Christmas Letter '12

Nadolig Llawen!                    Merry Christmas!                           Buon Natale!

Christmas 2012.

From our home to yours, Family and Friends,

What a pleasure to share a little bit of our lives over the past year at this very special time of year.  I have rather deliberately scheduled this to come to you on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day depending on where in the world you live (actually, rather ordinary events waylaid us and I did not finish when intended, thus the late arrival).  We hope you are enjoying a full and restful Christmas season.

But for one significant change and a lesser change, 2012 has been very much a typical year for us.  It was a happy year with very ordinary challenges.

Tina continued nursing at Vancouver General Hospital, then took her retirement in June.  She does still take the occasional casual shift.  Tina had looked forward to getting back into her art but has found household projects to which she feels need to give priority.  The New Year should see us convert an area in our basement into a printmaking studio.  Her press awaits her there.

Ted's health was more stable this year, with only occasional colds and one cardiac false alarm just a few days ago.  He continues to alternate 3 days of swimming (2000 m in roughly 40 min) with 3 days of cycling (nearly 14 km in roughly 40 min) and with this exercise, Ted remains generally well.  Ted had a special opportunity to reconnect with an important old friend from his days with the Royal Life Saving Society.  Now in her 90s, Jean Lathwell still lives in her own home and keeps in touch with RLSS developments Commonwealth wide.

David continues his mathematical studies at Langara College.  He remains on very much a part time studies program because of his disability and continues to excel in his Mathematics courses, especially with pure Mathematics. Course work of a more pragmatic nature does give him more of a struggle.

Angela thoroughly enjoys her final year studies at Emily Carr University of Art and Design.  Angela keeps bringing home remarkable ceramic objects.  She is very independent minded at school and takes what she finds useful from her instructors and teaches herself where she feels there are gaps.  Angela loves to carve her ceramic pieces and took part of last summer to go into production in her studio, here at home.  Part of her output included a series of vases featuring various beautifully carved local songbirds.  She took these and other pieces to a summer outdoor art market in Langley.  Compared with other potters displaying at this market, her work was very much high end.  Although she did not sell much, Angela considered this a good learning experience.  She had much greater success at the Autumn student art sale at Emily Carr, selling all her most expensive pieces and most of her other works as well.

David also remains very active with his music, continuing to study viola, clarinet, and piano.  He is now the oldest regular player in the Delta youth Orchestra.  He just loves performing with this orchestra and delays moving on to an adult orchestra.  For the 2012/13 orchestral year, Ted continues as President of the Delta Symphony Society, the sponsor of the Delta youth Orchestra.  The DYO outdid themselves this Autumn with a wonderful Classical Cabaret with guests Infinitus string trio and a truly remarkable Christmas concert featuring Howard Blake’s music for The Snowman.  David just loved playing this special music.

Our getaway this year was again our usual escape to Cusheon Lake resort on Salt Spring Island.  We always make this a relaxing time, paddling on the lake or swimming, fosicking at Beddis Beach or Beaver Point, and visiting in Ganges.

One sad note in 2012, Mother’s Day evening a racoon killed Puddles, one of Angela’s pet ducks.  Tango got left as a lonely duck for a while but June saw the arrival of two Welsh Harlequin ducklings, Rebecca and Jemima,  Once they grew to near full size and could join Tango in the back yard, he became a much happier duck.  Catinka remains very much queen of our house.

Summer us busy with many changes to the back garden, new flower beds, new trees, and refreshed vegetable garden.  Substantial security improvements to Angela’s duck enclosure and a rebuilt night time coop for three ducks instead of two kept Ted well occupied.  The end of summer brought is a change of car.  Marvin, the Mazda WPV we bought in 1992 finally had it’s twenty years catch up with it as our service mechanic (not a dealer) warned us of impending very expensive maintenance that he could not recommend doing.  The car still ran well but he told us we could no longer trust it for any trips away from home.  We dithered a bit, seriously considering taking the expense, but found a replacement in a 2006 MPV, the last year they were built.

Many years ago Ted, rather uncharacteristically since he generally takes very little interest in team sports, hatched an idea of a novel field team sport.  He called it Two Ball and experimented with a bit when he was substitute teaching, but otherwise did not do much with it.  The idea kept rattling around in his head though and gradually developed into two games, Two Ball and Delta.  This year, Ted finally decided to do something with the ideas, seeking potential players to experiment with the games, and published rules of the games.  Anyone on Facebook can find out more at https://www.facebook.com/TwoBallAndDelta?ref=hl and the rules are available free at https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/two-ball-and-delta/id518412984?mt=11, https://itunes.apple.com/ca/book/two-ball-and-delta-duplicate/id549644267?mt=11, or at the Two Ball and Delta web site, http://twoballanddelta.org/styled/index.html.  You are most welcome to have a look and draw the games to the attention of sport minded people you may know..

Recent weeks, of course, have filled us with Christmas preparations.  We hope yours have gone well and we wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas and all happiness in the New Year.

With our love,
Ted, Tina, David, and Angela.

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!               Happy New Year!                 Felice Nuovo Anno!


Thoughts on Electing Legislative Representatives

As one who lives in a riding with an elected independent MLA, I would like to remind British Columbians of just what a vote does. We are voting for a person to represent us in our legislature. The legislature then creates a government from among its elected members and holds that government responsible to itself. We are not a republic and very rightly do not directly elect a government separately from the legislature. Vote the person; do not vote the party. Vote the person and you get a member representing you and your riding into the legislature; vote the party and you get a member representing that party back back to you and your riding from the legislature. A certain fashionable desire currently exists for proportional representation; sadly this desire is based on vote for the party thinking. Proportional representation will just perpetuate party structures (and place into the legislature people who have not necessarily received votes for them as a person) while a single transferrable ballot (multiple member not needed) will diminish parties, as it did the last time British Columbia used it. The real reform needed is to undo Dick McBride's big mistake when he introduced party politics into B. C. a century ago. Reduce the role of parties and eliminate party discipline and we can initiate policy right in the legislature, where it belongs, rather than on the convention floors and back rooms of political parties, have real debate focussed on actual issues rather party positions, and strengthen the independence of legislative committees.


Zero HistoryZero History by William Gibson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The characters in this novel are fascinating but the plot is trivial. All that intrigue and fuss and bother over a pair of jeans? Read it for the characters.

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Through Black SpruceThrough Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In the end, a good and satisfying, though difficult read. Joseph Boyden wrote this story in the first person but that first person keeps changing from character to character, very confusing at first until the reader gets used to the switches. Also much of the story exists as flash-back, without conventional flash-back cues, again very confusing. I don't know if it is an affectation of the author or a genuine mode of speech among the Cree, but I found the constant pairing of pronoun objective and subjective cases ("me, I ..." "him, he ..." "her, she ...") instead of simply subjective case in the dialogue annoying. Did the characters really have to use alcohol and recreational drugs so heavily to advance the plot? I almost abandoned this book in the first quarter but the story itself kept drawing me back into its puzzling and intriguing conflict. I can only say I am glad I stayed with this novel

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