Christmas Letter '16

Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas! Buon Natale!

Christmas 2016.

From our home to yours, dear Family and Friends,

Again it is our pleasure to share a little bit of our lives over the past year at this very special time of year.  We hope you enjoy a full and restful Christmas/New Year season.  2016 has been very much a typical year for us, happy with very ordinary challenges.

Tina continues to take casual shifts, nursing at VGH  while she enjoys her retirement.  She also keeps up her cello lessons at the Delta Community Music School under the tutelage of Bo Peng, accepting gradually increasingly more challenging music to learn.  Although Tina intended to resume taking harp instruction as well, that just did not work out again for this year; perhaps in the new year.

With exercise and prescribed medication, Ted's health continues as stable, with only occasional colds and a few dental issues.  He continues to alternate 3 days of swimming (2500 m. in roughly 50 min.) with 3 days of cycling (16.4 km. in roughly 50 min.), sometimes substituting a good stiff walk (a little over 4.3 km. in roughly 45 min.).  In addition, Ted often walks Adam once or twice a day, depending on Angela’s working and studio activities.  With stops for sniffing and other doggy business, these walks do not constitute measurable exercise but can take an hour or more each.

Angela and her friends in the Dusty Babes Collective continue to work in their studio in south Surrey near White Rock. She spends much of Tuesdays to Fridays with her own works at the studio.  Angela left her part-time work at Spawts last spring.  Instead she added another part time position as Monday ceramics studio technician for the South Surrey Recreation Centre to her Saturday ceramics studio technician work for Vancouver’s West End Community Centre.  Tina and Ted both remain in wonder at the beauty of Angela’s ceramic creations which range from hand crafted ceramic buttons through cups and bowls of various sizes and exquisitely delicate ceramic sculptures to large vases. The Dusty Babes had two exclusive gallery showings of their ceramic art works, the first, in July, was their Vanity Publishing show at the Pop Up Newton Gallery in Surrey’s Newton town centre. This show emphasized the Dusty Babes more artistic ceramic creativity and included Angela's “Wallflowers,” a collection imaginative decorative ceramic flower sculptures dispersed across one wall of the gallery. This month their Comfort Show at Pop-Up-Town Gallery in White Rock featured their more functional, pragmatic, ceramic works, all presented for public sale. Angela included beautiful vases, mugs, and bowls. Their open house in October give the public opportunity to see their works in progress within their various studio spaces. Now, the Dusty Babes look forward to fulfilling their invitation to show at the prestigious British Columbia Gallery of Ceramics not yet scheduled in the new year.

Outside of her art, Angela has developed a growing interest in sophisticated board games with which she shares with her girlfriend, Christie, and English as a Second Language teacher whom she met a year and a half ago.

David continues his musical studies as a founding student in the new strings music program within the Music Department of Kwantlen Polytechnic University, commuting to the Langley campus.  His focus remains on his viola, giving him great success while he really enjoys his studies.  The strings program remains very small which means that no large ensemble (required by the Kwantlen Music Department) exists, so the university continues to send him and the cello students to play with the Trinity Western University Orchestra. This should change with the new term in January as KPU anticipates having enough string students to put together their own, rather small, large ensemble. Kwantlen also requires music students to participate in small ensembles and we enjoyed the end-of-term recitals and concert performances by David's string quartet (David, the cello student, a flute student from Kwantlen Music's wind program and a piano student from Kwantlen Music’s piano program) in April and by his two trios (one with David, a cello student, and a piano student, the other with David, the same cello student, and a harp student) at the end of term this month.  Outside university, David continues with private study on his viola with Robert Hirschhorn Rozak.

Although studying music at Kwanten, David continues private study on piano, at the Delta Community Music school, in Garth Preston’s studio.  He also continued to play with the adult Richmond Orchestra for the first half of the year but decided to focus more on his KPU musical studies and did not return to the orchestra when it started preparing for it's new season in September. With the change in KPU’s large ensemble for strings scheduling, he anticipates being free to take his viola to play and perform with the Stradivari Ensemble in the New Year.  We had a surprise when we attended the Vancouver Welsh Mens’ Choir/Winter Harp Christmas concert as one of the choir members approached David to join the choir.  He excitedly looks forward to giving this a try when the VWMC resumes rehearsals with the New Year.

