Annual Hillman Christmas
Massive Missive 2022

It’s that time of the year already! Where did the year go? Seemed like yesterday that we were enjoying the summer. Now, it’s snow time, Christmas shopping and festive decorating.

We often think of all our family and friends, some of whom we haven’t seen since Covid. But, YOU are always in our thoughts, and we take this opportunity to send our Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Healthy 2023!

We’ve had two major events in our family this year; one a little bit sad, and the other a big happy celebration.

As we announced last Xmas, that Robin and Jen got married in July while vacationing in Newfoundland after being together for +15 years. They fell in love with St. John’s, and they MOVED there this past July! They sold their home in Winnipeg and bought a home in St. John’s all within a couple of weeks. It’s quite a bold move, especially with 17 year old Oriyen who is in her final year of high school, but they seem to have settled in well. Jovi and the two cats, Radar and Louie survived their first plane ride too.

Robin continues to work as a Business Analyst with Tactica Interactive from St. John’s. Jen just started working at a Re-Store, in Customer Service and office duties. Hopefully, she will have a HR position when they restructure in the new year. They both have “bikes” and have been exploring their new area together and as a family.

Oriyen is in grade 12! It must have been hard leaving her longtime friends at this stage. But, she makes friends easily and has settled in well. Her main interest is still drawing in various media. Maybe she will one day showcase drawings from her new province.

River enjoys hiking and exploring, a whole new world for her after Winnipeg. We enjoy funny chats with her, guessing what she’s drawn at that moment. Her latest activity is KARATE! From her first photos, she’s got that side kick executed perfectly! The Hillman genes are carried through to the third generation.
Although we will miss them being so far away, we are very happy that the move has turned out so well.

The second major 2022 event is the long awaited celebratory party of Scott and China-Li’s wedding! The wedding gown finally came out of hiding after two years, the wedding planner got busy, the Manitoba Room venue was booked, and the guests all came. The big day was October 1, and it was a fun event. Mom and Dad shed a few tears as Bill finally got to walk China-Li down the aisle. But the biggest outpouring of tears was during the Father and Daughter dance. China and Scott, secretly, chose the song Bill wrote for me, “Two Loving Arms”, which we recorded in 1972 for our third album.
After the first few bars, the dam broke! But a wonderful time was had by all!
Full photo coverage of the festivities on our website.

Now that the celebrations are done, both China and Scott have their full focus on their careers, as Doctor of Thoracic and General Radiology, and Scott as Advanced Care Paramedic Practitioner. They also have +13 year-old Great Pyr Lily and +year old Golden Retriever Butterbeans to fill any blank slots on their calendar!

Ja-On and Angela are very much involved with their businesses: at Reactive Massage Therapy Clinic, and with Modere Biocell. Both have been making health-related video presentations daily, and have built up quite a following. With the girls back in school instead of home schooling, they are working more clients into their schedules.
Inara and Tayla were both enjoying their weekly riding lessons at their pony club during the summer. They were learning lots of skills taking care of the ponies. That has also helped with the care of Neelo, their little Morky!
Inara continues to excel in Taekwondo, recently receiving her junior black belt. Ballet and jazz, and drawing fills the rest of her activity calendar.
Tayla is amazing to watch in gymnastics classes. HOW in the world DOES she do THAT is the question. Had the pleasure of watching her at her swimming lessons on Tuesdays – just like a fish!

Bill and I continue to be homebodies, but still keeping busy with our various activities. Needless to say, The “Jeddak of the North”, ie, Bill, fills his day with many research projects, first of which is author Edgar Rice Burroughs for whom has created a 1500-page website. And, since 1996, he has produced a weekly webzine on SF-adventures. Other folks of the same interest have been reaching out via emails, hour-long phone calls, etc., and that usually sends him down another Burroughs rabbit hole. He continues to update our family history, our Musical Odyssey on-line memoir, and various volunteer websites. Bladder and kidney issues continue to plague him. Maybe 2023 will bring a positive solution.

Gardening, cooking, seniors aquasize, and family keep Sue-On active. Tai-chi is now available indoors, so that will fill another slot on the calendar.
This year turned out to be a year of home repairs instead of international travels. So far, we have re-shingled the roof, built a new deck, replaced the air conditioner, the built-in oven, the hot water tank, the microwave, replaced cedar planks on the back of the house (damn woodpeckers!), new shed door, railings, etc. Maybe 2023 will allow some kind of travel other than trips to Winnipeg for medical appointments.

It’s going to be another unusual Christmas gathering. We will get together with Scott and China, and Ja and family on Jan 1st, 2023 at 41 Kensington. Robin and family will not be able to come back as they were just here for the wedding in October. It will be late Xmas, New Years, and early celebration for Bill’s 80th birthday!

For +300 wedding photos and our annual on-line Christmas card, check our website:
Wishing you all the BEST in 2023!

Bill & Sue-On

Bill & Sue-On Hillman and Family
Sue-On's Annual Newsletters
A feature of this year's Online Xmas Greetings

Click for full size

Hillman Christmas Massive Missive 2021
It’s December, and we should be under a blanket of snow, drinking something hot, and thinking about Christmas trees, wrapping presents, and planning family gatherings.

But, when it’s 5C outside, and very little snow as yet, it’s hard to even sit and write our Massive Christmas Missive!

But, it’s not only at this time of the year that we think of our family and friends.  You are often in our thoughts, and we wish you all good health during these trying months due to the pandemic. All we can do is get all our vaccines, boosters, and stay safe. 

Let’s all wish for a Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Healthier 2022!

Ja-On and Angela’s family is back to a somewhat “normal” life with Inara and Tayla back in school instead of home-schooling.

Inara (9 years old) is into her second year of ballet and jazz classes, which she loves. She is a joy to watch with her crafting, drawing, and reading skills. Inara is following in the Hillman family footsteps with karate, testing for her red belt in Taekwondo.  Gramma Sue-On had to take her to one of her classes, little knowing that Gramma would be the “bad guy” to be tossed about by Inara!

Both Inara and Tayla are in a pony club. They are not only learning how to ride, but also how to take care of all things pertaining to their horses. They obviously have a love for animals as they have taken on some of the responsibilities of dog ownership with their Morkie Neelo.

Meanwhile, Tayla (7 years old), who was a tad leery about going back to school after a year of homeschooling, has become the social butterfly, making many new friends easily. Tayla is in her second year of competitive gymnastics and working hard on her routines for January youth competition. Capoeira, the Brazilian martial arts in which she excelled, has been replaced with swimming lessons; something a little less aggressive!

Angela loves working along side Ja-On at reactive massage and building a practice with amazing clients. She has taken on more responsibility at the clinic and helps with the day to day running.  After a year of homeschooling, she is able to start enjoying some of her own activities, not the least is the addition to their family: a little Morky pup named Neelo. The whole family is learning how to navigate all things puppy, including how to puppy proof the Christmas tree this year! I think Neelo is a bit concerned with Ja’s Star Wars tree top!

Ja-On started scaling down his practice last year during the pandemic to help Angela with the homeschooling. This year with the girls back in school, he has kept the hours reduced and focused on business growth as well as building his personal online brand through various social media platforms. Hopefully, Covid will soon be under better control so he can travel again – to continue training for his speciality – Osteopathy.

Soulin & Sarah moved back to Brandon when Sarah completed her training at Wellington College. She started working at reactive massage therapy clinic with Ja-On and enjoys working with the staff and her clients. Soulin is working as a commissionaire at Shilo Armed Foces base at the moment. He is currently waiting on his medical clearance to join the air force as an Aviation Systems Technician.

Robin and Jen’s family has made the biggest changes in our family.

During the summer, they took a family vacation to Newfoundland – saw Cape Spear, Quidi Vidi, whales and puffins, amazing geology, fossils, and ate lots of delicious seafood. They enjoyed St. John’s so much that they’ve decided to move there in the summer of 2022!

But the bigger surprise was that they got married! Although they’ve been happily together for almost 15 years, they decided to get married in Ferryland, NL beside the ocean.

 Robin continues to work as a Business Analyst with Tactica Interactive. His latest project is an application that allows farmers to sell grain online. He has been working from home since March 2020.  He enjoys the newer motorcycle that Jen bought, so much so that he went on a motorcycle trip with friends to BC! He’d also  gone on quite a few Manitoba trips with friends, and one that netted him a derby prize of $500.00!

Robin also tossed this bit of a teaser for Mom, to see if I was really paying attention! “Took a week-long certificate course in rodeo clown techniques and bovine intervention" LOL!

Jen continues to work as an EA at an elementary school. Meanwhile, she had been taking and completed a college course in Human Resources, and completed a practicum at STEM Canada. The course was on-line.  Along with Robin working from home, it was a real bonus, as they adopted a puppy in Dec. 2020, small black lab/border collie mix, Jovi (Their beloved Pyrenees Kiefer sadly passed away in Sept. 2020). A lot of time has been dedicated to training and playing with her. In her “spare time”, she enjoys riding her more reliable and modern motorcycle. Her previous one was 51 years old! She has also joined a women’s recreational soccer league – still working on scoring that first goal.

Oriyen is in grade Grade 11, excelling in drafting classes in school . This was evident from her early interest and skills in drawing, digital illustrations, and now, learning new photo editing techniques. This focus will serve her well as she is interested in a career in architecture. Oriyen has been a vegetarian by choice for many years, and she continues to challenge her mom to find new and interesting vegetarian dishes.

River is Grade 3 and continues to do quite well in the French Immersion stream. She has a natural ear for music, much like her Dad, Robin, playing music and singing. Like her big sister Oriyen, River is also showing an interest in drawing. What we all love is her interest in cooking! She has started making a few dishes independently. River and Nana Sue-On have collaborated on a few dishes when they were here for Thanksgiving. Nana especially enjoyed River’s scrambled eggs for breakfast!

China & Scott just celebrated their first wedding anniversary on Dec 3rd! They are planning to have a wedding celebration next fall, hopefully with family and friends. The renovations and construction are done on the exterior of their home, so they will host the Hillman family Christmas gathering again.

Scott recently completed his Critical Care Paramedic course while continuing to work as an Advanced Care Paramedic Practitioner. He spent several days down in Omaha on a practicum for the course.

China is kept busy at Winnipeg Health Science Centre and two other hospitals as Doctor of Thoracic and General Radiology.  Both have busy schedules due to Covid, which seems to want to stay, wave after wave.

China and Scott are happy to announce a new addition to their family. Butterbean Pettitt-Hillman is a cuddly seven-month-old Golden Retriever with a big personality. Butters loves people only slightly less than he loves food. Big sister Lily, a Great Pyrenees, has been showing him the ropes and keeping him in line.

Bill & Sue-On, the elders have been safely ensconced at home and have had their Covid boosters. Now, everyone in the family has been fully vaccinated, so we were able to have an early Christmas gathering at China and Scott’s.

Bill has been dealing with medical issues, which began last year with kidney stones and a blocked ureter. It’s been a year-long process to which there hasn’t been a solution. Hopefully, the urologist will be booking him in for a new procedure soon in the new year.

In spite of all, he continues to publish his weekly fanzine for Edgar Rice Burroughs, and he continues to build on his mega 15,000-page website empire. Along with his weekly and monthly Webzines, he is still expanding the Gig Notes, Media, Music Roots and Travel Adventures sections in our music memoir: BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN: A +50-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY  Much of his time this year has been spent working on three companion autobiographies which will be released in 2022. 1. The illustrated history of our Maple Grove country home 1920-Present ~ 2. Bill's memories of the eight decades from the 1940s-2020s complete with a zillion photos from our family albums and 3. SUE-ON: MY STORY:

Sue-On spent much of the spring and summer gardening, trying out new plants and adding more lawn ornaments. Seems my friends are always on the lookout for items that may be of interest to me! It was great to be able to see the kids and kidlets once in a while, but with this new variant, Omicron, visits will be pretty limited. We miss the international travels, but staying safe and healthy is the priority these days.

Our family photos are in a little different format this year. Ja, Angela and the girls had developed terrible colds a few days before out famly get-together. To be safe, they stayed home  -- hence the two photos.

All the Best for 2022!
Bill & Sue-On


Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:  :: ::

It’s that “most unusual time of the year” -- more so than ever before in our lives.
In spite of Covid-19, and Manitoba presently being under a Code Red lock-down, our thoughts are very much with our families and friends.
With hope in our hearts, we wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a Happy Healthy New Year, so that we can get together again soon.

Like many of you, we are isolated from families and friends. Thank goodness for technology so that we can connect on face-time, zoom, email, facebook, and other social media.
Our families are coping well in so many ways, and we are fortunate that our kids are still employed, albeit in some risky jobs. They are all essential workers, and we are proud that they are able to help others where they can.

Ja-On and Angela continue to help their clients at Reactive Massage Therapy. Body pains and discomfort don’t stop with the pandemic. Isolation can create a lot of stress and anxiety, and a massage is the best solution. Ja continues with his “Little Girls Cooking” videos to entertain us. Angela has reached back into a forgotten hobby – sketching, and the girls seem to be enjoying the activity as well. Trips to their cabin at Clear Lake have been a treat as Manitoba is experiencing mild temperatures.

    As well as working their shifts at the clinic, Ja-On and Angela have also taken on homeschooling with 8-year-old Inara, and 6-year-old Tayla.  Kudos to all four! Along with school, Inara and Tayla are able to continue their favourite activities virtually. Inara follows her dance and martial arts classes in their basement studio, and Tayla has her gymnastics and Capoeira (Brazilian martial arts).  We do miss having the girls up at the big house, showing and amazing us with what they have learned in their activities. Of course, we also miss the jam sessions!  Soulin is working with a security firm in Winnipeg, and seems to have changed career paths. Hopefully, he will soon find what he really loves!

Robin is working for Tactica Interactive from home, and Covid-19 hasn’t slowed down the many new projects he is involved in.  Like many working from home in isolation, finding a hobby is important to avoid going stir-crazy. It seems Robin has found a new interest – growing orchids, and has been building his collection. They keep him company while he’s working in his home office.

Jen continues to work with special needs students at Bernie Wolfe School. She did have a few weeks off at the beginning of the pandemic, but has been working steady since fall. Both Robin and Jen are proud owners of vintage motorcycles, which they had re-built themselves.  They have both received their licences and were able to go on bike-dates a few times.

    Oriyen is in high school at Miles McDonnell High School.  Although her weekly air cadet sessions are on line, it’s not the same as being there and the outings the cadets offer. The family lost their beloved fur-buddy Keifer this fall, and with her classes soon to become virtual, she was feeling rather down. However, this last week, they found the perfect puppy through a local rescue. Jovi, the 10 week old female Border Collie cross puppy will brighten life for Oriyen and the whole family. Oriyen still enjoys sketching, so maybe we will see some sketches of the new fur baby! River continues to excel in her French Immersion school. Girl Guides (we miss the cookies!) is on-line, and River is also showing her creative side, doing lots of creative activities, such as learning to draw using videos on YouTube. We miss hearing her infectious giggle and laughter!

China and Scott – are now Mr. And Mrs! These two best friends tied the knot on Dec. 3 in spite of Covid. With both being front line health care workers, and Manitoba under “Code Red”, the guest list was limited to 5 – and that’s for outside gatherings. What a change from the much anticipated destination wedding in Huatulco, Mexico with families and friends on China’s Dad’s birthday, Jan 11, 2021, to a wedding on her December birthday for 30 guests in Winnipeg, then to 10 guests on Code Orange, and eventually on Dec. 3, 2020, for the allowed 5 people. “We just want to be married” came into being, in front of their house (under building and renovations!), with the marriage commissioner, their building contractor, and one of their workers. They were the witnesses, photographer, and videographer! Lily their Great Pyrenees was also in attendance. We were all disappointed to miss the momentous event, but health and safety of everyone was of utmost importance.

Scott and China have been very busy with work because of the pandemic – Scott as Advanced Care Paramedic Practitioner, and China in her field as Doctor of Thoracic and General Radiology both in Winnipeg.

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A Wonderful Day ~ We're So Proud of You. Kids!

Bill and Sue-On have been homebodies this year. Covid had stymied all travel plans, overseas and within Canada and the USA. The only “trips” Bill has taken are to the medical clinic, and the hospitals in Brandon and Winnipeg. He’s had kidney stones issues and has had a couple attempts to clear a blocked tube from the left kidney. He was finally referred to Winnipeg, to specialists who are daughter China’s colleagues. The nephrostomy procedure seems to have been successful, and we are hoping for good news when he goes back for a follow-up in a few days.

     Otherwise, Bill continues to build on his mega 15,000-page website empire. Along with his weekly and monthly Webzines, he is still expanding the Gig Notes, Media, Music Roots and Travel Adventures sections in our music memoir: BILL & SUE-ON HILLMAN: A +50-YEAR MUSICAL ODYSSEY  Much of his time this year has been spent working on two companion autobiographies which will be released in 2021.

1. The illustrated history of our Maple Grove country home 1920-Present ~
2. Bill's memories of the eight decades from the 1940s-2020s complete with a zillion photos from our family albums and

Sue-On was able to enjoy the fruits (tho’ none edible!) of her labour in the yard this summer. Usually, we are travelling during the peak growing season. Bird feeding and watching, and laughing at Earl the Squirrel’s antics keeps us entertained. I may have to go back to work to provide food for the critters!

Grocery shopping with caution is the only outing these days. I DO miss these in-store visits with former customers at our restaurant, Soo’s.  Our kids gave me a monthly cooking subscription to Cratejoy – The Spice Madam! We’ve “travelled” to Morocco, Greece, Indonesia, Brazil, Syria so far. A friend gave me a tagine – a Middle Eastern earthenware cooking vessel, so lots of yummy experimenting in the kitchen.

Bill and Sue-On received an unexpected honour from the Government of Manitoba Legislature which we’ve reprinted in the Media section of our book:

2020 has been a trying year, with our lives totally disrupted. We are more fortunate than many, having jobs, a roof over our heads, and healthy. With a vaccine so close to reality, we hope 2021 will be brighter, and we will gather together once again.

Merry Christmas and a Safe and Healthy New Year!
Our Annual Online Xmas Greeting is featured at

Bill and Sue-On

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Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:  :: ::

A good lesson learned this year:
“Living mindfully each day” can open a path to the best possible long-term outcome in every situation.
2019 was a year full of adventures and a couple of misadventures.
The world has finally righted itself on its axis,
and there will be smooth orbiting around the sun once again in 2020.
 And so, we wish you and your family a safe transition to 2020,
Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Ja-On and Angela’s family is busy, growing up and onto adventures of their own.
     *** Ja-On’s Reactive Massage Therapy and Modere business continues to help many clients in the city and surrounding communities stay healthy and mobile. He is the only licensed Osteopathic therapist in the city.  Modere has taken Ja on several business trips to the USA. The family were quite envious of the side trip to Disney World’s Star Wars attraction!

     *** Angela has completed all her studies to qualify as a Registered Massage Therapist. She has joined Ja-On at his practice. It was great that Ja and Ang were able to enjoy “them time” on a little vacation in Costa Rica in November.
Both Ja and Angela are kept hopping with activities for their two little princesses.

     *** Inara, who is 7, is in grade 2! Where did the time go? This little “ginger gal” is in jazz dance and Taikwondo. She already has her yellow belt, so if she continues, Dad won’t have to worry about defending her against bullies. Inara has quite the artistic flair, not only in drawing, but also with music. It’s quite satisfying to listen to her performances on the drums or singing with microphone in hand.

     *** Tayla – The Energizer Bunny is in kindergarten. This little imp is never still, so it’s a good thing Mom and Dad got a mini gym in their basement. Tayla is in gymnastics and Capoeira (Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music) which works well with her gymnastic skills. She is a little dynamo on Gramma’s drum kit!
     Both girls enjoy cooking with Mom and Dad, and we get to do crafts and jammin’ in the music studio at “the big house”.

