Dan and Nazy 2021

Thrust into the cosmos by an exhausted, pandemic-wielding 2020, the New Year, 2021, was welcomed with high hopes and great expectations. And, easily surpassing the disaster of its predecessor — admittedly an exceptionally low bar — 2021 delivered. Nazy and I enjoyed a wonderfully happy and healthy year.

Pandemic panic subsided somewhat as vaccines became available. During one particularly well-timed session on the web, Dan was able to schedule vaccination appointments at Dodger Stadium. The resulting mass vaccination process was, unlike the baseball Dodger’s performance, done superbly. By early March, both Dan and Nazy were fully vaccinated. As the year progressed, the brand value of ‘fully vaccinated’ depreciated, so we were boosted. And, given the various variants, a boosted booster future is a good bet.

Our grandchildren had an equally exciting year. Tiger (7), who spent most of his first grade with Zoom-enabled remote learning, returned to live, second grade, sessions at the beginning of the year. Arrow (5), started in-person Kindergarten in the fall, Leandra (4) began Pre-Kindergarten at the same time and Azelle (3) started pre-pre Kindergarten. Auriane (2) is still too young. Experience with remote learning made it clear that children enjoy, and need, the social activities that take place in (what used to be) a normal school environment. They have all made friends and have all become more self-confident as they returned or began classes.

The family now resides in the same time zone. Nevertheless, we discovered that there are major weather differences between the northern and southern parts of the ‘same time zone’. On a visit to Washington State to see Darius and his family we saw…

“… water falling out of the sky, Dan!”: Nazy exclaimed.

“There is, I believe, a word for that,” I replied. “I’ll ask Siri or Google.”

Amazingly, a few weeks later, rain, in fact substantial rain, fell in Santa Barbara. This unusual event was caused by an ‘Atmospheric River’ which was explained by the Chief Meteorologist on the local news:

“An atmospheric river occurs because there is a lot of moisture in the ocean.”

Getting a degree in meteorology should be simple,” I thought.

At the end of the summer, Nazy and I flew Delta to Alaska taking care to arrive before Omicron. We explored Alaska on a float plane, by scenic train, tourist bus, hearty boat and even on foot. We saw giant mountains, including Denali, the Alaska pipeline, glaciers, Aurora Borealis, whales, seals, caribou, bear, otters and, surprisingly, lots of flowers. Nazy’s charm landed us an ‘impossible’ sunset viewing seat at the Crow’s Nest Restaurant in Anchorage. (A feat that I had been working on, via the web, for two months.) We met helpful and pleasant people as well as the occasionally science-challenged taxi driver. One cab driver was convinced, simultaneously, that
COVID was a myth, that COVID was a disease created by Bill Gates, that ‘big pharma’ vaccines were actually microchips and that vaccinations caused sterility. But, he added, “My wife works at the university so she got vaccinated.”

As the year draws to a close, the entire family has assembled in the same city within our favored time zone. We’re enjoying each other’s company.

Best wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous 2022 — a very special year for Nazy and me.

For the previous issue, please click here


Tiger with soap beard


Arrow for XMAS letter


Leandra Nov 26 evening hat 2021


Azelle for XMAS Letter


Auriane Oct 2021


Hawk watches Liquid Plumber vaccinate swimming naturalist

Nirvana Dec 18 2020 with lights

Why is there a local shortage of Drano and Liquid Plumber? What was different about this holiday season? Were the presents wrapped before Christmas? Were sugar cookies prepared. (Was it a double batch?} Why couldn’t all the important people come? Who commissioned a mask for their Christmas Tree? What do you do when blackout curtains don’t? Where did the family of red tail hawks relocate? Who is still swimming in outdoor pools? In December? Read More...

grand holiday conjunction with trains, angels and cookies

Tiger and Arrow with O-Train Dec 2020

Where is the grand conjunction of 2020? When will it happen? What is the summer solstice in Australia? Is a Georgia Tech graduate able to fix a defective, non-lighting, Angel Christmas Tree topper? Hint: He did shout at it. What kind of a tree topper needs an instruction manual? Is it rude to shine a red light under the gown of an Angel? Is anyone able to get a flimsy HO gauge train … with many cars … to stay on an HO gauge track? (Will yelling at them work?) How does one prepare for Christmas Cookie baking?

