I'm sitting here writing this in the middle of a deep freeze. It's minus 25 celsius (or minus 12 fahrenheit for our American friends). Cold. I've been watching the frost build up on the screws inside our unheated back porch with a mixture of horror and fascination. Every night around the stroke of midnight, a beautiful doe makes her way through the scrub Cottonwood, just yards from our back door, to go up on the bank of Hospital Creek and down to the slough. The steam from Evans Forest Products mill behind us is rising straight up and crystallizing into a curious fog. The moon rose tonight just after sunset, its crescent sharp against the varying hues of the night sky, its light shaping the silhouettes of the mountain peaks beneath it. It is absolutely awesome here, even in the bitter cold.
1998 has been a good year for us. As some of you know, I have an autoimmune disorder, most likely Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, that has caused me a lot of grief in the past few years. (Exacerbated, too, by my mother's illness and her death in 1995 and all of the stresses of being in ministry.) The mountains have been good for me. My health is returning with ever increasing levels of energy and stamina, particularly in the last six months. I never thought I'd see this happen while I was still in my days of absolute exhaustion when I'd have to go back to bed after being up for only three hours. Richard's patience, understanding and protectiveness during the bad times were most precious for me.
Richard's son Mark, who's been with us for the past two years, left us in August to begin his studies in Computer Science at Simon Fraser University on a $10,000.00 entrance scholarship. His mother drove up from Vancouver to join us in witnessing this young man's graduation ceremony at Golden Secondary School. He stayed and worked at a local business cleaning buildings, offices and the Court House until near the end of August. We really miss him; his curiosity, his wry sense of humour and his technical skills (we've had to hone our own now!). The house seems quite empty without him.
In June, my older daughter Shannon joined us for a month and a half before moving on to spend some time with her cousin Tara Mahood in Kamloops. She arrived out here in time to act as maid of honour for Tara's wedding June 11th (officiated by Uncle Richard) to Nolan Fox of Tasmania, Australia. While at the wedding, she and Damon, the brother of the groom, felt an instant attraction that continues to this day - now in Halifax, Nova Scotia where Shannon is doing a degree in Geography, concentrating on Oceans and Coastal Management, at St. Mary's University. Both of us enjoyed our time together doing what is euphemistically called "girl stuff" - for want of a better term. She celebrated her 24th birthday on December 14th.
Richard's Michael joined us in August and while he was here he did a tremendous job building a terrace in the creek bank behind us where we will grow herbs and flowers next year. He also handily constructed a terraced stairway up to the walkway on the creek bank. A very handy young man! He's in Grade 11 in Maple Ridge. My daughter Bryna continues to "dog sit" for Professor Elizabeth Mann Borghese of Dalhousie, a neighbour and good friend, who lives just down the road from Bryna and her Dad and brother at Sambro Head. My son Mark (yes, there are two Marks!) is taking night classes and hoping to join Canada's Armed Forces when he finishes his Grade 12. We are singularly blessed by these young people. They bring us a lot of joy.
During the year we had visitors. It is said by the locals that eventually everybody passes through Golden. We are, after all, on the Trans-Canada Highway. In January our dear friends, Ken & Cindy Earhart of Springfield, Ontario dropped in for three days and joined in us in worship on Sunday morning. They are still talked about here at Saint Andrew's because, after the service, Ken took his guitar and went with us to visit at the Golden Hospital and sang for the patients. The folks here keep asking when the Earharts are coming back.
In July we got to see some of the Pressey clan. Colleen and Jim came up from Cranbrook, where they'd been staying with Kim & John, to visit for the day. We toured them around the Blaeberry Valley and after supper, once again, out came the guitars. In September/October Rick and Karen Marshall of Corinth joined us for a few weeks and had a most wonderful stay. It was a joy to show them around some of our Golden charms. If you ever see Karen ask her about logging roads and side hills. In November the phone rang and it was Gord Chilcotte up at the Husky station passing through with a travel trailer he was delivering. We went and got him and had a few hours of pleasant "catching up."
Sometimes the phone rings and the person on the other end is a friend we've never met. Someone who we've gotten to know from our online presence. It was our delight to meet Peter Vanderkam from Westminster United in Thunder Bay this way. If you're passing through, give us a call, we'd love to meet you!
Richard is very much enjoying his ministry here with the good people of Saint Andrew's. Saint Andrew's had the very great privilege of hosting the "Birthing The Dream" tour this summer. At Easter and at Christmas, the Golden Community Choir have presented their concerts at Saint Andrew's to a very warm and hearty response. One night a month we have a Music & Celebration service that is very ecumenical in nature. Twice now we've had local singer Jack Leslie in singing Gospel. The Golden Pentecostal congregation and the music team from Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church have shared their music ministry with us and their ministers have delivered a short homily. The folk here have participated in the Shoebox project. Tomorrow night, the 23rd, the ecumenical outdoor living nativity, "The Turning Point In Time" is being presented in the side yard of Saint Andrew's for the second year in a row. Of course there's much more I could tell you about but I'd be here all night typing my fingers to a bone.
As for me, I sing in the Choir, help with the Bible Study (we're doing Luke this year), occasionally read the scriptures, participate in UCW, visit with Richard, and a multitude of other small things, including going to our semi-annual Presbytery meetings. The last one was in Lillooet and took 8 hours, with one stop for the Adams River Salmon Run and lunch, to get there. I am already Vice President of Kamloops-Okanagan Presbyterial. I chaired the all day Fall Rallies held in two venues on two different days this past October. I was also the Theme Speaker and spoke on "Together We Grow."
A year ago November, the webmaster of our ISP Rocky Mountain Internet Junction invited me to start doing some contract webdesign work with him. It has been a most enjoyable and rewarding experience. I've learned a tremendous amount and the creative juices have really begun to flow.
As you may have gathered, Richard and I are very happy here in Golden, in the Columbia Valley, "where the Rockies touch the stars". In the words of my friend Terry, "This is as good as it gets." I agree.
We received some mail expressing the wish that we had included some photos of ourselves and our beautiful surroundings. So, here they are. Please enjoy. There is one photo per page so downloads should not exceed 20.9 seconds at 28.8 except for the Blaeberry pic at 60 seconds.
Richard and Charlene
Paradise: Kicking Horse Canyon From Mount Seven
Paradise: Kicking Horse Canyon
Special greetings to:
Love and Blessings,
Charlene & Richard