Thursday, December 07, 2006

Twas but weeks before Christmas,
and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.
The poor thing was dozing off in a chair,
Just thankful not to be in a plane in the air

'k this has to stop. There's no way I can sustain a whole family update in verse. It's been a pretty regular year in the Eastern Office - we haven't advanced the cause of world peace beyond the adoption of another spaniel, nor have we adopted children from dire poverty. The spaniel was in a *very* cushy situation, but we still haven’t had time to write novels after work, although I must say we both made some mighty fine contributions on (me) and corner carvers (him).

So, how can our year be summed up? Overall, we're up one family member for the year, having added Meggan Piper, Riverside's Myfanwy Malona, to our brood of furry children. Emily as you'll read below is lovely, George continues to disapprove, Tywyn is almost a Good Citizen, and Meggan at 15 weeks is responsible for us canceling our satellite tv so that we can sit and watch her do the impolitely termed 'spaz' dance. Picture a little puppy so happy that she bends in two and bounces a few feet and twirls in a circle. It's worth a trip to Virginia.

For the rest, I'll use standard family metrics:

Toby's Year:

Cars sold: 3, and he's trying really hard to get that all important 4th sale in before New Year's Eve.

Cars bought: 2, one for him and one for me. On the car front 2006 was most notable because we finally realized that 2 people cannot drive 3 cars at once, no matter how long their legs are.

Cool Car Experiences: 1 (I don't count putting the old Miata on cinder blocks as anything more than a desperate attempt to fit into the neighbourhood). This year Toby got to participate in the 24 Hours of Lemons. Not only are there now videos of his driving prowess on YouTube, but he got a whole paragraph in the San Francisco Chronicle. My favourite line: "Consider Toby, (he even has the right name for a race driver), who had flown in from Virginia and was doing his best to get his 1979 Chevy Caprice (a former police car) into the winner's circle. Asked if he was getting a bit anxious about the various ills plaguing his car, Toby just sat there and finally said, "If you get upset, you're missing the point." Scuderia Limoncello finished in 7th place; as well as being very respectable, it’s also a miracle.

Miles flown: Over 130,000. Recently, Toby's become a regular on the Dulles to Heathrow flight. Remember when it was just San Jose to Los Angeles? Being bought by the British means meeting a whole new flight crew.

Hotel Points: Enough that we could sell the house and move to a fine hotel. Sometimes it’s tempting - new towels every day, someone to make the bed, convenient airport access.

New and Fascinating Talents: Deck and stair building. Who knew, Toby's a genius with a hammer, nails, and pressure treated lumber. The deck is gorgeous. He did good.

Jenna's Year:

Bizarre Accidents Resulting in Disproportionate Injury: 1. Not so very long ago, Tywyn decided to escape from our back garden in pursuit of something "very interesting". In going to rescue him from his misadventure (not that he really wanted that) I walked through a giant patch of poison ivy. Because I had no clue what I had walked through at the time, I managed to spread it to both legs and my arms. My extremities, as well as being blistered and really quite itchy, swelled like a ball of dough on a warm stove. This adventure with Tywyn was also notable because I ended up with both dogs in our neighbour's 15 acre field in my pyjamas and my ladybird shoes with little hope of getting back over our fence. I love that people throw paint cans over the fence as a method of disposal. If you stack them they make an excellent, albeit shaky, ladder.

Number of Visits to the Vet: Let's just say that I no longer need to use a surname when I call. In this respect, I love Emily the best and strongly advocate the adoption of street kitties for their hardy constitutions and complete disinterest in experiencing the outdoors and its attendant billable hour dangers.

Miles flown: Enough to get to the next holiday destination and not a mile further. We had some lovely getaways, including the San Juan Islands, Chicago, and Sedona and the Grand Canyon.

Number of Room Renovations Survived: 7 - everything upstairs, with the exception of the kitchen, is now complete. Please refer to pictures in the 2005 archives for a visual reminder of the horror that was our house. 2007 will see the kitchen destroyed and rebuilt as well as the creation of a master suite downstairs, and the removal of the wood paneling from the romper room. My dad doesn't know this yet, but when he's here for Christmas he's getting a sledge hammer and a saws-all and being sent to the basement.

The other big news that affected both of us was a change for Counterpane, Toby’s long-standing (and my somewhat-more-recent) employer. In October the company was purchased by British Telecom, so we are now BT employees. It was something of a relief to see Counterpane finally experience some notion of closure, although really the main challenges are only just beginning as we figure out how to incorporate a 100-person company into an enormous multinational enterprise.

Plans for next year are in the same general spirit, though probably without the further adoption of furry children. Various trips planned for work and pleasure, and Christmas ’07 will find us back in Australia. While going slowly for various reasons, we are warming to Virginia’s charms, although the Maryland shore offers illicit temptations in the form of constant access to crab cakes and places for the dogs to go swimming. There’s also a housing development that’s just started construction quite close to where we are now, and we’re paying attention to how that goes since by the time the location we would like will becomes available, we’ll probably be ready to move again. And that’s some of our interesting stories for the year. We'd love to hear more from everyone and we'll be happy to spin a few more yarns from the family trove.

Our best wishes for the holiday season and for 2007, and we hope to see all of you sooner rather than later.


Jenna, Toby, George, Emily, Tywyn, and Meggan

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