We have heard from friends concerned about the large snowfall. These movies are for them.
We have heard from friends concerned about the large snowfall. These movies are for them.
It has been quite a while since we delivered an annual letter to our fans, and we think you deserve an explanation. The reaction to our last report was, quite frankly, nonexistent. We could have interpreted this as either a direct reflection on the tedious recounting of Rosen life or as a sign that you were, for some unfathomable reason, more invested in your own lives. In either case, the message was clear: Be more interesting! Sadly, the fact that it has taken us five years to accumulate enough tidbits of Rosenalia to tip your reactions from the narcolepsy-inducing to the barely conscious probably tells you all you need to know. But just in case, here’s the low-down.
The big news this year was, of course, the Red Sox winning the World Series again – oh, and the wedding of Danny (30) to Kate Taylor that took place in Boston a week later. Everything associated with the wedding was memorable: From the Friday afternoon Bride vs. Groom softball game (a come from behind victory for Team Groom), to the rehearsal dinner on Friday night (90 family + the wedding party, 6 speeches, and 70 bottles of wine), to the delightful wedding itself (at the African Meeting House in Boston), to the reception (at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation with unique and fabulous centerpieces designed and built by Kate), to the Sunday brunch hosted by the newlyweds. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Kate and her family be a part of ours.
The (still) happy couple (still) live in Astoria, Queens, which is the perfect neighborhood for these ridiculously adventurous foodies. Danny is making some headway as a media composer. He’s had a number of his songs used for advertisements as well as music for a Saturday Night Live digital short. He has scored some great “food porn” and two documentaries. Kate finished her certificate program in jewelry making at FIT in Manhattan, and is now making jewelry of her own design. They both love to travel, and in April will be heading to Japan and Hawaii for a delayed honeymoon.
Alena (26) lives in DC with her boyfriend, Ed Beshers (you may remember that he is the son of Anndy’s college roommate, Martha). She works as Communications Coordinator at the Alice Ferguson Foundation, an organization that does environmental action and education. The biggest event they sponsor is the annual Potomac River Watershed Cleanup, which keeps Alena busy for much of the year coordinating the tens of thousands of volunteers.
Prior to the major life event of becoming a mother-in-law, Anndy attained mental preparedness by taking a leave from teaching. The highlight of the sabbatical was the fulfillment of a 40-year dream of going to Australia where she spent two months meandering from Tasmania to Queensland, never straying far from the right-hand beach-infested margin of the continent. Her blog is on this site, as well as on Tumblr, if you want to see photos and/or read about the trip. Now she is back in the classroom, enlightening young minds, and randomly peppering her presentations with pictures of koalas, skinks, and deadly flora.
Glenn is still in the same position as he has been for the last 32 years, doing important scientific research. His biggest discovery over the past two years has been that taking a golf lesson or two might help improve his play. Being the natural athlete that he is, he was as surprised to learn to that anyone could teach him anything.
Proving that everyone will have their 15 minutes of fame, our kitchen got into the act this year as it played host to a Google hangout in support of the Master Chef television show. We had a crew of 4 plus a chef in the house for 9 hours in order to prepare this 30 minute live broadcast. I have to say that the kitchen looked great, although it was somewhat miffed that they had to bring in their own cooktop. For some reason, the video has been pulled from the internet, but if it ever comes back, I'll link to it here.
Also newsworthy is the transformation of the tiny little Dannenberg portal to Upper Chateaugay Lake into a newer larger property tax revenue stream for Clinton County, NY. We have lots of room for visitors (the impetus for the expansion), so if you received this, you are welcome to come up and play. Bring your bathing suit and down jacket, and welcome to the Adirondacks!
We very much enjoy hearing from you, so keep those cards and letters coming. We promise only to read them and reciprocate when we
get off our lazy behinds can find time in our busy schedules.
It is hard to imagine that it has only been a year since we last corresponded. It seems more like 8 months, which, I suppose if one wants to be technical about it, it was. One might rightly ask “What could have happened in the intervening time that would warrant yet another assault on the English language from the Rosens?” The answer, (to quote a recent presidential candidate) “my friends”, is surprisingly little.
Dan and Kate are still living in Astoria, Queens. Dan still has his day job in mid-town Manhattan selling guitars, and despite himself, has become quite the expert. His guitar family continues to grow, with the arrival of a beautiful Gretsch 6121FTW semi-hollow body, a darling PRS Mira electric that he won as part of a sales contest, and a lovely custom made electric that he built himself out of parts. He continues to hone his skills as a sketch comedy writer, and is getting to the point where he can put together a reasonable portfolio for auditions and the like. Both he and Kate may have exceeded their respective parents’ “foodiness” as they love sampling all that the city has to offer, and concocting their own creations with a growing collection of tools of the trade. When not otherwise busy, they can be occasionally found during the baseball season communing in Red Sox-Safe bars.
Alena is in her junior year at Scripps College, and has developed a not- so-surprising affinity for environmental science. Her major is in American Studies, but her passion appears strongest in her minor, Environmental Policy. For example, her favorite course this term was US Environmental History. She was completely taken with her professor whom she says is the best teacher she has ever had. That’s high praise indeed, because she had some high school teachers whom she has said changed her life! She participates in a number of extracurricular activities, including “Challah for Hunger,” which involves baking and selling of Challah in support of Darfur relief and other charities. In January she will be going to Edinburgh, Scotland, for a semester abroad, and we hope to be able to visit her this spring when daylight returns to the far north.
Anndy is still enjoying her crazy high school kids, and is working 3/4 time this year so that she might fulfill her coursework requirements for her Masters degree, which “keeps her out of trouble.” By “out of trouble”, we mean basically time left over for occasional bites of food and a few hours of sleep. This summer Anndy had arranged to go to Bozeman, Montana for summer school. What was particularly notable about this trip was that she broke her left wrist 48 hours before leaving, which was 24 hours before Glenn’s lab came over for a BBQ, and which was 40 hours before the airlines called and tried canceling her flight. A reasonable person might have assumed that the gods were telling her to forgo the trip, bit I’m sure you already know how this ended. As it turned out, she had a pretty good time out there as she was able to make several trips to Yellowstone for her wildlife management and thermal biology classes, as well as getting her wrist casted. Speaking of casts, Anndy took advantage of the wedding of colleague to get a complete makeover, including the generous re-design of her cast by our artist friend Ilana Manolson. See the pictures below for a before and after.
Glenn has relocated to a new research building (around the corner from his previous digs) this summer, so he spent much of his time in the preceding months purging 26 years of brain slices, papers, and slides to make the transition as efficient as possible. All reports are that the actual move went smoothly, and the new place is great. Because the move didn’t take place until the end of summer, normal vacation time was at a premium, so Glenn labeled this “the summer of golf.” To be sure, this isn’t any different from any other summer (or spring or fall for that matter), but it made him feel as if there were a greater purpose to this otherwise meaningless endeavor. Glenn started a blog this year, which he calls “JB Say What”. While he doesn’t post that often, all indications are that it lives up to its billing as “Mindless drivel by one who should know.”
Despite our status as empty nesters, it thankfully doesn’t often seem that way as we have a steady stream of folks bunking on the premises. Between friends from Pennsylvania whose son plays football for BC and who stay with us for every home game, to a colleague who sometimes doesn’t want to drive all the way back to Providence after late meetings, to friends rolling in and out of town for various reasons, we play a pretty mean game of musical beds, and are never at a loss for company. If you haven’t taken advantage of Chez Rosen recently, be advised that our rates have dropped and we would love to see you.
We hope that this finds you all well, and let’s hope that all aspects of all of our lives on this planet show some improvement in the coming year.
Having not sent out a holiday letter last year, one might be tempted to posit that there was not much going on in our lives worth sharing. To that I simply ask “When has that stopped us before?” So “Why was there no letter last year?” one might ask. As unaccustomed as we are to the notion of blame shifting, we will take full responsibility and state that the dog ate our electrons. That said, consider yourself blessed to receive this tightly edited delightful digest of diverting dramas of da Rosens.
Alena is now halfway through her sophomore year at the beautiful campus of Scripps College. She was able to make the transition from the peripatetic lifestyle of an Americorps volunteer to an academic lifestyle with relatively little tsuris. Prior to her arrival at Scripps for her freshman year, she vacationed with us in London and Paris before heading off to Italy spend a few weeks working on one of those ubiquitous Tuscan kosher vegetarian organic farms run by Canadians. She is currently leaning towards an American Studies major and a minor in Environmental Policy, and is serving as peer mentor for unsuspecting first year students.
