The Year in Review - 2017
Anne & Stewart French

523 Seeport Drive
Allen, TX 75013


Welcome to Anne & Stewart's 2017 Year In Review!

As usual, last year's newsletter ended mid-month to get it into the mail in time for Christmas. So we start the review with last December, when we enjoyed a beautiful Christmas afternoon with Glenn, Mina and Andrew at their home in Frisco. Soon after, Emily and Mia were able to stay with us before their college semesters started up again. In a jigsaw frenzy, we worked three 500-piece puzzles, and still found time to hit LA Fitness every day all while enjoying the cool January weather.

Later in January, we met up with old work buddies (aka the "Old Farts Club") at the Lieberman's house and managed to wheedle invitations to two events we really enjoyed: Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn at the Kessler with Jay and Carla in March and Steve Martin & Martin Short at the Verizon in Grand Prairie in April with Dan and Paige. We also got to see Red Bull Flying Bach with Maria and Samantha at the Majestic in mid-January and Cirque du Soleil KURIOS - Cabinet of curiosities (fascinating!) in February.

For Stewart's birthday in March, we rented a beach house in Port Aransas, TX using Airbnb (a first for us). It had three levels and easily housed us, Teresa, Trina, Doug and Manasi. We met up with our buds Todd and Kim who have an RV in a park near the beach house and live there in the summer, alternating with their home near Austin. We had a fabulous time walking the beach, hitting the restaurants, playing 10,000, and bird watching. The bird watching was pretty fantastic. We hired two naturalists to guide us on bird walks in the area, starting at the Leonabelle Turnbull Birding Center, then took a boat tour out of Rockport to see the endangered Whooping Cranes. Port Aransas is one of the most bird friendly sites in the USA and we logged 56 species, most of which we had never seen such as Roseate Spoonbills, Avocets, Caracara and Kiskadee. But there's a sad epilogue to this story as Hurricane Harvey landed its eye directly on Port Aransas in August, carrying 130 mph winds and destroying the Turnbull and most of the town of Port Aransas. Luckily, the Whooping Cranes were in Canada when Harvey blew through and our friends and guides are fine but the area will take many years to recover.

In April, we made our annual trip to Kerrville and Fredericksburg, TX to cycle the beautiful, rustic countryside in the Easter Hill Country Bicycle Tour. This year we met up with Todd and Kim, Niles, Craig, Julie, and Evan, and even got in a side trip to a funny park with a Stone Henge replica.

May took us to Houston for great-nephew Auggie's second birthday, a typical Webb event surrounded by hilarity, dogs and playing with toys.

After many years of hard work, our niece Emily graduated Texas State University with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. We were so proud to celebrate this with her, her fellow graduates and professors, family and friends, Trina, Andrew, Amanda, Sharon, and Stacy. After graduation she started the job hunt in the Austin area landing a job at Children's Therapeutics of Austin near her new apartment.

We have a weird and wonderful place near our house called "Go Ape!" where they have 39 rope-line "crossings" and 5 zip lines suspended 40 feet in the tree canopy of Oak Point Park. We spent 5 hours with our friends Maria and Samantha getting totally freaked out and having a great time! Everyone should try this as long as your joints are securely fastened in your sockets :)

In June, Anne took a fantastic vacation to Yosemite with her sisters, Trina, Trese and Kath. We took over the 2nd floor of the Apple Blossom Inn, a beautiful B&B just outside the park. We spent days hiking, checking out sights like Bridal Veil Falls and Half Dome, taking a day trip to Mariposa to wander the craft shops, and hiking nearby outside the park, just as scenic with lots less traffic. In the evenings, we gathered around the kitchen table for hours of playing 10,000, listening to music and chatting. We definitely need to do more of this. Another sad epilogue: in July, a wildfire swept through Mariposa County and 58 homes were destroyed. I contacted one of the shops we visited and the main street survived. Please keep these places in your thoughts and patronize them if you can to aid in their recovery.

July brought our month-long addiction of watching the Tour de France and this year we got to share with friends Vicky and Dave. Vicky teaches a spin class that follows the routes of the Tour and even wears dresses that match the yellow, green, white and polka-dot jerseys.

