January 1 - The Year They All Said We Would Never Survive


The Year They All Said We Would Never Survive

But here we all are, a year after all the dire hand-wringing, saluting one another with all good wishes and happy hopes for the next one. Be Very Happy!

And we at Fulton House wish you all the very best. See, we’ve been watching way too much of The Crown, and I fear we too are starting to sound "pinched, strangled and starched”, or whatever it was that Lord Something-or-Other accused the other Elizabeth and Philip of being.

The big news, and the theme that framed the year, was our decision in January that this would be Liz’s retirement year, starting a 200 working-day countdown clock, which ran its course one week before Christmas, ending her 37 year run at Reid/IPSOS. Times have changed—there was no gold watch, but they did have a cake at the office on her last Wednesday. So, that’s something. 😣

Liz says––

“I’ve had a great career with the company with lots of different challenges to tackle, smart people to work with, and opportunities to travel.   

Thanks to Ipsos I’ve been on nearly continent and I’ve seen the Panama Canal, Red Square, and the Great Wall of China. I’ve flown on the Concorde, rode a tuk-tuk in Bangkok, and stood on the deck of an active aircraft carrier.  I’ve met politicians, business leaders, and celebrities.”  

In New York for her retirement dinner, she met five of perhaps the world’s best-known celebrities – pictured above.  You will notice that Roo is missing:  He was lost in an apple orchard in the 1930’s, despite Kanga’s over-cautious approach to parenting. 

Sadly, Liz could not get their autographs due to that pesky lack-of-opposable-thumb problem.   

Liz has been talking about all her retirement activities, and I just look on, listening in awe, chagrined that I never seem to find retired time or energy to come up with such a list, much less act on it.

I did, however, find time to keep writing, and photographing whatever caught my eye. And I built this website to showcase my creativity, with this the first blog post on it. Now you are here, feel free to rummage around in it. If you like anything or just wish to kvetch about the length of this post, click here to send a note.   But maybe wait to finish reading, because . . .

Now . . .the Good Stuff––

We watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Marina del Ray, just north of LAX, then decamped on NYD to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Parade, an event that has been on Liz's bucket list longer than bucket lists have been a thing. 

Impressive as the parade was, we were perhaps more taken by the street scene of the 1000s of folks camped out overnight all along the route. And when we say “camped out”, we mean literally, complete with tents, campfires, BBQs, Patio heaters, bedding, steaks and beer. Lots of beer. But being that it was American beer, there was little danger of anyone getting, you know, intoxicated.

Up in the dark, and a mile walk brought us to our wonderful, unheated, aluminum bleachers, for 2 hours of bum-freezing, heart-warming Americana at its best, starting with a flyby of a Stealth Bomber—you really can’t hear them coming!

Later that week we toured—Liz had us out to LegoLand, of course. And as we were in Pasadena, we toured Gamble House, which is famous for serving as Doc Brown’s estate in Back to the Future

We closed out the tour with a few quiet days in La Jolla.


At the end of March, we went together to Solomon Islands. They are here.

Phil’s contract [to help them develop a new federal constitution] included a free business class ticket for Liz – so the two of us went for the first 2 weeks of the 2-month contract.  Liz calls the trip a combination of “idyllic” and “educational”.  

The best part was a week spent in the only resort on Uepi Island.  Uepi is very remote, right on the edge of the Pacific, with warm tropical Morovo Lagoon on one side, and a deep coral encrusted passage on the other. 

Our cottage at Uepi Island Resort 

Sharks, dolphins, mantas, and all manner of sea life in abundance.  The resort is tiny – only 20 guests when filled to maximum capacity – and the accommodation was basic (no hot water, no air con). But the hosts were gracious, locally grown food was terrific, and the peace and calm was idyllic. 

Liz in Morovo Lagoon    

Then it was time to move to the capital, Honiara, where Phil began his work in earnest.  This was the “educational” bit.  The Solomons are one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of less than $2000.  

Torrential rains and no storm sewers create a vigorous crop of vector-carrying mosquitos.  The people speak pijin, which as speech is difficult to understand, but sometimes decipherable when written.  You can test your pijin here.

Phil celebrated Canada 150 with one of his legendary road trips:  He drove the now 17 year-old Boxster from Vancouver to Toronto with his brother David, taking a route that would allow them to stop and visit with all seven of their siblings, and their families.  

After he dropped David off, Phil picked up our 9-year old grandson Jack from Kilcoo Camp in Minton and drove all the way back, stopping at––

•      Winnipeg, to visit Jack’s Nana Julie;

•   The Poyser family farm in Manitoba to learn first hand about harvesting wheat, riding the combine for an afternoon;

•    Kipling, SK, for an ice cream, and to see the "world’s largest red paper clip";

•   Lethbridge, AB for a ritual visit at Legg Lodge; and 

•     Moraine Lake, Banff NP,  for a sunrise photoshoot. 

 Jack’s favourite province?  Saskatchewan. 😯


Liz celebrated this year’s birthday with panache.  

When she was 20, she lived for a year in France, where she met a woman who has remained a dear friend. To celebrate their mutual 60th birthdays they returned to the scene of their youthful sins (so to speak) and spent a glorious week at our nephew’s house in Vence, a medieval walled city near Nice.  They spent their days poking through museums and open-air markets. Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire was on view right outside the kitchen window!   Wine, cheese, and foie gras were on the menu every day of course.


Alison moved out of home at the beginning of the year, and set up housekeeping in a 15th floor shoebox beside Stanley Park with her boyfriend Dan Hanoomansingh (Yes, he’s related to Ian. OK, so that is out of the way).

Dan is in his final year of Education at UBC, and in his free time he works for Hockey BC, coaching amateur hockey referees.  Alison completed her work internship at Bard on the Beach this fall, and is now working in the Lululemon’s head office managing customer complaints. 

Having successfully tested the proposition that they could coexist in 500 square feet without killing one another, they decided it to make the arrangement permanent. 

They became engaged on July 1st and the wedding is planned for September 1st 2018.    


Liz’s Dad, Ted, continues to amaze us.  2016 was his “annus horribilis”.  A misery sandwich with two lengthy hospitalizations at the beginning and end of the year as the “bread”, and Alice’s death in the middle of the year as the “filling”.   Some of his medical issues were so severe that there were even a couple moments when everyone, including Ted, thought he might be a gonner.  

However, he made a Lazarus-like recovery in 2017, celebrating his 90th birthday in June in fine form.

Ted is still very active in the wider world.  Last winter the province named a wildlife management area after him – in a place near the family farm.  This Spring, there were a couple of articles in the paper about his contribution to soil science in the province.   You can find them here.  

This year he created a provincial program to encourage farmers to sequester carbon on their farmland, by seeding forage on their marginal land.  The program was picked up by the provincial government, and legislation to establish the program was introduced in the Legislature on December 1st.   Way to go Ted!


Back at the top, I said that Liz’s retirement plans framed our year. Not only because the decision taken in January was to be executed in December. But also because, together with Alison leaving us empty-nested, it focused our minds on our future living arrangements. 

So, with all good spirits, we spent the first 6 months of the year preparing Fulton House for market, listing it in mid-July, after emptying the excess bric-a-brac into a U Store It locker. Sadly for us, that was also right after the province got saddled with an unelected GRNDP Government of Economic Uncertainty. 😱

After which we spent the next 6 months watching Vancouver’s dying real estate market try to stir itself, as the realtor’s sign out front grew roots and sprouted leaves and buds. 😱😱😱  

So, for now, we are still here. Wishing you all the best for 2018: may life be neither pinched, starched nor strangled.

 © Philip Knight 2018