Dan is still in New York City working at Sam Ash Music in Manhattan, where he is mostly a high-end guitar salesman. One of the advantages of this job is that he was able to give his dad a 60th Anniversary Fender Telecaster. This nicely fulfills Rosen’s Law of Purchases, which states “One must only own musical instruments of a quality far in excess of one’s musical ability.” In his off hours, Dan is either rehearsing or performing with his improve group or sketch comedy group. We know that we’re not exactly unbiased, but we sort of like the somewhat raw sketch that you can see on Youtube that was apparently inspired by an encounter with rather pretentious lover of scotch. He is living in Astoria (a neighborhood in Queens) with his girlfriend Kate, who seems to tolerate him pretty well. More importantly, we like her.
We have been exiled from Newton to some fairly interesting places in the past couple of years. During our trip to Europe with Alena we stayed in London with our long suffering cousins, the Eccleshares, who couldn’t have been more generous with their time and house. Highlights included visits with family and friends, and it was particularly fun to eat take-away curry while watching the World Cup final with people who actually know the sport. We took the chunnel to Paris, where we arrived having discovered that we had left the key to Dara and Todd’s (Anndy’s sister and brother-in-law) apartment on our coffee table at home. A couple of phone calls in panicky English and pidgin French eventually got us another set of keys.
This summer we did a 5-day bike tour of the Champlain and Mad River Valleys in Vermont. We traveled with David and Sue Dannenberg (Anndy’s brother and sister-in-law) and were impressed by the fact that Vermont is not flat and that David is an animal on a bicycle. We were less ambitious but somehow managed to travel 250 miles over the 5 days. The fact that there was no significant weight loss is testament to the excellent food at the various Inns in which we stayed.
Glenn’s work continues apace. Grants are up and down—he received a 5 year grant last year (that is an “up”) and another grant renewal has not been successful as yet (that would be a “down”). At the risk of sounding vaguely political, we’re certainly looking forward to a new administration that doesn’t hate science. On the positive side, he had the opportunity to travel to Campos do Jordao, Brazil for a conference this summer. Upon his return, he decided to update the lab’s web sites, and after an exhaustive nationwide search for the most qualified webpage coder, he hired Alena, who at the time knew that “html” was not a real word. You can see the products of her efforts at the Rosen Lab site and the Dyslexia Lab site.
Anndy entered her 7th year of teaching science Newton North with a renewed vigor and excitement because on top of her normal work load, she was fortunate enough to to receive a directive from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to enroll in a Masters program in, oddly enough, “Science Education.” We’re not quite sure what to make of the fact that her program is in Montana, but the commute by internet hasn’t been that bad. On the positive side, on-site summer courses include forays to Yellowstone National Park. She and her friend Matty traveled to Alaska for 10 days this summer, which has whetted her appetite for more frequent visits.
Just in case this letter does not fulfill your federally mandated minimum RDA (Rosen Demagogic Assaults), you can see pictures and other information at our new family web site (although you are already here so I don't know why I left that line in). We also occasionally post pictures on our Flickr site , and if you join our “friends” or “family” list, you see even more than is probably healthy!
From the home of the World Champion Boston Red Sox (see Glenn with the two beauties here), the undefeatedNew England Patriots, the east-leading Boston Celtics, and the top twenty Boston College Football team, we wish everyone a healthy and peaceful New Year.
I’ve been told that it is a bad thing to “bury the lede,” so here’s what you can look forward to if you read our annual letter: Read about how within a 3 week period this year, the Rosens celebrated two graduations, two 50th birthdays, one 25th anniversary, and one grant renewal. Plus, we throw in the kitchen sink.
When we last left Alena she was recovering from a nasty bout of mononucleosis and a damaged shoulder that combined to make the first term of her senior year of high school “challenging.” We are happy to report that things turned around pretty well for her, as she is now an official high school graduate. This summer she traveled with 3 of her close friends for 2 weeks in Spain, which turned out to be the perfect blend of excitement (navigating back to the hostel after enjoying the nightlife in Madrid), education (“there is no longer any reason to have bullfights”), and well-earned fun (sharing hostels with charming Aussies and other international travelers). We are more that a little proud that Alena deferred her admission to Scripps College (one of the 5 Claremont colleges) to spend 10 months as an Americorps volunteer. She is based in Charleston, SC and has been involved in activities such as construction, disaster relief, invasive species (non-vertebrate) eradication, maintenance, and all around do-goodidness. For those of you not on her distribution list, you can see some of her narratives on Alena's AmeriDiary page.
Dan graduated from Vassar College last May with a degree in psychology and a minor in music composition. Glenn was mildly disappointed that he was not invited to give the commencement address, but that honor went to another father of a graduate, Tom Hanks. We hear he’s in the entertainment business. Dan has since moved to the upper east side of Manhattan with designs on becoming a performer. This fall he filled in on bass for a 10-city-in-10-day tour with a singer-songwriter. Their penultimate venue was in Cambridge, which allowed us to see him in action. He has done a couple of short comedy stand-up routines (they made us laugh!), is taking some improv and comedy writing courses, and is looking to start auditioning soon. For actual money, he has worked part-time for his uncle Matt’s promotion company, and has found that going into bars dressed a hockey goalie has it’s upsides (being hit on by drunk women) and downsides (being cup checked by drunk men).
The more observant of you will have done the math by now and surmised that we are now empty nesters. To tell the truth, we don’t like that term very much because it makes the assumption that we are somehow less whole with the children out pursuing their own lives. We prefer “bereft-at-the-loss-of-the-only-thing-keeping-our-shell-of-a-marriage-from-imploding-and-if-I-have-to-look-at-his/her-aging-face-across-the-echoing-emptiness-of-our-dining-room-I-think-I’ll-have-an-aneurysm.” To tell the truth, although we look forward to those times when the entire family is together, we are still amazed that we adults still enjoy one-another’s company after 25 years of marriage.
Speaking of 25 years (most obvious segue ever), we had a wonderful celebration this spring. Over Memorial Day weekend, Glenn was able to flaunt his Pitmeister skills when we hosted a BBQ for both sides of the family and a bunch of local friends. Later that weekend, the extended family went out to dinner at a local restaurant, the highlight of which was either the wine or the reenactment of our first date by Dan and Alena. Let me just say for the record that “Might I squire you about campus?” is not a verbatim quote, but the kids did a masterful job given that we’re pretty sure they weren’t actually present at the original event.
Both of us are proud to admit that we have officially entered our decade of “The New 30’s.” At the end of June, Anndy and Glenn’s brother Stuart arranged a surprise golf outing for the boys. They had a blast tearing up some of the finer courses in the metropolitan Boston area. For Anndy’s New 30th, Glenn arranged for Anndy and number of her friends to head off for three days of relaxation at a spa in Berkshires. I think it is safe to say that that was not something Anndy would ever do for herself, but I don’t think she objected too much. On a slightly less self-indulgent vein, Glenn got Anndy a Toyota Prius, which, as you all know, actually doesn’t use any gas and, in fact, cleans the air the more you drive it.
In another milestone our house turned 120 this year, so we gave it the gift of a major kitchen renovation. In addition almost double the area, of particular note is a dedicated Wok burner, which gives out 28,000 BTU, thank you very much. We are thrilled with the new space, and if you haven’t been over to see it, what’s stopping you? We may even cook you something. For those interested in the renovation process, we have a pictorial narrative.
Work continues apace for both of us. Despite the evisceration of the NIH budget by an administration still looking for Osama and weapons of mass destruction, Glenn was able to get a grant renewed this year, albeit for less money than what he had previously. There is another renewal being submitted this year, so he’ll have his work cut out for him. Anndy is still working way too hard, and is experiencing the joys of teaching biology to “less than motivated” students this year. After attending biology AP boot camp last summer, she is hopeful that she’ll be able to enjoy teaching at the opposite end of the spectrum next year.
Sorry for the length of the letter, but we know that you’d be disappointed if we left anything out of the narrative of our ever-so-interesting lives. If you feel it necessary to reciprocate (knowing, of course, that your own lives can’t be nearly as fascinating as ours), please free to share at our email addresses.
Wishing all of you the best for the new year.
In case you hadn’t heard, the Red Sox won the World Series. If you haven't seen it already, you may get a kick out of the following:
Be assured that we have not stricken you from our annual correspondence list. Following the example set by the leader of our country, we have ignored both the scientific evidence and conventional wisdom and have declared a “year” to be of twenty four months’ duration.
So this year in the Rosen household:
Somehow, Danny has reached legal drinking age just in time for his final semester atVassar. He’s been enjoying his coursework as a psychology major and is learning enormous amounts of incomprehensible (to me) material in his music composition minor. His thespian tendencies persist, and we have been able to see him recently as an irascible pseudo-cripple in The Man Who Came to Dinner, a love-starved lad in his third production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and most recently, as a somewhat officious “head player” in Tom Stoppard’sRosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Based on our previous experiences with that particular play, Glenn and I had thought it was tedious and stupid. Surprisingly (but happily), we were in error, as we thoroughly enjoyed the students’ intelligent, witty, and well-timed production. We think our son is enormously talented (that’s our job, of course, but he really is!!) and performance is still the undertaking that makes him happiest.
