Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas 2004

Xmas Letter
Don and Irene

The big events in the first half of the year had to do with our grandchildren. This past year our grandson Jack , now aged 9, continued living with us in Rieux Minervois attending the local school. Jack’s after school days were busy with volleyball., soccer, swimming , bicycle club, tennis and drum lessons.. When time permitted fishing and long walks with the dog in the hills and by the sea were frequent interludes. Homework every night and stories at bedtime ended the day. He ate everything and in large quantities. This is an indirect way of saying that Irene and I were kept very busy and dropped into bed exhausted every night. Jack thrived and became a scholar. We loved every minute of it. He is now fluently bilingual and happily back in Toronto with his mom, dad and brother and attending a French school. I should mention that in France the teachers mark the children’s work every day whereas in Canada Cathy tells me that weeks can go by without any feedback from his teachers.

In June our grandaughter Zoe, age 11, arrived for three weeks. Zoe is bright and beautiful and joined into the spirit of our living here. Jack and Zoe are pals and enjoyed the beaches, trips to Carcassonne’s ancient walled city and an escape to a medieval chateau where we moved in for two days. Irene also took Zoe on the train to visit Montpelier.

A second big event was that Irene became a dual citizen of France and Canada in September. The bureaucracy moves slowly here and they say it may take 4 months before we receive the papers and the details of what this means ; in particular what it means to her Canadian partner.

For the spring break we spent a week at Agadir in Morrocco. It was warm, the resort had a club for kids so we could escape and visit the countryside and Berber villages, wandering about in the markets. Jack suggested that I not indicate that I am his grandfather because everyone there thought he was a French kid. We liked Morroco very much and will be returning ; this time to Fez in February. Will also visit X where Irene’s dad while in the French Foreign Legion taught at the conservatory and conducted on the radio a live concert of some of his compositions.

The wine business started out as a hobby but has grown each year ; this year business doubled and I now have three people out selling part time. Catherine now manages the day to day in the office. Irene says I am supposed to retire or at least slow down . With others on the front line maybe I can slow down and this will be my goal for 2005. Irene and I will focus our time on travelling about this beautiful countryside and visiting winemakers on their estates and discovering new wine to represent.

The wine business took me to Canada three times this past year and Irene decided to join me on my trip in August with plans to return in three weeks to France. She tripped on construction rubble on the road, probably while gazing at the sky, and broke her left kneecap in two. This resulted in an operation to screw and wire the pieces back together , a brief period in the hospital, fine cuisine prepared by her husand, several weeks of convalescence, and pleasant visits with friends. We walked about 5km today so in spite of some swelling and pain she is almost better

What else can I tell you ? This area is a vacation with many places to visit, weekly concerts both jazz and classical to attend, great food, and the hills, mountains and the sea nearby. We never tire of visiting nearby large cities like Bacelona, Montpelier, Toulouse, and mny of the smaller ones in between. We avoid like the plague all giant shopping malls and fast food joints. Fortunately this part of the world hasn’t yet been overrun. Chuckie, our noble dog walks and drives with us everywhere, eats with us in the best of restaurants and even attends the odd concert. She is a happy and friendly dog and good friend.

I follow what is happening in the world by reading daily Le Monde and the Herald Tribune plus scan without fail The Toronto Star, Globe and Mail plus several sites that tell me much more about what is going on. Irene tells me that it is utimely to pass on my observations and opinions at this time. Just ask me for them by return mail and I might fill a page or two.

I will end with my evening menu. Spaghetti with a fresh sliced truffle and garlic , a salad and supported by a superb bottle of wine.

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