At the bottom on the left is an alphabetical list of the pages in this web site, to help you navigate if you feel so inclined.
A guide to our family photo album covering 1994-2010, showing the principal themes, is here.
A year by year guide to our family time-line from 1994 through 2007 is here.
The most recent pages of the album, a photo journal beginning in 2008, are here.
2008: Journal Main Page
This is our 2008 Journal, complete with sub-topics:
From the left, Russell (behind Brendan), Alex (behind Ian), Charles (behind Marie-Hélène), Daphné (behind Alban) and Nick (behind Annie).
This year starts with a photo taken almost at its end. The Hanlons came over for dinner on Christmas Eve. Marie-Hélène spent two whole days preparing a great spread, and Russ brought us some really good wine, one of his specialties.
After dinner, we moved into the living room, and exchanged presents between the families: the Stock Brun family always does well on that type of exchange, through sheer weight of numbers, and we apologize!
Then, Merry Christmas! We pulled the crackers (English Christmas entertainment) that were waiting under the Christmas tree. Everyone had fun, and each of us put on a party hat from the crackers and was settling into a post-prandial good humor when the camera came out. Good timing: we were sated and relaxed. Daphné's boyfriend took this one. Not bad!
Let's go back to the beginning of the year.
The first thing that we noticed in 2008, although it had been coming for a while, was that we were becoming a smaller family.
Nick had moved out for the first time in 2005, and had spent two periods of six months or so with his mother in Paris since then, but in 2008 Tom and Daphné too moved out: Tom left after Christmas 2007 to spend a vacation with his mom in Paris, and ended up staying there for all of 2008; and Daphné moved out to San Francisco in June 2008, giving up her rights in our in-law cottage to Alban.
It's not a bright line: each of the four older children is always welcome at home, for a birthday cake or an extended stay. But we can feel that they are functioning more independently, and growing up and out. At the end of 2008, only one of them, Alban, lived on at home, in our in-law cottage.
On the right is Tom, only a couple of days after arriving in Paris, New Year's Eve in 2007 to be precise. He is on a Paris metro, and is holding a bottle of sparkling wine. Judging by his open-mouthed stare at the camera, he has already had a few drinks. The drinking age in France is no more than 18, and it was New Year's Eve! More photos of Tom in Paris are here.
But he invited a few friends to the house on Alex's birthday, and here he is on the left with "Snowman" (Andrew to normal people) in the kitchen. And the girlfriend of one of his friends, Crissy, was kind enough to give us digital copies of shots she took of Alban and his friends out and about. So here is a rare look at the species "teenager" unencumbered and unrestrained by parental presence!
Not really knowing yet what he wants to do with his life, Alban throttled down on college credits during the first half of the year and took a job working a lot of hours at a local supermarket. This ended before a long summer trip to visit his dad in Thailand, which was clearly more fun than he wants to talk about!
As the year drew to a close, Alban had also throttled down on work, as in a paying job. So by the end of the year he was now doing very little of either college or a job, which provoked a certain concern from the parents! But they are on shaky ground, having both deferred their studies for extended periods during their own youth. So Alban lived a relatively content life in our in-law cottage through into 2009, only occasionally bothered by the parents and worldly matters!
On the right is probably the most intriguing of these mementos. It is a photograph dedicated to "little cousin Angela" from Albert Coates, a Russian-born conductor. What makes it so interesting is that Angela does not remember how she and Mr. Coates are related!
"Petit cousin" in French means child of a cousin, and he was raised in St Petersburg speaking French, perhaps he was describing her as the child of his cousin. We can't tell. We do know that two older relatives of Angela in Swindon, Wiltshire, were given Russian names.
We have since discovered a living relative of his, to be precise one of his granddaughters, herself an accomplished musician like her grandfather. So if we could ask her, she could perhaps tell us the relationship. But we can't locate her, even though we found items on the web confirming that she worked not that long ago in the Santa Cruz area. Oh well! The mystery continues!
Back in Santa Cruz, this clump of Bay fell on a neighbor's property after a storm (here's our place). The creek, which only really flows after rain, had undermined the trunks, and down they all came, perhaps a dozen of them. Except for a few lengths of trunk sawn off by enterprising neighbors taking firewood home, they are pretty much all still there in January 2009!
We like custom license plates. The most recent is here. Okay, it needed a little help in the form of a couple of extra letters, but isn't it cool!! "Just give us some of that rock'n'roll music!"
Our other favorite car shot of the year is of Alban's Volvo, which spends long periods sporting large quantities of dust and other things that accumulate over time. One of his friends was sufficiently impressed to write on the rear window: "I wish my girlfriend was this dirty!" It does not appear clearly in the photograph, but it is there.
