The sections below are our Christmas letters over the years, starting with the current year and working backward to our first year of marriage, 1989.

2020

2020

 

Dear friends and family, 

2020 was a challenging year for us, as it was for everyone.  As we began, who knew that the COVID-19 pandemic would upend us all? Thankfully we have been spared the suffering and death that has sadly afflicted so many in our nation and our world.  But we do have interesting stories to tell. 

It started with our planned trip (with Tauck Tours) to Peru (Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu) and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.  When we flew from Los Angeles to Lima on March 1, all was normal.  However, it ended with a scramble to leave Ecuador before the entire country shut down. 

At the beginning of our trip, we did experience Peru - Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu.  All great, but even that was marred by Cheryl needing a minor, but painful, outpatient procedure at a clinic is Cusco. 

Then, while on a ship in the middle of the remote Galapagos Islands, we received email (via Satellite internet connection) that our return flight was cancelled.  Ecuador was shutting down in 24 hours.  Tauck got our entire group to an airport and on a chartered flight to Guayaquil.  Then they got us all on the last American Airlines flight to leave Guayaquil, near midnight of March 17.  We got home and California locked down 2 days later. 

As with everyone else, the rest of 2020 has been making the best of a world wide pandemic. 

Alan’s wedding ring had slipped off while snorkeling in the Galapagos Islands.  So, once home, we got new rings, and had a renewal of our wedding vows on our 31st anniversary, July 2.  There were just 4 in our large church sanctuary - us, our pastor, and a photographer friend. 

We’ve become very proficient with Zoom, and hope that some meetings, like church administrative meetings, will stay virtual even after we get out of the pandemic. 

We haven’t been able to or haven’t felt safe enough with going to the gym, so Cheryl is walking more and Alan is bicycling more.  Cheryl regularly walks 5 - 6 miles fast, and Alan will have over 5500 miles of cycling for 2020 - more miles than we have put on the car.  Not bad for our ages - 70 (Alan) and 71 (Cheryl) 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Photos on the back. 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2019

2019

 

Dear friends and family, 

Cheryl and Alan had a healthy and happy 2019. 

We had two big trips this year - the National Parks of the Southwest and a cruise from Norway to Canada. 

The National Parks trip (2 weeks in May) took in Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Grand Canyon (North Rim) national parks.  What a fantastic trip for natural beauty!  Weather ranged from hot in southeast Utah to a very snowy day at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

The cruise was a unique trip picked to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary (July 2) and Cheryl’s 70th birthday (September 13).  We flew from Los Angeles to Oslo Norway on September 11, had a couple of days in Oslo, took the train to Bergen, Norway, boarded the ship and experienced the ports of Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland (Qaqortoq), Newfoundland, Saguenay, Quebec City, and Montreal.  We also experienced a spectacular cruise of the Prince Christian Sound in Greenland, up close to glaciers.  We closed with a couple of extra days in Montreal, arriving home on September 30. 

Alan remains a dedicated bicyclist.  He has logged over 5000 cycling miles for 2019 (will probably finish at around 5400).  That’s more miles on the bicycle than on the car!  Cheryl continues her impressive walking program including walks of up to 6 miles at a pretty fast pace.  And we are both dedicated gym rats.  Life is good. 

We remain active and involved in Riviera United Methodist Church.  Alan is Assistant Lay Leader, Records Administrator and all-around computer guru. Cheryl remains a linchpin of the music program.  We both volunteer in other areas when we can. 

We go to a few concerts and plays, and enjoy being together and watching tv at home. We value time with our friends.  Every day is a gift!  We wish each of you health, peace, and joy! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2018

2018

 

December 2018 

Dear friends and family, 

It’s been a good year for the Zabel’s—no one was hospitalized or had any body parts replaced!  How does that sound for old people?  We don’t feel that way, but it’s kind of reality.  Next year, we will celebrate our 30th anniversary and a big birthday for Cheryl.  (She is not saying which one, but you can probably figure it out.)  We haven’t decided what or where we will honor these two events.  Stay tuned in next year’s Christmas letter! 

This year we did a couple of bigger trips.  One to the East Coast, visiting sites of the Revolution and Civil War, many of which we had not seen before.  That was in the spring, and we just returned from a river cruise in Germany, which ended in Paris.  The three days in Paris were wonderful!  We had each been there before, but before we knew each other.  It had been on Cheryl’s bucket list for us to go together. 

Also of note, we got rid of our two cars (sold them to CarMax) and bought one new car (a Subaru Forester loaded with all their safety features).  Going to one car made sense since Cheryl drives very little nowadays.  On those rare occasions when we might need two cars, we can use Uber.  We bought the new car in February.  We installed a towing hitch and bought a very nice bike carrier so that Alan can take his bicycle various places easily.  In fact, we inaugurated the whole thing with a nice getaway to Pismo Beach (CA central coast) in the early spring. 

Alan continues to ride his bicycle with passion and joy (he’ll have over 4400 cycling miles for 2018).  In fact, he got a new bicycle, light as a feather, in August.  Even more joy and he keeps up better with his riding friends.   Cheryl loves her walks along the ocean.  We also go to the gym, lift weights, do yoga, and work on balance.  These are the luxuries in which retired people can indulge. 

The days (and, yes, weeks and years) seem to fly by.  We are both very active and involved in our church, Riviera United Methodist Church.  Alan has been the Lay Leader for 4 years, and is transitioning to be the Assistant Lay Leader.  He is the Records Administrator and all-around computer guru.  (He actually refers to himself as the “Grand Poobah.”)   Cheryl is, of course, active in the music program in many aspects, and in membership care, visiting the sick and elderly.  We both participate in other mission areas, and help with the children and youth ministries when we can. 

We try to get to concerts and plays, but also enjoy just being together and watching tv at home.  Outside of that, we enjoy time with our friends, and cherish those times.  Every day is a gift!  We wish each of you health, peace, and joy! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2017

2017

 

Cheryl and Alan had a good year in 2017, but some difficulties from October on.  We both, at separate times, were in the hospital.  Cheryl’s hospital stay was planned - she had her second total knee replacement on October 10.  Alan’s hospital stay was unplanned - he had a heart attack and was in the hospital December 8 - 12.  An angioplasty on December 11 put in two stents in arteries that had been severely blocked. 

Alan’s heart attack was indeed a shocker.  Alan was, and is, in great physical shape (4465 bicycling miles in 2017, plus gym and yoga), all the tests that would point to a problem showed him as low risk.  The deciding factor is apparently a highly negative family history.  The doctors think the heart attack actually took place Thursday evening, December 7.  But the morning of December 8, Alan actually did a 16 mile bike ride.  He had been feeling some discomfort (but not pain) for a few days which seemed to be like a cold or congestion.  He felt he wasn’t really getting better so he decided to go to urgent care at lunch time.  There, an EKG and chest Xray were completely normal.  They drew blood for a test which would be completed later that day (the doc said he might want to go to the ER right then based on tightness in the chest but it seemed unlikely there was a heart attack.  Anyway, the doctor called at 6:00 PM that evening and said to go to the ER immediately.  Going forward, Alan is on an appropriate drug regimen, is seeing a cardiologist, and has improved his diet.  He doesn’t want a repeat if he can avoid it.  The prognosis is good - full recovery (including 20 - 30 mile bike rides) in a handful of months. 

Alan was still serving as Cheryl’s caregiver in the aftermath of her knee replacement when abruptly, roles were reversed.  Fortunately, Cheryl had recovered sufficiently that she could spend hours in an uncomfortable chair in the hospital.  And our friends gave us great support and help.  We are on track to both be better than ever by spring. 

Before all of this we had a couple of enjoyable trips. 

In March, we spent a few days in central California.  Alan first did a 50 mile bicycle event in Solvang.  Should have been very doable, but they changed the course at the last minute due to a road closure.  The course ended up 54 miles instead of 51, with more gain (hills) and the last aid station missing.  And temps in the 80s with blazing sun.  Made for a very difficult day.  But then on to Avila Beach for a relaxing 2 days. 

