We did our best to get our holiday letters in the mail, but can only send so many. Not to mention that our address book is becoming increasingly outdated. Here then is the electronic version of our annual holiday letter, which we pass on to you with our heartiest good wishes for whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year. In our house, we do say, "Merry Christmas!," much to the consternation of the ACLU. But we also light a menorah and muse on the general excellence of Kwanzaa. So without further ado (and an extra large image for our far-flung LJ friends). . .
Ho ho ho. Fa la la la la. Merry Merry Jolly Jolly from the Nicolini-Bertsches still hanging out here in sunny (and we do mean sunny) Tucson, Arizona. I know it’s hard to believe, but we have been here for over five years now and Tucson is indeed our home. Just to illustrate how Tucson the Nicolini-Bertsches have become – with the usual apology for referring to ourselves in the third-person -- Kim now thinks it’s cool enough to jog if the temperature is below 95 degrees. Skylar is freezing when the temperature drops below 80, and Charlie has taken to pruning the trees in the middle of 105 degree heat. Whoever would have guessed? Nevertheless, we still flee to the coast as much as possible.We had a blissful few days in the Bay Area, thanks to the hospitality of Jillian and Doug, and have made the Northern San Diego coastline our home away from home. We stake our tent next to the beach a few times each year, and maybe someday in the not too distant future Kim and Skylar will even take surfing lessons together. Between their adventures boogie boarding in the Pacific and practicing on their new skateboards, they’re laying the groundwork. Even Charlie has been skateboarding, though his mass tends to slow the wheels to a lazy end-over-end.Speaking of Skylar and lessons, she had a stellar year last year in her first year of public school. Wow! She completed kindergarten with a bang, winning both a poetry and an art contest at school. Certainly she has no shortage of art and poetry genes. She continues to produce art like crazy and soon we will need a second house to store it all. She’s now half way through first grade and excelling in every respect. She loves to read chapter books now, especially the Magic Treehouse books. We’ve become quite the reading family and still love hanging out in cafes, reading, writing, and drawing together for hours. It’s a trip to see which words she recognizes in signs and grown-up reading materials. The girl has quite the grasp of Latinate vocabulary. In fact, she read this letter without much help at all, including “recognizes” and “materials,” and “vocabulary”!
Visitors this year included the redoubtable Sami, who came twice, Jillian, and Charlie’s former student from UC Berkeley, Kevin, who was a big hit with Skylar. As always we’d love to have more visitors, so if you’re coming through, send me an e-mail: cbertsch at -- what's that called again? -- Gmail.com. The house was also full of children, as Skylar’s friend Jade and her younger sister were regular visitors as well as Travis and Kaylee, who lived across the street for the first part of the year. The cats really like little ones, which is a reminder that we need to mention the latest addition to the family: Smokey the Siamese (or Balinese, since she has longer hair) cat.Skylar adopted her from the Humane Society last February and this little fur ball is a Major Sweetie Pie. She was seven months old when Skylar adopted her. She was afraid of people and didn’t like to be petted. Now she loves people, runs to greet them at the door, loves playing with kids, and demands to be petted constantly. So now we are a Three Cat Family and, yes, we still have all our other critters too – turtles, tortoises, fish, frogs. Yikes! Skylar also has a new cousin, Jazz, whom the Nicolini-Bertsches are eager to see in person when they can hook up with Charlie’s sister Miriam and her husband Jay.
Movies continue to be Kim’s major “outside” recreation in Tucson. Here’s her Top Ten for this year, with the proviso that she may still see a few films before the year is up: 1. Mysterious Skin; 2. Last Days; 3. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance; 4. Head–On (Against the Wall); 5. Palindromes; 6. Old Boy; 7. Paradise Now; 8. Crash; 9. Secuestro Express; 10. Devil’s Rejects. Runners-up include Domino, Tony Takitani, Layer Cake, and The Constant Gardener. Kim has also been working in a concerted way on her creative writing, both poetry and prose and has been eager to find new music to listen to on her headphones while she works in cafés or at home. Okkervil River is her discovery of the year, but she has had fun listening to everything from 70s-style guitar rock to abstract electronic soundscapes.
And that’s the sort of thing Charlie listens to as well, so musical domestic bliss was achieved with greater frequency than in past years. Charlie resumed writing music features in 2005, this time for Tikkun magazine, which has become a new home for the Bad Subjects crowd. His musical Top 10 is as “indie” dominated as Kim’s film Top 10: Stephen Malkmus, Face the Truth; Sufjan Stevens, Illinois; Bloc Party, Silent Alarm; Matthew Herbert, Plat du Jour; Broken Social Scene, Broken Social Scene; The New Pornographers, Twin Cinema; Silver Jews, Tanglewood Numbers; Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah; Danger Doom, The Mouse and the Mask; and Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary. (NOTE: I stupidly forgot about the M. Ward album Transistor Radio when writing the hard-copy version of this letter, so make it a Top 11!) The latest New Order album, which continues to grow on him is a close runner-up. There will be a lot of overlap with “official” Top Ten lists this time, but you can’t help liking what you like. Unless that thing you like is Stanford, in which case you should be severely upbraided.
In closing, those of you with high-speed internet access – or a great deal of patience – and an interest in following the doings of the Nicolini-Bertsch clan in greater detail can now visit our family “blog” – yes, it has come to that -- which will be regularly updated with reports from Charlie, Kim, and maybe Skylar as well, with plenty of photos to boot: