Christmas 2017

Time for our annual retrospective. This has overall been a pretty calm year for the Hughes-Fenchels, a nice departure from the last few years of turmoil

Our normal lives

Ryan is now working two part time internships, learning and writing code. Both internships are unpaid, but this seems to be the best way to break into a field where no one will hire you unless you are experienced.

Gillian is finishing up her studies to get a (fully accreditated) certificiate from University of California as a web developer. She is taking her last class now; so far she has a perfect 4.0 average.  She will finish her final course before 1 Jan 2018, and hopes to land a job in Albuquerque and move there, which means Gary may have to learn how to spell the city without using a spell checker. She still attends judo classes with Gary.

Carolyn is still "adjunct faculty" for Cal State. She's now working about half time, supervising graduate students in the speech clinic and at an external site, and she still enjoys it. She's still doing zumba & yoga, and something new - pilates.This was her best year overall since 2011.

Gary is still working at Symantec where he bicycles in to work almost every day, still mushing, still folk dancing, and still doing judo.

Our abnormal lives Highlights

Carolyn managed to find time to do some travel this year, visiting her mother in Wales twice, her brother and his family in San Jose twice, and one trip to Chicago. Just before Thanksgiving she went to Chicago over a long weekend to witness the marriage of the daughter of college friend Laura Sweat in a sumptuous ceremony. The wedding was beautiful, but the weather was not. Still, it was a lovely day ... and she managed to spend time with some of her friends but missed seeing some because of time constraints. She is hoping to get back to Chicago next May between semesters, and she is anticipating a trip to the UK sometime in January.

Gary and Carolyn took a trip to visit with one of Gary's former co-workers at Symantec who lives just outside Yellowstone National Park. Matt is building a small, very fast two passenger airplane in his garage.While there they spent a lot of time in the park. The scenery there is really spectacular, and at any given time you can stand in one of the more frequented areas and hear 3 or 4 different languages being spoken.

Nearer to home, they also took up a new sport called "BoogieBoarding". It is much like surfing, only substantially easier & cheaper. They also frequently bicycle together by the ocean on the weekends; when Gary is too busy, Carolyn will frequently go to the ocean herself to bicycle or walk.

Gary went skijoring a couple of times, sometimes with Carolyn, sometimes without. There is one ISDRA certified race in CA - and a skijoring class in that race. Gary was the only entrant, so he managed to ski away with the first place trophy, making him the skijoring state champion for 2017.  He's connected with a group of mushers from San Diego at that race and has since been on several weekend outings with them. Gary is still active in the local Sammie rescue, and is now a member of the board.

Gillian managed to make one trip out to visit friends in Chicago.

Ryan pretty much stayed put, but stayed in touch with old friends via the internet.

Our dogs are still the same ... Gusty still has more energy than any dog should have. Vita is a little slower, a little older, but otherwise the same. We rescued yet another dog roaming the streets around the 4th of July; this time, thankfully, the dog was chipped and the owners came to the shelter to claim him. Around Thanksgiving Gary tried to rescue a husky roaming the streets, but he was not successful.


Carolyn's mother continues to feel contented and is well cared for at Warrendale. Her memory and orientation continue to decline and fluctuate but she is always happy to see or hear from friends & family.
Carolyn's adopted Auntie Pat died this year. Pat's sister Jean is still living mostly independently.We will all miss Pat.
Gary's cousin (Barry's aunt) Helene died after a very long illness. She was the last surviving member of that generation in Gary's family.
We had a few scares too, for example Carolyn's good friend Kathy Simon almost died from a heart condition.

Gary's Musings

It is very difficult to emigrate. I still miss the familiar restaurants, friends, parks, activities, and for everyone but Carolyn(who does not miss the cold), weather. California is a different world. I miss Mike's back yard ... the parties at Sue's ... the mushing races in Wisconsin (which we were destined to never win, place, or show) and the inevitable camaraderie  they provided ... the annual trips to Iron River to visit Betty & Company and load up on pasties. The ability to grab Kent Archie for a lazy bike ride, or a hopelessly geekish conversation. The chance to bump into someone from long ago in the supermarket (Sue Harla, Linda Newlin...). Independence day with Kink & Bob & Deb. The Fox Valley judo club where I taught for 17 years. The Jiu Jitsu Institute, where I studied for decades but rarely attended during the last decade or two... still, it was always available, I just needed to find the time.

But we are making new friends here ... Reg up the street, Jazz from Symantec, Matt, Ali, the San Diego crew (mushers), Darlette, Estelle & family from Carolyn's Gym, Bex (who does everyone else's hair ... I still go to a local barbershop), and various folks from Carolyn's work. A new judo club where I've been welcomed as an honored member. A dog rescue where I've been voted in as a director.

So maybe there is no point to all this but to say that you can never go home again, but you can also never completely leave. Which is not a bad thing.

Carolyn and I have been discussing where the next chapter of our lives will take place. Retirement is not that far away, and once I've stopped working we will not be able to afford to remain in LA. Right now we are 4 adult humans and two large dogs living in relatively tight quarters, mostly getting along pretty well, trying to figure out how to improve our landscaping without dumping copious amounts of water onto it. Southern California is REALLY dry; the lawns here only exist for owners willing to provide substantial irrigation.

And finally ... we are all very grateful that our health has been very good. No day goes by when we are not keenly aware that it could easily be otherwise, and is otherwise for many of our friends.

We hope the year of 2018 brings you and those you love happiness and contentment.

Gary competing in skijoring race        

Gusty and Gary at the start of the skijor race

Vita snuggling
Vita and servant.

Waiting to go in to dinner

Thanksgiving picture 
Here is the whole family at a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner put on by a friend of Carolyn's.