December 2005 is here already. Where does the time go? Can we remember what has happened during the year? How does the year add up? Are we pleased with who we are, with what we have accomplished and do we wish to make any changes?

Hmm…we had a great Christmas again last year. Blaine was still out west and we missed him. As so many of us eat chicken practically every day of the week we switched to prime rib dinner. I think we all enjoy having a change. And then…another new year began. Before writing this letter I consulted my calendar because this year seems to be a blur as so many things have happened. Not that we were without fun times but a year of big disasters that we were all overwhelmed by from the tsunami to Katrina (and other natural disasters); from the continuing war in Iraq to plagues and famines around the world; from personal family suffering to those negative events within our own geographic spaces. Sometimes it all seems like just too much. And then, just when you need it the most - fun being and doing things with family and friends; receiving those random acts of kindnesses, sometimes from the most unexpected places and people and then being able to do random acts of kindnesses is fun too.

Janet and I are spending time together doing a great variety of things. From designing new shelving units for her house to better utilize space to choosing new wall colours. Three rooms are done and are radiating warmth and that feng shui feeling of less is more. Janet and I are also reading when we get the time, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. (It has taken us a year to read 20 chapters of 40!!) I had read it through once on my own. We’ve been reading it aloud together and in our minimal book club (the two of us) find that we spend time discussing several items and what it means to each of us. It has meant we know each other better, enjoy discussions on life and sharing this experience has been enlightening.

Now a miracle has occurred this year as we actually celebrated Janet’s birthday on her birth day. September 4th with a dinner party at our house and unlike a couple of years ago- she did not have to get the dinner for herself!

Dad has had one of those years with several visits to various doctors for various reasons. He is in hospital again to determine, we hope, the root cause of his latest symptoms. Good news he got home on the 6th! Through all of this he never complains, in fact, I have to push him to get the real truth when something does hurt, ache, or needs attention. While Dad has never read the Purpose Driven Life he has surely led one. Dad continues to live life to the fullest.

Mother “Mady” has had a few trips to doctors this year too and now is a patient without a family doctor. Her life has narrowed as she has stamina limitations due to her breathing difficulties but is still able to live at home. She is blessed and enjoys the daily routine of her home makers, Extra Mural nurses and her family and friends visit often.

Blaine is back. I think he would say that being away was a good experience both personally and professionally. He bought a house in Waweig by the river which he has been working on for months doing various things - new roof, new flooring, painting, etc. I think he really likes the setting although handier to St. Andrews especially with the high cost of gasoline would make life easier. Being away and having a new experience gives us a greater appreciation for home and for us it meant we worked more diligently keeping in touch while he was away. We are trying to see more of him now that he has returned.

Company -we were blessed this year with Vange, Lo and Sharon coming in May. I laughed until I simply could not laugh another second as my sides were just too sore. Vange came again in October with a senior friend and sister Betty who for the first time wanted to see coloured leaves which this year were limited as they turned so late. Cousin Sharon, Aunt Aileen and Uncle Ken came for a visit too. More laughs, sharing of losses in our lives, reminiscing, and lots of partying made for a fun week with them. Cousin Carol came for about 17 days. Her last week here we were scurrying around the garden and house tidying up for a writer coming to do a story line on our old house and garden- cannot remember the name of the magazine.

When we got the job done for the writer’s arrival the next day I said I am going to treat us to a wonderful lavender fizzy bath ball and soap. Did just that and then coming out of the store, twisted my left ankle on the uneven sidewalk, fell into a parked car, slid down the front hood extending my right arm to help break the fall, whacked my right knee and collapsed face down on the pavement. While that is bad enough picture this. We had had one of those half-hour downpours with record accumulation of rain. I roll over on my back in an large, fairly deep puddle full of washed out sand and grit. I am lying there like an enormous bug flailing my arms and legs in the air trying to decide several things. Have I broken anything? No, just seems sore. How am I going to get up - bad left ankle, poor right knee I have no forward or backward option and left and right seem a little iffy.

While I am contemplating this Carol is looking down at me saying, Please tell me you are all right. If you are not all right I will never be invited back. You see…this is almost the exact same spot, time of day, time of year when she and “Mady” were heading out of the same shop when “Mady” fell and broke her shoulder. Blaine still accuses Carol of pushing his Mother. By this time I am also giving some thought to the fact that I must be one cute looking sight - walking shorts soaked - after all they are cotton, mud all over them, bruised knee, etc. I am still going to the chiropractor. I told him last week I feel like from my right shoulder to my left ankle is warped - a body that cannot decide whether to veer right or left. He said he knew what I meant!!

Volunteer Work continues in both our lives. Check out New motto re: volunteer work. Am I making a positive contribution? Am I having fun? If not, opt out. We also have a new website for HMS Transportation. Check out Our friend Chris Flemming did the design work and Jeff and I supplied the text. (If Chris were here he would state he sat between us at the computer doing a balancing act between my marketing description of things and Jeff’s succinct description like - we do weddings.) Jeff once heard an interviewee on CBC describing how people think. Jeff decided that I was the random/abstract thinker and he the concrete/sequential. Too true!

