Christmas Letter 2004


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 2004, word for word.

Seasons Greetings 2004!
This year was full of exciting events! Robin and Taylor both made it home from B.C. in 2004, although not at the same time…..

Wintertime found us enjoying our outdoor “playground”: a huge 65′ x 110′ hockey rink plus a full size curling rink and all surrounded by a huge skating oval – on the river! After Chris plowed the majority of snow off, it still took us 4-6 hours to shovel the remaining snow to bare ice. It’s great exercise – usually we’re too pooped to actually skate, but we do curl and play Bocce on it.

Our Skating Party was a great success again last February. Nellie’s entire class even came another day for ‘Operation Fun’. One night we even had a local CTV Ottawa weatherman do his 6:00 o’clock report right from our backyard rink! THAT was exciting!!

On March break, Taylor came home from Vancouver for a week and we really enjoyed his visit….. We also went winter horseback riding (my first in nearly 40 years!) at our neighbour’s sister’s farm – what a blast! Nellie took her babysitting course this spring and passed with flying colours. Melvin participated in all the school sports teams. Everyone passed and moved on to the next grade.

Marty still has a girlfriend, Tanya, and is now in his last year of high school. Kristi is also in her last year of university and is getting married to Mike next August 12, 2005!

In early July, I took a tumble in the woods across the road (which I’ve walked thousands of times in the past 23 years) and broke my left leg. I was in a cast until the end of August, so my garden took care of itself for awhile. I still have difficulty walking and am trying home physiotherapy to help my feet.

Robin came to Ottawa in July for a conference and visited overnight. Natasha stayed home in Victoria. He’s working on is PhD now – Dr. Rob, imagine that!  Chris was in B.C. for 3 weeks this summer on a job and got to visit with Taylor one night.

Our little “Munchie”, grandaughter Kalia, is so sweet.  She turned one in November and is walking all over the place! Darin and Amanda and Kalia moved to London, Ont. this fall where Darin accepted a job at a high-tech firm. We miss them a lot, but we talk every week and they’ll be here for a week at Christmastime. They are such great parents!

Well, I’ve mailed the parcels to B.C. and done most of the baking. Just a bit more to do before the kids get out of school in the next 3 days: Chris is painting the mudroom, we’re finishing up all the shopping, clean the house …… is there really any point!

I really hope that we see you all sometime in 2005 – or at least write or email us!
Merry Christmas!



Maple Syrup Time

This year I decided to tap 4 of my maple trees to collect the sap for making maple syrup.  I actually tapped them about 30 years ago but decided at that time, that they needed to grow for a few more years yet.  Well, I guess 30 years is a ‘few more years’ enough isn’t it!  I stopped in at the local Home Hardware store where I had got my tap spiles last time and sure enough they were in the same spot on those old wooden shelves.  I love this store because you can still buy 1 nail if that’s all you need…..  When the outdoor temperature is just above 0 celsius (32F) during the daytime and the nighttime temperatures dip below zero, then it’s the perfect time to tap maple trees.

Buckets clean and ready to go

Buckets clean and ready to go

My son Darin and granddaughter Livi were coming over around noon so I got all my supplies ready:  I bleached out the honey buckets I had bought for a buck from Bulk Barn last fall as well as the spiles.  I charged up the cordless drill battery, found the correct drill bit, got the hammer out, duct tape, and camera of course.

We trudged down through the snow, dodging doggy ‘landmines’ of poop, to Livi’s favourite swinging Maple tree with the rope on it.  She carried two buckets while I carried the rest lol.  Darin drilled the first hole and Livi was totally amazed and excited when it started dripping right away.  She was in a hurry to get the spile into the hole so we didn’t lose any precious sap, but she didn’t want any help hammering the tap in.  Darin finally had to help her aim the hammer abit…..

Livi helping tap the trees

Livi helping tap the trees

Voila, sap started to drip!  Livi was in a real hurry to get the bucket under the dripping sap and not waste a single drop.  She was as excited as I was to see that liquid gold dripping into the bucket.  We all had a taste – Livi said it was sour lol!  It tasted like barely sweetened water to me.  I didn’t want to ruin the buckets by drilling holes in them for the lids, so I just duct taped them on.

Livi inspecting the sap

Livi inspecting the sap

I told Livi that I had to let the maple sap drip into the bucket then collect it every evening and when we had a couple of gallons, I would boil it down to make maple syrup.  I might do some of this outside on my wood-fired chimnea fireplace since it gives off alot of moisture.  But I was going to keep a pot boiling on my wood cookstove whenever I have a fire going anyway – when it’s been slightly above 0 degrees celsius (32F) and sunny outside, so I haven’t been making a fire in the morning since the house heats up just fine anyway.   It takes about 40 litres of sap to get one litre of maple syrup.  I’ll be happy with whatever I end up with!  It’s really just a project for me…….. a sweet project.

So I guess Spring has really sprung………. tonight we even turn the clocks ahead one hour.

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