2020 ➡︎ 2021


Labyrinth kisses inspired moon and Venus conjunction

family indoors with the cape on the floor 2802

Would you like to learn about seasonality in language? What is the spiral of life? How is it related to The Martin Family labyrinth tradition? (Does doing it the first time make it a tradition?) What’s the difference between a labyrinth and a maze? Hint: Is it possible to get trapped in a labyrinth? Doe a cheeseburger with (importantly) lettuce and tomato count toward a daily ‘salad food group’ goal? Does pistachio ice cream count in the ‘green’ arena? What was the theme for the annual family photo? Read More...

Labor (birth) Day scrapes meatball from Spaghetti

Azelle Bday cake at home

Why is Labor Day Dan’s favorite holiday? And how did Arrow’s first Tiger-free day of pre-school go? Did he miss his brother? Should Tiger’s landscape painting have a bulldozer? And what color is the watermelon? How will Tiger (Da Vinci) Adams and Arrow (Botticelli) Adams influence 21st century art? Who was ‘willing’ to ‘help’ Azelle blow our the candles on her (first) birthday cake and open her presents? Who’s favorite song is “On Top of Spaghetti’? Read More...

West Side Ceiling Mirrors Rainy Sunset Story

Dan and Nazy selfie at West Side Story

Was there a downside to choosing a rare London Black Cab for the trip from Sydney airport to Kent Street. (Hint: Dan, not Nazy, chose the taxi.) Did the taxi driver know about the normal weekend construction on Kent Street? Did the taxi meter spin faster than an accretion disk around a supermassive black hole? How often did Dan hear “I told you so” on the journey? Where were the widely scattered showers during the outdoor production of West Side Story? How did Dan score a super luxury, premium room on the 52 floor of the Meriton Hotel? And where exactly was the mirror?

earthquake resistant hotel punts Mt. Cook on River Avon

Dan and Nazy on BIG chair in Christchurch

What should you do when you’ve flown 10,000 kilometers to see Mt. Cook — only to have your trip cancelled 62 minutes before departure? Where can you stay in ‘the Old Government Building” (OGB) in a ‘room’ with 22 foot ceilings, two stories, a kitchen, a dinning room, a bathroom installed in the ‘walk-in safe’ and with a view of the Central City Square? And, eh, isn’t it good that the OGB was retrofitted to be earthquake proof. (Or at least earthquake resistant?) Where is Akaroa and why do we care? Why was Dan confused about the turn signal stalk and the windshield wiper control? Who was the best punter? Hint: It was on the River Avon.

Uluru and Kata Tjuta tower over spotless sunny didgeridoo

Ayers Rock for TWL March 2019 dan and nazy

What “musical” instrument sounds, when played well, like an extremely thick rubber band being banged against stack of basalt rocks? When played badly, it sounds like cheap chalk, scrapped over a blackboard by a sadistic professor trapped in the 19th century. Where does it make sense to go halfway around the world to see a rock? (Actually, a monolith — or two.) Can it possibly be true that the Milky Way has more stars than Ayers Rock has blowflies? Hint: No. What do you see when you look at the sun through a properly filtered, but large telescope? Hint: Telescopic views may be more impressive at night, when the sun is down.


Sugar, Sugar Rainforest tours with crocodile and cassowary

nazy on the daintree river

Who trapped the tour-guide in a time-loop? (We know that ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ makes you feel happy inside, but wasn’t that popular when we were in Junior High?) What about Classical Gas? Or Sugar, Sugar? What decade, eh, century, eh, epoch did this guy inhabit? Why would you talk incessantly about seeing something like a giant crocodile or a huge bird that ‘looks like a dinosaur’, if there is very little chance of actually seeing one? Does it matter that the most dangerous fauna is about the size of a coffee cup? Where is there a beautiful, pristine (and ‘don’t put your toe into it) beach? Read More...

sea turtles, lorikeets and bats snorkel under hot air balloon

dan and nazy on barrier reef

Why does a ‘sunrise’ tour have to begin so far ahead of the actual sunrise? And why can’t we delay sunrise so that Nazy can sleep longer? What’s a box jellyfish? Hint: Think lethal. What’s a stinger suit? Hint: Think jellyfish repelling. How healthy is the Great Barrier Reef? How noisy is a roosting rainbow
lorikeet? How about 100,000 of them? What encloses 450,000 cubic feet of hot air even though it is not located in Washington DC? What does sunrise over Queensland look like from 1000 feet in the air? Who said “Don’t pull on my ropes?” Read More...

