How lovely 'tis to take this time
To greet our dearest friends,
To wish them health and happiness
Before the old year ends.
Darkness comes late afternoon
And winter lies ahead,
But friendship is a glowing fire
When all seems cold and dead.
Just as in some vacant barn,
Unnoticed in the night,
The whole of human history turns,
So we, too, make things right.
We must keep alive the flame
Though darkness grip the Earth;
For in the love we find in friends
Is our chance for rebirth. -Nicholas Gordon
The year 2006 can be summed up in one word Ė busy. So
many things have happened this year it is hard to see how it could all fit
into one year. It has been a year of sadness and sorrow. It has been a year
of new beginnings. It has been a year of celebration, of travel, of hard
work and of extended family. As Christmas approaches at the end of this
year and I reflect on its highs and lows, I pray that next year is just as
fulfilling and that all of my family and friends remain safe and happy
during 2007. God Bless Each and Every One of You.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from Joe, Frances, Dominic, Timothy and Jeremy (and Matilda)
This year has
been a year of sadness and tragedy for our family as we lost 6 family
members since my last newsletter. First was my Uncle Efraine. (My motherís
sisterís husband) who, after successfully having an aggressive cancer
removed, suddenly went into a coma and never came out. He passed away last
November. Then in January, my uncle Frank, (My dadís brother) passed away
from stomach cancer. The following month, my cousin Nancyís husband Bob
passed away having never fully recovered from a second liver transplant.
In August, Francesí fatherís brother, Ken, passed away.
Tragedy and shock
struck our family in August after my sister Brandyís husband, Rocky was
murdered. It is still unbelieveable that such a horror could actually
happen to ordinary people. And finally, in November, another of my dadís
brothers, my uncle Tony passed away. Our deepest sympathies go out to the
families of all of these people and we share in your sadness, especially at
this time of year which can be the most difficult. It reminds us to value
and cherish each and every moment that we have with all of our loved ones.
In January we
rented a cottage across from the beach at the Central Coast for a week. The
weather was beautiful and we were able to start out the year relaxed and
Jeremy Year 11
The next week Jeremy began year 11 and he
quickly got involved in his school by training to be a Eucharistic Minister
for the school Masses and entertaining and astounding the spectators with
his debating prowess as they competed in the Catholic Schools Debating
Dominic and Timothy started their first Year of University. Both of them
are attending The University of New South Wales and are both doing a four
year Bachelor of Software Engineering course. Timothy also got involved in
the Computing School of Engineeringís annual CSE Review which is a comedy
production that parodies Computer nerds.
In August, after nearly two years of
planning and pushing, my classroom at school got a complete refurbishment to
industrial standards. The students will be able to learn about the
Hospitality industry and actually use the type of equipment that they will
experience when they go to work. I also completed the upgrade on my training
to be up-to-date in the latest industry standards.
industrial kitchen at Strathfield South High School
Dominic has progressed to the next
level of his driverís license getting his Green Pís which means that in a
little over a year he will be on a fully unrestricted license. Timothy
hasnít been too interested in progressing past his learnerís licence, which
he allowed to lapse and hasnít yet renewed. I imagine he will renew it
during the holidays when I will take Jeremy for his learnerís license as
Speaking of driving licenses, I am
training to get my light rigid vehicle license which will enable me to drive
a 30 seater school bus. I will be pursuing that during the holidays.
Frances had an
interesting year at work as her firm, Sothertons, merged with another
accounting firm, Moore Stephens, more than doubling its size. The merger
meant that their premises were not adequate for their needs so they moved to
another building in the city. It is a larger, more modern premises and all
seem to be settling in comfortably.
Frances also received a well
deserved promotion to Senior Manager this year.
We were delighted this year to have an American visitor. My cousin Brendaís
daughter, Toni was part of an exchange program and spent a semester at the
University of the Sunshine Coast, near Brisbane, Queensland. She came to
spend a few days with us over Easter. (If you look at the ďvacationsĒ page
of this website you can see photos of her visit. It was great to have our
third American visitor in the nearly 20 years since Iíve been living in
Timothy, Dominic, Jeremy, Frances and
Speaking of having lived in Australia for nearly 20 years, on July 27th this
year I became an Australian citizen. Whilst I still retain my US
citizenship, I find myself committed to the values of my adopted country and
feel that this country has provided my family and myself with a wonderful
lifestyle and many, many opportunities.
