here for Photos)
Dear Friends and Family,
I begin this letter by apologizing for the impersonal nature. Writing one letter seems to be a big deal, so I thought we’d capitalize and send it to everyone. We hope it’s better than no contact at all which has sadly been our MO. We hope your year has been as terrific as ours and look forward to more personal face to face contact, hopefully soon, where we can catch up with each other.
Also, if you want to just skip to the tiny summary at the end, just click here. You can always read the rest at a time with nothing better to do. I acknowledge it’s too long.
2005 has been another rich full year, as usual full of changes. We began the year by selling our waterfront home to someone who approached us, even though we hadn’t intended to put it up for sale. We missed being downtown Kirkland anyway and are happy to have downsized to our 750 sq ft house in the downtown Kirkland (Houghton) area. We are working with a wonderful architectural firm, www.baylisarchitects.com to design the house which we will someday build on this same lot.
At the beginning of the year I left Valley Counseling to pursue my full-time private practice in Kirkland. Although I miss the learning and camaraderie at Valley, the move has worked out well for me. And my commute is also much shorter. In February I took the Washington State Marriage and Family Licensing exam. I have been fortunate to be in a position to work at both my office in Kirkland and at Valley Counseling over the last few years allowing me to get enough hours to qualify. In March I found out that I had passed, and became officially licensed. I am pleased to be moving forward in this new career.
February also included an opportunity to head to Sun River to ski with the annual Campus Villa Tour gang. With the arrival of the next generation, this trip is significantly calmer than it used to be. We enjoyed getting to spend time with “the gang”, enjoyed the children which are growing up quickly, we enjoyed the skiing, I enjoyed meeting some of the crew I hadn’t met before, but most of all I enjoyed learning the game of “Texas Hold’em.” Thank goodness for EBay so I could get my own table and chips. I also enjoy PokerPages.com where I have since traded many hours for BugsyPoints.
March included changes for Joe as his project at Vulcan was changing direction and he decided to “look around.” He immediately found a better opportunity contracting back at Microsoft and decided to leave Vulcan. This decision has worked out well for him with better pay and a shorter commute.
March also got us busy with racing season with our annual trip to southern California. Although the racing wasn’t anything to brag about, we did have a nice visit with my good friend Linda Gase. Her life continues to be exciting in busy LA. She was in the process of planning her annual spring fun adventure and suggested I come along. More on that later.
March is also when it became clear that our Honda S2000 was no longer the car to have to be a competitive racer, so we began examining our options. After dreaming of more expensive cars (Porsche Boxster S and Lotus Elise), we came to our senses and Joe traded in the Honda for a beautiful black Mazda RX-8. This car has served us well as you’ll hear later in this letter. We also decided we were spending too much money on bad hotels and bad food, so the car trailer got upgraded to our beautiful 2006 Weekend Warrior convertible RV. The living room converts to a garage and the car pulls in. It’s much nicer than it sounds. Now we cook and eat well in our own kitchen and sleep in our own bed at all the races. If you haven’t seen it, we hope you get a chance to soon. More on that later as well.
April was fantastic for me as Linda and I headed off to Northern Sweden for the trip of a lifetime. A fantastic trip which included a stay at the Ice Hotel and three days of authentic dog sledding. The dogs were amazing, the landscape breathtaking, and the silence very grounding. Our sled-guide Tomas was a very friendly, capable guide. We shared many a laugh as we ate our meals in the snow while the dogs rested. A beautiful experience in itself, and extra special to be going with such a good friend on an adventure to the home land. Apparently my roots are from the north as my body feels more at home there. Of course it was April (not January), so there was some sun.
May consisted of more racing in Central California complete with a Texas Hold’em tournament in the RV.
Towards the end of May we headed to Missouri for Goeke family activities including the beautiful wedding of Joe’s nephew Josh Goeke to the lovely and spirited Kara Arne. After the wedding, most of us headed to Branson, MO for some rest and relaxation days at Raymond and Mary Jane Goeke’s time-share. It’s always busy when the Goekes get together.
