Sunday, December 28, 2008

Merry Christmas from Whitehorse

This Christmas letter thing gets harder each year. Actually, what gets harder is trying to remember just how to get this onto the blog. I remember that it’s more complicated than would make interesting text for a reader. I remember too that if you click on a picture you can see a larger version of it.

So here it is. Much later than usual. Pete and Gil are already here and Christmas and all its glorious fun is done. We hope yours was a pleasure and that your new year will be rewarding.

Sandra’s Year

I must have mentioned last year the move Sandra’s beloved Pleasemum store made from a smokey little hole in the wall next to the Discovery Bar to a grand new, brighter than right, larger than necessary barn down the street. Anyway, the turmoil of the move cured her “love of retail” and she left the service of kiddy-coat land before the snow melted.

Thus unemployed, she employed herself with Nana-duties, two or three trips South, quilting projects and the fussy attendance of the garden boxes I built her.

And don’t let me forget Bong Sun who is a lovely young Korean woman who boarded here the first four months of the year. We both enjoyed her charming personality and interesting insights into things.

In the fall Sandra attended Yukon College to re-acquaint herself with the vagaries of job hunting and computer stuff. She’s finished with that and will, after the annual visit to her mother in Florida, search out suitable employment. Have yourself a guess what that might be and read next year’s message to the answer.

This shelf Sandra designed and I built out of junk left kicking around the house.

Doug’s Year

I’m still employed 12 hours/week during the school year at the Individual learning Centre. It allows me to play hockey Tuesday and Thursday afternoons with Hank Karr and some other old guys who make themselves free those times. We entered the Whitehorse Old-timers’ Tournament (in the B-division) and were undefeated. We won a nice hat.

January and February was devoted to being Caliban in Moving Parts Theatre’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” It turned out to be quite a challenge to play a teenage monster but a full mask and a large woolen blanket covered a lot of the ravages of the past 60 years.

Much of the rest of the year I spent coughing with a cold that wouldn’t let go. Slo pitch season turned out to be cold and wet. I used a whole package of hotshots just keeping my hands warm enough to grip the ball.

Nevertheless the team travelled to Moncton to play in the Canada Senior Games. It was a fine time and our first four games were annoying examples of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. We finally beat Saskatchewan in the rain with the temperature at 15 degrees: good weather for us but too wet and cold for them.

Cough or no cough, I was unable to resist auditioning for the part of Dr. Rance, the mad psychiatrist, government inspector, in Joe Orton’s “What the Butler Saw.” It was described as a sex-farce and I remember fondly those light-hearted comedies with Len and Norm and the ladies at the Besty Westy Cobourg. Butler turned out to be about some young girl’s nightmare and to make any sense of Dr. Rance I had to play him as a child molester lunatic. It was funny enough and we sold out almost all of the fourteen shows after previews. It follows that nearly 1000 strangers must have seen me as Dr. Rance and may explain the odd looks I get from time-to-time at the various events we attend.

Everybody Else’s Year

It's Marin's second birthday and we need to help her open presents.

Aurelia Kaelen and Marin after Christmas Dinner
Aurelia is a sort of cousin or aunt-in-law-in-law
Derric and Adrian's wife Sarah

Of course that makes her Sarah Neill: not the most confusing thing about life here but definitely up there.
Sarah and Adrian entertaining Hazel
Sarah and Adrian are heading back to Ontario after New Year's Day.
We'll miss them and wish them Good Luck.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jan - Feb

Year End Review


If you're here you got here because of the tantalizing way I lured you here in our Christmas Letter. A year end review sounds pretty tedious and I assure you that this will be at little of that. I mean you've really gotta be an easy audience to be enjoying this. In which case, you're our kind of people.

January was so long ago neither of us can remember anything that might have happened in that long cold dark month. Sandra was continuing her career at pleasemum and I was being The Player in a Moving Parts Theatre production of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. That ended in early February:

Another cold, snowy, dark mad month of mayhem and flying around that took us to Arizona and some warm dry sunny times in the Grand Canyon State. We stayed at my cousin Susie's place on the two weekends we were there and it was really nice catching up with her after such a long time. I'd like to say she hadn't changed a bit in all that time but it had been 52 years and nobody can stay a toddler that long. THANKS SUSIE!

Besides the big gash Arizona offers dense mountain forests, badlands and deserts.

The saguaro cactus is an amazing thing. The monster behind herself must be a few hundred years old and that little guy won't grow an arm until it is at least 70 years old.

We went a lot of places in Arizona. Some places you'd never want to visit: like a moldy motel in Tuscon. And other places that that didn't want us: like Fort Huachuca. Brochures said it was a cool thing to see but we being ferrinners and them at war again, we wasn't 'lowed.