     *** Grandson Soulin has really left the nest. Last year, he moved into his own apartment and worked with a security company as well as Theft Prevention officer in a box store. This fall, he finally decided on following in his Dad’s career path and enrolled at Wellington Massage Therapy College in Winnipeg. He was also working part-time as Theft Prevention officer at a large Walmart store. At work one afternoon, he was assaulted by three shoplifters, one of whom swung a bag with heavy stolen items at him and broke two bones in his jaw. He was rushed to ER, and after 4 weeks of having his jaw wired shut, he finally is on the road to recovery. Thanksgiving dinner was not a happy meal for him – pureed supper, even the cherry pie and ice cream, via a huge syringe.

     *** Robin continues to work with Tactica Interactive, leading teams of software developers and designers in building mobile apps and websites covering topics including health, non-profits, agriculture, mental health, education, and climate change.  Robin's interest in motorcycles continues to keep him busy in his free time. He has a 1970 Honda CB100 that he's been working on for a few years, and this year was able to get it registered for insurance with an "antique" plate, and actually get it on the road.  This summer he took the motorcycle safety course and got his motorcycle license. This fall, Robin rode his Honda in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, to raise funds and awareness on men’s mental health and prostate cancer on behalf of the Movember Foundation.

     *** Jen continues to enjoy her work with special needs children at Bernie Wolfe School. She enjoys creating new sewing projects for the family.  She has also become quite adventurous, cooking for the various needs of her little family. A couple weeks after Robin took his mortorcycle course and got his license,  Jen caught the bug too, took the course, and also got her license.

     *** Teenager Oriyen is in grade 9 at Miles Macdonell Collegiate in French immersion. Oriyen has always had an artistic flair, so she is enjoying drafting and art class. We are pleased to see her still interested in air cadets and started doing shooting range (air rifles). Oriyen went on a school trip to Quebec during school break, and went to New Brunswick with her other grandparents in the summer.

     *** River, our other Energizer Bunny, is in grade 1 in French immersion and doing really well. She is an avid little reader, has an amazing memory, and is interested in science and space.  Extracurricular activities include swimming lessons and girl guides. River also enjoys drawing, loves helping Jen bake, and building with Lego.

     *** China-Li continues her work as Doctor of Thoracic and General Radiology in Winnipeg at Health Sciences Centre, Victoria Hospital, Seven Oaks Hospital, and Steinbach Hospital. She also does presentations in her field to medical students and new residents.

     *** Fiance Scott Pettitt finished his courses and is now an Advanced Care Paramedic Practitioner with an even broader scope of practice. He works for the City of Winnipeg.

     Both China and Scott work long hours in a common field, but it’s good that they can arrange to have free time together. They got engaged in January. They are well settled in their heritage home, and we are looking forward to celebrating family Christmas there again. Wedding plans are on hold until house renovations are finished up.

     *** Bill and Sue-On had another phenomenal trip in the spring. The 6-week-trip in March and April began with a week-long visit at our friends Kerry and Shadedah Morris’s  home in Malaysia. Then, it was onto many main and smaller islands in Indonesia over 29 days. We saw amazing sights, walked among the temples, mosques, historic buildings, trekked thru’ jungles looking for orangutans, tigers and rhinos, climbed volcanoes, and relaxed at beautiful resorts such as Bali and Gili Island. Bill is still processing the thousands of photos that we both took!

     In June, we drove to Willcox, Arizona for one of the annual Edgar Rice Burroughs gatherings, the Dum-Dum. It was an area that we have never visited. We had a great visit with many of the regular attendees from all over North America and we made some new friends. We were immersed in the local Old West history and area’s tales of the wild west: gunslingers, Billy the Kid, the Earps, Marty Robbins and Rex Allen museums and Burroughs’ US Cavalry adventures at old Fort Grant where he spent time chasing renegade Apaches, etc. This was our first trip in our newly acquired Honda Civic Sport Coupe. It was a lovely drive and problem-free, other than not knowing how to change the speedometer from kilometers to miles. Our little cheat sheet saved Sue-On from getting a speeding ticket!

     *** Bill continues with his daily epic daily on his mega website empire. His Website and weekly ERB Webzines have surpassed 15,000 Webpages in number. Much of his writing is devoted to recalling our 50 years in music, family histories, military tributes, volunteer work for local museums, etc. Most nights, he gets to bed around 4 or 5 am.
     Now that Sue-On is retired, there have been a few occasions that we get to bed at the same time! Nice to know I don’t HAVE to get up to go to work.

     Some ERB friends (Doug and Jean Denby from Toronto, Den Valdron from Winnipeg) stopped in again this year. It was great to visit and talk about a common interest – Edgar Rice Burroughs and collecting hobbies. We had the pleasure of meeting cousins Bob and Carolyn Boynton from Belmont, California, for the very first time. It was a great visit with the folks who were on a cross Canada trek en route to Florida with their motor home. Joining us for an evening of sharing family history were cousins Laurence and Christine Bertram.

     Sue-On enjoyed a great summer of gardening, trying new plants and digging another new flower bed. Cooking and experimenting with various cuisines kept us well fed. However, my activities took a bit of a nose dive in November with takotsubo cardiomyopathy (intense emotional or physical stress that can cause rapid and severe heart muscle weakness ).  Luckily, I recognized the “heart attack” symptoms from my first experience in 2010, and Bill took me to ER.  I was hospitalized for 10 days, followed by an angiogram in Winnipeg. I was fortunate that the tests showed no damage or blockage. I took this as a warning to take a slower pace in daily life. After all, I am retired and nothing HAS to be done all in one day!

Merry Christmas 2018 – From the Hillman Family

Mañana has been my modus operandi this year, so I am slow in getting our newsletter published.
The festive sentiments have been percolating and now it’s time to “Let it go...Let it go... Let it go”(movie Frozen)
We wish you all a Merry Christmas and Good Health and Happiness in 2019!

*** Ja-On has reached another milestone in his career. He completed and defended his thesis on posture for Osteopathy in the fall. He has now graduated with dual diplomas, Diploma of Osteopathic Manual Practice and a Diploma in Science of Osteopathy. He and his staff at Reactive Massage Therapy Clinic are busy taking care of their many clients in the Westman area. In addition, he is marketing products by Modere that help his clients maintain healthy bodies, and building more online material on maintaining physical health. It’s wonderful to see Ja-On passing on his cooking skills to his girls with their “Little Girl Cooking Show” live on facebook!

*** Angela can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel in her studies for certification as a Registered Massage Therapist. She will be finished with these taxing weekend classes in Winnipeg in the new year. Meanwhile, she is honing her skills as a student massage therapist at Ja’s clinic. When not working, she is a busy mom with her two little girls.

*** Soulin has become an independent young man, moving into his own apartment and buying his own Honda vehicle earlier this year. At the moment, he is working full time as night supervisor for Paladin Security, still contemplating on a future career. One bonus about living in his own apartment, he’s learning how to cook!

*** Inara, our ginger gal is now 6 years old and in grade 1. She loves crafts and already showing good skills in drawing. Inara’s been working hard at learning to swim even if it scares her. She enjoys playing drums and piano when she’s up at the big house. She and little sister Tayla love to sing and dance, especially songs by ABBA from Mama Mia at the moment.

*** Tayla, the blond imp is full of energy and flexibility. She loves gymnastics and able to do some pretty amazing feats. We always have front row seats when she performs in our livingroom! Dance classes also help in using up her excess energy. She never walks, she dances from room to room, often singing, stopping to do a full split, or bending backwards to touch her toes to her head! Both Inara and Tayla are in dance classes, and they both love to read.

*** Robin is in his 10th year working at Tactica where he is a business analyst. The company has been working on mobile apps for university researchers on topics ranging from depression, healthy living, and even cannabis. He’s also taking classes here and there at Red River College, working toward a certificate in business analysis.  Robin enjoys performing as percussionist with the Winnipeg Pops Orchestra. This summer he borrowed the orchestra's timpani (aka kettle drums) to learn at home. Luckily the family were good sports about having three giant drums in the dining room. He got a good deal on a set of timpani recently, but this time they'll be kept upstairs.

*** Jen is working as an Educational Assistant at a new school 700+ kids. She works with kids in kindergarten and grade 1. Talk about patience! Sewing and crocheting are relaxing activities, and she has made some lovely items for family and friends.

*** Oriyen is a teenager and in grade 8. She has grown so tall! Oriyen continues to enjoy air cadets and has joined the drill team. With a trip to Quebec coming up, she’s been babysitting and saving her money. Besides taking care of her birds, she’s also sketching and painting.

*** River, our little China doll is in French immersion kindergarten and loves it. This is her second year in swimming lessons and first year in Girl Guides. Oh, it’s dangerous when she brings out those chocolate-mint cookies! Jen says River also enjoys helping her cooking and baking. Good to see those genes coming through the next generation.

*** China-Li, a Doctor of Radiology, specializing in Thoracic Radiology continues to enjoy her work in the tertiary care centre of Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre as well as two other city hospitals. In addition, she has an academic position – teaching radiology residents and students. Her boyfriend Scott Pettitt is an Advanced Care Paramedic working for the city of Winnipeg. They did manage to find free time together in their busy schedules to have a short vacation in Mexico, and to a conference in Vancouver, where Scott got to meet more of China’s relatives. They just moved into their new character home in the fall. Now that they are settled in, they will be hosting the Hillman – Pettitt Christmas festivities!

The Elders on Kensington Crescent haven’t been idle either.

*** Bill, as usual, is spending long hours on his many computer projects. We took thousands of photos during our 2018 Mississippi Delta and Asia visits. So far, he's displayed Japan, Hong Kong and Macau on our Travel site. . . he's almost finished Taiwan and then it's on to South Korea. He's looking forward to sharing the photos we took at Korea's DMZ -- especially the ones inside the secret invasion tunnel built by North Korea for a possible invasion of the South.
     The weekly ERBzine Webzines for Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. in Tarzana, CA are still a priority. . . he hasn't missed releasing an issue since 1996. All 15,000 of his ERBzine pages are in searchable archives. Added to this is the coverage of the numerous live music shows we attended through the last year. . . the biggest one being the spectacular 3-hour Paul McCartney show. This was the first Beatle we had seen live, although we've had a great time exploring their old haunts in Liverpool and Hamburg . . . and we even played in some of the Northern England venues they had performed in during their early days when they were the Silver Beetles :)  His volunteer work on his military, museum and nostalgia sites carry on, but documenting family histories and keeping up with the adventures of our kids and grandkids is a priority.

*** As of Dec. 4, Sue-On celebrated the first anniversary of retirement from teaching at Brandon University. FREEDOM ... feels wonderful. Gardening in the spring and summer was wonderful and leisurely. She had time to visit with friends and enjoy babysitting the grandkids. Along with her Crazy Plant Ladies group, winterscaping -  putting together outdoor Xmas arrangements for friends, family, and the house -  was the project to replace playing in the dirt. Needless to say, I love being a retiree!

*** Spring took Bill and me on another month-long trip. We were joined again by brother Kenny and s-i-l Rebecca. This time, we took in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and South Korea. In Japan, we met up with old school chum Dennis McLean and his lovely wife Kumiko.  At the Kusatsu Restaurant high atop the Estopia Hotel, we enjoyed our first 15-course traditional Japanese dinner overlooking a beautiful view of Kyoto.
Every country was a different experience, but most memorable was the time we spent in Hong Kong.  With Kenny and Rebecca as our guides, we visited places I remember as a child: Victoria Peak and the two homes where I lived from age 2 to 10. South Korea was our final destination. We had a tour to the DMZ and went underground to the tunnels between the north and south, built for military movement...

In August, we drove to Morgan City, Louisiana for Edgar Rice Burroughs DumDum. It was a great opportunity to see our friends again. This time, we had the extra bonus of meeting up with Sue-On’s “cousin”, Henry and Kathleen (Choy) Lincoln. They live in Alabama, and after being in correspondence for more than a decade, we finally got to meet face to face!

2018 was a good year.
We wish you all Comfort and Joy in 2019!

Bill & Sue-On

Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:  :: ::

WEB  ::  TEXT :: With Photo

It’s been an epic year and the world has been moving like a “hamster wheel”! Before slowing down, we want to send out our best wishes for MERRY XMAS and a Happy 2018 to all our friends and family!

As in the past, let’s start with ELDEST son, Ja-On and family:
*** Ja-On, when he isn’t painting his daughters’ toenails blue or making banana bread with them, is writing his research in which he is well on his way to becoming an osteopath. He continues to work hard building his Reactive Massage Team. In the little spare time he has, he is rising in the ranks of his new venture with Modere.

*** Angela is well into her second year of the three year massage therapy course with Wellington College. As well as relaxation massage, she is also does Ayurvedic Head Massage. The monthly drive into Winnipeg for classes is taxing, but she has great motivation. Angela is doing her practicum at Reactive Massage Therapy.

*** Soulin continues with his work at Tip Top Tailors – perfect for a young man who actually likes to be well-dressed! To add to his resume, he’s also working at Source at the Shoppers Mall. In the fall, he’s planning on Police Studies. Meanwhile, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend Kaytee.

*** Inara loves her horse riding lessons. Is there room in the backyard for a pony and barn?  Don’t know where the time has gone, but Inara is in Kindergarten! She loves school, but there’s still time for play at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. 

*** Tayla turned 3 on December 11! She attends preschool and shares SO much of what she learns every time she visits. There isn’t a shy bone in her lithe body, which makes her perfect for gymnastics. How can anyone not love her flying leaps from the stairs yelling “Gramma’s here!”

Son Robin and Family
*** Robin is still performing as drummer and percussionist with the Winnipeg Pops Orchestra. In the fall, he attended a weekend workshop with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. A highlight was the private lesson with the percussionist. On their combined finale performance, he was to use a Japanese Taiko drum. No one had such an instrument, so Robin made one, using an old tire and packing tape! The visual and sound amazed everyone! His work at Tactica Interactive has involved him in many interesting projects. His own project has been fixing his 1970 Honda cb100 motorcycle. It’s up and running – down the back lane. ;-)

*** Jen continues to enjoy her work as Educational Assistant at an elementary school. She certainly has the patience and energy to deal with these special needs children. Her handiwork are always great gifts, whether it be crocheting hats or sewing beautiful cushions for our antique Chinese carved chairs.

*** Oriyen -  HOW did she grow so tall?! Ori is in grade 7 French Immersion. We are happy she can still speak English, however, she is learning Morse Code! We are also happy to see Oriyen keeping up the family traditions and passions: sewing, cooking AND air cadets. For such a young lady, she has a caring and kind heart, especially for cats.

*** River - our little energizer bunny! Gymnastics and swimming are certainly up her alley, but she's not sure WHY she has to do what every one else is doing. LOL! She probably knows a quicker way of getting to what needs to be done. River loves nursery school, and is also learning another language – sign language!

Daughter China-Li
*** China-Li is a Doctor of Radiology, specializing in Thoracic Radiology. She works in the tertiary care centre of Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre as well as two other city hospitals. In addition, she has an academic position – teaching radiology residents and students. Lily and Tori, her “puppies” help keep her in top form when she isn’t at the gym. It’s amazing how the three of them can go for +15 km walks through Brandon Hills when they are home!

Onto the elders of the family: 
*** Bill never stops – still producing gazillion words on the computer, for his much-read weekly magazine. Of course, there are many other irons in the fire, such as Canada 150 Birthday Projects, military websites, frequent addendum to our 50-year Musical Odyssey Book, and finally, the completion of the travelogue to China this past spring.

*** Sue-On has had the heaviest teaching load in her 15 years with the English program at Brandon University. There were 32 students and classes ran from 8:30 to 2:30. It was a challenge keeping a lecture interesting and spontaneous three times a day! It made her realize that there’s more to life than teaching and marking essays all day. So, as of December 8, I am a retiree!

Last spring, Bill and I went on another month-long trip to China. This time, we were joined by my brother Kenny and s-i-l Rebecca.  Even though we’ve all visited such familiar places as Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, West Lake, we did scratch off a few more places on our bucket list. Two of the most amazing places were along the Yangzte River cruise and Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). We’ve seen so many famous paintings and prose about this mountain range, so it was incredible to BE there. . . . and to climb it.

The highlight of the whole tour was our first trip to my home in Toisan, Canton, where I was born. We were delighted to have had our daughter China-Li join us on this leg of the trip. As well, friends Ken Tsai (who is also from Toisan), his son Shaan, and daughter Sija joined us for this "pilgrimage." We found the original Choy, as well as the Tsai, homes. The house where I and my siblings were all born is still in our family, standing, solid, and well maintained by relatives. They were there to meet us and acted as tour guides in the village. How exciting it was to have my 92-year-old relative say she loved my mother and remembered me well as a baby.

The travel bug may well have had a hand in the decision to retire from teaching. After our return from China we made two road trips to conventions in the Dallas and Chicago areas. Come March, Bill and I will be on another trip to Asia. This time, we will be in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and S. Korea. In the summer, we will make a couple of trips to Edgar Rice Burroughs events in California and Louisiana.

Wishing you all joy and good health in 2018!
Bill and Sue-On

Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:
As part of the CBC celebrations for CANADA 150
they requested that Sue-On send in her personal story as a young immigrant 
coming to Canada from China via Hong Kong.

The story we shared with the broadcaster for this project is featured at:
They'll be adding this to their Website at:
Meanwhile they've presented a preview on Facebook at:

Hillman Massive Missive 2016
Sue-On's 2016 Hillman Family Chronicle
The Annual Massive Missive from 41 Kensington Crescent  ::

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Snow finally arrived on November 28th. What a great fall it’s been! However, it’s time to get in the Christmas spirit. Along with the sprinklings of snow, we send Glad Tidings of Great Joy and Good Health to You and All You Hold Dear!
Eldest offspring Ja-On is wearing many hats these days. As an osteopathic therapist, it is very hard to get an appointment with him as he is the only one qualified with this specialty at his business Reactive Massage Therapy and in the city.  No, Mom and Dad do not have priority; we just have to book that calendar ahead of the rest! We know he is working hard along with trying to complete his Research Thesis in this field. His two princesses Inara and Tayla also gets to spend much quality time with him. It’s always fun to see pictures of the three of them whether at the splash park in the summer, riding the "Cinderella carriage" at Clear Lake, or goofing around at home with Ja's Star Wars collectibles.

Angela has also donned another hat – studying to become a massage therapist. She’s doing remarkably well in juggling all these jobs: being a super-mom to the three kids (altho' Soulin is an independent 18 now), a wife, a nurse at Rideau Personal Care, and studying. She’s taking the same route as Ja-On did – driving to Wellington College in Winnipeg for weekend classes and catching on-line classes on Tuesdays. The family moved into a bigger house in the fall, and now, Angela has an office in which to do her school work.

Soulin, graduated from Vincent Massey High School in June. His passion is clothes, so he’s working full time at TipTop Tailors at Shoppers Mall for some experience in this business field.  It is refreshing to see a young man dressed well and not in tattered or baggy clothes.  His friend Kaytee has rekindled his interest in playing the guitar as she teaches guitar and drums!  He is still working out at Mix Martial Arts, long board, and most likely snowboarding once there’s more snow on the hills.

Inara is four years old and her latest passion is Thor, her pony at riding school. She’s taking lessons every Wednesday and loves taking care of and riding Thor. Inara has a vivid imagination and is still fascinated with being a princess, a fairy, a ballerina, or a mermaid.  Other days, she is an animal doctor. Our 40-year-old Fisher Price castle and all the “people and animals” are perfect for this activity. The interest in medicine seems to run in this family;-)

Tayla, is a 2-year-old tiny ball of constant action! It’s funny to watch her “taking care” of big sister Inara when there are any problems. She’s very independent, but has such a mischievous personality. Tayla takes toys and uses her imagination in her play that are unusual for a child her age. That comes from following her elder sister and cousins. She’s the only child I know who cannot be bribed with desserts – if she eats her supper;-)  She carries the musical genes, and we love listening to her singing Twinkle Twinkle or Alphabet Song. Most of all, her sparkling giggle can melt a heart, especially those of her grandparents!