At the end of July, Anne hosted a retirement party for two good friends, Bob Hill and Ron Crea. They have worked together in DLP for 17 years and told hilarious stories of their times there and all around different stints at Texas Instruments. Later in the year, her boss Alan Hearn also retired. What is this, an epidemic??

As mentioned, Harvey scared the crap out of us as it tore apart Port Aransas and Rockport, but it also spent 5 days dumping on Houston. We watched in anguish, inviting all to join us up here, but it was clear evacuation was not feasible. The Webbs escaped the brunt of it, but Stewart's brother Morgan and wife Mary Jane had 1.5 feet of water on the first floor and had to live upstairs, only recently getting their first floor back into livable condition.

In September, we went to Hawaii with Backroads to circumnavigate the Big Island by bicycle. It was fantastic with all the different micro-climates, tropical, wet, arid, and all gorgeous. We hiked the caldera of Kilauea and had a 30 mile gradual downhill ride into Hilo, sat on a beautiful balcony overlooking the lush tropical foliage while birds sang in the gentle rain, and even rode the length of Alii Road from Kona among the many tourists along the beaches. After leaving Backroads, we attended the Hawaii Island Festival of Birds, did a bird walk with Kenn Kaufmann of field guide fame, and saw many Myna and saffron finches.

October had fantastic weather in North Texas and we enjoyed an afternoon with Maria watching Ethan's Marching Band in competition. Halloween is always fun for us living near an elementary school but this year rain threatened and the World Series kept some home so our numbers were down from previous years: only 146 this year (down from 225 last year!)

Great fall weather continued into November as we went back to the Hill Country to join the OFC at the Canyon of the Eagles resort near where good buddies Steve and Doris moved in the spring. They hosted a fun weekend, including way too much barbecue in Llano, eating off the paper, our chins dripping with grease, then Stewart playing the piano and Jay on guitar while the rest of us attempted to sing along. We took a river cruise up the Colorado visiting several water falls and had a guided hike through the hilly terrain, then collapsed in the rockers on the cabin's porch and enjoyed the view of Lake Buchanan late into the evening.

In mid-November, we attended niece Meredith and Tommy Schmuck's wedding, along with Morgan and Mary Jane at a beautiful chapel near Spring, TX. It was a lovely ceremony and a fun reception where we got to meet nephew Clifton's bride-to-be, Tammy, and enjoyed hanging with them and friend Amanda, up until the couple left under a canopy of lit sparklers.

Back home, Stewart watched a bobcat visit our backyard, pick out a yummy bunny, finish her lunch and settled into the mulch among the Louisiana Irises for a long nap. Anne got home from work a few hours later and she was still there. The cats watched through the windows with interest but weren't freaked out. Neighborhood social media sites were already warning about keeping small pets under watch. Eventually, she woke, stretched, took a dump in the river rock and scaled the fence to continue her day elsewhere.

Anne's TI holiday party was a hoot this year, including a gingerbread house competition between the DLP engineering teams, and the software team won! They built a Gingerbread Beach House complete with blue jello waves, a thatch roof and Santa in a boat being attacked by a shark.

Thanksgiving was hosted by Brad and Melanie in Houston with something like 20 guests. I don't know how they do it, but it is such a blast watching the kids (and the occasional dog) bounce on the huge trampoline in the back yard, eating delicious fare, singing along to Stewart's piano including that Thanksgiving tradition, Alice's Restaurant, and Melanie's gorgeous voice singing "On My Own" from Les Miz. Everett and Auggie enjoyed many rounds of "what's in my pocket" which involved them being upended by their uncles until the pockets were empty. Don't know how their meals stayed down.

Catching up after three road trips in November, we spent early December bringing on Christmas, getting the tree up, lighting the porch, Anne stealing baubles at the neighborhood women's annual ornament exchange (luckily none were licked this year) and heading to the Winspear to see "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (spoiler alert: Cindy Lou stole the show and made our hearts grow two sizes!)

Rounding out the year was another graduation. Mia graduated from the Univ. of North Texas Dec. 16. Trina, Andrew, and Emily joined us at the Coliseum and we followed the ceremony with a long celebration at Chuy's with Mia's friends. We're so proud and excited for her!

Here's looking forward to a disaster-free 2018.

Happy Holidays, everyone!