From September 23 - October 2, we did a Tauck tour of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.  Spectacular and amazing!  Including white water rafting on the Snake River (in wet suits - temperatures in the 40s).  We saw many great highlights in Yellowstone including scenery, wild life (for example, herds of bison everywhere), and erupting geysers (some on a morning walk with temps in the 20s).  And the scenery of the Grand Tetons was amazing.  We saw the mountain range clearly before an October 1 snow storm turned everything white! 

We do look forward to 2018, hoping for no more health surprises.  We have an east coast trip scheduled for the end of April and a European river cruise for end of October.  Looking forward to those! 

Riviera United Methodist Church was indeed our sustaining church family in 2017.  We both benefited from visits in the hospital and visits and food afterwards.  We were well cared for by our community of faith and we are ever grateful.  Our best wishes to you in 2018. 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2016

December, 2016 

Dear Friends, 

  

Cheryl and Alan continued to enjoy our artificial joints (hips for Alan, knees for Cheryl) in 2016.  That meant more trips and adventures. 

In April, we did a Tauck tour of the southeast U.S. - Jekyll Island and Savannah, Georgia, followed by Charleston, South Carolina.  Yes, it was a tour, but we learned more and saw more than if we had done it on our own.   

In late May, we drove to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  Alan had signed up to do the half Century (50 mile) ride of the various bicycle events (they had 20 miles, 50 miles, and 100 miles).  He thought it would be easy based on tremendous training rides in LA.  Unfortunately, Santa Fe is at 7000 feet altitude, whereas LA is basically sea level.  So the ride was tougher than he thought.  Still, he finished with a smile.  And we had time for sight seeing over a few other days that we were there.  Lesson learned though is that we are not good at 8+ hour driving days, so we will give ourselves more time for any future driving trips. 

In late September and early October, we started with a few days in New York City (we’d never been) followed by a fall cruise from New York through New England and Canada.  We had a great time in New York, and saw lots on the cruise but we were a few days early for the best of the fall colors.  Next lesson, the ship was nice, but 10 days on a cruise ship is about the most we can tolerate.   Still a good trip. 

At the end of October, we did 5 or 6 day trip to the California Central Coast.  We started in Avila Beach (beautiful!).  Alan had signed up for another bicycle event.  Of the choices of 25, 61, or 100 miles, Alan had learned his lesson and did the 25 miler.  This time it was very easy.  There was some rain, but no big deal, and Alan could have done much more distance if he needed to.   A very nice get away.  

For those who want to look, we have placed photo samplers of our trips online in our flickr albums “2016 Santa Fe Best”, “2016 Southern tour sampler”, “2016 Fall cruise sampler”, and “2016 CA central coast sampler”.  (Flickr photos link https://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/)  

In 2016, we started to use transportation alternatives to our personal cars.  We’ve been taking public rail and bus lines to downtown cultural events (plays, concerts).  It’s very convenient, cheap (senior rates), no fighting freeway traffic, and no paying $9 or more for parking.  Also we’ve been using Uber a bit, particularly to and from the airport.  We can still drive, but are seeking to eliminate stressful driving as much as possible.  Cheryl’s eyesight precludes her from driving much and Alan, while he can do all the driving, welcomes some alternatives to give him a break.  Next time we go to Europe, we may not be driving a rental car all over - we’ll see how our trips change. 

As you see, Alan is riding a bicycle like a maniac - 4392 miles for 2016!.  Cheryl still walks a lot including 5.5 mile walks at least twice a week.  And you’ll see both of us at the gym a lot.  We are trying not to act our ages - 66 and 67. 

Riviera United Methodist Church sustains us.  Alan will continue as lay leader in 2017.  Cheryl continues with the visitation ministry and many other activities.  For the 4th year in a row, Alan was Santa Claus for the Riviera United Methodist pre-school - HO HO HO.  

Our best wishes to you in 2017. 

Love,  

Cheryl and Alan

 

 

2015

 

December, 2015 

Dear Friends, 

No orthopedic surgeries in 2015!  Yay!  Since Alan now has 2 artificial hips (2013 and 2014) and Cheryl has had 2 knees done (total replace in 2013, arthroscopy in 2014), we had the joints pretty much covered, so 2015 was wide open to enjoy the benefits of these artificial body parts. 

So, we were able to do a couple of trips in 2015. . 

Starting late April, we spent 4 days in Edinburgh, Scotland followed by 22 days in May in the Yorkshire Dales, England.  The Yorkshire Dales is one of Cheryl’s favorite places in the world and was beautiful.  Cheryl reveled in being there and Alan drove like a native on major highways that were often one lane  (you have to know what to do when meeting a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction) along with even smaller roads. 

In mid September, we spent 4 days at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, in a cabin with partial rim view.  It was beautiful and relaxing.  The canyon changed colors constantly as the light changed.  

For those who want to look, there are photos of our trips online in our flickr albums “2015 Yorkshire” and “2015 Grand Canyon”.  (Flickr photos link https://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/)  

We are in our mid 60s, both on Medicare, and are doing great.  Alan rides his bicycle like a maniac.  Cheryl walks like a maniac.  We both workout at the gym like maniacs.  Life is good and we are grateful. 

  

At Riviera United Methodist Church, Alan became Lay Leader in 2015.  That means he makes the announcements on most Sundays.  And he runs the church council (governing body) meetings.  And, once a year, gives the sermon on Laity Sunday (this occurred on October 18, 2015).  Cheryl’s calling has been the visitation ministry.  She leads a team that visits mostly older people that find it difficult to get to church, and coordinates serving communion to those on the visitation list who want it. 

Alan has now been retired for 5 years!  Unbelievable!  Cheryl is essentially retired.  She will occasionally take on a private voice student for a limited duration.   

Cheryl reached full retirement age and is now getting social security payments.  Alan is deferring his social security benefits in order to get a larger benefit when he does claim them. 

Just this month (December), Alan was back by popular demand to play Santa for the Riviera United Methodist pre-school. - 3rd year in a row.  So much fun.  The best gig a guy can get. HO HO HO. 

    

Love,  

Cheryl and Alan

2014

December, 2014   

  

Dear Friends, 

  

We didn’t know it would turn out this way, but 2014 turned out to be year 2 of the Zabel orthopedic tag team.  Remember that in 2013, Alan had a total replacement of his left hip on June 24, and then, once he was recovered, Cheryl had a total replacement of her right knee on September 3.  We thought that might be it, but as 2014 wore on, each of us had problems with the other side.  So, in 2014, Alan had a total replacement of his right hip on September 23.  When he was sufficiently recovered to be a caregiver, Cheryl had an arthroscopic surgery (two meniscus repairs and bone scraping) on her left knee on October 24.  Alan is now completely recovered.  But as of early December, Cheryl is still struggling to completely recover.  Perhaps she tried to resume her walking too soon.  Nevertheless, while the arthroscopic surgery worked well, the arthritis in the left knee is becoming more of a problem.  No total knee replacement is needed yet.  She has, however, worked with physical therapy and continues to work on managing her condition effectively.  The photos below show Alan in the hospital, the passing of the cane, and Cheryl with the cane after her surgery. 

Cheryl also had two more eye surgeries for her glaucoma in March (one for each eye, on March 3 and 31).  Sometimes these trebeculectomies have to be repeated after a few years to keep the eye pressures down (she had the surgeries also in 2004).  All was successful.  

  

Before our joints demanded encore surgeries, we did manage a couple of trips this year.   

In July, we visited Glacier National Park celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary (photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/sets/, choose album “2014 Montana - Glacier National Park”).  July 3, our final day in the park, was the first day that the “Going to the Sun” road was open to automobile traffic so we got to do that iconic drive (still with plenty of snow) to complete our wonderful experience in the park. 

  

In August, we did a road trip from Los Angeles to Oregon.  We visited Crater Lake, Eugene, Hood River, Portland, Hillsboro (and Alan’s 45th year High School reunion), and Lincoln City (on the coast and where Alan spent his early childhood) (photos at https://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/sets/, choose album “2014 Oregon Best”.).   Just across the Columbia River from Hood River Oregon, we saw Alan’s grandparent’s house in Bingen, WA (first time in over 50 years).  In Hillsboro, we saw Alan’s family home where he lived from ages 10 to 18 (now a lawyer’s office).  In Lincoln City, we saw for the first time in over 50 years, Alan’s childhood home.  It was for sale at $224,500 - Alan’s dad bought it for $7000 in 1953.  It had a view of Nelscott Beach (we walked on that beach), where Alan and his brother went as young children.   We also saw the ball field where Alan made his unassisted triple play as a 9 year old in 1960.  And the Dairy Queen (still standing) where the team went to celebrate after.  We also bought salt water taffy at the shop in Depoe Bay where Alan’s parents bought the same in the 1950s. 

