Sandie's Electronic Christmas Letter for 2003

Dear Friends,

So many cards to write, address and mail  has made me decide to send my Holiday Greetings in the new medium.  Hope you don't feel offended, many of you I have no address for at present anyway.

While the postman is the internet, the sincerity of my holiday wishes for you are traditional and heart felt.



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To review my entire year you can visit my website at

My World view as Christmas Approaches

Unless I am traveling or it is raining, I begin my mornings the same way each day. I rise between 6:00 and 6:30, dress quickly, and walk with Zohar to North Shore Park. Most days we see the sunrise. It is a lovely time of day and watching the sun rise up, seemingly out of Tampa Bay, always helps me to put our place in the universe into perspective. Zohar & I are insignificant specs on a globe that is circling this fiery star, which in turn is only one star is a gigantic cosmos.

So my world view is something like the view of a bug contemplating an elephant: distorted by perspective. And yet, I feel (and I believe Zohar shares this feeling) that I am totally connected to everything on this globe...and, writing this, I am reminded of the words of Tennyson: "For so the whole round earth is every way bound by gold chains about the feel of God." Earlier in this same passage from The Passing of Arthur, he also writes that "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." And this makes me think of a moment recently when I told a friend that I would keep her Mom (who was recovering from a blundered surgery) in my prayers and she wondered what kind of prayers a pagan says...

Now I am not technically a pagan. I think of myself as a who honors all the Gods and so, one who can pray to all the Gods as well. And this reminds me of an article I read in the Wall Street Journalís Science column one Friday, which said that scientists have noticed that when they closely observe molecules to see if they behave in a certain way - over time - as they are being observed - the molecules appear to alter their behavior to conform with the scientists expectations... and this in turn brings me back to prayer.

What if prayer isnít necessarily a religious or non religious thing...what if, just by focusing on something very closely, you can affect the outcome...sort of like the Buddhists chanting Nom Miyoko Ringe Kio (apologies to any Buddhist if I spelled that wrong) or all the Miss Americas wishing for World Peace at the same time? What I think Iím saying here is, what if it is just a mental power? One we donít know how to use very well. But one man has been trying to use for so many centuries - back to pre-civilization - because somehow it works - and he has called it prayer for lack of another name.

I mean if one team of scientists who are very focused can effect change at the molecular level, then could huge groups of extremely focused people effect change at a larger level? If so, then my place in the world might not be so insignificant after all - perhaps my energy is needed to be a part of the global focus - and perhaps the concepts behind The Power of Positive Thinking are ones we should all keep in mind. Be careful what you wish for - think positive thoughts - donít be generating negative energy into the Universe or your own life - avoid hate - Strive to be Happy.

So, when we celebrate, the birth of Jesus or the Winter Solstice, whatever... Perhaps we can all focus together on one good thought (and here, like Miss America, I would propose World Peace) and maybe over time if we do this, maybe human beings can alter their behavior, like the molecules, and achieve the desired outcome.

So that is my Pantheist prayer for this holiday season.

World Peace!

Merry Christmas!

Sandie, Zohar & Mr. E.

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Business and Travel Report

The division of SBI that I work in is being sold and becoming a new company. I am pleased with this turn of events as the old company wasnít going a in a great direction from my point of view. I will have a place in the new company and a definite role to play. This represents an opportunity for me but I will need to focus on it - so my plans to return to Sweden in 2004 will need to be moved out to 2005. I donít want to travel that far unless I can spend 3 to 4 weeks and I donít feel comfortable doing it now that we are being sold. Swedish people should come to visit me in 2004. I will be doing more travel to Dallas this year, for business and I may return to San Diego in the spring. Otherwise I will be around for anyone to visit. Come and see me...

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News from the Garden

The news from the garden is all good again this year. The garden continues to be a work in progress and so it will not be going on the garden tour as I said last year. Things need to settle in a bit more and I am always seeing things I want to change. The pond and waterfall turned out fine, as you can see...

