We hope this letter finds you warm and content. Once again, the time has flown by. Where did it go? Well, when we stopped to write it down, it does seem there was a lot going on.
In January, our big event was a 50th birthday celebration for Karen. Andrew arranged a cabaret party at the church and had the Chorealis and Liederkranz choirs sing. Other friends also performed and then Andrew sang Karen a few songs to end the night. It was a very fun party.
This spring, Andrew's brother, Jonathan, finished his PhD. He and his wife, Janice, returned to Canada from Rwanda in August and Jonathan began his new position as the minister at Emanuel Baptist Church in NE Toronto in October. (Fun story - when Andrew was in Toronto on a sales trip in June, he met up with Jon and drove him to his interview with the church. Years ago, Andrew also drove Jon to his interview at Kanata Baptist Church during an Ottawa visit. Jonathan got both jobs!)
On October 21st, Karen's brother, Kevin, married Catina Aronson. They had a stunning wedding at the Calgary Petroleum Club. Cat is a fun addition to the family. We're looking forward to hosting Kevin, Cat and Sam for Christmas.
We got away for a couple of trips. In the spring, we visited Sam in Kelowna and got in a few rounds of golf. Thankfully, the fires did not reach the town. In July, we visited friends in Victoria and Salt Spring Island. In October, Andrew went with the Liederkranz to Italy for a choral festival (Karen couldn't go due to the school board elections). The Liederkranz placed first in their category of senior choirs, which was a happy surprise! Liderkranz Trip Summary
Unfortunately, not all our family news was good. On May 18th, Karen's mom, Helen, passed away. She had not been doing well this year, was wheelchair bound, and was having delusions and memory loss. She came down with an infection on the Sunday and died Thursday. It has been a difficult year for the family as Helen's brothers Neil and Bob, her sister, Gloria, and niece, Kim, also passed away this year.
Andrew's mom, Julia, is still physically in good shape but her memory loss continues. This year her speech has declined to the point where it is difficult to understand what she is saying. Often, we can guess what she wants from her intonation but the words are not there (some infrequent lucid days excepted). Andrew can still make her laugh as you can see in her birthday picture. She is not always sure who Andrew is now, but knows he is a friend that has come to visit. She is comfortable, has no aches or pains, and is very well taken care of.
In the past year, both Karen and Andrew made significant changes in what they do at work. Karen was promoted to the Director of Superintendent and Board Relations for Edmonton Public Schools last November. She is the "go to" person for all trustee enquiries, training, and everything board-meeting-related. She is really enjoying the work, especially working with the superintendent who is a very interesting and skilled manager.
On August 4th, Andrew completed 30 years at Layfield and signed up for a retirement program which sets his retirement date at March 31, 2020. But the big news was that on January 10th he was appointed as product manager for a new initiative to develop floating solar as a new product line. Since that appointment, Andrew has built prototypes of his new patented floating solar covers and has travelled all over to develop and promote the new floating solar idea. After a sales trip to Ontario in June, he connected with a company that was developing 3 floating solar projects in California and after 5 months of hard work has just about got the contract for the first project which will be 2.5 MegaWatts of floating solar near Sonoma. Heís just loving the excitement and challenge of starting up something completely new in the area of solar, which he is passionate about. www.LayfieldFloatingSolar.com
And finally, a note about Lucy who turned 17 on December 10th. In the spring, she had quite a few falls on the stairs and pretty much stopped eating. Our vet started her on a pain killer and an anti-inflammatory and the transformation has been amazing. Her appetite came back, and although her back legs are still weak she isn't falling anymore. By this fall, she had put some weight back on and is now bouncing around like a puppy again. It's good to have her back, even if she does make a face every time she gets her medicine.
Whatever the New Year brings, we hope itís a healthy and happy one for you. Please keep us posted, and visit when you can.
Happy holiday wishes and hugs to you,
Karen and Andrew
See our year in pictures below...
This is Karen's 50th birthday party at the church. A group of us planned this event with decorations, food, drinks, and entertainment.
In February Andrew went to our San Diego office to work on floating solar prototypes. This is one of the completed prototypes with the two plant guys that completed the job (both named Hector). This particular type of floating solar cover would go on wastewater treatment ponds and has insulation to support the solar and to keep the heat in the pond.
