Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas & Happy 2009

Dear Friends,

The big news this year is that our daughter Lillian is going to have a baby come May. In fact, the due date is Mother’s Day! She’d been trying and hoping for this for a long time, and finally all the planets were in alignment this year and she’s expecting. We’re all happy and thrilled and looking forward to having this latest addition to the Guzillo tribe, but there are, of course, some minor complications.

Linda and I are too young to be grandparents, and Lillian can’t decide what to name the baby, and I can’t decide what I want the baby to call me. Linda suggested Bub, but I’m thinking that "Bub" would be a better name for the baby than for me. If anyone reading this has a good idea for what the baby could call me, please don’t hesitate to write.

We’ve been busy getting ready for Lillian’s baby, and we’ve also been busy being retired. We moved to Danville, VA where Lillian lives right after Linda presided over her last graduation as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at VSU. Since then, she’s been working on remodeling the house. She ripped out an unusable ironing board cupboard in the kitchen and replaced it with a beautiful spice cabinet. Then, she water-proofed the basement and painted every lick of it. That turned what had been a cellar into some very nice space. Her appetite whetted, she called in the contractors, painters, tile men, carpenters, floor men, plumbers, and assorted fellows with heavy hammers. They set to work remodeling three bathrooms, all of the floors upstairs, and the entire kitchen. When that was done, she set to work hand-building wooden cabinets to place over our 19 radiators. And now that our rehab projects are done, Linda is going to move on to helping Lillian set up the baby's room!

And me? I’ve been hiding upstairs writing and re-writing my novel about German soldiers on the Eastern Front (I’m done!) and writing my blogs (I’ve got 4 now) and dreaming about literary fame. I didn’t get the Pulitzer Prize I was nominated for, but I did get a t-shirt from Lillian illustrated with the cover of the nominated book: Third Winter of War: Buchenwald. (Both my books are still available at Amazon.)

When we haven’t been hanging out with Lillian and remodeling and re-writing, we’ve been taking vacations. This past year we went to Las Vegas twice with Mabel and Tony, and they passed on the secret of winning at blackjack to me. We also did a long 9-day cruise in July to the eastern Caribbean. What made it especially exciting is that we were pursued constantly by Hurricane Juliet. She chased us around Haiti and the Dominican Republic and up to Coco Cay in the Caribbean. Linda didn’t have enough cruising, so she talked her mom into going on a 15-day transatlantic repositioning cruise on the biggest and best ship in the world (The Voyager of the Seas—complete with skating rink)! I stayed home and graded papers for my online students.

We’ve also gone to the Great Smokey Mountains with our friends Joe and Carol Glaser and had a series of happy adventures, but please don’t ask about what happened when we got lost while driving and the roads disappeared and the paths we found ourselves on got narrower and narrower and narrower.

We’re having a great time vacationing and keeping the economy strong and are already planning next year’s trips and “arrivals”!

(the photos: Lillian and Santa, My sister Donna and me in a refugee camp in Germany 1948, Linda and her big brother Bruce in Brooklyn in the late 50s)

Thursday, December 04, 2008


The folk singer Odetta died today. I read about it in the NY Times. They said a lot of nice things about her, and about what she did for the civil rights movement in America and how she influenced a lot of singers like Janis Joplin and Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

She was all that and more, but what I knew about her was that she was a good and kind person, and that she didn't like to see people feeling awkward or out of place.

I saw her at Vassar in the late 60s. I was hitchhiking down to New York from Albany, and I stopped at the school to see a girl I used to know. The girl didn't much want to see me, so I drifted around the campus, and I saw Odetta.

She was just there sitting on the lawn playing her guitar. They had asked her down for a concert or something, and she was just playing a guitar and singing on the lawn.

Her voice was so natural. She saw me standing listening to her, and she asked me to sit down and sing with her, and I was embarrassed. I apologized and said I didn't have much of a voice.

She said that's fine, "If you can talk you can sing." Then she started humming. It was a song called "Nobody knows you when you're down and out."

She played it and then she started singing it, but it was more like talking than singing, and I knew the song so I talked it as she talked it.

It was pleasant, like a conversation. She wanted me to feel comfortable.


If you click here, you can see a you tube of Odetta singing "House of the Rising Sun."