Happy New Year to one and all!  May 2016 be a golden year of joy and fortune, for you and yours.  We managed to stay up to see the new year in, but we still had to get up at our usual time, which is 6am.  We are on Dog Standard Time.

This new year’s note is attempting to camouflage my inability to send Christmas cards in a timely fashion.  Please know that I thought of you, and went as far as buying cards….  but they still remain here.  The tackiness of sending  these cards out now is reason enough to substitute a newsy note in their place.  I’ll try to do better next year, but there are no guarantees!

A much cooler California is quite acceptable in our esteem, but not so for friends and family that would like to visit us, and bask in warm winds and sunshine of a stereotypical California.  A year ago, we had a very appreciative Willa, Claire, and Evan visit.  We spent a wonderful day at the beach on the Pacific Ocean at Santa Cruz, that even included a dip in the surf by two and a half year old Willa.  May small children enjoyed playing in the surf, under the watchful eyes of many parents.  High temperatures on that day were in the low 20’s C (or high 70’s F).  This year……our temperatures have been low single digits C (or low 60’s F).  NOT beach weather by a long stretch!

portraitOur hearts think back to those wonderful days, spending time with a bubbly toddler, appreciating just being able to go outside without heavy coats and boots.  This year, no plans have been formulated for them to visit again, and our weather certainly wouldn’t tempt them.  Luckily, we have been told that Carolyn and Ryan plan a visit a bit later this spring, so we have that to look forward to.cropped-header - Version 2

For the second year in a row, we stayed here for the holidays.  This year wasn’t pleasant enough on the 25th to spend the day at the beach, so in the morning we took our new dog Lacey to our local dog park.  It took her a few minutes to get accustomed to the large group of dogs of all sizes, tearing back and forth chasing a lone ball.  Once she relaxed and joined the herd, she had a wonderful day.  We plan to take her to one of the other dog parks in the area later today, hoping that it won’t be as muddy as the first one.

We had great plans to go and help out in the warehouse at our local food bank during the past week, but necessity intervened.  We did manage to donate 142 pounds of oranges from our tree, when the property manager had it trimmed.  Since Lacey has developed a taste for canned cat food, we battle to keep her out of it.  We finally concluded that a much higher cat feeding table needed to be made, so Glenn has been sawing and hammering out in his garage workshop to create this item.  It is about 6 feet tall, with the feeding table being at about 4 to 5 feet.  The rest is a carpet covered cat tree for general purpose cat exercising, lounging, and escaping Lacey, who loves to join in cat chase games.  She doesn’t understand that she isn’t actually  invited.IMG_1875

Glenn is still having fun at Apple, doing what he loves best:  being an engineer, NOT a manager.  He says he prefers being able to play with the toys, just like the other kids.  He is slowly being recognized as one of the top authorities in anything design, hardware software and firmware alike. At the Christmas party I was stopped by several people, telling me how awesome he is, how he knows everything there is to know about everything.  I simply smiled, and asked them NOT to tell hime this!

Our furry family has vacillated in numbers this year.  Peter, our much beloved border collie, went over the Rainbow Bridge in November.  peterWe adopted Lacey, an Australian Cattle Dog, just before he left us, hoping that some of his awesomeness would rub off on her!  She has no tail, courtesy of her Aussie Shepherd ancestry, but has the perky ears of a cattle dog.  Earlier this year, we adopted Louis, at Alfie’s insistence.

IMG_0458 (2)
Alf and wee Louis

Then, when visiting PetsMart to purchase dog food, I ran into a tearful lady who had a kitten in her arms.  She had adopted him from PetsMart, but her landlord said NO pets.  Unfortunately, she had missed the return by date, and PetsMart would not take him back.  Softie that I am, I took the blanket wrapped baby from her and said that I would take him.  She thanked me profusely, and handed me all of his paperwork, showing that he had been neutered, microchipped, and had all of his baby shots.  He is about 6 months old, and was named Jesse, so we now have three orange and white cats!IMG_1929

As for me, I divide my time between the Santa Clara Seniors Center, and the accounting department at the Second Harvest Food Bank.  Mondays and Wednesdays I’m at the Food Bank for several hours mid day, which is after the deposits from the Wells Fargo Lockbox come in.  Tuesday and Friday mornings, and  Thursday afternoon I’m at the Senior Center, doing the administrative roles that run the gym and pools.  This role will get much more stressful with the arrival of the new year, as resolutions bring an increase in enrollment and membership for this FREE fitness center.  For all residents of Santa Clara, membership is free, which includes usage of all facilities in both the gym and the pools.  If you reside in one of the surrounding cities in Silicon Valley, membership is $10.  That is still cheaper than ANY of the gyms in surrounding cities, like Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, or San Jose.  I have also gotten involved in Next Door, a well known program that facilitates communication between neighbors.  I will be helping to arrange a get-together with members of our immediate area’s participants, early this spring, so we can all actually meet, face to face.

Every few months, we pack a lunch and make a day of adventuring and exploring California.  This fall, we headed towards Yosemite where a friend has a timeshare.  We just wanted to see the scenery, and check out the area.  This was well before El Nino was to visit, so a sunny day could be counted on.  We took plenty of fruit, popcorn and water bottles to keep us company, allowing us to feed the birds and chipmunks at the picnic grounds.  We were quite dismayed to see the low water levels in one of the bigger reservoirs in the region!  It certainly provides a mental image of the drought’s wrath!  drought line

So there you have it, our past year in a nutshell.  We are still living in the rental home in Santa Clara, and figure we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  In the past year, real estate prices here have gone from crazy to absolutely insane!  We are comfortable in our 3 bed 2 bath home, with a wonderful backyard that we have been told we  have carte blanche for gardening in.  The commute for Glenn  is ideal, as we are less than 20 minutes from Apple’s offices in Cupertino.  As well, we have an absolutely fantastic group of neighbors here.

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