Danny is also still playing oboe and is a member of four bands in which he plays electric bass. This summer he was asked to stand in for a professional gig performed by his high school mentor’s band Soulfège [sic]. He was thrilled to be asked, and is reported to have “not ruined the reputation of the band,” high praise indeed from one’s idol!
Alena weathered her junior year of high school with aplomb, and wrote her obligatory junior thesis on the Marshall Plan. Her feeling was that the thesis writing process was “a great learning experience,” and that she “never wants to go through that again!” On the other hand, because her history teachers have consistently been her best and favorite teachers in high school, she has become very interested in public policy. She spent a week with the Close Up program examining the federal government with several hundred other high school students from around the country and was heartened to learn that not all political conservatives are idiots.
Alena’s senior year began ominously when she injured her shoulder in a fall from her broomstick (don’t ask!) in the final days of her summer camp job. This was followed by a most unpleasant case of mononucleosis, which took her out of most of her swim season and a large number of days of school. She has almost completely recovered from both setbacks and is enjoying (if by “enjoying” one means “loathing every minute of”) the college application process. In spite of this being “the worst year” of Alena’s life, she continues to be the sweet, witty, perceptive, sensitive young woman whom everybody loves.
Glenn maintains that he is the most sought-after rodent neurosurgeon in the blue state region. He ran an extremely successful boondoggle (he called it a conference) on Lake Como in Italy in June of this year, and we’re all certain that the resultant book, Developing New Pathways in the Study of the Dyslexic Brain, will be a best seller among educators and the neuro-nerd set.
Ann(dy) is still casting her influence on high school science students and appreciating those two best things about teaching–July and August. She finally realized a life-long dream of following her father’s footsteps and climbed Mt. Katahdin in Maine in 2003. That trip demonstrated her camping compatibility with a couple of colleagues, so that in the summer of 2004 she was able to take a few other trips between professional development undertakings. One of the latter was a class with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife about Wildlife Management. She had sort of hoped she’d learn how to control rowdy teenagers, but instead spent the week tracking moose and bear.
We wish you peace and love for the New Year. GO SOX.
In past years, the first paragraph of our “annual” missive generally included sorry efforts to dismiss our slothfulness with lame attempts at humor and snide references to current events. This year we’re told to keep to our routines or otherwise the “terrorists win.” We’re frankly having a tough time figuring out whether Osama’s aim was to stop us from writing our letter. After brief consideration, we are comforted by the likelihood that he cares even less about the Rosen Family Holiday Letter than all of you do.
Since you last heard from us two years ago, the members of our household have made some major transitions. To wit:
Danny (18) graduated high school in June and had, by all accounts, a wonderful senior year at Newton North. We actually didn’t see him enough to know for sure, between his practices with six different musical groups and rehearsals for one of the five plays in which he acted. We did see the performances and were within one or two nights of qualifying for a preferred parking space next to the Newton North Auditorium. Of particular note were his star turns as “Charlie” in The Foreigner, and “Bottom” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He was accepted to Vassar College in mid-December last year, a date fixed in our minds as it allowed him to get a jump on his classmates in beginning his senior slump. Nevertheless, he graduated with honors and won the Lasker Award for being sort of THE big music man on campus.
Danny has just finished his first semester at college and we are all pleased that he seems to have made the right choice. He has already been cast in a play (Fuddy Meers), has started a funk band with a bunch of friends, is taking oboe lessons, playing rugby, and apparently even going to classes and doing well. When asked what he liked best about college, he said “Freedom!!!.” When asked what he liked least, he said “Paying for stuff with my own money sucks.”
Alena (14), though deeply saddened by the bus tragedy last spring involving students from the adjacent middle school, was equally affected by the support and strength that she and her many friends were able to share with each other and the community at large. While it was a “growth experience” none of us would have chosen for our children, we are impressed by the maturity so many of the kids brought to bear and have continued to exhibit as they move on with their lives.
Alena is now a freshman at Newton North, and seems to have made the adjustment really well. She joined the swim team and was one of only three freshmen to letter this year. She is cast in an upcoming play and is a member of the Improv Club. This summer marked her last as a camper at Tanager Lodge, that strange place where people enjoy not having running water, electricity, or plumbing. There she made a gorgeous canoe paddle using only hand tools, hiked most of Adirondack Park, swam over 3 miles across the lake, and had her usual superlative summer. She is looking forward to a trip this February to Montreal and Quebec as one of the “guinea pigs” specially chosen by two of her middle school teachers who wished to try international travel with adolescent students. (The trip, initially planned for London and Paris, was reconfigured after the Newton School Department placed a moratorium on all travel abroad.)
Ann(dy) (>21) has undoubtedly made the biggest transition of all of us, going from umpteen part time jobs and projects to teaching very full time at, you guessed it, Newton North High School. She spent about 15 hours a week last year kibbitzing with various members of the science department in an effort to determine whether or not “it would be fun to teach high school.” No biology positions were going to be open in the 2001-2002 academic year, but NNHS was going to need 2 physics teachers. Undeterred, Ann(dy) interviewed with the department chair, who told her that he’d love to have her on staff, but he owed it to himself to find a real physics teacher, or at least someone who knew how to spell physics.
To make a long story short, early in August Ann(dy) was hired to teach four classes of physics. Just before school began, one of the biology teachers resigned, and Ann(dy) was asked to take over his classes. Having spent many hours immersed in physics texts en route to and from Montana, she was loath to dismiss her new discipline, so she is left teaching two physics and two biology classes. Given that a teaching knowledge of physics requires a tad more than two days of study, there is still work to be done—finding the time to do so between class preps, grading, parent conferences, grading, tutoring, committees, meetings, and oh yes, grading makes life interesting. Danny and Alena cleverly pointed out that if she assigned less homework and didn’t make kids write up their labs, their Mom would have a lot less work to do! And Glenn wonders why dinner isn’t made when he comes home. Nevertheless, though more exhausting than anything since raising toddlers, Ann(dy) finds that teaching high school really is fun!
For the time being, Glenn (< 80) is still employed in his habitual place. One big grant is up for renewal (hence the conditional nature of the first sentence), but he and his collaborators got a big grant to put something they call The Mouse Brain Library up on the web. It’s just as interesting as it sounds. For fun, Glenn discovered the CD burner and spent more time than he should making a 4 disk compilation CD, complete with liner notes and cover art, of every tape recorded concert of the band he played in while in college. The project was met with such critical acclaim that he immediately digitized recordings of his bar mitzvah and his grandfather the cantor’s rendition of a Friday night service. These collectors’ edition CDs are ignored by finer music stores everywhere.
At a time when most everyone we know is no more that two degrees of separation from the effects of September 11, we feel fortunate to have so many friends and family members with whom to correspond. Thank you all for keeping in touch.
We wish all of you a peaceful year.
The accolades following the distribution of the collection of trivia, bad jokes, and useless information that we call our annual letter have been nothing short of missing entirely. To better serve you, the directors of Rosen, Inc. have hit upon the perfect solution: At the end of millennium, we are boldly entering the mid-90’s and putting up our own website. As those of you brave enough to venture a visit will undoubtedly notice, no one in our family will be winning any prizes for site design. We hope, however, that the added text and pictures on the internet will (1) make reading this letter waste less of your time (2) provide minutes of enjoyable browsing for those of you with little or no life. Meanwhile, for those of you still clinging hopefully to the vestiges of 15th century technology, here’s the capsule summary in print.
Despite the barriers set in front of them by both nature and nurture, our children remain wonderful and a joy to behold…unless they are in the same hemisphere in the hour before dinner. Danny (at left with his dad in London), now a junior in high school, continues to immerse himself in activities that divert him from the temptation of spending all of his time on homework. He’s been in two plays thus far this year, cross-dressing with aplomb in The Mystery of Irma Vep, and having the courtesy to be murdered offstage in Wait Until Dark. His debut as the bass player in the school jazz ensemble was successful in spite of the cast on his hand, required to immobilize a fracture of his middle (and favorite) finger while making a Hasek-like save in floor hockey. Always a master at using humor to weasel out of sticky situations at home, Danny has perfected a variety of weird accents that often leave his mother helpless with laughter. It’s not a fair fight, but then, his father uses the same tactics!