Son Robin continues to take evening business classes related to his work as software analyst at Tactica Interactive. His company is sending him for these courses, and he’s acing them all! It’s wonderful to know that our kids never stop learning in their careers. We were happily surprised when Robin told us he was recruited as percussionist for the +50 member Winnipeg Pops Orchestra. Its quite a different gig for our rock drummer but he certainly rose to the challenge. We thoroughly enjoyed his first performance with the orchestra on Dec. 3 – the 60th Anniversary Gala at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Jen changed jobs this fall and is enjoying her work as Education Assistant at an elementary school. It’s a good change as both she and Robin now have similar work schedules (no shift work as with her previous job). This has allowed them to put in a lot of hours and “elbow grease” on their house, stripping layers of paint of the front door, windows, and the floors --  lovely oak flooring that had been hidden under carpets. We can relate to the challenging work of sanding floors from our experience at our Strathclair home. It’s always interesting to see what Jen creates as well, with her talents in sewing, knitting, and re-purposing of old furniture.

Oriyen is growing up into a lovely young lady of eleven. Not sure how we will communicate now that she’s enrolled in a French immersion.  She’s a super big sister to River and the cousins whenever we have a family gathering.  We are super proud of Oriyen when she had her lovely long blond hair cut and is donating the braid to cancer care. Oriyen has a caring heart and she shows that in everything she does.

River – the perfect name as she is always on the move.  She had her third birthday in June and is speaking so well for this age. As she’s always in motion, dance classes were the perfect fit for her. She loves them, and I am sure we’ll be treated to a show when she gets together with cousins Inara and Tayla. River likes to tease and her laughter is infectious. Wonder if she will have gotten through her “Knock Knock Jokes” stage when we next see her?

China-Li is HOME to STAY! She completed her year-long radiology fellowship at Harvard affiliated Brigham Hospital in Boston, Mass. in June. It was a rewarding year of working and learning for her, but she’s happy to be back in Winnipeg. China is part of the Winnipeg Health Sciences Radiology group, working at HSC and other hospitals in the area. We love having her close by and coming home more frequently.

China’s partner Ryan is the perfect fit for her and for our family.  Working in his own web design business, Technology Solutions from his home office allows him more freedom to pursue some of his other interests: taking care of China, hunting, cooking, and handling DIY projects whenever he’s in Brandon. He’s always ready and willing to pitch in and, and we so appreciate his handiwork in whatever is needed.

Bill is the ultimate “never-ending story”. There’s always a project waiting for him, and he must get it done now! The running joke is that I am always three minutes too early in calling him for meals, etc. LOL!  Not only does he put in gazillion hours on his on-going project on Edgar Rice Burroughs and the on-going book - Bill & Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey.  Aside from these two major projects, he has others on a list way too long to mention including a multitude of volunteer projects for the community.  A major push was made on completing the webpages on our 28-day tour to Indo-china in 2015, then on the 28-day tour of India this past spring.

For Sue-On, fall term teaching English to international students at Brandon University has just finished. It was a challenging year as the enrollment jumped to 75 students. Teaching and marking papers for my 24  students was time consuming. However, there was still time for cooking and of course, gardening -- it was another summer of colourful blooms.

Besides our travels to India in the spring, we went to a Burroughs Dum-Dum Convention in Morris, Illinois, just outside of Chicago in August. It’s always good times to meet up with old friends with the same interest.

Come April, Bill and I will be taking our second trip to China along with my brother Kenny Choy and s-i-l Rebecca. Perhaps the highlight will be the extra days after the organized tour with Sinorama. We will be in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and taking a private tour to my birth place and family home (which we still own) in Toisan. We are also hoping to include a short trip to Hong Kong, to visit places from my early childhood (1950 – 1958). It will be special for Bill as well as his dad was in Hong Kong with the Royal Canadian Navy for the liberation of the prisoners of war in 1945. China and Ryan will be joining us for the visit to Toisan.

We have just begun preparations for Xmas: picking up the tree, baking dozens of shortbread cookies, and looking for the perfect gift. In that spirit, we wish you and your families a Joyous Christmas and All the Best in 2017!

Love and best wishes,

Bill, Sue-On and Family

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Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:

Sue-On's 2015 Hillman Family Chronicle
The Annual Massive Missive from 41 Kensington Crescent
Adapted from the Hillman Adventure 2015 site: 

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It's 6 Degrees Celsius and the ground is brown. How was I supposed to know that it’s December and time to get my Annual Massive Missive in the mail?! Hearing all the Christmas music in the stores on our recent shopping trip to Minot, North Dakota told me it REALLY was time to get my thoughts together.

Most important thought:  We wish you and yours love, joy, and good health for Christmas, in the New Year, and every day!

This is becoming a cliché, but yeah, it was "a busy year".

With the growing demand at his Reactive Massage Therapy business, Ja-On renovated his building and added more treatment rooms. His studies and monthly trips to Winnipeg for classes are completed and now for the final step - his thesis and dissertation.  When he’s not at work, he’s busy training his little princesses to be more like Princess Leia of Star Wars ;-)

Angela is getting ready to go back to work - nursing at Rideau Personal Care facility. She’ll miss her time with Inara and Tayla. Ja and Angela will coordinate their work schedules to avoid daycare. The two grandmas will gladly fill in any gaps!  Angela is also busy developing her own line of lotions for massage therapy.

Soulin has experienced quite a change this year! For a seventeen year old, he is becoming quite the sharp dresser - think suits, coordinates, shoes - the whole package. In line with this new maturity, he’s also discovered JAZZ! He is enjoying his part-time job at Tip Top Tailors, and his sales often top the more experienced sales reps.

Inara, our three-year-old “ginger” is so much fun to be with! She sings, dances, draws, everything a little princess enjoys. She is taking ballet and can usually be found in a tutu ;-) Their home is a Toyland, but she still loves to come up to the big house to play with the 40-year-old Fisher Price castle!

Tayla is one-year-old, and what an energizer bunny, or should I say monkey! She started walking this week, so there’s no stopping her now.  It’s funny to watch her “get at her older sister” already. It’s never a dull moment, and we grandmas are usually ready for bed when Tayla is! Of course, Ja has started Inara and Tayla on Star Wars movies …

Robin and family just bought a Mazda SUV, so it’s not so crowded now with 4 people and Keifer the Great Pyr/ Akita. Robin continues with his work as Business Analyst at Tactica Interactive Communications in Winnipeg.  He’s been taking some business courses at Red River College.

Jen is back to work at Dasch full time, but she still makes time for her creative sewing and crocheting.  She made her little niece Inara VERY happy by making her the special Tinkerbelle hat for Halloween!

Oriyen is ten-years-old and loves playing Minecraft and the piano. Girl Guide cookies continue to show up at our house;-) She’s growing up and is a great “big sister” for her little cousins as well as younger sister River. She’s not interested in dance lessons but definitely interested in acting lessons!

Two-year-old River, as her name may suggest, is constantly on the move! As you can imagine when all three little girls are here, the floors are covered with toys! Luckily, no little pieces of Lego yet. They all play well together. She does enjoy sitting on Grandpa Bill’s lap when he’s working on his computer. I wonder if she’s taking in all the information on Edgar Rice Burroughs;-)

China is half-way through her Doctor of Radiology fellowship at Harvard-affiliated hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. She works hard but is getting lots of experience. With our visit down to see her in Boston in August, her trip home for Canadian Thanksgiving and Christmas, her time away is going by quickly. We are all looking forward to her return to her position at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre.

Ryan, China’s fiancé, continues to be busy with his own web-design company:, Technology Solutions. We are happy that he continues to “come home” to Brandon while China is away. We enjoy his cooking, and he doesn’t mind “Honey-do” lists that I always have for him!

Bill continues to build, add to, and maintain the thousands of websites in his areas of interests: Edgar Rice Burroughs, Commonwealth Air Museum, the Dragoons, John Tyman, music tributes, travel, etc. His longest running projects are ERBzine (a weekly e-zine since 1996) and the on-going book - Bill & Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey. In July, he had the “flight of a lifetime” in a B-17 WWII bomber from Winnipeg to Brandon before being MC at the WWII History Takes Flight Air Show. Bill’s great store of knowledge on all topics makes him a much-in-demand interview subject for talk shows, newspapers, and university research projects.  He has been spending the last few months processing thousands of pictures from our trips this year. These will be completed before we take our next trip!

Sue-On is still teaching with the English for Academic Purposes program at Brandon University. This fall term was a hectic one with full classes in all four levels. Gardening interest was given a boost with a bus tour of five garden centres. At the end, I wondered HOW did I end up with so many plants! For exercise, I look to the grandkids! They keep me moving but not always at their speed ;-) I did have a turn on the acting stage this November. Local drama club MECCA Productions invited me for a role -- as the Chinese restaurateur in A Christmas Story - The Musical.  It was great fun as our family loves this traditional Christmas movie with the infamous Leg Lamp! They even used Bill’s leg lamp in the show.

2015 was a year of major travels for us.  In April, we went on a 28-day tour with GAdventures to Indochina: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. It was a month of sensory extravaganza - the sights, the sounds, the food, the PEOPLE! Transportation took the form of planes, sleeper trains, junks, long boats, motorcycles, cyclos, ATVs and private and public busses. We stayed in hotels in city centres, ones over-looking the Mekong River, a homestay, on a junk - all incredible new experiences.

In August, we drove to Boston to visit China. It’s a beautiful city full of history. Bill had a couple of “hiccups” while there - a kidney stone attack and losing his wallet! After the dust settled, China took us on a tour of the city, which included dim sum lunch in Chinatown, a tour to the top of the Prudential Building, and a Duck Tour to the major historical sites and the Charles River. There was a happy ending to Bill’s wallet incident. A gentleman who lives in China’s neighborhood found it close to China’s apt. He tried to call the number in the wallet, but of course, we were on the road. China brought it home at Thanksgiving.

From Boston, we drove the short distance to Clinton, Connecticut for the annual Edgar Rice Burroughs gathering - the Dum-Dum, hosted by Peggy Adler. It was a great opportunity to visit a part of New England we’ve never been. It’s always a pleasure to meet up with old friends and make new ones. On the way home we stopped at Gillette Castle, built as a private home by William Gillette, an American actor who is most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage. Mark Twain house and museum in Hartford was also an interesting stop.

This part of our travels was not far from our friends Ken and Faye Daniels, who live in Niagara-on-the Lake. We got to check out their beautiful new outdoor kitchen and entertainment area. From there, we stopped in to visit Bill’s sister Bonnie. Our niece Noelle was able to join us for supper on the waterfront.

We arrived home in time for a short rest before I headed back to work at BU. Soon we’ll be heading off again, on April 10th, on a 28-day tour of northern and southern India. Maybe by then, you’ll have plowed through the myriad of webpages from our Indochina trip and ready to view our new adventures!

Until next time, have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year with those you love!

Bill & Sue-On
Our Main Website
Our Annual Onlilne Family Xmas Greetings


Websites Referenced Above: :: :: :: :: ::
Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:

Sue-On's 2014 Hillman Family Chronicle
The Annual Massive Missive from 41 Kensington Crescent
Adapted from the Hillman Adventure 2014 site:
There’s no need to wonder whether we will have a white Christmas… It’s here, and we all know what “it” is ;-) In spite of the reasonable temperatures, it is starting to look wintery. So, now is that special time to send you and your loved ones best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Our family has been busy -- nothing new! I’ve been holding off with writing this letter, waiting for the arrival of our new granddaughter! Maybe by the time I get this done, “she” will be here… unless she’s a diva who thinks arriving late is fashionable ;-) Due date is December 14.

While the rest of the family awaits another princess, they’ve been busy with their own activities. 
Ja-On is busy with his Reactive Massage Therapy Clinic. The business continues to grow and another new therapist has been added to the staff. Ja’s not only busy with the clinic, but is also completing his studies and training in osteopathy. The final phase will be done in July, and then it’s on to the dissertation. 

Angela was put off work as a nurse at Rideau Personal Care earlier than anticipated because of the baby. She hasn’t been idle though, not with little Inara to keep her hopping! Angela has taken up sewing and finds creating projects enjoyable. 

Soulin, our 16 year old, is taller than all of us in the family. Wonder what he’s been eating behind our backs?! Soulin is in grade eleven and working at Wendy’s Burgers.  Being a big brother suits him. It’s always a pleasure to see him playing with Inara and his other little cousins. 

Inara, our little 2 1/2-year-old, red-headed princess is a whirlwind! She has always loved music and dance, so she is enrolled in the music program for young children at Brandon University and with a gymnastics program as well. She loves to come up to play our drums, and both of us like to oblige with a “musical jam” whenever she is here. When we get playtime at her house, she keeps us up-to-date with all the latest children’s movies and TV shows. 

Robin and family get out for visits whenever they get a free weekend. Robin continues to work as a web developer with Tactica Interactive Communications in Winnipeg. His latest projects are with MPI’s Distracted Driver Simulator and a French grammar app. 

After her maternity leave, Jen is back working at Dasch (Direct Action in Support of Community Homes) with a youth client she has known for over two years. She still enjoys working in this field along with her sewing and crafting. 

 Oriyen is 9! She continues with her piano lessons and has added swimming lessons and art classes at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  We know she is still in Girl Guides as we’ve enjoyed several boxes of chocolate-mint cookies? School is going well, and she’s growing like a beanstalk! 

River, our 18-month-old princess, is learning baby signs and words, so she can easily communicate her “wants”.  Books and Sesame Street are her loves, along with her kitties and big pal Keifer dog. Both Oriyen and River have funny bones galore, and they add a lot of laughter to the family.

Daughter China-Li is a Radiology doctor, presently completing her fifth and final year of Residency at Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre and St. Boniface Hospital. American board exams are done, and now she’s preparing for the Canadian board exams in the spring. Come July, 2015, she will start her fellowship year in Boston, Massachusetts.  Upon completion, she will return to a position with WHSC. 

China’s fiancé Ryan is busy with his own web design company:, Technology Solutions. He loves hunting and continues to fill their freezer with wild game. The venison jerky he makes is amazing! They come home as often as their schedules allow. We are very happy that our families have chosen to stay close to “home”.

Bill never seems to be at a loss for projects! A major community project he was involved in was the RCAF WWII Memorial Wall and Statue at the Commonwealth Air Training Museum, Brandon Airport: a national monument that commemorates over 19,000 lives lost in the Second World War. After four years of planning and multitude of meetings, it was unveiled on September 10, 2014, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Canada's entry into war.  We were proud to see three of Bill’s uncles’s names on the wall.

His other projects seem to be on-going, especially the book – “Bill & Sue-On Hillman: A 50-Year Musical Odyssey”. This should really be called “The Never Ending Story”! This year he’s been scanning hundreds of slides and scrapbook photos documenting our music years. Of course, this adds more fodder to the book which already has many hundreds of pages of text!   Bill’s weekly has stayed on the weekly Friday release schedule since 1996 because of his love for all things on author Edgar Rice Burroughs and science fiction. Not only is he constantly doing research, but others are sending their material for inclusion in the e-zine. In addition, he is in constant contact with other people and organizations for whom he has created websites and webzines as a volunteer.

 One of the most gratifying connections has been with Dr, John Tyman, Bill’s mentor and friend from his early Brandon University days.  The Website they’ve created, “Cultures in Context,” is comprised of thousands of photographs and notes which John has compiled during the times he has spent in the field in remote locations around the globe. The site has drawn much attention from major universities in NA, England and Australia (where John now lives).  This collection on the web will soon be stored in major university archives where it can be accessed for many generations to come.

Sue-On: I am still teaching with the English for Academics Program at Brandon University. The scheduling suits me well as it allows for other activities. A major gardening project was the creation of the pagoda gardens. Plans were researched by our future son-in-law Ryan McIntosh, and he spent a spring weekend in our garage building not one but FOUR pagoda planters. They turned out beautifully and have become all-season planters: flowers in the summer, a Halloween witch, and an autumn gourd display unit. At the moment, one has been transformed into a Xmas tree!

In March, I was sponsored by Healthy Brandon to take training on “Drums Alive!” a musical / drumming exercise program using a stability ball and drumsticks. In the spring, I gave 7 demos in the community. There was a lot of interest with the 55 Plus folks, so I gave two 5-week sessions, “drumming to the golden oldies”.  Bill’s been my music man, in a slightly different mode than in the past 50 years.  Cooking and eating still takes precedent over all other activities. I enjoy taking pictures of the food, and Bill collates them onto webpages. He’s having a hard time keeping up though. Might have to eat out with McD's or A & W just so he can have a break!

Our travels this year have been confined to stateside.  In June, our friend Rudy Sigmund hosted ECOF (Edgar Rice Burroughs Circle of Friends), his second, in Fargo.  He planned many unusual events, such as the private showing of “Tarzan and the Golden Lion”, a silent film with James H Pierce, who later became ERB’s son-in-law. (We had spent an afternoon with them in Tarzana, CA back in 1971). The event was held in the restored Fargo Theatre, complete with music provided by an organist on the majestic Wurlitzer! Rudy had many artists as guests and each received a special leather-tooled commemorative plaque made by Bob Hibbard, ERB fan from Texas. Bill was one of the lucky recipients for his webpage promotions.

In August, we drove to Bryan, Texas, for the second of the annual ERB gatherings -- the Dum-Dum -- with events at the Texas A & M campus, the restored historical La Salle Hotel, and at the Vinson home. It was a great opportunity to see Brad Vinson’s spectacular collection of J. Allen St. John art as well as that of other major artists. We also had a presentation by Buddy Saunders, on his major novel, “The Martian Legion”. Later, Bill was asked to write a review of this mammoth book, which was deemed Burroughs worthy.

While in Texas, we visited both the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum at A&M University, and the George W. Bush Presidential Centre in Dallas, TX. Now, we have visited four US presidential museums, including Bill Clinton’s in Arkansas, and Ronald Reagan’s in Simi Valley, California. In Dallas, we also visited the Sixth Floor Museum in Dealy Plaza, which chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy.

From Texas, our return trip home took us through Tulsa, Okla. While stopping at Walmart, we spotted the golden glow of a pair of gigantic hands clasped in prayer! Within view were also majestic towers and buildings glittering with “gold” in the sun. Our eyes were drawn to the huge marquee: Oral Roberts University! How could we resist the urge to visit? It was free! The huge studio where live broadcasts were done was very impressive, as were the prayer tower, the gym, the research centre, and the lecture theatres. I loved the gardens, and Bill was particularly drawn to the many statues of Jesus ;-)

We arrived home earlier than anticipated.  Our plan to tour the Black Hills was thwarted by Black Thunder, the annual gathering of bikers in Sturgis. However, it was great to be home and enjoy my garden, which had been under grandson Soulin’s care?

Our ERB connection brought us an invitation to opening night of Tarzan the Musical, staged by our local drama club, MECCA Productions. Director Lisa Vasconselos was a former high school student of Bill’s. It was a fabulous production, another to add to our list of premieres: New York, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Utah, and now, Brandon, MB!

And now, for the best climax ever for our Xmas Massive Missive: The latest addition to our Hillman family tree has arrived!  Tayla Reece Hillman, daughter of Ja-On and Angela, was born on Thursday, December 11. She weighed in at 7 lbs 9 oz, another beautiful granddaughter for us to love. We are now proud grandparents of one grandson and four granddaughters. What a great way to begin the festive holidays?

On that joyful note, we wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2015!

Bill & Sue-On
Brandon MB Canada


Newborn Tayla Reece Hillman
The Web version of this massive missive is at:
Websites Referenced Above: :: :: :: :: ::
Many more of our tall tales are spread across our main Website:

Sue-On's 2013 Hillman Family Chronicle
The Annual Massive Missive from 41 Kensington Crescent
Adapted from the Hillman Adventure 2013 site:
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 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 Oriyen.

