December 2009


Dear Friends and Family,

January was a really dull month as I was dealing with bronchitis, but I got well in time to find I could still be a blood donor.  Do it if you can, it really makes you feel good.

Got to spend lots of time this year with Jenn, Mark, and the girls.  Jenn was in San Jose in April to do a baby shower for Steph, and we were in Maryland in August to take care of the Emily and Kate while both Jenn and Mark recovered from operations.  Needless to say, three weeks of taking care of those beautiful girls wore me out—even though they were in Day Care most of the time.

In July Stephanie’s baby Samantha Hokulani Sur graced us with her smile after 35 hours of labor.  Her middle name was given by Ryan’s grandmother and means “stars in heaven.”  Steph and baby came through well.  We got to spend two weeks with them and I also got to see my cousin Joyce Auslander and her husband Merwin, and Merlin’s younger cousin Sarah Schrank and her husband Brett.  We also went to a graduation party for my cousin Marilyn’s great-granddaughter Melissa.  I still find it obnoxious that my cousins have great-grandchildren while we just recently started having grandchildren.

We are fortunate that Merlin’s cousins Dina and Matt and their gorgeous little girl Rachel live close by, so we can see her when we need to hug a grandkid.

In May we spent time with Merlin’s two sisters on Cape Cod, closing up his dad’s home.  It was good to see them but for all of us very sad to disassemble someone’s home and life.  Merlin’s stepsister Linda was also there—it had been her mother’s home, and Gladys had decorated it beautifully.  It was her art gallery and we all came away with beautiful reminders of her talent and love.

In September we had a visit from Merlin’s cousin Myra Klenicki.  She lost her fantastic husband Leon in January.  He was the rabbi who officiated at Steph’s first wedding, and a Papal Knight who tried to bring respect to all religions.  But most of all we will miss his great sense of humor and generous spirit.

We also lost my cousin Jerry (Gerald) Villano’s wife Betty this year.  She was a beautiful spiritual woman who is sorely missed by all.

My sister Marsha’s daughter Wendy became a mother for the second time in September.  Her son’s name is Matthew.  Marsha and Peter were able to go to Johannesburg for the birth.  My brother Gene got to spend Thanksgiving with his son, daughter-in-law, and grandson in Arkansas.

On September 23 we launched another life milestone.  Merlin accepted a buyout from Cisco and retired.  He and two lovely co-workers threw a great party.  The next day we left for a long weekend in Monterey to celebrate our 38th anniversary.  Jenn’s wedding had been in Monterey and the chef at the Monterey Plaza graciously recreated her wedding dinner for us.  We are really getting sappy in our old age.

In Monterey, we stayed at a hotel managed by Merlin’s cousin Victoria Arroyo.  We took her to dinner and heard about her part of the family, including her young son whom we had first met a couple of years ago.

In November, we had a brief visit from Merlin’s cousin, Victoria’s uncle, and Sarah Scrhank’s father, Bill Schrank.

In November we had a Gourmet Group reunion at my friend Louise’s “castle” in Corralitos, near Santa Cruz.  This woman spent 15 years pre-planning her dream home.  She was a teacher whose artistic talent should have been used to make a fortune as a house decorator.  Her tin kitchen ceiling, her faux paneled ceiling to her embossed walls and hand painted tiles—it truly feels like a castle.  Having so much extra time, she painted two small benches for Kate and Samantha (she had already done one for Emily), which they will get for Chanukah—love you, Louise!

Thanksgiving was great—my cousin Bob Villano and Merlin’s cousins the Biedermans came to dinner.  We are now on Maui residing in the Biedermans’ beautiful condo.  Needless to say, thank you!

To say I have been blessed in this life is an understatement.  So I do not dwell on the things I can no longer do nor the loved ones I can no longer be with.  I look at my husband and think, “I’ve got you, babe,” and I am truly content.

I hope for all of you this feeling of contentment and fulfillment.

                                                     Love and Happy Holidays,

                                                     Sandy and Merlin




              Sandy’s namesake                                        Go Huskers!




                                           Emily’s first love—Charlie!