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The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.
Annual History of Jim Andris, 2010
(Please note that clicking on any of the pictures in this newsletter will give you a much larger image.)
After many mild winters, St. Louis has received blowing snow and frigid temperatures this Dec. 12. With a fire in the fireplace, a half-finished jigsaw puzzle on the card table, and only a year more to go on my counted cross-stitch tree skirt, it seems a perfect time to begin this year's autobiographical entry. I have been writing these annual letters since 1972, and they have been on the internet for about 10 years now. This year I began a new project—I am scanning most of my old slides and photos into the computer, and I am slowly illustrating all of these old online letters with snapshots of the past. You, my friend, may find yourself in these epistles. (So far, I have updated the entries from 1972 to 1977 with photos, hope to do all in the next year.)
Let's work backwards this year. The Monday of my birthday week, I received a paella kit from brother Tom, complete with authentic Valencian paprika, saffron and vino rioja. I jokingly e-mailed him to drop by on Friday night to share some of the meal. He did, driving 550 miles to do so. We had a great time reminiscing, mildly carousing, and entertaining, because he made a huge batch of his famous "Old Pete's Spaghetti Sauce," which we shared with Fritzi and Bill Baker. Tom even got to perform his songs at the Venice Café open mike session on Monday before returning to Marietta and his grand daughters.
Stephen seems to be coming back to at least some of his normal activities after a year of hell. The bungled hip operation of 2009 has resulted in a total of three operations, a too-short leg and a life-sentence of antibiotic treatment. His recovery has been a rollercoaster ride. Still, he is back singing in the Trinity choir, fussing over the indoor and outdoor birds, and doing his version of the laundry: Stephen's Laundry Reality Show. We had Brian back in November to renovate the laundry room next to the bathroom. You may remember that starting in January of 2010, I painted the walls of the newly renovated bathroom which Lorene's gift of inheritance enabled me to have done. Now I get to start 2011 painting the laundry room walls. But hey, 72 years old and painting 12' walls; I can't complain. (Stephen can, however.)
We did have a tough year, but we had love and support, too. My dear friend, Rosanda, called nearly every day to be sure that I was "behaving," and to connive with Stephen about how to "improve" me. Very hard to improve something nearly perfect, though. And Rosanda arranged to have a birthday reunion of most of the Ragtime Rascals who cheered me on so faithfully for a decade of decadent singing and playing at Dressel's Café. (Three of us are Sagittarians.) I didn't take pictures at the reunion, but this picture from the Summer of 2004 has always been one of my favorites of Mary, Colleen, Rosanda, Lynn and Judy, clockwise from lower left.
I had lots of good visits from old friends this year. The Breiters from La Crosse, WI, were here for a short week in September. They have a fine trick of letting us win the first game in a bridge rubber and then trouncing us for the other two (thinking we'll come back for more). Earlier in September, I had my high school and lifelong friend, Mariam Edgar, stay with us for a whole week. Mariam even joined us for our monthly duplicate bridge group, and we finally got to catch up and enjoy each other's company, like we used to for decades! Like many of my nearly lifelong friends, Mariam and I have always been there for each other, and I feel blessed to still have her in my life, even if only for one visit every ten years.
In August and in March, Stephanie, Dawn and Zander were here also for a whole week. We were hoping that they could make the move to St. Louis, and they did try, with the help of our great realtor, Joyce Daughaday. But in the end, Dawn wasn't able to even come close to matching the salary she has in Boston. So now they are moving to a more rural setting in Massachusetts, and Dawn is keeping her good position with Harvard Dental School.
Stephen also had some company in April. His sister, Janice, and his sister-in-law, Jackie, came and stayed for 7 days while I went home to Ohio. The picture shows Jackie and Janice displaying some gluten-free cupcakes made for Stephen. It was the first time I had been there since Mom died in January of 2009, and it felt good to be in my old home town. Most of the time, I stayed at sister Vicki's house, and became addicted to American Idol. Prince Poppycock did not win, however.
Despite the difficult year, we were able to make a long overdue visit to see my high school buddy and lifelong friend, Will Lutz. Will bought and decorated a really beautiful condo in a gated community in Sarasota. He even has his own pool! Air travel security checks these days are horrifying, especially when you're part titanium, as is Stephen. Nevertheless, we got to sun ourselves, eat, and watch sunsets on Lido Beach and other fine places nearby.
I have learned a lot through all the hospital stays, rehab appointments, doctor's visits, and just being a chauffer in general. I never take Stephen anywhere without my latest cyberpunk novel, counted cross-stitch, or laptop. I just use the waiting time to do things I would want to do anyway. As far as being the chef, I love to cook, and cooking for two is actually easier than for one, because when you're alone, you actually cheat and don't cook half the time. I'd say that 90% of the time I enjoy my life, and we're not talking about the other 10%. And we still manage to do an amazing amount of entertainment and socializing, albeit occasionally the walk around the Botanical Gardens has been me pushing Stephen in a transport chair. We've found that the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts to several local theatre venues on Saturday afternoon are really marvelous.
And finally, as I see various of my dear friends age and engage in combat with mortality itself, I realize (in my case at least) what a true blessing it is to be alive. I thank God every day for anything that comes my way. That doesn't stop me from worrying a bit about our world and our country going to hell in a handbasket, but at least I can contribute a relative amount of good will and peace of mind to the mess.
May your days be merry and bright, and may you have a rainbow Christmas.
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