Towards the end of June we headed off to Europe for a Hedly family reunion. From London we flew to Oslo to visit my dear friend Bent Hagemark. Bent, being a fellow scando-american mix, had moved there to experience the more Scandinavian part of him, a personal decision I often struggle with. We thought it would be a great opportunity to see Norway as the Norwegians do, not just the tourists. Norway is incredibly beautiful and incredibly expensive! Norwegians, however, basically have all healthcare, education, retirement, and vacation paid for, so for them, it’s probably a good tradeoff. While visiting Oslo, my cousin Anita was able to slip away from work to join us for lunch. It was nice to see her in her current homeland. After Oslo, we headed off by train and boat to see the fjords, mountains, and coastal town of Bergen. A great trip. After that we headed down south of the city of Oslo to Bent’s family’s “hytte” (cabin) on the coast. We spent a wonderful evening with Bent’s parents eating delicious food and playing cards into the night. What a special treat. Thank-you Bent, Uni and Kjell! We’re glad we took the opportunity, since Bent has since moved back to the Bay Area. Selfishly I’m glad since he’s closer. Vicariously I got some of the “longing” out of my system. We do still hope to get the chance to visit his parents and the “hytte” with him again. A calming and truly beautiful place.
Before leaving the “hytte” we bought a bunch of very freshly fished shrimp, put them on ice, rented a $200/day rental car (the cheapest economy model), filled it with $8.00/gallon gasoline and headed off to Sweden to see the Hedly clan in Leksand. It’s so special to see everyone, aunts, uncles, cousins, and their children. My uncles Filip and Hans have had some health issues since I saw them last, so it was especially nice to see them doing well. I love hearing about what everyone has been doing, and of course seeing the little ones as they grow so fast. It was wonderful to see Alexandra after so long. She is quite a beautiful young woman. We hope to have her come stay with us again in the future during her studies. I was very sad not be able to see her sister Amanda, as she had stayed behind in Stockholm to care for the new puppy. She is the right person to do it though. Amanda, as most of you know, was such a support to me when my dog Kelsey died. Amanda is very gifted with animals, and with grieving adults as well it would seem. The Hans Hedly household has special places in our hearts. They have a lovely spot for a reunion, one of our favorite places to visit at many times of year, and they are wonderful hosts. We’ll have a tough act to follow as Joe and I are very excited to be hosting the reunion in 2007 in the Seattle area. We were thrilled to hear how many of you are planning to come! We hope we can create an enjoyable reunion environment for everyone. I feel lucky to have this family tree and be connected to them. Family is a true gift!
On our way home from Scandinavia we were able to visit my mother in London for a few days. We always have a great time in London. Great food served by both my mom and the London restaurants. It’s always special to sit up late at night and chat with you Mamma! I wish we could do it more. Once again, thanx to my mom, we were able to enjoy a play. This time, Mamma Mia, a fun play! We also briefly had the chance to see my cousin Anders and his family at their lovely house in Wimbledon. Anders, we hope to see more of you either in London, Sweden, or Seattle in the future. We we’re sad to miss his parents, Kersti and Svante Palm, as they were off traveling, as they often are. Hopefully we can see them somewhere soon.
Upon our return from Europe, racing was busy once again with two weekends in a row at Pacwood, Washington. I was not able to compete at the national tour this year, however, as I had the opportunity to attend the Gottman Certification seminar, www.gottman.com, as part of the process of becoming a Certified Gottman Therapist, an opportunity which I am very excited about.
