Well here it is - another Christmas Eve and I sit here just wondering where the year has gone and what will next year bring.
Here is a copy of this years annual Christmas letter that we send to family and friends:
Another year has passed and it’s time again to put fingers to keyboard and reflect on what’s happened to the Neelins in 2014.
Bill and Wendy have had a busy year as usual, what with the Hash House Harrier weekly, sometimes bi-weekly and more, runs/walks, the monthly visits to the Ottawa Little Theatre to watch a variety of plays, Bill’s weekly lunches with his old work buddies and bi-monthly lunches with his old Navy buddies, the monthly lunches at various restaurants and pubs with Bill’s External Affairs (DFAIT) colleagues and their spouses as well as various other activities, we have no time to get old. How lovely is that! We have also been lucky health-wise and continue in good health.
In March Wendy had a lovely surprise when Heather gave her an all-expenses paid trip to Dubai for 3 weeks. What a wonderful time we had, just a girls’ holiday doing girl stuff like shopping, eating in super restaurants, movies and just generally hanging out.
Olivia arrived in June for the summer and Heather joined her in July. Liv went to camp for a week at Upper Canada Village as a Time Traveller. She was dressed and lived as she would have in 1867. What a great experience and she’s all set to go back in the summer. After camp was over, the girls did a road trip to New York, Washington and Boston which was amazing. Lucky for us we know someone in New York so had the use of her apartment at 57th and Broadway and we also know someone in Washington and had the use of his house on Capital Hill. We had a terrific time, taking in a Broadway play, Matilda, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and everything in between and in Washington we went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, the International Spy Museum and took a bike tour of Washington. In Boston we visited with a friend of Heather’s and spent a lovely day at the beach with her and her baby. Outlet shopping completed our trip.
Don’t feel too badly for Bill, while we were doing our road trip he was off to Brussels for a Hash event. While there he took tours to Ghent, Brugge, Antwerp and Amsterdam and spent several days in London before and after Brussels. While he was in London he took a trip to see the house we lived in while we were posted to London and again several organized tours, including one to the town where Harry Potter was filmed. He feels he had a much better time! Indeed he does!
Heather and Liv returned to Dubai (Sharjah really) at different times and after we’d caught our breath we were off to Nova Scotia to spend a week with Bill’s brother, Dave, who moved there in April. He has a lovely old house with an ocean view and we had a great time.
Heather and Olivia are both well. Heather applied for, and got, the job of Middle School Curriculum Co-ordinator at her school which is a great promotion. She also completed her Masters Degree in Education. Liv continues to thrive and his growing up so fast.
Don and Shereene, Mieka and Adrian are all well and we see them often. They are still living in North Gower. Mieka is 8 and Adrian will be 5 on December 28. My how fast they grow!
We hope you had a happy and healthy year and that 2015 holds all good things for you.
I am pretty sure that I had more fun on my trip to Europe than I would have if I had of made the shopping trip with "the girls' to the USofA. Waffles, hot chocolate and a sampling of at least 28 different kinds of beer, who could ask for more? I did go off my gluten free diet for that trip and did not regret it. Of course I had my acid reflux pills with me and took them religiously every day.
Have a few things planned for not only 2015 but even into 2016.
Another couple of busy days. Now to try and figure out what all has happened in the past couple of days. I suppose the most important is that I have finally got the cruise booked as well as the shore excursions and ‘drinks’ package. We are both looking forward to a bit of a holiday and some warmth in the upcoming winter.
Friday was an interesting day. Started up bright and early to be out to the grandkids school for their Christmas concert which was supposed to start at 8:30am. That certainly is early. We were there in lots of time and it was a joy to see not only Mieka and Adrian do their parts but also all of the other kids as well. The youngsters do put their hearts into the performance.
Christmas presents all wrapped up yesterday (Saturday) and the ones to be shipped are all boxed up and ready to be sent later today. They will not arrive until after Christmas but that will just mean another day of opening presents for them. Cards have all been sent so now it is just sit back and wait until Christmas arrives. Not so sure if we will put up a tree this year. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of room in the living room! There are now two large plants in the front window which seem to be taking up an awful lot of space. One is a “Money Tree” that we got as a small plant from Costco a few years ago which is now about 5 feet tall and the other is either a grapefruit or lemon seed that I planted 4 to 5 years ago and it is now also about 5 feet tall. Neither have lived up to their names though - no money from the tree and no fruit from the other one.
