It's been a great year. To tell you all about it, I'm allowing my husband to be Blogger for a Day!
The family is healthy and close; Laura, David and their three children continue to live nearby in Chevy Chase, and Sarah and Jon and their three children have moved from Dallas to Chesapeake, Virginia. We anticipate good times with the grandchildren by the Bay.
Marcia’s 9th mystery novel, All Things Undying, was published in hardcover by Severn House, and she is wrapping up her 10th as I write this Christmas letter.
TOO MANY BOOKS!
Although officially retired, I continue to make music in various ways, directing a choir of "older" singers at Chautauqua NY in the summer, running a music festival for high school students in the spring, and playing the organ from time to time for a number of local congregations including the Naval Academy. That’s the family and professional summary; now here’s what we did for fun during the past year:
January: Accompanied by Laura, David and their children, Benjamin, Jonathan, and Abigail we went to Disney World where we stayed on the grounds at the Dolphin. Disney with young children is indeed magic.
We then drove to Amelia Island, Florida where Troubadour was waiting, just in time for a record-setting cold wave that was so cold (OK, how cold was it?) that the iguanas were going into involuntary hibernation and falling from the trees. We stayed in the marina for a week so we could keep our space heaters plugged in and running to ward off the mid-teen nighttime temperatures. At the first sign of warmth (AM temperature 26) we chipped ice off the deck, departed Fernandina Beach and headed south down the intracoastal waterway. At St Augustine, we thawed out in the municipal marina, and hunkered down again until it really warmed up a few days later. Then we proceeded down the waterway to Palm Beach where we stayed a few days waiting for favorable weather for crossing the Gulf Stream.
February: We departed Palm Beach bound for the Bahamas, but our engine stalled just a few miles offshore. I voted for going back, but Marcia, intrepid sailor that she is, pointed out “It’s a sailboat; you know how to sail, let’s go,” and go we did. With a light breeze on our nose, we sailed across the Gulf Stream, making about 70 tacks in 18 hours and arrived in West End, Grand Bahama about 11:00 PM, exhausted, but welcomed by the crews of several boats who were aware of our situation.
After a day in port waiting again for favorable winds, we led a 10 boat flotilla through the Barracuda shoals, a tricky passage, but we were the old salts, so we were elected to pilot the little fleet to Great Sale Cay. Upon anchoring, one of the other skippers went overboard to check all the anchors and noticed that we had a basketball-sized knot of Chesapeake Bay crab pot line fouling our prop, and that had been the cause of our engine problems. Great news, something that could be remedied cheaply with a sharp knife. We sailed on to Green Turtle Cay where we remained for several days at the Green Turtle Club, a high-end marina that lets you “eat your dockage”, that is, any money spent in their bar/restaurant could be applied to the marina bill. At this point we were sailing in company with two other boats, and we accepted this as a challenge, to eat and drink our way to free dockage. Fun, but hard on the liver. We continued south, spending several days on moorings at Great Guana Cay and Elbow Cay before settling into Tradewinds, our rental property at Man O War, where we remained, happily hosting a succession of friends and family until we flew back to Annapolis in March.
March: I came back to Annapolis to prepare for the annual IRS bloodletting, and my Annapolis Music Festival, and Marcia flew into high gear with her duties as President of Sisters in Crime, a 4000-member international organization of mystery writers and fans.
April: The taxman cometh, and the blood flows. The music students come, and the Festival is a success. I help out with the Chapel music program at the Academy, playing for some Easter services. Marcia writes and travels on book events. The weather is nice, but I miss sailing on the Bay.
May: This is a big month for annual writers’ conventions in New York, Washington DC and Pittsburgh, PA. Marcia is there as an author and as national president of Sisters in Crime. At the end of the mystery events, we return to the Bahamas for another six weeks at Man-O-War Cay, again hosting friends and family. This continues through most of June when …
June: We fly to Annapolis at the end of the month, and I begin an interim position as organist for Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, a very large congregation in Severna Park just north of Annapolis. This continues until the end of the year, so retirement is looking a lot like regular work.
July: Sarah and Jon and their kids Thomas, Joseph, and Susanna stay with us for a few weeks in a stopover between Dallas and Norfolk. I miss sailing the Chesapeake (Troubadour remains happily on a mooring in the Bahamas.) Marcia travels on a fact-finding mission to Seattle and Silicon Valley for Sisters in Crime visiting Amazon, Google, Apple and Smashwords to learn all about e-books.
August: Marcia writes, I play the organ, Marcia takes annual pilgrimage to England for mystery conference at St Hilda’s Oxford while I go to Chautauqua in western New York to make music with Encore Creativity, a week-long summer music camp for geezers. I continue to miss sailing the Chesapeake. At the end of this month…
September: We take the most excellent road trip imaginable, driving across Canada, over the top of Lake Superior (a day’s drive in itself, breathtaking scenery), all the way to Banff in the Canadian Rockies where we spent a couple of nights in the fabulous Fairmont, a grand hotel in every way; thence to Marcia’s Taipei American School reunion that took place in a vineyard near the Columbia River in Washington State,
then on to Seattle, where we boarded the Oosterdam for an Alaska cruise to Glacier Bay and memorable ports.
We drove back across the Northern United States, stopping off for a few glorious days’ visit with the Rempts in Big Sky Montana.
This is just North of Yellowstone Park, and we spent a couple of days exploring that marvelous spot, along with Grand Teton. BigSky is a growing resort area high in the Rocky Mountains; Bill Gates is among the homeowners. The nearest town is Bozeman, and the crime reports in the local newspaper were different from those of the Washington-Baltimore area. Instead of murder, robbery, and assaults of various kinds, Bozeman crime largely concerned the activities of Bears and Chickens. These crime reports I set to the music of Anglican Chant which I would post to You-Tube if I could figure out how.
After a visit to Marcia’s Aunt Peggy to help celebrate her 90th birthday, we return to Annapolis at the end of the month.
October: I return to the interim organist position, and Marcia buckles down to finish her next novel -- writing it, that is, not reading one – A Quiet Death -- due out in May 2011. October is a beautiful month on the Bay, and, recalling how much we missed sailing the Chesapeake, we bought another boat. Now we can look forward to sailing with family and friends, children and grandchildren on the Bay!
November: I play, Marcia writes and takes a second trip to London for the induction of Kate Charles, her dear friend and fellow writer, into The Detection Club, a famous and exclusive club of English mystery authors founded in 1930-something by Dorothy L Sayers, Agatha Christie, GK Chesterton and other luminaries of the Golden Age of Mystery.
MARCIA, SIMON BRETT, KATE CHARLES AND DEBORAH CROMBIE WITH ERIC THE SKULL
We have a grand christening party for Iolanthe, and celebrate Thanksgiving with the whole family together in Annapolis. Iolanthe, a Wauquiez Pilot Saloon ’41 proves to be a great live-aboard; it has heat, air conditioning, refrigerator and freezer, and a master cabin with a walk-around queen sized berth. With a house full of children and grandchildren, we retreat to the boat, and spend the long holiday peacefully and quietly rocking at the dock in the evening.
December: Marcia is scrambling to finish her novel so she can concentrate on decorating for and enjoying the Christmas season, and we start planning for our annual retreat to the sunny isles of the Bahamas once again.
We’ll have the family together again for Christmas, and that’s the best present of all.
And that’s the news from Annapolis…. Come see us, wherever we are.
Barry (and Marcia)