Once more time. If you want to know more see http://rrmanning.blogspot.com.
(Red text is as originally sent on paper, green text below each section is more or less the real story.)
Rochelle looks out the window. She cuts the grass, plants the flowers, sings the songs. She goes to Montana, to California, (is that really one state?), to Montana, to Montana, to California, to Montana, and New York, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Idaho, Utah, Mississippi, but missed seeing Helen Keller’s house (there’s a joke there she prefers not to tell), even briefly into New Jersey on foot. What about Arkansas? Oh yeah, that too. Puamana, but why not St. Martin (in the field?), or Chennai, or Tel Aviv? Oh, yeah, that one. Do you want to open a hotel, or a B&B? And what about the music? Did the Wolf get trapped or did (one of the) Eagles fly with his friends? What about that Beatle? Was it Bailey, or a bug? Did it have Wings? Sir Lancelot, or Paul? And she uses AT&T on her phone, but Verizon for her WIFI. Wow, she has a lot of questions. She plays some games, but not others. Some strings, some buttons make her own music, make her tougher than she appears. Does she meet kids on the street? At the restaurant? In the library? Wow, you are nice! Do you have a boyfriend? But you are probably too old for me, Marian. There is, of course, nothing really new in New Mexico or Oklahoma, but the car goes far, maybe next year, Wrigley? No more beehives to the beach, but was Martha ever really there? More questions. How about McDonalds for strangers? Do we need a wheelbarrow for that? Or a Facebook page, or a maple tree with blue flowers?
When she’s home, Rochelle takes care of the yard, making sure it’s pretty and green. She is pretty good at it, but she wasn’t home much. Several times this year she made her way to Montana and California to spend time on Grandma duty as Rachel and Arrin both moved, both from the northern part of their respective states to the southern parts (oops, Rachel moved cities last year, but this year she moved from one house to antoher in the same city, and Rochelle helped). She also spent a month+ in Montana with the birth of grandchild 5. She also did the Utah thing a few times, of course, and Idaho for good measure for Rich’s HS reunion (among other reasons). She spent last New Year on Maui with the offspring and offspring2. She saw a BYU football game and had dinner with 2,000 close friends at a U of U banquet honoring the recipient of a scholarship awarded in memory of Christopher. She accompanied Richard on a weekend road trip to complete his 50 state bucket list (Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas). She still lacks Oklahoma.Louisana and New Mexico herself. Maybe she’ll get to those places someday. Rich wouldn’t stop at Dollywood on the road trip, but he did make a detour for her to see Graceland and the Grand Ole Oprey. All that stuff but the kaibosh on travel to India, Israel or the Caribbean. Maybe next year. She discovered Wolf Trap and the Verizon Center and took Rich to a Don Henley concert at the former and a Paul McCartney concert at the latter (his first two concerts, ignoring the Beach Boys at Stadium of Fire in Provo years ago – Rich argues that didn’t count as a concert). She hosted about 83 of her sister’s children and grandchildren and friends for a couple of weeks in the summer. That’s a lot for a tiny house. They stacked them 3 deep in the laundry room. She played Yahtzee too many times and won more than her share. When she was home, she spent time in the local elementary schools in classes and in the library and a local preschool where she teaches part time, singing, amazing kids with her various talents, her musical insturments (autoharp and ukulele) and her gift of being nice. She routinely makes quite an impression on little boys in the local schools. To commemorate Christopher’s birthday she and Rich went to a park in DC and gave away 100 McDonald’s meals to homeless people. Chris would have liked that. It was a nice way to honor his memory. She also planted in the back corner of our yard a small memorial garden for him with hydrangeas and a Japanese Maple to remind us of our yard and time with Chris in Connecticut. She thanks all those that shared memories of Chris on Facebook on his day. It meant a great deal to her and to all of us.
Richard is mostly the same but he is taller than average with a BMI that indicates a problem; he refuses to believe it, but the App really does help. So does finishing off your bucket list with a road trip. He won a Pulitzer for a purple hat. He has been telling people for years that it’s not as hard as they say to get into the Julliard. The door is unlocked most days; all you need to do is open it. Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, slippin, slippin…. Where else would it slip into? He still shares the Cottage with Rochelle, when one or the other, or both, aren’t somewhere else. Tiger has nothing to fear. Neither does Dennis Connor or Jimmy Connors. What about Bobby Riggs? You know Billie beat him. Just ask Ted. How far does a turtle swim, or a whale splash? Don’t worry Greg LeMond, the world is a big place. Once again in Pocatello, twice again somewhere else. Thrice or more in the Bates Motel. Is that Christmas prize from Germany or Belgium? Is that you, or just an outline? Where there’s a will there’s a trust. Just follow her around till you get there. She finds exceptionally cute and charming sprogs. Five of them these days. NYT has nothing to fear; but maybe there should be more butter in those potatoes, to go with the carrots and peas. Most things are funnier than you realize, especially after he explains them to you. An extra foot comes in handy (left or right); after the fact he realized he should have left the room.