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, 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 S.E. Asia. 

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.

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 Senate:  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.

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.

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 a 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.

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

Ghosts of Xmas Past Archive Back to 1996


Sue-On's 2012 Hillman Family Chronicle
The Annual Massive Missive from 41 Kensington Crescent
Adapted from the Hillman Adventure 2012 site:
Extra! EXTRA!! Read all about it…errrr….no…that should be “Read all about HER”. A new edition…no…but there was an ADDITION to the Hillman family tree this year. 

Inara Jane Hillman, a special birthday present for big brother Soulin, arrived on his 14th birthday – as he requested. Mom and Dad – Angela and Ja-On – presented this little bundle with the blazing red hair on May 17 at 5 in the morning. Inara was three weeks early and was just over 6 lbs at birth. She is now 6 months old and has put on weight.  Inara is smart already – listening to Celtic music, trying to walk, and vocalizing about what she wants.  We always give in….

Ja-On keeps very busy with his new Reactive Massage treatment centre and fitting in quality time with Soulin and Inara. His new facilities got a great write-up in the city's magazine Brandon Now! He is into the third year of his B. Sc. degree in Osteopathy – driving into Wellington College once a month. Angela is on maternity leave and enjoying life as Mommy until May 2013 when she will return to her nursing job. For now, she's enjoying this new role – all the sleepless nights, diapers, etc. Soulin is 14, and into all things of interest to teenagers. Guitar lessons are still on the go, and he enjoys sampling the fare in Grandma’s kitchen. He’s in grade 9 and wants to get into drafting later. 

Robin, Jen, and Oriyen come out from Winnipeg when they can to visit. Robin is kept busy with the Web company His main focus is business analysis for web applications. He is working down in the Chinatown area, in one of the renovated historic buildings. Ham radio is an interesting hobby for him. Jen has just accepted an assistant manager position with the “assisted living” organization she works for. She’s only been with them for six months, but has proven her expertise in this line of work. Her creative energies show up in all things involving sewing. Oriyen seems to have sprouted a few inches to her height! She’s an impish seven-year-old and we love having her visit. She’s in Brownies. Robin and Oriyen enjoy playing the game Minecraft and building things together. She and Daddy Robin can get into a lot of mischief together.

Dr. China-Li is in her third year of radiology residency as a doctor specializing in medical imaging. Her time is split between Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre and St Boniface Hospital. She’s planning to practice in Manitoba when she completes her 5-year residency. In November, she spent a week at a radiology conference with 60,000 others in Chicago. Ryan continues to work for the web company Peaceworks. His main client is an American multi-million dollar on-line wedding gown company. I wonder if he’ll get China a big discount on a dress when they do set a date? Ryan continues to be the “big white hunter,” filling their freezer with various game meats.

Bill seems to grow more creative each year; as a result, his “workload” has not decreased and music still plays a major part in his life as he continues with his weekly jam sessions at the Cantina. Brandon Now! Magazine recently published a long feature on our 50-year career in the music industry. 

The three trips we took this year, in conjunction with the Centennial of both of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ major works, John Carter and Tarzan of the Apes, added much fodder to his giant web empire. Prior to our travels, Bill had been swamped with requests for ERB information and interviews with the international media.

In March, to celebrate John Carter of Mars, we flew to Tarzana, CA for the annual ECOF convention. This was a week before the world-wide release of the movie John Carter by Disney studios. We were guests at the studio for a private viewing. During the conference, our friend Robin Maxwell, a well-known historical fiction author, unveiled her ERB, Inc. authorized book: Jane, the Woman Who Loved Tarzan. Robin’s friend Suzan Crowley, British actress of Masterpiece Theatre fame, read the first chapter at the presentation. The book would be a wonderful addition to any library, especially those of us who collect the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

In April, Bill and I drove to Morgan City, Louisiana for the first ever Tarzan Festival, hosted by our friend, filmmaker Al Bohl. Al and daughter Allison debuted an acclaimed documentary on the making of the first Tarzan movie, a 1918 silent with Elmo Lincoln, which was filmed in the local bayous. It’s been many years since we visited that part of the USA. An invitation to visit the LA House of Representatives in Baton Rouge made the trip all the more special.  Governor Bobby Jindal officially declared April 13 as Tarzan Day across all of Louisiana. We had our first crawdad and ‘gator bites feast, and made a brief visit to New Orleans. Another major attraction on this trip was a visit to Bossier City and Shreveport, La. with Al and Doris Bohl. While there we explored the auditorium where Elvis performed so many times on Louisiana Hayride show and across the street where famed guitarist James Burton has his recording studio. 

August took us back to Tarzana for the Tarzan/John Carter 100th birthday party at the annual Dum-Dum convention. We met up again with many of the devotees who were at ECOF in March, and we met some new fans and friends from England, Netherlands, Austria as well as closer to home. As always, everyone at ERB, Inc. and Burroughs family were gracious and generous in sharing all things Burroughs. One of the two major events at this centennial celebration was the unveiling of the ERB commemorative stampissued by USA postal services. The presentation was given full media coverage at the Tarzana Cultural Centre and was attended by government officials, the Burroughs families, and all the fans. It was a long-over-due honour for ERB. 

Bill hosted the Tarzan Yell contest at the Marriott on Friday. The judges were Linda, Dejah, and Llana Jane Burroughs (Danton’s wife and daughters) and Johnny Weissmuller’s granddaughter, Lisa Maria. Contestants signed up early, but Bill got more than he bargained for when he asked if anyone else wanted to participate. Sue-On yelled and won first prize in the female category (smug smile). The biggest surprise, however, was when Bill escorted our guest of honour for the Dum-Dum in for a unplanned appearance: Jane Goodall, the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees! Ms Goodall spoke briefly, then gave the authentic chimpanzee yell, which brought the house down! 

The almost week-long event featured a long line of famous personalities, artists, writers, actors, scholars, etc. and ended as always with the grand banquet. The many hundreds in the audience were treated to a slide montage followed by followed by an entertaining video greeting from George McWhorter, curator of the world’s largest Burroughs collection in the University of Louisville rare books library. This was followed by an awards ceremony and talks from special guests. Disney producer Jim Morris shared behind-the-scenes stories of the making of the John Carter film. Jane Goodall enthralled the entire audience with her entertaining story-telling style -- relating how she became interested in chimpanzee research because of Tarzan, and how she was quite jealous of the “other Jane.” 

We completed the week with the traditional farewell breakfast, a tour of a fabulous art and guitar collection at Dr. Bob and Lindy Zeuschner’s Pasadena home, and a drive through Topanga Canyon to Malibu and Santa Barbara on the Pacific coast. 

Monday found us in Hollywood where Bill was scheduled to appear in a Galaxy Press documentary on the influence of ERB on L. Ron Hubbard during his early career as a pulp fiction writer before he developed Scientology.  First order of the day - a seafood feast at Hollywood’s Vegas Restaurant for foodie Sue-On. How did they know?!  LOL!  It was a fascinating day with John Goodwin, President of Galaxy and his wonderful staff, with make-up, wardrobe (Bill refused the shirt, tie and jacket in favour of his own Chinese jacket), a tour of the Hubbard Library and photo shoots culminating in an hour-long  video interview in front of blue screen. It was a most unconventional day in Hollywood!

We enjoyed the remainder of the week with our author friend Robin Maxwell and husband Max Thomas at their California desert home: High Desert Eden near Pioneertown where thousands of westerns have been filmed over the years. We spent several days lounging in their beautiful guest casita, enjoying fine food, incredible desert scenery, and wonderful conversations. Who could ask for more?!

Soon, it was time to head east, taking in all the major sites along the way. We made major stops in Clovis, NM and Lubbock, TX, checking out the Buddy Holly music legacy: museum, recording facilities, statue, wall of fame, etc.  Bill’s sister Bonnie has a winter home in Lubbock, but spends the summers in Toronto. We prowled around the empty house and grounds but made our escape before the neighbours called the police : )

From Texas, we took International Highway 83 home. We have quite a connection with this highway as it stretches from Mexico to Swan River Manitoba. There is a Highway 83 Association, and we have performed for their gatherings many times in the past. As much as we loved travelling, it is always great to get home, after so many thousands of miles.

I had a couple of weeks to settle in before another term of teaching with the university’s English for Academic Purposes program. Ja-On and our wonderful neighbor Lisa and her daughters had ably looked after all the flowers and plants for the month of August. It was a busy term, with maximum number of students in both levels. My students were from China, Burma, Turkey, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Colombia, and Korea. It’s always rewarding when I see that little “light bulb” light up every once in a while ;-)

Can’t seem to get cooking out of my system. Bill checks my FaceBook food photos every night to see what he ate for supper. <g> It’s another on-going project for this webmaster - collating all of the hundreds of food pictures into monthly pages on the web. I am under a great deal of pressure to produce! LOL!  Some of my first term international students have been beneficiaries to the “intentional leftovers”

Today, we finally finished putting up the last string of Christmas lights outside, and the tree inside is up and decorated. I timed this letter just so. As we move closer to yet another festive season, we wish you all the very best, for Christmas and for 2013. 

We hope to hear about you and your families soon!

All of the above events . . . and more . . . are covered in much more detail with many hundreds of photos in the 2012 ADVENTURES section of our Website.

Bill, Sue-On and Family
41 Kensington Crescent
Brandon, MB   R7A 6M4



Sue-On's 2011 Hillman Family Chronicle
The Annual Massive Missive from 41 Kensington Crescent
Bill is outside putting on the snow tires; an email just arrived from friends discussing their Christmas plans with their families; there is a thick blanket of snow all around the yard. That could only mean one thing: It’s time to put our friends through their paces with our annual  “massive missive” ;-)

This year, as with every year since we have gotten “older”, seems to pass us by faster than a speeding bullet! Maybe it’s because we are all so busy in our lives. We must remember to slow down, love, and enjoy each other; otherwise, there will always be regrets. So first, let us wish each and every one of you good health, much happiness, and a Merry Christmas and a Happy 2012.

Busy is the buzzword these days. Son Ja-On has moved into his new Reactive Massage clinic! He and a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor have taken over a large historic building in downtown Brandon. Major renovations were completed, and they will each have more treatment rooms than before. Ja has also been going into his alma mater, Wellington College in Winnipeg, once a month for his continued studies in Osteopathy. Angela is busy with her position as Home Care coordinator. It’s a little different than her previous work in a personal care home, and free weekends are very welcomed, especially during the summer when they were able to enjoy the Patton family cabin at Clear Lake. Soulin is a teenager! The 13-year old is still in a French immersion school. His class will be traveling to Quebec next summer, so fundraising is an on-going effort. He comes up for guitar lessons every week, and enjoys his time with Grandpa. Recently, he’s decided he’d also like to play drums now that Grandma has her old drum kit set up in the music room. Good Boy! This little family has settled in comfortably in their home, and they will be hosting Christmas Day.

Robin has been kept busy with his creative juices at He is involved in many website projects, so they don’t get to come out as often as we’d like. He did make time to play summer gigs with us, especially when we performed in our hometown, Strathclair.  That brought back many memories for the hometown folks of Robin’s first public appearance as a drummer, at about age 7 - backing us on a Rolling Stones song "Satisfaction"! Jen continues to care for children in her home daycare. In addition, she has started a line of children’s clothing called Tinkerwear. She’s being very creative in designing the little dresses, diaper covers, booties, etc. Oriyen is now 6. She was able to model some of Jen’s creations, but she’s grown too tall now! Oriyen is busy with dance classes and grade one. We love it when she comes to visit Grandpa Bill and Nana in Brandon.

China and Ryan come out and check up on the parents regularly. Not quite sure whether it’s the food or hunting opportunities that entices Ryan, but we so appreciate his handy-man skills whenever they are here. No new gates this year, but he did put the exhaust for my downdraft cook top to good working order. Ryan continues to work for the web design company Peaceworks in Winnipeg. It seems they need his expertise even when he’s off for the weekend and visiting here. Good thing we have many computers in this household! It was a pleasure to have Ryan’s parents Dennis and Sharon join us for Thanksgiving. Sharon put me on a new cooking-path -- gluten-free cuisine. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, and Sharon survived!? China is in her second year residency at Winnipeg Health Centre. She took her GP licensing exam in October, and hopes to be able to get some practical experience in walk-ins on her “free-time” when she receives that license. We’re not sure what free time she would have as they seem to work the residents pretty hard! She is enjoying the radiology immensely although it can be taxing and stressful. I’ve had to call her for medical advice a couple of times, and her tone became very professional, very different from our usual mother-daughter banter.

Along with these two Winnipeg families come three rambunctious canines: Torith, Lily, and Keifer. It’s always a riot to watch these three rough-housing in the backyard. They are all big dogs but so nimble on their paws. Lily seems to be the “little sister” constantly nagging from the sidelines at her “brothers to behave! But given the opening, she’s right in there with them.

Bill - what can I say? The same as in every missive - HE’S BUSY!!! His web-empire continues to grow, adding more pages to each of his websites. Every day when I get home from work, he tells me about his latest creations. The only WebPages that he wished he didn’t have to do were the ones as tributes to our long-time friend and Federal Grain Train “engineer” Russ Gurr who passed away at age 92 on November 8th, and Barry Forman, our close friend, fiddler and bass player for many years, who passed away after a short battle with cancer on November 17th. 

Music is in Bill's blood. Not only did we celebrate a major wedding anniversary, Bill also celebrated his 50th year as a musician. He began in Strathclair, and most appropriately, celebrated his 50th at a gig in Strathclair. He continues to enjoy his weekly jam sessions with his buddies out at the Cantina.

One of our major projects (spear-headed by brother Kenny Choy) within the city of Brandon was the completion of the Chinese Head Tax monument.  It was a hugely successful unveiling on June 26th, with a full slate of dignitaries from all levels of government. Family members from the western provinces came home, and cousin Velda and Ron Schei of Redmond, Washington came up for the event as well as to meet our family for the first time. Velda is my Dad’s niece, and we just “met” via the Internet for the first time in October 2010. They spent a week in Brandon and met many members of our families.

This year, we had two ERB related road trips. In May, we drove in one-fell swoop to Minneapolis for the ECOF convention, hosted by Rudy Sigmund.   It was a great weekend as we got to see our regular attendee friends and made new acquaintances. In particular, we had wonderful conversations with several artists, like Mike Hoffman who did a sketch of Bill and me as John Carter and Dejah Thoris, characters from an ERB novel A Princess of Mars. This novel has been made into a movie, John Carter, which will be released in theatres in March 2012, as part of the Centenniary of the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. At that time, we will fly to Tarzana for the ECOF for a private viewing on the Disney Studios lot. We had visited many of the filming locations last year on our trip through Utah. It will be interesting to see how these locations translate to the big screen. In addition to the convention, Rudy surprised Bill with a special plaque for his continued efforts in honouring the life and works of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Sue-On was rewarded with a trip to the Mall of America for a little shopping therapy.

On August 3, we left home for what turned out to be a +6000KM road trip. We arrived in Pocatello, Idaho for the second of the annual ERB conventions - the Edgar Rice Burroughs DumDum.  Bill was one of the presenters on a panel, and we performed a song that Bill “revised” to be in tune to the topic. It was not the “jam of Chicago”, but nevertheless, well received.

From Pocatello, we drove to Tarzana, to meet with Jim Sullos and the ERB staff. There are many exciting events planned for the two 2012 gatherings of Burroughs fans, and Bill was assisting in whatever capacity they needed. Besides, it’s always exciting to be amongst all things Burroughs! We also spent a day with Linda Burroughs, sorting through and cataloguing a shipping container of items saved from the house fire three years ago. In between meetings, we met and had dinner with numerous people within the ERB realm, from Hollywood actor and writer Tracy Griffin, artist Shawn Hoadley, to artistic director Kevin Conran from the movie Sky Captain, and our special friend Mary Burroughs.

On our free days, we had a great time revisiting The Gene Autry Museum, and a walk-thru’ in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Then it was time to hit the road for non-Burroughs related activities. We made a stop in San Rafael to spend some time with Stacy Burroughs. She was recuperating after surgery at her Mom Mary Burroughs’s house located over the water. What a perfect healing place!

We had a long stretch of driving over the next couple of days, arriving at my cousin Velda and Ron Schei’s home in Redmond late Thursday evening. Velda and I share a love of cooking, and we spent the next day cooking massive amounts of food in preparation for her annual open house on Saturday. It was a great opportunity to meet her younger sister, her daughter, son-in-law, little grandson James, and many of their close friends and neighbors. A couple of days were spent at the Schei cottage in the wilds of Puget Sound - picking up and eating fresh oysters right from their beach! There could be no more perfect location for a cottage - peaceful waters, majestic trees, and snow-capped mountains in the distance. And, I think I’ve met my match as far as power shopping is concerned;-) On Sunday, we were able to spend time with my older brother Gene, sister-in-law Susan and family in Seattle, about a 45 minute drive from Redmond. It was a family reunion as we had not seen some of the family for more years that we care to remember. Another day was spent visiting Experience Music Project Museum. What an amazing place, beginning with the three-story sculpture at the entrance, composed completely of hundreds of guitars and other musical instrument. We spent hours checking out and photographing the tributes to musicians from this area, including Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix. 

The last leg of our road trip was to visit my sister and family in Burnaby, B.C. On all our trips, we’ve depended on our GPS, Carmen the Garmin. However, she was having some power problems, and totally gave out on us just after we got on the exit for Burnaby. We did not have a map of Vancouver and area, so we got lost for a couple of hours before finding a Wal-Mart to buy a new power cord. This was our first visit to my sister and family’s home, and what a fun and food-filled time we had! It was non-stop feasting with dim sum, fresh crab, etc, at the family’s favourite restaurants. Cousins Velda and Ron joined us for more feasting on the weekend. We just happened to be in Burnaby for our 45th wedding anniversary. Nephew-in-law Paul picked up fresh scallops and whole fish for our supper. Earlier, they had picked up Chiliwack corn. The whole meal was a great treat, ending with a Dairy Queen anniversary cake! The visit ended with my making a huge pot of a family favourite - my Dad’s famous beef stew, ostensibly for great nephew Brendan to take back to the University of Edmonton for the new school year. Not sure how much was left by the time everyone had a ladle full ;-)

We actually traced our honeymoon trip of 45 years ago backwards, through Golden B.C, Banff, Calgary, Swift Current and home! It was a wonderful road trip but we were glad to be home.

We had a week to get settled in, and then I was back teaching at the university for the fall term. Here we are, nearly done, with final exams only a week or so away. Unfortunately, the rest of the university has been on strike. It was disheartening for our former students who have traveled such a distance to study at our university.

In October, we had a wonderful long-awaited-for visit with Bill’s sister Bonnie Schneider. She returned to Canada two years ago, having lived in Saudi Arabia since 1992. Bonnie had spent the summer in Kingston, close to son Mark and daughter Noelle. We spent several evenings looking at old family pictures and videos. Bonnie has since gone to her winter home down in Lubbock, Texas - smart woman! Since then, we have received a huge packet of family pictures - wonderful treasures. ? 

My main project this year was trying out new recipes. Bill has been very quick to add each new item to my food web page: Sue-On's Kitchen. This was instigated by a “published” cookbook that China-Li had made for me last Christmas. For the next edition, she won’t have to sneak around hunting for my recipes. Sometime in the future, there might be a bigger, more comprehensive volume of the family’s and my favourite. I am taking paid advance orders, by the way! Even though we were away most of the summer, I was able to get lots of plants into the flowerbeds and baskets. Again, the Webmaster has collated the pictures into a web page Sue-On's House and Garden

That about covers it from 41 Kensington! Whew you said…A few last words:

Enjoy and love each other and every day to the fullest - never mind tomorrow!