After the tour, our good racing friend Paula Whitney stayed with us for a few days. We pulled up the RV outside our house as it makes a much better guestroom than the one in the house. We had the chance to take the opportunity of Seattle summer and got Paula her exercise by walking to dinner each evening. On Wednesday of the week, we sadly lost Toulouse, the gentle 20+ yr old cat. Then Wednesday, Ron, Joe, and I (the original 1998 Team Buttheat members) headed off to Denver in the RV. Once in Denver, we picked up Lina Hedly, my 15 yr old cousin who visited with my father and Robyn this summer to practice her English. By the time we got there she needed no practice as her English was fluent. She dove in with all her energy (and she has lots of it). Thanx to the generosity of Eddie Hernandez and family (autocrossers are definitely generous community folks) Lina was able to compete in the Junior Cart class. Her driving was excellent with great improvements on every run. She had quite a cheering squad! Then Joe flew back home to work while I had the great pleasure of having three adventurous Colorado days alone with Lina. We river rafted, rode horses, soaked in a hot mineral spring fed river, went to water world, got pedicures, and talked late into the night (yes, one of my favorite things). Lina is wise beyond her years and it was a special treat having this time with her. Yes we hope she too will choose to live with us at some point in her studies. Wednesday I dropped off Lina at my Dad’s, picked up Joe at the airport, and we headed off to Toledo, Ohio.
During our trip to Ohio we had the pleasure of a visit (at the RV park in Des Moines, IA) from our nephew Jonathan Mathews and his girlfriend Steph. Jon has just passed another of the grueling exams towards the Certified Financial Planner rating. Congratulations Jon. His career sure seems to be on the right track. Steph continues to impress us with her dedication to education and people as she’s already a teacher, and now busy studying to become a nurse. It was a pleasure to see them, and yes, sit and chat late into the night. J
In Toledo, we had the pleasure of a visit from Joe’s sister Babetta and her husband Rick. As their children are now grown, they can get out and party a bit. They brought some fantastic steaks and fresh corn, and we grilled and had fun and pretended we were very young. It was also an honor to have them stay and watch us race. Thanx Rick and Betta for a great time!
On the trip back from Toledo, Joe and I discussed how fun it is to spend time with people, and how sad it is that we have to rush from place to place. It’s wonderful that people are willing to come to us in the RV parks, but it would be lovely if we had time to visit with them as well. So we started brainstorming. Once we got back to Seattle, we met with the financial planner, and it’s now a plan: We’re going to be full timers! (for you non RV’s, this means living in your RV). On March 1st, 2006, we will commence our one year sabbatical, which will include living in the RV while we build the new home. Hopefully we’ll head out of town in September, 2006 with the RV. We are quite excited and hope to be able to visit with all of you!
September, as usual, meant heading to Topeka, KS for the Solo 2 national Championship. And this year, I WON! I had tough competition, especially from team butt heat member Annie Bauer, and also from Jennifer Isley, who was picked by SportsCar to win. The first day it rained, and I had a big tire advantage as I had rain tires. I was leading after the first day due to the tires, so on the second day, a very sunny lovely day, my goal was to have top time in the dry, so that I could prove to myself that I could win on equal tire footage. My final run was a run I felt great about! And it was enough for top time of the day. I bought a photo of myself that is much too large, and a few years from now I’ll wonder what in the world I was thinking as it wont fit anywhere in our tiny living quarters. What about Joe you’re all saying. Yes, Joe raced too, quite well. He took second place in a very large, very competitive class. He had hoped to win, of course, but second place in that class is quite respectable. He was pleased and disappointed at the same time. At nationals we also had the opportunity to spend time with our fun friends John and Danielle Engstrom. We once again enjoyed wonderful meals at the new City Café.