We continue to have a raccoon problem and I may need to design something to protect my fish better. Plans for 2004 include doing something different with the rose garden, though I am not exactly sure what it will be...stay tuned. I also plan to add a major piece of sculpture to the garden this year.

The Sports & Swimming  Report

Well Iíve moved to a smaller gym but I am going 5 days a week and I love it. I drink too much to actually loose any weight, but I am firming up the flab.

Mr. Bill and I parted in the spring, hopefully with no regrets on either side - we sang in the sunshine, then I went on my way, as the song says...

Havenít done any 'swimming' since, havenít looked for any either. I have enjoyed spending time with friends of both genders and if I get the urge for a swim, I will get back in the water and try again, but for now I am having plenty of fun on dry land.

And Thatís the News from Grasshopper Bungalow.

Wishing you the Merriest of Christmas

and the Happiest New Year!


The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
                                                                                                                                 Alvin Toffler


November - This has been a fine month.  Weather to die for in the high 70's and low 80's.  No need to run air conditioning.  My good friend Jerry and I went to New York to see a couple of Broadway shows and visit the museums.  We had a wonderful time.  Saw Cabaret and 42nd Street.  Saw the El Greco exhibit at the Met and ate some good New York food.  BbridgeJS.JPG (35253 bytes)  nycME.JPG (30973 bytes)  parkMe.JPG (53798 bytes)  I really loved Cabaret and encourage everyone to see it.  My company is selling off the division that I work in and we should all be hearing the details of the deal in the near future.  These details may effect my plans to go to Sweden this summer but it is too soon to say for certain.  This month I also saw a very old friend, Michael Shifman, who I hadn't seen in 20 years or so... he was visiting with Davey and Butch so I popped down to Punta Gorda to visit as well.  It is wonderful to see friends that you haven't seen in years... and speaking of the wonder of friends, we ceelbrated a most wonderful Thanksgiving with Tim, Randy, Ed Sandra Bruen, and Randy's was a lovely feast and a perfect day thanksgiving03.jpg (50034 bytes)  Now comes the beginning of the Holiday season... Hope you are ready.

October - This was a fun month.  I had a business trip that took me to Walt Disney World and MGM Studios...

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We had a great time and I was working too.  Also in October my friend Claes sold his business and his house and so we had a few good bye dinners for him 07_07.JPG (27645 bytes)  Then there was a beautiful weekend and I went to a "Hippie" outdoor festival called Circus McGurkis...held along lake Magori, and that evening we attended a free outdoor concert by the Florida Orchestra in Vinoy Park - complete with the 1812 Overture and fireworks!  All month long I was a puppy sitter for a little bit of a dog named Lizzy 01_01.JPG (53040 bytes)- she and Zohar have become such great freinds  they even share the same chew bone... As usual the month ended with Halloweenhalloweena.jpg (96499 bytes)  halloween2a.jpg (57998 bytes)

September - September went by much too fast this year - it is a favorite month as a rule so I hated to end up feeling like I missed it, but I did.  Too much rain for one thing - a trip to San Diego which was fun but ended in a bad cold and Voila! the month was gone.  But I did have fun in San Diego and got some work done too.  Check out my neighborhood bar in San Diego - I don't even have a neighborhood bar in St. Pete but if I ever had the money I'd like to open the Dublin Square Pub (East) just like this one.   WWW.DUBLINSQUAREIRISHPUB.COM check them out!

August - Perhaps my least favorite month - I have always felt that August is like Auto Racing - hot, too hot, and fast, too fast and generally uncomfortable and just too much.  This August was typical.  Too much rain, and I never thought I would say that!  Hot and muggy.  I fought back with my annual pool party for my friends with kids. kids.JPG (49562 bytes)  SamE.JPG (34870 bytes) I was hoping for a mob of kids but couldn't work out the schedule - and it was just as well as it rained in the early afternoon and I would have had the mob in my little house which is noticeably short of toys - unless you count Mr. E.