Love from Bill, Sue-On and Family
Hillman Family Xmas Online


Sue-On's 2010 Hillman Family Chronicle
It's sounding so cliché: We’ve had a busy year… but it’s TRUE! If it were not, then all I would have to say would be, "Merry Christmas from our house to yours.”  I'd have to buy paper with a bigger motif ;-)

The kids are all busy with their lives. Angela graduated from BU with her Bachelor of Nursing in May. She is working full-time at Rideau Personal Care Facility. Ja-On's Therapeutic Massage business continues to grow, and he's in the midst of a five-year training program in osteopathy.  Soulin is 12, nearly taller than Grandma. He’s enrolled in a French immersion school, at Ecole Harrison. He was busy this summer playing football. This fall, he followed the family tradition of joining the Air Cadets. In October, this little family moved into their first house. It's a totally renovated older home, cozy and perfect for three or more ;-) They will be hosting their first Christmas Eve dinner with the Hillman and Patton families.

Robin, Jen, and Oriyen have really settled into their house in Winnipeg. Robin, software engineer with Tactica, worked on David Suzuki's Ocean series website. From this website, Tactica, was nominated for a Gemini! Win or not, they went out and celebrated! : )  Jen has her day care well established and enjoys the work looking after several kiddies. Oriyen is 5, and busy, busy, busy. Along with school, she's taking dancing, but enjoying it more than Robin did at this age. LOL! Along with their two cats and Keifer the Great Pyr/Akita, their house bustles with activity.

China graduated with her Degree in Medicine in May.  She can now put M.D. after her name! We were so proud to go into Winnipeg for her big day. It's been a long journey but she did it -- with honours and awards. China was accepted into the Radiology residency at Winnipeg Health Sciences. She's been working in different hospitals in various aspects of medicine. We are pleased to have her patients actually tracking us down to comment on what a wonderful doctor she is. : )   Ryan continues to work as Web Engineer at PeaceWorks and takes over at the helm whenever his boss is away. DIY continues at their house, but they always seem to find time to come home.  Ryan, the eclectic chef has been busy bagging his deer, birds, rabbits, etc. and butchering, curing, and keeping their freezer full. It's not unusual for me to open MY freezer and find some forgotten bunny pelts! 

The Webmaster himself has weathered another health issue this fall. Bill was away for a seven-week radiation treatment for prostate cancer in Winnipeg. He drove himself in Monday mornings and home after his treatment on Fridays. He had a room at Lennox Bell Lodge, adjacent to the hospital. His last "zapp" was November 25, so he's home to stay now. So far, side effects are minimal and we're hopeful the results in February will be excellent. He didn't miss a step while away as he had his laptop, TV, and DVD viewer. The only problem was the food as he doesn’t cook anything more than toast. (But, he did a tremendous job setting up the catering for the Lieutenant Governor at this year's WinterFest!)  However, we were able to package up meals that he could "finish up" in the microwave. He continues to be master of the web, and everyday, hundreds of emails bring new adventures for creativity for him. And of course he's still jammin’ rock and blues with his music buddies Thursday evenings at Ken Daniels' Cantina.

Music brought us back into contact with friends from our early years. This past summer, we performed at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. We were part of a special Shakin' All Over exhibit on Music in Manitoba.  As well as performing at the Museum we played arena dances for many homecoming celebrations in communities such as McCreary  and my old hometown of Newdale.   It was great to see people who danced to our music over the last five decades, and those who grew up with us. We haven’t changed a bit!

This summer took us to Chicago for the annual Edgar Rice Burroughs Bibliophiles Convention. We went a couple of days early and spent some time in Chinatown and at the Field Museum, just in time for Sue's 100th anniversary -- Sue being the Tyrannosaurus Rex on display there. It's always fun to meet up with old friends and make new ones. Three of the guys got together and had a blues jam at the Thursday evening BBQ. Friday evening found a group of us riding the L-train to Kingston Mines Blues Club on Halsted Street to listen and dance to the blues bands. It was a fun night, including the people watching on the train! 

After Chicago, Bill and I headed off towards St. George, Utah -- the farthest southwest corner of the state. Enroute, we visited some of the shooting locations for the up-coming 2012 blockbuster Disney movie – "John Carter of Mars," based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars novel from 1911. The scenery in Utah is incredible -- so many unusual landforms that are familiar in hundreds of westerns, commercials (Mallboro cigarettes), etc.  In Utah, we were guests of Tuacahn's Red Rock Cliffs Amphitheatre for "Tarzan, the Musical". It is a beautiful natural amphitheatre, and we were given a personal tour of the backstage area. This production is so different from the previous three premieres we attended (Broadway, Holland and Hamburg). Being outdoors provided for some ingenuity for the producers, but it was incredible. The warm evening breeze really added to the whole ambience of the show. James Royce Edwards is by far the most physically perfect Tarzan to date.  We were able to meet up with the main actors after the show. Their greetings were exuberant as they had seen Bill's website and coverage of the show. The producer also invited us to attend the premiere of the alternate-night's production:  The Gershwin musical, "Crazy for You".

After Tuacahan, we drove around Zane Grey country and Zion National Park, another amazing display of landforms created by nature. Salt Lake City, the Mormon Tabernacle was on our way home, so it was added to our list of religious buildings visited, along with Scientology, Creationists, Ba’Hai.  They were all "interesting" places to visit. Our final stop was Pocatello, Idaho, the location for the 2011 Burroughs Convention. It was a brief stop as there wasn't much ERB material currently on display. We warned them about the gathering next summer, and they must bring out all the relevant material before then!

2010 started with quite a scare for this writer: stress-related cardiomyopathy, or in layman terms - broken-heart syndrome.  This was the result of some very hectic months of multi-tasking. At the beginning of February was the annual Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Festival. This year was particularly important as the government of Manitoba just appointed the first Chinese Lieutenant Governor. As a result, our Chinese Pavilion did double duty by hosting the opening ceremonies at Brandon City Hall for several hundred people. We provided all the dim sum items as well as entertainment for that function. Simultaneously, we opened the pavilion to hundreds more visitors at our mall venue. At the same time, we were also catering evening meals to my 100 year-old Mother at Fairview Personal Care Facility every evening. On top of that, I was teaching a heavy load at Brandon University.

On February 18, my Mom passed away peacefully with her family beside her. Then it was gathering the families from Seattle, Vancouver, Calgary, and Winnipeg for a celebration of her life. Friends from our old hometowns, Newdale and Strathclair, as well as local friends, relatives, and colleagues joined us to listen to Mom’s story.

On March 1, the Westman Chinese Association sponsored and organized a special acrobatic show from Sechuan province at the auditorium as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. March 2 was the day of "reckoning" for me. I was at work and had heartburn, felt cold (both very unusual for me), and a feeling of heaviness around my shoulders. I googled symptoms for heart attack for women. Best get to the hospital! I called Bill and did not give him time to say, "I’ll pick you up". I drove home and we went to emergency. My blood pressure was sky high (another unusual for me), so I was put into bed, wired and given nitro under the tongue, aspirins, and blood tests. The rise in enzyme level confirmed "something was up". They ran the whole gamut of tests, including the most-uncomfortable ambulance ride (with Bill following behind in the car) to Winnipeg for the angiogram.

The end results were good -- no scarring on the heart and no blocked arteries. I was lucky, and more so because I've not had to stay on any meds after the first week at home. My last check-up had my BP and cholesterol levels as perfect. I'm fit as a fiddle, but learning to slow down somewhat ;-)  I am still teaching at BU but really enjoying our long Christmas break.

As I complete our year in review, beautiful big snowflakes are drifting down. We hope your Christmas is beautiful, with a bountiful table shared with love with your families. We wish you all the best in 2011!

Love, Bill, Sue-On and Families
Hillman Family Xmas Online


Sue-On's 2009 Hillman Family Chronicle
There's a snowfall warning for southwestern Manitoba tonight (November 30), so we rushed and got our snow tires put on. Guess that means it's winter and Christmas is on its way. So, it's time for our "fireside chat" from our family to yours!

This year, we didn't have to borrow China's Honda Civic for our summer road trip. We bought our very own Honda Civic EX-L with heated leather seats. They weren't for the road trip, but they will be very welcome during the winter. Our first destination was Dayton, Ohio for the 2009 Edgar Rice Burroughs Bibliophiles convention.  Enroute to Dayton, we stopped in at Shelbyville, Indiana for another visit to Tarzan and Jane's (James and Joan (Burroughs) Pierce burial site and research at the local genealogy office

Wednesday, we arrived in Dayton, Ohio. We were guests at the home of this year's hosts, Dick and Ginnie Spargur. Their abode was the perfect location for such a gathering, with a 'jungle" for their backyard. Bill helped Dick with the convention “stuff” and was a presenter on the Friday panel. I was able to help Ginnie with the feeding of the horde, especially Friday evening's gigantic BBQ for +70 attendees. It was another great gathering of old and new friends culminating with the Saturday night banquet and Sunday farewell breakfast. One of my favourite activities was a day trip organized by Ginnie for the J.A.N.E.S. (just another neglected ERB spouse) to Jungle Jim's International Food Market -- 6.5 acres of glorious food! Bill and I stayed over another day to visit the massive U.S. Air Force museum. 

From Dayton, we drove to visit with George McWhorter at the Ekstrom Library at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. It was another afternoon of viewing and photographing new and rare ERB collectibles with the ever-cordial curator and friend George. Our next stop was for something completely different -- the Creationist Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. The museum is a detailed display of biblical stories, complete with Noah's Ark and dinosaurs!  The gardens were gorgeous, and the swinging rope bridge gave us an opportunity to play Indiana Jones. The next day, we stopped at Jim and Linda Thompson’s home in Clarksville, Tennessee. After spending several hours checking out his incredible collection of ERB and other rare books, and Linda's “out-of-control" collection of cats, we were introduced to a real southern meal: catfish, deep fried okra and dill pickles! After supper and having made arrangements to meet in Nashville next day, Bill and I headed off to settle in for a couple of days to enjoy the country music capital.

We hadn't been to Nashville for many years and there were so many changes. The most impressive was the new Country Music Hall of Fame. We also had the opportunity to tour RCA Recording Studio. Met up with the Thompson’s to see the newly released Sci-Fi flick District 9, followed by a delicious Italian supper before we said our goodbyes. Saturday evening took us to the Grand Ole Opry. The last time we were there was with 6-month-old Ja-On, who is now +30. Many of the artists performing then and now were ones we had shared a stage with through the years: Little Jimmy Dickens, Jeanie Shepard, the Whites, Jack Greene, George Hamilton IV, etc.

Memphis was another highlight -- a walk down memory lane at Graceland. We had just missed the massive crowds on anniversary of Elvis's death, so touring the complex was more leisurely. Sun Recording Studios is now a developed tourist attraction, and it was exciting to be standing in the actual studios among some of the original equipment and instruments used by world famous recording artists such as Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and Elvis. This road trip was not as extensive as 2008, but we revisited many of the places from the days of our youth ;-)

We arrived home in time to celebrate my Mom's 101 birthday! Following Chinese tradition, we had the big celebration at her 99th birthday, so this was a smaller family affair. Since May, Mom's been living at Fairview Personal Care facility. She has some degeneration of discs in her back, so walking is a challenge. She is happy in her private room, especially with daily meals catered to her by her family.

Ja-On's Reactive Therapeutic Massage practice is keeping him very busy. We are meeting his satisfied clients everywhere! Angela is hard at her books -- final year of her Bachelor of Nursing degree. She is very focused and her marks are rewarding that. Soulin is eleven -- no longer the little boy. Both he and Ja have taken an interest in the guitar, so lessons with Bill have allowed them to spend time together. Soulin especially likes the new Gretsch Americana guitars we've added to our collection.

Robin continues to work as a software engineer with Tactica in Winnipeg, but has new offices in a renovated warehouse. He and Jen took a major step this year and bought a +100 year old house. It's a lovely home with room for Jen to open her own daycare facility. Little Oriyen continues to delight us and wind us around her little finger with her smile and wonderful manners. This summer, Robin joined us for some summer gigs (Miami, Neepawa, etc.) on bass and drums along with other musician friends.

China is in her final year at University of Manitoba Medicine program. Last year, she presented her research thesis in Omaha, Nebraska. From her first placement at that conference, she was a presenter at the Galveston, Texas international conference, again, placing first. It's been a busy year with her various rotations, electives.  Just before Christmas, she was in Calgary for a 2-week radiology elective. Ryan, who was “the boy” in last year's newsletter, popped the question on Bill's birthday last January. Guess that happens when you renovate a house together? Ryan continues to work for Peaceworks in Winnipeg as a software engineer. They've surprised us twice this year with additions to the family: a black lab/husky/border collie named Torith, and then later in the summer, an eight-week old Great Pyrenees named Lily. Along with Soulin and Oriyen, it's a circus when everyone is home!

Patriarch Bill is still tied to his "work station" with a never-ending list of writing and music projects and websites to design and maintain. He taught a course with the Faculty of Education during the summer and enjoyed it, but he doesn't miss the "full-time" schedule.

The author of this annual epistle is still teaching with the EAP program at Brandon University. It's been another busy year, but a nice Christmas break is forthcoming. I am still involved with Cyracom Interpreter Service as I am the only Toisanese interpreter they've got. It's always a challenge, especially with middle-of-the-night calls. Come February, life will become hectic once again with the Chinese Pavilion for the annual Lieutenant Governor's Winter Festival. I'll be looking forward to our next summer road trip!

As always, we wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and All the Best in 2010. Looking forward to hearing news from your house!


Bill, Sue-On and Family 

"Wha…? It’s Christmas Already?"
Sue-On’s 2008 Hillman Family Chronicle

Ho! Ho! Ho! – I’d recognize that laugh anywhere. <g>  I’m sure you are all being primed for the busy holiday season with Xmas music in all the stores, so let our family “chime in” with our Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You and Yours!

The summer was a bit more relaxing than 2007 for the senior members of the Hillman family. Bill and I exchanged our old Ford Probe for China’s new Honda Civic and headed for an undetermined road trip the day my teaching term ended. First on the agenda was the annual Edgar Rice Burroughs  Bibliophiles Convention held in Waterloo, Iowa this year. It was important for us to be there as liason for Linda Burroughs and her daughters Llana Jane and Dejah. This was their first attendance as representatives of Danton, husband and father, who died so unexpectedly in May. Bill had flown to LA to give a eulogy at the memorial service.

We were able to make our first destination in one day – +900 miles. It was great for me to see familiar faces as Bill had attended last year by himself since I was busy with preparations for Ja-On and Angela’s wedding. From Waterloo, we headed for Branson, Missouri where we scouted out sites and ideas (for ERB, Inc.) for a possible Edgar Rice Burroughs / Tarzan museum.  There were many museums and entertainment venues to suit every age and taste. From this point on, we had no set agenda and schedule. Bill used for all our hotel arrangements at the end of each destination, and that helped set our plans. There were a couple of unplanned detours, such as Roswell, New Mexico, the alien-landing site in 1947 and Grand Canyon. We spent a few days in Las Vegas enjoying all the incredible changes to this “den of sin” since our last visit in the early ‘90s. In spite of our resolve to not get hooked into a time-share presentation, we were snagged within 10 minutes of entering our first casino! The resort condo was beautiful, but we resisted the high-power sales and escaped with free show and buffet tickets.

The highlight of our trip was Tarzana, California, home of the late Danton Burroughs and offices of ERB, Inc. As many of you know, Bill is the webmaster for the company. We were invited by Linda Burroughs to continue his research with Danton’s collection of his grandfather and father’s works. This was my first visit to the incredible house and collection. Never again will I complain about “collectibles and stuff all over the place”! We spent a week with Linda, documenting and photographing artwork, books, etc. at the house. The best surprise was sorting, documenting, and cleaning out another of Danton’s storage lockers. He certainly was the protector of his family’s legacy. Linda and her daughters were generous with their time and hospitality. At the end of our weeklong stay in Tarzana, Bill was able to show me Ronald Reagan’s Library/Museum and Corriganville Ranch (famous movie location) in Simi Valley – both points of interest that he visited on his last trip in 2007. Enroute home, we stopped and visited Roy and Dela White’s incredible ERB collection just outside of Denver, Colorado. After +7000 miles, we arrived home in time to celebrate Ja-On and Angela’s first wedding anniversary.

Ja and Angela have been busy with school and work. Ja’s therapeutic massage practice continues to grow with a long list of clients. It’s very rewarding when people come up to us and say, “You’re Ja-On’s mom /dad.  He’s an incredible therapist and wonderful young man.”  We knew that. <g> He now has two other therapists working with him so he can have more time with the family.  Angela is a full-time student for her degree in the Bachelor of Nursing program at BU. It’s a busy schedule with long hours of schoolwork and practicum at the hospital. On the plus side, we get to spend a little more time with grandson Soulin. He’s 10 years old now, and in grade five! We can’t believe how much he’s grown. He’s continuing in the French Immersion program at New Era School, taking Tai Kwon Do and fencing lessons. He still enjoys his games of chess, backgammon, and Monopoly with grandpa.

Robin is working with a new software company in Winnipeg – Tactica. It’s smaller than his previous company, but he’s able to be more creative and use newer technology. His latest project was the website for Taste of Manitoba:   - boy after my own heart! ;-)  He and girlfriend Jen Funk have been together for two years now. She is a care worker with the developmentally challenged. It seems that Robin has been accepted into her family as he was invited to their farm in Morden, MB this summer – for the killing and processing of 5 pigs! Jen’s 3-year-old daughter Oriyen is delightful. Soulin loves having a little pupil – teaching her all the silly things that his Uncle Robin and Auntie China taught him. We never lack for entertainment when these two are here. Musically, Robin still finds time to play bass and drums with our band at various functions around the province.

China-Li is into her third year of medicine at University of Manitoba. This year involves much work experience at Winnipeg Health Sciences Hospital and other hospitals in Winnipeg. From her summer research work, she completed and defended her thesis for her Bachelor of Science – Medicine degree in August. She was invited to present her research to fellow students and faculty members. In the process, she was awarded four of the prizes: money <g>, the MERCK manual, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Omaha, Nebraska to present her thesis at a medical conference. Why Omaha? Do only firefighters, insurance people, and dentists get to go to exotic places for conferences? She and “the boy” – Ryan McIntosh – have moved into their new “old” house. Along with their busy schedules, they are renovating all three floors – the effect of watching all those HGTV – DIY shows! Ryan, like our Robin, is also a software engineer. He’s fitting into our family very well. Not only can he hold his own in “discussions”, he also likes to cook – and eat <g>.

   The most senior member of our family, Bill, has retired from his full-time teaching duties as professor at Brandon University’s Faculty of Education; however, there’s no such thing as a slow down in his work as power webmaster. The only change is that he now has more time for his many “hobbies”. <g>. With his freer schedule, he spent 10 days in Hamburg, Germany, to attend the German premiere of Disney’s Tarzan the Musical – his third in addition to the Broadway and Amsterdam premieres. Sue-On was in the middle of teaching, so it was a solo trip for  him. The added bonus was visiting the clubs along the Reeperbahn where the Beatles honed their musical talents before their worldwide celebrity status. He started his research for this with a website on the early Beatles before leaving for the trip. Along that same line, he also did research on the Hagenbeck Tierpark Zoo and its relation to ERB. He is also very involved with his many Canadian Military Tribute sites.

For Sue-On, this has been a busier year of teaching EAP at the university. Our enrollment nearly doubled for the fall term – from 35 to 60, so I quit my evening teaching with the immigrants. Besides, it was getting harder and harder to venture out in the winter evenings. In the EAP program, I had two groups of level 3 students, and one group of 12 in level 2. Most of the students are coming from our offshore school in Lauyang, China. Many are coming with little English, so it is heavy slogging for the writing component. With 60 students, our social activities program needed major revamping, so I became the social activities coordinator.  We took the students for mini-golf, rock-climbing, ten-pin bowling, a visit to a Haunted House, and an end-of-term dinner at a Chinese buffet.  The students all enjoyed the activities and food, and the teachers appreciated not having to make the arrangements.