Australian Citizenship July 27, 2006
On September 27, Frances and I
celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. It is remarkable how it seems that
no time has passed at all during those 20 years when in reality it was, and
continues to be, the most amazing time of my life. Our marriage is a strong
partnership that is based on acceptance of each otherís independence and
diversity while, simultaneously sharing a strong commitment and agreement to
those things that are most important in our lives, our family, our friends,
our values and most of all our love for each other
To celebrate this
anniversary, Frances and I decided to indulge ourselves and take a holiday
without the children. The holiday centred around my cousinís daughterís
wedding but we included a 7 night Caribbean cruise and three days in Las
October 20th we boarded a Qantas jumbo and began 24 hours of travelling to
Fort Lauderdale. We had two layovers on the way, at San Francisco and Las
Vegas, where we could see the casinos on the strip from the airport. We
were able to pick out the casino where we would be staying on our return
journey. We arrived at our Fort Lauderdale hotel about 12:30 am on Oct.
21st and woke up around 9 the next morning. After a quick brunch with my
mother and aunt, we boarded the Caribbean Princess and located our cabin.
We had a lovely cabin on the top level that had a private balcony where we
could sip our cocktails and watch sunset on the Caribbean Sea. Our cruise
stopped at 4 ports, Princess Cays, Bahamas; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; Grand
Cayman, Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico. We enjoyed sightseeing, lazing
on the beaches, climbing waterfalls, visiting turtle sanctuaries and being
serenaded by wandering Mexican musicians while eating our lunch al fresco
and, of course, too much shopping. The ship itself was grand and glorious
as we ate and drank too much, watched movies under the stars, joined in the
shipboard activities, danced until the wee hours of the morning and watched
the wonderful shows. It was reminiscent of the Caribbean cruise that we
took 20 years earlier on our honeymoon.
We arrived in Florida very refreshed and
relaxed (and in my case, very sunburnt). We had a week before the wedding
and we were able to catch up with family and friends. My mother was in
Florida for the wedding, so naturally we spent quite a bit of time with her
as well as several aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course, my grandmother.
My grandmother is a remarkable woman and I always enjoy and treasure every
minute that we can spend together. We caught up with some friends as well
and managed to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing in Little Havana and Miami
Beach between relaxing on the beach, shopping and, once again, eating and
drinking way too much.
Grandma at 92
Uncle Christy, Frances,
Me, Aunt Peggy
Me, Pauline, Dixie,
Frances and Mom in
Frances on Miami Beach
with her sister Diane and brother Dan
The end of the week heralded the wedding
festivities commencing with the rehearsal dinner at an Italian Restaurant
that was hired out for our intimate gathering of about 80 guests. We heard
speeches of praise for the bride and groom and their families and caught up
with those we hadnít seen in years.
Saturday morning was really windy
and there was some rain, but the weather couldnít dampen the spirit of the
day. It was a beautiful wedding Mass in a lovely church in Deerfield
Beach. The bride was beautiful and the groom was debonair as they exchanged
A windy wedding
Dutch and Courtney
Me and my cousin Diane
Ron and Courtney
Mike, Frances and me
That evening we were treated to a
magnificent wedding reception at the Boca Raton Resort and Club, an historic
hotel, on the waterway. It was a lavish, five star affair, elegantly set in
the Chapel room for 180 guests. A nine-piece band entertained us as we
danced until late.
The next morning we attended Brunch at my
cousinsí home. White gloved waiters serving Mimosas and Bloody Marys and
Gueridon chefs preparing omelettes in their beautiful garden which has been
featured in Boca Raton Home and Garden Magazine put the finishing touches on
what could be described as a Regal weekend.
Brunch in Diane's Garden
More of the Garden
Then it was off to Las Vegas for three
days and three nights. We stayed at the Luxor Hotel, an Egyptian themed
hotel/casino, complete with pyramid and sphinx, at the end of the ďStripĒ.
Most of our time was spent walking through the many fantastically themed
hotels up and down the strip. We saw the old classics such as the Flamingo,
Casino Royale, Caesarís Palace and the Stardust (which incidentally closed down
only a few days before we arrived) as well as the newest and most
spectacular ones such as the Venetian, Monte Carlo, Paris, Wynnís, the Bellagio and New York, New York. We saw two shows, the Folies Bergere
at the Tropicana, and the Cirque du Soleil performance of the Beatleís LOVE at
the Mirage. The shows were magnificent and I would highly recommend the
Beatleís LOVE if you ever get the chance to see it.
New York, New York and Excalibur
By the way,
I managed to lose quite a bit of
weight early this year and, remarkably, managed to keep it off,
despite all of the good food that was on offer while I was in the US.
After discussing the possibility for
many years, Frances and I decided to get ducted air-conditioning/heating
in our house this year. We managed to test out the effectiveness of
both extremes and are looking forward to a more comfortable summer this
Dominic and Timothy have turned 19
this year and have successfully completed their first year of Uni.
Jeremy turned 16 this year. He has
also successfully completed his year 11 coursework and has begun the
arduous task of studying for his Higher School Certificate which he will
sit after his graduation next September.