In March Andrew went to a conference in Orlando where they just happened to complete a floating solar project the previous week. This array has 100 solar modules. The project Andrew is working on right now uses these same type of floats but has 7,128 solar modules.
We went down to visit with Karen's Mom Helen at Easter.
In May we went out to Kelowna for an extended weekend. They happened to have a beer festival on the go so we went to that.
In June they had the Edmonton Pride parade in our neighborhood. To stage the parade they set up the groups on the residential streets at the west end of the parade route. When the parade started each street would feed their groups onto the main parade route. Turns out our street was one of the collector streets; and that our church ended up being staged right in front of our house! We set up a coffee station under this shelter in front of our house.
And there they go! Off to the parade route.
In June Andrew went to Toronto to do some sales calls and met up with his brother Jonathan. Jonathan had come back from Rwanda to interview as the minister of a church in Toronto. Here we are in the parking lot just before his interview... he got the job.
On the same trip Andrew went to visit his Uncle Jim and Aunt Martha in Oakville. Jim is now in a home and has a similar dementia to Andrew's Mom (his sister).
In July we got away for a short trip out to Victoria. Here is Karen admiring the flowers.
Just down from our hotel was Fisherman's Wharf which was a small floating town of houseboats that people lived in as well as some shops and then a section where the fishing boats came in to sell their fish.
We went to Salt Spring Island for a couple of days and found this lovely park at the south east corner.
We also found Andrew's high school friend Randy who is living on his boat. He is working on Salt Spring to refit his boat for a round the world adventure. While we were there he took us out for a lovely sunset cruise around the bay.
On our last day we went to the Butchart Gardens where we had high tea.
In August we always go to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Not as successful as previous years. On the Thursday they evacuated the festival grounds due to predicted high winds and possible lightning (which didn't materialize). On Sunday with big storms heading toward the venue we left early and didn't get to hear any of the main stage. Those two things would have been bad enough but...
...then I ate this lovely plate of curry. A week later I was one of 20 people who came down with salmonella poisoning. I was very sick for a week and it took a month to recover completely. The best estimate from the health nurse was that a bag of salad was contaminated. That is why only 20 people got sick out of the hundreds of people they served.
Our neighbor next door organized a block party for our street. She got permission from everyone on the street so that we could block it off for the party and then organized a pot luck. Great fun. We met quite a few other neighbors that we hadn't met before. A great idea that we hope to do again next year.
This is my cousin Shonda and her husband Pierre from Montreal. They flew out to Edmonton and rented a car and drove up to Wood Buffalo National Park. The park is way up on the NWT border but it was on their bucket list to see. On their way back they stopped at our place for a night.
In October Andrew went to a choral festival in Riva Del Garda in Italy. The festival had 33 choirs from 17 countries. On the first day they had a parade through the town. We ended up leading the parade as Canada was first alphabetically followed by the Czech republic.
With all 33 choirs gathered in the main square they taught us a song that we could all sing and the whole group sang along.
The main concerts of the festival were held in this very large church. Our hotel was right across the street.
Riva del Garda is an ancient town on the north shore of Lake Garda which is the largest lake in Italy. There are Roman artifacts and ruins throughout the town and it is quite an interesting place.
Lake Garda has many medieval walled towns with castles perched above. Here Hans and Norbert observe the castle on the hill as we take a boat tour of the lake.
The north end of Lake Garda is in the Alps while the south end open up to the plains of Verona. This is the view down to the north end of the lake as we climb out of the valley. Riva del Garda is behind the large hill on the right and before the large mountain in the background.
Andrew's Mom Julia was 83 on November 5th. We took her out to lunch and she received a bunch of cards. We also framed a new picture of her son Jonathan for her. This is his graduation picture for his PhD in Divinity from Acadia University. Mom has a music degree from Acadia.
A very interesting thing happened in Edmonton this year. A beach sprang up on the south side of the river just east of downtown. They called it accidental beach as it was caused by a construction berm upstream that is being used to build a bridge. A one kilometer long sand bar formed downstream of the bridge and people flocked to it on hot summer days of August. The City is not sure what to do about the beach and there is no telling whether it will last when the temporary bridge berms are taken down.
So that brings us to Lucy! Once she heard there was a beach she just had to go. So here she is after having gone wading at the beach. We think she approves!