I can’t believe it’s December. I had plans to be ready by the end of November. What went wrong??!!!

As usual this has been another full year. Our January ice storm left a deep impression on us all. Ours did not last long – only 40 hours without heat or lights. I spent all my time running up and down to the basement to get wood for the two fireplaces. It kept the downstairs temperature at about 48 degrees. We cannot complain. When one compares our measly 40 hours to those who had 40 days or more.

The second night without heat and lights – we entertained. It can be done by standing on the back porch with a small flashlight between teeth with the beam aimed at the bar-be-que (and with buck teeth that’s a feat), We have a gas one with a burner …and had no idea how much gas was in it. We had grilled chicken breasts, grilled squash, mashed potatoes and steamed peas done in a steamer while the potatoes cooked. Fortunately, guests brought dessert. We had a great time. In fact, the ambiance of the candles, the quiet of the evening with no background music meant, we talked. The fireplace was roaring so, all was well in our little cozy nook. Outside it was different. Trees were bowed to the ground in supplication, some never to snap back, only snap. A tremendous thrashing of limbs falling like pistol fire then quiet followed the sound. The devastation was heart breaking. For those with animals who suffered it must have been awful. Some things just don’t bear thinking about.

We had our usual trip to Samoset to rest up for the summer season. And what a season it was. With the US dollar worth almost 50% more than Canadian $$$ – Canadians stayed home and those from the US who know about the great savings came to visit. A financial tip from Lloyd Thornton - for those planning on attending the Thornton Family Reunion August 3 – 7, 2000 in St. Andrews by-the-Sea NOW is the time to start buying Canadian cash for the trip. For every US dollar you will get approximately $1.50 Canadian. Go now to your nearest bank…it’s the easiest way to earn extra money. Speaking of the Reunion you will be receiving details of it early in the New Year. Reunion news will hopefully dispel the January blues.

Summer always brings the desire to add another bed to the flower garden. We did. It will be included on the local tour for the reunion so hopefully the weather will co-operate. Aunt Aileen and Uncle Herb came to visit. Hurrah! Kang, Sharon and kids rented a cottage by-the-sea so we had some great visits. Kang and Sharons kids are priceless. They are polite, happy, talkative kids who are a real pleasure to have visit. The Howsons and Jans went on to PEI.

Group of Seven flourishes….Jeff continues to pose the question: “What can you find to talk about for almost twelve hours?” What can I say …with seven people with a chance for each to speak the time flies.
Ferd came to St. Andrews again this year and stayed at the Waterfront Garden Suites for almost a month. We also love to see Ferd but he is a party animal and nearly wears us out. Of course, he’s much younger than we are…well, 95 but we are a wimpy party couple. Ferd has just moved from his third floor walk up in New York City to a new digs on the 28th floor. You will be relived to know he opted for an elevator.

Jeff’s side of the family factored into our year too. In May we (Jeff, Ardeth, Mady, Dad and Janet) drove to Ontario to attend cousin Andrea’s wedding. Dad and Janet went on to Hamilton to visit. The wedding went without a hitch and the tomboy bride looked anything but tomboyish. Got a couple of great hints…put toss away camera’s at each table with a request that guests take photos of those at the table and others at the reception. As you know we are now environmentally correct and throw rice instead of confetti. Now, the new wave…blow bubbles. Blowing bubbles has the most wonderful sensation of being a kid again. For anyone who has not blown bubbles in a while …do so immediately…it is a real spirit lifter. Just ask Janet…who does it in the dark of night in her backyard.

Andrea’s Mom, Carol came to visit in September. Wouldn’t you know this was her first time to take a trip alone after dear husband Ron’s death and Air Canada chose to go on strike. We so wanted her to come …and she did. To heck with Air Canada. When I took her back to the local airport to catch her flight I realized what effort it took to arrange her flight. The official ticket counter for the charter was a card table. Hmmmm. Carol is a sweet, kind, generous, quiet person who married her high school sweetheart. They raised three wonderful kids…and Andrea like me is the unspoiled baby of the family. Girl-talk was abundant.

