Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Greetings, 2010

Here is our whole family, as photographed in Mississauga in August this year. We had a wonderful meeting with all the family when Jacob and Melinda and Lara were visiting Melinda’s family.

Kayla, Veronica, Phebe, Carolle, John, Cordelia, Matthew, Rachael, Melinda, Jacob & Lara

Soon after the above photo was taken, we loaded up iVan (really loaded—we even brought our winter tires!) and headed west through the States to Regina. We had a wonderful trip and visited friends of John’s in Muskegon, Michigan. and Mankato, Minnesota. John has taken a visiting job at the University of Regina and is enjoying the small UR department with friendly colleagues. Carolle was born and brought up in Bredenbury, a small town near Yorkton, so she has many relatives in Saskatchewan. In addition, her sister and family are in Edmonton—a lot closer than when we were in Clinton!

We rent a most interesting house in Regina—tall and skinny. We call it ‘the house of many steps’ as almost all rooms are on different floors. First off, it is 17 steps just to get from the front door to the first level. So we have to exercise, which strengthens our legs, but pisses off our knees! Our friends from Clinton, with whom we celebrate all our birthdays together, visited us and they were fascinated by the house and the city. The four of us patronized many fine Regina restaurants. Carolle was 70 this year—and it felt quite significant. She keeps pointing out how much whiter her hair is (check the photo), and says she not only feels older now, but looks it too.

Rachael visited us over Thanksgiving with Kayla and Veronica. Veronica loved the stairs and volunteered for all our stair climbing chores. They were all very impressed with how pretty a city Regina is, especially after John’s tour. We stayed up quite late the night before they left, playing a Skip-Bo game, laughing and yelling and competing like mad. Matthew and his girls are planning to visit us during Spring Break. Phebe has been chosen to sing a solo in her Amabile choir. This is Cordelia’s first year in high school. Matthew earned his black belt in Kung Fu this year and has begun studies for an M.B.A.

Jacob is still working away on his astrophysics degree in Houston, but most enjoys activities with Lara and Melinda. Melinda finally finished the last licensing hurdle for her job, and is now getting compensated for her skills (well, almost at least), though her new job apparently often involves long hours.

Already Regina is deep in snow and ice, and we have had our first bout with REALLY cold weather and the inconsistent job Regina does of clearing their roads. As much as we complain, Regina has a lot of sun, the awesome western ‘big sky,’ and many trees, parks and walkways which make it a very pretty city. Even the snow on the trees has turned Regina into a beautiful Currier and Ives-like scene. John has joined a couple of bands, most notably the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ PepBand. They attend all local Roughrider games and activities. This year they were in Edmonton for 4 days of Grey Cup fever and played at many festivities and the game. No matter how bad everyone feels about the Roughriders losing, John reports that it was a great time with this fascinating group of music and party people.

In addition to all his other activities, John returned to Herstmonceux Castle in England this summer to teach another course in Economics. He packed in a great deal of hiking. He started in Saltzburg, Austria. In Yorkshire, he hiked with friends he had made on previous visits. In Islay John also took the opportunity to tour several distilleries which make the peaty scotch he likes. Of course, he brought back a bottle or two.

This year has been a difficult one for Carolle. She lost her mother in February, and her youngest sister in November. So, there were two family memorials in Edmonton this year and two interment ceremonies in Bredenbury. The loss has been immense. The up side of these--typical of events associated with funerals and interments—is the renewal of relationships with people from the past. There were even more wonderful cousins to meet. And chums of early schools years came (and brought photos of those days) for both interments. Carolle and Viv are pleased to renew contact with them.

What a busy year this has been for us, and a difficult one. We are heading back to Clinton for Christmas and are looking forward to the 2-day journey on the train, and to seeing our children, grandchildren and friends again. We hope this year has been good to you and we look forward to hearing from you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

carolle and John