Summer found Alena (12.5) at Tanager Lodge for her third year. Although Glenn can’t quite understand how no plumbing, electricity, or basketball courts can be fun, the swimming, hiking, boating, and camaraderie are apparently more than enough for Alena. (There she is on the right with her cousin Nathan in the background). In 7th grade this year, when a girl’s social life and wardrobe assume their rightful place at the tip top of the priority list, Alena is doing fabulously well academically, and especially enjoys science and English. We hope we can convince her to put a few of her excellent poems on the web site, but if not, please email her your request. During the spring and fall, Alena deposits soccer cleat mud waffles throughout the house, which are replaced by bathing suits, towels and swim goggles in the winter. Glenn still coaches Alena’s softball team, and finally understands that bench chat and snacks are by far the largest attractions of the game. Nevertheless, Alena has a wicked good throwing arm, and is formidable at the plate! In between rereadings of all the Harry Potter books (total run-throughs now approaching 20 – she daily checks the mail for her Hogwarts acceptance letter) she practices drums, and is now playing some technically difficult pieces on the piano.
Ann(dy), Danny, and Glenn made it to Scotland and London for a memorable 12 days this summer (see Glenn and Anndy relaxing in Hyde Park at left). Details can be found in a blog post below, but they include tours of 6 distilleries in 2 days (see another blog below), hikes in the highlands, and visiting long suffering and generous relatives in London. Danny added a practice bagpipe chanter to his arsenal of instruments, but has been advised that should he desire a full set of pipes, he needs first to find his own apartment.
Glenn had a wonderful year of sporting fun, without actually working up a sweat. This year, the baseball All-Star game came to Boston, and Glenn and Danny attended the home run hitting contest. In addition, the Ryder Cup was at The Country Club in Brookline, and Glenn was fortunate enough to get tickets to see Friday’s matches. The first round of the NCAA basketball playoffs was in Boston as well, and Glenn’s brother Stuart got Glenn into the Fleet Center to see two games. Finally, the Red Sox made it into the playoffs, and everyone but Anndy was able to make it to at least one playoff game. On a non-sporting note, Glenn bought a Martin D-1 guitar in September and has been practicing daily since (a somewhat “glaring” example of this is shown at right as Glenn plays a duet with Stuart). While he has very little skill, he certainly can play loudly.
Anndy is still the science specialist at the local Solomon Schechter school, where she has continued her quest to convince her students (an easy job) and their parents (a bit harder) that the slimy things that creep and crawl in the woods surrounding the school are their friends. She has also maintained her connections as volunteer par excellence at the Arnold Arboretum and the New England Aquarium. For fun, she apparently enjoys cooking dinners, straightening the house, and riding herd on the children—at least that’s what Glenn likes to believe.
There is also, unfortunately, some sad news to share. Glenn’s father, Abe, died unexpectedly on October 8 of this year, and his maternal grandmother, Irene Sher, passed away on December 14 following a long illness. It has been, as expected, a difficult couple of months for the family, especially Glenn’s mom, June. As time moves along, the sadness gets farther from the surface, and the fond memories become more frequent. Glenn’s musical buddy from college, Robby George, shared this story about Abe:
“You know, I have preserved in my banjo case the quarter he flipped into it the first time he heard me play at Swarthmore. You may recall my response: ‘Glad you liked it.’ To which Abe replied (not missing a beat): ‘It’s for lessons.’”
You can find a copy of their eulogies in earlier posts.
We wish you all a healthy and happy year and a peaceful beginning to Y2K.
This morning, Estelle reminded me of a truism: When a loved one dies after 97 years of life, you undoubtedly mourn their passing, but you also celebrate their life.
Irene was born at the turn of the century into a large family with 6 brothers and sisters. Although she most certainly grew up in hard times, she always focussed on the positive while telling us stories about her life. She would tell us how she would take Milty and Roy to movies with a loaf of buttered bread, a nickel, and pickle. They could stay there all day by sneaking into the restrooms during intermission.
She met Ben in the early 20’s, and they were married for 44 years. Gloria and June drew the best from both parents–the strength of spirit from Irene and the quiet dignity of their father.
As grandchildren, there are so many great memories to share that is it difficult to limit them. Our summers at the beach are certainly at the top of the list. Picking raspberries so Nana could make jam, letting Nana clean our catch-of-the-day, and just having the family close together. Irene was matriarch of the family, and her love for all of us was unconditional. No matter where we went and what we did, we knew we could always count on Nana to be our biggest booster.
In later years, Irene kept her intellect sharp by reading voraciously and staying up with current events through The Today Show. She was overjoyed to welcome great grandchildren into her life, despite our best efforts of giving our kids confusing names, like Ilana, Aliyah, Alena, Hannah, and Leah. In the best of times, Nana had trouble with easier names, and we always knew to wait until the end of the cycle to answer. She maintained an active social life, which also helped keep her young.
If we had to pick one trait that described Nana best, it would be her indomitable spirit. She never wanted to miss anything, and through sheer force of will she almost never did. As I’m sure Pam, who provided and coordinated such wonderful care and compassion to Nana in the last years of her life, will attest, she maintained that spirit until the end. As recently as a few months ago, Nana participated and won a CD in a music trivia contest.
We have all been made richer by our love of Irene and her love of us. We know she desperately did not want to leave this world, but I’m sure that it would be a comfort for her to know that her spirit resides in each and every one of us.
We love you, Nana.
There is something profoundly telling about the family sitting around Abe’s computer composing his eulogy. We can recall introducing desktop computing to Abe, and it didn’t take him very long to build a computer system faster than anyone else’s, with more bells and whistles than anyone could possibly use. In no small way, this symbolizes how he lived his life. And it’s safe to say that Abe lived large, in every way.
Abe grew up in relatively modest surroundings. His father was a Cantor in this synagogue and money was short. In writing about these days Abe, as usual, saw the bright side: “As poor as we were, my father always had a great sense of accomplishment in what he did. He was very good in what he did do and my mother was extremely supportive. Both to dad and the children. We couldn’t do wrong. My life has been very fulfilling because of wanting to succeed and feeling this same sense of accomplishment.”
Abe succeeded in every way and lived his life on his own terms. He had an incredible work ethic, yet always found that perfect balance between work, his family, and his hobbies. He and June traveled all over the world, particularly in recent years. He loved golf (at least until his sons starting beating him at it) and was a superb photographer. His photography was always a great source of pride to him, and to us as well.
He loved theater and music, and found a way to combine the two in his years of performing first with the Simsbury Light Opera Company and later with the Mark Twain Masquers and the Producing Guild. We will always remember his performance as Nicely Nicely Johnson in Guys and Dolls, his favorite role.
Abe had a wonderful circle of friends, some he had known for decades. You’d have to work awfully hard to find someone who met Dad and didn’t have something great to say about him. Even people who only knew Dad casually would tell us how much they thought of him.
The cornerstone of Abe’s life was his relationship with June. Abe met June in Jr. High--at that time his intentions toward her were somewhat unclear as the following poem he wrote to her in 7th grade reveals:
“Many hours we have not spent together,
Many hours we shall not spend together.
You might think me rather rude,
But I happen to be in that kind of mood.”
June says that she fixed him. How many hours are there in 46 years? Jeffrey tells us that it’s 402,960.
Theirs was a love affair that never ebbed. They demonstrated their love to us constantly, not just with overt displays of affection, but with deep friendship, respect, compassion, and humor that has served as a model to all of us.
Abe had a tremendous influence on us all, as a father, friend and counselor. He worked his magic on the next generation as well. Abe was the consummate “Zaidee” (or Zabe, as Alena used to call him), and was never at a loss to find new and fun ways of entertaining his grandkids. In remembering their Zaidee, the grandkids said:
“Zaidee always made us feel happy.”
“He always made it fun for us to visit.”
“He was very proud of us.”
“He loved gadgets.”
Abe loved each grandchild individually, admiring their strengths and creating a unique and loving relationship with each of them.
Abe was always trying to figure out how things worked and how to make them work better. As a child, he once took apart a watch and put it back together to see how it functioned. His businesses were always on the cutting edge of new technology. At home, he never stopped searching for the perfect sound for his stereos, the ideal optics for his cameras, or the ultimate software for his computer. Did he sometimes go too far? Well, as June once told him: “When you die, I’m going to sell all your camera equipment for what you told me you paid for it.” To which Dad replied: “Now I’m really gonna die.”
Abe was who he was, and he never tried to be anything other than that. There are people here representing family, friends, colleagues, and business associates. If you were to ask any one of these people to tell you about Abe, they would all describe him the same way: generous, kind, funny, intelligent, and a true individual. He was all of these things to us, and so much more.
It’s at times like these that the inadequacy of words becomes apparent. To try and sum up Abe’s life and how he touched us is almost impossible. He embraced life voraciously and all it had to offer.
It all comes down to this. We don’t for a minute believe that Abe was cheated by life. He lived a happy and fulfilled life at every level that one could think of. We are the ones who feel cheated, because we won’t be able to share his life any longer. Dad, you are, and forever will be, in our hearts and minds. We love you.
