11/23/2021... The Reicher Holiday Letter... Yes, finally I'm on time...LOL.
As the late November wind whips and the delayed leaves fall to the ground in our neighborhood, I await the first sign of snow. I stand outside, begin a run, do outside chores, bring in the mail and sniff the air for the smell of snow. Yes, humans can smell snow. Just like a spring rain approaching. It is awaiting to provide a cleansing of the dreams that need to be refreshed or re-routed. It’s all how you look at it. Really.
Oh, the word ‘really’. Per a few grammar writing geeks. A good writer is not supposed to use the word, ‘really’. I’ll say it again. Really? There is another word I discovered this year, not supposed to be used in writing by writers. I cannot at this moment remember what word that may be. But I’m sure, it’ll arrive in my mind as I write this Holiday letter to you all. A reading audience.
Where to begin this 2021 Reicher Holiday Letter? I’ll start with our smallest resident. That is inside the house, not outside our home. We have plenty of them. A bunny family under our deck. A fox and her babies in the woods nearby. A herd of deer, with a King or two and Princes and bukoo Doe. Five new fawns. They graze on my strawberry filled lawn. Sometimes eleven deer at a time. They live in the woods next door. It runs for some acres, it seems. And I’m certain a bear lives somewhere in that area. For as I mowed our lawn one last time, I saw bear scat, about seventeen days ago.
So, to our residence indoors. Our only male in the house. Cocoa Bean. He will five on December 4th. That’s ninety years old in Piggy age. He still is fast. He’s kept all his colors. He trusts me more now than I ever remember. Aspen will be six years old in March 2022. Right now, in Bunny age she is in her mid to late fifties. She’s lost some of her markings. Yet fast and feisty, along with her older sister, Nibbles. Who just had her seventh birthday, now age seventy in bunny years. She’s a little deaf. Dementia at times seems to be apparent. She gets confused but doesn’t do anything wrong, or non-bunny like. She eats slower. Yet, I found out this summer just how high and far she can now jump. It’s more than I ever remember. She can vertically leap nearly four feet in the air. That’s if she wants something. I saw her leap multiple times down from three feet, six inches onto our hardwood floor. It was from a jump from her and Aspen’s towering bunny box. Just amazing. And I had to put up another gate, for the first time in years.
Now to our youngest, who’s not so little anymore. I can no longer call her, ‘My Little Toby’. She’s bigger than I. She got her permit near end of 2020, and just got her driver’s license last month. She had another year of marching band. She’s got the Mellaphone for that. The trumpet for concert and jazz band. Finally Jazz band is back this coming year, 2022. The pandemic had shut that down. Her guitar for Jazz band as well. She plays her guitar quite often, no encouragement needed there. She plays her ukulele about once a week. I’ve stolen the piano from her in the past month. But she does dabble there too.
And funnier yet, the clarinet Gina “Boom Boom” Guidi from San Francisco gave me at the end of 2020, I had it refurbished for just a little over $400. Worth it. Toby started playing that. And now it sounds like she’s got the hang of that instrument as well. Toby worked this summer with a camp locally and then as a lifeguard, both summer jobs. Her drawing and sewing things has taken off. She did Spring track for shot put, discus and javelin in 2021. And now is looking to do Winter track with Shot Put. Her Tennis game has blossomed. Thanks to Tennis coach Marc Lerner’s weekly lessons for the better part of the past year. She had nearly a winning season as a singles player this year. Her improvement is staggering, to say the least. And her grades, unbelievable. I could not ask for better. This year, she’s already pulling A’s. Three of her courses are Advanced Placement Courses and aside from band and gym the rest are Honors. Toby re-entered Fishing Club just about two weeks ago. That too had been postponed for two years due to the pandemic. She also has Spanish club and Math League to boot. And at this point Norm would be shaking his head.
Our oldest, Sarah is now at UCLA. It was not an easy road I can assure you. And she would state the same. By God’s good graces we were able to travel during the pandemic and remain safe. Although purposefully quarantining to keep everyone safe. Sarah’s volleyball team’s schedule was readjusted from Autumn 2020 to Spring 2021. She held two jobs during her senior schoolyear, saddled with four Advanced Placement Courses, an Honors and other necessary courses to graduate. She worked thirty-three to forty hours per week w/ the exception of six weeks during spring volleyball. Then worked only one of her jobs then. She attained 3rd degree blackbelt in Karate in March 2021 as well. Then she attained Valedictorian of her high school class of 2021. She attended prom with a Very…. Ehhh hmm… Yes, ‘Very’ is the other grammar ‘no-no’ word in writing. See, I knew I’d run into the other new grammar ‘no-no’ word.
Anyway, I digress. So, Sarah attended prom with quite a nice young man from town. Ever see two, shy, smart people try and connect to ask, to be asked out, and to respond? It’s sort of like the joke, “How many plumbers does it take to change a light bulb? They’re plumbers, they need assistance.” So, there was an escort of about ten or so high school seniors helping Ben Schaefer get to my driveway. All whilst Sarah had to be tricked by her two friends, and I to come outside to our driveway at ten o’clock on a Saturday night for a prom-posal. Which Sarah had no clue about. And Thank God for that. Sarah did her speech well at graduation, as the Valedictorian. She did cry as she spoke. And I heard others did too. It was a nice speech. Then summer arrived and as usual, she had three jobs. She worked as many as seventy hours in a week. Making thousands of dollars. I kid you not.
