Happy New Year!

     In February we had a party for some friends at the yacht club where we served Peter's great award-winning chili, in edible bread bowls created by Deborah.  

    In March we flew down to Florida because we only had a week off for March Break.  We grabbed a rental car at the airport and drove down to go camping on Elliot Key in Biscayne National Park.  We visited bird sanctuaries, and snorkeled the coral reef from a catamaran sailing out of Key Largo

    Upon our return, Deb took delivery of her new Swift, which had very high "cute factor".  I find it a gas to drive, no pun intended.  It has manual transmission, zips around like a little sports car, and takes its fuel in sips instead of gulps like the old Marquis used to do.  There's lots of room for Maxie and/or camping gear in the back, too.

We celebrated Canada Day with Arnd, Stefanie, Silken and Una on Salt Spring Island.  It was a little chilly on this evening, but we had nice warm hikes and picnics on other days.

    We stopped in Vancouver to visit with Lara, who was starring as Rosalynd in As You Like It, a Shakespearean production with Bard on the Beach. We hung out together for a few days, walking, eating sushi, crossing the Capilano Bridge, etc.

Shortly after we got home, her brother Kenton and his partner Erika visited us in Toronto. We went sailing, and sacrificed their digital camera to the gods of Lake Ontario, but undeterred, they quickly bought a better one, and we all went to Niagara Falls for a camping and sightseeing trip, as well as the AGM of the Angola Memorial Scholarship Fund.

While at the Falls, we rode the Maid of the Mist, and visited Marine Land, and the Aviary.  Erika has birds on the brain, don't you think?

One of them tried to stow away in Deborah's backpack to break out of bird prison. Maybe he identifies with our taste in T-shirts.

In August I got to fulfill a longstanding dream by taking my brother Peter sailing in our 27' Mirage

My nephew Dylan found Lake Ontario positively Caribbean.

Niece Emily took a while to be convinced,

and got wet one centimetre at a time,

but eventually she went in for a dip as well.

Of course, not all days on Lake Ontario are as sunny, but our friends Sean and Adrienne show us how Lake Ontario sailors deal with gray days

In November we sold our 3 bedroom, 2 storey home to a close friend, and moved into the house we'd been renting out since '91.
This photo is from the previous year.  It shows the old Marquis, which held up well for twenty years but is now in car heaven.

    The downsizing exercise has been severe.  I'm still not sure the change was completely positive for us, but it is cosy, and there's a superb garden that we'll be able to grow flowers and vegetables in when the snow melts.  The last house didn't have any gardening possibilities.  There was too much shade from mature maple trees, and too many roots through the soil.  We have hardwood floors, and a real wood fireplace.   It doesn't heat the house much, but gives great ambience, and warms you up like toast if you sit right in front of it.  As the Friendly Giant used to say, "One little chair for one of you, and a bigger chair for two to curl up in, and for someone who likes to rock, a rocking chair in the middle."  We actually have the rocking chair, too.  This room is where you'll be sitting if you come to visit us this year.  Some guests have even slept here, as my poor mother discovered a month ago.

    We've come up with a better sleeping solution since Mom was here and we're a little more unpacked and a little better organized. Any of our friends will be most welcome to stop by, or even stay overnight.  We've spent this Christmas break getting organized, doing AMSF banking, helping my friend move into our old house, and lots of other chores, and visiting with friends we don't see much during the school year.

I wonder what the year to come will bring?  A new school for me in September, I know that much; but they haven't told me which one, yet.  Deb will stay where she is at Oakridge until she retires, three years from now according to my calculations, although she says four.  Maxie is still getting around, but growing older and weaker.  We don't know how much longer she'll last.  She's almost thirteen, which is quite a feat for a Great Dane.  There will be travel, for sure, lots of sailing.

We wish each of you the very best for 2006.


Steve & Deborah

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