Tom and George at Holland Lake, Montana

Season's Greetings

When we encounter extraordinary natural beauty
in a lake, a sunset, or a season of goodwill,
we feel awe, wonder, and gratitude for being alive.

We hope the spirit of the season
inspires those same feelings in you.

Wishing you happy holidays!

Love,
Tom and George

(photo taken at Allison & Nathan's wedding, Holland Lake Lodge, Swan Valley, Montana)

 

 

 

 

 

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Married Or Not?

Tom and George with judge getting marriedIn May, the California Supreme Court ruled that denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples violated the state constitution. We were joyful at seeing this injustice righted, and over the summer many of our dear friends secured legal recognition for longstanding relationships. Some of our friends, like Charles and Scott, simply formalized vows that had been exchanged years before. Others, like Bill and Leo, gathered family and friends to exchange vows for the first time. We celebrated the 7th anniversary of our real (but non-legal) wedding by going to the courthouse and getting a wedding license. And in August, we exchanged vows anew before a Superior Court judge. Alas, despite passionate lobbying on our part, this ongoing celebration of justice and joy was stopped in November by a slim margin of California voters, who voted to amend the constitution to ban same-sex marriage once again. The status of the legal marriages that took place is now uncertain, and the whole issue is back in court. We're disappointed, but also encouraged at how far society has come just in this decade. We know that justice will prevail soon.

Tom and Art marry again Charles and Scott with marriage license Marriage license window Bill and Leo wedding Prop 8 protests

Pomegranite tree tile muralTile and Fireplace

We spent much of this year planning for another backyard project. We plan to extend our patio, put a pergola over it, and do an outdoor fireplace and a built-in grill. We've been working out all of the details of the design, including a long search for the perfect tile. We had no idea there were so many choices, and we visited tile shops all over town, fickly falling in love with one style, and then another. Finally, toward the end of summer, we found a beautiful pomegranite tree mural that will be perfect over our fireplace. It comes from an artist in Bend, Oregon, called Metolius Ridge Tile, and we'll be using her exquisite handmade tiles around the fireplace. For the bar and counter around our grill, we'll use a beautiful blue celadon field tile from Avente Tile. We look forward to breaking ground on our project early in the new year.

Mom's Tough Year Ending Hopefully

In the spring, we got some frightening news. Tom's Mom found a lump in her breast, which was diagnosed as borderline stage I/II cancer. After surgery to remove her lump as well as some lymph nodes, her doctor prescribed a treatment of chemotherapy and radiation. Anyone familiar with chemo knows it's an ordeal. The session itself sometimes took all day of sitting with an IV drip, and sometimes it was difficult to find a new place to put a needle in. But she was encouraged by having her husband and sons with her. Seven weeks of radiation followed the chemo. She endured it all like a trooper, and her main concern was that the treatments would be over in time for her trip to Ireland in September. (It was, and she had a great trip.) Now, she's back to horseback riding and going to the gym, and her hair is growing back in. We're grateful to be living in a time where breast cancer treatments have such high success rates, and in a place where an excellent cancer treatment hospital is nearby. And we're hopeful that she'll remain cancer-free and full of life for many years to come.

2008 Technology: The iPhone and Social Networking

The biggest technology impact of our 2008 has to be the iPhone that Tom got George as a Christmas gift last year. The iPhone is just so incredibly useful and so seamlessly integrated and easy to use. There have been Internet-capable phones for years, but they've just been really clunky. Tom's phone is Internet-capable, but he'd rather suffer dental work than have to check email on his phone. But it's just so easy on the iPhone. And the nicely integrated maps and traffic are great for George, who's on the road a lot. Full iPod functionality, plus it's got a really good camera in it. Because it's always handy, we take a lot more casual photos. And Tom's folks love it, because when they ask what we've been up to, out comes the iPhone and we can show them a photo-blog (in a format that's easy to see). In the middle of this year, along with their new 3G models, Apple also opened up an independent application market for the iPhone, so George has been having a blast downloading all sorts of amazing apps, from useful location-aware apps (movie and restaurant finders) to games, to an incredible ocarina simulator that turns the phone into a musical wind instrument.

The other big technology of 2008 is social networking. Sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace have been around for a few years now, but this year seems to have been the tipping point. From Barack Obama's amazing grass-roots campaign, to Join The Impact, which was able to mobilize tens of thousands of people in a coordinated national protest of the anti-gay ballot propositions, online networking has really come of age. Or, perhaps Tom only thinks so because he was late to the Facebook party and only joined a couple weeks ago. He's been amazed at all the old acquaintances he's been renewing (and how much time can disappear).

George's ?0th Birthday

George at his surprise 50th birthday partyAt the end of January was George's ???tieth birthday, upon which occasion George learned the depths of deviousness that his husband was capable of. He thought there was going to be a party at a friend's house the Saturday after his birthday, and was caught completely off guard when he walked into his gala surprise party the Saturday before. Tom had rented out the lobby of the Fine Arts building downtown, a beautifully ornate Italianate inner courtyard, where a bunch of friends lay in wait. George thought he and Tom were going out to dinner before going to the theater. The restaurant adjacent to the Fine Arts building, who was catering the affair and was in on the surprise, pretended to have their reservation, and the maitre d' led them to “their table” through a hall that connected the restaurant to the lobby, and “Surprise! ” A few dozen friends helped the poor boy recover from his shock, and celebrate the occasion in style.

Allison and Nathan's weddingOur Niece's Wedding In Montana

In October, we made a trip to western Montana for the wedding of our niece Allison and her longtime fiancé Nathan. The setting was the Holland Lake Lodge, which was a wonderful choice. Since the lodge was rented out for the wedding party for the weekend, we got to spend much more time with everybody, seeing family we don't often see, and getting to know Allison and Nathan's friends. We hiked, paddled canoes, rode horses, and just relaxed by the lake, taking in its stunning beauty. Truly, Holland Lake is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The serene lake reflected a forest of autumn color with rugged snow-dusted mountains in the background. The wedding ceremony was on a grassy area beside the lake, under dramatic skies. The reception dinner was in the lodge dining room (they have a very good chef) and the party afterward went on late into the night. We lucked out with the weather. There had been a cold snap the weekend before, which accelerated the leaves turning color, but the weekend of the wedding held some beautiful clear days. The day of the wedding itself, some dramatic clouds only enhanced the photos, but didn't rain. Then the morning we left, there were snow flurries. It was a wonderful occasion, and a most memorable weekend.

Other Happenings This Year

Once again, we skied a little bit this year. In February, we spent a weekend in Mammoth at the Hadley cabin. And in March, we spent a weekend in Big Bear at Colin and Paul's cabin.

 

We attended Lodi Academy reunions again this year, which was the 30th for George's friends in the class behind him. There was a big party out at the Manzanos and it was fun to see everyone.

We helped celebrate Alex Karmelich's baptism. Tom wasn't the godfather this time, but he's Katie's sister's godfather, so does that make him a god-uncle?

In the fall, we visited the Getty Villa, with Charles and Scott, Jack, Denny, and Alex. Though we'd seen a play here before, it was George's first time to really tour the collection and grounds.

We visited the Getty Center when George's mother and her friend Bruce were down visiting us. We enjoyed the gardens, the impressionist paintings, and the rococo decorative arts, as well as a special old California photography exhibit.

When George's mom was visiting, we also did the Arroyo Collective Art Walk, and got to visit a cool old Crasftman house that Katie's aunt and uncle lived in in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.