Happy Holidays *

2005 Annual Letter from Kurt & Marieluise Riegel

(Posted at riegel.kurt.home.comcast.net/x2005/ )

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

* Substitute your favorite seasonal holiday - as equal opportunity celebrants in these prickly times, we wish to offend nobody.

Kurt & Marieluise bei der Mittagspause

Grays & Riegels caught by Paparazzi on the Red Carpet at Sunglance Film Festival

It’s been a good and busy year for us again. We've accomplished much, even as we fret over what more might have been done. So here's a quick recap, with some photographs, with our greetings and best wishes to you for the year to come.


We took fewer trips, a bit closer to home this year, but not because we're slowing down. We're just responding to economic reality as the US dollar works better here than elsewhere.

For example, we skied out of Glenwood Springs, Colorado - a whirlwind of outdoor exuberance at Vail, Aspen, Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Sunrise ski resorts. It was terrific fun, with no mishaps again this year, only super snow, weather and company with Ed & Linda Gray and our wonderful B&B host Peter Tijm who patiently allowed Kurt to inflict some fractured Dutch on him. Capping off a perfect ski trip was Ed's production of Colorado 2005, an amazing DVD that was released to critical acclaim.

Marieluise visited parents Werner & Ruth Baeck, and her sister Stefanie, in Germany - a nice annual family reunion with an opportunity also to enjoy outdoor life.

Kurt visited Tanya, Sam & Quyen, and Eden in Los Angeles, inspecting their modi operandi and approving heartily - they are courageously and imaginatively building careers and lives in a strange but exciting town.

Kurt also dropped in on the welcoming Maxine & Alan Savitz and Eugene Epstein for pleasant reminiscences and stimulating conversations over current events and accomplishments.

Home Improvement

After our round trip sailing adventure from Annapolis to Nantucket last year, we became landlubbers and spent most of this year working on our new house. Marieluise progressed from the sledgehammer / destruction phase to design and finally construction, creating wonderful art out of energy and inspiration. Kurt mostly did what he was told, wisely leaving esthetic sensibilities to those who possess them in greater measure.

The house now has double-glazed windows and doors throughout, a new ridge skylight, new roof, a brand new kitchen complete with propane-fired kitchen cook top in this gas-deprived neighborhood, rationalized electrical wiring, and improved insulation. Half of both the floors and a botched heating distribution system were redone.


Click to Enlarge

Starducks, crewed by
Quentin & Kurt Riegel, Magdy Batthika

Sailing continues to be an important part of our lives, a perfect confluence of sport, nature, physics, beauty, skill, peacefulness and terror. Although we didn't venture out of the Chesapeake Bay this year, we had many wonderful day sails and overnight excursions on Starducks (pictured under sail at right, courtesy of Doug & Laura Tilley.)

We hosted daughter Tanya, Susan Harding, Jack Davis and others for day sails and/or to anchoring destinations in the Bay and its tributaries, for example to St. Michaels on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with our good friends Ed & Linda Gray. Magdy & Luce Batthika were able to join us and Leo Greene came down from NH for sailing lessons and an overnight jaunt to St. Michaels.

Our most ambitious trip this year was a 10 day voyage from Annapolis south to the York River and back. We crossed the Bay 5 times, and had wonderful Eastern Shore anchorages at Wicomico River, Onancock, Cape Charles and Western Shore anchorages at Solomons Island, Piankatank River, Ditchley, East River on Mobjack Bay, and Gloucester Point at Yorktown.

Weather ran the gamut from searing hot and becalmed, to sprightly sailing under fresh winds at full hull speed (7 knots), to excitement verging on terror in a sudden Chesapeake squall with reversing winds that went from zero to 40 knots in the space of a few minutes! We reinforced and expanded our sailing skills in many hours of challenge and contentment on the Bay.

Highlights of the voyage included a wonderful visit at the shore side home of Butler & Diana Burton off Mobjack Bay. Having moved there from Leiden, they've set up a proper Virginia plantation complete with horses, dogs and boats and a house in fine waterman tradition with its front door facing the water and its back door facing the road. It has many unique features, among which are 1600s era Delft tiles transplanted by them from their Dutch home. Butler took us on a fine voyage in his watery neighborhood, pointing out a boatyard where fine hand crafting of sailing vessels is still done, and a large estate complete with tide-powered mill, formerly owned by John Lennon and Yoko Ono who had intended to convert it to an orphanage before sad fate intervened.

Kurt, Diana & Butler Burton, Marieluise


As one sails southward, one can easily see differences in environmental quality - more remnants of Nature and ecological diversity can still be found in Virginia's southern Bay.

Much of the Maryland shoreline has been developed and destroyed right down to the water, native plants, trees and protective natural shoreline having been slaughtered and replaced by mowed grass and reflective sea walls.

We saw tens of acres of dead fish in the north, killed in oxygen-deprived "dead zones" caused by hot weather, eutrophication from pollutants and loss of natural shore margin and, of course, the passing of the Chesapeake oyster which exists now at 0.5% of its historic population and no longer serves as an effective Bay filter.


At one anchorage in the southern Bay, we had a dramatic nighttime demonstration of the natural value of undisturbed shoreline. We lay anchored between a dark natural forest shore, and a housed/ lawned/ lighted shore. From the lighted shore we heard only the silence of death, while from the dark natural shore arose the clamor of a thousand singing creatures occupying bird, insect and amphibian niches.

We apologize to Joan & Paul Bargamin,who joined us for the worst day of our voyage - no wind, beastly heat - only ameliorated by the fellowship of good company and a restaurant meal ashore, the Bargamins generously re-provisioning our depleted nautical larder with victuals and ice.



Tanya concluded her work as Editor of TV's American Dreams as the show was cancelled, commenced work on TV's House, a popular if formulaic medical drama, and resigned to move to an exciting new feature film with a working title Pu-239. She's a hero, yet again, for detecting and reporting a fire that gutted one apartment and would have taken her entire building but for her alertness and prompt action.

Sam & Quyen, firmly ensconced in Los Angeles, are connected in a hundred ways to all things showbiz. Quyen is nearing completion of her academic work at UCLA in cinematography. Sam performs comedy sketch skits, is in the screen writing duo of Riegel & Blatt, appeared as a judge this year at the Austin Film Festival after winning last year, and does lots of other stuff like animation and other voice-over work.

Eden, flush with her long-delayed and well-earned Emmy Award, resigned All My Children and moved to Hollywood - but she's gone back a number of times for appearances on AMC. As a show "tent pole", she probably won't get killed off, a frequent occupational hazard on soap operas. Between auditions & appearances in LA, she did a reading of Agnes of God with Meredith Baxter & JoBeth Williams in Pasadena, to very nice reviews.
Eden, Sam, Tanya & Kurt Riegel
Clockwise: Quyen, Sam, Eden, Kurt, Tanya, Veronique

Eden & Tanya Riegel

Emily, Pasha & Josh Blundo

Erin Sharp & Mark Stewart

Pasha & Scott continue their work in Holland Hill Studio, a unique fitness and yoga studio in an old barn. They are wonderful parents to Joshua and Emily, enjoying their leisure time in the New Hampshire mountains, and preparing for a children's theater production of Mary Poppins.

Tonya graduated from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and is teaching architectural design, industrial design and furniture design. She and her sculptures are living in a big, unheated warehouse in Detroit just below a Rock Music Nightclub. In the middle of the space sits her tent with a sleeping bag and a small space heater - how cozy! She prays for power failures and then reverses herself, in a Hobson's choice between sleeplessness caused by freezing, or noise

Mark is in his second year as an environmental sciences teacher in Columbia, and bought a house with fellow teacher Erin. They've done a wonderful job in restoring it to a form much better than the original. They both enjoy their teaching jobs, find them challenging, but sometimes confess to greater excitement over outdoor adventures of camping, hiking, biking, etc.

                 Marieluise Riegel & Tonya Stewart



Other News

Our candidate for Strangest Event of the Year?  Kurt parked in our driveway, neglecting to set the handbrake. The car sat happily and forgotten for hours until Marieluise drove home, parked behind it and walked toward the house. The weight of her car evidently gave just enough driveway tilt to start Kurt's car drifting backwards, striking her car, two trees, and leaping over a wall.

This 2-car accident, involving no drivers at all, only damaged one door but that was enough for the insurance company to declare the car a total loss. Kurt later bought a brand new car, parked it in the driveway and went inside - now very carefully setting the handbrake. Two hours later heard a loud "whack!" as a large tree limb fell. Maybe you can guess what it fell on.

Kurt's Mother Jane celebrated her 95th birthday this year and most assembled to throw a surprise party. Later, she took on the incredible challenge of a double knee replacement at her age - and came through in fine shape. As expected, the recovery and rehabilitation were a big challenge but she has managed it wonderfully and in better spirit than we can imagine. She reigns as Queen of Gulchleigh in royal bearing, bestowing her benevolence upon all.

We came very close to getting a dog this year, but it was not to be, and we still lack a rooster although the Grays generously gave one to a poor family in Honduras in our name and also donated a snow-rooster to us, pictured below

Happy 2006!

We hope that this year will be just terrific for all, and also that may we see you from time to time to catch up. If you like sailing, hop aboard Starducks with us and we'll bore or terrify you, according to the weather that day.


Some Additional Photographs 

Seriousness at Gulchleigh: Kurt, Maise, Dee, Jane, Barry, Juliet, Neal

Kurt Kicking up Snow

Mark, Marieluise, Tonya, Pasha, Josh, Emily, Scott

Marieluise Kicking up Snow

Kurt, Greeting Fans

Jack Davis, Bracing for a Tornado

Kurt is Beside Himself

Our Snow Rooster