Posts tagged ‘Daniel’
I know. You’re sick of Christmas and would like it (and all the leftover pine needles and credit card bills) to take a flying leap into the way distant future.
But I’ve got pictures and this blog show must go on. In not one, but three parts. Some of you might prefer waterboarding, but I have a soft spot for the holidays, so here goes…
We have hosted a lot of Christmases.
I can remember a year that we trekked down to Borrego Springs and pilfered a free tree on Christmas Eve, and one that we spent in San Francisco when a very young Daniel fleeced us all at poker, but other than that, I think Santa has found us right here, wrestling with the biggest turkey we can find every year since we first hosted the holiday in 1979.
That’s a lot of Christmases and a lot of turkeys. This year’s bird weighed in at thirty pounds!
This was a holiday filled with gratitude for me. Gratitude that Thanksgiving was on the early side this year and gave us an extra week to prepare. (Could someone please make a Constitutional Amendment along these lines?) Grateful that our faith allows us to celebrate Christmas in a deeper way than candy canes and red poinsiettas. And I was especially grateful this year, now that both boys are out of school and on their own – to have Taylor and Daniel home for Christmas. They hadn’t been here for a whole year!
This year’s only glitch was that poor Taylor fell sick about twelve hours after his arrival and the scourge did not lift until the morning we took him to the airport. He looked so bad that Aunt Gail wouldn’t let him near his usual domain of mashing the potatoes for Christmas dinner.
This meant more work for Daniel and Chris. And Gail’s reward for banishing Taylor from the kitchen was that she got three-layer-jello unmolding duty. She did it perfectly – guess who now has a lifetime kitchen assignment!
We had what has become a traditional Christmas Eve dinner at Ca Dario after going to church. Their rib-eye steak with canellini beans is killer.
Taylor was just barely well enough to sit up on Christmas morning:
I was patting myself on the back for coming up with those Furbys until Daniel took this year’s prize for creativity. Not only did he bestow the turkey hat upon the CE, he also came up with this gem:
Alexandra and Andy stopped by on Christmas Day and we took a break from shredding and cooking for a lovely winter walk with the dogs.
Phyllis and Gail hosted a lovely post-Christmas dinner. We enjoyed wonderful food and a blistering game of hearts in memory of Uncle Delbert.
As Christmases go, it was one for the books, or at least the blog. I hope yours was as merry and bright as ours!
More to come…
Doesn’t seem possible that twenty-two years have passed since the Bookie made his first appearance with a red-faced squall. It was at 6:08 pm: “I’m here, I’m hungry, and the rest of you need to hop to!” Has anything changed?
On a recent trip to NYC, Daniel’s friends were discussing their first words. Here are his:
At ten months he graced us with “one” and ”hat”. I kept a baby journal for him and at the ten-month mark I wrote:
“You love: your yellow blanket, your left thumb, Mom, Dad, Taylor, Avis the cat, stairs, balls, cupboard doors, and Mickey Mouse”. Apparently in that order!
Then he put language on the back burner for a few months while he conquered the business of walking, taking his first steps at eleven and a half months. (Who needs to rush the walking when you get carried everywhere like a little prince?)
When he was fourteen months old, he said “uh-oh” and “ball” , “boat”, “bye bye” (ba ba), and “mama”, and then at sixteen months, “da-da”, “moon”, “mine” (shrieking loudly when he said it) , and “bug”.
By eighteen months he had added several more words, most notably “Go!”, after which he would run as fast as his diaper would allow and his famous “Alllllll nonnnnn!” for “all done” He would lean close and whisper “tahhhh” for star -I guess that even at that young age he was considering the complexity of the cosmos.
Just like his big brother, he recognized his first letter, “o” at eighteen months. He said “bop” for ball, and his first phrase was “Bee ow!” He was a smart kid! At twenty-two months he said “waffle”. You can see where the priorities were…
It’s so fun to look back on all the years and the joy that Daniel has brought to our lives. Happy Birthday to our Sweet Bookie! We love you!
Columbia’s university-wide Commencement ceremony brought together the 5,667 undergraduates of Columbia College, SEAS and Barnard College as well as those receiving advanced degrees. It was a sea of blue!
