2009 Christmas Letter

Dear Friends,

The Zabels have the usual to report for 2009 – travel, work, music, fitness, and church.

Our outstanding vacation trip this year was to the Yorkshire Dales in England the last half of March.  The weather wasn’t bad (you have to have some cold and rain to know you are in England), but when the local people found out we were from Southern California, they couldn’t quite understand what we were doing in northern England in March!  Still it was wonderful.  The Yorkshire Dales are beautiful and are the location of the famous “All Creatures Great and Small” books and BBC television series (from the 70s and 80s).  We have been watching some of the BBC episodes via Netflix and recognize quite a few locations.  We bought the theme song from the BBC series on iTunes and used it as background music on the DVD we made of the trip.  We stayed in a delightful self-catering cottage called “The Old Goat House.” Alan was afraid it was named for him, but it was named as such because years ago, it was part of a farm and the goats were kept there.  You can see some of the photos on our web site if you are so inclined, including little lambs in a pub!

Alan still continues as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman. Northrop Grumman works a 9/80 schedule (9 hour days, but every other Friday off) and Alan has been using an accumulated vacation bank to take the other Fridays off as well.  But nine hours a day is pretty long and the vacation bank has been worked down a bit.  So the plan is to work 32 hours a week in 2010.  That’s enough for full medical benefits, but only 8 hours a day, 4 days a week and allowing some 4 day weekends as well.  The plan is to retire from Northrop Grumman at the end of 2010 when Alan turns 60 followed by possibly a part time job elsewhere.

Cheryl doesn’t do as many professional “gigs” anymore but is planning another recital this year.  She still teaches privately at home, including some talented students from Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach (the choir director there consistently refers them to her). She continues as an AFS volunteer, helping today’s AFS students visiting the U.S. and their hosts.  

We both remain active at Riviera United Methodist Church.  Cheryl is a mainstay of the music program, leads the very successful Monday daytime women’s Bible Study, and is involved in a number of volunteer activities. Alan serves on the finance and staff-parish relations committees  and started singing in the choir again in November, 2009 – just in time to experience all the wonderful Christmas music! 

Once again, we haven’t selected the time and place of our next vacation.  We are leaning towards going back to England sometime in the spring of 2010.  We (sort of) speak the language, are well practiced in driving on the left, and always seem to enjoy our trips to the British Isles.

We are still walking, running, and going to the gym.  We don’t move as fast or go as far as we used to but we are pretty good for 59 and 60!  Life is good!

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2010!





Cheryl and Alan