Friday, December 15, 2017

Dear Friends

Snow still falls in Montreal. We'll have a white Christmas, it looks like, which is comforting although maybe it shouldn't be, given the increasing number of terrible "weather events."

A year ago we were  shocked by Donald Trump winning the US presidency.  This year we're shocked by what has happened since. The problem is how to do something about that.  I would like to think that Ray Moore's defeat in Alabama was the beginning of a  proper response to Trumpism, but I'm not sure.  It may be that we'll have to do a lot more slogging through the snow before we get to a better place.

On a personal level, though, a great many good things happened, which I'd like to share with you.

The biggest probably was our long-postponed expedition West with toute la gang in July.  There were moments when it was like herding cats, but what can you expect with nine people (Lee and me; Lukas, Sophie, Thomas and Louis; and Elin, Jeanne and for part of the trip Stuart) in close quarters for ten days. All in all we had some excellent adventures.  The small fry would say the high point was our stop in North Vancouver where we visited my niece Kris, her husband Alex and their two kids, Kirk and Olivia who are about their  ages. Not only did the gaggle of "cousins" play non-stop, the house we rented had a trampoline which was enjoyed nearly every minute we weren't sight-seeing.  Then we went on to visit more cousins near Spokane and in Walla Walla, with visits to Grand Coulee dam and the North Cascades Highway.  That's Lee and cousin Cathy's dog Sadie frolicking at Sasheen Lake.

Back in Montreal, Lee's been working on several projects including making six chairs for the dining room to go with the table he made several years ago.  We got the first one back from the upholsterer yesterday, and it looks very good.  There will be some adjustments to be made, but by the summer I'm hoping they'll all be done and we can have a BIG dinner party.

Lukas, Sophie and the boys are keeping busy too.  Sophie's back teaching first grade after a year's maternity leave, Louis's thriving in the same day care that Thom attended before he started kindergarten, and Lukas is philosophizing. Needless to say their home is full of kid chatter and adult conversation: a very pleasant place to be.  We're lucky that they're in Montreal and will enjoy having them for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Elin is working probably too hard as a development officer in McGill's music school.  The job involves some traveling and long hours, but she does have time to make some music, sometimes with Stuart who also plays the viola da gamba.  He's now splitting his time between the Ottawa and Montreal and hopes to have a posting here in the near future.  That would make life much easier for all concerned, including Jeanne who is very fond of him.  She's in Grade Two now, and is delighting in singing, ice skating and reading.

As for me, I had a new book come out last spring, Road through Time: The Story of Humanity on the Move  published by University of Regina Press. (The photo is of me at the launch in April: delighted, of course, and with my mouth open, also of course.) They'll be bringing out another one--Different: Why Some Places That Should Be Alike Aren't Alike--probably in early 2020.  Since two of the pairs of places I compare (others include Rwanda and Burundi, and Scotland and Ireland) are the US and Canada, the folks there think publishing the book in the US election year would be good.  In the meantime, I'm also working on another project, Rock of Ages: How Concrete Made the World as We Know It.

So, as you can see we've been keeping busy. That's all to the good, I suppose, as it keeps me from obsessing about the state of the world!  Hope you also have had some good things happen in 2017, and that 2018 sees all of us in a better situation.

Bisous, beijinhos, be well