2016 Annual Letter from Kurt & Marieluise Riegel

January 1, 2017

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Prior years' letters here

  Maise and Kurt, real people with a fake tree

How many of your friends have opined "2016 was the year from hell"?

More than a few of ours have, for reasons varying from the very personal to the general and civic.

But here, just this once, we put ourselves into the spirit of the season and focus mainly on the positive. (If a grumble or two slips by, please accept it with a measure of understanding, if not agreement.)

So here's a summary of our doings, comings, goings, and family events to keep you in the loop. The short version is, "Life is Wonderful." The long version is, well, you'll have to keep reading.

Apologies for being a tad late. The flesh is weak. And besides, we were distracted by reading the news of friends who've also fallen into the habit of sending excellent annual letters.

Family, Our Children, etc.

  L to R: Kurt, Maise, Tonya Kevin, Mark, Taya, Emily,
Jamie, Pasha, Josh, Craig, John in Ellicott City

Maise's side of the family convened for Christmas reunion, fun and frolic. The photo shows us all assembled at the Marlowe's new house in Ellicott City MD.

Pasha and John picked a crazy time to move from New Hampshire to Maryland, arriving at the hour of the bad Ellicott City flood which pretty much ruined the main street of the town. Quick thinking took them around their original route, which would have put them in the middle of the worst flood at precisely the worst moment.

Repairs have put the town mostly back together but the fundamental cause of the flood has not been addressed ... enormous impervious surface area by developments higher in the watershed. It is clear that codes and their enforcement are inadequate.

Pasha is starting up a new yoga and personal training studio, and John is fully ensconced as a new teacher in the Howard County public schools. Jamie is in St. Johns Parish Day School, Josh is attending Detroit's College for Creative Studies and Emily is attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

It was a treat to have Tonya and Kevin join us for the holidays from their home in New Zealand. They are both teaching and doing research in design/architecture at Victoria University in Wellington. We were treated to a lecture on a bench they co-designed that celebrates New Zealand's earthquake proclivities. If you sit on it, it moves. It is enormously massive and was created using the most modern of computer numerically controlled manufacturing equipment. Despite all of the digital mastery, apparently they foresee spending a few more weeks sanding and finishing it by hand.

Mark and Taya have mostly completed the renovation of their home in Silver Spring and started already to cast about for a new project. They found one. A baby will arrive in May! They are old-school in some matters and so will learn the sex about when we do. They continue their professions as Sustainabilty Manager at the University of Maryland, and teacher in Montgomery County, respectively.

Kurt's side of the family convened several times during the year, in Annapolis and at Gulchleigh.

  Tanya and Vero

Tanya, is between her last film The Finest Hours and her next film I Tonya with Margot Robbie, both with director Craig Gillespie. So, she came east several times to visit with us in Annapolis and in the Shenendoah Valley with her grandmother, once with her mother Susan.

We had a nice sail together to St. Michaels in wonderful wind, even if her 3-hour jet lag plus accumulated sleep deficit tipped her over the edge into mal de mer. She recovered nicely and enjoyed a pleasant raft-up with friends.

started a business, created a web site, completed renovation of a Paris apartment, and helped to keep coyotes out of the house. This one, seen trotting down their driveway, seems oddly fond of their dachshund.

  Quyen, Maximus, Sam, and Kestrel at Brent Brook, Gulchleigh

Sam and Quyen completed their house move and new garden, and hold forth in the LA showbiz scene. Sam does a million things including voice direction for Disney and acting in a Critical Role game production that's become a global Internet sensation.

Quyen finished her work as cinematographer in several films, two of which have been accepted into this year's Sundance Film Festival (The Little Hours and Deidra & Laney Rob a Train.) Park City, here they come!

Here's an early video collaboration, up close and personal. It sensitized them to danger, which explains why they are wearing blaze/ reflective orange during hunting season.

  Andrew, Henry, Eden, and Jack at Gulchleigh

and Andrew completed renovations on their house and outdoor pool area, perfect for raising their children Jack and Henry.

We all convened for a super Thanksgiving at Gulchleigh with their grandmother Jane, with walks through the woods, food in pleasant excess, and good family time.

Eden juggles motherhood with continuing work as an actress and a teacher of acting, recently in CSI Los Angeles, and Andrew continues his career as a screenwriter, expecting to spend time working on a show this year in Toronto, his home town. How nice to drop in on parents Linda and Joel Miller!


And More

  Sam, Jane, and Eden in Gulchleigh at Thanksgiving

We celebrated Jane's 106th birthday at her house at Gulchleigh. Needless to say, everybody is amazed by her, and she still plays the piano and a game of bridge very well. In a few weeks we intend to have a nice 107th celebration. What's her secret? Humor and a daily vodka drink most of her adult life.

Kurt took Jane to Stonewall Jackson House on Mothers Day for a celebration honoring those who gave birth there. General Stonewall Jackson's home served as the town's hospital for many years and Kurt was born there.

We were disgusted over the trajectory of the Presidential election and its outcome, but as Marylanders we are delighted to have achieved excellent representation in the US House and Senate.

