Christmas Letter  2015


Dear friends:

Is the climate crazy enough for you yet?  Why are there people out there - hopefully not you! - who still feel that it’s not an issue.  I understand the difficulty in agreeing to a 1.5’C change versus a 2’C change.  Huge economic dollars, change in lifestyle, angry stock markets, businesses and possibly you and me.  These are not easy decisions.  But there are things that we can all do, easy peasy if you think about it. 

We learned this from our friend Carol in B.C. and it sure worked during the 6 day power outage 2 years ago.  Put a bowl or basin into your sink and every time you rinse your hands, pour off the excess from filling the kettle or water you don’t drink will stay there and be saved water to rinse hands, dishes, etc.  Save water.  Check out and buy a copy of “A Handbook on Climate Action for Baby Boomers”.  Our neighbour Liz Armstrong is the energy behind this effort and she makes it easy to understand and to do.

A good and positive year for us and I hope for yourselves as well.  Arizona and the chance to catch up with friends from Newfoundland was a good break from the winter months.  We spent 3 weeks in Scotland in June.  We went to the Orkney Islands, home of the Mowats, saw prehistoric tombs, drove impossibly narrow roads, toured castles, saw fjords and lambs, re-fought all the battles with the English (think Culloden, Bannockburn, Rob Roy), and drank scotch although Clare never got to take a tour of distilleries.  Next visit.

And then the garden, larger than we needed as always but much smaller and kept us well fed.  It is easier to think about climate when you live in a rural area, those food miles you read about.  But then there are all the miles we drive to get anywhere.  It’s a toss up.  Like last year, we no longer do tomato seedlings in our greenhouse in the spring so we again opened up our 40 foot heated greenhouse to the wider community. Our greenhouse group grew as neighbours came and started their own flower and vegetable seeds spreading the workload and sharing knowledge.

J volunteered at the Pan Am Games as “Medals Co-ordinator” at the equestrian centre which was not too far from us.  It was a busy June taking training and then July organizing the medals ceremonies.

Clare celebrated “Year of Craft” in Gros Morne.  The courses were fabulous and a great opportunity to meet other textile folk from across the country.  Rug hooking and weaving continue to be passions and there are lots of ideas and plans for 2016.  If you want to see some of what came off the loom this past year then check out the “Passions” section of our website.

J celebrates every week with golf.  He’s a Marshall at a local club and tries to golf regularly with other golfing friends.  He’s serious!  Not that you are surprised to hear that.  A highlight of our trip to Scotland was a guided walk of 3 holes at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.  Fascinating stories of all the legendary champion golfers.  And there is a public road that goes right across the course!  Hard to tell if it’s more dangerous for the drivers or the golfers.

Hard on the heels of Scotland was a quick trip to New York to see Helen Mirren in “The Audience”. We had seen it on the big screen via the National Theatre Live but it was magical to watch her majesty live on stage. On the other hand, “Wolf Hall Part 2” by the London touring company had no such magic and was drab and grey. New York, of course, was anything but drab and grey.

Stratford in the summer is a constant and a good mix of rural at the golf course south of the city where we park the RV, and theatre.  Nothing is bad at Stratford. They are too professional.  It’s all what you want to see and we learn more each year.  And then there was TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival) and too many choices to make, but we did make five including two Canadian films that have yet to make it to our local theatre and likely won’t.  And the Mirvish subscription for London and NYC theatre that comes to Toronto and we always enjoy it.  And Soulpepper, also in Toronto is also becoming a favourite.  We enjoyed “Spoon River” so much last year that we saw it again this year.

And have you checked out all the National Theatre Live productions at your local Galaxy Theatres?  I can’t believe that the Orangeville cinema continues to carry them.  Once a month there are about 8 of us who attend the event.  King Lear last year and MacBeth and Coriolanus this year.Not a great way to make money!  But Stratford is now doing the same thing, filming live productions, and this is a good thing to allow everyone across the country to enjoy their amazing productions.

What about those Blue Jays?!?!?  We rode the emotional roller coaster of mid summer trades and the run to the World Series.  Hung on by our fingernails until the bitter end.  We missed our chance to go to Rogers Centre but the hot dogs are cheaper in from too the TV. And 2016?  Our hopes are high that the new management can pull it off, but.....we’ll see.

While at home we are big fans of “Justified”, “Longmire” and “Suits”, if you have Netflix.

Erin Radio is now back in Jay’s life. If you remember, another group took the small community station over three years ago, but failed to make it financially successful. Between Christmas and New Years in 2015, Jay and a small group hauled the radio equipment back to Erin in the back of his truck and set it up in an unused space of the local United Church. After a year of operation, the station is broadcasting with a dozen volunteers and, although it could always be better, it is financially self sufficient. Can’t stay away from broadcasting!

The fall weather carries on (December 17 today).  J has finished more outdoor projects than he ever thought were on his list.  We can now store 20,000 L of rainwater for the garden from the barn roof. And he’s been generating the list.  Ce n’est pas moi!

Honey Bee and Ms. Callie continue to delight and receive pats on request.  Twill and her daughter Huck remain active mousers on the property and supervise whatever work is taking place outside.  Blackie is a new addition via the local Humane Society and J is now able to pat him on the head.

Oh, and chickens are back!  J happily tends these laying hens every day.

Wishing everyone a healthy happy and positive 2016 as we fight our way into the future.

Clare & J