Now that school’s out, I can concentrate on cooking and on helping the WestMan Chinese Association organize our second Chinese Pavilion at the Lieutenant Governor’s Winter Fest in February. This will be another major undertaking because of the overwhelming success of our pavilion in February 2008.  Hopefully, it will be easier as we are now experienced”.<g>

From our family to yours, we wish you all the very best for Christmas and 2009. We look forward to hearing news from your house.

   Bill, Sue-On and Family   |   |

Ja-On and Angela's Wedding ~ 2007

Bill ~ Sue-On ~ Soulin ~ Ja-On ~ Angela ~ Robin ~ China-Li
The Hillmans’ "Oh What a Year!" Missive / 2007
We’re knee-deep in snow! Weatherman said all the snow that usually falls throughout the month of December fell between Dec. 3rd and 4th this year. Not to worry ‘cos I bought Bill a new shovel, our snow tires were put on the Ole Probe last week, and I finished teaching the university classes for the year!

We think about all our families and friends throughout the year, but Christmas is the time when we can shout “Merry Christmas and a Happy 2008” to you! Now, I can blither away about our year that was ;-)

Yup, it was another busy one.  In the 2006 missive, we announced Ja-On and Angela’s engagement. The big day came on August 18th. The kids made all the arrangements, sending out the invitations, etc with minimal interference from the moms <g>. The wedding was at the Imperial Ballroom in Brandon, and everything went according to plan. Angela looked gorgeous in her gown; Ja-on looked smart in his Asian-influenced tux (nearly as smart as the tux I made for his childhood tap dancing days), and Soulin was very grown-up in his mini-tux. Ja and Angela wrote meaningful vows to each other, but the most touching moment was when Angela made her vows to Soulin. The three of them are truly a family. For full disclosure, see

The event was made all the more special with arrival of relatives and friends from afar. Brother Gene, s-i-l Susan, nephew Martin, niece Janet, husband Larry, children Isabelle and Nathan arrived from Seattle a few days before the wedding. The folks haven’t been in Manitoba for many years, and it was wonderful to see them all. Sister Sue-Sem, niece Ilym, hubby Paul, kids Brendan and Alanna arrived the week before the big day. Although they make this yearly journey to celebrate Grandma Choy’s birthday, we always look forward to their visit and the goodies they haul from Vancouver! Many of the younger folks were booked into Canad Inn and had the opportunity to get to know their cousins better.

Our friends Keith and Margaret Jones arrived from England in time to tour around Manitoba before attending the wedding. On a round-about trip home from the airport, we were able to visit niece Lindy and Rob Rabichuk’s, and Kerry and Edah Morris’s cottages at Lake Winnipeg. Once we arrived home, the folks were put to work as our English gardener, window washer, and household assistant ;-)

Ja-On’s had a busy year with his Reactive Orthopedic Massage Therapy business. Not only is he working with his regular clients, he’s also supervising student practicums, and administering final exams at his alma mater – Wellington College in Winnipeg. Angela continues to take courses towards her Bachelor of Nursing, work at Hillcrest Personal Care home, and keep her two boys in line ;-) Soulin is getting to be so grown up! He’s active in soccer and swimming this fall and winter. With Ja and Angela’s hectic schedules, we’ve been enjoying his company at his “big house.” I say “enjoying” with reservations as he’s been quite a formidable opponent in chess, checkers, backgammon, and all other board games! 

Robin continues his work with DMT at Smart Park in Winnipeg. Still no free Volvo, Jag, or Mitsubishi from the work he does for these companies ;-) His musical talents have been put to good use this year with Dad and Mom - at various gigs such as the Miami (Manitoba, that is) Agricultural Society’s Centennial Celebration dance, and especially at Ja and Angela’s wedding. It was also a band reunion with Kerry Morris and Kevin Pahl – just like old times! That was the first time some of Sue-On’s family saw them perform. 

China is into her second of medicine at University of Manitoba, maintaining excellent marks in the top ten of her class of 101 students. During the summer break, she spent her two weeks of vacation shadowing orthopedic surgeon Dr. de Muelenaere at Brandon Hospital. China is no stranger there as she spent three previous summers working in Central Supply with surgical instruments. In the two weeks, she observed surgeries, held the retractors <g>, stapled incisions, etc. She was grateful to have had the experience seldom offered to first year medical students. For the remainder of her summer holidays, she was employed as a research assistant at Winnipeg Health Science Centre. Not only was she involved with research, she was also the “to-go-to-girl” for tech support on computers, fax and copier machines, and as an English editor for several of her colleagues’ research papers for publication in medical journals. Perhaps being in a family of teachers and computer literates gave her an edge ;-)

Bill and I have had a busy year with the wedding, the family reunion dinners, and my Mom’s 99th birthday celebration. The whole exciting year began in April with our trip to the Netherlands representing Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. for Disney’s European Premiere of Tarzan the Musical. We were able to spend a few days sightseeing in Amsterdam before the actual premiere at the Fortis Circustheatre in Scheveningen – a huge beach resort on the North Sea. We were joined by Laurence Dunn from England – president of the Burroughs Bibliophiles, and Jim Sullos and son from Los Angeles, Ca. The production was exciting, but even more so was the unexpected opportunity of meeting Tarzan – aka Ron Link! You can read and see all the gory details at and

The week following Tarzan, we took a short flight over to North Yorkshire, England to visit with old friends Keith and Margaret Jones, and Mick and Margaret Sandbrook and their families. With these folks, we toured many of the venues we performed in back in the late 70s, and revisited favourite locations such as Whitby, Scarborough, Durham, and James Herriot’s surgery in Thirsk.  An added treat was a reunion dinner with bandmates – Desperados, now called Raised on Rusks. All too soon, we had to return home to start new teaching terms. Bill is still working as full time professor with the Faculty of Education at Brandon University, and I with the English for Academic Purposes program at BU and evening ESL with WestMan Immigrant Services.

In July, Bill was able to fit in a couple of weeks of research work down in Tarzana with Danton Burroughs where they put in long sessions documenting the massive ERB, Inc. archives, meeting with media personnel, visiting film sets and exploring Southern California landmarks such as the Ronald Reagan Library. Following the busy days in California, he flew to the University of Louisville, KY for the annual Burroughs Bibliophile convention and to resume research at the Ekstrom Library. Sue-On was not able to join him for these adventures because of teaching schedules and preparations for the arrival of family and friends for the wedding.

Bill continues full throttle as mega webmaster with all the research he does for ERB , for the university , and for his many other interests: family and local histories, military tributes, writing, music, etc. . It seems his web-universe is never-ending as more and more people world wide seek him out for university research projects and as representative for ERB, Inc., for interviews as an ERB authority, or to share their treasures and writing. Musically, he enjoys jammin’ with his buddies whenever they can get together, performing with a Beatles Tribute band (this New Year’s Eve, he’ll be "John Lennon" at Brandon’s British pub) and of course ongoing gigs with our family band.

Teaching at BU is becoming more and more international for me. This year, I’ve had students from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, China, Morocco, Ukraine, Korea, Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand, El Salvador, Germany, and Lithuania. You can bet that our potluck parties are incredible! Brandon is experiencing a major increase in the number of foreign workers due to Maple Leaf hog processing. Since 2006, we’ve had +400 permit workers from China alone. Most of these new arrivals speak only Mandarin. As a result, I have been busy organizing translators to help these folks acquire legal documents, bank accounts, and get settled into the Canadian way of life. We are in the process of forming the WestMan Chinese Association, and presenting the first ever Chinese Pavilion during our Lieutenant Governor’s Winterfest in February, 2008.

The kids will all be home for Christmas at Kensington Crescent. Together, we send our love and best wishes to you and yours for a Merry Christmas and Good Health and Happiness in 2008. We’ll look forward to hearing news from you!

Bill, Sue-On and Family



Robin ~ Bill ~ Sue-On ~ China-Li ~ Soulin ~ Ja-On ~ Angela

Hillmans Annual Log-In 2006

School’s out! Now it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas. Before we get knee-deep in shortbread, mince meat pies, butter tarts, fruit cakes, shopping, and wrapping, our family wants to wish you and yours all the best for the Christmas season, and 2007.

I feel like my annuals always start off with the same ole, same ole: “It’s been another busy year for the Hillmans!” But, it’s so true. There have been a lot of changes within the family, so assuming that you already have your cuppa in hand, I will proceed!

Ja-On and Angela Patton have finally set THE date! We are all excited that they will be getting married on August 18, 2007. They and Soulin make a wonderful team, and we’re glad that they are making the all-important step. It’s also been a busy fall for Ja’s orthopaedic massage therapy business. Wellington College, where Ja trained, approached him to open a satellite clinic in Brandon. After a month of renovations, painting, shopping for furniture, REACTIVE Therapeutic Massage Clinic opened on Rosser Avenue. All members of the Hillman and Patton families can lay claim to some part of the clinic! Ja has five rooms where he can provide treatments, as well as space for any regional massage therapy students to fulfill their practicums. He will be supervising these students for Wellington College as well as administering exams when they complete their courses. We’re very proud that the college recognizes Ja’s skills and potentials, and are backing him in this new business venture. 

Angela continues to work at Hillcrest Seniors facility, maintaining top grades in her courses towards her nursing degree, and taking care of the two guys. Between Ja and Angela, Soulin is growing up to be a very caring and considerate boy. At the moment, he’s taking a break from Ta-Kwon-Do to take swimming lessons. Like any other boy, he’s got all the gaming machines, but that box of Legos still comes out whenever Soulin is here at the “big house.” He can also whop Grampa in a game of chess once in a while! Angela’s parents, Hugh and Maxine, have built a cabin at Clear Lake, so Grampa Hugh was providing some “sailing activities” during the summer. Soulin’s becoming bilingual in the French immersion program at New Era School. I think this Grandma needs to pull in some Chinese lessons! Soulin is 8 years old, and in grade 3.

It’s so good to have Robin closer to home. He still enjoys his work as a software developer with DMT in their new technology facilities at Smart Park on the University of Manitoba campus. As some of their clients are Jaguar, Mitsubishi, and Volvo, I’m waiting for the day when one of the companies gives a car to each one of their website/data base developers! To date, he’s had great job reviews, movement up the salary scale, but no free car. The Indy music band he works with, Fisher Kane, did several gigs in Winnipeg as well as a band competition. They made it to the finals, which is quite an achievement for a newly formed group. He’s been coming home frequently to rehearse with us for gigs – the next one being in Miami – Manitoba, that is ;-). This community was one of our regular bookings in the '70s and '80s. It is a wedding dance for former Manitoba health minister Don Orchard’s daughter. It will also be like a community – band reunion. We’re looking forward to working as a family band and seeing some of our fans from the past!

China “has left the building”, and we have an empty nest – sort of. We still have Atticus, her dog.  In May, China graduated from Brandon University’s B.Sc. program with honours.  She won the Silver Medal for Excellence in Zoology, as well as the award for the highest marks in third year biochemistry. There must have been a science gene hidden in the family bloodlines that skipped Bill’s and my generation. Bill, being a professor with the Faculty of Education, had the privilege of presenting China with her degree. It was a walk down memory lane as he also had presented Robin with his degree. China was accepted into the Faculty of Medicine at University of Manitoba. She’s the youngest (at 21 as of Dec. 5) of her class of 101 students. She’s doing very well in the exams, maintaining marks in the top 5% of the class. This is excellent considering that many of her classmates already have their masters degrees. 

Bill and I are both working at Brandon University. He’s back full time with the Faculty of Education teaching technology courses. In addition, he’s created many web pages for the faculty, a daily EduTech zine, etc… etc… etc… as well as maintaining all his Burroughs sites, his weekly webzine, and his multitude of volunteer websites. The weekly jams at the Cantina keeps his musical juices flowing and his fingers mobile for the gigs that we do. These jams also justify any guitar purchases he might make! Health-wise, he’s fine although he can’t understand why he’s not as energetic as he was 15 years ago!

I am still working with the EAP dept. at BU – teaching writing skills to international students. It was an interesting year as I had students not only from China, Korea and Mexico, but also from Libya, Turkey, The Ukraine, and Georgia (formerly part of the USSR).  Tues. and Thurs. evenings, I have a lively group of adult immigrants, mostly from El Salvador. They talk more than I do (Is that possible?), but I only understand half of what they say! LOL! 

Po-Po Choy is still mobile enough to navigate the stairs for Sunday suppers at our house. We anticipate a big 98th birthday celebration in August, 2007. The highlight of her days is seeing all the grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The adventure of the year came in May when we were invited by Danton Burroughs of ERB, Inc. and Disney Productions to attend the opening night of Tarzan the Musical on Broadway! ( Bill had written ERB’s bio for the playbill and promotion material for the Disney Website. We stayed in the Marriott Hotel right next door to the Richard Rodgers Theatre where the play was held. It was great to see Danton, Linda, Dejah Burroughs, as well as Janet and Cathy from the Tarzana, California offices of ERB, Inc.  Being a play about Tarzan of the Jungle, the green carpet was rolled out for director Thomas Schumacher, writer David Henry Hwang, Phil Collins who wrote the score, the cast, and of course, Danton Burroughs. The evening was capped by a huge party held in the Marriott ballroom where Bill was able to chat with celebrity guests and Phil Collins. Bill Morris, another Bibliophile was also in attendance, and we all joined Danton for the late night forays for ice cream and viewings of the many giant Tarzan banners and electronic billboard screens on Broadway. Bill and I hope to attend a second opening night in Amsterdam in April 2007. Other highlights of the NY trip were the evening at the Iridium Jazz Club to see the legendary Les Paul perform with his trio, and visits to the David Letterman Show, Chinatown, United Nations, Ground Zero, etc. We didn’t make it to either of the official Edgar Rice Burroughs conferences this year, but we kept in touch with fans and writers worldwide, and even had a great visit with Joan Bledig, who flew up from Chicago.

Our family has had an eventful and happy 2006. We take a breather at this time to wish you all much happiness and good health in 2007. We look forward to news from you, so keep those cards and letters coming! 

Visit our Website for photos of family and China’s grad:
and the Hillman Nostalgia Christmas Project online at:

Click for full-sized image
The Hillmans' Annual Xmas Tome v.2005

We should have written this “massive” when the big snow came in early October and November. This week, we’ve had warm temperatures and April showers. However, the Christmas wish lists have arrived on my desk, so it MUST be Christmas. So, Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Some of you may remember that last year our son Robin was involved in the filming of a WWII re-enactment documentary - Bomber Boys: The Fighting Lancaster - about the Lancaster bomber crews who trained with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Canada and flew combat missions over Europe. With the immense amount of vintage and live film footage and old photographs from family archives, Frantic Films was finally able to complete and release the four-hour documentary in time for a Veterans/Remembrance week showing in November. The series is still being rerun on Sundays on History Television. It was exciting to see Robin in action. His Grandma Louise Campbell Hillman would have been very proud to see her grandson representing her brother William Gavin Campbell. The producer made a point of filming Robin at his uncle Bill’s memorial in England. To top off Robin’s year, he moved from Red Lake, Ontario to Winnipeg, where he was hired by DMT Development Systems Group as an Application Developer. One of his major projects is with the website. Auditions with the bands The Horribly Awfuls and Fisher Kane got him hired on as drummer for both bands. All in all, I think Robin, and we, are glad he is back in civilization!

Jay, Soulin and Angela are well settled in their apartment. Jay’s massage therapy business—Reactive Massage -- is doing well. He has office hours Tues.- Sat. in Brandon, and Mon. at a clinic in Shoal Lake. This summer, he did a lot of volunteer and promotional stints at various venues such as farmer’s markets, the Cancer Relay for Life, etc. As his office is in Fitness Quest, he also works for them in orientation for new members. Angela continues to work at Hillcrest Personal Care as an LPN. In between her work schedule and taking great care of the two boys, Angela continues to take courses at Brandon University towards her RN degree.

Soulin, the baby of the family, is now seven and a half, and seems to be growing out of his clothes and shoes monthly. He’s in grade two at New Era French Immersion School. Legos, video/computer games, board games are his favourite pastime activities. We are happy to see he enjoys reading as much as the rest of the family. To earn his spending money, Jay and Angela have set up a weekly chores list. He’s very capable, and offers to help Grandma whenever he’s up at the “big house”. Soulin has always been fascinated with martial arts. This fall, he enrolled in Tae Kwon Do classes, three times a week. We look forward to the day when he and his dad will spar against each other. ;-)

China is in her final year for her B.Sc. at Brandon University. One of her favourite classes has been Human Anatomy lab. BU is the only Canadian university that offers a lab with a cadaver for undergraduates. She is not squeamish at all, but I am when I pick her up after the class! She worked full time at Brandon Hospital CSR department for the second summer, and continues on as a casual employee during the school year. In August, she wrote her MCAT exam and achieved 90’s in her scores. Applications for medical schools were sent out and we are now awaiting invitations for interviews. In spite of a busy school schedule, she continues with her studies and performances with her harp, leads the harp ensemble, and does lots of volunteer work with St. John Ambulance Brigade. They will all miss her when she leaves home for Med School.

Bill had some health issues in September. In fact, he was admitted to the hospital on our 39th wedding anniversary with numbness on his left side. The doctor thought it was a stroke, but the full slate of tests with CAT scan, doppler, MRI, ECG, etc, showed no symptoms of a stroke. He was discharged after a week but with numbness spreading to his right side.  He was referred to the neurologist who ran more tests on the nerves, which showed no reflexes! He was immediately checked back into the hospital – diagnosed with an immune condition called CIDP: Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy. For the next five days, he was given intravenous infusions of Immunoglobulin, a four-hour process each time. Treatments were over $10,000.00, so we are indeed thankful for Canadian Medicare! There was quick response to the treatment, and Bill was able to talk the docs into giving him morning leave from the hospital to continue teaching his computer technology classes for the education faculty at Brandon University. Oh! Did I mention that the university invited him back to teach the same courses he taught in 2002-03? So, the three Hillmans are driving to school/work together once again. J

Musically. Bill still enjoys his weekly rock & blues jams at Ken Daniels' Cantina Club and performing with the CCR group One Body. With son Robin back within easy driving distance, we were busy performing at venues over the summer: The German SummerFest, the Neepawa Lilyfest, Woodtick Jam, etc. It is fun making music as a family again.

On the web side, Bill is busy as ever with his “empire of websites” . He is webmaster and editor for the five official Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc. Web sites -- etc. with their thousands of Webpages and Webzines. As a result, he is receiving and fielding hundreds of queries, offers, for ERB, Inc. from people all over the world. He is also a “consultant” for many of the upcoming movie, Broadway, book and comic projects based on referrals from the head of ERB, Inc. (Tarzana, California) – Danton Burroughs. Needless to say, his bout with CIDP hasn’t slowed him down any!

In August, Bill and I drove to Chicago for the annual ERB conference. We met more members of the ERB family, and renewed old friendships. The centre of the gathering was in Oak Park, one-time home of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ernest Hemmingway, and Frank Lloyd Wright. After seeing our host Jerry Spannraft’s home and ERB collection, I can’t complain about Bill’s numerous collections.

I have just finished another term of teaching international students with Brandon University, along with Settlement English with landed immigrants Tues. and Thurs. evenings. At BU, I had students from Mexico, Russia, Korea, China and Inner Mongolia. The most interesting student was our exchange Fine Arts professor, Xiren Qian from Nanjing University. He was teaching Chinese painting and watercolour. His most unusual talent was his incredible paper cutting skills. He arrived with hardly any English. Towards the end of term, he was able to communicate with HIS students without an interpreter. The next term will bring students from Turkey, Yemen, Korea, Mexico, China.

