Lasley Holiday Letter - 2010

Just another normal year in the Lasley house. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Jacqui turned 18 in January, though she’d been acting as an independent adult for a while by then. To celebrate, she flew off to Manchester UK to see her United team play.

After volunteering for several months, Jacqui was hired as a part-time employee of the Philly SPCA, working 16-20 hours every weekend. When you add in the 1-hour commute each way, this was exhausting, but she loved it.

The blues band that Dan played in found their second guitarist and start to get serious about practicing. We learn 50 songs, 40 of which Dan had never heard before, 30 of which were likely written before he was born. We wouldn’t get a paying gig until summer, but it was fun to work toward that goal.

Laura and Dan went to Nemacolin, which is a resort just south of Pittsburgh, for a conference. On the way home, it started to snow, which was the first of many storms that left over 30” accumulated on our back deck.

Jacqui was accepted early to both Tulane and U San Diego. They were apples and oranges, so she went back to visit them again. Doing homework on the beach was likely the deciding factor, and so she selected USD.

It has been several years since Dan and Laura have gone skiing, so it was even more of a challenge to go spring skiing with our friends Pam and Rob. However, it was pretty cool to ski on a sunny day with the air temps in the upper 50s.

The outdoor soccer season got started with 4 new players giving our U-15 girls team a solid roster. Jacqui came to practice, but missed several games due to her work schedule. However, she was able to cover for Dan one Saturday, just before her senior prom. The picture of her in her prom dress surrounded by the girls is priceless (and on the website). The opposing coach was quite confused, and we won the game. Dan continues to referee most weekends.

In anticipation of a busy summer, we had the deck partly refurbed, with a new railing all around, and the worst of the planks replaced. We added tiki torches too, but there are very few bugs around here.

We also had the kitchen renovated. The central work area was converted from an island to a peninsula, a larger picture window was added, and the counters were replaced with the most amazing piece of granite you’ve ever seen. Thankfully is was completed on time and on budget, just prior to Jacqui’s graduation. G’Ma Laz came up from Florida, and Ben flew in from college, plus Jacqui’s friend Neff dropped by. It’s tough for any teen to change high schools once, let alone twice, but Jacqui really enjoyed her time at Unionville, and she made the most of her opportunities.

And then we were off to the World Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa! We attended two matches, and saw many more from the hotel bar, which was full of international fans cheering for their home countries, or any underdog who needed support. Between matches, we went on safari at the Kapama Wildlife Reserve. On 4 game drives, we was numerous large animals, including a rare leopard, and a herd of elephants passing our jeep so close that one large leather ear whacked Jacqui’s long camera lens. Lots of pix on the website.

Jacqui realized that working 40+ hours at the SPCA all summer wouldn’t work with her commute, so she found a student apartment near Temple U, and spent most of the summer there with two upper classwomen. She was extremely dedicated to her job, and by mid-summer was considered the go-to vet tech on the staff. Unfortunately in late July, she injured her hip working with a large dog, and she had to resign a few weeks earlier than planned. Typically, her hip pain defies diagnosis, and she is still doing PT 6 months later. Paging Dr House!

Ten years ago, we hosted the very first Riverside Jam, where 8 friends met for a weekend to play music. This year, we hosted the 10th anniversary Jam, with 28 musicians gathering to jam, rehearse, and perform on stage for two nights. We probably over did it, but it was grand!

We did our best to go sailing on our catamaran on the few free weekends we had left, including one hair-raising ride in a nasty squall. Imagine the worst combination of 50-knot gusts, poor steerage, and a big barge anchored in our way. Let’s just say that this was the first time Dan had put on a life jacket since he was 10.

At the end of August, we put Jacqui on a plane with two huge bags and waved goodbye as she flew to San Diego. Of course, she thought that this was normal. She fell in love with her roommates, dorm, and campus. We of course missed Parent’s Weekend as well. The other parents thought she was an orphan.

On Labor Day Monday, while we were out on our last sail of the season, some drunk hit our trailer in the parking lot and pretzelled it. Since we had no paperwork for this 1984 trailer, his insurance decided to only cover the blue-book value - $100. Thankfully, our own insurance is better, and we were able to get a replacement trailer mostly paid for.

The fall soccer season started well, though the girls (and Coach Dan) missed Jacqui. A couple of new recruits bolstered our attack, and we were near the top of the table until the last two games.

Jacqui popped up from SD to LA to play with Ben and the Stanford band at the Rose Bowl. They also played in the middle of Westwood (or was it Venice?). There was also a football game, which Stanford won, as they did a lot this year.

In November, we flew out to the Left Coast to see Ben and Yanessa in their new cottage. They share the rent with two housemates, plus the two cats. Yanessa landed a good job doing QA for a nearby software company, and she continues to support the wacky Stanford band, which Ben now manages. We were able to go on the field after the game, which was a lot of fun. Somehow, he continues to pass his classes. We then flew to San Diego to prove to everyone that Jacqui really did have parents, and that they were willing to buy dinner. We even went for a short sail, and saw dolphins!

This Thanksgiving was going to be the first major holiday without kids in 22 years, and thankfully Laura’s friend, Carol, invited us over to share their feast. The next day, we went to the Black Friday music jam, which is an excellent alternative to the malls. Playing 6 hours of music was a good antidote to the break-up of Dan’s blues band, which despite sounding good, failed to find any bar interested in our niche of music.

It’s likely that Jacqui will be home before you receive this. We’ll have a quiet Christmas, with Dan and Laura working a fair amount. Then we’ll be off to the Orange Bowl to share the excitement as Stanford plays Virginia Tech.

Who knows what adventures will occur during 2011? All we can say is that we’ve got lots of room for guests, so feel free to drop by if you’re near Philly.

Love and Peace - Dan, Laura, and Jacqui