Danny, Ann(dy) and Glenn flew Virgin Atlantic to Gatwick and then British Air to Inverness, Scotland. The flights were uneventful, although Danny found the video games on the back of the seat in front of him irresistable and therefore slept not a wink on the overnight flight. As a result, he snored through the 2 hour drive from Inverness, past Loch Ness, to Glenelg, our destination on the west coast of the Highlands. There we met our hosts, the Eccles: Anne, Bob, and their 4 children Charlotte, Isabella, Philippa, and Gordon. Actually, Bob was in Amsterdam and we would meet up with him in a few days (see below).
Glenelg is a small palindromic village of approximately 200 or so people just approximately 40 minutes south by car (5 miles by boat) from Kyle of Lochlash. We stayed in the local Inn. The rooms were large and not horribly expensive, although they were above the pub. Our first night coincided with a birthday party, an event marked by the appearance of bagpiper approximately 5 minutes after we had gone to bed.
During our time in Glenelg, Anndy did a fair amount of hiking in the lush countryside. The scenary is truly breathtaking-- 2000-3000 foot mountains dropping directly into the sea. There were few people on the trails, although there was a fair amount of sheep and evidence of sheep.
While Anndy hiked, Danny and Glenn took a train from Kyle of Lochlash back to Inverness, and then a cab ride to Aberlour where they stayed at the Dowan’s hotel. The hotel itself was architecturally very interesting and was inhabited mostly by people fishing on the Spey at that time of year. Later in the year the hunters arrive. They met up with Bob in the morning and set out on their whisky tasting tour (see post)
Following two days in whisky country, they drove back to Glenelg, where they hooked up with the rest of the families and had a nice dinner at the pub restaurant. We were up early the next day to travel back to Inverness to take the plane to Gatwick/London. The flight to London was uneventful except for the fact that Carol, my cousin, couldn’t be found at the airport. After calling her house, we got her cell phone number and reached just as she was discussing the situation with the BA information agent at Heathrow. Oops. We ended up taking the train to Victoria station where she met us at the platform.
We arrived at Carol and William’s impressive house in Hampstead and then drove/walked over to a local pool so that Anndy, Carol, Rose (10) and her friend Annie could take a swim. Soon afterward cousins Thomas (15) and Charlie (13) and two of their friends came back from Highbury where they had seen Arsenal defeat Manchester United in a charity match (2-1). Danny and boys didn’t take long to get back into the swing of things and by the time they walked home, Danny was recruited as an Arsenal supporter.
Carol and William put Anndy and Glenn up next door in the home of neighbor who was out of town. We went for a nice walk in Hampstead Heath, the largest park in London and then returned for a nice dinner. The next morning, we got up early and the adults headed into town by ourselves while Danny stayed with the boys. We went to the National Gallery where we saw the special Rembrandt by Himself exhibit: Seventy some-odd self-portraits by the master, including one from the Gardner museum. The pictures were quite good, but the explanatory text was just short of helpful. Glenn did pick up a screen saver at the gift shop which basically morphs 8 self-portraits ranging from age 23-63. We also made it to the National Portrait Gallery next door which was a surprisingly interesting place. The portraits are basically arranged chronologically, and it is fascinating to walk through the various galleries and see how the pictures of the famous elicit memories.
The next day, Carol and the boys and all of us went to Shakespeare’s Globe on the southern bank of the Thames near the Southwark bridge. We took a tour guided by a rather pedantic and self-important guide who used the word “we” far too often. Despite him, it is a truly impressive achievement. They have recreated, as best they can given the fact that there are no 100% reliable pictures or diagrams or charts of what the actual Globe looked like, the Globe theater. We considered trying to get tickets for a performance later that week, but we would have have been “groudlings,” and the idea of standing for a couple of hours didn’t really appeal to me.
The Eccleshare’s went home and we walked down to the Tower of London. The line for entry wasn’t all that bad, and after we entered,we were able to glom onto a tour being led by one of the “beefeaters.” He was very entertaining and had some gruesome and fascinating to stories to tell at each of the five stops along the way. Afterwards we went to see the crown jewels, which were somewhat dissappointing. After you’ve seen the first 20 solid gold serving platters, the next 20 don’t make such a big impression. We finished our time there at the White Tower (the first tower), but cut that tour short as we were getting a little tired and bored (Danny especially). We went out that evening to a very nice Greek restaurant nearby and then climbed up to one of the higher points in Hyde park to see the London skyline.
Wednesday we took Charlie, Rose, and Annie to the Zoo while Danny stayed home with the boys. The undeniable highlight of the trip was a live animal demonstration by some of the zoo staff. Particularly memorable was the visit of the kookaburo, which Glenn had never seen before. As the song would suggest, it has a great laugh and also has the ability to snatch food mid-air. At noon, Carol picked us up and we had a picnic in Hyde Park. We returned home, had tea with Carol’s parents (my 2nd cousins once removed) and left to attend The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) playing at the Picadilly Theater. Danny was in his high school’s production, so we were familiar with the play. Seeing it done by profesionals, however, was an enlightening experience. It was a completely zany night at the theater and totally entertaining. After the show, we loaded our bags into Michael’s car (Carol’s brother) and he took us back to his house in Kingston where we would spend the rest of our trip with his wife, Wendy, and their son Alex (Emma, their daughter was away on holiday).
On Friday, we took the tube to Victoria and hopped on a London Tour bus so that Danny could get some perspective on the city. We got off halfway through the trip so that we could walk to the Imperial War Museum. That turned out to be a real treat as none of us had ever been there before. The main hall has loads of tanks, rockets, sections of airplanes, etc. that are fun to see up close (the V2 rocket was quite impressive). In addition, there were spectacular exhibits on WWI and WWII where one could spend hours examining all the arifacts. A special exhibit on the London evacuees was there as well, which was particularly touching as we had just two days before discussed those times with Sybil who was herself an evacuee (albeit relatively briefly) for part of the blitz. There was a wonderfully informative exhibit on the use of espionage of special operations in war and peace. We then took the tube back to Kingston and took everyone out to lovely Turkish restaurant.
The next day, Anndy stayed local and went to visit Kew Gardens. It was an amazing place with an almost unlimited variety of flora on display. Danny and Glenn went into town again, first stopping at Fortnum & Mason’s. If you’ve never been there, it is one of the more impressive food stores we’ve ever had the pleasure of walking through. Danny was particularly impressed by the 12 varieties of hams. Glenn liked the quality (but not the price) of their wine and whisky selections. Danny bought some haggis for some friends and Glenn got some chocolates for Anndy and the lab. They then walked through Green park to Buckingham Palace, and from there walked to the Tate Gallery via Westminster. Once at the Tate, Danny decided to go to a special exhibit of new European art while Glenn went on a tour. The tour spent a fair amount of time in the Turner galleries, and the guide did a nice job of helping Glenn appreciate the different stages of Turner’s career. Danny and Glenn then walked up to the Picadilly circus area in search of a place for dinner. Each turn Glenn made was wrong as they ended up on Bond Street (where all the designers are), Saville Row (where all the tailors are) and a street with nothing but expensive antique stores. After stumbling around for an hour, they finally hit on restaurant row and settled in at a nice Italian place. After dinner we walked to the Haymarket Theater to meet up with the rest of the crowd to see The Importance of Being Ernest. The whole cast was fabulous with Patricia Routledge as a hilariously patrician Lady Bracknell. As it turned out, Michael noticed that morning that the actor playing Algernon, Alan Cox, was a former student of his. When we arrived at the theater, Michael left a note for him with the box office and we were subsequently invited backstage to meet with him after the performance. Alan was very gracious and it made an already fun evening even better.
We left for Gatwick the next morning in a driving rain (the first period of bad weather the entire trip), and departed with profound gratitude to our very generous hosts for a spectacular holiday.
We got up bright and early, and had a full English breakfast before heading out to the Macallan distillery for our first tour of the day. After being ushered into the waiting presentation room, we saw a cute little animated movie explaining how scotch whisky is made. This was followed by a lecture, which reinforced the points of the movie. As it turns out, each of the lectures we would receive began with the same line, which needs to be delivered in a thick Scottish accent for full effect:
This would become our mantra—not only for the two day tour, but perhaps for the rest of our lives.
All the tours basically operated the same way. They would lead you through the process of making the whisky and then end up in a tasting room.We eventually toured six distilleries: The Macallan, Glenifddich. Strathisla, Glenfarclas, The Glenlivet, Glen Grant. None of the distilleries were in full production, and most were taking the summer off to perform maintenance on the equipment. Of the four tours we went on, The Macallan was by far the best. The tour itself was approximately 2 hours and it covered the complete making of whisky from the malting of the barley to the bottling of the spirit. There was no active processing going on at the time, but subsequent tours filled in those blanks. Below is a pictographic tour showing the various steps in the whisky making process. To track our progress through the Speyside region through the eyes of our youngest member, Danny, see the gallery below.
