Thought for 2012:  
"No one party can fool all of the people all of the time - that's why we have two parties."
                                                                     - Bob Hope


Sandie’s Christmas Letter 2012

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 “Memory insists on pining
For places it never went
As if Life would be happier
Just by being different”

                                          - Dana Gioia

Sometimes I feel like that… but then the Holidays roll around and, as I always do,  I reread all the cards & letters sent to me (via snail mail) during the year just passed and I realize again that having the happy life I have, and knowing it now, in the present, erases any minor pining my memory can conjure up.

I had a good year in 2012 but with a little sadness too.  The losses of loved ones by several my friends has brought me sadness, because I feel deeply for them in their loss.  But the loss of my own dear friend, Jack Akeson, in March hit me very hard…I feel it even now.  

But my trip to Las Vegas in April was wonderful and brought my spirits up. 

Hanging with my darling niece, Susan and my close girlfriend, Diane was a tonic for fun – and we had it!  I love to party and I love to walk in big cities looking at the scene.  Susan, Diane (and her then boyfriend, Bill, a fun guy, figured in here too) and I did several fun bar hops, with dinners thrown in, and even went zip-lining in the old downtown section.  Vegas is a party town!

Then in May there was Amsterdam !  I love walking through an old city and looking at the people on the street – the boats in the canals – and all those bikes! Yikes those bikes!!   Hanging with Tim, Randy & Ed – tilting at windmills – walking through and up churches – it was all wonderful fun.  Ed & Randy turned 50 so there were little celebrations the whole week I was with them.  

In June, my job description changed and I found myself doing business development full time- it may turn out to be a good change, but the jury is still out…

In September, Mary & Bob came here from England for a visit.  They are so happy together and it was great to hang with them again.

October, Diane, Susan and I reunited in San Francisco for 5 more days of fun and good music and partying!

Interspersed with these trips were numerous local outings – music parties at Marcia & Bill’s, parties and other birthday celebrations all over town.  Lots of musical performances in my life this year too, from Blues Fest with the Kails in the spring to nights out at the Ale & the Witch listening to the bands they bring in each night.  The A&W has become my new hangout, I’ve met some new friends there which is always fun too.  Added to this were lunches out with friends - coffee dates on Saturdays with Aleth - movies to see - dinners with friends – and long dog walks with Mister Knightly, my dearest friend of all – each of these trips and outings, etc forming the threads of the fabric of my life this past year.

But then, over this fabric, imagine a fine wash of paint – as if, instead of dying, this fabric had been painted on one side – this paint was The 2012 Presidential Election

It was everywhere! In almost all conversations it came up.  People got HOT about it (even me a bit too) – friendships strained as the media whipped up a frenzie of polarizations both fabricated and real.  My heart went out to my friends whose TV viewing includes watching the commercials (personally I try never to watch them, but even so, I still saw at least 10 or 12).  Those that I saw (from both sides) were manipulative and filled with half truths and innuendo - disgusting and insulting to watch.

I tried not to let that paint ruin the fabric that was my life, as best I could.  I knew who I would vote for, so I just tried to maintain perspective by getting my news from comedians (Leno, Stewart, Colbert, Maher, etc) who kept me in the loop, along with the WSJ and NPR…And we got through The 2012 Presidential Election, my guy even won –  another thing to be happy about!!

So, if occasionally my memory pines for some place, it’s ok too…

I know there are other years ahead, (if I’m lucky), and other places to go… but Life is here and now – to be savored along with the joys of this Holiday Season which I now wish to You!

 Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukah and Wonderful Winter Solstice to you all and

All our Love,  

Sandie & Mister Knightly


Organized a get together with the Herd at a new favorite place, The Hollander Hotel - very festive and a fun lunch.

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Paid an after Christmas to the Kails in Bella Marea but made it back home in time for New Year's Eve.  Went to see Silver Linings Playbook (good movie) and then caught up with some new friends from the A&W to party some more - ended up at the Vinoy for fireworks... quite nice...easy people to be around.... so a Happy New Year was seen in...