The following weekend we were off to hear Jeff Beck and B.B. King.  Jeff was great and gave us what we came for but B.B. just milked the applause from start to finish and did little real performing.  It was a shame.  The following weekend it was down to Punta Gorda for a trip on the Mystery Dinner Train.MysTrain4.JPG (33272 bytes)  MysTrain.JPG (26692 bytes)  I drank too much and was roudy - the next day I suffered greatly.  When will I ever learn not to drink Champaign until I am certain that my next stop will be my bed?

The next weekend I gave over to celebrating Mary's birthday, and why not?  Any excuse to celebrate is a good one.  And now it is Labor Day weekend and August is at an end.  I have devoted myself to yard work this weekend but will have a little Labor Day Party tomorrow to celebrate the coming of September.

July - It is now nearing the end of the month and I have a few last items to fill in... the summer pattern has now definitely woven itself into the fabric of life... Hot steamy days and sometimes afternoon rain... cooking on the grill and floating in the pool and visiting with friends.    My old friend Sean came to visit after 30 years and I took him to the Summer Babies Beach Party LaRoche.JPG (29196 bytes)  summerBabies2.JPG (50244 bytes)  this is always a wonderful party of good friends, great food and lots of fun!  It is organized by Aleth and Paul each summer and its becomming the only time I visit the beach now that I have a pool.

I went to Punta Gorda to see Dave & Debbie's new house and it is beautiful...butchie2.JPG (42994 bytes) but mostly I have been hanging around my own house and gardening.  My yard is looking quite beautiful if I do say it myself... work is continuing to hold my interest and I have proposed a new position for myself which I hope to get as it would truly keep me fully engaged... cross your fingers.  here are the kids and I - note the great tan zoEme.JPG (36997 bytes)  On a sad note the koi were eaten by a heron who passed through the neighborhood and got my fish and my neighbor's too.  But Tim brought me some baby goldfish from his pond and they are thriving - I added an escape tunnel to the pond too for good measure.  Also a positive new development is the addition of a jacaranda tree to the front parkway - I have named it "Jack Sparrow" after Johnny Depp.

June - June has proven to be a tedious month.  First we were desperate for rain, then we were inundated with it!  10 days straight and sometimes almost 10 inches a day.  Here in Florida where we are so used to the sun, it is easy to fall into doldrums from 10 days of nothing but rain.  In the middle of it I drove down to Punta Gorda to see Davey & Debbie's new house and WOW what a beautiful home it is.  Of course with all the rain there was a lake in the back, which might not normally be there and a pond in the front yard which may also disappear.  I will have some photos to post when I finish the roll.  Then there was the white knuckle drive home in rain that ranged from heavy to torrential... oh well, I am sure we needed it!

The other tedious thing about June is the Air Conditioning... first the A/C in my car died, then the A/C in the house began to leak and may need to be completely replaced.  At the very least parts will be replaced and my ceiling in the living room repainted.  All this and of course the increase in A/C consumption due to the hot weather in May...  

Lastly in the tedious department was the heron attack on my pond - and not just mine, my neighbor also lost several fish.  My three beautiful Koi are now just a memory and even the tiny fish are terrified.  I have undertaken safety measures for the future, but alas, too late for the koi.  

On a more positive note, I have a new flower bed for vines by the side porch and have again begun work on the parkway out front.  It would be nice to establish a ground cover out there and eliminate the grass... I cross my fingers that the one I have chosen will prove to be strong enough.  And so the month draws shortly to a close - the July 4th holiday will mark a week of holiday for me with a couple of parties... but that is still to come.

