Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

We have had a busy and fun year.

We rang in 2003 at Ainsworth Hot Springs with our friends Phil and Marg from Australia. It was a wonderful evening with dinner and dancing and then soaking in the hot springs during a snowstorm on new Years Day. It was Marg’s first time in “real snow” so she got to experience several Canadian winter activities while visiting us. She especially seemed to like the several skiing trips to Apex.

We also enjoyed our first year of curling, but were been too busy to play this fall...maybe next year. It was great to get out of the house every Friday night instead of just watching TV.

In April we went to Edmonton to attend Heather's graduation from Grant McEwen College with a Diploma in Dance. Heather really enjoys dance and is now looking for a job in the dance field (teaching). She has a lot of opportunities with the different types of work she can do. Heather and Kirk are enjoying Edmonton and have decided to live there for the foreseeable future.

Diva, our beagle, was showing signs of boredom so in April we got a second beagle puppy who was 7 weeks old. We wanted a male puppy so we could have a Duke and a Diva, but this new puppy was a female. We finally decided on the name Daisy. Jean decided that it stood for Daisy Duke of the Dukes of Hazzard. It’s been great as Diva has done most of the raising of Daisy and the two of them play together for hours on end. They play so hard that at the end of the day they just flop down and sleep. Even Crowley, Heather’s cat that we are looking after, gets along well with the two dogs.

In May, we took a week's holiday to Parksville on the island and spent a relaxing week walking on the beach, reading and generally being lazy. We went to Long Beach on the west coast for a day. We were enjoying lunch at a restaurant right on the ocean and watched a gray whale swim by quite close to shore. They normally stay further out, so we were quite lucky. On another day, we visited with Phil and Patsy, friends from way back when we lived in Fort St. John.

Later in May, we went to a few open houses just to see what was on the market. We really liked our house in Sage Mesa, but we had a list of things that we were looking including a flat lot, large garden, large master bedroom, view, privacy and so on. We had been looking on and off for several years. The open house started at 12 noon and at 12:02 Jean said “I like it!” We bought the house on the spot and moved in Aug 9th. Fortunately, the real estate market was very hot, especially for view properties, so we sold our Sage Mesa house very quickly for a fantastic price. The new house is on a flat ˝ acre with a great garden, huge master bedroom, fantastic view of Skaha Lake and many trees including cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot, walnut and hazel trees. We’ve done a few renovations to make it perfect for our taste and needs, including a new kitchen and a fixing up the ensuite. Our commute to work now is only 12 minutes, only 2 minutes longer that from the Sage Mesa house, but the neighbourhood and house is much nicer so it’s worth that and more.

In Sept. we attended out 30th ! (gulp) high school reunion. It was fun to catch up with old friends. We actually recognized many of the old people there but it was fun to guess the ones we didn’t. Some of these people have led some very interesting lives and we were especially grateful to learn the rumor of one dying of cancer was wrong. It was pretty obvious that he was alive when he started talking.

Miranda left for a year in Australia in a student exchange program. She attended MacQuarrie University in Sydney and had a great time meeting other students from around the world. Travelling itself is such a good education, but she did also attended classes. In Sept, Jean went down under and the two of them spent 3 weeks travelling to Darwin, Uluru, Adelaide, Barossa Valley Great Ocean Road and back to Sydney. Miranda also travelled with old and new friends to other parts of Australia during her many breaks in classes. These included Cairns and Gt Barrier Reef where she tried scuba diving.

She came home for Christmas on Dec. 20th and will be heading back to Calgary in Jan. to continue her education. She’s reviewing her options and is considering a switch to computer animation where there is a high demand for people. With her background in art, she should do well at this.

Dennis has been busy with Windward Software. In the summer, he took advantage of an opportunity to purchase a small competitor that specialized in garden center software. The integration of the two companies went smooth as the software programs did many of the same things. Windward then opened a second office in Westbank to help reduce the amount of commuting the staff had to do and to make it easier to recruit new staff in the future. Windward now has 27 employees and Dennis loves getting up each morning to keep growing the company.

Jean still works at the Penticton Regional Hospital on a combined adult/pediatric ward. Fortunately, kids are healthier these days so that means the staff have to look after adults much of the time in order to keep the unit open and ready for children. The unit expanded last year when the Summerland hospital closed, so there are now 2 nurses on every day. As more nurses are now cross trained for pediatrics it has meant less overtime and stress for Jean.

This year Heather and Kirk, Miranda, Jean’s mom, Dennis' parents and Simon ( who is here for a month from the Australia Windward office) are here for Christmas in our new home. See the picture above for all except Simon.

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We wish everyone a Healthy Happy New Year.

Love Dennis and Jean.