The weather initially threatened a sea of rain like the day before, but instead opted for a menu of muggy which was only intensified in the crush of 30,000 attendees all jostling for space. Welcome to New York!
Angie and Chris joined us and Taylor came up from WDC for the briefest of visits. Thanks for braving the crowds and the humidity, guys!
After an impressive array of awards and honorary degrees were presented, the business agenda of the Commencement ceremony called for the Deans of the respective departments to “beg” the college president to confer diplomas upon the graduation candidates. This was done with much humor and bravado, thankfully, because it takes a very long time to hear eighteen different supplicants plead the cause of their students.
In his keynote address, University President Lee C. Bollinger gave the graduates one particularly stirring bit of advice, which was to say “If you ever feel disconnected from a higher purpose, you must have the courage to change your life”.
Looking back over Daniel’s childhood, there are so many people who have strived to keep him connected to a higher purpose, and I am grateful to all of them. He has always been uplifted by his family – his grandmother, who keeps him well-supplied with sweet rolls; his brother who has served, often without knowing it, as a role model; his sisters, who have doted upon him from near and afar; aunts and uncle whose encouragement is present even when they can’t be.
Then there are the friends who have been Daniel’s extended family – Dave, Pamela, Kirk and almost-sisters, Alexandra and Victoria. There are the angels who helped us with the day-to-day and cheered Daniel along from elementary school through high school: Jessica, Holly, Carly, Liz, Julia and Teri. And the mentors along the way: Mrs. Morgan and the teachers at El Montecito Early School; swim coach Ira Klein; and Laguna Blanca teachers like Dr. Schmidt and Magistra, who shaped Daniel’s love of literature and the Classics. And Daniel’s legions of friends, who are too numerous to list, but long-time pals Hannah, Christian, Michele, Valerie, Giulie and Cory come to mind as do Columbia friends Chris, Jeff, Peter, Mary, Christina, Fan, Tiffany…the list goes on and on.
Of course, Daniel’s list might be different from mine, and the danger of listing anyone is to forget someone, but I know all these people - and more – have cared for Daniel through the years and helped make him the focused, grounded, impressive young man that he is today.
My wish for him as he leaves the classroom and enters the “real” world is to arm himself with the knowledge he has gained at CU; the encouragement of his teachers and mentors; the well-wishes of his family and friends; the unconditional love of his parents and the wisdom of Matthew 22:36-40. Look out world, here he comes!
“…If I can make it there,
You know I’m gonna make it just about anywhere
Come on, come through
New York, New York…”
Milestone. Transition. Endings. Beginnings.
And lots of tears! I think they were all mine.
I foolishly told someone a few weeks ago that I didn’t think graduations were such a big deal. I was temporarily insane.
Because when your baby graduates from college, it’s a Big Deal. For him and for us.
Daniel arrived on the scene almost twenty-two years ago and has delighted and astounded us from the beginning. Big brown eyes, blonde curls and those trademark eyelashes that he and his brother share. Our Sweet Bookie was the family caboose; the candle on the cake. You never quite expect the baby of the family to grow up, I guess, but as of this week he is a graduate of Columbia University and heading out into the world.
Well, for the moment, at least, heading from Broadway and 114th to Columbus Circle, where he will hold court for a few weeks before a trip to Europe with friends Christian and Peter. In August, he will start working for an ad agency in the city where he interned during his senior year.
The tears started as soon as I saw him in his cap and gown at Class Day on Tuesday morning. I’m not normally a big crier, but as he strode toward us, two decades of memories rushed forth and the waterworks came on in a big way. I remembered Daniel as a baby, so yummy you just wanted to eat him up. Daniel as a toddler, alternately clinging to my skirt and chasing after his big brother. Daniel, the student, always willing himself to do his best yet always modest about his accomplishments. Daniel the soccer player, gymnast, swimmer; surrounded at every turn by friends and more friends. Daniel the pianist, practicing for hours, weeks and months to perfect a Beethoven concerto. And now, Daniel the graduate, who quietly shared that oh, by the way, he earned straight A’s last semester and an A on his senior thesis.
