Greetings to all our Friends and Family --
It has been a very full year and yet much of what we did was very mundane. No major vacation travels to exotic locals. No change of jobs - just a slightly different focus.
Will is still working at Visa's systems; which is now known as Innovant. He has been working on variations of the system that went in the beginning of the year. For the non-techie it has been fascinating to see all the problems encountered - hardware, low level systems and of course just getting all the little bits to talk to each other. Quite amazing! Unfortunately it has been a bit brutal at times. They downsized again. For the 2nd and 3rd quarters of the year, he had a pager 2 weeks of every month. Now it is only every 3 weeks. Fortunately they now have a VPN which allows him to work from home when he gets the 3 am calls.
Will is still taking classes at SF State. He should finish in May 2004 - hurrah! He is very lucky that he has an understanding boss as the classes he needed this fall were given during the day. His perserverance in getting through is quite amazing. Of course he just shrugs his shoulders and says its nothing.
Robin is doing a lot of arbitration preliminary hearings. The flood dams opened and the cases held up by the new California laws from last year have come through. Since only 20% of the cases actually go to hearing, having a dozen cases pending works well. It is still part time and leaves time for a bit of community mediation and facilitation. She is not actively soliciting work anymore. Almost retired.
Lots of time is spent on our medieval society (SCA) stuff. Since Robin is Kingdom Arts Officer (chief cheerleader for getting people involved in arts and developing support structures for the arts), we are obligated to attend 6 weekend long events and put on one big event. Lots of travel up and down the state and we get to haul the Kingdom pavilion; in addition to our own stuff. Will is fighting with a war unit, as well as in tournaments, and having lots of fun with it.
The event we put on was a type of weekend university with about 120 classes divided into 22 tracks and additional bits of activities. Actually it was wonderful. Robin/Sabrina has long had a vision of what this event should be and was able to make it happen. AND people responded very positively to it. Of course, she needs to do it again for 2004.
Robin has also learned a lot about doing web pages. She has done much of the Arts and Sciences website for the Kingdom, her needlework and cooking sites (off of bayrose.org). In addition, she webbed a series of articles for her needleworkers guild; of which she is still Guild Minister. Of course, Will helps with the tech stuff, holds her hand when the going is frustrating, and does a final polish. Teamwork.
Robin is also coming into her own as a teacher. She loves teaching and in fact taught 10 SCA classes this last year and 3 for Embroiderers Guild of America chapters. It really makes her feel good when the light goes on in someone's eyes and knows they have grasped the concept. For someone who is such an "in charge" personality, it is interesting to see that she is very relaxed in her approach to teaching. She not like some teachers who have to have people do everything their way or the project they prepared. She does not care so long as people participate and don't disrupt. It also is amazing when someone comes back a couple years later and shows her what they have done since. Really really neat and very rewarding!!
Will took Robin for a special birthday weekend in Monterey. It didn't start out well as the trooper died 14 miles south of Half Moon Bay. After having it towed back home, we set out in Will's car arriving in Monterey at 2:30 pm. Robin taught her class at an event 10 minutes after arriving (it was postponed from 1:30 pm). After class we went into town and stayed at the Monterey Hotel and Spa - quite lovely. Dinner at the Sardine Factory, redone in recent years, was excellent. Never knew Sardines could be so tasty. On Sunday we went to the Monterey Aquarium to see the exhibit on Jelly Fish Art and the other exhibits. The whole reason for the trip was so Robin could see the Chihuly glass exhibit. We lunched watching the birds and otters frolic in the Bay.
The yard is coming along. We have lots of wildlife that comes to visit - frogs of all sorts, butterflys including monarchs, dragonflies of every description, lots of different birds including a hawk that actually landed on our back porch rail, neighborhood cats (much to Pete's frustration), and wierd spiders.
Pete is the real star this year. When our friends Linn Skinner and Libby Streuli (pictures of Pete by Libby) came to visit, Libby fell in love with Pete's face. She has a series of needlework designs with cats in black'n white. She plans on making Pete the 4th in her series so he will be immortalized. In addition, her designs are sold world wide so Pete will be an international star. I don't think he has realized what this will mean to him just yet, but he seems content with his beef and giblets and lots of places to curl up in the sun.
Just for kicks, Robin has begun blogging. You ask what is a blog? A blog is a web log. The focus of Robin/Sabrina's is her needlework. It is a great place to vent frustrations and keep up with friends and their activities.
The holidays have been good to us. Since we are staying home (something about Will carrying the pager over Christmas - well it was that or Thanksgiving or New Years/12th Night) we want to share our holidays with you. Pete helped with the tree. The stockings are hung from the mantle with care. The presents are under the tree awaiting the big day. And a bit of Christmas past is scattered around the house. The mini tree was Robin's Grandfathers, purchased in the 40's from Germany. While many of the ornaments on the big tree are from Robin's family, we added a few of our own this year. Yes Robin dragged Will to the mall on the busiest shoping day of the year -- and he survived.
Here is wishing you all a wonderful holiday season and happy healthy New Year.
-- Robin and Will
PS We had a lovely Christmas day. Pete kept watch on the presents. Then we had reinactment friends, Walter and Sheila Nelson, over for Christmas dinner of duck in pomogranate and walnut sauce, baby yukon gold potatoes, blue lake green beans, eggplant cavier on toasts as an appetizer, and plum pudding with hard sauce for dessert.