Ciao! Bonjour! Buon Natale! Joyeux Noël! Felice Anno Nuovo!
We’ve had a year of many ups and a few downs but we feel very fortunate for all we have. Rory has moved on to a new position in Oakland working for the University of California Office of the President. It turned out to be a great opportunity for Rory and even with the commute (over two hours each way by train), he is really enjoying the challenges of his new job as Executive Director—Medical Services. He travels frequently and is involved in all aspects of quality of care for all five of the UC Health Systems, as well as regulatory compliance and confidentiality of health information.
We visited family in Los Angeles in mid-July for our niece Alanna’s wedding in Santa Monica. A few weeks later, we left for Florence, Italy for ten days. (We actually flew in to Paris and took an overnight train to Florence.) We stayed in a cute and cozy apartment right in the old part of Florence which was walking distance to a fantastic marketplace and many world-famous works of art. We walked everywhere. Florence is a charming city. We visited the museums and walked to the Ponte Vecchio (“old bridge”) several times. We went to Siena, Lucca, Pisa, and Fiesole—shopping, sightseeing, and eating lots of pasta, pizza, and gelato every day! It was fabulous! We also went down to Rome for 2 days and although it was warm, it was incredibly awesome (as my kids say) and so worth it. Standing in the ancient ruins in Rome, seeing the Pietà in St. Peter’s Basilica, and of course, the Sistine Chapel among many other amazing sites was an incredible experience for us and the kids. It was wonderful to see such world famous buildings and artwork by Italian masters like Michelangelo and Raphael. Mind-boggling!
After spending 10 days in and around Florence, we took the overnight train back to Paris, staying there in the quaint Latin Quarter (5th) and Saint-Germain des Prés (6th) districts for a few more days. Our nephew, Aron, met up with us there, staying in the same hotel so we had a lot of fun with him as well. We took a wonderful river cruise on the Seine and later — a fantastic tour of the Paris city lights at night. Paris is truly a beautiful city! We visited the Louvre, the Cathédrale Notre Dame, went to the Montmartre district, saw the Moulin Rouge and Basilique du Sacré Cœur, and the fabulous Pompidou Center. The kids were excited to see some modern art there after spending a lot of time viewing Renaissance art in Italy and at the Louvre. I loved all of it though! One of the more unusual places we visited was the famous cemetery, Cimetière du Père Lachaise where Jim Morrison is buried. He’s there in good company with Sarah Bernhardt, Molière, Proust, Chopin, Balzac, Héloïse et Abélard, and Oscar Wilde among others. Overall, it was a fabulous opportunity and possibly one of the last times we’ll all be able to travel together as a family. With all the kids’ obligations, it gets more difficult for us to coordinate our schedules.
Speaking of the kids, they continue to prosper as well. They are both sophomores this year. Cody is in high school and getting taller by the minute. He still plays alto saxophone and guitar. He’s in his school concert band too. He’s enjoyed connecting with old and new friends now that he’s at the high school campus. Jill is in her second year at UCSB and doing well. She’s living in an apartment with three other girls and learning all about what that entails—good and challenging. She’s an Environmental Sciences major with a goal of specializing in that as an attorney so hopes to pursue law school as well.
I still read a lot and continue with both my book groups. I also try hard to work out regularly. I’ve updated my book lists for any of you out there that want reading suggestions. I continue to volunteer in various ways at the high school and take care of things around the house including my very old but sweet dog, Tess. She’s 11 now and although arthritis bothers her knees, she can still move quickly when she sees a cat!
Most recently, we just went to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving to see Paul McCartney in concert. It was a fantastic experience that has definitely topped off this busy year. It has been many years since I’ve been to LV and it has changed a lot, not necessarily all for the better. There are many huge, glitzy casinos but we enjoyed the shopping and restaurants. We also had the chance to connect with Rory’s cousin, Lisa, and had fun visiting with her. After returning home, we had our living room, office, entry and all our bathroom floors redone—definitely a challenge right before the holidays but well worth it!
Have a wonderful 2006!
Love, Beth, Rory, Jill and Cody
The official Paris information site. There are lots of fake tourist information sites — but this one is the real thing. Good source for tour and hotel information.