Really, not much is new for Rich. He remains healthy and happy. His BMI is 26,which suggests he is overweight, but he refuses to believe it, but he did spend some time tracking what he ate and his exercise on his phone and he lost 5 pounds. Paying attention works, he discovered. He wrote a children’s book for Rachel’s daughter Harper. He thought it was clever. Perhaps more clever than it actually was. He followed Rochelle around a lot, and took her around some (see above). Work took him to NYC a few times. You know, the door to the Julliard really is open during business hours. This and other old jokes keep on coming from him time and time again. Some people humor him by laughing, others (mostly teenagers in the neighborhood or at church) just try to ignore him. He tries not to let them. One teenage boy in our neighborhood gave him a foot off a CPR dummy that had been discarded at his high school as a gift for Autumnal Equinox. Rich found that very useful. After Rochelle returned from her month+ in Montana, he put the foot behind a door in the bathroom with just the toes sticking out. Rochelle didn’t scream. Too bad. He should have put it somewhere else. He only golfed once this year and he was really bad. Much worse than is typical mediocre performance. He also went biking with Rochelle only once this year. Not so good, I guess, if he wants to be a world class athlete someday. Maybe he doesn’t. He did meet Billie Jean King and Ted Koppel this year. That was cool, or joia as some people say. Don’t expect monotonicity from him.
As for the kids, Rachel is done, and seems happy about it. Numbers 3 and 4 are about as close as any integers less than 5 can be. That’s a challenge, but one she can handle. Landlord, swimming pools, movie stars. Ted Turner hasn’t bought it all yet. All the kids are cute. Some say it’s due to genetics, others say it’s a science fair, or Ferris Wheel. Matt Damon has nothing to fear, but maybe Tom Cruise. Then there’s Shiloh, Harper, Sam, Gus and Coen. Tooth deprived, brave, smart, determined, beautiful, handsome, and happy in whatever order seems appropriate. Shaken, not stirred.
Rachel gave birth to baby #4 (Coen Thomas Allen) in September, just 17 months after having Gus. As we are told, Coen is a great baby; Gus is adorable, but also tends to want to do kind of crazy things, which explains why Rochelle spent five weeks there post Coen delivery to help keep Gus from eating too many crayons and climbing into too many dangerous situations. Rachel and Shiloh moved into a new house and are renting out their old one. Property values are evidently rising in Bozeman as everyone from California wants to live there on Tuesdays. They joined us all in Disneyland in July. That was fun. Harper (7) began first grade this year and is a wonderful, kind, smart and all around good girl.Sam (4) is in preschool. He loves trains and such things. He is smart, cute, friendly, smart and good. Someday his grandfather will write a book for him. Shiloh still does that thing he does, and some other things too. He seems to be happy in Montana. Ask him about it. It’s really joia, or cool, as some people say. He is not a spy though.
Arrin is. So is Marcus. And Jonah. You know, northern California is really not where the Warriors play, so they moved to where Marcus can see the smog clear. The neighborhood is fancy and Superman flies around the streets with grandpa and sings loud. Sleep? Dizzyland Pop? Grandma comes and goes, and so does the gap. Then there is the bean place with leaves with lots of data to analyze. Would you trust a car from Germany? How about the UK?
Arrin, Marcus and Jonah (2) are now in LA, having left Walnut Creek and SF for Marcus to do an MBA at UCLA. As a consequence Arrin changed jobs and is working to establish a market analytics function (essentially) at a relatively new company in LA. It sounds challenging but rewarding. She loves her little boy, but he is sometimes perhaps more like his grandfather (Manning) than would be ideal. Jonah is a hoot. He loves to sing, is very independent and strong willed, and talks very expressively when he wants to impress. Not a big fan of sleeping on others’ schedules. They also joined us all in Disney and Jonah was such a fan, and they live close enough, that they go back often. They all work hard and play enough. Marcus runs races and iron people (you have to be PC in LA, you know; Donald didn’t win in CA) races on occasion. The dog/sentient being (LA again) is fine, but I’m sure misses having a yard. Marcus misses the splash brothers. Maybe he’ll become a Clippers fan : ).
Right Ben? Living by the Bay was fun, it seems, but Utah called, and he returned, without those kind of plans. It’s all about what you would expect from the 21st century magic man of the year. Lots of beauty and imagination. But how many people really know when to calculate (X’X)-1(X’Y)? He gets too much grief about some things, but he looks up to the mountains. The horizon isn’t that far away. Then who knows where, how? But far.
Ben is at BYU finishing up a degree in Marketing with a minor in Statistics. He spent the summer as an intern at a startup health care company in San Francisco, living with Arrin and Marcus (kind of them). He had some bad luck as his car was broken into, his camera ($$$) was lost and when he got back to Provo, someone stole his bicycle. I thought such things didn’t happen there! He continues to do photography for fun and some cash. He is talented, kind, helpful, smart and creative. Some people expect him to get married. He was selected as a member of the student leadership team for the Marketing department and is working as a research assistant to one of his professors. He’s busy. He’ll do well when he’s done. All we wonder is where. It will be fine wherever it is.
We love Christopher. We will see him, we will know him again in a better realm. We will.
Peace and Good Cheer to all.
Finally, we do love our son Christopher and miss him always. We are grateful for the time we had with him in this life. We live in faith and confidence that the separation will be temporary and that we will have a joyful reunion. We love the Christmas season that gives us cause to remember the birth and the life of Jesus, in whom we do find peace. In whatever source you find peace, we wish it for you this season and always.
Richard and Rochelle