Wednesday, 7 January 2009

The Family 2008

Skittles and Beer
December 2007 to December 2008

“Life is not all skittles and beer.” is an older phrase expressing that there are highs and lows in life. Most of us think (or thought) that after we retired, life would all be skittles and beer!
Skittles is a game that was commonly played in a pub - a form of tabletop bowling.
Now most of you know that back in the 1980s, we did spend a lot of time in the pubs, at lunchtime and afterward. I loved the ‘skittles and beer’ times — though for me they were brief times, I always had to retire early; I could not keep up with most of you!

So this little newsletter is about those times when we are not playing skittles at Stillwater Lake. This latest interval has been very satisfying in a number of ways.

First, starting with the family, Denyse turned 30 in June and this birthday began that transformational “30 something” mindset. This is good news! She has been concentrating her attention on working and modifying her lifestyle to be more in charge of her own destiny. Denyse is still truck driving (tandem dump trucks), for over year now. She recently joined a mid size local outfit, Vernon Kynock, a company she had been hoping to be part of for quite some time. She knew that at year end she was going to be laid off, and is scheduled to join Caterpillar local offices in January 2009.

Luke is off to a good start in his career. He was hired permanently with a local appraiser in August this year. He is getting much more comfortable with the haste and pace of the office (in the beginning there were many 12 hour days) and is starting to enjoy it there. He and Janelle (his girlfriend for over one year now) are usually out to Stillwater on Sundays for a great meal by Gail, but they sometimes come out just to overnight at the boathouse. Luke continues to be passionate about playing and listening to black metal music and jazz. He is developing quite the music studio in his mother’s basement!

One of our highlights this year was our 3 week adventure trip through Central America, starting in Costa Rica, through Nicaragua, Honduras and ending in Guatemala for Easter Week. It was an incredible experience. You can go on Here to enjoy some of the 1000 plus pictures Doug took. This time we traveled with a Canadian company, Gap Adventure Travel, and felt very secure and comfortable despite the sometimes edgy nature of the travel. The Nicaragua border stands out in our minds as of one of those moments when we felt very, very happy to have a tour guide to get us through.

In July we traveled to Harrington, Quebec for the 25th wedding anniversary of Melanie and Lambert (Gail’s brother and wife), see photos on the web. Most of the photos arrived compliments of my brother Jim and his wife Jeannette. They were kind enough to deliver a case of wine to us when we were in Quebec, so that we could remember our trip to Italy a couple of years ago. They certainly enjoyed the party and the golf lessons provided by Bill’s daughter, Cathleen.

It was a wonderful party. The entire community turned out to wish Lambert and Melanie well and to be part of a joyous time in their lives after a very difficult year. Lambert and Melanie spent a 2nd honeymoon vacation here in Nova Scotia with us and with other friends. By the way, Lambert has now had his hip replacement surgery and is doing very well. He and Melanie are building a new house with a spectacular view of the Harrington Hills. We can’t wait to sit on their deck and enjoy evening happy hour and morning coffee.

Gail’s family, Mom and Dad and sister Sue visited in October; we always try and make a trip of this visit — we went to the Western Shore area of Nova Scotia this year. We toured all through the Annapolis Valley and then rented a cottage for a couple of nights at Baie St. Maire on the French shore. The cottage had a gorgeous view of the bay, we could see all the way to Digby Neck, where some of the best whale watching in the province is. Unfortunately, it was too late in the season to be able to go. It’s yet another beautiful part of this province for any of you to come and share with us. It is definitely the heart of the fishing industry here and we enjoyed great seafood at Chez Christope near our cabin and in Metegan. Even got to taste the famous rappie pie! You will have to come here to learn about it yourself. If you are really good visitors, like Susan, you will make it your mission to shop well here and seriously contribute to our local economy. Well done Susan!

As most of you have to already know, I have been spending a lot of ‘rainy days’ researching the life and works of A. Hyatt Verrill, an explorer and prolific author, who died in 1954. I have located book collectors, writers, even family members during four years of research. This past year, I finally published some of his works that were not available to the general public. I did this because his writing is very good, very readable, and is a snapshot of American enterprise during his remarkable lifetime. As we close 2008, I just checked with the Canadian Library online. There is his autobiography, five collections (books) of his science fiction, and one of miscellaneous stories. One other author piqued my interest; he wrote boy mystery stories – only four books appeared in this series (like Hardy Boys). So now I have two books of his, The Outboard Boys from 1933. You will undoubtedly want to purchase all of these nine books; they are available through our website, STILLWOODS.BLOGSPOT.COM.

Speaking of our blog; it has a lot of Verrill stuff for sure but there is the odd article about Stillwater Lake, our subdivision and various other thoughts and inventions (I am very proud of our Vegetable Closet!). I notice that over the two years that the blog has been operational (I figured how to use it), that we have submitted one chapter/page/story a week! That has been an enjoyable effort.

We have two photo websites – one is full and I don’t want to pay for extending it. The active one ‘Picasa’ has been used for more Stillwater Lake photos and ideas and new family photos.

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.