2006 Annual Letter from Kurt & Marieluise Riegel
(Posted at maisestudio.com/x2006)
Here's our annual holiday letter with a few of our highlights, images (all are clickable to larger images) and heartfelt greetings to all our friends and family, and best wishes for 2007.
It was a brokeback macaca kind of year, "fake" news often carrying more truth than the regular news (which sounded mostly like press releases from the ministry of propaganda of the worst American government in our lifetime.)
We fell into the depressed mood of the times - Kurt became the Decider over all important matters in our lives, Marieluise of course directing him on what his decisions must be. For example, he told our drywall installer that he was doing a heck-of-a-job and then fired him the next day.
Kurt loves it, Marieluise tolerates it helpfully and cheerfully, making each voyage a pleasure. We sailed Starducks all over the northern Chesapeake Bay and Kurt crewed a fine trip from Baltimore over the open ocean to Block Island, RI.Voyages with friends are highlights that never fail to amaze and to delight both the senses and the intellect. We had a terrific voyage from the South River to the Sassafras River under high winds both ways, with Ed and Linda Gray. We anchored behind Gibson Island, in the Sassafras River (a swim there quickly proved that there is no salt in the water, Bay salinity declining toward the north) and at Rock Hall.
Day sails and short overnights took us to places like St. Michaels (a nice town, but going downhill ever since Cheney & Rummy moved in next to each other there), overnight at the Rhode River/ Smithsonian with Doug & Laura Tilley, the Wye River on the Eastern Shore, and many other places. Kurt had wild rides on 3 days with winds gusting up to 40 knots, with Doug and others, and was very pleased to gain confidence in an ability to maintain control even under those severe conditions.
Jack Davis & Rosemary also arrived, primed and ready to sail but, alas, the heat was huge but the wind was not, so we walked about Annapolis and Naval Academy instead. Jack's generous gift of genuine Hawaiian macadamia chocolates melted instantly into a lump in that day's intense heat!
Todd Croteau assembled a fine trio of boats that we sailed in the annual Annapolis Festival of Lights, a parade of boats lighted and decorated on seasonal themes. Kurt, though freezing, manned the rear-most towed dinghy and thoroughly enjoyed this unusual experience. We won no prizes - but wait 'til next year.
SkiingWe went with the Baltimore Ski club to Sun Valley, Idaho this year, finding perfect weather and snow, together with excellent après ski soaking at the Sun Valley Inn in one of the world's largest hot tubs. Everybody skied wonderfully, seemingly better each year, and there were no injuries.
On our last day there, a spell of bad weather scared everybody off
the slopes but Kurt was determined to ski anyway. In a breathtaking
bit of good fortune, the clouds swept away, the sun came out, and he
had perfect ski conditions to himself that afternoon, high above a
cloud layer that obscured all that perfection from the hoards below!
Ed & Linda Gray produced another excellent film this year, chronicling our Idaho ski adventures. They entered in this year's Sunglance Film Festival and, naturally, won first prize in all categories - Idaho 2006 received resounding critical acclaim.
Our big trip this year was to the Montafon area of Austria, where we camped, hiked, drank and ate with Marieluise's father Werner Baeck.
We exploited his knowledge of the mountains and the regions, gleaned over his decades of hiking . We had wonderful walks, ascended a few peaks and sampled good sightseeing, food & drink in our pleasant interlude with Werner (click for large 15 MB video.)
The weather was perfect at the beginning of our stay, but soured to become cold and rainy in the final days. We also had a nice visits with Marieluise's aunt & uncle Irmgart & Dieter Hagenmann in München - what a nice city it has become! Below is a shot of the two of us atop a high peak in the Montafon - we learned that all Austrian peaks have crosses!
We had a spectacular Thanksgiving reunion with the KurtKids in California, with glimpses aplenty of their whirlwind Hollywood lives.
Social gatherings par excellence were held by Tanya/Veronique and Eden/Andrew with a spectacular Thanksgiving party/dinner in Laurel Canyon where we met scads of Hollywood luminaries and international celebrities such as Linda & Joel Miller, Andrew's parents. (The only incident was handled with aplomb by a nearly invisible Thanksgiving bouncer who discreetly rebuffed Julia Roberts and Jack Nicholson when they showed up without invitations.)
While in LA, we also dropped in on the welcoming Maxine & Alan Savitz.
A House has become a Home
Marieluise has completed a transformational miracle and we are settled into a home that looks just great, even if it still doesn't float worth a damn. New doors and windows are everywhere, as well as a new roof, new skylight, new tile, unique decorations and art of her design and creation, and plantings that surround us in in green splendor.