Having Sundays free, I decided to take in some cooking classes at our local community college. Each Sunday featured a different cuisine: New Orleans, Caribbean, South Africa, India, Portugal… It was fun to cook and eat new foods, some of which I may even make at home again!  Two Sundays were set aside for Qi-gong and tai-chi workshops. I know I should practice more regularly, but I can’t seem to find enough hours in the day!

In spite of a couple of stumbles along the way, we’ve had a great year. We hope you and your families have had wonderful times together. May you all have a great Christmas, and All the Best for 2006.

Remember, our door is always open for a visit from you!

Bill, Sue-On and Family

The Hillmans Annual Xmas Tome v.2004
Part of Our Xmas Greetings Feature
Christmas snuck up on me, more so than in the past. I’m not sure if it’s because of “senior moments” or because we didn’t get any snow until December. But, thoughts of our families and friends are always with us, and we hope you all have had a wonderful year.

Celebrations in this household started in July with Ja-On’s graduation from Wellington Massage Therapy College. It was a challenging two years for Ja and his son Soulin, with school for both guys, day care and practicums, but they came through it all with flying colours! Bill, Sue-On, China, Soulin and Angela (Ja’s girlfriend) were able to attend the graduation ceremonies in Winnipeg. Ja-On received excellent marks as well as a substantial bursary. In August, the guys moved back to Brandon, much to our delight. As Ja had been doing his weekend practicums at Brandon’s elite Fitness Quest, he was invited to set up his practice there. Business is doing well, and he enjoys the challenge of working with a variety of clients:

Soulin also graduated - from French immersion kindergarten at Winnipeg’s Laura Secord School! He is growing up and we are so happy to have him closer to home. Soulin is in grade 1 at New Era, another French immersion school. Because Ja is still at work when school is out, Soulin goes over to the YMCA for after-school activities. He loves his swimming lessons, gym, and he is now into indoor soccer. We really look forward to the days he gets to spend at the “big house.” These two bachelors have been very lucky to have found Angela Patton. She has provided ongoing support for the last two years. Angela is an LPN, and studying at Brandon University's nursing program.

Robin has had a very interesting year. In April, he started a full-time position as IT Computer Consultant with the municipality of Red Lake, a gold-mining community in Ontario. One son moves back to Brandon, and another leaves! Housing is at a premium, as it often is in northern communities. He was only able to rent a 3-bedroom duplex . . . but it has given him some interesting roommates ;-)  His main work projects at the moment involve GPS satellite mapping and setting up a 911 system for the municipality.

However, in October, with full consent from his work supervisor, he took a three-week hiatus from his job to experience the most exciting opportunity of his life. Robin was selected by Frantic Films, as a result of his work and showbiz resume, Bill’s military Websites and his three uncles’ WWII experiences to become a movie star!

He had a most incredible three weeks acting in a WWII re-enactment film as a member of a Lancaster Bomber crew. Robin and six other young men lived and breathed the ‘40s while the film crew captured their experiences as aircrew going through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Along with four Canadians, the cast included one each from Australia, the UK and Mississippi, USA. They spent flight training time on historic BCATP bases in Picton and Hamilton, Ontario, then flew along with five veterans (all surviving members of a Lancaster crew) to visit memorial sites in England, Belgium and the Netherlands. One of the highlights was their visit to the memorial in Stone, England, for great uncle William Campbell and his crew.   Robin returned to Canada on Thanksgiving Sunday. We were able to meet him at the airport and spent the day hearing about his experience before his flight back to Red Lake. Since his return, he’s been much in demand by the media for interviews and talk shows. The 4-hour film will be shown on The History Channel and international markets early 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII.

China had an excellent first year pre-med at Brandon University and was the recipient of several scholarships from the university. Before the end of first year, however, she changed her focus from optometry to medicine. Finding a summer job was a challenge, but again, her perseverance came through. In June she accepted a position with a private caregiver service, WE CARE. This was full-time shift work and her stamina and patience were amazing. Then, Brandon Regional Health Authority called and she was offered a position with the hospital, based on her career choice. She began her position in CSR on July 14. This department cleans, sterilizes, packages and sets up instruments for the operating rooms. Along with these two jobs, she was also doing many shifts as a volunteer with St. John Ambulance at fairs and public events in and out of Brandon. In August, she performed with Dad, Mom and Robin at the Brandon Folk Festival, and also performed as solo harper at numerous weddings. In September, she began her second year at BU, gave up her job with We Care, but she is still working at the hospital and St. John. Right now, she is knee deep in exam related stress. This is hard on the old folks too! She will be performing her Royal Conservatory of Music grade 9 harp exam in January.

Bill is working overtime, as usual, on many private and volunteer Websites. His greatest joy is working for and with the Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. (ERB, most well known as author of Tarzan and grandfather of American science fiction) and Danton Burroughs of Tarzana, Calif. At present, he has built and is building mega websites for the company as well as publishing a weekly Webzine . Paramount Pictures of Hollywood is producing a major movie based on the first ERB novel, A Princess of Mars, which is the company’s main focus. Musically, Bill makes time for his weekly jams out at the Cantina with several buddies, as well as playing lead guitar for a . . . wait for it . . . Contemporary Christian rock band which plays all over the province.. The two of us have performed for a variety of venues such as the Brandon Folk Festival and benefit concerts. Along with Robin, Bill was also interviewed by CKX-TV for a Remembrance Day feature in which he discussed the impact that WWII had on families who lost loved ones.

I have had a busy year, teaching English with international students at the university during the week, and two evenings a week with immigrants from Asia, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Mexico. These are lively adult classes, and as can be expected when there are several languages involved, it can be quite hilarious! For the first time in our university ESL dept., we have a student from Saudi Arabia. It's been a challenge with someone who doesn't speak any English and writes from the right to the left. However, it's very rewarding when we saw progress at the end of the first term.

Having a student from Arabia gave me the impetus to try out my cooking skills with some Arabic recipes. This brought such a smile to my student as he's been living on university cafeteria food. As a result of my involvement with a food forum:, I was invited to contribute a foodblog - a week-long food diary. This was a lot of fun and Bill has created a website of my efforts:  The timing was perfect as we were entertaining musicians from the folk festival, ERB friends, Dick and Ginnie Spargur from Ohio, Doug and Jean Denby from Toronto, as well as family who were home to celebrate my mother's 95th birthday. In November, we also played host to a food friend from the forum - Ben Hong. He and a hunting buddy, Paul Bailey of New Hampshire spent a week here in Brandon area hunting (without luck) for upland gamebirds. We had a great visit as Ben is a longtime Chinese immigrant sharing much of the same family history as my family. Even tho' Ben returned to New Brunswick empty handed, he surprised us with a shipment of live Atlantic lobsters!

Our year has been full of unexpected and rewarding experiences. We hope yours has been as wonderful. Here's wishing you all a Merry Xmas, much happiness and good health in 2005. Please know that our home is always open for a visit from you!

Our Annual Xmas Card on the Web is at:

Bill, Sue-On and Family:

The Hillmans Annual Xmas Tome v.2003
Part of Our Xmas Greetings Feature
Amazing! End of November, there’s hardly any snow on the ground, but  Xmas is still coming. Time to set myself in front of the computer to expound Season’s Greetings to our families and friends.

Do I start each year’s missive with “a hectic year” for this household? Well, it hasn’t changed. So, grab yourself a strong drink ‘cos here we go again!

Oldest Hillman offspring, Ja-On is finishing his second and last year in a massage therapy course at Wellington College where he is receiving top grades.  From all reports by his patients, he is very professional and very adept at his work. His little boy, Soulin is a very mature 5-year-old. In the mornings, Ja takes him to his daycare at the YMCA beside Portage Place. He loves the gym and swimming facilities there. In the afternoons, Soulin attends kindergarten at Laura Secord French Immersion School. He is a bright little fella and keeps his grandpa and grandma on their toes. These two bachelors are living in Winnipeg but come home most weekends.

Younger son Robin graduated with a 4 year B.Sc. Honours degree in Computer Science in May. It was an exciting day for us as one of the perks of Bill being a professor at Brandon University was the opportunity to present Robin with his degree at Convocation. Robin was then assigned his own office and worked on an integrated GPS satellite mapping project for the Geography, Geology and Computer Departments at the university from early spring until the end of September. Hoping to see a bit of the world before starting a career in earnest he became a vagabond in October, and will be backpacking across Europe until Dec. 18. Trust the kid to come home for the presents! We were quite excited to hear of his adventures with the English band who backed us on our last English recording (they are now known as Raised on Rusks but were formerly called Desperado). Meeting them was a great thrill for Robin as he plays drums and bass on our shows and also plays with G.B. Peech and the Sidebanders, a blues band.

Baby China has grown up, and will be 18 come Dec. 5th.  She started first year pre-med at BU in September, and is pretty much acing this first term.  China and I drive to “school” together in the mornings. Since Robin’s car is available, she usually drives herself home when her classes finish around 4 p.m. Kind of nice not to have to worry about chauffeuring these days. She is aiming for optometry at Waterloo University in the next couple years. Music is still an important part of her life. She has performed with her harp, bagpipes and piano at several weddings and shows and will do a caleidh and a concert with us at the end of November.

Bill is taking a hiatus to devote more time for writing this winter after a tremendous teaching load in 2002/2003. He assumed a full professor’s teaching load plus four additional computer courses in the math/science dept. of the BU education faculty. Kept his 250 students pretty busy creating webpages, electronic portfolios, web-blogs, and in developing tech teaching skills to use when they go into their own classrooms. In June, the university sent him on 10 day PD/research trip to Tarzana, California. He was doing research on a subject close to his heart - Edgar Rice Burroughs, at Danton Burroughs’ invitation.  He was thrilled when Danton, grandson of ERB, decided to open storage vaults (sealed since 1979) holding never-before-seen treasures spanning a time period from the US Civil War to WWII and beyond. Can you imagine the thousands of pictures, tapes and photocopies he brought home? Since then, he’s been busy collating the new material for articles, book manuscripts and the thousands of Web pages he maintains. Bill continues to share the Burroughs Web pages with the world through his weekly online ERBzin-e. He is planning to return on another of his regular visits to California in the new year to carry on his research and work on TV and film documentaries, etc.

Toward the end of August, Bill and I took a road trip to the University of Louisville, Kentucky, where the annual world conference for hundreds of Edgar Rice Burroughs fans was being held. We haven’t had quality time together for many years, and it was a wonderful trip for us. Once a year, we get to renew acquaintances. It was especially enjoyable this year as Danton, Mary and Stacy Burroughs (Danton’s stepmom and step-sister) were all in attendance. Bill assisted Dan with his presentation of rare home movies and slides at the Ekstrom Rare Books Library Auditorium. Two other highlights of this trip were the awarding of the Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award by the Burroughs Bibliophiles Board to Bill for all his dedication to the memory of ERB . . . and the celebration of our 37th  wedding anniversary, at a bistro featuring a live blues band.

In Sept, I started my second year of teaching at BU with the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) program. I teach level 2 writing every morning.  This term, I have 8 students (great t/s ratio!), from China, Mexico, Japan and Korea. The term ends in 2 weeks, then we start with new students on Jan. 5th. On Tues. and Thurs. evenings, I still work with immigrants in the provincial ESL program. This year, I have 14 students, all but two are from Ethiopia. The other two students are from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). Our last class for this year is reserved for making unbaked cheesecake. I HAVE to get some cooking in there!

I DO miss the big kitchen at Soo’s and visiting with the customers, BUT…it’s wonderful to have time for the family, friends and myself. Although we are no longer involved in karate, I am still involved with qi-gong and tai-chi. Have to slow down the march towards old age somehow ;)

Music still plays a big part in our lives. We manage to do a number of concerts through the year and Bill and Robin jam every week with friends at Ken Daniels’ Cantina. I manage to join them on the nights I’m not teaching.

I see some of you have had to refill your cuppas. So, this may be a good time for me to close down for another year.

May your cups be always full, of good fortune, good health and happiness!

The Hillman Clan

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XMAS 2002
Merry Xmas 2002 and a Happy New Year from the Hillmans
Another year, an event-filled 2002, is drawing close. You may not have heard from us for a couple of years, but that doesn't mean we haven't been thinking about you all. In fact, I have had Xmas letters written AND printed, ready for the post office... but somehow, there was never time enough to complete the final stages... envelope, stamp and post!

There were several major changes in our lives in 2002...all of them exciting and happy...

One of the reasons for our lack of correspondence had been lack of time. The opening of the Maple Leaf Hog Processing Plant depleted Brandon’s restaurant labor pool drastically. Soo's, like everyone in else in the area, had a difficult time recruiting not only Chinese cooks, but all support staff.  Our whole family had to fill in the gaps, with Ja and Sue-On shouldering the brunt of the physical labor. Twelve-hour work days were taking their toll on us. Then, in early winter of 2001, negotiations began with the bank next door, to purchase the entire Soo's block. The deal was struck and Soo's became a part of Brandon history on February 2, after 32 years of business under the same family and at the same location. It was both a sad and happy event but it enabled all of us to move on to other interests.

While this was happening, Bill, who had retired from high school teaching after 30 years, was recruited by Brandon University as a Travelling Professor in their remote campuses in northern communities. He was asked to set up and deliver courses in Communications, Computers and Internet, and Journalism. He started in January and was flying back and forth until the end of April. Needless to say, he can write a book or two from his experiences, especially in Pukatawagan, which you can read about in our website While he was home, every 2 weeks for 5 days, we took out all the equipment, decor, etc. from Soo's. Can you imagine removing thousands of pieces of bamboo that Bill single-handedly cut and nailed to the walls, etc, in 1994?!

Bill returned home two days before an April Sock Hop Reunion at the Keystone convention complex with old friend Bobby Curtola, Canada's Rock 'n' Roll Legend. It was a blast from the past performing with band members who toured with Bobby in the ‘60s. Another is planned for April 2003.

Since then, we have performed with Bobby at McPhillip’s Street Station Casino in Winnipeg and various other venues. Bill is also Webmaster for Bobby's website ... one of many he maintains.

A few weeks before Bill was slated to "go north" again, BU Faculty of Education assigned him to Assistant Professor with the Math/Science Dept. where he took over their computer department. He is teaching Technology & Computers in Education and Internet for Educators ... quite a heavy load with 100 students this term and 125 next term. But he enjoys it :) Before classes began in September we flew to Los Angeles where we attended a SciFi convention and Bill taped a half-hour interview with PBS for a three-hour documentary they are compiling on author Edgar Rice Burroughs. Bill is considered somewhat of an authority because of the work he has done with the Burroughs family in Tarzana and the thousands of Web pages he has created on ERB.

Older son Ja-On and his little guy Soulin are now living in Winnipeg. Ja is taking a two-year course in massage therapy. He was happy to get out of the kitchen as it was wearing him down physically. Soulin is now four and is attending a day care at Portage Place YMCA. He loves it – especially the field trips around the city, the swimming pool and the gym activities. He’s obviously inherited his dad’s love of the marial arts and fitness. We miss them as we only see them every couple weeks. Soulin still calls 41 K Soulin's house. It is always a joyous welcome when they come home. Ja-On is doing an amazing job with his little boy.

Second son Robin is completing his 4th year in computer science and geology. He was fortunate to work for two summers with our buddy, Kerry Morris's software development company in Winnipeg. Robin, who has played trombone with the BU jazz band since high school, organized the horn section for the Curtola Sock Hop Reunion. To add to his musical versatility, he taught himself bass guitar this year and is performing with a local blues band when he is not performing with the Hillman Band. He joins Bill and other friends jamming every Thursday night, whether on drums or bass. I’m afraid that he has developed his dad’s eclectic tastes in music and collectomania.

China turned 17 Dec. 5 ... no surprise party like last year. She got her driver's license in April but is holding off buying a car. Grade 12 and all her other interests are keeping her very busy. Musically, she passed her grade 8 piano exams and will be doing her grade 8 harp exam in the spring. I think the lessons are starting to pay off as she is playing harp, bagpipes and piano at weddings and numerous other venues. In between, she has taken / is taking classes in knife making, archery, fencing and kickboxing. She still wants to be a knight, but realizes that she will need a good day job... So, she will be heading off to BU in the fall with a possible slant towards optometry. She needs to stay close so she can "continue" to look after her pal, Atticus, a Great Pyrenees dog we adopted in one of my senior moments.

This will be our second Xmas without Nana Louise ...the lady who kept traditions going in our family. Louise was with us when she passed away in November, 2001. She will always be missed, especially at this time as she took so much joy in watching the family after Santa's visits.

Sue-On enjoyed the summer as a lady of leisure... pure bliss. I don't miss the long hours of Soo's but do miss the customers, many of whom became friends… and the big kitchen! In September, I started teaching English on the BU campus in the EAP program (English for Academic Purposes). Classes consist of International students from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Japan and Korea. I teach every morning at the university and two evening ESL classes with landed immigrants. In this class, I have students from Ethiopia, Paraguay, Guatemala, Korea and China. It's been a learning experience! Classes start again Jan. 6.

To those of you who never gave up on corresponding with us, keep those cards & letters coming!

To you all, we wish you a Merry Xmas and a Happy and Healthy 2003 :)

Sue-On, Bill and Family

XMAS 2000
Apologies to all to whom we owe two-years-worth of Christmas cards. A stack of last year's unsent newsletters and Xmas cards still remain in our "to-do" tray . . . we promised ourselves that we would send out last year's newsletters before we started this year's -- so there ain't much new news posted here. Obviously we've been kinda busy -- suffice to say it was a good year, and we're all healthy and happy -- and we wish all the best for the coming Year of the Snake to our friends. Below is last year's letter . . .  which we'll leave up until we have something more to add. And, if you want some really old news you can check out this year's all-consuming project: our career bio. The first segments, which contain hundreds of photos and clippings from our scrapbooks, are posted at:

XMAS 1999
Hello Everyone,
I have been running around madly, coordinating bookings for the various banquet rooms, setting special cater menus and scheduling staff to handle different parties . . .  MUST BE XMAS!!! SO!  Merry Xmas and the Very Best to You and Yours in the year 2000…the Year of the Dragon.

Someone once said that life slows down after 50…don’t think they meant age! The pace seems to have picked up since our grandson arrived in our midst. Ja has primary care of 19 month old Soulin this year. The house continues to look like a daycare…as we make frequent trips to the “toy shop” at the farm. We are glad we saved all the Fisher Price toys, etc. from when our kids were small. Soulin is a bundle of energy from morning ‘til night. He keeps us laughing just watching his antics. Of course he will be the smartest kid ever! I have a suspicion he will be a “pack rat” just like the rest of the family, from the looks of his toy box. He comes by that trait honestly . . . the HILLMAN side, of course?

Ja-On is following in his Dad’s footsteps, juggling several “hats” at the same time. He is back at Brandon University, continuing as head cook and supervisor in Soo’s kitchen, teaching music at our local music store, and most importantly, being Daddy to Soulin. He’s pretty good at changing diapers when he can’t con anyone else to do so. After much prodding from Dad, Ja is finally getting back to a first love – writing. His novel is being posted  in our website as it is being written. Ja took a couple weeks off this last June and travelled with his girlfriend Cora to Germany, for her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. This was his first major trip without his parents….and he had a great time! Ja often sits in with his sax at Soo’s gigs – great to have some saxy sounds in the band.

Robin graduated from Crocus Plains Regional High School with honours in June. He also won the Louis Armstrong award for top musician of the year in the school’s jazz band. Robin is enrolled at Brandon University, in computer science and music. He was selected for the university jazz band again, as bass trombone in this his second year.

Private lessons thru’ the university are helping him hone his technique. Robin had his first paying gig a few weeks ago, as trombonist with the pit band for a local high school’s production of Little Orphan Annie. His room is getting smaller everytime I peek in there (I dare not GO IN!). He says “the computers just followed him home”… Robin continues to be the congenial host at Soo’s on the weekends. He often sits in with the band as drummer, giving Mom a much needed break. Both Ja and Robin will join us for the New Year’s eve gig at Soo’s.

