December 1999

Our last Christmas letter ended with plans to celebrate Christmas ’98 with friends and family in California.  We did go on to do so, and had a wonderful celebration with the Kozaks and our children, topped by a special midnight mass held by the bishop.  The Christmas season was then rounded off with a living nativity, “The Glory of Christmas”, performed at the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles.  Also in LA, high on a hill, we saw a temple of a different nature comparable to the Acropolis in Athens – The Getty Museum.  Since we are more interested in architecture than museums this museum held much appeal for us.

During a second California visit in June we saw another architectural marvel:  the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art built by Mario Botta.  That was followed by a trek north and back to nature in northern California .  For thousands of years this has been the home of the magnificent coastal redwood trees, and for the past year the new home of our son Peter, who is now studying there at Humboldt University.  Along this beautiful coast we spent a couple of days with the entire family, wandering through ancient forests, and enjoying the trees some of which are several thousand years old.

Back in New York we had scientists and students from all over the world staying with us.  Then a scientific meeting in Würzburg Germany took us to Europe.  The first weekend we spent in Venice , where we enjoyed the Art Biennale and saw the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, a connection to home, since the Guggenheims had their home in Port Washington not to far from our office.  The second weekend of our trip, we spent in Berlin, Gerhard’s college town.  That week the German government celebrated its move from Bonn to Berlin, making for quite a festive atmosphere.  There we visited the Reichstag with its impressive contemporary copula built by the architect Norman Foster, and close by the many new buildings designed by renowned architects from around the world.

In May of this year, on the same Wednesday, two of our favorite illustrators died:  Saul Steinberg, and Shel Silverstein.  Many years ago, on a plane trip to Cayman Island, Tanya was lucky enough to sit next to Shel Silverstein.  He was a gifted and prolific artist, and he shared his talent with Tanya on the plane that day with a personal poem and drawing created just for her.  Children and adults alike enjoyed his illustrations and poems, much as they did the graphics of Saul Steinberg.  Another poet in the limelight this year was Goethe, this year being the 250 th anniversary of his death.

Brigitte’s poetic sensibility has found new expression through her work combining fresh flowers and cuttings from our garden with computer technology.  She scans her creative arrangements into the computer and then prints them onto cards, creating lovely pictures that could never be done through photography alone.

We hope this letter finds you in good spirits and that your year 2000 is filled with good health, happiness, and peace.