2018 Holidays

Happy Holidays 2018

This was a year for striking out in many different directions, sometimes together, and sometimes individually.

Wasting no time in establishing this theme, Loch and Eileen flew to Medford, Oregon January 2nd to see Maisie perform in the trio mcubed at the Craterian Theater. We spent time with the lovely McCandless family on their home turf, while incidentally enjoying the mild, green Pacific Northwest “winter”. In late January, we flew east to Boston to attend Loch’s mother’s moving memorial service. Because no year is complete without a Disney trip (in The World According to Maisie), Loch, Eileen, and the First Daughter headed to California in September to visit Disneyland & California Adventure Parks for the first time in over 10 years. We lunched with Loch’s brother Garth and his wife Liz, and Elizabeth and Ian Coley spent a day in the park with us. Then we headed to San Diego for a few days where we saw our talented niece Teagan perform in Blithe Spirit at North Coast Repertory Theatre, enjoyed ridiculously perfect weather, and visited all of Eileen’s childhood haunts in San Diego and La Jolla, prompting Maisie to indignantly and repeatedly demand “Why didn’t you raise me here?” We also caught up with Elizabeth’s mom Clare Friedman, who generously allowed us to stay at her house on Mt. Soledad overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and we brunched one day with Eileen’s high school English teacher Will Erickson, and another day with Eileen’s dear friend since 4th grade Megan Koehler.

We blinked, and Liam is a junior at DePaul University, studying game design. For those wondering what that is, here is a quick look at a game level that Liam designed, with some very Liam-esque commentary from its creator.

And here is a quick pass through a different, completed level, set in a dungeon.

After completing a successful sophomore year in June, Liam signaled his increasing independence by deciding that it was time to try off-campus apartment living. He ushered again at Ravinia Festival this summer and moved into a cool coach house near campus with his new roommate Samuel in September. Or rather with his hundreds of new roommates, in the form of carpenter ants who shared his bedroom until the arrival of cold weather killed them off. Liam started his winter break with a two-week trip to Japan, a long-cherished dream since he is a huge fan of Japanese anime and culture. The trip was geared towards studying the effects of the nuclear bombing of Japan in WWII, so he went to Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Here he is at the Golden Pavilion near Kyoto:

And here he is at the top of Mt. Insai near Nagasaki, wearing his yellow (of course) Japanese hoodie:

He enjoyed the experience immensely, and conquered the challenge of eating gluten free in Japan by living on eggs, meat and cheese along with onigiri (rice balls), conger eel, smoked mackerel and miso soup, plus sushi and ice cream to round things out. He even found gluten free okonomiyaki (fluffy pancakes). To get home he had to pay a $200 fee for overweight luggage due to what we have dubbed Watergate: he made the curious decision to do laundry in Japan the night before departure but ran out of coins for the dryer, so he brought home a bag of sodden clothing that had soaked up approximately 16 pounds of Japanese water.

Maisie has had her usual overscheduled year, between part time jobs, auditions, and theatre gigs. She never wanted to move again, but her somewhat sketchy neighborhood (Edgewater) drove her and roommate Meghan to relocate in June to a spacious apartment in a much nicer neighborhood (Andersonville). The year started with the aforementioned mcubed concert in Medford, in which she and her Northwestern roommates Meghan McCandless and Myrna Conn mingled melodiously, performing a selection of Broadway songs to 2 full houses at the theater that Meghan’s father manages in Medford. Here is "Strong Woman Number", in which Maisie took the lead.

In February, Maisie appeared by invitation in Porchlight Music Theatre’s New Faces Sing Broadway 1959, one of a series of concerts designed to showcase up-and-coming Chicago vocal talent. She delivered a rousing rendition of “Shy” from Once Upon a Mattress, and belted boisterously with two other girls in “You Gotta Get a Gimmick” from Gypsy.

