DÉJÀ VU: Extra! EXTRA!! Read all about
it…errrr….no…that should be “Read all about HER”. A new edition…no…but
there was another addition to the Hillman family tree this year. Last year
at Xmas, Robin and Jen gave us a photo of an ultrasound. Our new addition
arrived this summer!
River Jade Galaxy Hillman arrived on June 17th, a daughter for our
son Robin and Jen, and little sister for Oriyen. We were happy that River
waited for us to get home from our Asian travels before her birthday. She’s
gorgeous, from the day she was born! Hard to believe that she is now six
months old, and boy, she keeps her whole family on their toes! Jen’s been
so good at keeping us updated with pictures, thanks to the Internet!
Oriyen is the perfect big sister. One of our favourite pictures is of Oriyen
practicing piano WITH River on her lap. It's never too early to start "tuning
their little ears". Oriyen is in her second year of Brownies and 4th year
of Girl Guides. She has also finished beginners level in piano and is progressing
very well in Level I. Looks like an addition to future family jammin'!
Jen is on maternity leave from her position as assistant manager
position with the "assisted living" organization she works for. She continues
to churn out creative projects whenever she gets a bit of free time. Robin
continues to be busy with Web company Tactica.ca.
His main focus is business analysis for web applications. Once he gets
home, his little girls keep him pretty busy! He seems to be handling the
"Daddy role" very well - old hand actually, from lots of practice with
Little Inara Jane, Ja-On and Angela's lovely little redhead, is now
1.5 years old. With them living in Brandon, we get to have playtime with
Inara when Ja-On and Angela's work schedules collide. Lucky for us! The
little monkey keeps us on our toes, literally, as she loves to dance and
play tag! Big brother Soulin is now in grade 10, with an interest in drafting.
It's a beautiful picture to see a tall 15-year-old Soulin carrying Inara
around. Of course she has us all wrapped around her little fingers.
Angela is back to work in her nursing duties at Rideau Personal Care.
Ja-On’s business, www.reactivemassage.com
continues to grow. He is into his fourth year studies for his B.Sc. Degree
in Osteopathy -- does not like the drives into Winnipeg for classes at
Wellington College, but loves the studying and learning part.
Dr. China-Li, in her fourth year of radiology residency as a doctor
specializing in medical imaging, squeezed in a few days this fall to fly
all over the U.S.A. She had interviews for her fellowship year, coming
up in 2015: Cleveland, Baltimore, Denver, Stanford, Mayo, and Boston. After
much deliberation, she’s decided on Boston (Harvard), which offered more
opportunities for her radiology specialty. China's fiancé Ryan McIntosh
took the big leap this summer, and started his own Web company: Pebkac
Technology Solutions. He does excellent work, so his roster of clients
is growing every day. Both China and Ryan are so busy that we don’t get
to see them as often. It will be wonderful when everyone comes home for
Xmas, along with the granddogs, Tori and Lily, joined by Robin and Jen's
Great Pyr, Keifer.
2013 proved to be a very different year for the Hillman seniors.
Yes, you heard right - Sue-On started receiving the much toted "brown envelope"
after her birthday in June. This was timely as I took the spring-summer
term off from teaching, and Bill and I took the long-awaited-for trip to
Our friend, Bill’s former student, and our former drummer / bassist
Kerry Morris and his lovely Malaysian wife Shahedah (Edah) escape the prairie
winter months each year to live at their home in Yan, Malaysia. Hearing
that we were planning to go to China, they invited us to acclimatize at
their home before joining us on a tour of China. After a very long flight,
with stops in Vancouver, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Kuala Lumpur, Kerry and
Edah picked us up at Penang airport, followed by the first of many delicious
meals in Malaysia!
We spent four wonderful weeks being pampered by, not only Kerry and
Edah, but also her whole family! The weather was perfect and their home
a tropical paradise. With these two as well-seasoned tour guides and driver,
we covered many of the incredible highlights of Malaysia: planting bamboo
and being attacked by red fire-ants, with an “expensive” visit to the medical
clinic; watching workers in the rice paddies; drinking tea in the Cameron
Highlands; listening to the swallows busy building their “nests”in bird
hotels for Chinese Bird’s Nest Soup; attending a Muslim betrothal party
for Edah's nephew; taking in the amazing bird's-eye-view of Kuala Lumpur
from the top of the Petronas “twin towers”; enjoying the delicious cooling
drink of chendal with my long time Internet foodie pal Teck Po in Penang;
and finally, getting to meet, after +20 years, my Internet sister Karen
Lee in the southern Malaysian city of Johor Bahru! She and her best friend
Ang Lai Nguang took us on an extensive culinary and sightseeing tour of
Singapore. Our wonderful holiday in Malaysia is documented with hundreds
of photos on our Hillman website. www.hillmanweb.com/asia
On May 5, Kerry, Edah and we left Malaysia for our tour of China.
Bill and I arrived a couple of days earlier, and we took in an extra tour
of Beijing: The Summer Palace, a rickshaw tour of the Hutongs, and the
Flying Goose Pagoda, plus, our first Chinese Walmart - all amazing! This
is one word that we were to repeat often.