Got back just in time to host some folks who had kids competing in the Canada Winter Games that were held here during the coldest two weeks of the winter. Sandra volunteered as the environmental rep for the venue around the corner where the pistol shooting (week one)and fencing(week two) was going on. The "green team" succeeded in making these games the greenest on record, by diverting many bags of recyclables and compost from the local landfill. She also did a few evenings at the athletes' village where the young and famished came to the trough. There, the amount of recycling/compost far outdistanced the landfill for a new fabulous record that I'm not competent to discuss. I spent those two cold weeks recuperating from a mysterious choler that plagued me during the Arizona visit. Did get lotsa shots of Sarah and her kids.
Here's Sarah Camped in the Kitchen with Marin doing the chow thing.

Feb - Apr

Not Barbecue SeasonKalaen enjoys the view from atop just about anything.

Not the easiest puzzle
Hazel and Sarah solve a little suduko-like puzzle with magnetic markers.


Hazel performs for fun.

Big Brother

Mitts and Boots

Sleepover at Nana's and Grandad's
Trying On Grandad's Stuff

Flower Girl

April - Dec

Reverend Brown consoles a sinner
April was another MPT show, Inherit the wind. Our fearless leader-director-companyPoohBah played Henry Drummond. He rehearsed the folks of the town as a character. The result was a great energy that made for a mighty fine, fun show. He will be doing the same sort of thing with the spirits in our Feb 2008 production of The Tempest. I'm cast as Caliban, a monster of the Island. I can hardly wait!

Soccer Kaelen
Even before grass get green (usually mid-June) soccer begins.

GG Visits
This is GG (Greatgramma.) Frances, Sandra's mother, visited for three weeks in June. I tried to get her to hike up Grey Mountain with me but to no avail. Phooey! Maybe later.

Summer on the Deck
Sunshine in the North is special. It's daylight 20h/day in July but much of that is low in the sky. Here, Sarah puts Marin on display for company, Kathy and Doug from Campbellford.

Big Blue Eyes and Chicken PoxAll three of Sarah's kids got chicken pox in July but they were still beautiful.

Fun with Uncle Adrian
Want to be a favourite uncle? There are a few tests you need to pass. This one is called 'the spinner'.

Doug on Grey Mountain
I did talk Osamu, the Japanese ESL student who stayed with us in late August to hike up Grey mountain. The weather was lovely and the view spectacular. And my knees are much better now, thank you.

Defending His Turf
A little sod who likes to be atop sod.

Angel on the Deck
Look at that little sod on all that sod.

Uncle Smelicue DancesIn September I was cast as an old hillbilly song and dance hick called Uncle Smelicue. The play was "Dark of the Moon" produced by "The Guild" - a local company subsidized by the usual groups who fork over for amateur arts. I also played Conjurman, a shadowy guy who could, but didn't, change a witch to a man. (Conjurwoman did that.)

They decided to make the playing area a long thin thrust with a 2 by 4 crib filled with dirt that was donated by the cemetery - they dig up more than put back, obviously. The result was a little weird: the long thin thrust gave no other choice than to move down it, then back up. The dirt dried out and became dusty. It had to be watered often. And little stones worked their way to the top and into the bare feet of the actors. It was still a lot of fun and when it all ended I missed it.

The Bet
Conjuman bets the witches with Barbara Allen's life that Witchboy will be true to his word.

Cute as a Bug
The rest of the fall was much the sameold sameold. Except that the Pleasemum Sandra works at move across the street to a much larger location and the upheaval was more than a little stressful for all involved. Hallowe'en came and went. Derric was home to take the kids around this year, so there's no tale to tell you of the insurmountable cuteness of the candy fest as there was last year.

Our Son
Pete and Gil have yet to visit us this year, but here's Pete all dressed up as an ell for 'allowe'en. Always nice to see him back in shape. Nice lines Pete.

Autumn in Guelph
Looks like nice weather on a hazy Ontario November afternoon. Gil and Pete will be visiting us soon. We'll take lotsa pix of Pete taking the favourite uncle tests and post them next year. Gil still works full time at the U of G and as of this week so does Pete. Congratulations ARE in order.

The Dinky Rink
With all that sod kicking about and the too-large, useless tarp I bought the year before to shelter the shed while I was shingling and Kaelen too young to play organized hockey, I thought it might be fun to make a lawn dimple and fill it with tarp and frozen water. I was right! This shot is from Nov 6, when it was finally cold enough to skate outdoors. It's been consistently cold enough to skate outdoors ever since. We get out at least once a week for a little on-ice nonesense.

Dimple Parade
Here are Hazel, Marin and Kaelen doing their level-best to smile for the camera and create the annual Christmas portrait. The event was staged in our basement and was of questionable success (too many distractions) and will have to be staged again with another backdrop.

So there you have it. Or at least some of it. I left out lots and if you come to visit you could be the part of the part I leave out next year. How enticing is that?

Happy Christmas
Merry New Year

with love from