one point getting into a fight. The net result of that fight was a
trip to the emergency room for Carolyn for a couple of stitches. A few
months later, Suki died unexpectedly from spleenic torsion, a form of
bloat. She was an old dog, but this was a pretty unusual malady.
Vita and Gusty continue to get along very well. Vita, however, has
decided she does not like mushing and is becoming quite the couch
potato. So Gary is back to one mushing dog. He's getting up very early
on the weekends to go mushing, before the sun has the chance to heat
Gary was quite dis-satisfied with his position at Leary, and
spent a good deal of time over evenings and weekends looking for
another firm. He spent 5 months dancing with Google, including a trip
out to their Silicon Valley campus (where literally EVERYONE he saw was
under 30) before finally being rejected. He had serious conversations
with several other companies as well; finally, in September, he decided to
take a hiatus from his job search to enjoy the cold mushing season. Of
course, shortly after he made
that decision he was contacted by Symantec, who wanted to know if he
would consider a move to LA. A few weeks later, Gary had an offer; so
there was a big rush to get the house in Lisle on the market, make
arrangements for a place to live in LA, make shipping arrangements, and
on and on. But by October we were in an apartment
(Carolyn, Gary, Vita, Gusty) in California. Gillian is staying with
friends in the Chicago area trying to figure out what's next. The Lisle house
is on the market, but no offer yet. Carolyn left her job with Suburban
Pediatrics, and hopes to get a job in California once our lives settle
down. In the meanwhile, we are looking for a new permanent home.
Carolyn is involved in selling both her childhood home in Shotton (see
above) and her adult home in Lisle. Wow.
It has taken a year and a half of work but Gary's mother's estate is
finally mostly settled. A small amount remains in the estate for
contingencies, taxes, and so on, but the major distribution finally
happened after scores (maybe hundreds) of hours of work. Gary is
relieved his mother's death is nearly concluded.
There were some good times too. In the early part of the year we took our annual skijoring trip up
to Iron River MI, after rescheduling it twice because of the
unexpectedly bitter cold. Gary
entered a series of skijoring races in the winter. We all took a trip
to the Saugatuck MI area in September where we rented a house and
spent a couple of days doing just about nothing, and loving it. Took
the dogs to a dog-friendly beach, walked around town, ate ice cream. We
spent Christmas this year with Carolyn's brother Bill & his family
in San Jose. It was a long 7 hour drive each way in two cars for 4
people and 2 dogs.
There were some other big changes. Mars Longden, one of Gary's
first dance instructors, died unexpectedly a few weeks after we all met
for dinner. Don Cunningham, Gary's judo buddy who started the dojo
where Gary taught for
17 years also died. Wiley, husband to the person (Erica) who introduced Gary
& Carolyn was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He is
responding well to treatment, but there is no cure. Carolyn's Auntie
Pat has just had a stroke; it was caught very quickly, but at the time
of this writing the exact amount of damage is not known. Her speech is
clearly affected, we don't yet know if it is reversible.
Some years you spend a great deal of energy just putting one foot in
front of the other. We are grateful that our health remains excellent,
we remain solvent, and look forward to a sunny future, figuratively and
literally. The L.A. winter is quite a bit more mild than Chicago's,
with abundant sunshine. Summers, we have been told, are rarely
stiflingly hot. Gary finally got to meet George McCellan (who lives in the LA area), who provided
music for his movie . He's been in touch with
other pen pals and may meet up with them soon. The year was difficult
but successful. Gary's job search got him in touch with some folks he's
not spoken to for a long time (Babbling Billy, Marcus, and some
others). Funny how some connections remain even when they are dormant for a long time.
Our email has changed, as comcast refused to allow us to pay for email
service only. We had to drop internet service at our house when we moved. Please forward emails to Gary@Hughes-Fenchel.net, or
Carolyn@Hughes-Fenchel.net, or Gillian@Hughes-Fenchel.net, or
Screwbucket@Gmail.com. Cell phone numbers are:
Gary: 630 401 0065
Carolyn: 630 660 3717
Gillian: 630 660 8800
Ryan: 630 401 9466
None of us has a land line any more.
A lot of detail has been left out of this letter. We'll be happy to fill in anyone curious. We had abundant help from
friends to get through the rough bits for which we are very grateful.
Here is a picture of us taken 28 December on the ocean. It is certainly warmer than the sub-freezing weather in Lisle!