Christmas Letter 2003

Over the past decades, I’ve always tried to write an annual Christmas letter to family and friends summarizing our family activities and highlighting our proudest moments. TODAY’S CHRISTMAS LETTER IS FROM DECEMBER 2003, word for word.

Hello and Merry Christmas!

This year I decided to try a different strategy – get all my shopping done (almost), the Christmas tree cut -put up- and decorated, all my baking done (except the cherry cheesecake on Christmas Eve) and the parcels mailed to B.C. BEFORE I wrote my annual Christmas letter. So here are the highlights of this past year….

After my last year’s letter, I DID get the baking done and the parcels mailed to B.C. before everyone began to get sick.  On Christmas day, we ended up in the Emergency department of the Kemptville Hospital with Melvin who ended up in the Childrens’ Hospital in Ottawa for 5 days in January.  At one point, both he and Marty had pneumonia; Doctors thought Melvin had leukemia (he didn’t – just double pneumonia and whooping cough); then the next week they thought Marty had a tumor (the lesion on his lung was the size of a quarter and was a scar from Histoplasmosis, which we never knew he had years ago!).  So that’s how our new year began!!  By the end of January they were all back at school!!!!!!

Nellie turned 11 in January – she’s almost as tall as me now with beautiful long hair. She’s now in grade 6 at the same school in the little town of Kars that all her siblings attended. Darin turned 26 in January and he and Amanda still live in Ottawa.  Of course, you’ve probably heard of their new daughter, Kalia Emily, who was born November 15th.  She’s the cutest baby in the world – honest, I’m not biased just because I’m her Gramma!

Taylor turned 23 in February and he still lives in Vancouver – we are hoping that someday soon he’ll come home to visit.  He still works at the same restaurant/bar, ‘Avantes’.  Marty is now 17 and towers over me!  A few months ago he picked up a guitar and hasn’t stopped since!  He’s a natural!!  He’s in grade 11 and doing very well.
Kristi is 21 now and in her third year at Carleton University.  She still works in the ER at the Ottawa General Hospital and also for Foreign Affairs Canada on her days ‘off’.  Her and Mike are still engaged and hoping to get married in 2005.

Robin (now 28) and Natasha (29) still live in Victoria, B.C. where Robin is still in school pursuing a Masters degree.  I will never forget his first day of kindergarten – he refused to go and get on the schoolbus: he actually grabbed onto the fence and clung for dear life – honestly, I couldn’t unhook his little fingers, until the bus left!!  Now we can’t get him out of school!  Ha! Ha!  We are very proud of him – actually of all of our children.

Our little Melvin turns 9 tomorrow!  He’s in grade 4 at the little school in North Gower where all the kids have gone for the past 22 years.  guess I’m the most veteran parent in that school.

During the winter, we still enjoy hockey games with our friends on Saturday nights in our garage/party room and skating on our backyard rink on the river.  Spring, summer, and fall find us working in the yard.  The pond is nearing completion with the stream/waterfall which we accomplished this year.  Chris built a little arched bridge over the stream and several arbors/trellises for around the yard.  I’m forever planting and dividing/moving plants.  Our vegetable garden is being taken over with more perennial flowers which I’m trying to start from seed or find in a heap.

Well, I sure hope that you will come and see us sometime. If not, just write and keep in touch. Have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New year.

Book Fair!

Well it’s finally here:  our local Book Fair!  I’ve been anticipating the book fair for a few months now and I arrived at 3 p.m. sharp when it opened on Friday afternoon.  Last year I bought a whole canvas bag full of books, many of which I haven’t finished reading yet.  But they will be read by me or borrowed by my grown kids.  I like to browse through the Gardening section first, then the Nature, Crafts, Reference, ‘Self Help’, and  DVDs.  I’m not interested in Romance or Fiction, which seem to have thousands and thousands of books on several very long tables.  I’m always on the lookout for classic out of print books that I love or first editions.  For instance, a few years ago, I snagged copies of Scott and Helen Nearing’s Living the Good Life AND The Maple Sugar Book –  both out of print and rare.  I’ve also found a copy of Bubel’s Root Cellaring and even though I already had one that I hold near and dear to my heart, I can now lend out my extra book.