Can this be the same little guy who said psoon for spoon and psider for spider? The same one who regaled family and friends with jokes like this one: Q: “Why did the cat climb the tree?” A: “Because he felt climb-y”. (You notice he hasn’t chosen a career in stand-up comedy…)
Between my tears and the pouring rain, Tuesday’s Class Day was a soggy one. Luckily, we were mostly under tents: the graduates in one in front of the stage and the families relegated to the side tents where they watched the ceremony on screens. You’re there but you aren’t there, yet I did manage to get this digital record of Daniel getting his graduation handshake:
All 1,024 graduates’ names were called, all the speakers had their say, and everyone was completely soaked by the time we had wandered in the rain to find our students. No one cared. These kids all worked incredibly hard to earn a place at Columbia and then they worked incredibly hard for the next four years for the privilege of wearing the blue caps and gowns with the crown insignia recalling Columbia’s origins as Kings College, founded in 1754.
We’re so proud of Daniel!
At Columbia U., one day of tears is not enough Next up: Commencement Day…
Two weeks in New York are like six months anyplace else. Things move fast here! Especially the temperature – one day it’s squalling wind and in the low 20′s and the next day it’s a balmy 60 degrees. Leave it to NYC to have its own form of March Madness.
As always, this visit has been a magical melding of family, friends, feasts and fun. We’re probably bruised from pinching ourselves so often – can we really be so lucky as to live here part time?
We leap-yeared right in this trip with tix to see Venus in Fur, with its breakthrough role that set dynamo actress Nina Arianda on a collision course with Broadway. The synopsis I read promised “an intellectual adventure and an often funny encounter between an actress and a playwright”.
The synopsis conveniently forgot to mention that the leggy star spends most of her time on stage wearing a garter belt and thigh high boots or that a passive-aggressive Hugh Dancy finds himself in emotional and physical bondage to this alpha Aphrodite.
It may not have been what we expected, but it was most definitely memorable, and playwright David Ives navigates the terrain of relational power shifts at a dizzying speed.
A few evenings later, we toned things down a bit and saw Death of a Salesman with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Andrew Garfield.
Still in previews, this production is not quite yet on steady ground. Both actors seem perfect on paper for their roles yet, to me, seem strangely miscast on the stage. But guess who shines? Arthur Miller! The play may leave you in despair; there’s misery a-plenty for anyone who has been a parent or a child, so that covers pretty much everyone, but “attention must be paid” as this is a timeless work.
I hope the two current stars will find their footing and that the powers-that-be will tighten up Act II. Our review: it was “liked, but not well-liked”.
We were especially excited to see our favorite “off-Broadway” stars, namely friends and family. Angie and Bobby had us over for a scrumptious lunch of chicken and dumplings. It was a perfect meal to help us acclimate to wintry weather.
And we’ve hit the jackpot with multiple Daniel sightings:
We enjoyed a lunch with bibliophiles Sunday and Josh, and got to meet their adorable little Shih-Tzu, Marlowe. And I was thrilled to have dinner with friend and recent NYC transplant Teri – we were so busy catching up that I forgot to get a photo, but I can tell you that the city agrees with her. She looked absolutely stunning and she’s enjoying her new life and job here in the city.
The CE rode the Acela down to WDC to visit Taylor for a weekend to complete our East Coast family circle:
And that was just the first week! More to come…
It’s beginning to look a lot like…chaos. Other people (who are they, anyway?) have orderly little Christmas holidays – they string popcorn garlands and go caroling and order those high-ticket fantasy gifts from the extravaganza known as the Neiman Marcus Christmas book. (Because you see, only people with last names like Neiman and Marcus use the word ”Christmas” anymore - go figure!)
Oh, and speaking of fantasies, permit me to brag just a bit here. Son Daniel just scored a coup (not a coop, unfortunately, he doesn’t really resonate with my chickens) by organizing a holiday employee event for the agency where he interns that was so spectacular it attracted the attention of the Wall Street Journal.