The Merry Month of May - Well as usually happens May began officially with Tim's birthday - this year we celebrated it in conjunction with Shakespeare in the Park.  The production was Romeo & Juliet and was  good, especially the actor who played Mercrutio!  We had a good group for our picnic this year and tons of great food.romeo.JPG (87145 bytes) romeo2.JPG (99270 bytes) romeo4.JPG (104226 bytes) SinP03.JPG (57780 bytes) It is always good to get a big group of folks together around an event and we look for every opportunity to do it.  I also had a business trip to Las Vegas where I stayed at The Venetian Hotel - I have been there twice before, but I really enjoyed it this time.  I got out to see some of the other hotels and took long walks in the early morning along the strip - I saw a sign that said "We Feed Your Every Fantasy" and I believe it to be true.  I saw lots of business friends and here I am with one of my favorite people, Shiva Shiva.JPG (608054 bytes) .  Also May is the time to begin pool season - HUNTER~1.JPG (90831 bytes) as the water is finally warm enough for us Floridians.  This weekend we are off to see the Atlantic Ocean and stay with the Kails at Bella Marea, their house at Flagler Beach. from there we are about two minutes from the ocean and an easy drive into St. Augustine.  Here are the photos from that visit bella2.JPG (30764 bytes)  dogsatdawn.JPG (52000 bytes)   sandieonbeach.JPG (13181 bytes)  As long as I am posting photos, I should note that the late, great Bob's daughter, Becky gave birth to a little girl, Gwendolyn - Bob would have been delighted - he loved girls.becky&Gwyn.jpeg (18144 bytes)               babygwen.jpeg (18501 bytes)

April goings on:  Well, I am pleased to note that the madness in Iraq appears to be winding down for the moment - at least until the Emperor Bush decides to go after Syria.  I am pleased that fewer people will be killed now that the major fighting is over for a while and I do think the USA will try to make amends to the people through capitalism and I hope it will all turn out to be for the best.

Here at Grasshopper Bungalow the spring season is in full swing with a visit to the Renaissance Fair (this event will have to find a new location for next year and I will miss having it close by).  We had a good group this year and had a fun time here we are preparing to leave tothefair.JPG (40815 bytes) Then there was the traditional coloring of eggs for Easter. eggs5.JPG (50499 bytes) My garden is looking very fine indeed springgarden.JPG (75494 bytes)and I am loving my new fish pond and meditation area in the front yard.mrepond.jpg (49024 bytes)  we have three Koi - Sabrina, David and Linus... they are very shy or coy but they will get to feel at home soon, I hope.   I am working on small home projects this year and trying to save some money besides - I am enjoying work a bit more than in the past, mostly because I am keeping busier. I had a terrible bout with depression from April 6 through the 9th - it came on me suddenly and for no reason that I could figure, I just wanted to cry all the time - I felt incredibly sad.  It could have been the war news... selfportrait.JPG (49867 bytes) but it could have been the Zodiac for all I knew and then as quickly as it came, it passed and I am happy once again.  

I will be hiding eggs for Hunter and Sam Ely this year and calling them in my character of Mrs. Hare of the Easter Bunny's office to inform them of their selection for a private egg hiding - Mary and I will put on hats and take ourselves out to an Easter Brunch on Sunday.

Zohar has a new girlfriend - a boxer named Ruthie... here they are learning exercises from Ruthie's Mom, Maureen

March Party News - Well, despite the madness, one still has to party! We threw a birthday party for Bill's Dad (Bob)   make a wish.jpg (34966 bytes)  party animals.jpg (47428 bytes)  And we went to Sandra & Frank's Oscar Party with a theme this year of Chicagooscar2003.jpg (15040 bytes)  floozie2.jpg (32201 bytes)  unfortunately, I am looking more like Queen Latiffa, than Renee Zellwiger

3/23/03 - March and the air is now full of madness!  War in Iraq- the ultimate madness, appears to be going well... Mostly it sounds like our side is dying in accidents and friendly fire.  The Lord only knows how much harm we are doing to the people of Iraq however.  I am praying it will end quickly but my reason says it will go on for a long, long time.  We will now, and forever, be branded as an aggressor nation by the wing nuts of the world as well as (secretly) by the leaders of the world - they will now regard us as a big dog with no control on it, and will try not to show fear, but will watch us warily knowing that at any moment we could bite.  There are many of my fellow country persons, who will be happy for this world view.  We have many who believe that America should rule the world and I suspect the Emperor W. falls into this category.    
There is also the March Madness of college basketball...