Two of my favourite books

I got a blank garden planner as well, just waiting for me to begin filling it out next year so I don’t have to cram my notes in one of my other books.  Other books I bought include:

Five Acres and Independence by M.G. Kains

The Amazing Results of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

The Sierra Club Wilderness Handbook

National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America

The Place in the Forest by R.D. Lawrence

Field Guide to North American Mushrooms by The Audubon Society

An Ecology of Enchantment, A Year in a Country Garden by Des Kennedy

Heading Home by Lawrence Scanlan

Rocky Mountain Nature Guide

Wilderness Seasons, Life and Adventure in Canada’s North by Wilson

Haley’s Cleaning Hints

Tundra by Farley Mowat

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

Two Acre Eden by Gene Logsdon

The Rideau Navigator by Doug Gray

Vegetable Favourites by Lois Hole

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

Let It Rot by Stu Campbell

Raising Poultry the Modern Way by L.S. Mercier

Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada by G. Barron

Official Wilderness First Aid Guide by St. John Ambulance (W. Merry)

The Art of Soapmaking, a Harrowsmith Contemporary Primer by M. Mohr

BFF – Book Fair Finds

Many of these books are for actual reference/knowledge/further education but others are strictly for my reading pleasure.

I love books, I really do LOVE books, as I’ve written in a previous post.( I Love Books, Books, and more Books! )

Book Fairs are an awesome event!  It’s really a win-win situation:  buyers get loads of books they want to read and the sellers raise money for charity (Community Living Association and Friends of the Library).  For $1.00 each!  A buck!  And if you go Saturday morning, the books are 4 for $1.00 and after lunch, you can get a whole bag full for just a buck!   It’s cheaper than going to the movies (not that I ever do, but whatever) and  will last a heck of alot longer.   I’ll have some pretty sweet reading this winter…….

Who wouldn`t want to buy books at a book fair ?!

Books and more Books


I Love Books, Books, and more Books!

Today I decided to ‘organize’ the bookshelves downstairs instead of going outside to trim my apple trees.  I’ve collected books for over 50 years, so I had my work cut out for me!   I had a great time reminiscing as I made my way through some of the shelves of my eight bookcases. ( I guess one doesn’t count as it’s full of movies and DVDs).  We have everything from Harry Potter  to Molecular Biology!  I found SO many treasures too!!  I came across a whole bunch of promotional 9×11″  team pictures of 1934 NHL teams too, safely tucked away inside a book.  I still have all the books I read to my children when they were young.  I found one called Wings of Wonder which had such poems like Forgiven by A.A. Milne that was my son Taylor’s favourite :  “I had a little beetle, so that Beetle was his name, And I called him Alexander and he answered just the same……”  I even photocopied that page and had it professionally mounted for him for Christmas one year.  Another short story from that popular book was The Legend of Sleepy Hollow which I read in a creepy, old voice to the kids near Halloween:  “Ichabod Crane was  (said high-pitched) a schoolmaster…..”.  There were old Berenstain Bears books, Goosebumps books, and many childhood favourites.

My Bookshelves

Several shelves held my ‘library’ for my midwifery clients:  I’d loan out books for parents to read on topics about childbirth and parenting.  Then I discovered a pile of professional journals mixed in with years and years worth of old magazines like Organic Gardening and Farming from the ’60s,’70s, and ’80s,  Harrowsmith from the ’80s and ’90s, Mothering Magazine and The Compleat Mother from the 1980’s+ .  Man, I never throw anything out!  I started to feel like one of those hoarders from TV, but quickly dismissed that notion since I was organized!  And I figure that these magazines hold their information value without getting old so they are worth saving.  I noticed that in my ‘back-to-the-land’ section, there were several gaps from missing books, which I assume my grown children have borrowed.  Some of the best books ever include The Ruth Stout No-Work Garden Book and Living the Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing as well as any of my books by Bradford Angier.  And I’m discovering awesome new books all the time like Cam Mather’s All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook :

I also came across a collection of my childhood encyclopedias and a 5″ thick dictionary that are over 50 years old, purchased with “Lucky Green Stamps” from Loblaws in the 1950s.  And the entire set of Nancy Drew books that my sister Betty and I collected when we were teens!  I found a few yearbooks from my own high school years and several of my childrens.  There were all the little Pocket Guidebooks for everything from Rocks and Minerals to Fish to Stars, every one well used and worn.  And large, thick University textbooks, a half dozen dictionaries and thesauruses, and classics like The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  Some shelves with smaller paperback books were 2 books deep!  Then there was a shelf with all the manuals from every item (that came with a manual) that we had ever purchased!  I really have to go through THAT collection and discard some of those obsolete manuals…  I found photos that my children took long ago, tucked in amongst the books and even my original sketchbook from 1968!

I actually didn’t get very far in my ‘organizing’ because I began to leaf through the pages of many long forgotten books, remembering and laughing out-loud for several hours.  I love books:  the feel of the pages in my fingers, their ‘musty-inky’ smell, the sound of turning pages, and the look of print.  I prefer reading an actual book to online reading anytime, hands down.   I have one very special shelf called my “Retirement” shelf:  it’s full of books that I’m collecting to leisurely read when I ‘retire’.  But after seeing all those great books today, I’m going to start to re-read my favourites all over again!

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