In June she had her first significant role with an Equity house as the female swing and child wrangler in the Drury Lane Theatre production of Seussical—she went on several times during the run, most strikingly as the Sour Kangaroo. This experience taught her that a) she hopes to perform in Seussical again in the future and b) she will never again agree to child wrangle (a.k.a. babysit child actors). She received multiple conflicting offers to be cast in fall shows, and chose the most exciting of these, the lead role of Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray at Skylight Music Theatre, an Equity house in Milwaukee. While it required her to relocate to Milwaukee for the last 2½ months of 2018, Skylight paid for her housing and also something close to a living wage. The production launched in mid-November, and both it and her performance have received glowing reviews. Here is her interview with a Milwaukee TV station's morning show, which also includes part of a song from the show (starting at around 4:00 in the clip):

She knew that it would be a challenging role for her, since Tracy is onstage almost the entire show and is a very high energy character who does a lot of dancing – hard work, especially since the role required her to wear extra padding – so she spent much of the summer preparing for it, discovering a deep appreciation for Pilates, massages, and twice daily Epsom Salt baths along the way. This is the first time she has done a holiday show—the 42-show run will end Dec. 30—which meant sacrificing time with her family. This led to a fun twist on tradition: Loch, Eileen and the boys spent Thanksgiving in Milwaukee where we fed Maisie turkey and saw the show twice.

Spencer is in his second and final year of graduate school at Columbia College, working towards his MFA in Composition for the Screen. Here are two of his compositions, it's impressive how adept he has become.

The program will culminate in 2019 with 6 weeks in L.A. interning with an industry professional, so we shall see what comes of that—will Spencer survive his first foray away from the comforts of home? And more importantly, will our cat Ollie survive Spencer’s prolonged absence? (They have developed a serious bromance.) Inspiration seems to strike Spencer at really odd hours, so it is rare for him to be at home and awake when we are; we’re wondering if we’ll actually notice when he moves to L.A., though we will doubtless mourn his absence on trash pickup days. Outside of school, he continues to make persistent use of that millennial staple, the dating app, in a seemingly endless search for his soulmate. We admire his perseverance, especially given the millennial female’s unfortunate propensity for post-first-date ghosting.

Eileen continues to pursue her passion for “picking” at flea markets, while expanding her business, Stuff & Nonsense Vintage Goods, to a second antique mall. She continues in her role as her parents’ most vital resource, especially now that her dad (soon to be 92) has stopped driving due to failing eyesight, and her mom’s dementia has worsened. Jim ended the year with cataract surgery, which should improve his vision. Nell (now 89) spends increasing amounts of time demanding to be taken “home” by which she means Poughkeepsie NY, to see her parents (who died before Eileen was born). Her back pain seems to have improved, which is good news except that it has allowed her on occasion to escape the apartment in an attempt to “go home”; memory care may be in her future. Eileen discovered a wonderful caregiver, Martha Duran, who has taken a lot of the burden off Eileen and allowed her to focus on her business and home responsibilities. Shopping estate sales, Goodwill and our own house (the latter gets Loch excited) to find worthy items to sell, refurbish, research, price and transport to her booths and arrange to optimal effect occupies a lot of her time. Though it is not a way to get rich quick, she has had several instances of selling, say, a $4 vase from Goodwill for $150 because it is actually a rare piece of mid-Century Italian art pottery. And she is proud to note that thus far she has always earned enough every month to pay her rent and come away with a reasonable profit. Her goal for next year is to make more effective use of social media in promoting her endeavors. When not occupied by the demands of parents, children, or junk, she has mostly successfully procrastinated over tackling the never-ending projects that go along with owning a house that is older than her parents.

Loch’s year started out on a low note due to his mother’s passing, though it was a comfort to gather at her memorial service to hear about her life and share appreciation of it with so many family members. By September he was so ready for a vacation that he actually encouraged the idea of going to Disneyland, and was rewarded when we experienced his favorite attraction, Soarin’ Around the World, completely by ourselves when we were the only people in line right before it closed. At work his team continues to grow, now over 110, and he expects a very interesting 2019 since ADS, his company’s corporate parent, has announced that Loch’s company will be spun off. It’s actually good news because the companies were heading in different directions and this will allow both to flourish. Naturally he has been enjoying the Chicago Bears’ remarkable resurgence, though it has resulted in some overly exciting game days with no end in sight. He built this holiday web page, let us know if you want us to send you an email whenever we release a new version!

From us Boomers, we say, Have a Fine Holiday –

Plus Best Wishes perennial from our offspring millennial

And additionally, from our youngest Gen Z!

Our holiday picture, taken the day after Thanksgiving in Milwaukee, after seeing Maisie's first show of the day - note her stage makeup!