Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays

Does the clock run faster as we get older? Bernie and I think it does, and William James – the American philosopher and psychologist – had an explanation. His notion was that we experience each year as a fraction of our lives. Thus, a ten-year-old experiences one year as a tenth of his or her life. Each sixty-year-old experiences a year as a sixtieth of their life, and so on. As we get older, each of us experiences the year past as a smaller fraction of the whole. A strange way to begin a year-end letter, we suppose, but mark it down as wisdom for the ages – or better, perhaps, wisdom of the aged….

We have had a terrific year and feel very fortunate to have many wonderful friends in Calgary with whom we shared many happy times. Sadly, one of those friends, Rejeanne, passed away this year, from cancer.

Bernie continues to be heavily involved with CHILD Foundation, which has built and is supporting a hospital in rural India. She serves as chair of our condominium board, and that has been time-consuming. She also taught English as a second language to some Mexican students.

Peter completed a 300-year history of Canada’s oil sands last year, and the University of Calgary will publish it next year. With two colleagues – Bob Bott and Graham Chandler – he is now working on a book about land reclamation, which will also hit the press in 2015. As part of the research for this project, he made several trips to Edmonton, and another to Alberta’s north – notably Fort McMurray, which is the hub of Canada’s oil industry. Like most people in Canada, we worry about global warming/climate change.

Bernie’s sister, Rita, came to Calgary to visit us from Ireland, and the three of us went to the west coast to visit friends, and had a wonderful time.

We returned to Calgary on September 8 to a snow storm that broke a record set in 1912! The photo gives a sense of the damage it wrought. At our condominium alone, it destroyed eight large trees, and damaged four others. It damaged large deciduous trees, which don’t expect snow when they are in peak foliage. Conifers, weeping birch, and shrubs were unaffected.

In the coming year we may go to Ireland again. We are also considering a springtime birding expedition.

We remain bemused at Canada’s national sport, which goes on all around without us. Although the rink in the photo is in a local park, it’s typical of the many around us. Many Calgarians create backyard rinks on their property – essentially large, shallow pools which they flood when the cold sets in. They provide entertainment for the neighbourhood until spring – shinny hockey for boys and men (mostly), and skating for all.

Our musical taste remains focused on opera. This season we attended Calgary Opera’s Canadian premiere of Silent Night, which tells the story of a spontaneous truce on Christmas Eve 1914 when combatant troops laid down their weapons to celebrate the holiday together and bury their dead. Remarkably, parts are sung in French, German, Italian, Scots English and liturgical Latin. We thought it was an excellent production. It was one of many centennial commemorations of the Great War across what was once the British Empire. For his part, Peter attended a two-day conference on the war, put on by Calgary’s army, navy and air force war museums.
Peter was inactive in Rotary for most of 2014, but at year-end got fired up again.

In any case, that’s the news for now. Taking a cue from the Chinese, we wish you the four blessings in 2015 and for years to come: health, happiness, prosperity, and good fortune.

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