2013 Year in Review

Every so often you need a year to catch your breath, settle in, and prepare for times to come. While this year was full, a lot of it was spent at home for a change. Most of the trips were long weekends. The cats liked having ushome and their routine not disturbed.

As usual we ended the old year,2012, at Cafe Gibraltar for New Year's Eve dinner. 1 mile from the house. Restaurant rated #6 in the Bay Area on Zagat, in the Michelin Guide, and recently seen on Check Please Bay Area. What resulted was that Robin bought the building. Of course this came at the same time as we refinanced everything else so January and February were spent in paperwork and we closed in April.

April was Will's Mom's 70th birthday and they had a nice luncheon at the Ranch for her. We drove down for the weekend and lots of fun was had by all.

Meanwhile, Robin is Chair of the Greater Pacific Region Seminar 2014 which will be held in June in Reno. February was teacher and class selection. Since Reno has no local chapter and the process to get the Seminar up and happening started a year late, lots of creative ideas have been tried to make it a go. Additional meetings and lots of email. Fortunately we have a good executive committee. We did a quick weekend trip to Reno to review the rooms again and stay overnight at the hotel. So far so good. Then part way through the year we found out that the hotel had been sold. The new owners are honoring the contract - whew! The brochure was sent to everyone in the Region. The website went up - www.gprseminar2014.org. Now we wait and hope that people are excited enough to come. Registration begins January 1 and 75% should be done during the month of January. Hold a good thought!

Still active in our medieval organization. Robin is now the Arts and Sciences Officer for the local chapter/Barony and Will is the Marshal (making sure any fighting events are within our regulations). For most of the events that were local, we just day tripped. We did do the trek to Arcata in August. Seems one of Will's old friends lives there and we were able to meet up for dinner.Will completed his rehabilitation for his shoulder surgery. He is back to doing Yoga and beginning to return to fighting.

In June, we again did the fiber and dye weekend retreat in Castaic with Griffin Dye Works. We hoteled and so were able to deliver our big pavilion, that we had sold, on the drive down. We have 2 other tents so.... it just made sense. Spent more time at the dye pots. We also learned a lot about some specific dyes so we could have a dye day for our Barony. Will's background doing tie dying came in handy. We did a series of scarves, some for gifts, and an apron - very 60's. Robin concentrated on sock yarn; learning about streaking it so the socks have patterns. Will learned to do card weaving, although I don't think it will become a passion. It was a fun weekend, bracketed on each side with visits with Will's parents in Los Angeles and Paso Robles.

Shortly before Will's birthday, one of Robin's friends, had a post on their blog about vintage recipes of potato cake. Robin commented and was invited to do a guest blog post about her family's recipe for chocolate potato cake. It has been one of their birthday cakes for half a decade or more. Since Will's birthday weekend barbecue was coming up it just seemed logical to make a cake! The cake was well received by the guests too.

September & October were our busy monthes. The first weekend Saturday was our Barony's big event - classes, fighting, court, garage sale, potluck... in a local park. Long but fun day, even if it was our anniversary day.

Then on the 12th we flew to New York City. We treated ourselves to a stay at a European style luxury hotel in midtown. We managed to link up with 2 of Robin's friends from graduate school between visits to the Met - which had 3 special exxhibits of interest plus the usual armory, art, etc, the Cloisters, the Natural History Museum, and, and, and. Robin managed to get us tickets to see Kinky Boots on Broadway before it won 8 tonys - lots of fun. Our hotel steared us to some lovely and not terribly expensive places to eat within walking distance. It was fashion week in NY so seeing all the city windows on our walks was fun!

We took the Amtrak train up to Albany for 5 days for Bouchercon 2013. You may recall that we are helping with the 2014 Bouchercon in November in Long Beach. Lots of walking here too. We were about a 10 minute walk from the hotel to the convention center, but it was up a hill. Managed to find some yummy food nearby. One of the evenings we went to a "jam session" where a number of the writers performed various types of music. It was spearheaded by Heather Graham and lots of fun! We came home - train, plane, etc. with over 50 pounds of books between us.

Robin the next day attended a workshop with Gary Clarke, a needlework teacher from Tasmania. The Embroiderers' Guild was having 3 of the International Teachers travel around the US giving workshops. Lots of fun and exciting to see some of his embroidery using organza as the base fabric.

2 weeks later found us on the road to Bakersfield and the Great Western War. We moteled to make everything easier. Robin taught and spent most of her time in the fiber area. They were doing a series of dye classes on dyeing through the ages. She got to play with weld, woad, see the differences between woad and indigo, and then play with lichen that produced a lovely hot pink! She also played with wet felting and made a haversack bag. We managed to purchase 2 lovely handmade chairs in a very historic style. We had space in the car since we had moteled :) Saturday had us driving down to Will's Dad's for a quick visit, and to attend a friend's Wake. Rum drinks and beer, food, entertainment, costumes, and fun were rules for the event. Part of the group then did a day at Dickens Faire where we all raised a glass of champagne to our missing friends.

It has been a hard year on our friends, extended family, and acquaintances. We have lost several well before their time, some to age, and a number of friends our age are battling cancer.

In November, Robin was part of a pilot class on embroidery beading. All classes taught at the National level whether for the Embroiderers' Guild or Needlepoint Guild are required to have gone through a "dress rehearsal" called a pilot class. The class members pay for the teachers expenses and kit fees, but not a teaching fee. The goal is to iron out any wrinkles in the project, materials, written instructions, presentation of materials, etc. Lots of fun was had by all. More classes are also being offered online - some charge some don't. It is easy to go down the rabbit hole with learning opportunities in this new digital age.

Will's Dad and Vicki came up and joined us for Thanksgiving/Chanukah.We had stuffed turkey thighs and all the trimmings.We went down to the Vintage Ranch, next door to Will's Mom's home in Paso Robles for an early Christmas. 16 of us. We made Robin's family recipe for enchiladas and tacos for Saturday dinner and then we cooked a goose with 2 sides for the "Christmas dinner". To further celebrate the holidays, we did the usual Victorian Tea at the Garden Room of the Palace Hotel. Good to see friends in a happy and beautiful setting.

Tomorrow is New Years. We will be celebrating again with dinner at Cafe Gibraltar and tomorrow with family. We are cooking duck breasts in walnut pomogranate sauce. It seems that our stand against the heart break of losing friends and family is to eat well and grow in mind and spirit.

2014 will be full and promises to be lots of fun on lots of different levels - Left Coast Crime in Monterey, Greater Pacific Region Seminar in Reno, another Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn class for a week in Taos, Embroiderers' Guild National Seminar in Phoenix, and Bouchercon in Long Beach.

We hope your 2014 is fulfilling, healthy and happy!

Robin & Will