November - I spent the month getting ducks to go back into rows... my tenants at the Yellow House moved out on Halloween - I immediately called my friend Paul, who had moved out of the neighborhood and was missing it greatly.  He immediately opted to move in... then Mike Lopez who had lived across the street also returned and needed a place to stay and the garage apartment was perfect for him.  It has cost me some money to bring this about as I had to remodel the bath for Paul and paint for them both  and pay utility bills etc... but the end result pleases me, and it is only money after all.

Marcia and Bill had their music party this month and it was very nice and rather subdued this time...are we all getting older?  I did Thanksgiving as usual and invited both Paul & Mike to join in - here we are:

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Sandra in the middle

The food was good, the day was fine and I think everyone enjoyed it...I did.  The other duck I got into a row this month was a change in my finances - I signed up for SS and refinanced the house, rolling escrow into my payment.  This puts me in a good position for survival should I loose my job or need to quit work.  It brings with it a great peace of mind.

I have also started going to The Ale & the Witch more often... many weekends I dance and I always hear good live music - it is the rare night that I don't see someone I know.  I walk there and back and it feels so good to walk at night... several times I have imagined myself back in The City... I feel very youthful at these moments.  I must say that it is nice to meet and talk with straight men for a change... they haven't changed, they are still a mystery to me... I can see that I am a mystery to them as well... they don't know if I am hitting on them when I talk to them (I'm not) and they aren't sure how to react... but it is fun.  I tend to talk too much as a result of living alone (Mister K doesn't really talk back, except to say, "Throw this, please" or "Is it time for me to go somewhere?") and it is helpful to have someone to babble at and not just subject my friends to it all the time.  And so as November ends, I can say that I am happy, and getting ready for Christmas and Year End.

October - This may be the busiest and most fun month of the whole year.  First, I went to San Francisco for the OpenWorld conference where I was joined by my darling Pookie Niece!  She was registered and came to the show to help us out and so we got to spend a lot of time together in a great city - listening to music and eating good food and playing with Diane too.  her son Chris was also in town so I got to see him again - the first time since 1999 and my how he has grown!

Back home I had some work to do to keep me busy and some coffee to drink with Aleth and get caught up on the harvest in France.  The following weekend was the Florida Orchestra in the park, which was fun and the following week I caught up with Davy Faxon who I hadn't seen in about a year... then there were the birthday parties: one for Ingmar and one for Sheri and there was Circus McGirkis... and a production of Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe (only 4 people in the audience...sad) and then lunch with Russ for his birthday on Halloween.  I didn't feel like putting on a costume this year, so I hid out and watched an old movie instead.

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September - You could almost feel the Florida fall begin... yes it was still hot, but for the trained Floridian, it was a different kind of hot.  Also we had rain, glorious rain!  The month began with an Open House at the Hunts to celebrate Susan's birthday... lots of fun seeing old friends and the Hunt girls.  Saw a Mummy Exhibit at MOSI and the latest Batman movie with the guys... won't be going to that MOSI theater again for a while as it is a pain in the neck...literally.  The Kails were in town for a week at the beach and we managed to get together twice - once out at Caddy's again with the guys and then a little pub crawl around downtown.  Always fun to hang out with the Kails and get to be myself.

Mary & Bob arrived on the 9th for two weeks and I got to spend a fair amount of time with them... there was a Monday night sunset at the beach with the whole herd and a small dinner party here and several dinners out, just the 3 of us and lastly a nice dinner at The Pearl the night before their departure.  Bob is a bit worried about Mary being so thin and I have to agree with him, she eats like a bird. 

