December 27 - Merry Christmas, Happy 2019


Merry Christmas, Happy 2019


 Liz and Phil [still] at Fulton House

One year since I gained my liberty (i.e. retired).  So 2018 has had a different shape and flavour in many ways. Intoxicated with freedom, we took multiple driving tours and vacations this year.   

In February, Marty and Joan Vanstone (Phil’s uncle and aunt) kindly let us stay in their winter home in Palm Springs for 2 weeks, while they travelled to Hawaii. I jokingly tell them that they are the only people I know who get to take a “vacation from their vacation”; but I must say, it felt pretty great to take a “vacation from retirement” after only a few weeks of  being retired. 

Joined by our brother-in-law Terry, we all had a much needed respite from the weather. Terry is a military buff, so we made a point to visit places like the General Patton Memorial (Tank) Museum, and the Palm Springs Air Museum.  Both were very good.      

It is possible Terry actually tried  to close a deal on some of these vehicles. Not sure what he did or said, but in any case, we had to bail him from the hoosegow while en-route to Joshua Tree National Monument.


In April, we offered to return a car that was stranded in Phoenix due to the owner’s health, making for an Americana road trip to Winnipeg via Santa Fe, Tucumcari, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Omaha, and Fargo.  For the southern leg of the trip we followed parts of Route 66, taking in some of the more iconic sites: Cadillac Ranch, the Wigwam Motel, and the small (now mostly abandoned) towns along  the route.  

As we headed north in early April, the weather got steadily worse until we were caught in a late spring blizzard in South Dakota.  We crawled along the highway in near whiteout conditions and when we arrived at our hotel in Fargo, could barely open the car doors because the entire car was coated in half an inch of ice.  Ah! spring on the prairies! Did I mention it was  April? Can’t believe we ever left the place . . .🥶


In mid May, we flew to [just slightly warmer] Toronto to help Phil’s much, much, (!!) older brother celebrate his 70th birthday.  We had a wonderful visit with Ian and Lesley and their family. David and Tiffany were there as well, and we all got up to watch the royal wedding together, complete with fascinators and prosecco, at 5 AM.  David and Ian, being in the Marrying Sam trade, had lots to say about the officiants’ performance. And, of course, by threatening a nuggie, Ian got his younger brother to do some of Ian’s chores. 🥴

In June, we did a “photographer’s” tour of the Palouse region of Washington State.  If you are not a photographer, you may need to consult your atlas.  In fact, the person at the front desk of our hotel in Colfax, aka ‘Palouse Central’, told us that 95% of their guests are photographers. The scenery is indeed jaw dropping.      

Colfax is also the home of the Codger’s Pole, a totem of sorts, the world’s largest piece  of chainsaw art, which recalls all the players in a 1988 football grudge match. See, in 1938, the young Colfax chaps played––and lost––against their rivals from nearby St. John. They longed for a re-do, but a war, and then life, got in the way. 

Finally, fifty years on, they all took to the field again: both teams just a wee bit heavier and greyer, but no less determined. And this time, Colfax earned the huzzahs. Both teams are honoured in the pole. Americana at its best!

In July, we enjoyed a few days with Krista and Jack in Whistler.  Their place is quite close to Lost Lake so there was a chance to swim every day.    

Jack spends a month each summer at Camp Kilcoo in Ontario. Mid month, parents and grandparents are allowed to visit, so Krista took me along—my first visit. The day is quite structured, with chapel in the morning, a fancy lunch, and a talent show of sorts.  There is however some free time, where the camper can choose the activity.  Jack is an avid archer, so he attempted to teach his mom and I what to do.  All I can tell you is that it is not as easy as it looks.


On a sad note, in August, we had to send our dog Bonnie on her way “across the Rainbow Bridge” as Aunt Joan would say. Bonnie was almost 15, deaf, mostly blind, warty and, as Timon and Pumbaa sang in Lion King, ‘she could clear the savannah after every meal’ 😷. But mainly, she had a series of cascading health issues with totally unpleasant remedies, so it was time.


