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Christmas Letter 2018

Dear Family and Friends;

So glad to be in touch with you again. For some reason I have been postponing writing to you this year. What to say? Is Santa coming tonight? Will Jesus bring us renewal and hope?

Ron and I have a good life and no complaints about our health. Community life at Pacific Gardens has welcomed many new people since summer and they are all wonderful people. The community is growing together in vision of what we want our lives to be like. We have 9 children living here and will soon have 10 – a real bonus from my perspective.

I had a show of my flowers in a downtown gallery in May and participated in the Art Walk in November so I am becoming known as one of many artists in Nanaimo.

This is a rich artistic community with several theatre companies and a rich variety of music at our concert hall. There is never any shortage of opportunities for entertainment. I may decide to serve, next year, on the board of the Nanaimo Arts Council.

Ron serves on the boards of both the shelter and the church and chairs the Building and Maintenance team at PG so he is always engaged with something and really enjoys his roles. He is working with a team of FUFON’ers to start a Spring Fair on the model of the Fall Fair at Ottawa First.

I am doing Taoist Tai Chi twice a week and really benefiting from it. We still have time to ride our electric bikes (we need the assist with the Nanaimo hilly landscape.) and time to take a walk or a ride and visit the shops or have a coffee.

It is great to have friends all over on the island. We are lucky to occasionally enjoy a visit with Karen Christie in Victoria in her beautiful James Bay Air BnB. We were doubly lucky to have a visit from Marina Jones and her sister Norma last winter. This winter we won’t be so lucky.

Ron and I enjoyed another trip across the country this summer to spend time at the cottage. Our 2009 Yaris is holding out at 280,000 kms. It has served us well. We are determined to drive it until we feel safe buying an electric car. We love the drive and the opportunity to see friends (Basil and Brandi and family, Sage and Linda, brother Pete, Diane Gossen, Bruce and Michael Hyer and Margaret Wanlin.) While passing through TBAY we saw an amazing show by Christi Belcourt on the theme of Water.

A big thanks to David Hudson and Margaret Linton for giving us a home base in Ottawa so we could see all our friends there. It was great to see brother

John's son, Murray with Mimi and baby Leona at the ball field. Thanks also to Sharon Devine/Glen Tarver and Tom and Lorna Moorhouse for their hospitality in Toronto. We had a wonderful visit with the Wilson family at Craig’s birthday party in Buffalo. Everyone was there! So good to see all the next generation with their partners, and everyone seemed to be doing so well. It was a delight to watch Kevin's daughter Katie help our newest arrival, (Karrah’s daughter Lena Rose), to take her first steps.

And I had my first visit to the race track to watch Kevin tear around the track. What a noise! I thought I'd be terrified but it was a lot of fun. A big thanks to John and Kim for taking us.

But we did spend over a month on the road going both ways. In 2019 we want to try flying and renting a car instead so we’ll have more time at the cottage.

On the WestCoast Joy Silver and John Slattery give us a soft spot to land when we go to Vancouver, and we enjoy their visits here as well. We especially appreciated the Christmas craft workshop that Joy provided all our children. Emma is my next door neighbour.

But even as life goes on, the state of the world hangs in the backdrop. It feels discouraging. I have 3 sermons to deliver to Fellowships in the area this spring and I can’t let myself go there. I need some inspiration. The referendum on Proportional Representation has failed and politics are swinging to the far right – with many climate change deniers. Is there any point in activism these days? Do our actions matter? It is hard to avoid taking the path of Cynicism or, my new word—"Acedia“ – apathy, depression, denial, sticking our heads in the sand. How do you ever find the way to maintain your energy, Keep your optimism, and stay the course to at least throw your pebble in the pond?

My reading this year has been varied, eclectic, and interesting. Serious books and novels all provide interesting perspectives. Acedia –The Dark Within. Harari’s Sapiens. Homo Deus next. Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood by Naomi Wolf on gender politics. Unsettling Canada by Arthur Manuel and Grand Chief Ronald M. Derrickson (For the first time I have an idea what sharing the title on the land could mean for both settlers and indigenous people could look like.); An amazing Chinese novel “Do Not Say We Have Nothing” by Madeleine Thien on psychological survival in Mao’s China. The Bishop’s Man by Linden McIntyre (See the layers on layers in the sexual abuse scandals). Several Memoirs including Heros in my Head ,by Judy Rebbick. (Her coming out on living with multiple personalities) (This in preparation for writing my own Spiritual Odyssey for UU Ministers.) Many people are exploring the dark side of things looking for inspiration and the manure that will fertilize the new growth.

My beautiful daughter, Karen, continues to struggle to find her own path. We don’t see her as she prefers to make it on her own, but we are proud to watch her as she tests new choices. She has almost survived a year as a flag person on the streets of Vancouver. Joy has watched her work. She is very goo

d at her job, facing unpleasant people and dangerous traffic with courage, unfailing good humour, and excellent interpersonal skills. She is much appreciated by her employer. In her spare time, she toys with her camera and hones her artistic talents.

Meanwhile we get up every day and do the tasks needed to keep our Pacific Gardens community vital and happy. Ron is out there fixing and painting and digging soil. Frances and friend Louise run art sessions for kids. We clean and prune, cook, and play together, helping each other and the community out.

Many thanks to all those friends and family who stayed in touch with us over the year. We really appreciate our continued connections. Ron and I want to wish you every happiness and well-being in 2019.


Frances and Ron

P.S. My summer paintings: The right one is 24X30. The Left one is 24X36.

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