As we head into October we reach the really big news. Anna went off to the gulf coast in Mississippi with the Red Cross Mental Health team to help out with Hurricane Katrina. Being involved in this process was a big honor and a growth experience. It was very strange to see all that devastation. Unbelievable. No pictures could ever convey the extent. Destruction everywhere. Experiencing the resilience and strength of the people was truly an honor. Very motivating. Helped encourage my belief in the human spirit as a whole. I have a whole new understanding for southern spirit and southern hospitality. While on my two week stint, my work in the field included visiting the remaining standing molding houses to help determine and meet survivors needs. At this point the story becomes more selfish. One day, I was exhausted! I simply couldn’t go through another house. Not like me. It was high 90’s, humid, moldy, and I just wanted to sleep. The nurses on my team felt I must have the flu, and probably should be diagnosed so I could be moved out of our sleeping quarters which I intimately shared with a mere 800 people on very closely spaced cots. At the med tent, after a few checks such as blood pressure, pulse, and a urine test, it was determined that I was extremely healthy, and PREGNANT. Quite the pleasant, extremely unexpected, surprise. I was reassigned to work at -Red Cross Gulf Coast HQ, as a relief-worker debriefer in the mental health department. This was also fascinating. I learned much about the inner workings of the Red Cross, and my sleepy, pregnant self could do more sitting than in the field. I broke the news to Joe on the phone, as waiting another week seemed wrong. The universe blessed us with 2000 miles separation during this time of adjustment. By the time I returned home, Joe had adjusted to the idea. Now, months later, he is almost giddy. Quite the transformation. We are both so excited to be welcoming our daughter (Annika?) this coming June, 2006. We enjoyed breaking the very unexpected news to our families. Most are overjoyed. My brothers children, Isabella and Nicholas who will be 6 and almost 3, will have a local cousin, which we think is so fun. Joe’s parents are very pleased to add another grandchild to their existing 10, especially since it’s been sixteen years since the last! My mother is happy to become Mormor after all, a notion she had completely given up on, given my “advanced maternal age”. And the extended family has expressed nothing but joy. It’s all very exciting. I feel more bonded to both immediate and extended families than ever.
November brought my mother to the states for an extended thanksgiving visit. It was great to spend some time with her just being together. Of course we also enjoyed a fantastic thanksgiving meal at Peter and Carol Hedly’s house together with the extended Wim Colgate and Amy Greenbaum clan. It’s a wonderful tradition.
December brought us to Sweden for both sadness and joy. Sadly my uncle Svante Lagerstedt passed away in December. I was pleased that, with my cousins help, I was eventually able to change my ticket so that I could come for the funeral. It was a beautiful funeral with many of his friends speaking joyously of what he and my aunt Barbro had brought into their lives. It was very inspiring and beautiful. I was so happy that I was able to spend a few days at my cousin Karin’s house, experiencing her family (husband and children), and being there to support her in any way I could given this tragic and much too early loss. This year also served as the first Christmas in Sweden for my brother’s family. It was fun to see Isabella and Nicholas in Sweden at various cousins houses. We were so pleased that we managed to see most everyone in Stockholm before we headed up to Leksand for the actual Xmas celebration. We visited with Karin and Paul and their family, with Mia and Matte and their family, Yvonne (and briefly Peter Wallin) and their family, Fredrik and Annika and their family, and Karin Boe. I also had the opportunity to visit with Filip and Birgitta at the funeral luncheon, as well as my dad’s cousin Vera. I really am loving seeing family. Time moves along so quickly. We also had a joyful visit at Anna and Petter Wendelöv’s house. We so enjoyed this visit of good company, good food, and pleasant interactions. It was fun to see the family so joyous and harmonious. Christmas itself was spent in Leksand where the Hans Hedly family was gracious enough to host Joe and myself, Peter and his clan of five (including Tatiana, their very pleasant new au pair from Brazil). It was a large crowd, and Monica had to work hard to keep house. It was such a pleasant Christmas! After Leksand we headed to Chicago for a great visit with John and Danielle Engstrom! Unfortunately Joe and Danielle started the year off with food poisoning after our wonderful New Years dinner, but I guess I’m getting into next years letter….. Yes, this one is finally done.
So in summary, it was a year full of travel, moving, seeing friends and family, winning nationals, procreating, and planning the future. So, the current plan for 2006 is to visit California in march, give birth to “the mini-bean” sometime in June, tear down the house and start building late summer, and move into the RV to travel around the country starting September. We hope to get a chance to visit every one of you (who live in this country), so let’s communicate about if and when it might work for us to swing by with our baby and RV.
We miss you and love you all! Thanx for all the fabulous holiday letters. Keep the letters and emails coming. We love hearing from you and can’t wait to see you!!
Anna, Joe, and “the mini-bean” (Annika?)