Happy Thanksgiving, 2006!

This is our annual web letter.  I almost didn't write one this year, because we didn't have much to talk about...but it is a diary as well as a travelogue, so I do it every year.

In December we sold our house on McIntosh, privately, to a close friend, and downsized into the house we'd been renting out since '91.  It is a bungalow, about half the size, so a lot of our belongings from the other house are stored in a large room in the basement here until we can figure out how to dispose of them - or in Deborah's case, how to part with them...

There was a lot of work to do, much of it maintenance that former tenants had agreed to do in lieu of rent, but it just never got done. With the help of a friend around the corner, Ian Sortwell, we spent many summer mornings digging up and restoring the garden, repairing the eavestroughs, waterproofing an outside wall, pruning and tree trimming, reshingling the shed, painting and cleaning windows, and many other jobs of that nature.  It's a cute little bungalow, incredibly well-insulated, and Deborah loves it because she doesn't have to climb stairs and it is easy to clean, although I find it cramped at times.  I remind myself that it isn't as cramped as a sailboat, and I intend to live in one of those for a year or longer in my retirement.

This is a close-up of the stained glass items in the front window that my Uncle Robert made for us a few years ago - they sure suit this little cottage:

Here is one item of many items in our garden this year, the Datura, or Angel Trumpet Flower - one of the nightshades, a hallucinogenic plant with a fascinating history.

It was a good summer to stay home and work on a house, because Maxie is too old to go sailing anymore, and she appeared to be on her last legs last Christmas, until I started feeding her my secret anti-aging formula.  She has recovered much of her former spunk and energy, at the age of 12 and a 1/2 - two years past her due date for a female Great Dane. Her weight is dropping by about a pound a month, and we never did let her get very heavy in her younger years (should've taken the same care with my own food intake!). In spite of slightly cloudy eyesight and dubious hearing - mind you, she always had somewhat selective hearing, anyway - and a weak back end, she is constantly in motion, and anxious to go for walks or prance around in the backyard.  When her legs betray her, she might walk on her back knuckles for a few seconds, or sit back unexpectedly on her haunches, but she gets up immediately and continues her play with nothing more than a bemused look on her face.  Here she is watching friend Clare and I play at his cottage home in Uffington:

and out for a walk with Clare's wife Pat at the Bala Cranberry Bog:

For one week at the beginning of the summer, our friends Sean and Adrienne took care of Maxie while Deb and I visited my family in Alberta. We camped out, I got to canoe a bit with Peter and Dylan, and see the new houses of siblings and nieces and nephews.  Here is the cute, odd, quaint story-and-half that Kenton and Erika have just bought (it looks terrific inside, by the way - but who's that clown inside the screen door?)

We got out now and again to do a few other things.  I played tennis three times a week through the summer, and we attended a number of social events at the yacht club, and had friends over on numerous occasions to serve them "Garden Bounty" - a real novelty for us: tomatoes, zucchinis, basil for pesto pastas, and mint, parsley and chives, etc, from our own garden, for the first time ever, in a number of interesting recipes that we discovered using these items.  For the last twenty years we lived in a house with lots of shade and tree roots from mature maple trees, so we had no garden.

Pat invited us to ride a steam train at Tottenham to celebrate Clare's birthday:

And of course, we got out day-sailing about a dozen times.  Wish it was more...maybe next summer.  This is our friend Robin McKim on one of those days, one of the nicest days we got out on the water, with boats from our club behind him participating in a regatta..

In September I transferred to a new school, Robert Service Sr. P. S.  I have to update their website for them, when I find the time. I'm 1/2 time VP, 1/2 time grade 7 core language teacher and computer lab guy for the school (seven computer classes per week, plus AV and computer maintenance).  I end up working for at least one day out of every weekend to stay caught up even after long days at school, but it is close to home, and I like the students and the staff.  Deborah is teaching grade 4 for another year at Oakridge P.S., and reports that she has a lovely class of 24 kids.  I have 33 - par for the course for intermediate schools in Ontario now that there is a primary class size cap with no additional funding - you squeeze the bottom end, it comes out the top end...politics...yecch.

Everyone in our families seem to be doing very well, all healthy and happy, and many of the younger generation are embarking on new adventures - beginning new careers, travelling overseas, etc.

Here's wishing you all a great winter and a Happy New Year,

Steve and Deborah Gilchrist

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