from the Rodriguez/Dominguez Familia

2010 is not over yet… God willing we’ll be heading to Spain for Navidad… But for now, here’s our obligatory – yet fun to do – annual (or is it anal?) Holiday Greeting from our familia to you and yours.

This year started like any other year, with New Year’s Day.  Shortly thereafter the caca hit the fan. We thought we had had our treatise with snow in December of ’09 only to get a double whammy, back-to-back historic snowstorms early in 2010.  18 inches of snow.  Twice in one week.  We got more snow than Anchorage Alaska for the year…  For us Cubanos, who, like Jimmy Buffett says are “umbilicaly connected to the tropical zone”, this was a tad – heck, a LOT – too much of the white stuff…  It was pretty for sure; but, it was right down pretty dangerous as well…  OK, yes, it was also fun.  Being able to walk to church, see the kids slide down the hills at a nearby school, and hang out with friends around our neighborhood during the ‘storm’ made it (almost) bearable.

This year was not like any other in a painful way: The slow economic recovery hurt deeply in the extended familia, friends, and neighborhood.  Cousins without jobs now count their unemployment tenure in years not months; nephews had to relocate in the hopes of landing that consistent job; friends extremely underemployed; at least two foreclosed houses in our block; many of our immigrant neighbors struggling deeply; RIFs and furloughs; a shrinking municipal government straining the capacity to deliver traditional services; and, many many other signs of helplessness and despair... Yet, we survive, pray, help each other, strive to maximize our boundless human capital, and know that there is indeed a Light at the end of this tunnel... Hope is indeed eternal.

This year had many birthdays – as all years do…  But this one was special.  Geraldina reached the big 5-“O”…  So we figured we’d go to Vegas while we could – which we did, for Valentine’s Day…  And no, there are no pictures – you know what they say about Vegas!...  (We did see Cirque du Soleil’s “Love”, based on music by the Beatles.  A dream.  Simply a dream.)

We continued the momentous birthday celebration by having a pig roast.  (Is there any other way for Cubans to celebrate momentous occasions?!?)  This pig celebrated not only GD’s birthday, but Rembe Jr., entering his second quarter-century of life, and Iggy entering his third decade of life.  The pig was also a send off for Iggy who opted to start his study abroad(s?) program in Buenos Aires three months early… 

This pig event was really momentous.  Not only were we able to share this pig with great friends from near and far –  but the occasion was also a bitter sweet moment…  We had no way of knowing that this would be the last pig we’d have Tony with us.  (He is the one in the picture with the great smile - and a beer in his hands!) Our loss of Tony Austin was the single most personally wrenching event of this year.  To lose a true friend when you are our age is not an easy thing.  When that friend is an exemplary family man, community activist, and wonderful human being it is really – really – tough.

In 2010 we also lived through the loss of our dear Padre Amando Llorente, S.J., a true true TRUE pilar of our Faith, spiritual director, friend, and committed Jesuit priest like no other...  "Yo emprendo el viaje de todos. Animo, se un hombre!"

At the other end of the ‘circle of life’, we were blessed with the birth of Whitney to Michael and Kaki (one of Reemberto’s many godchildren.)  The Rodriguez klan continues to grow!... We also received word that there are two more little ones coming in the next few months… Indeed, we had the opportunity to visit ATL for Jennifer & Toto’s ‘baby shower’.  (For those not in the family: Toto is Reemberto’s nephew who grew up in Orlando, where his father still lives. He married a wonderful young lady from Michigan.  His sister lives in Denver.  The Miami familia wanted to partake.  So we figured the shower should be in ATL.)

During the year we also had our usual passer-by guests & family visits.  Toti stopped by; so did Amy, Angela & her familia; the Pearsalls (friends from ATL) came for the pig; and Mario Sr. (Geraldina’s dad) did his bi-annual pilgrimage from Moultrie… 

We also "hosted" two young relatives on their way to their professional pursuit: Cristina on her way to Harvard Law School, and Carli on her way to her new fascinating job in D.C. (You go girls! You make us proud!)… And talking about ‘making us proud’, Amy defended her PhD thesis for her degree in molecular biology from the University of Pittsburgh, thus following on the footsteps of her scientist-aunt Geraldina.

Then there was the usual annual + family wedding.  This year it was Alain in New Jersey. (For those not in the family: Alain is the son of Heribertico, son of Ninfa, wife of Heriberto, who was Geraldina’s mother’s brother.)  Quite a wedding, by the way!  Dancing till the wee hours of the night, and capping it off with Cuban puros (cigars) was certainly a treat!

It was also momentous to join our friend Maria and her partner in their historic wedding in Washington D.C.

In 2010 Geraldina continued her work with HIV/AIDS through the Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health.  Her work took her to L.A. (where she hooked up with Ana Tere), Denver (where she got to see Whitney), San Francisco (where she visited the Barr Klan), Vienna (where she got culture), and Bangkok (where she got a good fix for with her admiration of eastern philosophy)…   Also in 2010, Geraldina doubled her weekly yoga classes (while Reemberto doubled his daily yogurt intake.)

Reemberto spent 24/7 as the Director of the Silver Spring Regional Center, being part of a wonderful team of folks that brought about the realization of a community dream nearly two decades in the making, the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza.  We are extremely fortunate to live in a neighborhood that is vibrant and full of energy, providing us the opportunity to become fully immersed in all aspect of community life (not the least which is savoring the fantastic culinary, art and entertainment, and shopping experiences found in downtown Silver Spring, Long Branch, Montgomery Hills, and vicinity.)…  Reemberto also had the opportunity to reunite with his NeighborWorks friends in Louisville for the annual Community Leadership Institute.  It was GREAT to see old friends from all throughout the USA!

We did our annual pilgrimage to a silent retreat with our Agrupacion Catolica Universitaria friends from NJ/NY... As usual, this annual Ignation Spiritual Exercises provided the ideal jolt of faith-centered rejuvenation to get us through the year and beyond.

We also attended Reemberto's Henry County High School classmates for our 36th Class Reunion... Too many highlights to list... One of the favorites? The Lawnmower Races World Champion is a Henry County friend!

Iggy’s baseball adventures continue.  The Swarthmore Garnets made it to the Centennial Conference playoffs for the first time ever!...

Rembe’s “baseball adventures” continue as well.  He is doing his part (as Security Manager) to bring the Washington Nationals to the playoffs sometime this century.

Benny continues owning the house.  And causing terror in the n'hood!... The stories about Chihuahuas having no sense of size and thinking they are the "king of the road" are totally true!

Finally, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” has a totally new meaning for our familia now that we’ve visited Buenos Aires.  Dana (Rembe’s girlfriend) joined us for an amazing experience in Latin America’s most ‘European’ city…  What a trip!...  TRULY amazing city, great people, and fantastic food – and wine!

Next stop? Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville for Navidad… Not a bad year; not a bad year at all!...

c/u around in 2011 - here in Silver Spring or wherever and whenever.

GodBless & enJoy.