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Greetings, friends ~
On December 8th Bob turned Trombones. Watch the YouTube.
Later in the month we have other events of some stature as well: Christmas and the 51st wedding anniversary of us truly. This letter is our way of wishing you the best Christmas ever in 995 words or less (well anything’s possible).
We are happy to be extending wishes to most of our relatives now from a considerably reduced distance. We have frequent holiday gatherings with the Colellos in Wayne – nephew Jeremy grilling some juicy joint and Karen producing tasty treats in the kitchen. We see Claire’s sister Deb and husband Doug at most of these occasions. Claire’s trip “down the shore” to visit cousin Mary Jane in July gave her a fix of salt air, ocean and fresh seafood as well as a visit to fascinating coastal environmental projects.
Our coop veggie garden hosted by Jeremy was much improved this summer, thanks to an irrigation system installed by his son Jake – essential in the dry, hot spring. We have even more tomato gravy put away along with peppers, garlic, and the best basil we ever tasted. A few plants on our patio help to bring some green to our place, too.
On Bob’s side, we had another 50th anniversary to celebrate in June for brother Jerome and wife Helen. Their family put on a marvelous party for everyone.
Bob sees Jerome and cousin Luke at other times for lunch both here in Bryn Mawr and up in Bucks County. They often meet with a crew known as the D-Street Gang, a handful of guys who grew up and hung together on the same block (Dorrance St.) in Bristol, PA. That’s guys for ya — they’re a handful and they will hang together. They also chat it up with about a hundred messages a day online.
We enjoy sharing meals, shows and museum trips with our local friends, May and Barry Pritchard. May and Claire keep in touch with fellow Dukie Kay in NC via Zoom chats, maintaining a 53-year bond. Claire enjoys weekly chats with Deborah O’Brien in NH, a treasured friend since they taught together in Orford in the 1970s.
Music remains a central focus of our lives. St. Mary’s Choir provides great music and new friends. In April we hosted a Singing Party for them, accompanied by their Director, the amazing John Grecia. The church hosted a weekend with world-renowned organist Felix Hell, culminating in a breathtaking recital on Oct 1. We also joined a Renaissance choir hosted by Bryn Mawr College and we just performed our first concert with them. This multi-generational group consists of students, alumni, and faculty of Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges, and community members like us.
Philly and its suburbs offer a multitude of opportunities to enjoy good music. This year we attended several concerts and open rehearsals with the Philadelphia Orchestra, including one featuring Emmanuel Ax, as well as performances by VOCES8 (performing in New England in early March!), and Winton Marsalis with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and numerous other organ recitals.
Claire continues as coordinator of the weeklong Ogontz Choral Workshop which takes place annually in NH. The 2023 event was among the largest yet. It’s also an opportunity to connect with longtime friends in the area, and we’re very fortunate to be hosted by several of them during our 12 days in the North Country.
We have two weekly walks: the Haverford Arboretum Trail that we call the nine-fourths (9/4 miles), and from our apartment to Ashbridge Park and back — that’s a 7/4. We enjoy taking visitors to nearby Stoneleigh, a nature preserve and former estate of the Haas family (Rohm & Haas had a chemical plant in Bristol, the town we both grew up in). Stoneleigh is lovely in any month of the year.
The Philly area also offers an amazing array of good restaurants. While we mostly cook at home, we occasionally take advantage of one of them, the latest being on our visit to the Italian Market neighborhood on 9th St. Looking forward to a return visit to sample more eateries and to stock up on ingredients and cookware to bring home! Bryn Mawr’s weekly Farmers’ Market is also a good place to find good food and walk your designer dog!
In January Claire joined AFC Fitness in Radnor and visits twice a week to try to keep in shape. She worked with a trainer for many weeks but now takes a barre class and works out on her own. Feeling much stronger and healthier!
A report from Philly wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the manic attention that local professional sports teams enjoy. We’ve been lucky to be here during some of their better years. Go Phillies! Go Birds! Go Sixers! Go Flyers! Go Union! …
If you’re still reading, we thank you and applaud you, and wish you the most joyful holiday season and the best of health in 2024. Come visit!
Bob and Claire
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