Rental Properties - this year we had tenants move out of the farmhouse. Dad said he thought they were up to no good, we passed the info on to the Mounties. They were - holes in the ceiling, electrical paneling rewired, accessed old chimneys to vent their growing operation, etc.! When the tenants left all of the renovations we had done previously were destroyed. It was back to the drawing board - we redid the whole house on the interior and some on the exterior too. Our new tenants have moved to Canada from Holland. They are very nice and she is living up to the reputation of Hollanders being clean. She even has a wicker rug beater that she uses outdoors. It took seven weeks to complete that house and then the tenants moved out at 219 Queen in St. Andrews. We hope 219 will be finished this week. Wallpaper repairs, some new curtains and our extraordinary cleaning girls claimed they got enough hair out of the heating vents to make a cat.

I said to Jeff I think it is time we got out of the rental business or we need to write a Manual on How to Run a Household. The more I think about this the better I am liking the idea. General Rules and Regulations. All pets must be trained and accoutrements for them be provided such as a scratching post for cats as neither the curtains nor the wallpaper are for that purpose. Dogs must be given regular walks or psychological counseling to counteract their frustration in being left alone and neglected by their owners thus eliminating great long claw mark grooves on closed doors. Poop and scoop is a priority on the rental lawn and in the interior of the house. Hot soap and water, brooms, vacuums, window cleaner, oven cleaner, and tidy bowl are to be used on a regular and consistent basis. If you were not taught at home how to do these chores a workshop will be held for you. Need I say more?

Jeff continues to be busy. Thinks about retirement but has not fully engaged himself in making that happen. I realized recently when we were at a dinner party that when someone asked: “If you had been the winner of the 30 million dollar lottery what would you have done?” Jeff responded hire a really good manager so H M S would continue to be a valuable service to the community. Hard to let go when you have put so much of yourself into your small business. We are also trying to take some Stop and Smell the Roses time.

Extended Family - Chris Flemming retired from School District #10 on Friday, February 25th . We celebrated with a dinner for 20 people here at home. (More hearty laughter.) After two days off on Monday, February 28th he started his new job at Kingsbrae Garden. Shirley McMahon, Dad’s girlfriend, celebrated her 80th birthday in May. Our seniors are great role models of how to have fun living. Brenda MacLean’s sister Linda (Fulford) died in November. We were grateful Brenda and Mike were able to spend more time with Linda and her family during this past year. While it meant they were away from home a lot they have some great memories of their time together. Aunt Ina died a few days before her 98th birthday in September. There too was a woman who also knew how to have fun. A long-time family friend, Alan Halstead was killed in a tragic accident. He was married to Keay McCann whose family has been connected to the Emerson’s for generations. While his funeral was sad it was also one of those uplifting Christian funerals. Having lived his life as a Christian in thought, word and deed meant Alan was described by all as a nice person. Both daughter Pam’s and Alan’s long-time friend and neighbour Gene Wormell so eloquently stated that about Alan. He was always willing to lend advice or a helping hand whether 10 o’clock at night whether how to get Pam’s dryer working again to helping solve some wrinkle in the church family with Gene. Friends of Ferd Eiseman gathered on Grand Manan to say a fond farewell to a man who lived to be almost 102. He too lived life to the fullest.

Family Reunions - Janet and I attended the Thornton family reunion in Philadelphia which was a wonderful time. There were about the same number as we had in St. Andrews only half of them were new to the family reunion scene the rest were repeats. They did a terrific job and as we know from personal experience while fun, it is work.

We drove to Portland, Maine taking one whole day to wander down the coastline. Jeff still cannot believe it took us that long just to get to Portland. Well, we had things to do - shop, eat, enjoy pretty views. Then we took the to train from Portland to Philly. That was an experience which boils down to this. It is not easy traveling by train. Just ask the two young men who saw me struggling down a long flight of stairs with our one large suitcase on rollers and tote back slung over my shoulder with Janet trailing behind having walked miles through corridors asking: “Is this the way to the train to Philly?” I warned these two chaps that the case was heavy, oh, no, they would be fine. Ever seen eyes actually pop out on cheeks? It is not a pretty sight. However, they were very stoic and at the bottom of the stairs when thanked, said no problem. As they wandered off they looked at each other and while we could not hear what was said we figure it was - that’s the last time I’ll help a couple of grey-haired old ladies with a hernia-causing suitcase.

We also had a day-trip to the Emerson reunion at Irma and Eddie Provost in Albion, Maine. Their new home is beautiful and the weather was perfect. Irma had cooked up a storm including a traditional family cake - white with lemon filling and boiled icing. Yummy!

The fly leaf of the Purpose Driven Life book cites that it answers this important question: “What on earth am I here for? Knowing God’s purpose for creating you will reduce your stress, focus your energy, simplify your decisions, give meaning to your life, and, most important prepare you for eternity”. So as this year comes to a close our prayers are that you understand, rejoice and stay true to the Purpose of your Life.