Soccer was happening most of the year, for Charlie and Alex, and so here is a page for soccer in 2008. We can't have enough soccer! It was an up and down year, for the parents as much as the boys, but soccer remains Alex and Charlie's favorite hobby. Nick still plays regularly too, in adult pick-up games.
Living in the country does have its occasionally problematic aspects, even if we are barely outside of the town. We experience regular power cuts, in storms or even in a strong wind. Trees or branches bring down the power lines, and the electric company rushes around to fix them. Most times the power is back within an hour or two, but we've had 24 or 36 hours without power a couple of times.
On the right, Alex and Charlie moved their things into the parents' bedroom during the long power cut in 2008, and played and read by camping lights and flashlights.
As we passed on our usual summer trip to Europe, in favor of finally installing hardwood floors downstairs, not to speak of a handsome fireplace, we made a vacation trip down to the Disney Resort in Anaheim. By we, I mean the parents, Alex and Charlie. The older children, who can no longer be referred to as children, rarely accompany us these days!
We stopped off to visit Hearst Castle for the first time on our way down the Coast. On the left, here are the four of us in front of a great photograph of the Castle which they use as a backdrop so as not to be bothered with other people walking by and the constant clutter than can make a photographer's life so challenging! That's California for you. If an image can substitute for reality in Hollywood, it can do the same elsewhere, even when that particular reality is just around the corner! The most interesting part of this extravagance was the part which was visibly not completed. Even William Randolph Hearst ran out of money! Very reassuring of him!
Other photos of that short but rewarding trip can be found here.
Grand-père missed our annual visit to his place in the Breton countryside, and sent us the below left photo of himself in the stocks. For him, it wasn't a play on words, because they are called carcan in French.
Special days remain a good source of photos, and group them easily. So here is a page including two special days in 2008, father's day and Liz and Marty's Holiday party.
Of course, we had other special days too, birthdays all year long, like Daphné's 21st, which we celebrated at Chili's in Capitola. She was thrilled with her margarita, as you can see in the photo on the right, although in the interests of completeness we should refer you to this page for additional information on how Daphné discovered a way to be served for months before she actually turned 21. Of course, we're not saying that she actually availed herself of that possibility!
More family portraits in 2008 can be viewed here.
2008 brought another more important first. In November, the older children were all eligible for the first time to vote in a Presidential election. They picked a great time to start, a time when democracy showed one of its finest hours. Tom voted by absentee ballot from Paris, and Ian voted on his way to a client's early in the morning. Marie-Hélène, Nick, Daphné and Alban all voted at the same time, and others in the polling booth were treated to the spectacle of mother telling the children whom to vote for!
They already knew, and we all participated in the extraordinary spectacle of Barack Obama being elected the 44th President of the United States of America. "Yes We Can." The spectacle was extraordinary in part because President Obama is black. When Bobby Kennedy was US Attorney General, the country's chief lawyer, he sent an assistant Attorney General to Birmingham, Alabama to help ensure that federal laws were respected during the police riots and other abusive reactions to the burgeoning civil rights movement. This assistant became one of Ian's law school professors, Burke Marshall, and he talked with his students about how difficult it was to even communicate with many of the whites then in power in Birmingham. The videos of the time show blind white hatred everywhere, from the police to the good citizens of the KKK. Only brute force, in the form of Federal troops, got through the hatred.
This was during the early sixties. That a black man can be elected President not 50 years later is a triumph of the basic decency of all Americans over their prejudices and their parents' prejudices.
Obama's election expressed another triumph of the better side of people. After years of being motivated by fear, a fear instilled in part for political advantage, we were motivated by something higher, some sort of hope or dream, and this despite the unresolved terrorist fears and the economic crisis bearing down on so many of us. The embarrassing parade of mediocrity in power that has been dispiriting us, deflating our youth and lining mediocre pockets at our expense for so many years has been stopped, at least for a while. Let's start believing in ourselves again.
We're one family who is ready, and in this case at least, unified. It was a great way to end the year, all of us who were old enough to vote excited to vote for the same candidate. We're not always on the same track, and seem to spend a lot of time focusing on the differences, but it sure felt good to share that election.
Here are the 2008 photo journal pages: Tom living in Paris, Alban out and about in Santa Cruz, Ian on a short visit to family in England, Maman, Papa, Charlie and Alex taking a long weekend down the California coast, birthdays and other special days in 2008, soccer in 2008 and portraits in 2008.
Listing of Pages in the Site
. . . with Alban