The photos below show us at Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park, and at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. 

  

At the end of our Oregon trip, we started experiencing joint pains and called our surgeon.  We were able to see him at the end of August.  Since Alan’s recovery was more predictable, he got to go first with his surgery.  So Cheryl was his caregiver, then he was her caregiver, similar to last year.    

Our future travel plans are temporarily on hold until Cheryl’s situation stabilizes.  Then we will plan some more trips.  We, of course, still view the surgeries as miracles.  We are grateful to have been given another lease on life via what are really miraculous healings. 

Alan is already at full strength.  In fact, better than ever since he now has two brand new hips (making it unlikely that he will have hip surgery in 2015!).  Having moved on from running to bicycling, he is now riding better than ever and enjoying it immensely.  

All our best to you and yours this holiday season.  Merry Christmas! 

  

  

Love,  

  

  

  

  

Cheryl and Alan

2013

2013

 

December, 2013 

Dear Friends, 

2013 has been the orthopedic tag team year for Cheryl and Alan.  First, on June 24, Alan had a total hip replacement of the left hip.  Then on August 8, as Alan, feeling 95% recovered, went to his final physical therapy appointment, Cheryl was seeing his surgeon about her right knee (thinking she might get a cortisone injection).  But, she ended up having a total knee replacement of her right knee on September 3.  Alan has been at 100% ever since later in August (and in fact is riding his bicycle further and faster than ever), but knees are more complicated.  At over 3 months after surgery, Cheryl, although she has been able to do 4 mile walks, is still recovering and looking at several more months of recovery. 

We both had our surgeries by the same doctor and at the same hospital and with many of the same caregivers at the hospital.  We joke that we should have asked for the family rate or discount! 

Needless to say, the surgeries have impacted our travel plans somewhat.  We did go on an Alaskan cruise and land package in May.  It was very scenic and glad we did it, but even then, we were coming to the realization that at least Alan would be having surgery soon.  As usual, we posted the best pictures on flickr.  You can go straight to our Alaska pictures via http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/sets/72157634613583070/ (or if you don’t want to type all that from a hard copy, just go to flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/ and navigate to the set “2013 Alaska”).  Maybe next year’s letter will have pictures of us hiking again on the moors! 

The surgeries have had an impact on our day to day lives, but we are getting back to “normal.”  Alan, after over 36 years of running, cannot run any more.  He misses it, but has found a new and wonderful pastime in bicycling.  He regularly does rides of 15 - 40 miles and goes to the gym on other days.  Cheryl, still recovering, is able to do some of her walking.  As she continues to recover, her walking will become more comfortable and she hopes to be back to her 5 mile power walks. She also goes to the gym to lift weights and to use the stationary bike (which is good for her knee).  And we have been well sustained by our church family at Riviera United Methodist Church. 

We want to be clear that we view our surgeries as miracles.  Not so many years ago, before these surgeries, people with joint problems like ours would have had to live as virtual cripples.  But now, miraculously, we have new leases on life - the opportunity to live physically active lives well into the future.  We are grateful to God, who has blessed us with modern medicine, talented surgeons, and caring physical therapists. 

In closing, we experienced yet another Christmas miracle recently.  As she has done in the past, Cheryl is a “liaison” for an AFS high school exchange student.  The function of the liaison is to maintain contact with the student and host family, file reports, and work with AFS if any action is required.  Mostly the kids and their host families are very happy, and experience no problems.  However, things were not working out so well for Cheryl’s student contact, Karina from Germany, this year.  The fit with the host family was just not very good.  After Cheryl’s diligence in her reporting and contact with the student and host family, it was determined with AFS that Karina should be moved to a new host family.  Host families are not easy to find, especially on a short schedule.  And Karina did love going to Redondo High so needed, if possible, to stay with a host family in that school district.  Cheryl (and Alan) both thought of a family from our church whom we had known well for quite a number of years.  But they initially said no to hosting - they felt they were too busy, especially with a high school senior daughter (at Redondo High) who would be going on college visits, plus many other family obligations.  But then, on November 30, Karina went with Cheryl and Alan to the Advent Festival in the evening at our church.  There she met some other youth and in fact, bonded as fast friends with the daughter within 20 minutes!  The family changed their minds immediately, AFS paper work was accomplished expeditiously, and Karina joined her new host family on December 6.  Both she and the host family are happy and blessed.  That is a Christmas miracle!  Of course, they will continue to enjoy each other and learn about their different cultures until next June, when Karina will return home to Germany. 

AFS, by the way, is the same organization that Cheryl went with as an exchange student to Platjenwerbe, Germany her senior year in 1966-67.  She still loves her German sister, Sibylle, who lives with her husband, David, in England.  In fact,we have visited them a number of times, and they have visited us.  This is what AFS is about - changing the world, one person at a time. 

All our best to you and yours this holiday season.  Merry Christmas! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan 

P.S.  December 25, 2013 

Two other highlights of the Christmas Season. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013.  Alan was Santa Claus at the Riviera United Methodist pre-school.  It was so much fun!  Lots of ho-ho-ho-ing, happy kids, and happy parents.  In fact, they liked me so much that they will probably ask me again next year and I will accept in a heartbeat! 

Sunday, December 22, 2013.  We heard the Los Angeles Master Chorale perform Handel’s Messiah.  Cheryl said it was the best she had ever heard and Alan agrees.

2012

2012

 

Dear Friends, 

2012 has been an eventful year for Alan and Cheryl. 

The most significant event was the death of Cheryl’s father, Bill Roach, on March 8.  You may recall that we had moved him out here to Sunrise Assisted Living in Hermosa Beach (from Texas) as of August 24, 2011.  Bill went on hospice care in November, 2011 and passed away in March, 2012.  The funeral was held in Dallas, Texas.  Caring for her father was more than a full time job for Cheryl.  During his time on hospice, she spent most of every day with him providing emotional and physical (supplementing Sunrise and the hospice organization) caring based on a lifetime of love.  Bill is missed by both of us. 

You may also recall that Cheryl successfully completed all treatments for breast cancer as of June 28, 2011, just before the intensive caring for her father started.  She is now marking one and a half years of post treatment success. 

Later in 2012, Alan and Cheryl had several out of town trips.  If you wish, you can see some of our best photos by going to our Flickr page (see link above). 

March - Dallas, Texas for Bill’s funeral. 
April - 5 days in Yosemite National Park. 
May - 5 days in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  Alan went to graduate school, UW-Milwaukee, from 1973 - 1978.  It was strange being back there after so many years away. 
June - we were delegates, appointed by our Riviera United Methodist Church, to the Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, held in Redlands, California (4 days). 
October 2 -31 - a full month in England.  We had 1 week total in Cornwall at two different Landmark Trust properties (Landmark Trust does holiday rentals of historic old buildings), 2 weeks in a rented vacation cottage in the Cotswolds, and 4 days in a hotel in London.  It was an amazing trip.  We saw everything from prehistoric stones to charming villages to historic castles, to the hustle and bustle of modern London.  We also took some amazing photos - the very best are posted on our flickr page for all who are interested to see (the direct link to England photos is  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheryl_and_alan/sets/72157631975648845/). 
November - Thanksgiving in San Francisco with Cheryl’s family (her oldest nephew moved from Texas to San Francisco last summer). 

We are now back home for awhile - no trips planned just yet.     There will be, eventually.  The loss of Cheryl’s father is still felt. 

Alan remains retired (since January 1, 2011).  Cheryl still teaches some private students. 

