Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Russia, Ireland, a Proposal in Paris, More Murders, Childhood Homes … and Friends Along the Way – Our 2014

Like Facebook, the annual holiday letter presents the best possible façade to the world, almost always positive, occasionally a serious negative such as an illness or passing of a loved one. FB and the holiday letter represent how we would prefer our friends and family think of us and what we’ve been doing.

Herewith, then, is how we spent the past year, not necessarily in chronological order.

We celebrated the first anniversary of our commitment ceremony in August, actually just a few weeks after we finally got around to the first phase of our honeymoon in idyllic Andorra. And Rick finally proposed to D-L at the Eiffel Tower.

  Professionally, Donna-Lane published three books:
  1. Murder on Insel Poel, her 9th novel and 5th in the Third Culture Kid series
  2. The Cockeyed Nipple, a book version of the blog she wrote during her breast cancer experience
  3. Lost and Found in Camden, a collaboration with 10 other women, each of whom contributed a short story, all of which thread together into a novel.
    D-L’s Murder in Ely has been accepted by Five Star publishing, and will be out in April 2015. She has just put the final polish on Murder in Schwyz (for which she visited a cookie factory in Sete as part of the research), and is well into Murder in Edinburgh (further research and cover photo trip soon required).
    There’s plenty more information about the novels at: http://donnalanenelson.com/.
She’ll have more time for writing novels and other creative endeavours, as she published the last issue of CU Newswire, a weekly newsletter plus website and twitter focused on credit unions and cooperatives, primarily in Canada but also other places around the world such as Ireland. She’d produced the newsletter for seven years, part of that with a partner, but now she’d prefer to spend more time on other things.

By the way, D-L’s blog (http://theexpatwriter.blogspot.ch/) now averages more than 1,500 readers daily. Rick writes an occasional blog as well (http://lovinglifeineurope.blogspot.ch/).

Rick was asked in the spring to become editor of ICAO Journal; ICAO is the UN’s aviation agency. He was also named a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society (FRAeS), the highest possible rank in one of the aviation community’s most respected organizations.

Oh, yes, we traveled some. First time for both of us to visit Russia, Saint Petersburg, and see the incredible palace / museums and cathedrals. As well as the ballet and Russian folk dancing.

At the end of the year, the rugged west coast of Ireland, dog-sitting for the lovable Rooby.

After the dog-sit, we were met in Dublin by D-L’s daughter, Llara, for a couple of days. Then we flew together to Barcelona, intending to spend the holidays together in Argeles.
To our shock and dismay, immigration authorities in Spain would not allow Llara into the country, based on an erroneous interpretation of a previous Swiss immigration action because she had stayed in Europe too long after earning her Master’s degree in HR in Scotland. Huge snafu, and extremely frustrating, but bottom line is Llara was sent back to Boston and we spent Christmas apart – though we all recovered, spending the holidays with respective friends. We intend to get the visa issue sorted out for the future. At least D-L and Llara got to spend a couple days together in Dublin.
In between Russia/Andorra/Paris and Ireland, our “nostalgia” tour of New York and New England, where D-L met Rick’s mother and brothers, and got to see where he grew up, then Long Island and Boston to visit friends of D-L and her daughter, Llara, and so Rick could see Donna-Lane’s childhood area; finally up to Montreal – through the spectacular fall colors of the New Hampshire mountains – for a major ICAO conference.

Rick also visited Texas a couple of times to see his daughter Alicia, hubby Bryan, and grandkiddos. Sawyer and Georgia Rose are both professional actors, and have been involved in multiple film, theatre, and TV commercial projects through the year. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sawyer-Bell/438742856181469; https://www.facebook.com/pages/Georgia-Rose-Bell/371196039694101)

While Rick was in the States in the spring, Donna-Lane and her Geneva housemate, J, went on an adventure to Malta for a few days.

In October, it was Germany (an Il Divo concert in Stuttgart), then Cologne, and finally Amsterdam, where D-L and Rick spent a week on a houseboat moored on a canal. Great fun!

Mixed in were multiple trips to Geneva; the walled city of Carcassone; Spain’s pottery capital Bisbal; the stunning mountains and lakes near Lucerne, plus Neuchatel and Motiers, where D-L first worked and lived in Switzerland; Toulouse; the grotto near Villefranche (Rick); a conference in Berlin (Rick) and a day business train trip to Marseilles for Rick, not knowing the next day Donna-Lane had planned a surprise birthday party for him at La Noisette in Argeles-sur-mer.

We missed the late November flash floods in Argeles, and fortunately our place and car were on high ground, but we feel bad nonetheless for those who lost their cars or suffered water/mud damage to their homes.

Knock on wood, neither of us had any serious health issues this year. However, we still mourn the unexpected sudden passing of Barbara, who had been Donna-Lane’s dear friend for 40 years on two continents. We were able to celebrate her life in a most ‘Barbara way’ – singing, talking, and dining with more than 100 friends from the village, as well as some of her family from the States. We also lost an Argeles neighbor to cancer and a sweet, 103-year-old woman.

Along the way we’ve met some new friends from Sweden, from Italy, and from elsewhere, and re-connected with longtime friends we don’t get to see nearly often enough.

This coming year, we don’t expect to travel nearly as much. (Ha) Yet, there are many places we still want to see and experience: Monaco, Liechtenstein, and San Marino as phases of our honeymoon; Scotland (especially the St Andrews Old Course); certainly Andorra again, this time as a writing retreat; maybe Dublin again as well, if we can find a house-sit; probably London a time or two or RAeS events; Montreal and the States, to be sure … but our strong preference is for more time at home in Argeles-sur-mer and Geneva.

The year started with Rick joining about 100 other hardy souls (nutcases?) for the now-traditional January 1st dip into the cold waters of the Med. Not planning to repeat: been there, got the certificate, etc.

To cap off the year, we received our official documents naming us as Baron and Baroness of the Sovereign Principality of Sealand (http://www.sealandgov.org/). We’ll try to remember to be beneficent to all the ‘little people.’

Finally, could we possibly forget Scooby Two? He’s traveled with us for most of our adventures, much to Petite Cougar’s chagrin. Sometimes Hunny Bunny and Herr Hare have snuck into our luggage was well. They are rather nice 'pets' to have – they don’t need to be fed or 'watered, and they’re quite amenable to pose for any photos we wish to take. At last, SD2 got to meet his father, Scooby Doo, in Boston.

Yes, we are both adults. No, we don’t ever plan to grow up.

Hope you have good health, good friends, and a wonderful 2015.

Baroness D-L and Baron Rick

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