Happy Holidays!

2004 Annual Letter from Kurt & Marieluise Riegel

(Posted at riegel.kurt.home.comcast.net/x2004/ )

Address 115 Blackfoot Drive, Arnold MD 21012
Verizon cells       410.507.2999   410.997.2241
E-mail   Kurt.Riegel@gmail.com       Marieluise.Riegel@gmail.com   


We hope this holiday season is terrific for you and that it is a kickoff for a wonderful year. It’s been a good and busy year for us and here’s what’s been happening.


We notice a recurrent theme in our letters, travel. You may think, “Why are the Riegels going all those places? Why don’t they just figure out where they really want to be, go there, and stop bothering us?”

Good question. No answer. Just more of the same – grin and bear it.

Our 2004 ski trip was our best ever, to Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn. Weather was perfect, snow was great, and we loved exploring slopes, seemingly beyond number, spanning the Swiss-Italian border. We skied well and far, and happily report no injuries.

Zermatt is a wonderful town, friendly to pedestrians and skiers because it is compact and free of cars – they’re banned. We loved walking about, shopping, dining and drinking everywhere, and speaking a little German.

We especially liked the wooden barns (mazots) that stand so well-preserved after centuries, resting on stone disks to keep the mice out, just like the funnels you see on ships' hawsers.

Everywhere we went we heard about Ulrich Inderbinen, the 103 year old mountain guide who was the legend of the town. When he was 90 years old, he gently chastised an exhausted party that he’d just led up the Matterhorn, saying “Next time, perhaps you should request an older guide.” We heard of his death this summer and only hope we might find his formula for living.

We had a nice trip to California for a family convening.  We got to meet with Tanya, Sam & Quyen, and Eden.  We had interesting drop-ins at a screening of Quyen's film at UCLA, and Tanya's final screening for notes at American Dreams. Fascinating!  A bonus was a wonderful opportunity to drop in on Maxine & Alan Savitz – Kurt's first Washington job was with Maxine and it was great to do some catching up.

Kurt lectured aboard a ship on the Crystal Cruise Lines, on a week's voyage from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West to Cozumel, Mexico to Bahamas back to Florida. It was the lap of luxury, certainly the best run ship we’ve ever been on, with good food, music & entertainment and convivial people.

Marieluise joined her Dad Werner in Germany for nostalgic hikes through hills and mountains – both had a wonderful time. Her parents covered most of the Alps of Germany, Switzerland and Italy as avid hikers. Werner has been wife Ruth’s principal caregiver since her stroke, and this was essentially his first break from several years of 24/ 7 duty.  

We sold our Columbia house in July, put everything in storage, and moved aboard our new sailing sloop Starducks. The great adventure of the year was our voyage to Nantucket Island off Cape Cod. We sailed from Annapolis northward in the Chesapeake Bay, through the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal, southward down the Delaware River to the Cape May NJ, into the Atlantic Ocean and northward to New York City, up the East River into Long Island Sound all the way to Block Island RI, thence to Newport RI, Woods Hole MA and Nantucket.

A highlight was arriving in New York City by sailboat – breathtaking and maybe the only really pleasant entry we’ve ever had into that city. We visited with daughter Eden, whose apartment was 3 blocks from our mooring.  We bought bagels & lox at H&H and Zabars. We dodged hurricanes, mastered many new sailing challenges, and met nice people on our voyage.

Kurt brought the boat back home with a boatload of guys, taking a more direct ocean route from Newport all the way to Cape May.  We've didn't use them ourselves, but we had occasion to observe that the anti-seasickness "patch" appears to work on those who do need them.  Click on the Starducks Ship's Log for tales more harrowing than Moby Dick

All told, we lived on the boat for 3 months, with thrills and enjoyment aplenty, much of it courtesy of our good friends Linda & Ed Gray who introduced us to sailing, taught us a gazillion essentials, showed us the best gunk holes, and  kindly allow us to dock at their place on the South River.

When the weather began to turn nippy, we succumbed and bought a house 3 miles from Annapolis. It’s a compromise: Kurt gets us aboard the boat for future voyages, and between voyages Marieluise gets us into a big heavy anchor firmly planted ashore. It’s big, and needs a lot of work but that’s OK – Marieluise is great with a sledgehammer and even greater at design & construction.

Other News

This was the year of the cicada, a miracle of Nature that occurs only every 17 years.  We love the din they produce and marvel at their survival strategy, to overwhelm predators with their huge numbers. Mark and Kurt attended a National Press Club lecture by the famous Harvard biologist E. O. Wilson, speaking about species diversity and its protection, mentioning the wonderful phenomenon of the cicada on concluding.

Kurt taught his graduate course in Environmental Compliance at Johns Hopkins again this year, online. 

Marieluise closed down her practice at Marriott Corporate Headquarters and may reopen it in a home studio.

Kurt’s mother Jane is 94 and doing great at her Gulchleigh home and we stop by when we can ... Christmas will bring a large gathering this year.

Marieluise had fine craft show booths in Columbia and New Hampshire.

Kurt became adept at navigation at sea, the use of GPS technology and internet-by-WiFi. We cut our telephone chord forever and will rely on cell phones hereafter. (Verizon and AT&T managers confided to us that they expect essentially to end their wired consumer businesses within 5 years, and we have noticed that young people seldom buy wires anymore.)


Pasha & Scott moved from their New Hampshire house into a barn, and renovated it into a gym, a spinning area, and a yoga studio. Pasha teaches fitness, yoga & Pilates classes, kick-boxing, spinning classes and does personal training. She also runs a children's theater as a community activity.

Tonya continued her graduate studies at Cranbrook MI, spent the summer teaching mountain biking in California, and is also enjoying her first teaching job in furniture-making.


Mark completed his second undergraduate degree and is now teaching environmental sciences at a high school in Columbia. In addition to his significant professional achievements, he was wonderful in helping us move household goods from the old house to storage, and then from storage into the new house.

Tanya continues as Editor of American Dreams, a popular and critically acclaimed NBC TV show about the 1970's period in America. She’s doing terrific work, and has been bumped up to Director for an upcoming episode, a challenge that she describes as a tingling mix of apprehension and excitement. She’ll do it well!  She is learning French with Veronique and continues her amazing fitness regimen, doing spinning sessions, running and bicycling.

Eden is a superstar in the Soap television genre, appearing in nearly every episode of All My Children as Bianca.  She received her third Emmy nomination this year. We catch up on her when we shop for food, scanning the soap opera magazines in supermarket checkout lines. She plans to move to Hollywood in January to grab at new brass rings, and is represented by powerhouse agents.

Sam married Quyen and they threw the best wedding ever, a tapestry of multicultural elements from Virginia, Rome, Viet Nam, and Israel. A ceremonial glass broken under Sam’s foot sent him to the emergency room on his wedding night, for stitches and removal of glass shards! LA is abuzz over Quyen’s excellent work in cinematography at UCLA, and Sam won a best script award at the Austin Film Festival.


Happy 2005!

We pledge best efforts to exceed the perfunctory "keep in touch" intentions, to actually get together with you soon and often -- especially since we're on a never-ending quest for willing sailing crew.  We wish the very best to you and your family for the coming year!

PS.  We still have no dog or rooster.  Drat.  But hope springs eternal - give us a call if you get a bead on either.


Some Additional Photographs

Hunt & Jane Riegel sailing aboard Starducks


Strange sight on the Hudson near the Battery.



Marieluise finds a welcoming shop in Newport.


Typical rose hips on Nantucket beach.
Tanya & Veronique


Our new house, 3 mi from Annapolis

Eden at the helm of Starducks Most boats have names - ours has a Logo