Rose in Bethlehem

There’s a Rose in Bethlehem, with a beauty quite divine.
Perfect in this world of sin, on this silent, holy night.
There’s a fragrance much like hope that is sends upon the wind,
Reaching out to every soul from a lowly manger’s crib.
O Rose of Bethlehem, how lovely, pure and sweet.
Born to glorify the Father, born to wear the thorn’s for me.
There’s a Rose in Bethlehem, colored red like mercy’s flood
‘Tis the flower of our faith, ‘tis the blossom of God’s love.
Tho’ its bloom is fresh with youth, surely what will be He knows.
For a tear of morning dew is rolling down the Rose.

These are the words of the one of the pieces the Shiretown Singers sang on Sunday, December 12
th at our concert. The melody is as beautiful as the words. Getting back to music was one the promises I made to myself when I turned 50. Being in this choir has been good for my soul. Singing this piece had special meaning when I thought of Aunt Aileen who had phoned us earlier that morning to tell us that Uncle Herb had died. We so enjoyed their company at Thanksgiving, especially after Mum had died as they kept us closer to the memory of Mum. Uncle Herb, like Dad, knew how to hug and mean it. We will miss him. We are blessed to have a terrific family.

Thornton Family Reunion
This family extends beyond the boundaries of just us. The 2005 Reunion Plans are underway thanks to this year’s hosts – the Pholks from Philly. Hope to see lots of you there.

After the concert on Sunday we celebrated Dad’s 88th birthday which is actually the 15th. Dad has had some health issues – arthritis, creaky knees, etc. However, he is still active, rarely complains so when he did about his backwe came to attention! Several doctors, x-rays, pokes and prods later have determined he has a couple of degenerated discs which also cause referred pain in his hip. He’s still on the family farm, produced great potatoes and other wonderful veggies. Sometimes he is on the go more than we are!

Janet just loves surgery so much she had two this year. I know she will fill you in on the details including the fact that I am her “alternate decision maker” or as we used to know it, next of kin. So Janet having just gotten back to work September 2003 was off again in December 2003 as one hip had cracked. The doctor could not believe that she was actually walking on it as he felt she should be in tremendous pain. I hauled out the old stand-by when someone in our family complains about pain sit up and take notice as it means they are in PAIN! January and May were her surgery months. Recovery was going well when she got word “Changes at District Office”. After pencil sharpening, etc. she decided that with the package offered she could retire, she did and loves it.

“Mady” has had a year of progress. She is more mobile so has gone to a couple of Legion dances, shopping, has had lots of company and has entertained. Her “Home Help” who come two to three times a day to clean, make meals, grocery shop, etc. mean that with their assistance she has been able to stay in her own home. We celebrated her 80
th birthday in February with a dinner party for her friends. Her surprise present was Blaine who flew home from Lake Louise for the party.

Cousin Marion also celebrated a milestone with her 90
th this spring. She was feted by her Legion friends and family at a dinner. Aunt Ina celebrated her 98th birthday. It brings home the message loud and clear that aging well is about attitude, staying a part of everyday life, doing those things which you can, and while good health makes things easier one can still enjoy life with a good attitude.

Home & Hearth
On December 4th last year we signed up for the Energuide Audit to do our part to protect the environment. The auditor came with an enormous fan that was set into the outside doorframe, sealed around the edges and then the fan starts. If you get too close you simply get sucked into the vortex and are never seen or heard again. I stayed clear of that, however, if you happened to be standing by a windowsill the pressure from this DRAFT was enough to blow you away. What can I say? Our house flunked. Where the spirit of hospitality is hopefully WARM in our house wear your woolies if you come and visit in winter. Jeff has been working away at the 10 pages of recommendations to tighten up the house.

We’ve redecorated 20 Schoodic Street in St. Stephen and it looks great. We took the walls back to the original plaster, removed all the old flooring, painted, sanded floors, put down area rugs, and my favourite, painted the outside doors Roadster Red. The house looks great and is for sale. We hope someone comes along and falls in love with it.

Remember Hank Snow’s song “I’ve been everywhere man…” Ok so most of you don’t. We’ve been to Samoset in April to rest before the summer tourist season. Quebec City via Drummondville to pick up a new bus which Jeff drove home, I drove the car. Quebec City included staying at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac which our bid at a silent auction had won. Our friends at the Fairmont Algonquin had us listed as VIP’s. Oh, la, la. Bar Harbour for a quick getaway during the summer. Moncton overnight to drop off two paintings at a gallery to be cleaned. We had an ART- iques Road Show at Kingsbrae Garden, St. Andrews and one of the items we took for appraisal was an oil painting we bought at a flea market in Ellsworth, Maine 23 years ago for $50.00. Today, if cleaned, it was suggested it would be worth about $4,000. Gee sure wish we had bought a few more!! Atlantic City for the Limousine Show via Boston and New York. We work at the Limo Show. We view all the new vehicles, go to seminars to learn stuff and enjoy networking. Last year’s trip Jeff learned about a limo purchase deal that saved him almost $6,000 so the trip more than paid for itself.