The first step is the barley. The barley gets soaked in water for a couple of days in order to promote germination and therefore change starch in maltose (a sugar). The barley is then dried over kilns that are fueled, at least in part, by peat. The amount of peat used in the drying process varies from region to region and from distillery to distillery and has a profound impact on the flavor of the whisky. Virtually no distilleries process their own grain nowadays, but outsource this function to others who will follow their exact recipes.
The malted barley arrives as the distillery, is placed into large hoppers and then crushed in the large mill (left) where the stones are separated from the grain. This milled barley (grist) is then sent to a large mash tun (below right) where it is mixes with 3 washes of water at progressively higher temperatures. The purpose of this is to extact the sugar from the malted barley. This sugared water is called the wort and the remaining grist is called draft, which is used as animal feed.
The wort is then allowed to cool and is pumped into a washback (below left) where yeast is added and fermentation is allowed to take place. These are massive tanks that have huge stirring bars in the middle to keep everything moving. They also have to be located in such a way that the carbon dioxide has a place to escape without suffocating the workers.
The wash from these tanks is then pumped to the stills where two sets of distillations take place.
Only the middle cut of each distillation run is used, thus discarding the early and late portions of the distillation that contain contaminants. This selections process takes place using a safe (below). The shape of the stills are apparently quite important to the ultimate taste of the whisky. Each distillery had it's own peculiar stills shapes (left).
Following the two distillations, the spirit (70% alcohol) is then pumped out of the building and placed into wooden casks for aging. There are essentially two types of casks that are currently being used. Most distilleries use American oak casks in which bourbon had be previously aged. The alternative are casks used in the production of port. The Macallan uses almost exclusively sherry wood, while Glenlivet, for example, uses mostly American oak (below right).
After three years in cask, the spirit can officially be called whisky, but single malts age for much longer. After aging is completed, samples are taken from up to 100 casks and brought to the nosing room (below). There, the chief noser will determine the blend of the casks that will match the distilleries previous outputs in terms of taste, color, and smell. Having “the nose” is a real gift, and only few people in 100 have it. In order for a blend to pass muster, it must first pass the test of four other “noses.”
After passing the test, spring water is added to the casks used in the final blend to bring the alcohol level down to 40%. Once in the bottle, the whisky will not change flavor.
OK. So that's how whisky gets made. Now, onto:
It has been two years since we last sent out our “annual” letter. We can understand how reasonably minded people might interpret “annual letter” to mean something that is sent out every year. We did not mean to intentionally mislead our readers, but we contend that our understanding of “annual”, as it was defined at the time, included “semi–annual,” “bi–annual,” and “any time around Groundhog’s Day.” We are deeply sorry to have misled you, and hope you will forgive us. We are struggling daily to regain your trust, and are prepared to accept any discipline or censure that you deem proper.
Much has happened the past two years, so without further ado, let’s get to it.
Alena (11.5) entered middle school this year and as far as we hear, is doing pretty well with the adjustment. She continues to enjoy soccer, softball, and swimming and is making great progress in her piano and drum playing. Summers have found Alena at Tanager Lodge, the small summer camp that is so near to the Dannenberg heart. By all accounts, she loved her 7 weeks away and is noted for being a diligent swimmer – never once missing instructional swim and hardly ever missing morning dips. She has learned all sorts of camping skills and has enjoyed spending time with her new friends in addition to her cousins, Ari and Nathan, who are also attending. We know this to be the case not from any actual missives from our correspondence–impaired child, but rather from the accounts of the adults and from our own visits.
Danny (15) continues to be involved in acting, both during the school year, during summer vacation, and when asked who initiated any arguments with his sister. Since starting high school last year, he has been in 6 productions, our current favorite beingBlack Comedy where he gave a frighteningly excellent performance as an effeminate British antique dealer. He is attending weekly fencing lessons and, to his mother’s chagrin and father’s delight, is still enamored of golf. Music is still a big part of his life, and he juggles his schedule to accommodate the oboe, bass, and piano. He continues to do well academically, but it gives us all pause to contemplate the fact that he will be interviewing for college admissions all too soon.
Work is going well for Glenn as he was recently promoted to Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. While perhaps sounding impressive, we think the following interchange between Glenn and Danny summed things up pretty well.
Danny: “Congratulations on your promotion, Dad.”
Glenn: “Thanks very much.”
Danny: “So did you get a raise?”
Glenn: “Uh, no.”
Danny: “Oh. So did you get a bigger office?”
Glenn: “Uh, no.”
Danny: “Uh–huh. So will it help you get more grants?”
Glenn: “Uh, no.”
Danny: “Oh…Well, congratulations.”
Glenn’s big adventure in 1997 was a trip with his brother, Stuart, to the US Comedy Arts festival in Aspen, Colorado. They were fortunate enough to get tickets to this event from their brother–in–law, Matt, who was event manager for the festival. Highlights included a Saturday Night Live re–union with 28 former and current cast members, a writer’s workshop with Steve Martin and Conan O’Brien (among others), a seminar by Michael Moore (Roger and Me), and numerous humorous skits and bits. Glenn was able to squeeze in some skiing as well. He skied into only one ski instructor and managed to avoid the tree that claimed Michael Kennedy on Copper Bowl. Stuart and Glenn also tested their predictive powers by forecasting Chris Farley’s imminent demise after seeing him overweight, sweating, and incoherent at the SNL reunion.
Ann(dy) cashed in 5 years of frequent flier miles and accompanied Glenn on a business trip to Hawaii. They flew first class to Kauai for a week before Glenn’s conference began on the Big Island. Their accommodation on the southern part of the “Garden Isle” was a bungalow right on a 17 mile–long stretch of beach. Attila the Wife took Glenn on forced marches through Waimea Canyon (the Grand Canyon of Hawaii), the Na’Pali coast, and other remote locations while Glenn planned the evening’s dining activities and a helicopter tour of the island. The latter was particularly beautiful as verified by the pictures taken by Ann(dy) during the first (vomit–free) half of the flight. We both flew to the Big Island and Glenn stayed for a week while Ann(dy) left shortly for home.
Glenn’s convention was being held on the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, which is a fabulously ritzy place. Ann(dy) was enamored of the marine fossils in the limestone tile in the bathroom and the orchids placed on the pillow with the chocolates every night. Glenn was more impressed that the resort is the home of two 18 hole golf courses, and was pleased to break 100 on the South Course, which is the one used during the Senior Skins Game. All in all, it was a most relaxing, enlightening, and spectacular trip.
February vacation last year found the family in Maho Bay campgrounds on St. John in the US Virgin Islands. Despite (Glenn speaking) or because of (Anndy speaking) the primitive accommodations, the family had a great time snorkeling, hiking, (except Danny) reading, sleeping, (especially Danny) and downing various tropical drinks (all of us).
In the fall of ’97, Ann(dy) left her position as Science Education Specialist at the Hahvahd Museum of Cultural and Natural History to work full–time toward her resolution of what to be when she grew up. She found that, try as she might, she couldn’t get away from science education, and spent the year attending and presenting professional development workshops in museums, volunteering in the education departments of the New England Aquarium and Arnold Arboretum, filling in as a teacher for a science education outreach company, tutoring high school biology students, and consulting for a few science education development companies. One major advantage of this year of “unemployment” was that she was able to fill her time with PTO activities in this, her last year as an elementary school parent. Leaving for Hawaii and actually missing the last day of school saved a lot of Kleenex®!
Just before that departure for points far west, after interviewing for the position on a whim, Ann(dy) was offered the job of Science Specialist at the Solomon Schechter Lower School here in Newton. To her surprise, she accepted the position and now spends three full days each week teaching rambunctious 7–9 year–olds — a job far more exhausting than anticipated. After a difficult initial breaking–in period, the kids seem to have Ann(dy) under control and everyone (parents, kids, administrators) seem thrilled to have her there. Perhaps the most unexpected benefit of the job is our increased understanding of the frequency of Jewish holidays.
Contrary to what one might conclude from our desultory attempts at maintaining correspondence, we do enjoy hearing from you. Please contact us at any of the email addresses below.
We send our best wishes for a happy penultimate year of the millennium.
As many of you know, last year we were faced with a dire situation. Because of the increased costs of postage and our desire to no longer contribute to the thoughtless destruction of our vital wood pulp farms, we made the decision to downsize the list of recipients of our year–end newsletter. We originally thought that this would prove to be an enormous problem, but it was surprisingly easy to trim the list to only those people we really like. For those of you lucky enough to have received last year’s letter, I am sure that you will agree is was perhaps the funniest, most moving, yet overwhelmingly endearing letter ever written within six months of the holiday season.