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The last week of the month I spent getting ready for OOW in San Francisco... Dion is in India and it will be strange not to see her when I am in SF this year, but Susan and Diane will keep me company and those adventures will take place next month

August - I began planning for Marcia's surprise 75th birthday party back in December... I wanted to give her something to remember.  I couldn't have been more pleased with the results.  Tim & Randy helped with the surprise and Bonnie Green organized the gift.  I don't think the photos tell the story but she was very surprised and very happy! marcia75 013.jpg (86093 bytes) marcia75 026.jpg (117586 bytes) marcia75 044a.jpg (251024 bytes) and as a result I was very pleased with myself!

Because of my plans I had to miss another big birthday, that of Geri Kail - so the weekend following I went to Orlando  for a late birthday visit.  It was so comforting to have the Kails all to myself - we laughed and talked politics and I felt I could really say anything and they would understand... it is such a pleasure not to have to edit your speech all the time.  By contrast, back home coffee dates with Aleth resumed, but we were not the same together - Aleth is someone with whom I do have to edit my speech and it wears on my sometimes...and sometimes I forget and say what I think and am forced to regret it.  Then there was a birthday for Sandie B at the beach, a birthday lunch for Susan Hunt and play dates for Mister Knightly's birthday.  August is the birthday month!!

July - it was a long and tedious month.  I struggled with my new job but I guess everyone does... My home email was hacked and I had to go through all the trouble that comes with changing that.  Mostly I just played pool ball with Mister Knightly and took long walks in the early evening when the temperatures were the coolest.  Mid-month I did have a nice treat in the form of a ticket to see Cabaret with Marcia and Bill.  The production was superior and the company was great - Tim & Randy joined us to.  Mister K and I have started going to the Ale & Witch on some Friday nights and listening to a set of music... he is welcome and is getting better about being calm in public.  As the month drew to an end I got to work and plan in earnest for the surprise party for Marcia but those pictures will have to wait until August.

June - The first month of working for Bob turned out pretty good.  our trip to Redwood Shores CA went better than I could have hoped.  I knew almost half of the other attendees and they seemed to value my comments and views.  Bob is a very likeable guy and I think he will make an interesting boss.  Susan Hunt and I went to the movies together (and Mister Knightly had a play date with her dog).  Took Chris Silvia to dinner to celebrate her birthday.  We went to the Mexican place downtown which was good as I love Mexican food.  Had dinner with Paul and his grandson one evening... then Paul and I went to see Rock of Ages at the movies - we both liked it a lot better than the critics did.  The last day of the month was Gay Pride, which I don't attend - too many people - but Tim & Randy had a cute photo of themselves in the paper the next day.   .  Pretty cute, eh?

May - Seems as if I had been looking forward to this month for a while - the trip to Amsterdam with the guys to celebrate the 50th birthdays of Randy and Ed.  Pictures have been posted on FB and on Places We Like so you can see a bit of what we did.  The weather was cold at the start (which pleased me since I had packed for cooler weather) but the last two days it warmed up nicely.  We shared an apartment and went all over together without any issues...delightful!  We saw a lot of windmills and churches, which was really nice but I could have sat outside in more cafes if the weather had been nicer.  Still we ate good food and smoked good stuff (legally) and had lots of fun.

April - Easter came in April and I finally got around to doing something about my office - I painted over the wall paper on two walls...yellow since I had the paint already and didn't have to spend a penny on it... I like the results better.  Went to Blues Fest with the Kails and Tim & Randy and danced my butt off.  Picked up a guy too - a nice guy who lives in the hood.  I don't think we are made for each other however... still it was fun to flirt. April 2012 025.jpg (146644 bytes) Had the most fun in Las Vegas with Susan and Diane April 12.jpg (919516 bytes)   April 2012 028.jpg (99852 bytes) but also had a big wake up call... Bob S. told me my boss was planning to fire me - my stomach dropped when I heard that.  Bob is going to give me a try as a part of his group however and I am going to try not to disappoint him - so for now anyway, I am still employed.  Tried zip lining in Vegas and loved it, want to do more...zipline.jpg (400065 bytes)want to do more dancing too...  Came home and went to Rocky Horror in the Park with the guys - good production, strange evening!  The next day was the Green Thumb Festival to see Marcia and Bill and then April was a part of history.