New York, New York - we do love New York. We went to the Christmas Spectacular Show at Radio City. When the two enormous Wurlitzer’s came out of the wall stage left and right with the organ players dressed in red and green glitter suits with shoes that twinkled to play a medley of Christmas songs it really got our holiday spirit kick-started. We went to Whoppi Goldberg’s one-woman show. Her routine on menopause had me in tears, but then, isn’t that what menopause is all about! And then we decided we would walk around Broadway and choose something else. We saw “Night Mother”. I asked the young, east Indian theatre guide if she could give us a short precis on the story line. Oh, yes, it is about a muther and dotter. The muther talks to the dotter and then the dotter talks to the muther. She was absolutely right. Someone said upon our return home isn’t that a rather DARK play. Yeah, the theatre guide forgot to mention that little point, however, I did not ask – “Is it a comedy”. It was thought provoking and still has us saying, remember in the play.

In some ways having Blaine farther away has brought us closer together. When he comes home he stays with us and we get lots of chance to visit. He was home three times this year the last one in November which culminated in him buying a property by the Waweig River. Cousin Carol was back and we always enjoy each other’s company. She’s an easy soul to have around. We spent time in the vegetable garden hauling in produce. Vange and her friend Merle came from Vancouver and picked up Sharon from Fredericton. We sit and chat, laugh, chat, shop, chat, laugh and just generally have a great time. Did I mention, we eat too! This year we had a surprise visit from Joyce and George Corbyn. Joyce was the entertainer at Dick Turpin’s Pub at the Algonquin the year’s that I worked there. She did pub-style sing-alongs. I was in my element ‘cause not only did I know the songs I knew the words! Joyce made all of her own costumes which usually included the sewing on of thousands of buttons. I would have known them had they not walked into the backyard later in the day when they had tracked down Jeff at HMS. It is handy having a name like Ardeth and living in a small town. It was a treat to see them. For old time’s sake we had dinner at the Algonquin when we coaxed them to stay an extra day with us which included a sing song around our piano after dinner. A rekindling of my wild youth!

Volunteer Work
Jeff retired this year from Sunbury Shores board after almost 20 years. His term as President of the Legion is over in January. He remains as a Director of the Chamber and has rejoined the Board of the New Brunswick Safety Council after a 10 year hiatus.

I have limited myself to one project and what a project. I am Chairperson of The Van Horne Estate on Ministers Island Inc. It is owned by the province and we are the grass roots level group who as stewards, our mission is to:
- protect, preserve, develop and promote the legacy of Ministers Island
- ensure public ownership and accessibility
- ensure environmental and economic sustainability
The Island is 500 acres, has 13 buildings including a 50 room mansion, a herd of deer, is a Game Preserve, can only be accessed at low tide when you drive across a natural bar road, and needs millions of dollars worth of work.

It is a spectacular space. We have a wonderful stone house that a loyalist family owned including the first minister in St. Andrews thus the islands name. Sir William Van Horne bought it around 1890 after completing the rail through the Rockies. He was in eastern Canada to purchase railways to connect east to west, bought the Island, the railway and the Algonquin Hotel to add it to the CP Hotel chain. I could go on and on. I HATED history in school, however, I have fallen for Van Horne big time. One of his favourite expressions: “Think big, then think even bigger”. A temporary web site is

Promises at 50
So let’s see. Promises to myself since turning 50. Vegetable gardening – Jeff gave me the present of the garden bed, Dad comes and helps to plant. Singing – back again in January to prepare for the spring concert. Spirit – been to Alpha, well part of the course so will redo it in the Spring. Janet and I are reading The Purpose Driven Life together and we did Alpha together too. Dinner parties with friends to exercise my love of cooking and creative side of decorating for parties. We did New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Memento’s are gathered to go in my scrapbook, my project for January. I need to get back to Feng Shooing the house as it has been liberating to be organized and have much less clutter. I’ve only gotten four rooms done so there is more to go.

Well, that’s life here in St. Andrews. Christmas celebrations abound in St. Andrews with the Festival of Lights at Kingsbrae Garden, Christmas at the Ross Museum which really kicks off my holiday season, the Shiretown Singers concert which in some ways I miss being in the audience, our house is all decorated and now it is time to catch up with family and friends. I’ll begin baking towards the end of the week. Some white and dark fruitcakes and the plum pudding for Christmas dinner.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act but a habit”. Aristotle

I like this quote as you can substitute excellence for any noun - patience, kindness, joyfulness, happiness, respectfulness, peacefulness or one that appeals to you. May all your habits this New Year define who you truly are or want to be.

As our cards say…Christmas Hugs from Our House to Yours.