Colleen Meade
1999 Christmas Letter

December 14th, 1999    
Hello again !  Well, this was a year of fairly major changes, at least when compared to last year...

It all started when a friend came over in early January to upgrade my computer so that I would be able to get online. On Friday, January 15th, I took a deep breath, inserted my Sympatico CD-ROM and set up my Internet account. Amazingly, it went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, the Sympatico email service promptly went down for three days, so I couldn't immediately announce to the world that I was now on the web, but as soon as I could, I was sending lengthy messages to all and sundry.

I spent hours and hours those first few days surfing the web. I visited all the sites I'd always wanted to see, like the 'Hubble Space Telescope', the 'Lord of the Dance', etc. One of the first sites I went to was that of the Canadian photographer, Freeman Patterson. I've always admired his work - I have several of his books, and I'd even gone to a presentation of his here once (about 20 years ago!). Anyway, I knew he offered courses in photography from his home in New Brunswick, so when I was at his website, I checked into it. As it turned out, registration for them opens at the beginning of January and they fill up quickly (he only gives 6 per year - each is a week long, with 15 students). So, as a 50th birthday present to myself, I took another deep breath and signed up. Made flight reservations and everything, for the second week in June. Didn't know how I was going to manage to arrange everything, but it seemed like a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity I didn't want to miss. More about that later...

Then, just a short while later (still in January - it was quite a month!!), another friend phoned. He and his family had moved to Saskatchewan a few years ago and they now have a thriving manufacturing business. I used to work with him, and he remembered that I had both computer skills and artistic skills. They wanted their Internet website upgraded and he felt it was easier to teach someone artistic to write HTML (the language that webpages are constructed with) than to teach someone who writes HTML to be artistic, so he asked me if I'd like to learn how to do it. What a great offer! He even sent me a book - 'Learn Web Publishing in a Week' - so I sat down and read it and sure enough, within a week, I was creating web pages. Not very good ones, of course, but it was a start. Over the next couple of months I was on a really steep learning curve and I managed to develop a completely revamped website for them that they are really happy with. Meanwhile, I'd also helped my neighbor, a realtor, set up a small website; started building my own website (you get that with Sympatico, as with most Internet Service Providers) and also started working with an artist friend of mine in Point Roberts to develop a website for him. And that was the genesis of my new business: Quintessential Websites!

In February, Kathleen got her braces off - not quite 18 months after she got them on. She had to wear a retainer full-time for the next few months, but now she's only wearing it at night, and even that should end early in the new year. Of course, she did manage to lose the retainer twice; the first time I paid for it, the second time she did! Since doing that with her allowance would have taken years into the next millennium, she had to give up 10 weeks of riding lessons instead (unfortunately during the part of the year when being outside is pleasant, not miserable, but c'est la vie). She got right back into it in the fall though, winning one ribbon in her first show and three (including a first!) in her second.

In April, Latté (the gerbil) finally died. It was sad, in a way, but in another way I'm really glad he's gone; not because it means I don't have to spend money on food and wood chips and I don't have to nag Kathleen to clean his cage and feed him (though there is that!), but mostly because I always hated seeing him trying so desperately to scrabble his way out of his little cage. I can absolutely guarantee that we are NEVER getting another animal that has to be kept shut away.

Spring passed in a busy, happy blur, then it was time to get ready to go to New Brunswick. That brought on my first-ever anxiety attacks - what a horrible feeling! Nonetheless, I did manage to get myself packed, get Kathleen and the cats arranged for and get myself to the airport in time to catch the Saturday red-eye to Toronto. Had a few hours wait there, then another flight to St. John - first time I've ever been to the Maritimes. Terry Adair, of Adair's Lodge, where most of the workshop is held, was there to meet the plane, then it's just a half hour drive from the airport to the lodge. Arrived around noon Sunday. The weather was fairly poor, at least for the first few days, but even that (and the bugs!) couldn't ruin the excitement of actually getting to meet Freeman and work with him and the other photographer who jointly runs the workshops, André Gallant. It was a very intense experience, but extremely rewarding; the other students also helped to make it particularly enjoyable - the participants were a wide-ranging group (geographically, as well as in age, gender, profession and photographic experience). When I got home, I spent quite a bit of time putting up pages on my website with pictures and information from the workshop; of the place and the people as well as of the photographs I'd taken for the exercises and assignments. I still keep in touch with a number of them via the Internet - email is a wonderful thing!

Got back in mid-June, just in time for my birthday ('Thank You' to the friends who gave me several lovely evenings out!) and the end of school. Kathleen didn't have any special plans for the summer; mostly she just lounged around, though she did manage a couple of visits with some old friends from our Vancouver days (and had her 15th birthday - where do the years go!).

I struggled to get at least some of the garden in, but it certainly never got finished to the extent I usually manage. As well as being behind because of being away, I also spent a lot of time working for a client in Point Roberts (just across the border in the U.S.) who wanted to produce an online newsletter - that was a really interesting experience. We did a couple of editions; hopefully he'll be doing more this year. Also continued teaching myself new things about creating websites and surfing the net, as well as doing a number of 'spec' sites for potential clients. I haven't managed to convince any of these people to employ my services yet (salesmanship is definitely NOT my forté), but even if I never do, they provided a great learning experience, as well as templates for future projects. So, if you've ever thought you might need a 'webmaster' (as people who do this are called) to create a site for you, or know of anyone else who might be looking for one, give me a call and/or pass on my name!

September and October were, as usual, lovely. Did find some time to enjoy the good weather, as well as work on Version 2.1 of the website of my Saskatchewan clients (talk about telecommuting!). In November (also as usual, unfortunately), I got down into my standard funk. I'm only just coming out of it now, which is why these cards are so late getting done. Oh well, as they always say, better late than never!

Hope all is well with you and yours ...

Click here to go back to the TOP of the page

Click on the image below to go to the
'Front Photo' page for this year:
Click on the image below to go to the
'Inside Photo' page for this year:
Inside Photo for Christmas '99
Click on the image below to go to the
alternate 'Inside Photo' page for
Freeman's Workshop participants:
Click on the image below to go to the
alternate 'Inside Photo' page for
the SPCA, vet, pet store, etc.
Click on the image below to go to the
original (Version 1) 'Front Photo' page
Click on the image below to go to the
original (Version 1) 'Inside Photo' page

Click on an icon to go to other years' letters:

<-- Previous Year (1998)        Next Year (2000) -->

Click on the image below to go back to the 'Christmas Cards and Letters' page:
Christmas Cards and Letters

Last update: January 17th, 2000

Copyright © 1999, 2000 - Quintessential Websites
All rights reserved