Colleen Meade
1998 Christmas Letter

November 25th, 1998       
Hi ! That time again - hard to believe there's just a month to go. This has been another fairly dull year for us. Not that that's necessarily bad - when things are going well, it makes for a boring letter, but a good time ...

Christmas was great - friends, presents (a big thing for Kathleen still) and a nice break from the routine (and no huge snowfalls to shovel !). Early in January, the pool liner sprung a leak. That took forever to get fixed - poor Chris (the pool guy) - I think he thought he was NEVER going to find it. He had to dive (in full scuba gear and everything - I have a great picture of it) at least three separate times before he finally found the main problem. It was around the end of February by then, so it was time to fire the heater up and start enjoying it again.

Kathleen's Uncle Cal (Curt's brother) married again at the beginning of May, in Port Coquitlam, and she and I went to that. It was nice to see all the family again, especially for her, since she doesn't have any relatives on my side who live anywhere nearby (and it was also another opportunity to wear the fancy dress we got last year for her teacher's wedding - thank heavens she hadn't outgrown it yet !). We'd met Michelle, Cal's bride, at a dinner party at (Cousin) Cindy's last Christmas.

After that happy news, some really sad news - we lost Rascal, on May 31st. We assume it was the coyotes again (it was only two weeks earlier than the date that Sara, one of our first cats, was lost). At least two other cats from the neighborhood also disappeared right around that time. We didn't wait quite as long this time before replacing him - we got Smudge at the SPCA on June 13th (he was born about May 1st). We saw him and his brother on the TV program on the local cable channel - we fell in love on the spot and went down the next day to get him. He's completely grey, with medium-length, soft hair on his body and REALLY long hair on his tail. He has adjusted to his new home and family very well, and Snowball and Mocha have learned to tolerate him not toooo badly. Latte, the gerbil, continues to survive, much to my amazement.

Didn't do much over the summer except enjoy the wonderful weather - plenty of gardening and lying around the pool with a good book. Neither Kathleen nor I thought that camp was worth it last year, so she didn't go again. We did make it to a number of movies - is it ever nice having that "Silver City" complex so close by. We can make it in about 16 minutes, if there's no tunnel lineup.

We had some friends out at the end of August who brought their telescope with them, then they left it behind for me to use for a while (thanks, Russ and Edna !). It's only a 4.5 inch one, but even just looking at the moon with it is totally awesome. Both Jupiter and Saturn are in really good positions for viewing these days, and I got really good at lining up on them. You can even see the stars INSIDE the Orion nebula (the Trapezium). The Pliades cluster is way too big to fit all the stars in at once, but they do show some nebulosity when you move around through them. I'd gotten interested in astronomy again in the spring and had started buying the two main magazines each month and spending a lot of time studying the sky (especially while sitting in the hot tub - besides, that's a really good excuse to have one). It's amazing how much you can see, even with just a good pair of binoculars. Did you know you can easily pick out the Andromeda galaxy with them. That is the closest major (spiral) galaxy to our own, but it is around 2.9 MILLION light years away (according to the latest Hubble observations). At approximately 6 trillion miles per light year, that makes it about 17,400,000,000,000,000,000 (that's 17.4 quintillion) miles away and you can go out on any clear night and look up and see this thing. In fact, if you know exactly where to look, you can actually see the smudge with your naked eyes. Doesn't that just blow your mind !!! I tried to learn a new star or constellation each evening I went out. I've pretty much done all the summer ones - now I'm working on the winter ones.

Kathleen's step-aunt's wedding was in Victoria in September - another occasion to get more use out of that fancy dress ! It was her first trip to the island. She went over on the first ferry of the morning, with Curt and Cecelia and her daughter. They just went for the day, but they had time for some sightseeing (Parliament Buildings, the Empress, the Wax Museum) before the ceremony, then home on the last ferry of the night. Fortunately, the weather was beautiful. Then she and I were up bright and early the next morning for the first horse show of the fall (there are three shows each spring and three each autumn). She is still enjoying riding, but many of her current friends either own or lease their own horse, so that's what she wants to do now. I'm pretty leery of that kind of committment - owning is out of the question, and even leasing seems like it has major potential for disaster, both financial and otherwise.

Most of the mom's group got together for brunch after the "Run for the Cure", which was on October 4th. The rest of them managed to actually make the run, but I was only able to get away later. Still, it was the first time that I'd managed to get together with them for ages, so it was really nice to catch up.

Kathleen was a "hippie" for Halloween this year. We had fun putting together her costume - peasant blouse, love beads, a flower for her hair, a home-made peace-sign necklace and, last but not least, the make-up: pale, pale lipstick and lots of eyeliner - groovy, baby ! Thank heavens the rain stopped for a couple of hours (we had over 90 kids again). Kathleen's doing fine in school again this year - of course, she's an old pro now. Unlike last year, I actually made it to the parent night in September, so I have an even better idea of what it's like for her. She has a great course load - lots of good electives. And she's also really delighted because her orthodontist says her braces will be coming off sometime in the next couple of months - that's about 4-5 months early. Too bad that doesn't make it cost any less !

I was hoping to be on the Internet by Christmas this year, so I could sent at least some of my cards by E-mail. I finally got my Sympatico package from BC Tel (after 3 previous failed attempts), but when I tried to install it I found I didn't have enough RAM (it needed 12 megs and I have just 8). Unfortunately, they stopped making the parts I need to upgrade 6 months ago. Oh well, the friend whose old computers I've been inheriting is upgrading again soon, so I hope to be on-line sometime in the new year (right, Bruce ?). So, let me know your E-mail address, if you have one, and I'll drop you a line when I make it !

The picture on front of the card this year is of one of the hand-made beeswax candles that a friend gave us for Christmas last year (thanks, Linda !), and the inside one is of Kathleen in our pool, taken just a little while ago, on October 24th - a beautiful, summery 70+ degree day. We sure had a lot of those this year !! Oh well, now that it's NOT so nice out, I'm finally getting back to other things: some major housecleaning (ugh!), sewing, photo albums, and, of course, doing my cards and other Christmas preparations. These storms are wreaking havoc, though; our power was out for 3 1/2 hours last night and 2 1/2 hours a few mornings ago. Oh well, at least it isn't Hurricane Mitch !

Hope all is well with you and yours ...

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