Soon enough September arrived, and it was time to enter her first year of college. I sent her out eight days ahead of me for orientation and to get a feel for the area. She was able to transfer her work to a coffee shop right near UCLA. So, she had a job set up that she was familiar with and enjoyed. As well they gave her a huge raise. I let her live the bougee life in Beverly Hills till I arrived to move her into her dorm. Its is everything we both wanted for her. Thank God. She was a little scared after her first Chemistry mid-term. Not knowing the result for well over a week. Yet was surprised she pulled off an 85%. I didn’t even expect that high of a mark. Your freshman year, across the country, nearly 3,000 miles from the only home you’ve known, having the loss just the year before of her father and trying to hold down a part-time job in a new environment with a decent school load, while going to the gym and working out every day. All I can say is, Wow! I think she even surprised herself.
So now as I have rearranged my food-shopping. Less people to feed. I enjoy Toby having a friend over that I can serve food to. And I think my apple cobbler just might be a little bit of a hit. I know my steak is. My avocado tree I was able to transplant, she’s nearly eighteen inches tall. My mango tree died, a late cold spring day got her. But my apple trees grew. One is nearly four feet high. Some grew in my refrigerator I had them wrapped in paper towel and a little plastic bag. I had about fifteen sprout two inches each this way. Others grew in my pots of dirt, after four to five months in our freezer, wrapped in a dampened paper towel and a plastic bag twelve sprouted after I planted them in the dirt. A cherry tree has come up as well. My little red tree from five years ago, is now five feet tall and I planted her in my back yard. It’s tough with the deer around. However, I use a peppermint-based spray and they seem to stay away when I spray it, and it does last for about a month.
My vegetable garden was good for kale, onions, lettuce, parsley, basil, marigolds, red romaine as well. I’m still holding off on pulling out the carrots. Worms got my broccoli and the deer got my string bean patch. However, my blueberry shrub popped out some blueberries this year. A first in seven years. I’ll prune it in March for sure. My new cypresses can now be left outside for the winter. Our white pine and our fir are doing swell. One is about a foot high and the other about eighteen inches in height too. The five Christmas trees I rescued, are now in the ground. And the seven new deer resistant shrubs have done great in their first year too. I adopted a little baby Blue Spruce who was bent, near broken in the back of a nursery. The ‘unwanted’ section. Reduced by over twenty dollars. Although a deer ran into her, I’m mending her top new sprout. She’ll be okay. After I had five stumps ground down and two trees taken out, I ripped out three quite (‘very’, there’s that word again) damaged six feet tall aborvites, and made a rock design, from the two hundred rocks I’ve pulled out and about a hundred others Norm had pulled out years before. Then planted four deer resistant Green Mountain Box Shrubs.
My screenplay writing took off with competitions this year. Ten screenplays done, One treatment. Eight times a screenplay of mine was selected to be shown at film festivals all over the country, as well as in Canada. Right now, I have a producer/director checking out one of my scripts. It’s a tough business, we will see. One of my novels has been selected for a film festival DOFIFF (Depth of Film International Film Festival). Right now, to win the contest, it is down to myself and another novelist and his novel. I was awarded Honorable Mention by the Santa Barbara International Screenplay Awards. I won a meeting with Robert McCullough. Those of you who are television fanatics would know him for multiple famous series, Falcon Crest, JAG, Star Trek, The Next Generation’s 1989 Emmy winning year and Soldier of Fortune. Nice guy. He loved my concept of a television pilot. He worked with me for nearly ninety minutes for free. He gave me all the notes he wrote to improve it. He sent me examples to read. He sent me the video and audio he made of our meeting as well. That was July.
As I was preparing Sarah to leave for UCLA, I began taking courses, going back to school. I took an easy English Journalism course. I flew through it. I then tackled something I thought I could never accomplish. Understanding Data Analytics. I took a 260-hour course, intended to be done in four to six months. I did it in five weeks and five days, getting an A in the course. I guess I’m not as dumb as I thought I was. LOL. Then I took a course in Chinese out of Peking University. My friend Dante, a professor out of Georgia Tech advised as to where I should try and take courses online. Nevertheless, I became addicted to studying, doing homework, making graphs, case studies and the like. I decided to take an Elementary to Advanced Algebra course. I just passed with an 89%. Getting my brains back. It was truly challenging. I called Dante up and said, “Good God I’m exhausted!” I passed all four courses and began two more screenplays. One I’ve contemplated for over a year. So, in taking a Feature Film Writing course out of Michigan University. The old idea is now taking off, and I get to do peer reviews and get critiques by my peers as well from all over. And just before I sat down to write this holiday catch up on everything letter to you all, I just finished five hours of sending in transcripts, military papers and applying to get a BA in Creative Writing and English. Tomorrow I meet with my advisor.
I also added music lessons, I hadn’t taken music lessons since 1998.And a different instrument, the piano. Something I longed for as a child. I promised myself I would do so by the time I was sixty-five. And I’m getting my running back. It never really left. However, it was more of a struggle with no end in sight. Now I get a few good days here and there. I run regardless of how lousy I feel. Because that’s just the way it’s always been with my body. And it works.
In the end, I have at least a few people I do need to thank. My brother-in-law, Dave helped me weave my way through the minutiae of paperwork concerning my husband’s death, as well our insurance agent, Robin. He’s such a doll. And believe it or not a funeral director I recognize as Sherri, made things just a little more palatable. There are tons more I am grateful to. My neighbors, the Walkos specifically, Mickey Gilbert of College Choice, and Dave Feeney. Also, Norm’s long-time friend, Rik since they were little and his wife, Bobbette. Great host and hostess for providing such fun filled days in Long Island as part of our first summer vacation without Norm. It was beautiful. The kids had a great time, and it was relaxing. ---Jody-Lynn Reicher