We both continue to serve our church, Riviera United Methodist Church.  We both sing in the choir.  Alan serves on the staff-parish relations committee and on the communications team, he is the records administrator (managing all church records on the google cloud), and serves in many ways as a computer/internet expert and advisor.  Cheryl serves on the committee on lay leadership and on church council, occasionally substitutes as choir director or organist, and participates in several charitable ministries. 

We wish all of you a happy and rewarding 2013.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

 

2011

2011

 

Dear Friends, 

2011 has been a challenging year for Alan and Cheryl. 

Alan did retire from Northrop Grumman after 32 1/2 years as of January 1, 2011.  That was a very good thing.  Alan had a long and satisfying career.  He loved his job and made important contributions.  Still, retirement has been a welcome change. 

The challenges started in February when Cheryl was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Thanks to mammograms, it was caught early.  She had DCIS (ductal carcenoma in situ) stage 0.  She had a lumpectomny in April followed by 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments which concluded on June 28.  Thanks to being retired, Alan was with her at every appointment.  She now takes Tamoxifen daily and sees the oncologist’s nurse practitioner every six months.  While you never claim to be cured of breast cancer, this outcome is the best that could be expected.  The surgery was completely successful, she suffered fewer side affects from the radiation than most people, and has resumed normal living. 

The other challenge of the year has been coping with the end of life process for Cheryl’s father, Bill Roach.  Bill’s health had been declining for some time and finally he determined that he could not live on his own anymore.  In July, when Cheryl asked him if he wished to remain in Texas (Dallas), he said that he wanted to come to California to be near us.  So, shortly after her own breast cancer treatment, Cheryl and Alan got him moved out here.  On August 24, he moved into Sunrise Assisted Living in Hermosa Beach, about 5 minutes from our house.  The location and the facility were a blessing to us in being able to be caregivers. 

We had hoped for Bill to have some time to enjoy Sunrise, a beautiful facility, even with an ocean view outdoor patio.  But unfortunately, his health continued to decline.  His life consisted of exhausting days going to doctors offices and in hospitals.  On November 22, he decided that he wanted no more of that - he stopped the treatments and went into hospice care.  During this period, he can continue to stay in his room at Sunrise.  Estimating the time remaining is an inexact science.  Some of the hospice workers thought it might be only a few weeks.  As of this writing (Christmas day), he is alive but ready to pass on, and getting weaker.  We are taking care of him with love in this process.  Cheryl spends most of each day with him.  Alan does shorter visits and does most of the errands. 

We did manage to have a nice trip this year - to Italy for 3 1/2 weeks in March.  Even though the breast cancer was diagnosed, we were advised to go ahead with the trip - the surgery couldn’t take place before April in any case.  So we did have a good trip staying in an apartment in Rome for a week, followed by 15 days in a rented house in Tuscany.  It seemed a little long, with the breast cancer surgery hanging over us, and, even then, worried about Cheryl’s father.  But it was a great experience, as our photos will attest. 

We also managed almost a week in July driving through California up to Monterrey.  That was enjoyable.  But immediately after that was the decision for Cheryl’s father to move to California and all the hard work that followed. 

For those of you who like, you can see some photos from our trips on our website as usual (click on link at top of this letter). 

   

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

 

2010

2010

 

Dear Friends, 

Besides the usual, the Zabels have some big news to report for 2010. 

The first big news is that Alan has retired from Northrop Grumman after 32 1/2 years of service.  He is actually an official employee until January 1, 2011, but his last day of work was December 16, 2010.  This is a wonderful thing.  Retirement is a big change and full of great opportunity.  After only a few days, Alan is still getting used to the idea.  Next year’s letter will let you know how we are doing in our new life.  (By the way, we are not moving.  We live 3 blocks from the ocean in southern California – why would we go anywhere else?) 

The other big news is that Cheryl released her 3rd CD, “morning star,” this year. The album’s styles range from folk, country, blues, gospel, southern soul, rock-a-billy to classical.  The CD features Cheryl (of course), Dawn Brooks also on vocals, Dawn’s husband, Cory Johnson, on piano and organ, and highly acclaimed instrumentalist, Greg Leisz, on about 9 different string instruments. We encourage you to visit Cheryl’s website (see above) where you can stream three tracks for free.  The CD is available on Amazon.com, CD Baby, and iTunes – see Cheryl’s website for links. There is something that everyone will love on this album of hymn arrangements, spirituals, Appalachian songs, and two original songs by Dawn and Cory. 

Of course we had our usual vacation trip this year.  In March, we returned to Yorkshire, England, this time staying in the North York Moors area.  As usual, see our website for some photos if you like.  We had a wonderful time, seeing many abbeys and castles, doing some great walks, and experiencing the local culture.  We were actually almost stars of quiz night at a local pub, when as local American “ringers,” we propelled our team to an early lead based on a question about US states and capitals.  Alas, that lead couldn’t hold up as the inevitable questions about the colors of the upholstery in Parliament (and the like) managed to stump us. 

With retirement form Northrop Grumman, we won’t slow down our traveling one bit.  In 2011, we plan to spend most of March in Italy – one week in an apartment in Rome, followed by 15 days in a rented house on the Tuscany/Umbria border (it looks out over a castle which is lit up at night!). 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2009

2009

 

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! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2008

2008

 

Dear Friends, 

The Zabels have the usual to report for 2008 – great trips, work, music, fitness, and church.  (Note:  photos on the family web site HYPERLINK "alum.mit.edu/www/alanzabel" http://web.mac.com/alan.zabel for those interested). 

Our major trip this year was to Austria.  We decided on Austria since we had been there briefly on our Danube cruise in 2003 and always wanted to see more.  So we went in May.  We started with 3 days in Vienna, then 2 days in the picturesque village of Hallstatt.  Then on to our usual mode of operation – 13 days in a self catering cottage in the small village of Wörth in an out of the way Alpine valley.  Finally, 2 days in Salzburg, before returning home from Munich, Germany.  In Wörth, our landlords lived in the house next door.  We enjoyed talking to them in a combination of their limited English and our less than perfect German.  Alas, even Cheryl’s fluency has degraded somewhat since her year as an AFS exchange student in Germany 40 years ago.  As usual, we took many side trips, enjoyed many hikes, and just enjoyed being where we were. 

We also spent 1 week in New Orleans in July.  We had been top bidders at our church auction last year for a 1 week stay at the Quarter House, an elegant time share in the French Quarter.  Yes, it was hot, but that’s part of New Orleans.  We heard live music practically every night, experienced a great swamp tour and city tour (the Katrina damage is still very evident), a river cruise, unique New Orleans cuisine, and several great museums.  A great experience. 

Alan still works as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman. NG works a 9/80 schedule (9 hour days, but every other Friday off) and Alan is using an accumulated vacation bank to take the other Fridays off as well.  So every week is 4 days of pretty hard work followed by a mini vacation weekend.  Alan enjoys the work, but is looking to working a bit less as he gets older – he will probably retire from Northrop Grumman within about 2 years. 

Cheryl is still actively involved in music.  She does fewer “gigs” but has several private voice students. She is still an AFS volunteer, helping today’s AFS students visiting the U.S. and their host families – this year she is an AFS “Aunt” to a girl from India. 

We both remain active at Riviera United Methodist Church.  Cheryl is lay leader and a mainstay of the music program.  Her term as lay leader ends at the end of 2008 and she is thankful for the break and opportunity to do other things.  Alan serves on the finance and staff-parish relations committees. Cheryl continues to lead a very successful women’s Bible study that meets Monday daytimes. 

This year is unusual in that we don’t have our next year (2009) trip(s) planned yet.  The state of the economy has made it harder to get excited about trips, but we have noticed that the exchange rate of the dollar versus the pound and the euro has improved quite a bit lately (last year, Austria seemed very expensive at $1.57 per euro).  So we might go to England in the spring. Check our letter next year to find out where we went! 

We are still out there, accepting being older and slower, but working out regularly – running, walking, frequenting the gym.  Life is good! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2009! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2007

2007

Dear Friends, 

The Zabels have the usual to report for 2007 – great trips, work, music, fitness, and church. 