March - What a long and almost dreadful month!  Oh there were many fun things to do, but overshadowing it all was my friend Jack.  I was furious with the hospital for continuing to feed him false hope of recovery when it was so obvious he was never coming home.  When he finally died on the 23rd I was almost happy for him.  His life as he had known it for 82 years was gone before he breathed his last and he would have hated what he had become, I know as we had discussed such things many times... NY Eve 09 005.jpg (337574 bytes) His dogs continued to stay with me until the morning of April 3rd when they went to live with his daughter.  I continue to miss him as we used to talk most days at the dog park and we generally got together for drinks and dinner once a month.  I went to the services and was sad that no one who spoke actually knew him - if you are reading this, please don't let strangers have the last word on your life...ask a friend and leave instructions about who, if you can.  I made my own little tribute to him on Face Book with pictures of his birds and I made a book of them as well to remember him by...

But life goes on and my friend Diane came down the 1st of March for a fun visit Diane n I.jpg (96344 bytes) I love hanging out with Diane as she still likes to party!  We had some fun at gypsy night at the Blueberry Patch and soaked up some culture too at Art in Bloom.  The night parade for the Grand Prix was another fun event that I got to spend with Chris, Tim, Doug & Kevin.  I love being out at night with those guys too.

Geri came over to go to Marcia's Music party and it was fun to see her - the party was great and I would have stayed much longer but for the little dogs waiting at home.  The following weekend was the 20th Annual Egg Coloring party which was at Time & Randy's and it was a lovely time.April 2012 018.jpg (92459 bytes) and then finally March was over and I was ready to get on with life!

February - I do believe spring came really early and it began in February... the temperature got warm faster than I recall from years past and the feel of spring was around all month.  My old friend Debbie Wheelock-Taylor came to visit and it was delightful to see her again after so many years.  We fell into a comfort zone that melted the intervening years away... it was a great visit and I hope she comes back again.  IMG_1752.JPG (4317061 bytes)

There was plenty of stuff to do all month including a great SuperBowl party at Marcia & Bill's (and the Giants won!), the Cool Art 2 show in Gulfport followed by a fun lunch with Russ, Jim and Tim, and a bunch of movies to view in advance of the Oscars.  The only sad part was that my friend Jack went into the hospital and is still there as I write this... his two dogs came to stay with me.  That seems to be an ongoing theme in my life now - old men and their dogs! IMG_1771.JPG (2967207 bytes)


January - The years are starting to go by faster...and here goes another one.  January included a lunch fest - one with Marcia and another with Russ plus a dinner with jerry and yet another lunch with Susan Hunt and a movie.  In between all that eating came my birthday which included a brunch with the guys and a good deed on my part, a brunch with Jack.  i am quite worried about Jack, he has a cancer at his spine that has to be quite painful.  He has lost 30 pounds and I suspect he will loose more when he starts chemo in February.  So sad.  He tries to be positive and he says his odds are good for recovery and i sure hope they are...

Here is the neighborhood, we lost Paul's dog Sammy to old age and cancer too.  I was quite worried about Paul but he has bounced back with the help of his new do Miss Gracie.  Gracie is young and something of a handful - so I was taking Mister Knightly over to play with her each day until she came down with kennel cough...then I had to keep my darling in until we could determine if he too had been affected. Paul n Gracie.jpg (1085280 bytes) - fortunately not.  I also took myself out to watch some football in preparation for the SuperBowl in Feb and had a pretty good time being out alone.  I need to do more of that during the coming months as this is the key to not feeling sorry for myself...just get out there and do whatever strikes your fancy.

My birthday was a non-event and I didn't even care...I used to love them so...wonder what's up with that?  Anyway, here is the photo of me at 65 - not too bad...I'm back to being really blonde and my weight is 128 lbs.  I am hoping to be at 125 by next year.  65.jpg (451985 bytes)

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