We are sad that family friends Frank Parsons, Jon Warren, and Katie Letcher died. More and more of our contemporaries are stepping away these days, so we find ourselves looking over our shoulders more and more. Live, while you can!

Life in Annapolis is Good

  Kurt and Maise, at home with Marcel and Cathy Aillery

continued her Maisestudio on Etsy, and is excellent at not only artistic creation, but also production and marketing on the Internet. The garden is as bountiful as it is beautiful. A few aches and pains have annoyed her, but disciplined exercise and therapy have kept her in form to ski again this year. Her birthday wish this year was to clamor over the Billie Goat trail near Great Falls, which we did with a large group which included Marcel and Kathy Aillery, parents of Mark Stewart's wife Taya. They bring warmth and good taste to our house that only originate in France so it's a pleasure to count them among our extended and growing family!

Kurt enjoys civic engagement with an environmental bent, and he worked this year as a member of the Annapolis Environmental Commission, the Severn River Commission, and on the boards of the Severn River Association and the West Annapolis Civic Association. He represents Ward 2 on the Annapolis Democratic Central Committee.

His signature issue this year is improving marine water quality in Annapolis waters, to which end he made five public presentations and is gratified by growing interest and commitment by government commissions and watershed environmental organizations. Measures such as waiving the recreational boat pumpout fee and applying for an EPA No Discharge Zone designation can help greatly. Again, Kurt taught his course in Environmental Compliance Management at Johns Hopkins University and looks forward to another year of stimulating interaction with has graduate students. He attended a wonderful Celebration of Gravitational Waves at the University of Maryland, an amazing culmination of work that Kurt watched Joe Weber start while in grad school there. I predict a Nobel Prize will come out of this.

Music is always important to us and we were pleased to go with friends Pat Edwards, Bill Douglas, and Connie Ramirez to performances by the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra and others. Favorites include live performances by, the Seldom Scene and the Eastport Oyster Boys, and we sailed across the Bay for their traditional Shaw Bay concert in the Wye River. One of these people also brings us eggs from real chickens that walk; we will reveal nothing else lest our supplier be inundated with requests that might threaten our supply.

Stepping Out

  Lexi and Tanya snuggle aboard Starducks
Kurt's shoulder got whacked in Park City by an out-of-control skier, but he's back to near normal for another try at the slopes this year. Our friends Ed and Linda Gray hosted us in Park City and it is always a treat to have adventures with them ... sailing, skiing, and more. Together with Todd Croteau, they put together the traditional burning of the socks celebration of springtime. This custom hearkens back to the days when Maryland watermen were so poor they owned only a single pair of socks worn all winter. They were foul and fit only for burning when warm weather again permitted them to go barefoot!

Sailing continues to be a powerful draw for Kurt, getting him to the water, keeping him physically active and challenging him mentally. We had a number of shorter voyages in the Bay this year, two to Shaw Bay, two to St. Michaels, another to Rock Hall, yet another to Still Pond, and several to the West/Rhode Rivers. The challenge of sailing in rough weather is invigorating and rewarding, and our boat is up to the demands we make of her.

  Maise is in her element. Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps

It was a pleasure to host Henry Green, a colleague in political matters, aboard Starducks for a voyage to and from Shaw Bay. It was his first such adventure on the Chesapeake Bay. As an introduction, it was rather complete: some equipment trouble, a strong wind that put us right at the edge of the impossible, and yet joyful throughout.

Our big trip of the year was to Switzerland and Italy, for a taste of the Alps so dear to Maise from her youth. After she visited her German father Werner near Hanover, we rendezvoused in Zürich for a train/bus ride to Grindelwald, Switzerland. What a magnificent setting this little town is in! We loved the apartment we rented, with an eye-popping view of the Eiger and the Jungfrau peaks, good food and drink and, best of all, our walks in the mountains. We exhausted ourselves hiking up to the glacier, and through a steep canyon cut by melting glacier water.

We continued on to Italy riding the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express, scenic trains that gave us breathtaking views of the Alps. We arrived at Cernobbio and took up residence in a hotel overlooking Lake Como, later exploring the town and taking excursions around the lake and by ferry to Bellagio for pleasant walks among art, quaint shops, and nice architecture.

From there, we trained over to Lugano to be met by the most wonderful hosts in the world, Doris and Karel Westerling. Doris grew up in Lugano and Karel can find places we would never have found, driving smoothly to make our trip a treat. Their house has a stunning view of the lake and Lugano. We learned that their "old house" was at the highest point above the lake, and they showed us this one-of-a-kind place near the peak. We are so grateful to Doris and Karel for their warm hospitality and for sharing their knowledge of a beautiful place.

Pictorial Supplement

(click and be amazed)


May health and happiness be with you during 2017. Enjoy life, create memories, and let the small stuff go. Have a wonderful year, keep in touch with us, come visit or sail with us on Starducks, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Address   307A Monterey Ave, Annapolis MD  21401
E-mail   Kurt.Riegel@gmail.com       Marieluise.Riegel@gmail.com   
Verizon cell       410.507.2999   410.997.2241
Facebook   facebook.com/kurtriegel   facebook.com/marieluiseriegel
Skype name   kurt.riegel   marieluise.riegel


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