David continues to enjoy writing, especially fiction, with which he extends his imagination.  The novel, The Sheltered Life of Betsy Parker, that he published last year as a digital copy has drawn ongoing interest and responses on the GoodReads literary sharing site. David received sufficient feedback that he made some significant revisions to the novel and published a second addition, now available both digitally and as hardcopy on Amazon. David has also taken two the events in the novel and written piano tunes attached to those events, drawing interest from his instructors at KPU. In the same way, one of David's written assignments this past term drew such interest that his instructor passed the work on to David's Music Technology instructor for development into a musical project in the new term starting in January.

David’s ASD remains a significant factor in his life, limiting his social connection among his contemporaries and gave him a crisis mental health issue late last spring. His ASD specialist psychiatrist and our minister at Ladner United Church, together, give David wonderful support in response through that issue. Tina and I feel deeply thankful that David continued connection with his ASD specialist psychiatrist while he had no significant ASD issues for psychiatric attention. Dr. Bailey was thus able to respond promptly when this issue arose.

Other than a few quick trips to Vancouver Island, we did not take a get-away this year.  On one off those trips we enjoyed visiting with Ted’s former schoolmates, Dick and Lynn Zandee at their beautiful home in Duncan.

This year brought few life events for us to mark, the one of significance being that Ted joined all other first-year Baby Boomers in celebrating his seventieth birthday in March.  We shared an early "Christmas" as Ted’s brother Norman and his wife Barbara prepared to leave for Australia for a Christmas visit with their son Gareth and wife ZoĆ« at the University of Melbourne where Gareth works on a post-doctoral fellowship studying the effects of artificial lighting on cricket and other insect populations.

Looking beyond ourselves, Ted grows increasingly concerned with the direction Canada’s new federal government takes: not enough of the promised “real change” and too much keeping the troubling policies of the previous government.  This applies most particularly to the approach to so-called free trade treaties that are more accurately characterized as corporate protection deals containing the sovereignty attacking ISDS provision. Ted has written open letters to our MP, the Prime Minister, and other appropriate Federal ministers and Opposition critics and copied them to his blog.  We also share a certain unease with many around us at the result of the Presidential election among our neighbours to the south.

We share many Canadian’s concern for the plight of the many refugees from that horrible civil war in Syria.  Our congregation at Ladner United Church participates with many others across the country and added a third refugee family whom, with the previous two, we participate in giving financial support as they settle into their new lives.

Catinka, in her seventeenth year, remains very much queen of our house, while Angela’s ducks continue to hold authority over our back yard.  Sadly, we lost Tango this past autumn. At fourteen and a half years of age, his moult in August took just too much out of the old boy.  He recovered his full plumage but was just not quite the same drake, moving delicately with elderly caution until the morning when we found he had passed in the night.   Jemima and Rebeccah resumed their egg production with the new year, less heavily than last year, then slowed and stopped completely when they moulted with the end of summer.  They have not yet resumed resumed laying again.  Adam, Angela’s red haired standard poodle, has settled in as very much a part of the family, continuing to endear himself to us all.  He has quite the collection of “friends” that he loves to greet and engage in play when out and about, his favourite game being “Chase Me,” running in great circles centred on the one of us who is out with him while his “friend” chases him along an inner circle.  To Adam’s dismay, many of his “friends” give up on this game as he runs too fast for them.

Ted continues to seek players to experiment with his invented team sports of Two Ball and Delta.  Lacking sufficient contact of his own among sports minded youth, he continues to approach schools as their Physical Education and intramural sport programs likely offer the best chance of drawing sufficiently large groups of players together.  This remains disappointing as no schools have taken up either game yet, advising that they are preoccupied with implementing new province-wide Physical Education curricula.  Ted also keeps up his web presence for the games, periodically posting to the site blog, and on Facebook.  These continue to catch some attention world-wide, but he still awaits word of anyone actually playing either game.  You are most welcome to have a look and draw the games to the attention of sport minded people you may know.

And now we look forward to 2017.  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.

P. S. That this letter arrives on Christmas Eve is entirely deliberate.

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