We are pleased to announce that this year we have decided to throw caution to the wind and include everyone. While we can’t promise a duplicate of the last year’s masterpiece (although, after all, a bit of judicious editing and few of you would have been the wiser), we firmly believe that you will be so genuinely happy to hear from us that the usual drivel should suffice.
So, did you miss us last year? We would like to say that we were so involved with school, work, sports, charity work, solving the problem of nuclear waste disposal, and running a national political campaign that we were just too busy to put electrons to paper and keep in touch. But the fact is that even we have our pride. After delaying the letter past Groundhog’s day and well into April, we were shamed into simply giving up and hoping no one would notice. Sad to say, we were right.
During that past two years we’ve led a relatively sedate life, similar to those profiled as that new demographic power group, soccer Moms (no gender bias intended). To highlight 1995, we took our first non–relative–destination family trip in December, visiting San Francisco and the Monterey Peninsula. The impetus for the trip was to show Alena the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but sightseeing and visits with friends in the city, as well as a stop along the 17 Mile Drive for Glenn and Danny to pay homage at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, made a delightful trip for everyone in the family. Other bright spots included spending Christmas Eve with the La Porte’s (Anndy’s sister Dara and her family and in–laws) in Lafayette and seeing Toy Story on Christmas day in the great old Alhambra theater.
Speaking of Dara and Todd, we spent the most recent holidays visiting them in their new home in Delft, Holland. We had a marvelous time visiting the occasional museum and sites of interest that would be tolerated by the children and their cousins (Nathan and Ari). As many of you know, the entire European continent underwent a quite significant cold snap during that time, and we ended up freezing our…uh…Netherlands off. As the country has no shortage of water, we were able to go on a number skating expeditions. There is something charming about skating long straight picturesque distances rather than circling interminably and careening into the boards all the time.
Danny’s big achievement this year, while certainly not unexpected, was shocking (at least to some of us), in the speed with which it was attained: He is now officially taller than his mother, even when the “poofy hair” factor is figured in. Perhaps less biologically inevitable, Danny also became Bar Mitzvah this September. It was an absolutely lovely, meaningful ceremony as all of his family members were able to participate and he himself did a superlative job of running the service. If his father hadn’t embarrassingly choked on the emotional overload during his own short contribution, it would have been perfect.
In the secular world, Danny is in his last year of middle school where he is doing very well scholastically and has continued to explore further his interests in music and drama. He landed the part of “Sir Evelyn” in his school’s production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and was apparently chosen for his excellent imitation English accent, which he attributes to his long association with the works of those exemplars of British culture and refinement, Monty Python.
He also ended his Little League career with a bang, leading the league in slugging percentage, and being named to the All–Star team. As his agent, Glenn is considering offers from a number of local Babe Ruth teams, but may well go with some of the more flattering offers from Japan.
Alena achieved a major milestone this past summer when she went away for 7 weeks to overnight camp. While it was the same place where we have gone for family camp for the past 6 years (Wohelo on Sebago Lake in Maine), this was still a new experience which required some adjustments: Alena adapted marvelously – her parents slightly less well. All in all, though, it was a great adventure and it looks as though she will be going to Anndy’s old camp (Tanager Lodge in the Adirondacks) next summer with Nathan and Ari.
As fourth graders in Newton have the option of taking instrumental lessons through school, Alena took the opportunity to start drum lessons this year. A pair of drum sticks can prove an effective deterrent to marauding big brothers! Like her brother, she is still forced to play piano, and is doing so quite well in spite of her protestations.
On the sports scene, Alena continues to improve in baseball and soccer and was her team’s high scorer this fall in the latter. She is also on the community swim team and seems to especially enjoy the crawl and the breast stroke. Alena’s general attitude and demeanor can perhaps best be summed up by the question her current 4th grade teacher posed to Anndy, “Does Alena ever get bored?”
Glenn has had a pretty stressful year as the end of the previous 5–year grant cycle drew to a close. To make a long story short, he and his colleagues were eventually successful in getting the grant renewed. In the midst of the angst of the process, however, Glenn was able to enjoy some interesting business trips, including two trips to Italy (Capri and Tuscany) for scientific meetings. He continues to play basketball weakly [sic] and still maintains his whine collection.
Ann(dy) has been keeping busy planning and executing (sometimes bloodily) many of the aforementioned activities and events. Though initially dragged kicking and screaming into the electronic age, she’s become an e–mail junky and a slave to downloaded NY Times crossword puzzles. She is forced to tear herself away from her addictions for occasional appearances at the Harvard Museum where she is alleged still to work in the Education Department, the Arnold Arboretum where she works once a week with visiting school kids, Girl Scout meetings, PTO activities, teacher workshops at assorted venues, and her monthly book club where the participants have actually read the books!
Her annual escapes from responsibility took her to Bryce and Zion National Parks and environs in June of 1995, and last summer to North Cascades National Park. Even though fogeyhood is creeping in slowly, she still packs all the essentials (i.e. extra chocolate, real food, M&M’s, field guides, more chocolate, socks, Cote d’Or with almonds bars, and a good book) in her backpack and just reduces the daily mileage by a few.
We wish you all peace and a happy, healthy 1997!
Global warming my foot. The temperature outside is so cold that the wind chill factor could only warm it up. As we sit inside our centrally heated house (only those of you who have visited us in the winter months and have seen the way Ann(dy) does her part for the international energy crises can appreciate how funny that statement is), basking in the radiant glow of our new color monitor, our thoughts of course turn to groundhogs. Now the way I figure it, no woodchuck in his right mind would dare stick his head out of his burrow to search for his shadow. Therefore, any groundhog that would is clearly encephalopathic and should probably (a) not be trusted and (b) move to our woodpile and join the rest of our demented tormentors. Since the holiday is therefore meaningless this year, we’ve decided to send out our annual Groundhog’s day letter early.
Well, so much for Plan A.
Alena has had quite a momentous year. Being all of six years of age, she decided that two piano players in the family were not enough and declared that she needed lessons. Surprising everyone, she has stayed with it and is progressing to the point where she and her brother can play duets. Half way through first grade, she is well on the way to becoming a member of the Reading Club for Girls (she is not only the president, she is a client). She is still a lover of nature (as stated on the fly leaf of every book she writes and “publishes” in her class) and science, and has more energy than humans should be allowed to have. She, along with most of her contemporaries, began learning her way around a soccer ball this fall, and after two days out last week, has become hooked on cross–country skiing.
Danny achieved double digits in October. Unless they sport the name of a team, Glenn can no longer distinguish his T shirts from Ann(dy)’s when sorting the laundry. He is turning into quite the musician, playing first (and only) oboe in the school band in addition to his genuinely fine piano playing. Fresh from his acquisition of the prestigious Bronze certificate from Le All–Newton Ecole de Musique, he and Glenn are working through a four–hands version of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, which without much imagination actually sounds like music. Danny’s still involved in sports, primarily baseball, basketball, soccer, table–top football, and parent–tormenting. He still aspires to be a comedian (he and Glenn have added Monty Python to their repertoire), and continues to read voraciously at every opportunity (opportunity meaning when he’s supposed to set the table, practice the piano, do homework, clean his room, etc.). Like Alena, he’s still a great kid.
Glenn’s had a pretty busy year. He was asked to give a talk at a conference at the well–known Illinois institution of higher learning, Hamburger U. HU is, of course, the corporate headquarters of McDonalds and the place where they train all those managers in the art of McDonalding. The place is actually quite nice, situated as it is on a wooded campus and with art work distinguished by at least one golden arch (albeit tiny) per landscape.
The annual Neuroscience meeting this year was in Washington, D.C. Aside from the shock of finding 21,999 other attendees (and figuring out that there are probably 15,000 jobs in the country) the best part of the trip was a private tour of the west wing of the White House. A relative of one of Glenn’s colleagues works in the Executive Secretaries office in the Old Executive Office Building. After dinner one evening, Glenn got a personal tour (saw Ollie North’s old office, one of Gore’s four offices) and waited for Bill to retire to the residential area of the White House. At 8:30 “Elvis” had left the building and Glenn and his connected colleagues walked over and saw the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, the Roosevelt Room and got their pictures taken in the Press Room. All in all, a pretty cool visit. No matter how cynical one can get when one considers the government, there is something quite enlivening about being that close to the center of it all.
