Lasley Holiday Letter - 2013

Every year people tell us how exhausting our annual newsletter is.  Well tighten up your chinstrap, cuz this year tops them all.  

In January, our band “Back to the Well” played a Monday showcase at a big club nearby, but it was cold and rainy.  No one came, but we got some good performance videos.  This led to some band drama as we realized that we were putting in the practice time, but the gigs just weren’t out there.  We decided to cut back a bit, and play together more for fun and less for rehearsing, happily succeeding without losing our friendships.

With the kids various crazy schedules on the Left Coast, we finally had our Christmas gathering here on Jan 21.  Ben and his wife Yanessa flew in from SF, while Jacqui and her boyfriend Ben came over from SD. Side note: Ben Lasley’s nickname is “Ditto”,  while Ben Olsen is “B9”.  This has cut down our own confusion significantly.

We went to the neighborhood Around the World progressive dinner party in February, which had over 75 participants!  Great fun, going from Spain to Greece to Brazil, wrapping up the celebrations with Carnivale style drinks and music.

In March Laura transitioned from working for Chester County Hospital (and CHOP) to becoming the Director of Neonatology at Riddle Hospital (for Onsite).  First she had to pass her Neonatal Board recertification!  And just to confuse the schedule further, we went sailing in the Abacos, Bahamas for a week as well.  The Abacos are wonderful, with clear water, friendly ports, and good snorkeling.  We saw our first sea turtle!

On April 1, Laura started at Riddle, and quickly realized that running her own unit is what she was meant to do.  Her staff love her, the hospital loves her, and even when she has to push to get something done, everyone stays happy.

We popped down to Florida to see G’Ma Laz, just for a weekend, as it had been too long.  

We still play soccer every Tuesday night.

10 years ago, back in CT, Jacqui started wrestling under Coach John Chacho, who happened to be Dan’s coach when he was in middle school in the 70s.  This April, Coach Chacho was being inducted into the CT Coaches Hall of Fame, and he was delighted to have Jacqui in attendance.

After spending over a year in San Diego unable to find a job, B9 headed back to Maine in April and the job he previously held at a nursery.  The job paid well, included housing at the farm, and allowed him to do something he enjoyed.  He stopped to visit with us briefly on his drive up. Unexpectedly, after 4 weeks, that job imploded with B9’s boss being a real jerk, using the housing situation as leverage.  We all realized that this was not a good situation, so B9 moved down to PA to hang with us until Jacqui got home.  He was able to find employment pretty quickly.

As the Spring progressed, Dan realized that it was already dark when he got home from his 90-minute commute.  This motivated him to find a job closer to home, although he really did like Lutron.  He now works at MillerEdge, which is a small company only 20 minutes away.  Great people to work with, and he enjoys being the “old man” - occasionally.

Throughout the first part of the year, Dan helped plan his Exeter 35th reunion.  By carefully choosing his lieutenants, he minimized his effort and maximized the quality of the festivities in May.  We broke the attendance record by a wide margin, and there was much rejoicing.  This completed his 12 years as a member of the class leadership team.

Jacqui came home in May, as her boyfriend was already here, and she needed to take some summer classes in order to  graduate in December.  She also volunteered at a local veterinary hospital.  It took a little while for us all to get used to each other and the various schedules, but it ended up working pretty smoothly.

In June, Laura and Dan popped out to Chicago to celebrate G’Ma Kwaan’s 80th birthday.  Oh yeah, we also celebrated 30 years of marriage somewhere in here as well.

Having settled in to living with the parents, Jacqui and B9 thought it would be cool to get a dog.  They were both very familiar with fostering rescue dogs from volunteer work with Pit Bull Rescue San Diego (www.pbrsd.org).  Unfortunately, they couldn’t find a dog to foster in Philly. Laura suggested that they adopt Derby, the dog they spent a lot of time with back in - you guessed it - San Diego.  So they flew out on a Thursday, loaded up Derby and her stuff, and drove back to PA in Jacqui’s car , arriving around 12noon Sunday, in plenty of time for B9 to get to work the next day.  

