Merry Christmas      and      Happy New Year




Cutting Cake                                                          

          Dear friends and family:   
  December, 2023

Twins at CottageAnother year and new stories to recall: The highlight was a trip to England for our 50th wedding anniversary. We rented a cottage in Hetton in the Yorkshire Dales for two weeks, for one of which we were joined by Jeremy, Ginny, Rose and Nina.  They stopped on their way from London to Edinburgh and the Outer Hebrides.  Fifteen of Mary’s family came to the party, which was catered with enough food left so  that our guests didn’t have to go home empty handed.   

Sadly, Mary’s brother in law, Hugh, died in June and her sister Ann is now in a care home.  Fortunately we were able to visit her several times and felt relieved to know that she is in good care and close to her three children.  Also, of course, we enjoyed walks on the farm with Jean and Mary in Long Preston.

Our only other travels this year were trips to Whistler and for Gene to join his course-mates for the 60th anniversary of their graduation from Math, Physics and Chemistry at the University of Toronto.  It was very good to see the MPC group and somewhat surprising to see how many had survived, still in apparent good health, and to learn what a wide range of careers they had followed, many, if not most, outside of their science backgrounds.

The first trip to Whistler came early in January so that R & N could take care of us while their parents took a back country ski trip to Whitecap – where we all had visited the previous summer.  For the latest trip, Jeremy and Ginny  took a break in Maui in early December.  Ginny continues as CAO of the Resort Municipality of Whistler while Jeremy is gearing up his 2024 campaign to represent West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding as the BC Green MLA.  When asked what he is doing the twins reply “he’s selling himself”. 
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There were some shorter visits in between and R&N stayed with us in Victoria during their March break.  They’re such easy guests and they manage us very well.  They are a delight, enjoying school, and friends and looking forward to the ski season.   Figure skating is an important after school activity.  Their dedication, skill and grace amaze us and they took part in competitions in front of panels of judges in which each had the whole ice to herself for a 2-minute solo skate (see video link). 

The first few months of the year were not very memorable, except for having a new hardwood and carpeted floor reno.  Gene was still struggling with walking or exertion of any kind and went through a long series of tests and specialist visits.  Although the reason for his low pulse was never determined, he did eventually get a  diagnosis of lumbar spinal stenosis, which is not uncommon in “the elderly”.  This led to a specific exercise regime which was obsessively followed and resulted in great improvement.  The regime was developed at the U of T by a doctor who turned out to be Gene’s third cousin and who had already treated his niece for a related stenosis.  His family also came from San Giorgio in Calabria.  Gene’s long expected trip there didn’t happen for health reasons: his and his intended travelling mate’s; maybe it will happen in 2024. 

Otherwise life continues at a pace appropriate for our age.  Mary still hikes and walks a lot, reads a lot, knits a little, goes to her book club and has just started a new volunteer job (only once each week) at the local hospital.  Our balcony garden has been very productive with a good crop of veggies, apples and tomatoes and the usual annual flowers to keep it pretty.


We wish you a happy holiday season and hope to see at least some of you in the New Year.  We hope that 2024 will be a good year for you and your family and that there will be some progress towards stopping the wars and violence in Ukraine and the Middle East.

        Best Wishes

                                                  Gene and Mary            


Instead of Christmas Cards, donations were made again this year to UNHCR and several other  organizations supporting people in Ukraine and the Middle East devastated by war and violence