Would you believe that we have a star of stage, screen, and TV among us? Well, except for the stage and screen part, we do. This year marked Ann(dy)’s debut as a scientist–in–electronic–residence on a national satellite/cable network. Every Monday for five weeks this fall, Ann(dy) appeared in front of about 100 classrooms scattered from Maine to Texas teaching them all about Animals Nobody Loves. Each week focused on increasingly more disgusting creatures which Ann(dy) did her best to endear to the hearts of grossed out youth of America. For reasons hard to fathom, she has been asked back to give another course on skeletons next fall, and will perhaps reprise ANL introducing a whole new cast of justifiably abhorred species.
In addition to her TV work, Ann(dy) is getting more involved with the Arnold Arboretum in Boston and continues to work at the Harvard University Museums of Natural History. We won’t bore you with the other dozen or so paid and volunteer and conscripted jobs she does —suffice it to say, that it’s a wonder she has time to think. Actually…never mind.
Lest you think we do nothing but work, we also had some fun times. We once again attended family camp on Lake Sebago where the weather was, for the first time, perfect for the entire week. The boys played soccer every day and the girls spent most of their time in the water. We also made it up to Ann(dy)’s parents’ place in the Adirondacks for a couple of weeks where swims across the lake, raft construction, boating, blueberrying, fishing, pirate hunting, and vegging were the orders of the day. Glenn was able to get away for a 4–day golf weekend in Tampa with his life–long friend, Geoff Kahn and his nearly life–long brother, Stuart. They ended up on two courses which featured water hazards on 17 out of 18 holes. Glenn’s thinking of taking up scuba before the next trip. Ann(dy) went on her annual hiking/camping getaway to Acadia. As beautiful as it looked in the brochures, Ann(dy) insists it is even more spectacular in the pouring rain.
We hope all of you are well. We’d love to hear from you all. And remember our motto for the year: Leave no paper trail/do it by email!
We seem to have surpassed even our own procrastination record and have missed timely wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Chunnukah, Happy New Year (that’s 1993, in case you’ve lost count) and even Groundhog’s Day. Let us be the first, then, to wish you a Happy Patriot’s Day! For those of you residing outside the Commonwealth [sic] of Massachusetts, that’s an official state holiday allegedly honoring our noble foreparents who strove so bravely for our national independence. In fact, it’s really just an excuse to give everyone a day off so we can all watch the Boston Marathon.
As we sit here in the throes of most severe winter in Danny’s lifetime, it’s helpful to reconstruct the goings on of the past 13 months. First, our annual groundhog report: THEY’RE BAAAAACK!!! They took a while longer to wreck havoc on the garden this year as they waited until our plants had born fruit, thereby increasing their nutritional value. But it really didn’t make a too much of difference, as Ann(dy) and the kids spent much of harvest time once again in the Adirondacks. Anndy accompanied Glenn to Washington–the–state for one of his command performances in order to visit with college “friends” Doug and Pegeen. Only problem was that someone told Doug we were coming and he left for the South Seas. The family had a couple of nice trips to Washington–the–District to visit with Anndy’s sister (Dara) and her family in their almost renovated home. We saw the usual museum stuff, but far more importantly learned first–hand how to prepare dinner for 12 on a hotplate (hint: dial 1–800–EGG–ROLL). This year also marked Glenn’s grandmother Irene’s 90th birthday, which was celebrated by a rather large family reunion. And yes, for the third consecutive year, the Rosen clan attacked family camp. In his latest attempt at “athleticism” Glenn acquired a tomato–sized soccer–induced welt on his shin, proving once again that if we could harness the misplaced power of testosterone, the problems of the federal deficit, world hunger, and the fate of the spotted–owl could be solved.
Alena is thriving as a bona fide school kid, having started kindergarten in September. She reports that she’s the “leader of the girls”, which means she heads the pack when chasing or being chased by “the boys”. It’s not exactly clear to us what happens if any of them happens to catch someone. Alena is taking French and Science as extra curricular activities, and continues to love drawing (mostly princesses, unicorns, and flowers, all in predominantly pink and purple hues), arts and crafts, and dancing to a tape of West Side Story. Her New Year’s Resolution was to “plant a garden with Mom”. The groundhogs will be thrilled. She and Danny were excited that our trip to Disaneyland [sic], 6 years in the planning, finally took place in October while Glenn was in Anneheim for the annual meeting of the Society for Nerdoscientists. As Mickey himself was taking a break in the off–season, the highlight of the trip for Alena was swimming in the motel pool. She aspires to go to Florida and Disneyworld someday so she can check out the pools there.
Danny, now a fourth grader, has recently added chess to his after–school activities, basketball to his repetoire of sports, Hebrew school to the activities that he’ll thank his parents for when he grows up, and oboe to his musical pursuits. His crowning moment came over winter vacation when he check–mated Glenn in a chess game Glenn was seriously trying to win. Danny still hates swimming, but has progressed admirably to the point where he can swim well enough to be allowed to stop taking lessons.
Last spring Anndy had the pleasure of being hired by the New England Aquarium to write curricula for their new summer programs. Danny then got to be a guinea pig participant during the first week of operation, spending each day ferrying out to one of the islands in Boston Harbor and studying marine ecology. Anndy and Alena went along for several days to help teach and generally have a good time. This year Anndy’s escape was to the desert in southeastern Utah. First the Desolation Wilderness, then the desert—such salubrious destinations. Where to this year, Death Valley? It’s a shame she didn’t have the capacity to stockpile solar BTU’s and take them back to Boston for expenditure in February! Now with a full–time part–time job to add to her freelance mothering and writing she’s perfecting her behind–the–back and under–the–leg temporal juggling act.
Glenn is still at Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School, doing whatever it is that he does research on. He claims it has something to do with the brain development and pathology. For extra–curricular stuff, he is injuring various fingers, elbows, and wrists with somewhat alarming frequency by playing basketball once or twice a week. He plays with people like himself, who, if they ever were athletes, would be called “washed–up”, but since they never were can simply be called “pre–washed.” Declaring this “The Year of the Color Monitor,” he has embarked on an ambitious upgrading program for the home computer but finds himself continuously opposed by short–sighted, short–statured significant others with checkbooks.
If you look up “procastination” in the dictionary, you will be directed to “Rosen, A&G.” It’s bad enough to miss the Channukay, Christmas, and New Years seasons, but we’s surpassed even our previous low by missing Groundhog’s day. This year is the pits—we’ve incurred a financial penalty for our tardiness by failing to get this in the mail before the postal rates went up. That really steams our britches! On the bright side, your friendship means so much to us, and we think our lives so intrinsically fasinating, that it’s worth the 16% increase in cash money expended.
So, on to the good stuff. Alena, who is now 3.75 (and don't you forget that extra quarter year!) started nursery school in September. She simply refuses to be seen in public without a dress and party shoes. Her entire wardrobe is pink, purple, and turquoise, and she wants to be “something pretty” when she grows up, “like a ballerina or a princess.” We have questions as to her true biological maternity. She’s bright, talkative, and extremely social, has a mind of her own, and is generally a delight.
Seven year–old Danny has discovered that learning to read not only gives him inspiration from the exploits of Calvin and Hobbs, but has the added advantage of getting his bedtime extended. His list of favorite subjects in school, formerly restricted to gym and recess, has grown to include astronomy and Ancient Egypt. He and his Dad have worked out a hilarious (when Geonn remembers hi lines) version of Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First. For real fun, Danny has recently added swimming lessons to his basketball and soccer activities, and plays a mean game of “Clue.”
Ann(dy) contineus to juggle motherhood and four other freelance jobs, three PTA committees, two fuzzy dust bunnies and a partridge in a pear tree. She ran away from home again last June for a week of Washington wilderness on the Olympic Peninsula. She returned refreshed and invigorated and just in time for assorted summer activities. These included an annual pilgrimage to Upper Lake Chateaugay in the northern Adirondacks for two weeks collective Dannenbergs and their offspring, followed by a week of “Family Camp” on Sebago Lake in Maine. The latter adventure gave Anndy the opportunity to try water skiing for the first time, which she adored in spite of the cries of her environmental conscience.
Glenn’s non–remunerative yet incredibly dull lab work proceeds apace. He continues to bore a whole new generation of Wellesley College women with his ruminations. Glenn found himself in Barcelona this summer for a conference, the highlight of which was being an audience to a half–hour sound check by the Rolling Stones while perched on the roof of the Miró Fondation. Upon his return to the US, he, too, learned how to waterski at Family Camp, but learned an even more important lesson: that a 35 year–old lab potato can exhibit remarkable reflexes when forced to dodge multi–faceted projectiles launched off the feet of 17 year–old varsity soccer players. Unfortunately, he was in goal at the time.
We wish you all a happy and helathy year. We fervently hope that our next missive will be written a) on time and b) in a time of international peace.
We the undersigned had just a dandy year in 1989. To wit:
We wish you all joyous holidays, and a happy, healthy 1990!