We believe that worm-holes were involved.

Although there were many great concerts in the Philly area this summer, we only made it to see Heart with Jason Bonham.  This was a fantastic concert, culminating in the Wilson sisters performing the best of Led Zeppelin with Jason Bonham and his tribute band.  In the Fall, we also saw Hugh Laurie’s blues band.

Despite the lack of paying gigs, Back to the Well did play our neighborhood block party.  Everyone said we were great, and they couldn’t imagine it would be hard to get gigs.  But it is...

After many years wandering the East Coast, the Riverside Jam returned to Chicago in July.  We got to see several friends we’d been missing.  The set-up was excellent, and we played a lot of music late into the evenings.  Laura and I drove both ways, stopping to see the Middletons on the way back.

In early August, Dan went to a gathering of his fraternity brothers in Madison WI.  After 30 years, we all looked about the same, but most of us drank a lot less.

With all the excitement of the Spring and Summer, we decided that we needed a short break, so we arranged for a 4-day sail around the top of the Chesapeake.  For the first time since 1984, we invited another couple to come with us.  In just 4 days, John and Kitty experienced a full-on squall, doldrums, tacking upwind, anchoring under the stars, and a bucket full of soft-shell crabs.  And they said they’d sail with us again.

Now, due to the adventures with Derby, Jacqui’s car was on the wrong (Right) coast and she had to return to San Diego for her last semester.  So she called up Uncle Spike, who rode shotgun all the way across the country, just so he could get a real In-and-Out burger and some decent Mexican food.

In September, Dan and Laura went back to Exeter for the annual Leadership weekend.  This is a don’t-miss event for us every year.  In October, Dan attended his sister Barb’s 25th wedding anniversary celebration (150 people!).

A quick update on Ditto and Yanessa.  Both are gainfully employed in San Francisco; he at Redfin, she at Fitbit.  They moved to a new apartment in Daly City - and didn’t tell us!  They commute to work together most days, and are generally enjoying young married life.

In addition to his skill at growing things, B9 is quite the salesman.  When he first worked at a AT&T phone store a few years ago, he was often top-ranked, despite working only 30 hours.  When he came to PA, AT&T didn’t have any openings, but T-Mobile did.  He quickly became top seller there as well.  But AT&T had been good to him, so when an opening did appear, he switched over.  However, in his 2-year absence, AT&T had changed in both attitude and compensation.  It didn’t take long for him to acknowledge the problem, and he was welcomed back at T-Mobile just in time for the holidays.  The value of a good manager and a good corporate culture is often underappreciated.

Luckily, B9 was able to arrange a few days off to head out to California to have Thanksgiving with Jacqui, Ditto and Yanessa.  He flew back just in time to get up early for Black Friday.

December has been quite cold and snowy.  Great for the local ski areas, but the storms caught many of us off guard.

Thanksgiving was, and Christmas will be, quiet and confused this year.  B9 and Laura are working all odd hours.  Jacqui will take her last finals and load up her car to drive home, via New Orleans, Atlanta, and Charleston.  She’ll be home by New Years, and then we’ll all fly back out to celebrate her graduation and say her final goodbyes.  Back east, she and B9 (and Derby) will find an apartment to live in while waiting to hear from the veterinary schools.

As I type this, I dread having to edit it down to 2 pages for printing.  This has been a wild and amazing year.  If you had told me that by June, Laura and I would both change jobs, and we’d have Jacqui, her boyfriend, and her dog, all under our roof, I’d have said you were crazy.  Now you know who are the crazy ones.

After we get back from San Diego in January ‘14, we’re not going anywhere.  We’re all travelled out - we booked 37 one-way flights this year, Dan and Laura drove to Chicago once and Boston/NH 3 times, and B9 and Jacqui drove across the country 4 times!  So in 2014, you all can come and visit us!

Health and happiness to you and your family!

Laura and Dan

Jacqui, Ben (B9), and Derby