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Christmas Greetings

AVIVA Choir visits Pacific Gardens

Here it is, Christmas at Pacific Gardens in Nanaimo. Sorry it has taken me so long to touch base with many of you -- both family and friends. How different our life has been this year and how much change and disruption we have experienced. This is the Aviva choir giving us a concert in our common dining hall. But that is the end of our year. Let's start at the beginning. We started in September to downsize our stuff to be able to make the move to Pacific Gardens. I had to get rid of 11 file drawers of paper and ended up deciding to priorize and scan a great deal. And of course we had to find a home for everything we couldn't take. In the meantime Ron was the logistics coordinator for the fall fair and I continued my work with the Capital Region Interfaith Council, The CUC Criminal Justice monitoring group, the CUSJ Board and so on.

We were lucky that our visits to Buffalo coincided with a visit from Tennessee by Ron's brother Ken and his wife Bonny. We really enjoyed a catch-up with them on all the news.

We raced to meet our commitments and say good bye to many friends. My last task in Ottawa was to organize the first ever Capital Region Interfaith Council multifaith choir for the Canada 150 Joy of Faith Concert. The First Unitarian choir is in the back two rows.

Was so happy to have the chance to participate in Ellen Bell's ordination before I left.

Left - David Hudson and Margaret Linton and (below) Maury Prevost, Linda Goonewardene. At the last minute Frances took the opportunity for some parliamentary lobbying. We had the chance to visit The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice to promote crime prevention instead of retributive justice.

Big thanks to Joy Silver & John Slattery for giving our daughter Karen a sense of community and fun when we were still so far away.

We grabbed a few weeks at the cottage and Frances

tried to paint (R-Reflections on hope- see Paintings in Body and Soul) while Ron worked to renew the woodpile. It was so cold and rainy that spring and the mosquitoes and black flies were bad. Didn't swim much.

Just asW e were just ready to leave we had an accident and hit a deer. Ron had good reaction time and the deer was only bruised. It jumped up and ran into the forest. But we had to wait a week to get our car repaired. Then finally on the road. Left Bruce Hyer and Margaret Wanlin at their lodge. Right Margaret and Gordon Braaten took us out to dinner in Calgary. We were very sorry to lose our cousin

FredLyseng this year and appreciated seeing Bill Briggs and John and Heather and meeting Fred's children. It was a special treat to connect with John Paul and Barbara Lyseng at the funeral. I hadn't seen John-Paul since he was a tot.

Joy and John and Karen welcomed us to the Westcoast and we had the chance to visit the McPherson Cousins and Tom and Peggy Lunderville as well. Too bad we missed Ginger and Dave and Julian. I was disappointed to learn that Karen and Madalyne have both been dealing with recurrances of breast cancer. We haven't touched base with Kathy and Geza and Patty and Steve (cousins) yet but hope to soon.

Finally, in mid July we arrived at Pacific Gardens in Nanaimo. We were made so welcome in this co-housing community. Moving in. Tea in the Atrium.

Garden work party. Garden in fall extravaganza.

Before we had been there any time at all we had to hop on a plane to Buffalo and a great family celebration with Ally and Brian's wedding. So great to see the nieces and nephews and their kids.

While we were out East we managed to catch a visit with Ron's good friend Tom Moorehouse and Paul Rook. Sorry I didn't get a picture of Tom and Lorna.

At the end of September we were lucky to get up to visit My brother Pete, Nephew Basil and his family. We also got to Kamloops to see Linda and Sage. Sage was working hard to establish how to live a life with independence and dignity after a tragic motorcyle accident this summer.

In October, Frances flew back to Ottawa to attend the World Health Organization's Milestones 8 Conference on Violence Prevention. She met people from around the world who where dedicated to replace our punitive, retributive justice system with violence prevention--trying to ensure there are many fewer victims in the first place. Thanks to Dr. Irvin Waller and his colleague Shannon Turner for this great opportunity.

It has been a whirlwind of visiting and activity and getting settled but we are finally beginning to feel as though we are really here. We are becoming immersed in our new community, as well as the First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo. Ron is already serving on the Fellowship's shelter committee. We run a homeless shelter with 30 beds from November to April. We both sing in the choir -- The Fabulous FUFONICS.

Community is both interesting and challenging. Pacific Gardens has interesting, smart, dedicated members who are working together to build a dream. The arrival of 6 new families in a year has needless to say caused quite a change in the dynamics. We are all learning how to make decisions by consensus and move things forward for the benefit of all. Ron found his way into the shop this week and was delighted with what he could do there. Predictably he is already making himself indispensable around here. I have found myself on the facilitation team and am just trying to figure out what that means.

We are cooking the Christmas turkey again this year -- just for a different community. Plan to go over to Vancouver for between Christmas and New Years. Hoping Karen will have a bit of time for us during the break between classes. She is finding her Mom and Dad a challenge at the moment. She is still pursuing her degree at SFU. Looking forward to doing the service at North Shore Unitarian on December 31st. Then maybe I'll finally get to some painting in the New Year.

Merry Christmas to all of you from Frances, Ron and Karen. Hope you all have a wonderful and fulfilling year in 2018.

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