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 after which it was discovered that a significant amount of money was missing, withdrawn over a couple of years from cash stations.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 things up.

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.

Final Notes
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, or, or, or 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!
Christmas on Redondo Beach