This is the first time since I was very small that I have been completely pet-less.  It’s odd not to have that extra warm and furry presence in your home, although I am enjoying the freedom very much. 

On September 1st, Alison married Dan Hanoomansingh.   

Their wedding was originally planned for the Museum of Vancouver, but as Fulton House was still in our possession, we were able to fulfill her dream of getting married here––perhaps the only good consequence of all that government meddling that killed the housing market.

Both the ceremony and reception were held in the back garden, with about 80 guests. We could not have pulled it off without the help of family (you know who you are) who came over en–masse early on the wedding day to help with the last-minute preparations. The weather cooperated, the setting was verdant, the speeches were moving, the bride was beautiful, and the whole day was lovely.

They are settled for now in Vancouver’s west end, just a block from Stanley Park. Dan is in his first year teaching, and still moonlights as a hockey referee, and coach of young referees. Alison is on a career track at Lululemon––the Apple of yoga wear.

As a total aside, we had a few dramatic moments the night before the wedding.  On our way home from the rehearsal dinner, we saw a huge column of flame shooting above the rooftop at the back of a neighbour’s house.  Phil called 911 while I pounded on the door to tell the residents that their house was on fire. (Later we learned that their outdoor hot-tub had caught fire and had set a wall of their house aflame).  

Many firemen came [to the delight of all the neighbourhood women] and the whole house had to be hosed down, to the delight of all the neighbourhood men who assembled for an impromptu “watch the firetruck party”. I’m sure someone else eventually would have noticed the flames, had we not driven by when we did.  But I like to think that we stopped the damage from being worse. 


In October, Phil and I flew to New York, for an 18-day driving tour of Revolutionary America. We started in Philadelphia, and went to Annapolis, Washington, Williamsburg, Charlottesville and Lancaster.  

Before the trip, I spent some time learning about the events and people involved in this period of history.

It helped me understand what I was seeing and its significance. 

We stopped in every museum bookshop, and finally had to buy a new suitcase to carry home all the new Revolutionary period history books we purchased.

In late November, we did a circle tour of British Columbia. First to Kelowna to help Shannon pack and move to a new house, and then to Kaslo to deliver some furniture to Collin. I don’t really recommend winter driving in the interior of this province, it can be pretty treacherous, but my, oh my, the scenery is beautiful and constantly changing. 


Throughout the year, I have been back and forth to Winnipeg multiple times, to see Ted. He is 91 and still going strong. Life has not been without its challenges, but unlike 2016 when he died 3 times, and 2017 when he died once, he did not die at all in 2018.  His mind is still active, in fact, in 2018 he wrote and self-published a 150-page book about watershed management and carbon sequestration. Go Ted!


In between all of these events and trips we keep ourselves busy with our hobbies and interests. Phil continues with his photography, seemingly getting better every month.  He created and posted a photo, paired with poetry, every day of 2018. On an After Dark excursion to Mt. Baker in Washington, he finally achieved a long standing goal of capturing the Milky Way. 

I’m in three book clubs now.  Two clubs with girlfriends, which might be more accurately called “drinking clubs with a reading problem”.  We read fiction, and then get together and mostly talk about everything except the book.  My third book club, the History Boyz, is mixed gender, we read history and it is very serious, with an agenda, a website, note taking, yellow highlighters, and everything.  

I still get a kick singing and dancing with my Broadway show choir, and I have made a great many good friends there. 

In January, I’m going back to school one day a week to learn about gardening, and hopefully become a Master Gardener when I’m through.  


When I think about the year as a whole, this first year of my liberty, two things stand out most.  First, it is absolutely glorious to be able to do what you want to do, whenever you want to do it (and 8+ hours of sleep every night is nothing to be sneezed at). Second, I am so grateful to have more time to spend with family and to be able to lend a hand when it is needed.


We wish you and your loved ones all the best for 2019

 © Philip Knight 2018