|Yeah, I totally grabbed this stock photo off of the internets, because that's how I'm rolling this year.|
[Here's the space for our annual family photo]
(We'll get one in there shortly.... and you can take my word for it because we've never completely skipped this important tradition, even if we haven't always gotten the cards mailed out)
Not that we have ever been the family to do a lengthy year-in-review kind of holiday greeting, but I figured I might as well use this space for it this year -- I might even remember to do the same again in the future. So here goes:
As I was busy perfecting my pose for a Jean-Claude Van Damme-worthy promo shoot of myself doing the splits over South Mountain and Estrella Mountain, Catherine "Leaned In" a little too closely and twerked me out of balance. I fell in a cotton field, was trampled by cows doing the Harlem shuffle, and then couldn't find my way home because the Loop 202 was my only planned route and it's not here yet. Then I remembered that new retailers had finally started setting up shop in Laveen, so I headed over to the Big 5 Sporting Goods and C-A-L Ranch stores for some supplies to get me the rest of the way home. Hey, at least some of our efforts over the years are paying off! Speaking of which, I got hungry and decided to stop along the way for something from the infamous Amy's Baking Company, but then I realized that we hadn't yet successfully lured them to our side of town; I had to swing by the James Beard Award-winning Quiessence at the Farm at South Mountain instead (and picked up a pizza at the new Barro's along the way, as well as some groceries from Sinbad, because I wanted to bring something home to share). This was perhaps short-sighted, however, as I could have just gone dove hunting in Laveen (so that's what those gunshots were!), but I digress. Now well-fed and ready to take on the world, I was ready to go claw out some neighbors' eyeballs in the fight to get our preschool-aged son into the top performing Vista del Sur elementary school, but was reminded that south Phoenix is suddenly a happening spot for a variety of great schools, so we could live and let live. I had some other plans as well, but I was *ahem* too dense to pursue them, so that's pretty much it.
Okay, so that stuff only kind of happened as described, if at all. But it's way better than discussing the dull fact that I grew a mustache for Movember and then shaved it off, right? Also better than discussing my wasted money on a gym membership because I've mostly been doing a prisonyard kind of workout, hauling dirt, large rocks, and other heavy items around our property in hopes that I will actually complete this grueling beast of a "sustainably built" dirt/adobe wall. No seriously, my crowning achievement of the last year is probably best expressed as the tonnage of dirt that I've hauled around the yard, if I should ever get around to calculating it (a luxury reserved for after project completion). And crazy as it is, my dirt moving is probably a fitting metaphor for another tough but rewarding year in our lives.
No sooner had we received notification in early 2013 that the scholarship fund we created to honor my late grandfather at the University of Arizona was officially endowed (we finally hit the $10,000 mark about a year ago), the developments kept piling on. Catherine became one of the few Arizonans to add a Series 55 license onto her 9/10 status, which puts her a little closer to taking over the stock market; our son entered pre-K; and I was recently accepted into my alma mater's MBA program (starting in January 2014). I guess you could say we feel a compulsory need to invest in education, which is something of a family tradition that we hope to continue.
Meanwhile, work/business is going well enough. Catherine is still enjoying her work, I'm loving mine and getting restless for the next big move, and we're shifting gears with the family business. Speaking of moves, I left @Home Properties in the capable hands of its founder, my friend Danny, and helped start a new real estate brokerage with my friend John. The change came at a welcome time as the market took a bit of a break so we could all prepare for exciting developments in 2014. Also, ZonieBaskets took a much needed hiatus last year (and stayed in hibernation this year), as we got our affairs in order and I worked on the vacant lot that I acquired in 2012. At this stage, I've accomplished very little of note on the lot, but did put out a picnic table and chalkboard that you can see from 32nd Street (which is to say either "hey, I'm making progress" or "come sit down and tell me how you'd use this space" -- maybe both). I've also gotten the property transfered into the LLC and made baby steps toward planning a mixed-use community-oriented development project there. There is certainly more to come, and I'm happy to discuss with anyone who is interested. Likewise, I look forward to working on some truly unique and/or historically significant properties in the next year, whether for profit or merely for passion (in case you missed it, here's my AZ Republic interview from a couple months ago about the historic Sachs-Webster House), and you know I'll be sharing any news on that front!
So there's our 2013 year in review. From the vistas of South Mountain, we're rounding out another mishmash holiday season that started with Hanukkah with friends and family last month, concurrent with a full Thanksgiving day with family, then a couple of winter solstice parties last weekend with friends, followed by Christmas with family tonight and tomorrow, and will culminate with our 7th annual "Quiet NYE" open house party next week. If you have any suggestions for additional holidays we could throw in there, I say the more the merrier -- I'd rather do all of them somewhat well than focus on one (but for the record, Grandma's Italian cookies on Xmas Eve are non-negotiable). And to all those who celebrate, Merry Christmas! See you in 2014, if not before.