Dear Friends and Family,

We’re in the deep of winter, the time we reach out to each other with news, and greetings, and wishes for warmth, good cheer, health and prosperity in the New Year. In the blur of daily life it’s nice to stop and think about the things that happened. It’s also nice to know you’re out there, and we send our love.

We lost Jay’s dad Melvin Stowsky in February, a tough blow. Jay spent a lot of time with him in the last few months, and the kids and I were lucky to visit twice. Mel got to say his goodbyes to many people he’d touched over his long life, through teaching, administrating, and living an entertaining and joyful life. He is much missed.

My Dad and stepmom Mary moved into independent living in Austin in late April. Mary’s been an amazing caretaker through Dad’s dementia, we’re hoping she can get a bit of respite and help. I was in Austin four times this year, but my brother Scott in Austin has done the lion’s share for Mary and Dad, in addition to nursing my sister-in-law Beth through Pancreatitis. He’s amazing.

We had a quick getaway to Santa Cruz with Uncle Kenny and our friend Summer, and our weeklong summer Lair of the Bear camp in Pinecrest. We went off-script in November, spending Thanksgiving week at Disney World in Orlando, being catapulted around on entertainment machines and lounging on fake beaches. There’s more about it on my blog,, but the short version: fun and distraction and a bit of magic overcame my doubts, though there were those too.

As a family we marched on Sacramento for better teacher pay, joining hundreds of teachers and families in May. We all saw Into the Woods and Grease in local productions and the Oakland Symphony with Aunt Roberta.

Shayla is 12, but received official exemption from Teenagers Inc to full membership. If you heard me muse that the teen years might not be so bad, and you smiled but didn’t say anything, thank you. You were right, but your forbearance is appreciated. The pain of realizing what idiots we grownups are is real, and I feel for our daughter as she finds her way. Who is to blame for this chaotic, hypocritical, broken world? Shayla’s still participating in 7th Grade, playing the trumpet, doing Girl Scouts, and making the best of a hard time. I think that’s heroic.

Jaden is 9 and in third grade. He camped with the cub scouts, learned some whittling, and still has an impressive collection of badges, handcuffs, and firefighting gear. If a crash leaves your car dangling from an about-to-explode bridge, Jaden is your guy. Though I hope it never comes to that. Also he’s been doing hip hop dancing at Destiny Arts, and has performed with them a few times. He’s gotten us to several Cal and Raiders games this year(!)

David’s godson Myles is a 17-year-old senior! College applications are in and now they’re waiting. I got to tour CAL with him last summer, and our tenth summer at the Lair of the Bear was a joy. Myles continues singing in addition to his rigorous studies.

Jay’s godson Alex is 22 and continues to produce music and tour with his bands. We had many Sunday dinners with Alex and his folks Aunt Amanda and Uncle Jonathan, and some great hikes.

Jay has been in mourning for his dad, and the early year is a blur. He read Jill Lepore’s new history These Truths, and The Impeachers: Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation. He indoctrinated Shayla into bad reality TV including 90 Day Fiancé (ugh) and kept up with his genealogy shows Finding Our Roots and Long Lost Family.

David particularly enjoyed reading The Overstory, Mrs Everything, The Dutch House, Michelle Obama’s Becoming, The Great Believers, The Immortalists, The Witch Elm, Transcription, Nine Perfect Strangers, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, This Is How It Always Is, and Washington Black. More at

On screen we both liked Fleabag (amazing), Catastrophe (true to life parenting!), Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, The Crown, Eighth Grade, A Star Is Born, Derry Girls, Transparent the Musical Finale, Tales of the City, and we even saw Jason Isbell and Father John Misty live. There was more, but I’ll save it for when I see you, which I hope is soon. Much love and light to you in 2020!