Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse…well, that’s what the poem states but don’t believe everything you read.

After Thanksgiving, when all the company had left, I was getting supper when I heard something, looked down and our eyes connected. You guessed it…a mouse. We were equally surprised. Off he scuttled to the front hall, down a small hole and all I could think of was, will I see him again, or was this just a quickie visit.

A few days later having neither seen or heard from him I had to get a big casserole out of the oven. I picked up the oven mitts on the side of the stove and shoved in my hands. Gee, I don’t remember that seam being that soft. I thought it was thicker and harder. Dah. It dawned on me…eekkkkkk….I took my hand out, turned the mitt over and shook out, you guessed it, that cute little mouse. He was stunned, probably had his breath knocked out of him. He quickly recovered when Kimee nudged her little nose along his body. The squeaks were fierce …and it was back to that little hole in the front hall.

Now, I could tell you that he went off to join the rest of his family on a cross-Canada tour, or that a talent scout from Nashville admired his well-pitched squeak, or well use your imagination. In this day and age of being politically correct I cannot tell you what really happened.

Group of Seven is alive and well. We continue to meet on a regular and consistent basis. We celebrate Christmas together on the 5th of December.

Together Again: Thornton Reunion 2000 is going to be here before we know it. Four years ago it seemed a long ways away but that was then. We have had a good response to date and hope that coming home to where it began with Charles and Bertha will bring you all to New Brunswick.

Retirement? While I may not have a job that I go to on a daily basis outside the home I have never been so busy in my life. I’ve started two businesses. The first I have been doing for several years in a casual way – “Gateway to Natural Living” which is selling organically grown, food- sourced vitamins. The other, “Gateway to Success” – consultant to the business and non-profit sector”.

It is fun doing contract work as it has a beginning and an end.

Volunteer Work? Jeff and I keep busy with that. He is still involved with Sunbury Shores and now the Legion. I have been busy with fund-raising for the Library (we’ve reached almost $100,000) for the endowment fund to purchase books and material; and am President of the Downtown Business Association.

Jeffs’Business? Continues to be busy. In fact there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do everything. We sold a couple of properties this year and bought another. It is an 1840’s house, Cape Cod style, sadly neglected, with a large garage (Jeff’s real desire to own the property) and a 17 space parking lot.

That which was to be completed in May…was completed for the new tenant for September 1st. Just as she was moving in…we got notice that our tenants next door to us in another 1840'’ house were moving out. So back to the drawing board to do all the usual- paint, paper, plumber etc,.

Entertaining? We’ve had the usual family get togethers during the year. Cousin Carol came from Newmarket for two weeks. We both enjoy her company but me especially. We tucked our feet up and watched girly movies, tried out several restaurants and gabbed.

Aunt Aileen, Uncle Herb and Uncle Ken came for their Thanksgiving visit. Aunty wrote upon her return that it is just amazing that so many people could be in each others company for almost five days straight and still have lots to talk about. So, if you have been wondering what the family reunion will be like, wonder no more …one great big gab fest.

How’s the rest of the family you say? Dad is a wonderful role model for us all. Soon-to-be 83 on the 15th of December he is amazing. He still cuts wood which means we get beautiful hardwood for our fireplaces, plants a big garden which a good deal of the produce makes it to St. Andrews and has just signed a three year lease on a new Windstar.

“Mady” until September was doing well. She and Cousin Carol were out for a day together when “Mady” fell on the sidewalk downtown.

She smashed her shoulder. Needless to say things haven’t been easy for her operating without her right arm. You know things are better when the cookie bowl is out to do the Christmas baking. It takes her longer but it is getting done.

Janet, well, Janet will tell you her news in her letter but suffice to say she is busy.

We were celebrating her birthday at our house the day that “Mady” fell. So at 5:00 o’clock I phoned Janet from the hospital to say Carol and I wouldn’t be there so could she hold the fort until our return. We’d phone just before we left so could she cut up the vegetables, put dinner on, set the table, etc for our arrival. Needless to say she will never let me live that one down…the year she had to throw her own birthday at her sister’s house.

Blaine is busy. He keeps up two properties and has done yoeman’s duty giving his mother extra help. His job at the Algonquin has been seasonal but he was able to do extra work during the off months. This year he has a contract job between October – April. This is full time work at a technology retail outlet and repair shop. They sell TV’s, stereos, radios, computers, telephone systems, etc. Blaine is techno savvy, well, he can program a VCR and tape from it too. In my books, savvy. He still loves his Camp on the Digdeguash River and uses it as a weekend retreat.

Cousin Ida died this year. We will miss her. Ida and Willard have provided many a room night for those of us from Charlotte County with family in hospital who needed us nearby. Their home was a safe haven.

Ida’s burial was in Rolling Dam so we were able to have the family over afterwards for supper. It was terrific to see Willard, Wayne, Yvonne, Dana and Phyllis. Remember we made a promise to each other to keep in touch.

The Perils of Pauline aka Ardeth! Keep this to yourself because Jeffy has just said “I hope you’re not going to bore people with your toe stories”. Oh no, I said. (After all do I really bore you with my health stories?) Here goes. Remember I fell downstairs and really wrenched my shoulder amongst doing other damage. Well, the up-date on that is that I reached across the passenger side of my little Sprint to unlock the back door and popped my right shoulder out of the socket.

The Chiropractor told me it was akin to a sports injury that a baseball pitcher would have. My shoulder blade, with all the muscles, ligaments and tendons gone awry, ended up over and near my armpit.

Any way I went for three weeks not knowing what was wrong, saw the physiotherapist who felt I had a frozen shoulder and would need surgery. That’s when I scooted off to the Chiropractor. I’m hoping soon, that it will be back to normal. My shoulder blade is slowing crawling back to its original location.

And my big toe that I stubbed almost three years ago. It has been decided that I have ganglion cysts. It took over two years, 11 specialists and day surgery to confirm the diagnoses my GP made. Of those eleven specialists my favourite visit was to the very first one, a plastic surgeon who looked at my foot, said, I think its cysts, but I only do hands.

In order to fix my toe, it will have to be amputated at the first joint. I’m trying to build up my enthusiasm for the procedure with little success at the moment.

That’s the end of our news. We leave with this parting thought in rhyme:

Christmas would not be Christmas
If we did not keep in touch,
With all our friends and family
Of whom we think of much.

May the Blessings of the Season
Be yours the whole year though
That of peace, joy and love
From us, to each of you.

P.S. Would each of you with new addresses please remember to add it to your envelope. This new 911 system of addressing is painful. Here’s hoping our cards arrived before Christmas.