The main tour was a 13-Day "shopping tour" that included 5-Star hotels,
all meals, tours of many the UNESCO heritage sights in Beijing (Tiananmen
Square, Forbidden City, Great Wall, etc.), Suzhou, Hangzhou, Wuxi, and
Shanghai. Our group of 31 came from various parts of Canada, Australia,
New Zeland, and South Africa. Over half of the group were Chinese, but
none of us could speak Mandarian! That made for some hilarity in bargaining
with the Chinese vendors. The weather was good except for one day when
we had rain. There were lots of shopping opportunities, and they sure have
the spiel to entice the tourists. We resisted except for a couple of souvenirs
for the family back home.
Kerry and Edah were booked to return home before us. Bill and I continued
with a 3-day tour of X’ian - the terra cotta warriors. It was worth the
extra days, but by then, we were ready to come home.
We were home in time to attend the Brandon University Convocation
where Bill was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the University
He was nominated for the award by longtime friend and mentor, Dr. John
Tyman of Australia. Also receiving an award was well-known Canadian broadcaster,
Lloyd Robertson. It was a great pleasure to chat with Lloyd and his wife
before and after the ceremony. We were also home in time to celebrate Soulin
and Inara's birthdays on May 17th. Then, one month later, we were on hand
to welcome our new little granddaughter, River, into the family.
Because we were away, we had to miss the first of the two annual
Edgar Rice Burroughs gatherings - ECOF. It was held in Chicago, hosted
by our friend Joan Bledig. We were able to attend the second gathering,
the Dum-Dum in August, in Louisville, Kentucky.
On the way down, we stopped in Central City, the home of Don
and Phil Everly, two of our favourite singers. While there, I had an
unfortunate episode in our hotel room. I went into the bathroom “normal”
and came out handicapped! I slipped in the handicapped bathroom and
broke three toes. The medics and ambulance came. As I was not in pain,
and we were expected in Louisville in the evening, I decided to forego
the trip to emergency and continued on to the tour at the Everly Brothers'
museum. It was worth the sacrifice, which later turned into swollen, black,
and blue foot.
As we continued on our way to the Louisville convention, we came
upon signage for the Home of Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass music.
Of course we had to stop and pay homage. It was set back in the hills,
with his childhood home as a museum, and several outdoor stages set in
the "hollows", perfect for bluegrass music! A second stop was to follow
the signs for Bill Monroe’s Uncle Pen’s cabin. That little jaunt in the
rustic Kentucky Hills nearly landed us in trouble as Uncle Pen's lane degenerated
very quickly into a rocky, muddy, water-covered trail. We were finally
able to turn around and get back onto the main road.
We arrived in Louisville that evening and had a great re-union with
many familiar faces and some new friends. The four-day gathering was filled
with interesting presentations, special guests, the bibliophile auction,
the banquet, and the Sunday farewell breakfast. Louisville was an excellent
choice to accommodate our patriarch George McWhorter, the curator of the
world’s largest ERB collection at the University of Louisville. The special
guest was Dr. Phil Currie, world-renowned paleontologist from Canada, who
gave an excellent presentation of his research into dinosaurs in China
and elsewhere in the world. Also on hand was Lane Batot, who gave a talk
on his work with Dr. Jane Goodall. www.erbzine.com/mag45/4540.html
After breakfast on Sunday, Bill and I had the privilege of accompanying
George McWhorter to his beautiful church where he has sung each Sunday
for 40 years -- another side of our friend that few have seen. After lunch,
I finally went the U of L ER to have my foot checked. Many x-rays and four
hours later, it was confirmed that I indeed had 3 broken toes. I was fitted
with the latest "Darth Vader" boot and sent on our way. The hospital tab
turned out to be $1500.00! Thank goodness we had travel insurance.
We took a northern route home, stopping in Cleveland for the Rock
‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and The Christmas Story House Museum. (photo journals
of all these attractions are in preparation). Both have been on our bucket
list. Our friends Ken and Faye Daniels had moved from Brandon to Niagara-on-the-Lake.
We accepted their invitation to stop in for a visit, and are so happy that
we did! It's a beautiful city with access to a great variety of entertainment.
Best of all, I was introduced to a new cooking appliance: The Char-Broil
Big Easy Oil-Less Turkey Fryer!
From NOTL, we spent a few days with Bill’s sister Bonnie and two
of her kids at her beautiful lakeshore condo in Toronto. It’s been way
too long since we had seen Mark and Noelle, the two eldest of Bonnie’s
four children. The young children whom we remember have now grown into
wonderful adults. It was difficult to leave such great company, but soon,
we headed for home.
Bill is still working on many projects, for the Edgar Rice Burroughs
sites, John Tyman's Cultures in Context series, 2013 Adventures, the various
volunteer websites, committees, etc. The most important project is his
book on our 50 years in the music business. It will contain many hundreds
of pages, thousands of pictures, and 100 songs. A pre-release on-line edition
is available for free-download. www.hillmanweb.com/book
I started back teaching with the university in September. I still
enjoy working with the international students, but I may have sustained
a tiny bite from the travel-bug. Cooking and food photography continue
to be fun projects for me. After our S.E. Asia trip, there are even more
recipes to try out! And, with my new cooking unit, the Big Easy, the experiments
with all kinds of protein and more importantly, East Indian naan bread
are endless. www.hillmanweb.com/soos/food
The families will all be home for Xmas, so it will be a full house!
It’s been too long since we’ve had little ones tearing apart the wrappings.
There will be lots of good food, laughter, and love shared. We wish you
all the same - a joyous Xmas with family and friends, and All the Best
in the New Year!
Sue-On, Bill and Family
41 Kensington Crescent
Brandon, MB R7A 6M4
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