Uncle Ken dropped in on us. Kimee seemed to be excited about something, which we knew by her wiggling and squiggling at the front door. The bell hadn’t rung …but I went, (to please Kimee), opened the door and there he stood. I was speechless. Really. We had a fun visit here but the real visit was when he threw himself a Birthday Bash and what a bash it was. Relatives came from Boston, St. Andrews, Philadelphia, Rochester, and Ontario. It was another round of good food, entertainment dancing, and singing including Bill and Jo. Uncle Ken and Uncle Herb hogged the dance floor all evening…never flagging. It was Bethany who kept Uncle Herb busy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t given up going to the gym to join an Arthur Miller class. The next day UK’s daughters and daughter-in-law provided a buffet, which was another great chance to visit. (More good grub.)

Other highlights of the year were:
* Aunt Ina’s 91st birthday party…how does she stay so young.
*Thanksgiving was fun although we had to do without the family from Ontario. Some seemed to think they needed to be home in Ontario to get ready for the big party…heavens that was 5 days after Thanksgiving.
*The foundation’s St. Andrews office is closing so I will be unemployed the middle of January. It has been a fun 12 years, exciting changes are coming and I’m thrilled to have been asked to join the Board. Needless to say I have accepted.
*“Mady” continues with her work for the Charlotte County Cancer Society, and cooks up a storm the year-round - filling her funeral tray (as we refer to it), baking cookies for the Ross Museum Christmas Open House or our 18th annual Sing Song she fills her days. (She’s cut me off on the Jewel Bars – nuts, chocolate chips on a brown sugar base. Ym.Ym. Good.)
*Blaine’s job at the Algonquin continues to be seasonal but as usual he rarely has any time off. When one job finishes someone calls to say: When can you be to work? He’s working these days for an electrical company on the supermarket project in St. Stephen
*We celebrate Dad’s 82nd birthday this Sunday. He stays busy in his garden, the woods and with life in general.

I can’t leave you without catching you up on the Perils of Ardeth. About the 7th of November I fell down the backstairs at home. I was on my way to the kitchen to put on the kettle because an estate planner was coming. (Our wills need to be up-dated as they haven’t been done in 15 years.) From here on in …..no, no I mean, from here on down life went into slow motion. My hand was on the newel post, I put my left foot down which hit the edge of the step at an angle causing me to pitch forward and sideways. I grabbed for the railing with my left hand. Aha…I’m saved…oh no, gravity and thrust caused me to pick up speed and my body fell forward. My hand, of course, stayed at the top of the railing…as I continued to fall my arm kept getting longer and l o n g e r. I knew I had no choice… I had to let go…I didn’t want to…but I had to. So I did let go and travelled to the bottom of the stairs like a torpedo (face forward mind) …only to be stopped when my chin came to rest on the floor. My shoes left skid marks on the wallpaper, parts were scraped and just a might sore from the friction of my body sliding down over the carpeted steps. I could only think…damn… this is it …and me without my estate planned…what rotten timing. What could I move…my eyes…my toes...shoes had disappeared somewhere on the journey down… my but I hurt. Was it seconds, or minutes before it dawned on me one reason I was so sore and hurt so much was that my body was not meant to try to conform to the shape of the steps. Being smart…I gingerly began moving parts to see if I could get my torso to join my head down on the floor. I got up using my left side. So there I was just sitting… surrounded by all those important estate papers…when Jeff whistles in through the living room and just happens to glance sideways …he sees me sitting surrounded by those papers and said: ‘Tell me you didn’t fall”. He heard my slightly, shaky, feeble reply….“ yessss I I I did ”. He came and looked down at me. I saw the accumulation of 18 years of suffering the consequences of my ill health and clumsiness. “Tell me you aren’t hurt”.

Really I’ve got to quit pulling those stunts because Jeff is reaching his limit of asking “What now.” No broken bones, I wasn’t paralyzed but what’s really bothering me is the whip lash. When I tried to keep from falling forward I leaned backwards, fell and then continued to plow into the floor chin first.

Well, here’s to the blessings of surviving falling downstairs, husband’s who remain stalwart despite the number of times he has come to the rescue of his damsel in distress, of family and friends to share our lives with and especially the Blessings of His Birth.