Artistic Dutch Opals Salt Rainforest Lizards and Birds

dan and nazy by Kurunda scenic train

Where do the Rainbow Lorikeets roost? And why can’t they do their roosting quietly? Who booked early departures for every excursion from Cairns? Were Dan and Nazy able to avoid the lizards in the tropical rain forest? What was a Dutch immigrant doing in Kuranda? Who selected the most clueless waitress ever? E.g.: “How’s the Shiraz?” I asked. “Shiraz? That one’s red, right?” She replied.


plum blossom and rainbow bullet train on ANA Kyoto tour

dan and nazy by creek in Kyoto

Is it fair for a (lovely) wife to ask a (colorblind) husband for help resetting the combination on a new set of luggage? And, in a somewhat related note, what would you do if you had a fully packed, brand new, very large piece of luggage that was permanently locked? Hint; Dan checked out rental jackhammers. What possessed LAX to switch to mood-setting, non-glare lighting in the Tom Bradley International Terminal? What possessed Dan and Nazy to travel almost 700 kilometers in a day trip? And how did the bullet train help? Why are the 1001 gates in a Kyoto Shrine all painted orange? Read More...

The Martin Family 2018

dan and nazy at mountains in Washington

The Martin Family in 2018: an endless supply of material for The Weekly Letter? Plots, settings and characters for epic poems? (Why does Dan think he’s got Odysseus genes?) Does anyone remember VHS? (And why didn’t Betamax prevail?) Who wanted NASA to paint the moon pink (or blue) as part of a spectacular gender reveal party? Where is Trickle Creek Boulevard? Would you work in a lab to get answers? (Answers about tango?)

Thimbles tumble into gurgling (high priced) watery chandeliers

Martin Family Christmas 1982 and 2018

How did Dan channel Howard Carter’s discovery of King Tut’s Tomb? (In the garage?) Did he find a golden thimble? How many thimble-fulls of water did resident gophers redirect to The Martin Family hillside? What, besides medical care, costs more in Santa Barbara than it did in Zurich? Should you expect a chandelier to be bilingual? Can Azelle gurgle more cutely than a leaky irrigation system? Read More...

fireworks and clowns, circus and congress, boxes and helicopters

Nazy with the boys July 2018

Who turned off Santa Barbara’s natural and environmentally friendly air conditioner: the Pacific Ocean breeze? What is a ‘sundowner’? (Hint: It’s not cool.) Where did the circus find the loaner clowns? Who thinks that July 4th fireworks look like airplanes? Can The Martin Family use a helicopter to assist its move toward the ocean? What algorithm is used to put Dan on so many inappropriate postal mailing lists? (Hint: Dan is not interested in going to college.) How did Arrow and Tiger welcome Nazy’s return to Santa Barbara? Read More...

sun sets on rocky labyrinth as front loaded cookies crumble

naz and arrow in kitchen Dec 20176

Who dismantles the rocky labyrinth so skillfully constructed by Mitra and Tiger (with his dump truck, excavator and front loader)? Hint: Think sibling rivalry. What clue tipped Dan off about Tiger’s help in the kitchen? Will this year’s ‘rainy’ season actually coincide with any precipitation at all? What is magical about the number 20?


trojan horse invades soggy greek creek with tasty rice

with the cherry picker

Can Dan cope with the new political reality — his
orangeness? Is it possible for ‘stuff’ to displace an amount of ‘air’ sufficient to cause breathing problems in The Martin Family household? Is there any progress on the SRP (stuff removal project)? Who bought ‘THE” Trojan Horse — and left it Dan’s study? Can anyone to have so much checked baggage that it doesn’t fi inside Melika’s SUV? (Hint: Melika’s SUV has 18 wheels.) Why is this year’s rainy season so unusual? Read More...

Elvis, Yoda, test pilot and mime share sugar cookie photo op

Short family Dec 2016

Can holiday tradition (a double batch of sugar cookies) withstand challenge (a single batch)? Can sharing be taken a step too far? Will Melika’s costume closet, eh, room, eh, warehouse provide adequate inspiration for the annual Martin Family photo? Who gets to be Elvis? Will Tiger use The Force as Yoda or will force be needed to persuade Tiger to be Yoda? Can Nazy replicate a baby pose from the 70’s? Read More...

