2009 Annual Letter from Kurt & Marieluise Riegel
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We send our heartfelt greetings to you and your family, with best wishes for a superduper 2010 – Happy New Year! Here's an update on our shenanigans during this past year.
Kurt taught Environmental Compliance Management at Johns Hopkins University this Fall semester, online. While online delivery lacks a certain spontaneity and personal flavor, it offers some advantages for all participants: no traveling/commuting; freedom to work at one's own schedule and pace; and best of all, students can sleep in class without fear of embarrassment!
Marieluise devoted some of her limitless creativity and energy to designing and fabricating a complete line of children's clothing, proceeding then to display and sell them at 5 different craft shows – two Sugarloaf shows, the Quiet Waters show, a private house show, and a local Montessori school. Reviews of the results are most gratifying. (Note added in proof – Marieluise says Kurt is lying, sales should have been better!)
Kurt completed his two year term as president of the Severn River Association (SRA), cheerfully passing the torch. While the battles are large and the victories few on the Chesapeake, we are doing all we can to stop destroying what was the world's most productive estuary. My childhood experiences on the Chesapeake Bay are no longer open to children – we have killed 99% of the oysters (a keystone species), 90% of the crabs, 75% of the menhaden (a keystone species), etc. Silt, nitrogen, and phosphorous loadings have suffocated the Bay's web of life and made the water hazardous to human health. Local governments lack will to do what only they can do, take control in their jurisdictions of practices that are the cause. Federal laws obliging localities to behave responsibly are already mostly in place, but they have not yet been enforced.
Marieluise fostered and maintained connections with our ever more widely dispersed family, Skyping Tonya in the United Arab Emirates, visiting Pasha several times in New Hampshire, and delightedly opening our doors to Mark for our traditional Sunday bagels/lox brunch.
Kurt was appointed to the Severn River Commission, and has worked on issues like reforming/updating county law better to protect the Severn River watershed and several other issues that relate to the Critical Area, a narrow strip of land that lies at the waterfront. He was also appointed to Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen's Transition Team and has enjoyed working with others to identify ways to improve the environmental performance of the city, a "Sailing Capital" that owes much of its personality and business to the Bay.
Marieluise made the most of aptitudes for orderliness and discipline that lurk in her German genes, getting our new dog Lexi through puppyhood and integrating her into the patterns and customs of the household. Those same aptitudes, applied no less diligently to Kurt, have had absolutely no effect. Some puppies are trainable, others are not.
Kurt loves the consulting work that he's done from time to time for Antares Group, a renewable energy firm. This year he was involved in scoping out a renewable energy project that was put out for bid by the city of Annapolis, wherein an energy park with solar arrays, landfill waste to methane, and biomass combustion components would all produce electricity. We examined the project with sharp pencils, alas not bidding after concluding that the risk/complexity/reward factors did not align favorably. He also convened a special meeting involving EPA, DOE and a technical delegation from India, and the World Bank – all promoting concentrating solar power generation.
Skiing & Traveling
This year's big trip was to Telluride Colorado, with the Columbia Ski Club. We loved that old western mining town, now an upscale ski and vacation destination, seemingly populated by nearly as many dogs as people. That got us to thinking – more about that later. The weather and skiing were simply perfect and we had a wonderful time in Nature, polishing ski skills that had been fallow for the year, and enjoying fine après ski diversions and companionship with Ed and Linda Gray, skiing and sailing buddies par excellence.
We skied like gods and sustained no injuries. Toward the latter part of the week Marieluise's pinched sciatic nerve had no effect on her perfect right turns but killed her ability to turn left. Thus, she discovered the limits imposed by a right-turn-only rule in skiing!
On our way west we stopped off in Santa Fe NM, to ski in nearby mountains and poke around that wonderful artsy town. Host Bill Burch and his mother were gracious, he pointing us at nice ski trails for a day of nice skiing and fabulous western views. Kurt followed Bill down a mogul field, quickly hit the limit of his abilities, and splayed himself all over the bumpy snow. Discovering a pulled muscle, he retreated off the mountain in shame but we had a fine time nursing wounds in Santa Fe restaurants and art galleries.
In February we visited the Hollywood Riegels for a major birthday in the family. I forget whose, or which birthday – these dangnab memory lapses are annoying, eh? The only thing I'm certain of is that I am now legally qualified to drive, drink, and vote – maybe simultaneously. It was a delight to see our superstars in their new habitat, and to see them prospering so.
Our Children – Distinguished, Disarming & Dispersed
They are super. We can only mumble one-liners in awe, hoping nevertheless to give you a glimpse.