Our major trip this year was to New Zealand.  We went in May to the South Island, their autumn.  There was so much to see that we abandoned our usual practice of staying in one spot and traveled around, staying no more than 3 nights in any one location.  What gorgeous scenery – fall foliage, tropical looking vegetation next to sea level glaciers, fiords, spectacular lakes, wonderful hikes, and even penguins!  It was a truly marvelous trip.  And we still got to drive on the left!  You can see even more photos on our family web site (link above) and also photos from previous trips. 

Other things in our life are the same.  Alan still works as a systems engineer at Northrop Grumman.  Cheryl is still actively involved in music.  And as a former AFS (American Field Service) exchange student for one high school year (she went to Germany), Cheryl is now an AFS volunteer, helping today’s AFS students visiting the U.S. and their host families.  And we both are active at Riviera United Methodist Church.  Cheryl is lay leader and a mainstay of the music program.  She did her sacred song recital at Riviera on October 7.  Alan is on the finance committee and will also serve on the staff-parish relations committee in 2008.  Cheryl leads a very successful women’s Bible study that meets Monday daytimes and Alan keeps the Sunday morning Bible study going. 

Northrop Grumman now works a 9/80 schedule (9 hour days, but every other Friday off).  Alan likes that so much that he is starting to take a few other Fridays off as well.  And retirement is getting closer all the time.  Cheryl hopes for even more trips when that happens in a few years. 

We, of course, have more trips planned for 2008.  We will visit Austria in May.  And then we will spend a week in the French Quarter of New Orleans in July (we were top bidders at the church auction for a 1 week stay there). 

We are older and slower, but we are still out there.  Alan runs (more slowly and less far), Cheryl walks (less far), and we both continue to be regulars at the gym.  Life is good! 

Merry Christmas and a Happy 2008! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

 

2006

2006

 

Dear Friends, 

The Zabels have the usual to report for 2006 – great trips, work, music, fitness, and church. 

The trips were great.  Cheryl and her friend Marjorie went to Kenya for a 6 day safari in February (Alan was saving his vacation days for the next trips – read on!).  Cheryl and Alan spent nearly 3 weeks in the Scottish Highlands in May, about 2 weeks in a rented cottage near Ullapool in northwest Scotland (about 60 miles northwest of Inverness), and a few days on the Isle of Skye.  And if that weren’t enough, we spent one week at a cabin near Shaver Lake, California (central Sierras) the first week of October.  There are a couple of photos at the top of this letter, and, for the insatiably curious, our website has links to photo albums from each of these trips. 

When not on trips, Alan fills his time working at Northrop Grumman, 28 years now.  He still works as a software architect (when you know what that is, please tell him).  Along the way, he became a leader in “Risk Management”, runs a risk management board, and helped develop a process to comprehensively identify risks.  And he sometimes contributes to preparing for process audits by outside certifying organizations.  He will have to retire before he can write any computer code again! 

Cheryl’s new CD, “All the Things You Are”, came out in 2006.  It is a live recording of a May 5, 2005 performance (she sang and accompanied herself on piano) at the Nakano Theatre in Torrance, California.  It consists of selections from “The Great American Songbook” – e.g. Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, and others.  This CD, and her previous CD, In the Mornin, are available on both Amazon.com and CDbaby.com, or by direct request to Cheryl.  You can listen to samples on her website. 

We remain faithful in nearly daily running, walking, or going to the gym.  Regular readers of this letter are well aware of our fanaticism in that respect. 

At Riviera United Methodist Church, Alan is in charge of the Sunday morning adult Bible study, and has just started to serve on the finance committee.  Cheryl contributes greatly to the music program, as usual, and was recently elected assistant lay leader for 2007. 

We remain very grateful for our many blessings.  At Christmas, we send our very best wishes to all of our family and friends.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2005

2005

 

Dear Friends, 

Wow!  2005 is almost over. 

In our tradition of taking great vacations, we went to Wales in May.  We stayed in a cottage in the charming village of Beddgelert (pronounced Beth Gel Ert) in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.  We saw six fabulous castles in three days (we had a three day pass), had numerous fantastic and scenic hikes/hill walks, more sightseeing, and saw lots of sheep, including “leaping lambies.”  There are 3 photos at the top of this letter and you can see more photos on our web site.  The vacation kept on living as Alan turned producer afterwards, producing a DVD including menus, background music, a movie, and four slideshows.  All thanks to digital video and still cameras, and Apple’s suite of iLife software. 

We try to stay in good shape with our almost daily exercising.  Alan runs, Cheryl walks, and we both use the gym regularly.  Alan now only runs only every other day, doing gym workouts on alternate days. Cheryl stays on a similar schedule.  (A note on the aging process.  Alan’s 10K run strategy used to be “Pick up the pace in the second half of the race.”  Then it changed to “Try not to slow down”.  Now it’s “Try not to come to a dead stop”.)  Cheryl has had her share of annoying, age-related, health issues in 2005, including two cataract surgeries. 

Cheryl still performs, teaches, and, of course, knits.  She did a “Great American Songbook” concert to a sold-out venue in Torrance, California in May, singing and accompanying herself on piano.  The CD will be coming soon; check her website if you want one.  Her first CD, “In the Mornin’,” is still available from her or on Amazon. 

Alan is still a software architect at Northrop Grumman (now for 27 1/2 years).  He recently turned 55, which is a major milestone in that he is now eligible for early retirement.  The plan is to work for 5 more years.  (Alan tells Cheryl that he has to work another 5 years so that we can travel as much as she wants to when he does.)  But it is nice to have options and the job has less and less stress and more and more satisfaction as a result. 

Our church, Riviera United Methodist in Redondo Beach is, and continues to be, a very important part of our lives.  We love it and the people there and are very involved in lots of activities.  Our friends there are our extended family. 

We count ourselves as blessed by our love for each other and all the people that have touched our lives. 

Merry Christmas and God bless you! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2004

2004

 

Dear Friends, 

2004 has not had any big news or events.  Aren’t you glad?  You’re may be thinking, “Then, shut up.”  If that’s what your thoughts were, then read no further.  If you thought, “Oh, I’m so disappointed; I just love Alan and Cheryl’s letters,” then read on. Cheryl is mostly writing this year’s letter (green) instead of Alan (red).  You may get a different slant (that is, if you’re still reading). 

On the professional front, Alan is still working at Northrop Grumman (software architect) doing something very important for our country’s security.  Cheryl tries to ferret out information, but Alan is a professional secret keeper. Cheryl sings a lot, plays the piano a lot, teaches a little, and knits (not professionally—but make her an offer). She is excited about a solo show she is doing next May 6 singing songs from the Great American Songbook.  To find out more about her and her gigs, you can always check her website. To find out more about Alan, well, good luck. 

We both are still hanging in there with daily exercising.  Alan runs most days, and Cheryl has given that up for walking, which she always liked better, anyway.  It’s a good thing we got the marathon in when we did in 2001.  (You probably have saved all of our Christmas letters, so you already knew that.)  Other days we go to our gym and work out.  We are doing everything we can, short of drastically reducing calories, to head off being statistics in the national obesity crisis. Okay, that’s the humdrum.  I knew if I didn’t put that information in, Alan would add it.  Yes, I would!  A new wrinkle is that Alan has added regular stretching, balance, and flexibility exercises to his routine.  It’s not like being in one’s twenties again, but it does help a lot. 

As always, our vacation was our big news this year.  Cheryl asks Alan almost on a daily basis when he is going to retire.  But he knows that as soon as he does retire, she will accelerate their travel plans.  (At least 5 or 6 more years of working, but in the meantime, we still manage good trips every year.)  This year (2004, April) we returned to Ireland.  We loved it so much in 2002 that we went back.  This time we rented a cottage in County Wicklow for two weeks.  We had a mountain view from both the living room and the bedroom.  It was so peaceful--lots of walks and looking at sheep, specifically “leaping lambies.” See pictures at the  top of this letter (and from our website). 

In 2005 we are going to Wales, to the village of Beddgelert, in the heart of Snowdonia. 

Our church, Riviera United Methodist in Redondo Beach is, and will probably always be, until we move to the nursing home, a very important part of who we are.  We love it and the people there and are very involved in lots of activities.  In fact, the friends we have made there feel like our family. 