Amazon reigns on upside down graduation Christmas Tree light

Tiger at Swimming school graduation Dec 2016

Why didn’t the graduating Tiger wear a gown to go with his cap? Hint: He was also wearing a bathing suit at the time. Is it possible to string Christmas Tree lights the wrong way? Why is the obvious corrective move ‘illegal and dangerous’? (And why is explaining that to your wife equally dangerous?) Did Dan buy a Gulfstream 500 Jet on Amazon? Speaking of Amazon, what is two-step verification? Will Dan finish the annual Christmas Letter before Christmas. Read More...

Danceless Dan’s Diary Dangles Dandy Dusky Dutch Doodles

Arrow holding head Nov 2016

Can (11 year old) Melika do the impossible? (Hint: The ‘impossible’ is to find a dancer who is ‘worse than Dad’.) What kind parent dips a pacifier in honey? (And feeds a rotund newborn sugar water?) How did Nazy discover that there is no Dutch word for ‘refund’? What would you do when discovering that the ‘milk white bread’ you bought was ‘double baked’ and looked to be chocolate milk white? What other wonders were found in the Martin Family archives? Read More...

hilly formal dining motions to moon for new year portrait

dan and Nazy formal good

How did Atlanta’s hills facilitate Dan’s courtship of Nazy? What does the Pacific Ocean have in common with the South African Karoo? And, how is formal dining involved? Why didn’t the grand(est)son’s airplane to Miami have a stopover on the moon? Would you hire a cruise-based portrait photographer who suffers from seasickness? Why did the vernal equinox/Persian new year necessitate an emergency trip to Saks?

Jose Fettuccine tour guide overeats on Mexican porcelain

title slide

Where did they film ‘Night of the Iguana’? Can you see that setting without paying for a photo with a live iguana. (Hint: Does your tour guide have a brother with a pet iguana?] Will friends from Australia believe that the “only place to find opal” is Mexico? How does the “stick to the wall’ technique work for determining whether the pasta is ready? And how fast is a modern cruise ship? Read More...

white buckskin shoes polish multiple bistros on-board the Crown Princess

at san pedro port LA

How would you feel if your Mother ‘polished’ your favorite white suede shoes with liquid shoe polish designed for ‘Baby’s first shoe’? Would the pain impact your wardrobe decades later? Would your wife understand? And on the subject of white shoes, does everyone on a ship need to wear white? Is it possible to trick a headstrong 20 month old boy into riding in a stroller? What is as heavy as the Empire State Building and as long as the Holland Tunnel? Read More...

Butterfly migration delays plumbing tasks while Vancouver haircut genes dominate

mel in vancouver

Where can a thundering herd of migrating Monarch Butterflies close the US101 Highway? Hint: We live in California. Can Dan think of a way to use that natural event to shirk off a plumbing job? How will ‘genes’ and Vancouver history be applied to a ‘hair is in my eyes’ challenge? And why did Monster the Cat hide the gardening shears? Finally, reader advice is solicited about the identity of a giant insect discovered and ejected from The Martin Family residence. Read More...

sledding Hamsters in ugly sweaters text the NSA

nazy at manhattan beach

In the area of abrasiveness does sand trump snow? More to the point: would you try to sled down a sand dune? Should hamsters attend a Yankee Swap? Why is the NSA listening to Nazy’s shampoo? And how does Apple discourage iPhone replacement. (Hint: do not send a text message to Dan’s Lumina phone.) And, finally, where can you buy the ugliest Christmas sweater on the planet? Read More...

Rain slides Candle Inferno to rescheduled holiday trip

The Martin Family 1983 copy

How can a open air vent ruin a table cloth, clog a salt shaker and fill a wine glass with wax? More to the point - who forgot to close the vent? [Nothing would have gone awry if electric lights rather than candles had been used.] Darius booked flights well in advance. Darius booked a simple, direct itinerary. Could anything go wrong? [This is, of course, a rhetorical question.] Why is it dangerous to leave a washing machine running during a dinner party? And, did California really ‘store’ the water from the only storm of the season in the ocean? Read More...