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Dear Friends and Family,
2010 has been a year of many blessings for the Sliwa family, although some of those blessings came in unexpected wrappings.
Daughter Tabitha and Rich are still in New York City as Rich completes the final year of his MBA at NYU. We always thought of Tabitha as a big-city girl, but even she is homesick for Hood River, and we hope Rich’s job hunt will land them at least in the Pacific Northwest. Not that New York City isn’t a great place to visit; Nancy hopes to squeeze in at least one more visit before Rich’s graduation in May. Meanwhile, Tabitha has picked up a full-time job as Marketing/Communications Manager for SchoolNet, a leading provider of data-driven education software. She is also taking evening classes in herbology and nutrition-as-preventive-medicine.
Insitu has continued to grow under Steve’s leadership, now over 800 employees. In August, the U.S. Navy announced that Insitu had been awarded the STUAS (Small Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems) contract it has been working toward the last several years. This has the potential to be worth several billion dollars over 10 years. Insitu’s parent Boeing has been supporting the process of choosing a location and design for a local consolidated campus, hoping to unite most of Insitu’s local employees that are currently spread across 27 facilities.
Steve applied his engineering talent to another challenge this year – that of taking advantage of the deflated Phoenix housing market to choose and purchase a second home for us. Although we have no plans to retire anytime soon, we can’t ever expect the housing prices to be better than this. So in April we became the proud owners of the “Sliwa Villa,” in Fountain Hills, just east of Scottsdale in Arizona. It is gorgeous, was a fabulous deal, and is of course way too big for just the two of us. We hope to use it for several long weekends during the winter, and that it will prove to be an irresistible enticement to our northern-located friends to come visit us (and the sun) down there.
Of course, in order to make the trip between Washington State and Arizona acceptable for long weekends, and to be able to bring the dogs in pressurized-cabin comfort, we had to upgrade our airplane. In July we bade goodbye to the Cirrus and welcomed our new TBM 700B (N700VV). Steve is fully certified to fly it, but Nancy still has more training to do to be able to solo. It’s a lot more airplane than she’s ever flown before!
In September, Steve and Nancy inaugurated their new plane by taking their 2nd Annual East Coast trip. It was sure a lot faster getting to the Atlantic Coast that it had been in the Cirrus. From Easton to Saratoga Springs to Huntsville to Charlotte, we again had a wonderful time visiting friends and seeing the sights. Our last visit was to Nancy’s mother in Johnson City, Tennessee. After a few days, she decided to return with us for her first visit to Washington State in five years. The timing of her trip allowed her to see the Columbia River Gorge at its best with lovely fall weather. She was also able to visit with Rich and Tabitha who were visiting for some friends’ wedding, Nancy’s brother Rick and his family who live in Yakima, and Nancy’s cousin Shannon.
We had planned to fly her down to the Fountain Hills house, but just as we were leaving, she missed a step, fell, and broke her hip. Hood River and White Salmon provided excellent and friendly facilities for her surgery and initial rehab, then she came home with us and spent several weeks regaining her strength. Although she had to endure a lot of discomfort and was homesick for Tennessee, it proved a special blessing for us to be able to spend such extended quality time with her.
Just before Thanksgiving, Nancy flew back to Tennessee with her and got her settled back home, surrounded with her good friends, church family, nieces, and nephews. One of her friends is a professional caregiver who spends several hours a day with her, and she’s making good progress in her recovery.
We were able to introduce the Villa to family at Thanksgiving this year, hosting Shannon, Rich and Tabitha, and Steve’s sister Sue and her family from Littleton at the new house. While we’re still working on getting the house furnished, we at least had enough beds and towels, dishes and stuff, to pull off a turkey day feast weekend for nine. We had a wonderful time, which whetted our appetite for sharing the Villa with more friends and family.
Nancy has continued Morning Wings, her small aviation gift business, adding some new products and cajoling her friends to help her host a booth at both the Arlington Air Show and the Oshkosh Air Show. She has invented a new (non-aviation) widget, called the Bra Daisy, taken it through the patenting process, and hopes to market it more broadly next year (www.BraDaisies.com). She also continues to be active in her church, teaching a Bible study, working in the thrift shop, and serving as Local Service chair and elder pro tem. And, of course, taking care of the pets and the Chalet (which is what we call our White Salmon home now.) With our La Nina winter in full swing and 8” of snow on the ground, “Chalet” is a good name for our winter wonderland home right now.
Pixie, Angel, and Casper are still doing well, although Casper has stopped trying to escape outside in the cold weather, a sign of his advancing years. He now demands the prime spots in front of the fire, and competes with the dogs for equal snuggling time. He’s taken to patting our shoulder with his paw if he feels he’s been neglected too long.
May blessings of love and joy be yours this holidays season and for the New Year!
Steve and Nancy
Pixie, Angel, and Casper