Supposed to be heading out to the farm to help decorated their tree. Don is very traditional and takes the kids out to a cut your own tree farm and they pick out just the right one. We will be picking up the “out-laws” on the way so they can be involved as well.
WHAT DAY IS IT???? What day is it??? Where as the time gone? Can it be a week since I have put anything up here? Well I guess it is. So what all has happened this past week?
FRIDAY: Was two count them two Christmas parties or at least meals out. At noon it was the monthly Lime Day DFAIT Group. A good group of retired DFAIT technical staff who get together once a month for a nice lunch in a pub or restaurant. However, because this was special for Christmas it was to an upper class restaurant in Quebec at the L'Oree Du Bois in Chelsea. It is a rustic upscale restaurant - just right for a special dinner. You get a three course meal plus tea or coffee. You just have to pick out your main course, there is a choice of 5 starters which are to be shared then the main course, and a plate of 5 sample size desserts for each person. I had the rabbit while Wendy had a venison steak. Both were delicious.
After a lingering lunch it was back home, in the mixed snow and rain. It seems as if every time there is a Lime Lunch in Quebec the weather is not co-operative at all. It was time to get freshened up and changed for the Hash Posh Nosh at the International Restaurant at Algonquin College. This was a dress up affair (the photo of Wendy and I on the home page is from that event) and almost every one was suitably attired. Several of the men in tuxedos and ladies in evening dresses. You can dress us up and take us out. There was background jazz music by a trio before and partly through the meal. Because this was a catered four course meal, prepared by and served by Algonquin students our main course had been pre-selected. The meal consisted of a small salad, squash soup, prime roast beef with wrapped vegetables and mashed potatoes, an individual melting chocolate cake, and coffee. Of course a couple of bottles of wine were also consumed. No not consumed by just the two by us but with another couple. Wendy got lots of compliments on her new dress.
SATURDAY: Don rented the Pearce’s Corners Community Hall for Adrian’s fifth birthday party. Of course the grandparents had to be there - all four of them. The kids certainly had a good time and Adrian received some very nice presents.
SUNDAY: Don’s sister-in-law Renata is in town for a couple of days and Saturday was her birthday but because of the celebration for Adrian nothing was done for her. We got a call in the afternoon to see if we would go out for sushi to help celebrate Renata’s belated birthday. So it was off to Sushi Kan for supper.
MONDAY: Doctor’s appointment in the morning for a checkup on the cyst and it is going away and the doc said no operation and if it comes back to see him again. So that is the end of that. Then it was out to the farm to get eggs for the ‘customers’ at the hash. Oh and what a hash it was. The hare is well known for setting long trails and even though he said this one would be short it was 9K! You can read about it under Hash Trash.
TUESDAY: Once again out to the farm for eggs for Wednesday’s ‘customers’. Then back home and Don came over to help fix the snow blower and supper. It turned out that the belt had just slipped off the pulley so did not have to take it all apart. Don suggested that we go to the Craft Fair so off we went. I think he was looking for gift ideas for different people and I think he did get some.
TODAY/WEDNESDAY: Hamburger steak at the Old Farts lunch today and then back to the craft fair because there was another holiday convertible dress that Wendy liked so she tried it on and sure enough it was bought. But they did have the colour she wanted on hand so it will be shipped from their workshop. However, she did get another convertible top that she liked. I got a take-away from the Legion which we shared for supper.
I have also been checking on cruises and it is a good thing that I did not book one because of date conflicts. Now that I have the dates where we must be home it may be a little easier. Off to do some cruise checking now.
Today of all days……. Today is the day the snowblower decides to stop running. At least it stopped after all the work had been done. What happened is that when the handle to put the wheels in motion was engaged the wheels weren’t! I took the bottom plate off and saw that a brass rod had slipped out of one of the side holes that held it in place. The e-clip that held it in place must have worn out and the rod slipped out of one side. Took a walk up to Home Hardware to see if they had any clips but they didn’t. When I came back I just put the rod back in place and tried the lever again but with no luck. On taking a closer look it appears as if the drive belt has come off of the pulley. That rod must have held the belt in place. So now the belt is probably jammed around something which is stopping the wheels from turning. It was off to Princess Auto to get the clips, and you have to buy a package of 150 of different sizes because that is the only way they come. Decided may as well get them. Checked out the drive belts but, because I don’t have the size, only the Sears part number, there was no way to get the right one.
