Our 2017 Holiday Greeting

26 Nov

At Mercado de San Miguel in Madrid


What a year to try and recap in a holiday letter! As I know most of you already realize, we, along with so many others, have been coping with the stages of grief since the November election. Inevitably, our first instinct, in the denial stage, was to leave the country, searching for oases where Americans might be able to settle should the surreality of American life become untenable.  We had Philadelphia friends, and then a Huntington scholar, stay in our house and mind the cats from  January through June while we gallivanted around the world, to wit:

JANUARY-FEBRUARY:  We vowed to be out of the country when the inauguration happened, and thought we better check out our other home, Australia, to see if we could live there again.  We are so grateful to dear friends who made this possible: Bruce and Diane Swalwell let us stay in gorgeous Pearl Beach when we first arrived. Chiaki Ajioka and Colin shared their brilliant Kings Point houses with us. Maggie Brady offered us her wonderful summer house in Mystery Bay, in our old stomping grounds on NSW’s South Coast near Narooma, for several weeks, followed by a beastly hot week (42 Celsius, 106 F!) at her house in Canberra.  We travelled as far as Mallacoota, on the Victoria border, where we saw gigantic goannas and added to our fantastic bird sightings. Ran out of steam before getting to Melbourne, so missed seeing old Victorian friends, but delighted in visits in Canberra with Carol Croce (thanks for the house stay, too, Carol!), Chris Bettle, Gael Newton and her husband Paul Costigan.  Always a joy to be there, alas Australia is just too far away from the kiddos…

MARCH-APRIL:  The day after the election, as I sat in stunned mourning at the computer, our neighbor Adriana walked past, and said “Have you thought about Mexico?” I said, “you’re on!”, and immediately contacted my FB friend Leslie Edwards, who lives in Ajijic, near Guadalajara. We rented a very nice house in the town for six weeks. On Lake Chapala, Ajijic is a North American enclave, which offers a lot of ex-pat comforts for first-time visitors to Mexico. Fantastic bird watching, lovely food, and beautiful weather. We weren’t able to do much further travelling this time in Mexico, but I’m sure we will be back.  We made great friends there, and it was as if we had always known Leslie!  Great fun.

APRIL-JUNE:  The kindness of so many European friends, along with the conveniences of the homestay internet sites, made it possible for us to be on the Continent for several months. We started out, again, in London, thanks to the generosity of Henry and Val Kitchener, and their wonderful apartment on Regents Park. Nora & Wolfgang Petritsch made us feel at home in Gars, in the Austrian countryside, where we stayed in Nora’s childhood home, all newly renovated, and experienced not only new castles and new histories, but participated in the raising of the May Pole in her tiny village. We then spent two weeks on Lake Balaton in Hungary, finally making it to Budapest and sitting in hot baths! A week in Bratislava, Slovakia, included the fabulous Danubiana Museum, on an island in the Danube. A few days in Madrid (where the photo above was taken), visiting with my former student Tammy Teschner (thanks, Tammy!). Then two weeks in beautiful Porto, Portugal, meeting a truly delightful man in our landlord, whose family has owned the house where we stayed for 250 years. I could move to Porto in a minute!

JUNE AND ONWARDS:  We had to come home some time, didn’t we?  Of course, the most pleasant way to return was with a stopover in Denver. Many thanks to Don and Cyndy Redifer, who let us stay at their lovely home while they were on holiday. A delightful time with our growing-every-day grandson. Being with him was the highlight of the year, and the reason we have to stay in the U.S.

So now we’re back in Pasadena, trying to figure out how we can afford to stay in our house, while also checking out other places we might be able to live. We are healthy, and grateful for all the good things in our lives: family doing well, friends, and interesting projects. As Michelle Obama tells us, we must just spend every day being kind, and working locally to make lives better.  I say the Serenity Prayer a lot!


Love & kisses, Erika & George, esauboeck@gmail.com, 450 N. El Molino Ave., Pasadena, CA 91101

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