Employees were sent on a fantastical ”Amazing Race” mission throughout New York City to fulfill a long and creative list of directives. “Hug something fuzzy” was one (Daniel’s idea, of course!). According to the WSJ, “The Chandelier Challenge was the brainchild of agency director Richard Christiansen, his twin brother and managing director Geoffrey, and their intern, Columbia University classics major Daniel Gutsche, who figured out the logistics.” Yes, that would be the brilliant and accomplished Daniel who is graduating in May and who is eminently hire-able. Spread the word!
Instead of basking in all his well-deserved glory, however, Daniel is currently marooned here at home trying to get some sleep with nephews Thomas and James in the room next to his. Taylor is here, too. And the CE’s sister, Gail, with her bf, Paul, who are staying (wisely) at PG’s. Tina, John, Evie and Viv will arrive (cleverly) just in time for Christmas dinner. Let’s see, that makes for a couple of pairs and at least four of a kind. If we were at the poker table, I’d be feeling flush but as the hostess I think I’m just hyperventilating. I’m hoping Santa will show up, but I know for certain that our family would never have made the cut for Norman Rockwell.
A few family snaps:
It’s getting crazier by the minute here and the only thing of which I am completely certain is that the 29-lb turkey in our fridge is not going to cook himself. So much to do and I’m so far behind. But having everyone here is most definitely a winning hand, so I’m going all in – see you on the other side of Christmas!
We’re here in NYC with a front-row seat to the parade. The CE was up bright and early to collect Thomas and James for their annual parade date.
We know we’re in good company because Mark Wahlberg is in our lobby this morning watching the parade with his family. But even he is not as famous as this guy:
Hope you’re having a great day!
We gathered Wednesday night for two big good-byes: Victoria leaves tonight to start a Masters program at USC. And Daniel and his long-time friend, Hannah (they met when they were 3!) left Thursday morning on a two-week trip across the US to Boston. They made it to Arizona by Thursday evening, and to Alamosa, Colorado Friday night. I didn’t hear from them last night so they may have been without phone service (or, as I lay awake for hours worrying last night, either lying near-death in a culvert or being held hostage by marauding drug lords, take your pick…)
They’ve started a hilariously well-written (no, I’m not biased because I’m his mother) trip blog at
We feted them all with (what else?) a spaghetti dinner al fresco Wednesday evening. Which means that French chef Ashleigh made an Italian dinner for our German/Irish/Scandinavian family and hers (French/Irish as far as I know) with guests Hannah and her brother John (French/English?) Alexandra (Scandinavian/French) stopped by to bid the travelers farewell. Gotta love what passes for the melting pot around here.
Safe travels to all of you! We love you and will miss you! xoxoxo
The CE and I decided that despite all the pressing responsibilities here at Chicken Central (that’s a joke; we have no life) we really didn’t want to miss Daniel’s 21st birthday party. So we hopped a plane on short notice (thank you, Ashleigh and Paul and Victoria, for covering for us!) and headed to NYC for a long weekend.
We laid low in Soho since the plan was to surprise the Birthday Boy at his party. Walked up to The Spotted Pig on Friday to meet our contact there, Nina, and make sure everything was ready for the party.
There was apparently quite a bit of discussion about WTW to Daniel’s celebration, with words like “fierce” and “sartorially” being thrown around in otherwise normal sentences. The CE and I fretted a bit about how to dress but quickly realized – hey, we’re old, no one cares how we look! There ARE benefits to aging besides the senior discount, as it turns out!
Daniel managed to be genuinely surprised to see us without sacrificing an iota of his debonnaire demeanor, which is saying quite a bit considering that he was simultaneously hoisting what I’m told is a “pimp cup”(these were not big back in the 70′s…) It was great to have our family all together and get to see Daniel’s friends, too.
The food was great, the room was great, the evening was great, and I hear that it continued to be great long after the oldsters had doddered on home. I know it meant a lot to Daniel to have his friends and family all there to help him celebrate. Thanks for joining us!
I was trying to not be overly intrusive with the camera so I didn’t get as many photos as I would have liked – if any of you partygoers out there have some you can forward to me, I’ll update this post. Thanks!
It just doesn’t seem all that long ago that Daniel looked like this:
But somehow, the years have flown by.
Happy 21st, Sweet Boookie! Have a great celebration! And, as always, I love you bigger than the sky!