It was then off to Originals Craft Show to see if we could do a bit of Christmas shopping. We both think that of the two major shows this one is the better of the two. There certainly were a lot of displays, much more than the other. While walking through we saw so many artisans that we bought things from in past years. Yes, even got a couple of presents and Wendy got a ‘convertible’ dress that would be great for travelling. It changes into 3 or 4 different designs just by some minor changes in the way that it is worn. While we were there there 2 more ladies came in to buy a dress or two as well. They had purchased from this person before and were back for more because they were off on a cruise in February and they say that these are the ideal dresses because they are so versatile. May have to get another one but different style. But have to work on Wendy to get her more interested in going on a cruise in February.
On the way home stopped off in Canadian Tire to see if they had a drive belt for the snowblower but no luck there either. They did have blower belts but none said that they were for my model so it will be off to Sears to get the right one.
Late night supper tonight…..
Well, winter is defiantly upon us now. Last Tuesday was the Gaggle Christmas Party, today it was the Old FARTS Christmas Party, Friday there are two Christmas parties, Lime Day and the Hash Posh Nosh. Add all of that up and the fact that it is snowing to beat the band and you have to say it is winter.
Today’s Old FARTS party, unlike the Gaggle, was a bring your spouse along so the numbers were fairly much the same of about 65 at each of the events. Another difference was the price, today’s was $15 each whereas the other was $25, although that difference may have been because the Gaggle was ‘professionally’ cater while today’s was the usual cook with 2 servers and the tip was not included. In both cases the food was very good. Today’s menu turkey, dressing, tourtiere, ham, mashed potatoes, carrots, salad, and cake for dessert.
I didn’t shovel the drive before we left for the lunch because I didn’t think there was not enough time. So when we got back just parked on the street while I did the shovelling to the end of the drive and then blew it onto the lawn. Awhile later Wendy took a look out the window and saw that I hadn’t put the car in the garage so out I went to do that. On the way out the neighbours were shovelling our drive! Why? you may ask? Because the kids wanted a snow hill to slide down. It just so happened that there was more than enough snow to shovel and blow again so that is what I did - or should say we did. Pushed the snow to the end of the drive and then got out the snow blower and shifted the snow over to a hill that the kids were building. So here it is after supper and the snow is still coming down so I know what I will be doing before we go out tomorrow.
I am still looking at cruises and wondering what else to post on here. Old memories?
What a week it has been and I am finally going to try and get caught up with what has been going on. Not only has the week past but so has the month of November.
It has been a busy week and a lot has been happening. Of course Monday night was the usual hash run and it was a brutal run for sure. Not only was it very cold and windy but much longer than expected you can read about it under Hash, Trash.
Tuesday was the first of the upcoming Christmas dinners. The “Old Navy Group” The GAGGLE had our Christmas Dinner at CFS Leitrim, complete with turkey, tortiere, and all the other trimmings. The Gaggle is always a good time to get caught up with the old gang and usually have a light lunch. The sad part is they read out the names of those who have past away since the last meeting. On this occasion there were seven who have gone on ahead and I knew two of them very well. It is always sad to see the passing of old comrades.
Off to the Vanier Legion for Old FARTS on Wednesday. And it was a must attend for me this Wednesday. Last week the cook came and said that it was my turn to pick the menu for the meal. It would have been a crime if I had not shown up for the fish and chips.
Were Thursday and Friday ‘normal’ days? No way. Got a call on Thursday to see if we could go out and pick up the kids from the school bus and then on Friday night an emergency call from Shereene. She had been in a slight traffic accident but her vehicle was undriveable and could we rescue her and the kids because she could not get in touch with Don. It was off to the west end to do our duty.
Saturday morning was breakfast with Santa at the Pierce’s Corners community centre. Don was doing the pancake cooking and we did the pancake eating. In the afternoon it was the Hash Annual Christmas Party complete with a short run before a marvellous meal.
In between times I have been doing more research on Wendy’s side of the family tree. I am trying to find more details on the female side (Wendy’s mother’s mother’s side) but it seems as if I have run into the end of the road on one line. It is like the ‘male side’ (Wendy’s mother’s father’s side) which runs into a wall at her great-grandfather. One of her uncles had also tried to get information on this side as well but also ran into the same problems. I will have to just keep looking and try a few other things as well.