Greetings from St. Andrews by-the-Sea…

I was in the Town Office discussing things for our Community Improvement Program with the Town Manager and Assistant Town Manager. Our conversation was interrupted with the news that the World Trade Centre had been hit, then the second, we simply looked at each other and stated that the world had changed. Our hearts go out to all who had loved ones lost in the Towers.

But let us back up to last years letter to bring you up to speed.

Mabel & Ritchie continue to be in my thoughts as we finalize work on their former home at 20 Schoodic. I inherited it, got it cleaned out and put it up for sale. It has not sold one year later so we have: installed a new furnace, the old one was a converted coal furnace; rewired where needed and electric heaters were added in rooms that had no heat; the old carpeting has been torn up for new to be laid; new storm windows have been added on the second floor and new garage doors, steps and porch roof. Mabel & Ritchie told me when they completed their wills that they had left me the house and frankly, in their opinion, "it was no gift just a lot of hard work and expense". To a degree they were right. However, the really fun part is when work has been done anywhere for anything in the house…the standard response has been "I wonder why anybody would do that". Ritchie has left his mark, even after death!

Janet had hip surgery number 6 in May and came through with flying colours. She stayed in her own home with the help of: life line (only set it off a couple of times in error); home help (when they came she felt they were invading her space and by the time they left it was heart-wrenching…back to getting and doing all by self); and friends and family helped too.

"Mady" had many adjustments to make this year. We invaded her home sending her off to one of our small apartments for three weeks while we redecorated, and rearranged the house, and in no small part her life. You know how NASA makes a big deal of reentering the earth's atmosphere, well, we made a big deal of her reentering her little house. She had not laid one eye on what had been done. Twenty of her friends were invited to join her for dinner to view the "damage".

The changes have been a big adjustment for "Mady". We tried to simplify her life to accommodate changes that need to be made to make life safer and easier as she ages. Her favourite change was new front steps. Her least favourite begins with "What did you do with my ? It has been a period of adjustment for us all.

Blaine continues to work during the busy season as Head of Receiving at the Algonquin and continues to work there on an as needed basis until the next summer season along with a variety of other jobs which keep him busy. Again this year he was able to take days off to go to his beloved Camp on the Digdeguash River.

Dad continues to keep pace with life. He still goes to the woods to cut his own firewood although we do tease him that he is really slacking off as he has finally let the woods relax without his presence on a regular basis. At soon to be 85 we think that’s exactly what he should be doing. However, the day he tells us he's deicded he won't be putting in a big garden you'll heard my sobs here in St. Andrews. It must be tough sometimes for him to decide is he loved more for his potatoes or for his presence .…it sure is hard to beat Dad's nice white crisp home grown spuds. (Jeff would tell you if push came to shove and I had to decide between a fluffy pile of mashed potatoes or him…the potatoes would win. What can I say …it's the Irish in me!)

Visitors. Cousin Carol came to visit and we had our usual great time including a quickie trip to PEI. We always have such fun with her here. She is everyone's answer to what a house guest should be. No bother, is up to help in the twinkling of an eye and Jeff's favourite …she's so quiet. (I think I rather have a windmill effect as I whirl through life.)

Carol was as pleased as we were when my dear friends Vange and Sharon came to visit. It was a quick trip for them to St. Andrews. Our sides hurt when they leave from laughing. The only down side…they never stay long enough.

Aunt Aileen, Uncle Herb and Uncle Ken arrived again this year for Thanksgiving. We went on our usual foliage tour driven by Blaine this year. We toured the back country and saw beautiful views. I took my camera …but really…a camera cannot due justice to the way the sunlight filters through the trees cloaked in red, orange and yellow.

We had a great visit with them and our other guests who gathered over the holiday. We were especially pleased that the Howsons came as Uncle Herb has not been well and typical of having an on-going problem…one would get solved and another would happen. Gad it's awful when you feel battered physically and emotionally…been there, done that. They were in good spirits when they left and so were we. Uncle Ken came to us via PEI where he had attended bag pipe school.

We love having all our friends and family join us as we are still chuckling as we wave good bye. They bring laughter into our household that keeps us giggling throughout the year. So, here it is 2001 ever closer to the 2005 Thornton Reunion in Philadelphia. Dot….quit worrying, all will go well as all we seem to need is each other to have fun.

Our big news for the year is that I attained Director status with Shaklee. Because of that they treated us to Las Vegas for a Shaklee Convention. The trip by plane from Saint John to Toronto to Denver to Las Vegas was LONG and with the time change, a function when we arrived we were up for 22 straight hours having had 2 hours sleep before we left. Despite that we had a wonderful time.

We went to shows, the Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area and managed to take in all the workshops and business meetings. (Shaklee for those of you who do not know is a company that makes products in harmony with nature - personal care, cleaning or vitamin and herbal supplements. I started taking them 7 years ago and it has made such a difference to my well being.)

I love being involved with this company as it has a conscience. The mother company recently purchased the company Harry & David, of Fruit of the Month Club Fame, Jackson Roses and formed an alliance with AirSource3000 a wonderful new product available now in the US. AirSource is an air purifying machine that removes mould, etc. and will hopefully be available soon in Canada. The interesting thing about Shaklee (pronounced Shack Lee) is that I have clients all over North America.

Jeff and I have had our usual busy year. Property maintenance, the gardens, work, and life are full to the brim. So what else is new. We can but ask if we weren't doing HMS, the rental company, volunteer work, Shaklee and were retired would our lives be as busy? The truth? Yes. With two Type A personalities living in the same house it will be ever thus. If we really didn’t like it…we wouldn't be doing it.

Jeff joins me in sending each and everyone our very best wishes for happy times with family and friends during this holiday season and throughout the New Year. Our prayers for Peace on Earth have taken on a whole new meaning.