Christmas Letter 2007
As planned, I retired from the BC Government, Ministry of Environment on June 21st this year. I was actually on salary until Oct 31st since I qualified for three months of pre-retirement leave. Looking back on the last few months, I have enjoyed my retirement so far. It is a pleasure to be able to sleep in for that extra hour or so in the morning, then get up and leisurely sip my cappuccino while reclining in my easy chair. This is a much more civilized way to ease into the morning than rushing around getting ready for work. I never was a morning person.
I really enjoyed my retirement party. The speeches were short and fun, and my guests and I spent most of the time nibbling on appetizers, enjoying a beverage or two, and socializing. I received some terrific gifts, and several people told me they liked the informal format (prepaid appetizers instead of a sit down meal). For the first time in many years, I was not working through the summer months, so I was able to take advantage of the good weather by staying up to all hours of the night observing with my telescopes. Several of my observing buddies also took advantage of the summer, so there was a nice social aspect to our observing. I have taken some quite good images of celestial objects over the last few months.
I also went on a little driving vacation this summer with my cousin. We traveled through western Washington State and down the Oregon coast. We both enjoyed ourselves, and visited with some friends who live near Portland before returning home.
My next vacation will be a trip to Costa Rica next February. Unlike my last trip to Costa Rica in 1995, this will be astronomy travel. We will be staying at a resort on the Nicoya Peninsula, which is an area on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica I did not see last time. Our resort will be catering to the crazy astronomers, who will be mainly active at night and sleeping through the early part of the day, so this should be interesting! Tour details
As I write this on Dec 6th, it is my motherís 95th birthday. I went over to Aberdeen Hospital today to visit with her, take over a little present, a card and some flowers. She is only a few blocks away from where I live, so it is a real treat for her (and me) that I can visit with her so easily (and so often). She is doing very well at Aberdeen. As I expected, she is thriving on the routine, gets great care, and appears to be quite happy. Her dementia limits her comprehension some days, but she is otherwise very healthy.
My partner has had a very challenging year, and unfortunately his problems become mine to some degree. I thank my lucky stars for a few close friends who were there for me, offering support without judgment. I came to the point earlier this year where I was ready to admit defeat with our relationship; however both of us realized there was still some room to move forward. A big part of my partnerís challenges this year was the death of his oldest brother (lung cancer), and then his mother died (complications from Alzheimerís).
I suppose I should also get the other bad news out of the way. My cousin Bill Glanfield died this year of congestive heart failure. He was struggling with both health and personal problems, as his daughter will attest. She was flying back and forth between Ontario and Victoria on a regular basis, despite my best efforts to help Bill. The Navy buried Bill at sea, since he was a veteran. So as you can see, 2007 has been a challenging year.
All I can hope for is that 2008 will be a bit more peaceful.
My interests in Astronomy, Photography, web sites, Personal Computers, observing nature, and travel keep me occupied and engaged with life. Iím meeting lots of interesting people who share my interests, and some are turning out to be quite good friends and acquaintances. Iím looking forward to pursuing these interests further in 2008.
Since retirement, Iíve also rediscovered music. Not that Iím a musician, but I appreciate good music, especially smooth jazz, R&B, and some pop, classical, and new age/ambient. As you have no doubt noticed, music stores selling CDs have either gone out of business or have drastically scaled back. The reason is online music Ė downloaded music, CDs purchased through online stores, and commercial free music from cable and satellite. I download and listen to all the music I want using my computerís new audio system, and I can transfer music to my PDA and listen to it anywhere I go. My partner can also listen to music on the go with his new Walkman MP3/video player. Iím having a ball with online music, since I can download virtually anything, and if I donít like it I delete it and move onto something else - all for a modest cost monthly subscription with Napster.ca. We also constantly listen to commercial free music channels at home supplied by Shaw Cable.
Sheba our black cat is on the "Catkins" diet, since she is overweight. This diet is quite similar to the more famous Atkins diet, where carbohydrates are avoided, in favor of foods high in protein and fat. Our veterinarian recommended we switch Sheba from dry kibble to canned cat food. She thinks she has died and gone to heaven, since she is now fed a can of Friskies a day, but only the ones marked "patť" (to avoid the carbs in the gravy). We think she has lost a couple of pounds, which is pretty significant for a cat. She is also much happier, more sociable, and more playful.
Tucker our Jack Russell Terrier is becoming an old man at 10 years old, and yet he still likes to play and run around. He is a good-natured dog, and reacted quite badly when my partner and I were going through our trouble this year. I was as worried about Tucker as I was about myself and my partner. However now that we have bounced back a bit, so has Tucker. What a trooper!
The Christmas tree is up in our living room, the stockings are hung over the fireplace, the gifts are wrapped. I have strung the outside lights along the balcony and on the fir tree in the middle of our front yard. Very few Christmas decorations are being put up this year, except for one retired gentleman in the next block (see photo), who has certainly gone for the gusto this year! I think a few Christmas lights make the place look festive, and the new LED lights certainly don't burn much power.
I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas.