As usual, I never got round to sending out a proper round of holiday cards this year. So I hope you will find this virtual update to be an acceptable alternative.
For those of you that don’t know it already, I’ll put the biggest news upfront. After more than a decade of working at UBC, I accepted a job at Thompson Rivers University. That has meant moving away from our longtime home (and garden) in East Van. It was a months-long process of preparations and seemingly never-ending tasks, mostly borne by Keira as I went off to Kamloops months ahead of her…
We miss our friends back in Van Rock City dearly, of course. But so far loving our new life in the interior. The people here have been extraordinarily welcoming, and the landscape around us never gets old. We made the decision to rent a house at Paul Lake (about 20 kms from the city’s edge), and we’ll be here until spring at least. The view out front is always lovely, occasionally stunning. On arrival, we enjoyed an idyllic few months in the late summer and fall…
Now, of course, we are experiencing our first proper winter in nearly fifteen years (in my case, longer than that for Keira, and the first-ever full-on winter for Harry). We are still loving the quiet life. Looking forward to the lake freezing over so we can get out there for snowshoeing, skiing and hopefully skating. Harper Mountain ski resort is just around the corner, we will be tobogganing and doing a bit of downhill there (some of us, anyway… and Harry has a snowpass giving him free access for the season). Dexter is healthy and evidently very happy, he seems to be benefitting from the frequent long hikes on the many nearby mountain trails. Keira has turned into a wood-stove savant, and tends her contract work in Vancouver from a distance. Harry commutes to town with me, and is thriving at his arts-focused school.
We are grateful to have enjoyed a 2012 that mostly favoured us with good fortune and good health. And no shortage of peak moments:
A blissful few weeks in Rincón de Guayabitos (thanks to Keira’s mom Pat for inviting us to share the wonderful house she rented, along with Rob and Danna), and Guadalajara, Mexico. Our first substantial visit back there since living in Hermosillo, and it is still such a beautiful country, filled with fun and hospitable people. Lots and lots of pics here.
An epic trip to Montreal, Quebec City, and Nova Scotia. We saw many friends, had a visit with a pack of McPhees, and Harry got right into the rabble-rousing spirit when we joined a student protest. We will be forever grateful for the amazing hospitality shown us by the Potter clan in their Nova Scotian home. Heaps of pics here, of course.
We played a lot of music this year. Kind of amazing given that we haven’t really gotten round to learning how to play properly. Some more jams at The Sanctuary with friends from around the world. Lotsa living room sessions, and live sets spun by DJ Dr. Jones at The Soundlab. We even recorded an album of sorts (or at least, were around when the mysterious Dead Moocmen did their thing.)
The single musical highlight had to be at the Open Education Conference in October. The conference itself featured a wonderful collection of friends who traveled from all over North America and Europe to join us in Vancouver. We ended up performing a mostly improvised set of tunes on a boat that was cruising through the waters around the city. Our good friend Novak Rogic shot video of a couple songs (Summertime and Money), and he really did an amazing job. Drumming with these gifted musicians was some of the biggest fun I’ve ever had.
A few other highlights:
Keira took part in “Ladies Rock Camp”, a remarkable workshop where the women learned instruments, formed a band, wrote a song to perform in public — all in three days. Her band Broken Cat Dream’s culminating performance rocked the Waldorf Hotel Ballroom:
My Mom came out to Vancouver to help get the house ready for our departure. It was looking better than ever when we left. We loved having her, and she did some amazing work for us. So grateful for the support from our families.
While we were still in East Van, Harry and friends took part in a very cool drama workshop, which culminated in a performance of a number of skits as part of the Blink Festival. Here is one of them, Harry and Neena do “Working at the Russian Hall”.
Some strange things result from having moved into the interior. For instance, I golfed a lot more this year. Harry is already better than me.
We had a fantastic return trip to Vancouver in November that featured lots of great visits, amazing food, and a Neil Young and Crazy Horse concert that ranks as one of the very best I’ve ever seen.
The year ended with a peaceful holiday season up here at the Lake. Keira’s brother Bruce (who moved west this year) joined us for Christmas, and our old friend Jason stopped by for a couple days as well. New Year’s Eve (last night, as I type this) was a first for me – I cannot remember ever spending the night outside in wintry conditions. But between the snow boots, the tubing on Harper Mountain, the Ice Bar, and a couple rounds of fireworks, a fine night with the Paul Lake community at their hospitable, hardy, ingenious and fun-loving best.
So the year was one of great changes, some wonderful highs, and a lot of energy expended to make it all happen. I type this sitting by the wood stove, staying warm while the Lake looks to have finally frozen over. Thinking kind thoughts about the family and friends who enrich our lives so much. We send our love and best wishes to all of you. Here’s to 2013, and our hopes that our paths cross with yours one way or another.