Pasha would have had us as visitors for this Christmas in New Hampshire, but for a nasty bug in Marieluise's lungs, and we're happy to report their family is doing great. Tonya continues teaching in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, also traveling to Mongolia and all over the world on breaks. Mark is the University of Maryland's sustainability coordinator, is greening the campus to beat the band and publishing his accomplishments.
When Tanya's Men who Stare at Goats was released, she zipped over to the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, and she also worked on a TV pilot. Sam continues with an amazing diversity of endeavors – writing, performing, directing. Here's a sample of a show he wrote – who knew his college a cappella experience would pay off this way? Eden won a Webby for Imaginary Bitches and was nominated for an Emmy, thrilling the family.
This letter finds us revving up for the celebration of Jane Riegel's 100th birthday in January. This is a wonderful milestone and we all look forward to a fine family event to fête the Queen of Gulchleigh.
She reigns over her domain with quiet authority and benevolence, last year beheading not a single one of her adoring subjects.
We hope only that we will be able to convince her to slow down, get out of the car she still drives everywhere, long enough to join us to celebrate and reflect on her remarkable life together. After trying to keep up with her all these years, the rest of us need a breather.
We dialed down the sailing this year because demands on time seemed to interfere, but we have greater ambitions for next summer. We had several very pleasant trips around the Chesapeake Bay, very nice overnight raft-ups with friends on other boats, and enjoyable adventures. On one raft-up Kurt was introduced to SCUBA and executed perhaps the tiniest dive ever, maybe 3 feet deep. He went under Starducks hull to scrape the propeller clean of barnacles and to install sacrificial zinc on the prop shaft. It was so pleasant and time-saving he's considering getting a minimalist SCUBA outfit for future maintenance chores.
This year's most ambitious and challenging trip was Kurt's October solo voyage from Annapolis to the Calvert Marine Museum at Solomons MD (about 140 statute miles round trip) to meet up with the Ed & Linda Gray and Todd Croteau. Well, not really solo – Lexi was first mate this time because Marieluise was deeply involved in the craft shows described above. The voyage down was pleasant and uneventful, the raft-up and tour in Solomons were great. Lexi and otters on display loved playing together, chasing each other back and forth even though separated by glass.
But the trip back was a challenge. The winds kicked up to the highest I've done so far, gusting to 40 knots. In spite of sailing conservatively and reefing severely and early, it still got away from me to the point that the jib wrapped & tangled hopelessly. The only way to recover was to run with the wind, thereby shielding the jib with the main, then untangling the mess and reefing the sail properly. This recovery took me off course and added over an hour to the voyage. Nevertheless, it was a speedy trip back, and we sailed heeled way over at hull speed on little postage-stamp size sails, until we reached the mouth of the South River. The winds there were at their peak, roaring right down the river so I had to (ugghh) turn on the motor. At full speed, the motor just barely moved the boat forward against the wind, but we finally got home. Lexi was not amused by all the commotion and had to be stowed in the shower, the quietest place on the raging vessel that day.
Odds 'n Ends
We rented out our house again during the Naval Academy's graduation, called Commissioning Week, when housing is scarce in Annapolis, and went sailing. It's a great excuse to get out of the house, get onto the boat and complete preparations for a summer's sailing. Our voyage during this week always includes a stopover in the Severn River to watch the Blue Angels' aerial show.
Our friend Lina Vlavianos introduced us to Opera at the Met as shown in local theaters in HD-TV during the live performances. It is a fascinating experience, in some ways better than being in New York because one has backstage interviews with performers, excellent video and audio, and many of the good qualities of a live performance. These performances are shown in theaters world wide.
Readers of this annual publication have come to expect, every year regular as clockwork, unbecoming whining over our not having either a rooster or a dog. That time-honored custom is hereby terminated.
You see, when Kurt was out of town, Marieluise executed a carefully planned secret plot to acquire the most wonderful puppy, parents a golden retriever and a labrador retriever. She's named Lexi and her 50/50 mix satisfied important considerations – we wanted a water dog, could not make up our mind which of those two magnificent breeds we preferred, and we've heard that a broader gene pool can confer hardiness against certain old-age vulnerabilities. She's a great water dog!
Furthermore, on April Fools Day we conveyed three Rhode Island Red chicks to an undisclosed location, where they now produce 3 eggs a day regular as clockwork. The eggs' rich yolk color and delicious taste are like nothing you'll find in a grocery store.
|Have a wonderful 2010, keep in touch with us, come visit and sail with us on Starducks, and we look forward to seeing you soon!|
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Posted at home.comcast.net/~qmhdk/x2009