Tanner Family Holiday Letter – 2003

Hello again.  We hope you have happy holidays.  It’s the time of year again for us to write to tell you about our year.  2003 was a year of change for us.  We all changed jobs, and Mathilda changed her residence.  Ruth and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary, we had interesting travel, and Mathilda launched her professional art career.

Our 30th Anniversary

Ruth and I planned a gathering on Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate our anniversary, which fell on March 3, 2003, on the immediately prior weekend.  We took over a complete bed & breakfast, and were joined by Roger and Rita Rekus (Roger was best man at our wedding), Dr. Ronald Abramson and his wife K Lowenthal, Esq. (Ron has been Dan’s friend since 5th grade), and Mathilda.

We all went to a dinner Saturday night at Le Grenier (French for “the attic’), an upstairs year-round restaurant on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.  The dinner was wonderful.  The gathering and dinner were my presents to Ruth.  She gave me a white gold ID bracelet with my name “Dan” and a Star of David on the front and engraved “Our 30th, March 3, 2003.  –Snuggle Bunny” on the back.  Now you know my nickname for Ruth.

The weekend getaway came to an abrupt halt at about 6:00 AM the following morning, when Ruth awoke in intense pain — she was passing a gallstone.  The town’s rescue service brought her to the hospital.  We had to forget about sightseeing, although the island is lovely in March, with migratory waterfowl such as mergansers, that aren’t there any other time.  Our guests all departed – it was also pouring rain!

Dan visits Wales and England

In mid-March, IBM invited me to a tour of its laboratories in Hursley, England.  IBM paid the airfare, and the invitation was for a Monday flight, a Tuesday tour, and a Wednesday return home.

We had visited Wales (where Ruth’s ancestors hail from) with Mathilda in 1984.  There, we stayed at a farmhouse bed & breakfast in Llanerchymedd, Anglesey, Gwynedd, Wales owned by Tom and Jane Bown.  We were the first Americans ever to stay there in quite a few years of its operation.  Unlike most B&B guests, we stayed several nights.  Ruth and I toured, Mathilda (then 7) played with Tom and Jane’s youngest boy, riding the family pony and frolicking with the lambs and among the hay bales.   A few years later, the Bown’s eldest, Carol, visited our home at the end of a summer spend in the U.S. as a camp counselor.  Between her junior and senior high school years, Mathilda visited the Bown’s Drws-y-Coed farm on her own.

I arranged to fly over on a Friday night and visit Tom and Jane before going to IBM.  What a joyful visit!  Tom and Jane greeted me as if I were a prodigal son.  I visited all the Bown children, now married and three of the four with children, was treated to restaurant and home-cooked meals, went walking and sightseeing with Tom and Jane, and bottle-fed some orphan lambs.  (Check “E-tour with us” on our Web site for photos.)  And I never felt more at home.  The Bown family and their children, their farm, and the views from it and of the surrounding Welsh countryside were warm and familiar, having taken parts of our hearts from our original visit and Tom and Jane’s hospitality.

Dan’s job changes

I had worked at Aberdeen Group, in Boston, since 1999, rising to become Director of Storage Research.  But the economy caught up with Aberdeen, and I was laid off on March 31.

A former client, KOM Networks, hired me on April 4.  The company has its headquarters in an Ottawa suburb.  I became VP for Business Development.  But, the company’s hard times became steadily harder, they laid people off, cut expense budgets, instituted pay cuts, allowed attrition to proceed, and finally laid me off eight month after I was hired.

April brings more changes and travel

I began April with three business trips.  The day after I was hired I went to New York City for the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) trade show.

The following week, as Ruth rested at home from her laparoscopic gallbladder removal, I went to Phoenix, AZ to deliver a tutorial presentation at Storage Networking World.  I was able to fly out to Arizona a day early and visit my nephew Tony Schwartz and wife Denise and see their beautiful new home.  Denise was expecting.  Joseph Anthony Schwartz was born July 17, 2003.

I also went to a storage industry analysts’ conference hosted by IBM in Palisades NY.  Ruth and I drove down together, enabling Ruth to visit Mathilda, who had just started part-time, at Pearl Paint, a leading artists’ supply house.

May and June – two trips to Canada

I went to Kanata for two weeks in May, missing Mother’s Day with Ruth, but catching the Ottawa tulip festival.  In World War II, Canadian troops liberated Holland, and the Dutch have commemorated that ever since with the annual festival.  I also found Rasputin’s Café, and performed there at the open stage on every Wednesday each time he returned to Ottawa.  I also had a great jam session at the Bayou Blues Club.

In June, Ruth and I drove up to Kanata.  The trip took nine hours, counting lunch on the New York side of Lake Champlain, thanks to a wrong turn.  Ruth had her days free to see Ottawa, and we had evenings for nice dinners.  Ruth toured the open-air market, went on an Ottawa River boat tour, checked out quilt shops (naturally!), and did a bit of shopping.  We also had dinner at the home of Dennis Meranger, of sales, and his wife Lisa.

We had arranged stop at the Thousand Islands on our way home, with an overnight stay at a bed and breakfast.  You can see our Ottawa and Thousand Island photos at the E-tour link on our Web site.

June ended with a wonderful visit to my cousin Jason & his wife Colleen’s new house in Acton, MA for a visit and backyard barbecue with them and their two young boys.  Jason is the next generation, my cousin Susan’s son, actually my first cousin once removed.  The house isn’t new it is an antique house that he and Colleen have restored beautifully.  And, Jason’s start-up company, Revelink, has become successful!  See http://www.revelink.com.

July – our Martha’s Vineyard vacation

After a great Independence Day weekend at home, we took the last two weeks in July on Martha’s Vineyard, in the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association cottage of our friends Glenn and Joanne Ickler.  As a special treat, Roger and Rita Rekus joined us.  Rita had decided that she liked the island from what she had seen of it before our 30th anniversary dinner.  Roger, and avid fisherman, wanted to test the waters.

The four of us enjoyed the beaches together, a different beach each day.  Roger gave me a rod and reel, and we went fishing together.   Ever the ingrate, I caught more fish than Roger did.  We also returned to the Le Grenier, site of our 30th anniversary dinner in March, for another great dinner (with no subsequent gallstone attack for Ruth).

While Roger and Rita were with us, their daughter Theresa Polk (home from Japan, while her Navy doctor husband Travis was on sea duty) and son Gregory, plus Roger’s brother Gary and Rita’s sisters Roberta and Edna planned a surprise for them – a combined 35th anniversary and joint 60th birthday celebration…(see August, below).

Mathilda couldn’t visit us.  That was the bad news.  The good news was that she couldn’t visit because she had been upgraded to full-time at Pearl Paint.  And, in a total surprise, because she had become “scouted” to appear in an episode of “Date Patrol” on The Learning Channel.  Taping the episode took up all of her time off work for most of the next 2½ months.  The episode will air on Wednesday, January 14, so check your listings.

August – a party, a puppy, a schnauzer visit – & Ruth’s birthday

We cut our Martha’s Vineyard vacation a day short, leaving one day after Roger and Rita did, to return home overnight, pick up our miniature schnauzer Ranger, and head down to Lakewood NJ for Roger and Rita’s surprise party.  The party came off wonderfully, with the guests of honor totally surprised, and very pleased.  We had stopped off at Roger and Rita’s house that morning, dropping Ranger off on the pretext of heading down to Washington DC on business, saying that Ranger had been terribly lonely whilst we had been on Martha’s Vineyard.  Ranger “visited” with Theresa’s miniature schnauzer Molly, which Roger and Rita are caring for during Travis’ posting to Japan.

The morning after the party for Roger and Rita, we drove to my sister Naomi’s house.  Naomi and husband Larry had just gotten a miniature schnauzer puppy, Tillie.  Therein lies a story.  Our late mother (Mathilda is her namesake) never used the diminutive “Tillie”.  I was familiar with it because of the comic strip “Tillie the Toiler”, about a World War II home-front factory worker, but Naomi, 15 years younger than I, had never heard the name, the comic strip having ceased publication.  However, Naomi knew of the clown figure “Tillie” prominent at the carousel & Ferris wheel on the boardwalk in Asbury Park NJ, adjacent to Neptune NJ where Naomi was born, raised, and still lives.

A day after Ruth’s birthday, the show’s producers had us come down to NY City on the train, stay overnight at a hotel, and do some more taping; and Mathilda surprised Ruth with a birthday cake and champagne.  We had been slated for the visit the weekend before, but the massive electrical power blackout forced a change in schedule.

September – Boston’s harbor islands

In September, Ruth and I used the Labor Day weekend to take a tour of Boston’s harbor islands.  We too a large ferry out to Governor’s Island, and then a small island-hopper ferry in a circuit of three smaller islands, each of which has hiking and a bit of history, old buildings, ruins, and views.  The salt air and hiking gave us an appetite, and we ended our day at Legal Seafood, a restaurant at the ferry dock in Boston.

The week after Labor Day, Ruth switched jobs.  She remained with the federal government, but moved from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where she had spend 10½ years, to Natick Army Labs.

October – Vermont’s foliage, quilts at Shelburne Museum, and Mathilda launches her art career

Ruth and I drove up to Shelburne Vermont over the Columbus Day weekend.  There, we took in the fabulous quilt exhibit at Shelburne Museum, and hiked up a 900 foot hill overlooking Lake Champlain.  We also found some fine dining, at Trattoria Delia in Burlington.  We took a meandering drive home through Vermont’s back roads, just enjoying the foliage.  We were blessed by perfect weather, warm days and crisp nights.

Mathilda’s print “Slow Burn” (http://dantanner.tripod.com/slowburn.htm) went on eBay on October 29 but it was impossible to find it among over 18,000 items in the identical category.  It is now on consignment in several frame shops and galleries, and on the Web at http://alwaysshopping.com/Amazon/index.asp through an energetic Web marketer.


Our family celebrated Thanksgiving twice, because Mathilda’s days off in NY City were Monday & Tuesday.  She came home, bringing her friend Pete, for an early celebration.  I took them to the Willard House and Clock Museum, two miles from our home, in Grafton.  On Thanksgiving Day, Ruth and I were invited to Ron and K’s for dinner, and Mathilda was invited to Naomi’s house in NJ.

Another November treat came when Ruth and I visited my former Aberdeen Group colleague David Hill and his wife Irene in their absolutely palatial remodeled (actually 95% rebuilt) home, for a lovely dinner that Irene prepared.


“The seasons, they go round and round,” as Joni Mitchell wrote and sang; and “All my life’s a circle,” sang the late Harry Chapin.  So we come to year’s end.  Happily, Mathilda has gotten her days off changed to Tuesday and Wednesday, so with Christmas Day falling on Thursday, she will be able to visit us at home for three blessed days.  Quite possibly, we’ll enjoy a visit from Jason and Colleen and their boys then, too.

We’re going to see my cousin Harry Connick Junior at the Colonial Theater in Boston on December 20.  Once again, displaying characteristic generosity, he has made us a gift of the tickets.

We end 2003 counting our blessings: our health, our love, and our family.  For 2004, we’re looking forward to Mathilda’s appearance on The Learning Channel, the 4-week trip Ruth and are taking to Dominica to more or less experience a Caribbean island retirement and shop for land on which to build our retirement home, and (we can hope) for me to find a new and better job.


The Tanner family