Kurt has achieved a reputation as the neighborhood's Luddite extraordinaire because he insists on his push lawnmower while everybody else captains fire-belching noise machines and rider-mowers, thereafter driving their 3-ton SUVs to a health club for exercise.
All Our Children
Pasha faced a serious health decision, a small congenital hip problem having been aggravated to the point of destruction over the years by the stress of yoga, Pilates, kick-boxing and triathlons. So she opted for a hip replacement, and is on the mend with every expectation for full recovery. (When your children start having hip replacements, you know you're really getting old.) With her recovery we expect her to resume most activities, including directing a children's theater group, her gym and teaching yoga classes - maybe the kick-boxing can wait for awhile.
Tonya after graduating Cranbrook Academy of Art, taught in the Detroit area for a time and then decided to move out to Seattle, for a time working on renovating a house in Bellingham. That location proving too remote to sustain employment, she moved into the city and is now working at the Experience Music Project, a museum in Seattle founded by Paul Allen with his Microsoft billions. (She has the key to Jimmy Hendricks' guitar - really.) It's a fascinating experience, and she's learning all about museum presentations and installations, and has many new opportunities to express her art.
Mark and Erin literally raised the roof on their Arbutus house, expanding and renovating it to beat the band. (It's a Stewart family tradition always to have one's house in a combined state of demolition and construction.) Mark pulled the plug on his teaching career for the time being to begin graduate studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. In short order he has established himself as the acknowledged leader in the "green campus movement', proselytizing and implementing sustainable practices that conserve energy, reduce harmful environmental impacts, save money, and enhance productivity. And he's appointed to a new job to do just that for the University - it's a tall order, but if anybody can do it, he can.
Tanya finished the film PU-239 which is still in negotiations over distribution channels - it's dark but very good. For about half the year she and Veronique house-sat a $25 million home in the Hollywood hills, subletting their apartment to others - pretty clever, eh? They also traveled to family places in Paris and the French countryside, and Tanya is determined to learn the language. Tanya also worked on Lars and the Real Girl on location in Toronto, and is back in LA editing that film.
Sam & Quyen, are wrapped like octopi around LA showbiz. She completed her UCLA cinematography program, and went off to do a film in Johannesburg, after which she and Sam had nice tours of Capetown and other parts of South Africa. Quyen was assigned a bodyguard while in J'burg, witnessed some very raw sights including dead bodies in the road, and was advised never to stop at red lights while driving at night because it's less dangerous to drive through them than to stop! Sam did so much: voice-over work, sketch comedy, screen writing, and was a finalist with his partner Rob Blatt in a JibJab national film competition. We had the pleasure of seeing both perform their sketches & songs at a small theater in LA.
The big, big thing for Tanya, Sam & Eden is their realizing a long-planned business venture. They have purchased a 4-unit apartment building in LA, initially having planned all to live there. The altered plan is for Tanya and Sam to take two units, Eden participating as a nonresident investor, with the other two units to be upgraded and rented out to tenants for obscenely high rents. They are presently learning more than they ever wanted to know about real estate, finance, renovation, city codes and regulations and, worst of all, rent-control laws. (To live in their own building, they must go through formal eviction proceedings, with legally mandated $payoffs to tenants - but they wish only the best of health to their tenants - the law mandates huge payoffs to any tenant who becomes disabled!)
Kurt's 96 year-old mother Jane reigns on as Queen of Gulchleigh, this year declaring war on none of her neighbors even though some are probably evil-doers. If only "W" would emulate her enlightened and thoroughly successful approach. She and much of the family had the pleasure of participating in a re-dedication of the O.W. Riegel Telecommunications Laboratory at Washington & Lee University, where he taught for many years.
Kurt's been doing work with both our Indian Hills Community Association and on the Board of the Severn River Association. The latter is a wonderful group with great potential to reverse devastating damage to a formerly great and important watershed of the Chesapeake Bay. Although the list of problems to be solved is long, a particularly important one with some hope for improvement is the storm water surge problem - responsible for erosion & siltation, pollutant loading of the Bay, shoreline damage and submerged grass/habitat destruction.
Marieluise & Kurt failed, yet again this year, to acquire either a dog or a rooster. It's a perennial to-do item, so your assistance is again requested - maybe next year.
We hope that this year will be just terrific for
you - let us see you soon and often. Remember, we're always looking for