03/03/03 - March, and the air is full... Full of the fragrance of citrus blossoms (orange & grapefruit mostly) full of leaves blowing off the trees as the new ones push them out of the way and full of pollen.  February was a month of movies for me as I attempted to get up to date for the Oscars.  I saw Chicago (twice), About Schmidt, Gangs of New York  and The Hours all were good.  I met with colleagues for work who came to visit me in St. Pete (something that has never happened before).  Many changes are going on at my job, what seemed interesting last month has now become a very uncertain time - mostly due to really poor communication from those who are supposed to be in charge.  Valentine's Day was nice since for the first time in years I had a boyfriend to celebrate it with (well not the actual day, but we did go out on the following Saturday).  I am looking forward to Spring and warm weather and swimming in the pool , but those things are still a little way off.  I went out to dinner with the guys as part of an extended Birthday celebration and here we are  suck it in.jpg (27142 bytes)

02/01/03 - January was a terrific month in many ways but I am glad to see February roll around.  We have had a hard winter for Florida.  We had a freeze (it was 25 degrees on my porch) and I fear for my Papaya tree as a result.  We have all had colds and sickness too.  But that said, we also had a bunch of fun.

The whole gang went to see the stage version of The Lion King and it was really well done.  The singing, the dancing and the puppetry were all simply terrific and we partied before and after.  Here we are before... lion1.JPG (29010 bytes)  The next big event was my birthday.  I celebrated this year in San Diego, since I had to be there for a  conference anyway.  Susan came down from Bishop to help me and Bill's daughter, Elisa joined us as well.  We had ourselves a time and somehow I was able to get up the next morning and go to work.  bday4.JPG (21079 bytes)  Coming home from San Diego, it was time for the Super Bowl - for those reading in foreign lands, that's a football game - the football game - and the local St Pete/Tampa team was one of the finalists.  Bill is a big fan and had followed the team all year, so of course, we had a party even though we were both sick... Here is Bill in his Super Bowl shirt, very happy, since our team won. bucs2.JPG (21740 bytes) And so January cam to an end.  Now the weather is warming up and robins have been sighted on their path back to the north.  Spring cannot be far away and hopefully no more cold fronts will freeze our tender land and trees.  I am starting to feel healthy again and am looking forward to work - yes, there are interesting things happening at work and my enthusiasm is high as a result.  more to come...

01/02/03 - I just had to write that date, we won't see it again for a while.  Well, we had a lovely holiday here at Grasshopper Bungalow, with a couple of small get togethers and some fun outings.  Here are some of the photos... 

I had Bill's parents and sister over for drinks along with Mary & Sandra and Frank - you can see the family resemblance...

father'n'daughter.JPG (29048 bytes)    mother'n'son.JPG (35208 bytes)  sandra'n'frank.JPG (29516 bytes)  And of course, I had the gang over for Christmas Even Dinner... crownroast.JPG (17552 bytes)  Randy and Tim treated us all to a fantastic day of Brunch at the Castaways followed by a film at the MOSI Dome Theater.  brunch2002.JPG (19944 bytes)  We also organized a fellowship to see the Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers which I didn't like as well as the first one, but will probably go to see again.  It poured rain on New Year's Eve, so Bill and I stayed in and celebrated a sane and sober New Year's Day ( a first for me in a long time) bill'n'me.JPG (22124 bytes) but this photo was taken on Christmas Eve, however, when sobriety was not an issue.  And so, now it is really 2003 and time to think about resolutions.  Changes at my job have prompted me to resolve to save more money in case I am laid off... yes, just when I thought the job was somewhat secure, possible changes in leadership have prompted me to fear for my financial future again.  I feel the need to learn something new, though I am not sure what that something is, so I will resolve to seek out some new skill that I can learn in 2003.  Going to the gym and watching my weight are on-going resolutions.  And I resolve that I will begin to pray for World Peace daily... it can't hurt, especially when so many are yearning for war.