Timothy is still working at
Woolworths Ė he is now the office cashier and tallies the monies at the
end of the shift.
Dominic recently began a new job at
Liquorland and is working hard preparing for the busy season.
Our poor old dog, Matilda, who just
turned 12 the other day and wasnít expected to live much past last
Christmas after her tumours, is still with us. Generally her health is
good and she is as enthusiastic as ever, but unfortunately her eyesight
has gone. She is almost completely blind and bumps into things as she
tries to get around.
OUR CHRISTMAS WISH FOR YOU THIS YEAR, IS THAT YOU BE BLESSED IN ALL AREAS
OF YOUR LIFE. THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO SPEND THIS CHRISTMAS WITH THE ONES YOU
LOVE, IF NOT IN PERSON THEN IN SPIRIT. WE WISH YOU PEACE AND GOOD
DAVID RETIRED IN
APRIL, HE SPENT MOST OF THE SUMMER FISHING AND GOLFING. IN JULY, WE WENT
TO OHIO FOR THE GURTO FAMILY REUNION. IT WAS GOOD TO SEE AND VISIT WITH
FAMILY MEMBERS. IT REMINDS ME HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO MAKE AS MANY
REUNIONS AS POSSIBLE. WITHIN THE LAST FIVE YEARS WE HAVE LOST SIX FAMILY
IN JULY, WE ALSO
WENT ON VACATION TO BRYCE CANYON, ZION NATIONAL PARK AND LAS VEGAS. WE
REALLY ENJOYED THE TRIP. NATURALLY WE TOOK A LOT OF PHOTOS.
IN OCTOBER, DAVID
DID THE WALK IN MEMORY OF CHILDREN(OF ALL AGES) WHO HAVE PASSED AWAY. HE
HAS BEEN DOING THIS SINCE PAM PASSED AWAY.
NOV. WAS BUSY FOR
US. WE WENT TO HOLY HILL AND LIT CANDLES FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS THAT HAVE
PASSED AWAY. RIGHT AFTER THAT WE WENT TO OHIO FOR UNCLE TONY'S FUNERAL.
GREG, AMANDA, CHRIS, MARSHA, AND FOUR DOGS WHERE HERE FOR THANKSGIVING.
GREG COOKED THE TURKEY, AMANDA MADE CRANBERRIES AND GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE.
CHRIS AND MARSHA BROUGHT THE PIES. WE HAD WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. EVERYONE
HAD A GOOD TIME EATING AND VISITING.
DEC. 10TH IS THE
COMPASSIONATE FRIEND'S LIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD. IT IS FROM 7PM UNTIL
8PM. YOU LIGHT A CANDLE AT 7PM IN YOUR TIME ZONE AND PUT IT OUT AT 8PM.
AS YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR CANDLE OUT THE NEXT TIME ZONE IS LIGHTING THEIRS.
I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU TO LIGHT A CANDLE FOR PAM. IT HAS BEEN FIVE YEARS
SINCE SHE PASSED AWAY. THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS FOR PAM AND US. DAVID
AND I ALWAYS GO TO THE SERVICE. WE ALSO LIGHT CANDLES ON CHRISTMAS DAY
AND THEN ON DEC. 29TH IN MEMORY OF PAM.
GREG AND AMANDA ARE
DOING WELL. THEY WILL BE GOING TO ATLANTA FOR CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR. WE
WILL CELEBRATE WITH THEM BEFORE THEY GO. DAVID AND I WILL SPEND A QUITE
CHRISTMAS AT HOME.
Another Holiday season and has
been such a fast, eventful year for all of us. I'm very thankful that I
have had no problems after my accident last fall and no problems with hip or
wrist - just can't do all I want to do.
We had a nice Thanksgiving and
will be here for Christmas as Jim is not up to par and can't do much traveling.
he has had many up's and downs so he has had to accept he can do. We were
not able to get to Conneaut for Tony's funeral. Have talked to Lucile and
will be a sad holiday for them too - know Nancy and the boys don't want to be
here for Christmas as it was always a big time for Bob - so they will be going
to be with Jan, Dave and Amanda in their new home in Dening Wa. Dave works
in Bancouver, Canada. Amanda is a Sr. at Oklahoma University. Patti
and girls will be with us. Kelly is a Sr. and Jenna 10th grade. Both
were on Varsity Cheerleader Team - so enjoyed going and seeing them at the
Happy to hear you wee here
this fall - talked to your mother and was nice she got to see you while in Fla.
hope this finds all well and wish you a wonderful Holiday Season and Happy
Healthy, New Year!
BAnn and Jim
PS Sending this picture of
"the Gurtos" - so glad they came down to see us when Chris was here.