We love each and every one of you, too, and wish you a happy and healthy year.  We know we are blessed in so many ways, most especially in the wonderful people who are a part of the fabric of our lives. 

Merry Christmas and God bless you! 

Love, 

Cheryl and Alan

2003

2003

 

Dear Friends, 

Greetings from Alan and Cheryl! 

Alan celebrated 25 years working for Northrop Grumman (about 24 years with TRW and one more year since TRW merged with Northrop Grumman).  He is a senior software architect, enjoys his job, and does important things. 

Cheryl continues private voice teaching and performing, both with the vocal ensemble Zephyr, which she founded in 1992, and solo work.  She resigned from Zephyr after 11 years, but still sings some concerts with them.   Her solo CD from 2001 is still available on Amazon.com (search Classical Music, artist Cheryl Anne Roach, album In the Mornin’), as well as through her website.  There is more about Cheryl’s performing on cherylanneroach.com. 

We attended Alan’s 30 year college reunion at MIT in June.  Some things were the same, but many things had changed on campus.  For example, in those 30 years, a new building was built, and then torn down to make way for yet another building! (Now, that makes one feel old!). 

Our main vacation was a 2 week Danube River cruise in October.  We started in Prague (Czech Republic), then boarded the boat in Passau, Germany.  We visited Vienna (Austria), Budapest (Hungary), Bratislava (Slovak Republic),  Weissenkirchen (Austria), and finished in Munich, Germany (a bus ride from the cruise end in Passau). Some photos are posted on our web site. 

We are looking forward to a week in Santa Fe, New Mexico at Christmas.  We were top bidder for this week in a very nice condo near the  main square at last summer’s Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation annual benefit and auction. 

Riviera United Methodist Church has continued to be a blessing and a family for us.  We both sing in the choir.   Cheryl is chairman of the Worship Committee and is participating in a “Companions in Christ” fellowship/study group.   Alan will serve on the Administrative Board next year (Cheryl is already on that board as a committee chairperson). 

We both exercise nearly daily.   Alan (iron joints) still runs 30 miles per week.  Cheryl enjoys walking more than running.  Both of us work out regularly (weights, etc.) at our health club. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We wish you blessings, health and happiness in this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. 

Love,

2002

2002

 

Dear Friends, 

Greetings from Alan and Cheryl! 

During 2002, we got DSL internet access and new email addresses.   We also have a family website that includes photos and previous Christmas letters.  Cheryl also has a professional website for her performing and teaching. 

Family web site:  HYPERLINK "alum.mit.edu/www/alanzabel" alum.mit.edu/www/alanzabel 

Alan’s email:  HYPERLINK "mailto:alanzabel@alum.mit.edu" alanzabel@alum.mit.edu. 

Cheryl’s professional web site:   HYPERLINK "http://www.cherylanneroach.com" www.cherylanneroach.com 

Cheryl’s email:  HYPERLINK "mailto:Cheryl@cherylanneroach.com"cheryl@cherylanneroach.com 

Alan now works as a senior software architect for Northrop-Grumman.  No, he didn’t change jobs.  TRW merged into Northrop-Grumman effective December 11, 2002.  The name has changed, but everything else is the same. 

Cheryl continues private voice teaching and performing, both with the vocal ensemble Zephyr, which she founded in 1992, and solo work.  She released her solo CD last year, which is available on Amazon.com (search Classical Music, artist Cheryl Anne Roach, album In the Mornin’), as well as through her website.  There is more about Cheryl’s performing on cherylanneroach.com. 

We had a wonderful vacation in May/June – a 3 week trip to Ireland.  We had such a terrific time in a beautiful country!   Some sample photos are posted on our family website (see above).  We spent most of our time in western Ireland, a week in a rented cottage in County Galway, and a week in a rented cottage in County Kerry.  A highlight was a very choppy boat trip (it would have been a Disneyland E ticket) to the Skellig Islands, where some early Christian monks retreated as early as the 6th century.  We climbed 1000 year old stone steps, gaining about 800 feet to the top of the island to see the still standing stone huts where the monks lived and preserved manuscripts in the  face of harsh  conditions and Viking raiders.  Finally, we had  a few days on the  road in manor hotels, culminating with a 2 day  stay in Dublin. 

We also had the opportunity to lie in the sun in Mazatlan, Mexico during Thanksgiving week (sample photos also on our web site). 

Riviera United Methodist Church has continued to be a blessing for us.  We both sing in the choir.   Cheryl is chairman of the Worship Committee.   We are co-leaders of a Disciple IV Bible Study group (studying the Old Testament Writings, the Gospel of John, and the Book of Revelation).  Last year we led the Disciple III group (studying the Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Letters of Paul).  We have so many wonderful and supportive friends there, that it is really more like a family. 

We both run and exercise nearly daily and do pretty good for a couple of people over 50.    

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  We wish you blessings, health and happiness in this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

2001

2001

 

Dear Friends, 

It seems almost trite to say by  now, but after September 11, the hope of Christmas is even more important this year.  We hope and pray that this season will be meaningful and uplifting to all of you and your families. 

The last year was difficult for us for other reasons as well.  Alan’s father, Harvey,  died on July 20.  We got the call just as Alan returned home from work that Friday afternoon.  Harvey passed away at the hospital while Alan was on a plane to Portland, Oregon -- Alan  learned of Harvey’s death when he reached the hospital. The next day, he started helping his stepmother, Gerry, complete the funeral arrangements that Harvey had preplanned to a great degree.  Cheryl, and Alan’s brother, Bryce, arrived a couple of days  later.  Alan wrote the obituary and wrote and gave a remembrance at Harvey’s funeral, a very difficult task emotionally. 

Then on September 1, a coworker Alan’s age who had worked right next to him for the last year, died in a motorcycle accident.  Then came September 11. 

We had a nice vacation in Hawaii (1 week in April) and in the Sierra (Mammoth  and Lake Tahoe – 2 weeks in August).  Alan reveled in the chance to play with his new toy – a combined digital video camera and digital still camera. 

Cheryl’s personal CD, “In the Mornin’,” has been released (by us). With piano accompaniment, she sings a recital of sacred songs, including hymns, art songs, and spirituals.  She did the recording as scheduled the weekend that Alan was in Portland before she flew there to help (Alan insisted that she go ahead with the recording).  If anyone would like to purchase a copy, please contact us. 

Cheryl’s continues teaching at home, solo performing, and performing with her vocal group, Zephyr.  Alan continues rewarding and meaningful work at TRW.  And we both continue to be nurtured by our extended family at Riviera United Methodist Church.   Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl 

There was good news as well last year.  Cheryl and Alan did indeed complete the Los Angeles Marathon on March 4.  We ran together and the 26.2 miles took us 5 hours and 15 minutes.  It was a great experience to run through so many different neighborhoods of Los Angeles with  crowds of cheering spectators all the way.  It turns out that Alan got Cheryl through the training for this, her first marathon. 

But Cheryl got Alan through the actual race, marathon number 21 but the first since 1991.  Alan was felled by leg cramps and reduced to walking most of the last 6 miles.  Had she not held herself back to encourage her hurting husband, Cheryl would have finished  in under 5 hours.  In spite of this, our finishing place was about 8300 out of 21000 starters – not bad for a couple of over 50 year olds.  We are now retired from marathon running – the training is too demanding and the recovery too slow.  But we still run a lot and will keep doing 10Ks.

2000

2000

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name «first_name», 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

It’s been quite a year for Alan and Cheryl.  We saw the turnover to year 2000, went to Europe twice, Alan started a new project at TRW, Cheryl started a new career chapter, and oh yes, we are both training for the Los Angeles marathon to be held March 4, 2001. 

The first trip to Europe started in June.  Alan left for Spain to spend 2 1/2 weeks working at the US base in Rota for a former TRW project.  Cheryl couldn’t join him then since she had commitments at home.  But we had planned to vacation in France anyway.  So, near the end of June, Alan left Spain to fly to Bordeaux as Cheryl left Los Angeles to fly to Bordeaux via Paris.  There was some travel nightmare in this, specifically an Air France strike that necessitated Cheryl taking a train from Paris to Bordeaux, and lost luggage (both of us).  But everything did get resolved and we had a wonderful vacation.  We spent most of the time in a rented farm cottage (gîte) in the Dordogne.  The sightseeing was wonderful, the food was scrumptious, and our cottage was SO QUIET. 

