Photo Gallery below.
This season finds Bob and Claire quite comfortably settled and looking forward to our second holiday season in our new home and neighborhood. We remain in good health and so far, COVID-free (thanks to jabs and masks). We take lots of walks, whenever the weather allows, and try to stick to a healthy diet. We find ourselves reading more than ever before, thanks to the Ludington Library and its extensive network.
Bob's tutoring at Harcum College had a fruitful spring term as he worked with a math student every week for at least an hour. Nicole excelled through hard work, and she is off to complete her Bachelor's degree. The D-Street gang, from Dorrance Street in hometown Bristol, continue their text group at a lively pace. Bob has been up to their area four times for lunch get togethers, and we have even hosted them for lunch at the Grog in Bryn Mawr, with dessert afters provided by the Madame of La Maison. Brother Jerome brought Adde and Skyler later for another Grog lunch.
On April 29 Claire’s brother Horace Jr succumbed to cancer at the age of 68. While his loss has been heartbreaking, Claire is extremely grateful that she and sister Debbie were able to spend lots of quality time with Hor during his last month and were with him when he took his last breath. The 2.5 hour outpouring during visiting hours, and a full church for the service of Eucharist and Burial, were amazing demonstrations of how he was regarded by friends, colleagues, and community. He’ll be missed by so many. His widow Betsy hosted a lovely family luncheon at her new residence on November 25, bittersweet for sure, but a wonderful chance to be together again.
In June we also lost a dear friend and extraordinary musician, Jean Anderson. A long time pianist for the North Country Chorus, Jean moved to a retirement community about 25 miles from here at the age of 90. Thankfully, we were able to visit her there a several times over the last six years.
We are also grateful for the many things that brought great joy into our lives throughout 2022. Call it "The Seven Joys of Meads"!
1. During our first Bryn Mawr summer we suffered from garden withdrawal, having left the plot we tended for 47 years in Haverhill. Last spring we jumped at the chance to join nephew Jeremy in a cooperative effort to significantly enlarge his previous garden in nearby Wayne. Jer, ever the engineer, built a varmint-proof enclosure, and we all pitched in to prepare, plant, nurture, and reap, the whole time hearing "A Girl’s Garden" (Robert Frost/Randall Thompson) spin in our heads. The results were quite impressive, providing both households with an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, okra, kale, squash, eggplant …. We purchased an apartment-sized freezer to accommodate the fruits of our labor, including homemade tomato gravy. Jer and Karen are also generous hosts, providing family gatherings to celebrate every holiday and birthday, always with Jeremy working magic on the grill of his amazing outdoor kitchen.
2. Visitors from afar! We were delighted to host many friends throughout the year:
Hazel and Jonathan Bregazzi from Todmorden, UK, formerly from the Isle of Man, where we met Jon in 1988.
Alan and Stephanie Rowe from Vermont, longtime friends, fellow North Country Chorus colleagues, and bringers of "homegrown" maple syrup and honey.
Cousin Mary Jane from Long Beach Island for three days and nights of steady rain!
Shep and Betsy Holcombe of Sugar Hill, NH, for a lunch of catching up (more on them later).
Dear friend Deborah O’Brien, who Claire taught with in Orford, NH, in the 1970's and her sister Nancy, whom both of us had the pleasure of teaching in Orford, so long ago.
3. One of the reasons we love having visitors, is that it gives us a chance to enjoy many Philly attractions that we don’t often take advantage of on our own (because they’re always there!). Places such as:
Independence Seaport Museum – interesting inside and out, including the USS Olympia, a steam cruiser which served as the flagship in the Spanish American War and which brought the American Unknown Soldier from World War I back to the United States in 1921, encountering violent storms which nearly sank it.
Museum of American Revolution – a new and well-designed exhibit, featuring Gen. Washington's actual War Tent!
Reading Terminal Market – a “must” for any visitor
Penn Museum – cultural history of the world under one roof. Wow!
The Liberty Bell – now housed in its own building celebrating its long and complex history
4. The Philly area offers a rich array of cultural delights. During the past year we’ve taken advantage of many:
Beautiful, the musical celebrating the career of Carole King
Canadian Brass – a good show!
Philadelphia Orchestra, watched online and attended two open rehearsals
Chanticleer, the premier male a cappella group
Bach's b Minor Mass at the Bethlehem (PA) Bach Festival
Philly Pops show based on songs by lyricist Oscar Hammerstein
Pink Martini – very entertaining and including vocals by NPR’s Ari Shapiro!
The Barnes Foundation ~ an extraordinary collection of art, viewed in person and online
Lots of organ music. Philly just happens to be a hotbed of organ. The local chapter of the AGO is very active. And then there's the Wanamaker Organ! If you haven't yet had your fill of the Hallelujah Chorus this season, check out Claire's all-time favorite rendition.
5. Claire finally got up the nerve to join the choir of St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore as of Palm Sunday. Bob joined the tenor section in September. The group usually numbers about 20 well-trained singers and is led by John Grecia, a man of tremendous musical skills and an exceptional teacher. We’ve been welcomed most graciously, and we have great fun!
6. After two years of gathering on Zoom, about 70 of us met in person August 7-12 for the 33rd annual Ogontz Choral Workshop. Veterans were thrilled to sing again with old friends, and many new folks were quickly welcomed into the fold, forming what was a fine singing group. Everyone was vaxed and masked while singing, resulting in no reports of COVID, and we produced vast amounts of aerosol! Thanks to the generosity of 2019 attendees, we were able to honor our offer of tuition scholarships to four young adults, all of whom impressed us with their talent and enthusiasm.
We took advantage of our return to northern New Hampshire to visit friends and be hosted by several of them. Special times were spent with Deborah in Orford, Shep and Betsy in Sugar Hill, and Larry and Toni in Hanover, all of them involving delightful dogs! We also were fortunate that our trip coincided with two concerts of North Country Chamber Players, whom we’ve missed.
7. Pennsylvania was in the national spotlight in the November elections, and we were delighted with the results. Must have been due to all those postcards Claire wrote, both for PA and for the Georgia runoff!
7.5. The Phillies!
This December brings two milestones for the Meads. Bob is now 75 years young, and we celebrate our 50th anniversary at the end of month! Where did all the time go?
Click on photo to view full size.
In case you missed it, Bob’s website is right here (unclebobpuzzles.com). He updates it with new puzzles and articles monthly. Feel free to poke around and let us know if you’d like to be added to his monthly email announcement.
We truly hope that you all remain safe and healthy, and we promise to try to do the same.
Much love and best wishes for 2022,
Bob and Claire