The second trip to Europe was the first two weeks of September.  Alan went to Greece (island of Crete) to work on the same TRW project as he had on the Spain trip.  And this time, Cheryl was able to join him.  It’s a long way to Crete (especially with a 5 hour layover in Athens) with a lot of jet lag, but we did have a great time.  Driving in Greece was just this side of terrifying, but it kept us alert!  And Alan even had a weekend off, so he was able to do some sightseeing as well. 

Cheryl was able to go to Greece because of the new direction in her career.  She resigned from the faculty of Loyola Marymount University and so is no longer tied to the academic calendar.  She now has more time for performing, including with the group “Zephyr: Voices Unbound” which she founded in 1992.   She is still teaching privately at home, and is passionately learning to knit. 

Alan started a new project at TRW in August.  It’s very new stuff to him but he’s learning the ropes and enjoying doing new things.  Speaking of new things, this fall he took a class at UCLA on Tuesday evenings “Spacecraft Attitude, Dynamics, and Control”.  All the students are either TRW or Boeing folks, as is the instructor.  It’s been a tough class but rewarding. Being a student is a lot harder now than it was a few decades ago. 

We are training for and officially entered in the Los Angeles Marathon to be held March 4, 2001.  Cheryl had always wanted to do one and Alan, although he has completed 20 marathons, hasn’t done one since 1991.  However, after turning 50, Alan thought that doing a marathon again would be a good thing to do.  This will be different though – no trying to run fast courting breakdown and pain.  Slow and fun is our motto.  We train separately during the week, and do one long run together every Saturday.  Wish us luck. 

Our best wishes to you in 2001.    

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

1999

1999

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name «first_name», 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

At the time of last year’s letter, we were leaving for England.  We were there on vacation from approximately December 16 to January 7.  We spent two weeks in a cottage in the delightful village of Chagford, Devon (southwest England) with a few days in the Cotswolds at the beginning and a few days in Dorset at the end of the trip.  Christmas in England was delightful.  We did find that the English sing many of our Chrismas carols to completely unfamiliar (to us) tunes. 

During the summer, we got away for a 2 week trip to California’s north coast.  We stayed at a B&B with a fantastic panoramic ocean view and filled our days with exhilarating hikes through redwood forests.  It was wonderful! 

Cheryl says that there is nothing new with her.  She still teaches voice at Loyola Marymount University and her group Zephyr (she is the founder), a 12 voice conductorless ensemble is doing great.  They expect to release their second and third CDs during the year 2000.  They even sang at a special Hollywood Bowl event this year, a tribute to the Beatles, Sir George Martin conducting.  In other performing, she will be the soloist in the Brahms Alto Rhapsody and Menotti’s Bishop of Brindisi  this spring.  Cheryl had a significant birthday in September and Alan gave her a gift of 10 private training sessions at our health club.  So in addition to being fleet of foot, she may now be a future Ms. Universe (senior or masters division)! 

Alan continues on as well.  He concluded (mostly) the 2 jobs he had been doing at TRW for the past year or two and has started a completely new job at TRW.  He still doesn’t say a word about what he does, but it is completely different and a brand new technical challenge.  This was so exciting that he dug out some old math books from the garage and ordered some new technical books over the internet!  Alan also keeps up his running and weight training. 

After being gone last Christmas, we are excited about having a Christmas at home in California this year.  We continue to be blessed by our church, Riviera United Methodist in Redondo Beach.  Cheryl’s singing is much appreciated.  Alan still also sings in the choir, getting help from his live in voice teacher, Cheryl, when he needs it. 

We wish you success and happiness in this coming significant year 2000! 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

1998

1998

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name «first_name», 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

We are sending this early this year because we are leaving for England on December 15!  We will be there until January 6, 1999.  We look forward to a great Christmas! 

Alan’s frantic business travel finally let up a bit by the end of summer.  But he did make several trips to southern Maryland to help with the flight test of a plane for which TRW wrote the software.  The plane has now been deployed to Spain and the system is working well.  Alan is now doing two jobs for TRW.  He is lead engineer on a small classified job and project manager of a small project which is the follow on to the airplane project that was flight tested in Maryland and Spain.  TRW still keeps him interested after 20 years. 

One of Alan’s trips to Maryland was a bit too exciting.  At the end of May, he stumbled and fell in the lab, hitting his head on a steel Mosler safe. There was blood and a lot of stitches in the emergency room.  A later trip was just after the 4th of July.  Alan and Cheryl had spent the 4th in Washington, D.C. (fireworks on the National Mall - terrific!) and then drove to southern Maryland.  On the second day, Cheryl tripped while running on a path and broke her hand.  But she didn’t know that until she got back to California and went to the Doctor when it didn’t seem to be getting better.  She had to have surgery to get her hand repaired.  So it is good that we have no further trips scheduled to that area. 

Cheryl continues her teaching at Loyola Marymount University and continues singing with the 12 voice conductorless ensemble, Zephyr, that she founded in 1992.  Zephyr’s CD, “Choir of Angels II: Mission Music” will be featured on the History Channel on December 14 in an ongoing program entitled “In Search of History.”  Their second CD (a “Wine” theme) will be released in the spring. 

We changed churches in 1998.  We left Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church (it was just too far to go to get there) and have found a wonderful church home in Riviera United Methodist Church in Redondo Beach.  Cheryl is singing in the choir (this time as a volunteer, not a paid soloist) and get this, Alan is also singing in the choir!  Alan is grateful for both God’s help and a live-in voice teacher - he is doing very well for never having done such a thing before. 

Cheryl and Alan have both continued running and exercising in 1998.  Alan recently ran a half marathon (the marathons he used to run seem too long now days) and was happy he could run that far so easily.  Cheryl has actually won some awards in some 10Ks.  She was first overall female faculty/staff finisher (and first in her age group) at a 10K at Loyola and also was 3rd in her age group at the 10K companion race to Alan’s half marathon. 

We did have just one week of vacation in 1998 - we drove up to June Lake (near Mammoth in the eastern Sierra) and had a wonderful time in the mountains.  We didn’t plan anything else since Alan kept thinking he might go to Spain for his TRW work, but that didn’t work out.  Therefore, we decided on our soon-to-happen trip to England. 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

1997

1997

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name «first_name», 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

1997 was another busy year for both of us. 

Cheryl's vocal group, Zephyr, had a year of greatly improving prospects.  Zephyr is a 12 voice conductorless ensemble founded by Cheryl in 1992.  In 1997, Zephyr toured the Midwest in February with the group Anonymous 4.  They played to favorable reviews in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.  This fall, Zephyr put out their first CD, "A Choir of Angels II: Mission Music".  This is the first of 3 CDs they will release and features California Mission music.  It is available in retail outlets, including Border's and Tower Records.  This "Mission" CD and their accompanying concert attracted the attention of the Los Angeles Times.  The Times published an article about the group and the Mission music in their Sunday Calendar section and reviewed, very favorably, one of their concerts.  Zephyr also had a guest appearance on the KTLA channel 5 television morning  news program. 

Alan has had a busy year with TRW as usual, but this year with even more travel.  From January to April, he spent two or three days every week in Sunnyvale, CA (Silicon Valley) working on the continuation of the BRITE project.  In 1995 and 1996, Alan held the top technical job in LA on this project, developing signal processing software to run onboard a military airplane.  The 1997 work was in Sunnyvale, since the prime contractor was TRW in Sunnyvale.  At the same time, Alan was the top technical person in LA on the Guardrail project, another military airborne signal processing project.  From September on, he has spent two days a week in Sacramento (where the TRW office running the Guardrail program is).  Another highlight was a one week trip to southern Maryland in December to prepare for the first flight test of the BRITE plane.  It was a resounding success, in part due to his efforts.  It was thrilling to be part of the culmination of years of work (Alan actually got to work onboard the airplane, while it was parked on the runway).  He may get to go to Spain in May or June for the final testing of the plane.  Currently, in addition to working in Sacramento, Alan is also in charge of a 5 person effort on another project in LA.  That is technically rewarding because it involves reuse of object oriented code. 

Cheryl and Alan did lose the few pounds we wanted to lose at the end of last year - over 90 pounds between us!  We cleaned up our act.  We make time for and enjoy our workouts, eat healthy, and hopefully are preparing ourselves for a healthy middle age and beyond. 

We also spent almost 2 weeks on Maui last summer.  It was heavenly. 

Our best wishes to you in the new year. 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

1996

1996

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name , 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

The most significant event of this past year was that Cheryl's mother, Jacquetta, passed away on July 17.  She had been a cancer survivor (6 years) but the cancer came back and this time the treatments were not effective.  Cheryl was able to spend much time with her mother in Dallas, and indeed was with her mother at the end.  Cheryl was able to say goodbye to her mother in a culmination of the strong mother-daughter bond that had always been theirs.  Jacquetta's great faith in God and our Lord Jesus Christ sustained her in this life.  She was the best mother (and mother-in-law) that anyone could have.  We rejoice in her eternal life, but we miss her deeply. 

Cheryl graduated from USC with her DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts) on May 10.  She completed this demanding program in just 4 years while continuing her teaching duties at Loyola, private lesson teaching, and performing.  Her mother, Jacquetta, was able to share the pride of this accomplishment before her death. 

Alan has continued as the Assistant Project Manager for Systems Engineering - the top technical job - for the BRITE program at TRW.  Life was very hectic from Labor Day through December as we pushed to meet our delivery schedule.  We have successfully delivered an excellent product (signal processing software to run onboard an aircraft) under a very demanding schedule.  Next is a related program, Guardrail Enhanced, for which we are performing a similar task.  Also, there will be some continuing support of TRW-Sunnyvale (CA) for the flight testing of the BRITE software.  And there are some proposals out for more work in this line of business.  Alan continues in the top technical job for this line of business. 

We were able to go on a vacation this summer.  We had planned to go to Italy to celebrate Cheryl's graduation.  With Jacquetta's condition, we were prepared to abandon our trip.  Jacquetta had been excited about our plans and had wanted us to go, and so we left for Italy only ten days after her death.  We spent 3 weeks in Italy - Rome (5 days), Assissi (3 days) , Florence (7 days), Venice (5 days), and Milan (1 day).  What a marvelous trip.  In Florence, we stayed in the apartment (Casa Guidi) where Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barret Browning had lived from 1846 until her death in 1861 (Cheryl had performed a song cycle by Dominick Argento based on Elizabeth's letters to her sister from Casa Guidi).  The property is owned by the Landmark Trust of Britain and we had had our reservations for well over a year.  It was incredibly hot (Italy in August) and very tiring at times, but the history and art that were incomparable! 

We both exercise (a lot by some standards) but its harder to be as consistent about it.  Alan's boss doesn't run (his previous boss did) and meetings sometimes spill into the noon hour - not to mention long travel days.  We both remain fit, but admit to wanting to lose a few pounds.  Maybe in the new year!     

We continue on the information superhighway.  Any of the technologically hip can send us electronic mail at azabel@aol.com. 

We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas.  The best to you in 1997. 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

1995

1995

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name «first_name», 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  Another year has gone by.  A lot has happened, but it seemed to go so fast. 

Cheryl has continued working on her DMA (doctor of musical arts) in voice at USC.  She gave her third of four required recitals on October 6.  There was an audience of 120 (huge for a USC recital) and she received a standing ovation.  She completed her written qualifying exams on November 3 and November 17 and her Oral qualifying exam on December 8.  All that remains is the final recital scheduled for March 22, 1996.  She will graduate in the spring of 1996.  We are going to Italy in the summer of 1996 to celebrate! 

Alan worked on a successful proposal for a new project at TRW (Project BRITE) and now has a very responsible job on the project.  There are some parts of this project that are actually unclassified - an interesting change.  He is Assistant Project Manager for Systems Engineering Integration and Test, one of two direct reports to the project manager.  His is the top technical job on the project.  The pace has been pretty fast, but its been a great challenge and a lot of fun.  The job is about 60% technical, but he also has a staff and has to do management stuff the rest of the time.  The "customer" is another TRW division in Northern California (Sunnyvale, near San Jose) - their customer is the government.  So Alan flies to San Jose and back for the day as often as once a week.  A lot of travel, but much easier than going to the east coast! 

We spent the first two weeks of August in Canada on vacation.  We flew to Vancouver, stayed there for a few days, and drove our rental car to Lake Louise and Banff.  We flew home from Calgary.  A great vacation with some of the greatest scenery ever!  We had some nice hikes, walked on a glacier north of Lake Louise (and were snowed on in August), and saw lots of Elk wandering around Banff.  This was also the first time we took the video camera on vacation and the results were great - Rocky Mountain vistas that just can't be captured by still photos turned out much better on video. 

We have both remained active in our church, Beverly Hills Presbyterian.  Cheryl continues as the alto soloist.  In 1995, Alan served as an elder and co-chairman of the stewardship committee.   Cheryl served as co-chair of the Board of Deacons. Cheryl's deacon term expires, so she will not have that responsibility in 1996 (she'll do lots of other stuff).  Alan has two years remaining on his term as an elder. 

We both still exercise regularly.  Alan rides a bicycle to work (4 miles each way) on many days.  At least that gets in some exercise for those days that he can't get out at noon to run or go to the health club.  Now if he could just convert his boss into a runner so that meetings don't run over!  Cheryl mixes in workouts of walking, exercycle, and health club. 

We continue on the information superhighway.  Any of the technologically hip can send us electronic mail at azabel@aol.com. 

We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and wish you only the best in 1996. 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl

1994

1994

 

Dear  MERGEFIELD first_name «first_name», 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  It's hard to believe that yet another year has gone by.  As is usually the case, it's been an eventful year for the Zabels. 

Cheryl has continued working on her DMA (doctor of musical arts) in voice at USC.  In September, she gave her first of four required recitals.  She actually gave it twice - at USC on a Friday night followed by a Saturday night at Loyola Marymount University (where she is on the voice faculty).  The recital was very successful, but performances on back to back nights is just too much.  The remaining recitals will be one time only.  Cheryl now has most of her course work done and is on target to finish in the spring of 1996. 

Alan was honored to be on a team of five people that won a prestigious "Chairman's Award for Innovation" from TRW.  He got to travel to Cleveland, Ohio in June for ceremonies and celebrations where he was able to tour corporate headquarters and meet  TRW chairman of the board Joe Gorman and other top TRW executives.  And there was also a cash award, which was nice.  This chairman's award was for contributions and leadership on a fantastically successful program (for TRW and for the government) for which Alan started work on the first study back in 1984. 

We took two short vacations instead of one long one this year.  In June, we spent a week exploring Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  In August, we went to Yosemite National Park.  We were thwarted by heat and Alan's leg cramps in our attempt to climb to the top of half dome for our first day hike (It was a tough hike when Alan was successful in 1983 and in much better shape!).  We did get close but were very tired and sore.  That wiped out most of our subsequent hiking plans, but we improvised and saw a lot of things by car (for example, Tuolome Meadows and Lake Tenaya) that we wouldn't have had time for if we had just been doing hikes. 

We have both remained active in our church, Beverly Hills Presbyterian.  Cheryl continues as the alto soloist.  In 1994, Alan served as co-chair of the Board of Deacons and Cheryl continued to serve as a deacon.  For 1995, Alan was elected to the Board of Elders and Cheryl was elected to serve as co-chair of the Board of Deacons. 

We both still exercise practically everyday but middle age cannot be denied.  Top notch fitness is just pretty hard to achieve.  But we're still both fit and enjoying life.  Alan runs a lot less (3 times a week) than formerly, but rides a bicycle to work (4 miles each way) on many days, and works out at the health club.  Cheryl mixes in workouts of walking, exercycle, and health club. 

We've also started onto the information superhighway in 1994, with several upgrades to the computer.  We now have more memory, a modem, and multimedia accessories.  And we have an America Online account.  Any of the technologically hip can send us electronic mail at azabel@aol.com. 

We hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and wish you only the best in 1995. 

Love, 

Alan and Cheryl