China-Li graduated with honours from Kirkcaldy Heights school in a beautiful Chinese dress she discovered while on Spring vacation in Honolulu. She is attending grade 9 at Crocus Plains HS. Band has been replaced by commercial art and her teacher is delighted with her creativity. Her first project was of paper mache, a 5 foot coiled dragon…no small scale for this kid! Music is still a focus China, with harp on Tues, piano on Thurs and bagpipes on Sat. She is hoping that her new harp will be under the Xmas tree, then she will use it to perform during intermissions at the New Year’s Eve gig. She wrote her music theory exam last week and will perform her practical piano exam in January. In highland dance, she tested with flying colours for her silver medal in November, in her new Campbells of Argyle tartan kilt. She is a charming young lady and works as hostess at Soo’s on the weekends.

Bill is busier than ever since retirement from teaching…did you really expect anything else??? Don’t know how he does it, but he manages to keep Soulin happy as well as churning out incredible amounts of work for various websites. To date, he has created close to 1,000 websites which include a weekly Classic Science Fiction online magazine, Edgar Rice Burroughs reference sites, Education sites, Lancaster Bomber & WWII Tribute, the Hillmans, and virtual tours of SOO’S, the  Commonwealth Air Training Plan Air Museum, the Manitoba Dragoons & 26 RCA Army Museum, BMHC Museum, City of Brandon, etc. Waiting at the door are various well-known artists and writers who want his expertise in creating websites to showcase their talents.
(Most of the sites can be accessed by going to )

Bill, Sue-On and China spent a few days in Honolulu during Spring break in March.The beaches were wonderful. We spent several days driving all over the island, in search of places where ERB lived while he was war correspondent in Honolulu during WW11.

Bill had 2 dream trips this year. In June, China and Sue-On accompanied Bill to his first Edgar Rice Burroughs conference, or a DUM DUM as it is called in ape language. This event was held in Tarzana, where ERB, the creator of Tarzan lived. Upon our arrival in California, we were met by Mary Burroughs, ERB’s daughter-in-law, who took us out to dinner. Bill and I had visited the ERB office in Tarzana back in the 70’s when it was managed by ERB’s son. This year’s gathering was held in conjunction with the release of Disney’s animated Tarzan. As special guests of Disney, we were privy to a “premiere before the Hollywood premiere” at the Disney Studios. Other activities allowed us to meet in person many of the people Bill has been e-mailing with few years. It was a fun time and plans are made to attend future gatherings!

Thru’ the wonders of the internet, we received an e-mail from Don Mitchell, representing the people of Sandon, England. He was looking for information regarding William Gavin Campbell, who was pilot of a Lancaster which had crashed near their village a few days before the end of WW11. The people felt these young men who gave their lives defending England were never recognized and were planning to dedicate a memorial in their memory. Mr. Mitchell had searched for Strathclair on the internet and found Bill’s website about the community – so they asked him if he could provide any information about the Campbell family. This was so incredible … William Gavin Campbell is Bill’s uncle, his Mom Louise’s younger brother!

Louise and Bill flew to Sandon, Staffordshire, England the last week in August, in time for the dedication of the memorial on August 28. On their eight day stay there, they were treated royally by the members of the local British Legion. Louise, being 81, was up to everything they had in store for her! The second day there, she had a life long dream come true: to visit her brother’s grave at Blacon Cemetery in Chester. Enroute, she did a half-hour radio interview on BBC Midland Radio. A few days before the ceremony, they participated in the “laying of the stone”.  The trip also provided an opportunity to visit with old friends, Keith and Margaret Jones who drove down from the North East to participate in the ceremonies. The day of the dedication was a beautiful sunny day. The ceremony was held in the field where the Lancaster crashed. Many dignitaries, both British and Canadian attended. The stone is set on the road side next to the field. Sue-On, waiting anxiously for news at home, received the surprise of her life, when she received e-mail from a total stranger, who had just attended the ceremony. He sent her pictures of the fly past of the Memorial Lancaster and the Hurricane, a half hour after the service!!! After the ceremony, Louise was interviewed on BBC television for their nightly news programme. The two travellers arrived home on Louise’s 81st birthday -- very tired but full of incredible stories.

Sue-On has full days, every day! I try to wear several hats too…but I get so CONFUSED! Mornings, I am Grammy to Soulin, and watch all the shows like Teletubbies, Cajiou, Sesame Street.  I love my mornings with Soulin…the ONLY quiet time with lots of cuddles, reading and playing. By noon I am working the dining rooms at Soo’s. Most of our customers are regulars and expect special treatment. I need a DATA BASE to keep track! I might get home for a 20 minute catnap before the supper rush. By 11 PM, I try to get on line to keep in touch with chat pals I have known for the last four years.

One of the treats for myself this year was a Qi-Gong workshop, with a master from Vancouver. This is for stress relief and recharging. I found it really worked!!! After the weekend, I felt a lot of work-related stress “cleansed” and re-energized like the Eveready Bunny. Now, if I can just schedule time between 5 and 7 am, in a quiet section of the house to practice my Qi-Gong…

I am looking forward to playing and singing again on Dec 31, as well as the slower pace after Jan. 3. This gig will be special with all three kids joining us for the first time. We hope to have more occasions like this in 2000.

It’s Dec. 15 as I write this missive. Let’s see if I can get it away before the snow arrives! We look forward to hearing from each and everyone of you…so keep those cards and letters coming!

Best wishes,
The Hillmans: Sue-On ~ Bill ~ Ja-On ~ Robin ~ China-Li

December '98
Jan.28 to Feb 15, 1999..."could be an explosive and expansive time...change will be the keyword this year...all other signs will feel the restlessness of the Tiger’s influence...motivating key changes in many key areas of life...Although some tense nerves will abound, the RAT, Monkey and Dragon will cheerfully come along for the ride in 1998...Good news for my strong Horse...who has been so strong armed and overcome with crisis and drudgery...not to mention nil appreciation for his artistry...this year will be a time of great change...the closer to 1999 Cat/Rabbit year we get, the brighter life will look to this gentle soul..."

WHO said the Chinese don’t know what they are talking about... with all these barnyard animal stories!!!  I, for one... am a convert..."grin"...

Ja-On, the 20-year-old Horse in our family, brought the “ key change” into our lives this year -- he transformed us into GRANDPARENTS... Soulin Jayson Lee Hillman was born May 17, at 8 lbs. 14 oz.  Number 41 Kensington Crescent has become a daycare! Along with parenting duties, Ja has taken over the full time position of Kitchen Supervisor at Soo’s’ for this year. He has completed two years at Brandon University and plans to transfer to Assiniboine Community College for business administration courses next year. In preparation, he has taken the Soo’s books into the computer age. Music remains a big interest as he continues to teach sax and clarinet at the local music store. Any spare time will find Ja at the local fitness centre working out with his friends.

Soulin, the Tiger and the newest member of our family, shares his days between his Mom's and the Hillman homes. When the baby isn't staying full-time with us, Ja picks him up in the mornings before he goes to work and later, one of us takes Soulin back to his Mom when she gets home from school. Yeh-Yeh (Bill’s official Chinese designation for Granddad), shares the load of parenting when Ja is at work. Soulin is now 7 months old and is a beautiful big boy...looks so much like Ja when HE was a baby. Needless to say, he is getting lots of stimulation in this household...and he is the centre of everyone's attention. Initiation into music has begun. He is already trying out the piano and strong vocal cords!

Robin, our Rooster, at 17 years old, is in his final year at Crocus Plains High School.  His proud accomplishment this fall was being accepted into the challenging Brandon University Stage Jazz Band. He is playing trombone in this group, as well as the CP Jazz and Wind Ensemble. The middle years band teacher approached him to tutor students in trombone techniques, but time just didn’t allow. Main interest, academically, remains computers...and he hopes to pursue a career in that field. Robin is growing up...and needless to say...has attracted the “ladies”...He continues to work at Soo’s so he can afford his favorite toy...his CAR!

China-Li, the Ox, is our LATEST teenager as of Dec. 5. Now the trouble everyone tells me. BUT, she keeps herself so busy...(as Mom keeps her fingers crossed!) This will be her last year at Kirkcaldy School down the hill. Being in grade 8 has put her into many positions of responsibility in school activities. Her expertise in computers was recognized this year when her excellent work with spreadsheets was used in workshops to show teachers what CAN be done with kids. China continues to pursue her talents in music...piano, trombone, bagpipes, vibes. She has outgrown her first folk harp and we are in the process of having a bigger concert harp built. Highland dance keeps her hopping as well. She hopes to start work at Soo’s soon...but unlike her brothers, she doesn’t want to start at the bottom...dishpit!

Bill... the older Horse...well...what is retirement!? In his second year of “free-time” he is still trying to find that free time! Drudgery has definitely NOT been his problem. He has become a formidable WEBMASTER on the Internet, not only in his constant creating spirit for the WebSite of his Edgar Rice Burroughs and SF pulp fiction characters, the SOO’S page, but more recently, also websites for the City  of  Brandon. (  The University Geography textbook that he contributed to, continues to do well and is into the third printing. Music has, unfortunately, been pushed to the back burner...but we will keep it simmering. Sue-On keeps talking about a ‘revival group” of the old rock’n’roll guitar bands...we will see what 1999 brings.

Bill continues to wear his many hats as restaurant bookkeeper and caterer, carpool Dad for China’s many activities, as well as the latest’s greatest Yeh-Yeh! Soulin has adapted well to granddad’s routine and vice versa. They are great pals and have even gone for “jogs” with Soulin in the Snuggli pouch. Soulin does not like to sleep when he is at our house as he is too busy watching Bill at the computer, running between the VCRs trying to tape several programs at the same time, dubbing music for the restaurant, laundry, changing diapers and putting up Xmas lights. YUP! Sue-On added a couple more strings this year!

Nana Hillman continues trucking along in her Marquis. She celebrated her 80th birthday this last August with a family dinner at Soo’s. Bonnie and Michael were home for a few days in Sept. and we were happy to have had a short visit with them. Nana still lives in the seniors' Ellice Lodge in Strathclair. Bill gets up to see her as often as time permits...and to check on the farm. We have started dreaming about moving “home” Sue-On is already planning her new kitchen! Nana will be in Brandon to share Xmas with her first great grandson. Wonder if he will have trouble waking up?

My Mom can still climb the stairs to our house for her weekly visits. I think the added attraction of a great grandson has been great motivation.  Po-Po celebrated her 89th birthday in August this year. My sister Sue-Sem, her daughter Ilym and son-in-law Paul and their two children, Brendan and Alana were home to celebrate with a dinner party, also at Soo’s. Ja-On was in charge and did us all proud with his culinary skills.

Now...this 50-year-old Rat...reaching this “ripe old age” and becoming a grandmother all within a couple months...WHEW! I survived! and after the initial enjoying this new phase in my life immensely.

The restaurant is still my main “employer” and an enjoyable one. Although there were no “main events” in the city like the Summer games, this year has seen a building boom in Brandon. The new Maple Leaf hog processing plant is in the building phase right now, along with lots of new homes being built. This has brought a steady stream of workers into Soo’s for the buffet. The food industry is invading the city with several new establishments. Luckily, we specialize.

Chatting on the Internet is still a lot of fun for me. Many of these friendships, based on teaching careers, have been maintained from the beginning three years ago. This summer, my pal, Kevin Carroll and his family from Porterville, California, came for a visit with our family. We met for the first time in San Francisco two years ago. We just picked up the conversation where we left off! Now, my objective is to meet my pal Karen in Malaysia... Got to keep collecting those Air Miles! Bill has even dabbled in chat, with his Edgar Rice Burroughs pals. We hope to participate in a gathering of his group in July down in L.A. where they are to be guests of the Disney Corporation at a Hollywood premiere.

We have heard from several of our friends and relatives through e-mail. ( We hope you will all try this medium to keep in touch if possible. Meanwhile, I will set a precedent and get this missive off almost on time. One of these years I will fulfill one of my Rat Characteristics - get things done RIGHT on time. Visit our Internet Xmas site at:

MEANWHILE, we wish You and Yours a Merry Xmas and all the Best in 1999!
The Hillmans: Bill, Sue-On, Ja-On and Soulin, Robin, China-Li.

December '97

December 17, 1997
Hello Everyone!
Got the itch today at last..and thought I’d set down a few thoughts about 1997 to catch everyone up with what’s been happening in the Hillman household. It’s been difficult to think XMAS as it is so like Spring outside. We are having a BROWN XMAS!!! NO SNOW! Santa is going to have one heck of a time with the sleigh...better put on roller blades!
The BIG NEWS RELEASE this last year is ...Bill’s RETIREMENT from teaching...after 32 years in the same school!!! We made the decision this Spring that we really didn’t look forward to another winter of driving to and from school in the dark. After 32 years of dedication to the same was time to relax. RELAX??? what is THAT!? Bill has enjoyed his years of teaching...spreading his work space from one classroom to three! He spent months cleaning out his too numerous file cabinets and closets of material collated thru’ the years. The staff and students held a retirement BBQ for him and a colleague who also retired; presenting him a beautiful set of Winchester windchimes. Thank goodness they didn’t sound like the school bell! Bill is actually a kept man for the next few months...he is not eligible for pension until February. He gets to eat at SOO’S for free...!

Bill is busier than ever with retirement (as most of you would expect)...just with different jobs. He is helping out a great deal in the restaurant. Rest easy! He’s not cooking! Bill handles all the book work and catering, which allows Sue-On more time to deal with other aspects of the business...We were having shortage of staff problems for awhile so Sue-On was able to go back to the cooking part of the time. This has been quite enjoyable. Bill has also had some time to pursue his in his one of his favorite authors - Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan and John Carter of Mars. He has been feverishly “co-writing” what started as a parody on Tarzan, and pulp magazine heroes, with a fellow ERB fan, from down Texas way (they’ve completed 75 zany chapters so far). Those of you with Internet access may want to check into our WebSite for his writings:

 is our WebSite address) Be prepared for lots of laughs!

Early in the fall, after many hours of organizing and collating by Bill, we released our latest CD, containing all the early recordings that we did in the 70’s Canadian studios. This CD has 33 songs! over 75 minutes of music. It has been well received as it contains many songs from our performing repertoire. Many of our restaurant guests have been to our dances all over Manitoba...They read the insert and want to dance again to the same melodies! He is now working on a biography of our performing years to accompany a future boxed set release of 3 CDs.

The university geography book that Bill contributed a chapter to...has sold very well and is into the second printing. He is hoping to do more writing on other interest research, local geography etc. Some of our neighbors think Bill has way too much time on his hands. Our house is light up with “a thousand lights” for Xmas! There is always a slow flow of traffic at night...a sight to rival Xmas Vacation with Chevy Chase! Climbing precariously on unsteady ladders is not really Bill’s idea of fun...but Sue-On always cajoles him into “just one more string and that should do it”...!

Ja is into his second year of university, in computer science and loving the social life! He worked full time again this last summer at Soo’s and still works many hours when not in classes. We depend on him a lot. Music is still very much part of his schedule...teaching sax at our local music store. We keep thinking that we may get time to jam a bit...but you know the restaurant biz...and of course...young men’s schedules are SO BUSY!
Robin, our newly turned 16 year old (as of July) is driving! This has relieved a lot of driving duties for Dad. The schedule would have been VERY hectic as Robin is involved with music 4 days of the week...besides performances. He is involved in the Jazz Ensemble, CPExpress - the school’s rock band, Wind Ensemble, Jazz band as well as concert band. His instructors have been so impressed with his trombone techniques they encouraged him to request a semi-pro model for Xmas! Robin is in grade 11 this year and doing very well. He has grown a lot this year. Seems like we are forever buying LONGER jeans for him!

China-Li...well...those of you with a warm spot for all things Scottish should be happy to hear this...China is now learning BAGPIPES! Yes...that’s right...bagpipes. She was performing highland dance at a concert last March and heard the pipes up close...decided that she’d like to try them. Mr. Roy, a neighbor down our street plays with a pipe band, and was delighted to have her as a student. She is progressing well and we have since purchased a set of pipes. It is rather strange to see pipes amongst all the guitars, brass and drums! She hasn’t given up her harp and piano, and through the school band program, has also taken up the trombone, as well as ORFF instruments (vibs...etc). China turned 12 this December and is in grade 7. She is very involved with school activities...peer support, yearbook, drama, etc.

Bill’s Mom is still trucking along with her Marquis (the car, that is) and living in the senior’s lodge in Strathclair. Now that Bill is retired, she doesn’t get to see him as often. He tries to get up to see her and check on the farm as often as his busy schedule allows. Mom seems to be more comfortable “in her own bed” so we don’t see her in Brandon as often as we used to. She will be spending Xmas with us. She takes great joy with her grandchildren, especially watching them struggle to wake up for the presents after Santa deposits his goodies!

My Mom is still spry as ever...and keeps tabs on all members of her family. We haven’t seen her as often these last few months as I have had to work Wednesday nights when we normally have her over for the evening. Ken and Rebecca took her to visit sister Sue-Sem and her family last July. She, like Bill’s Mom, feels most comfortable in her own home, so will not be going to Sister’s place in Vancouver this winter.

Finally, to this Ole Gal...still chatting on the Net and having a hard time keeping chat acronyms out of this letter. The restaurant keeps me busy as ever. We were short of staff for a little while so I had to step into the kitchen a little more. It was quite enjoyable, actually, getting into that part of the biz again. It is just like riding a bicycle... once learned...never forgotten. But then...I never rode a bike much! Our customers find it reassuring , to actually SEE me cooking AND eating what I cook!

We have had a very good year, first with Canada Summer games. There were thousands of tourists and participants in the city. It was great fun talking to people from all over Canada... to see all those young athletes in friendly competitions. Both China and Robin were involved in the entertainment part of the Games... China in a dance troupe and Robin with his Crocus Plainsmen marching band. In November, Brandon hosted the Canadian Olympic Curling trials for a week. Again, there were people from all over Canada. It was a common sight to see competing rinks eating side by side in Soo’s at the end of the day!

Besides all the tourism , the city has been booming with construction. Simplot, the big fertilizer plant here...built a whole new complex. Besides employing many locals, they also had to “import” many specialists, from the states, and all parts of Canada. Some of the guys come to Soo’s several meals a week and have become almost family! It is interesting to hear their accents and try to guess where they are from. In the spring, Brandon will be getting a new hog processing plant, Maple Leaf Foods. The construction will bring in many workers. and when completed, will provide for 2200 jobs! Do you think Soo’s may have to expand?! Let’s just hope the boom stays ‘til I can RETIRE!

I hope to get this out to you, our friends and family, before Xmas day! Guess I can’t say “Mail Strike” now... So...if I am to make the deadline... I will close in wishing you all...A Joyous Xmas and Healthy, Happy and Prosperous 1998!

Would love to hear from ALL of you...either thru’ the “snail mail” or “e-mail”... Our e-mail address is :
Best Wishes!
The Hillmans Bill, Sue-On, Ja-On, Robin and China-Li 
December 10, 1996
Write annual Xmas tombe early
Find and make sure address book is not listed as missing
Get Xmas letters out BEFORE Xmas.
Get Xmas letters out by CHINESE NEW YEAR if above fails
Clean the house THEN put up the Xmas tree
Pay up last year’s credit card purchases BEFORE new purchases!

MERRY XMAS!!! Everyone!
As you can see..I am TRYING to fulfill the first item of priority on the above list....and the second item is already assured! Now.. the rest...well...we will just have to wait and see...won’t we?

1996...what a year of changes it has been! and has kept us all busy...busy..busy!

Let’s start with Ja-On (Jay to his pals). He had a busy and enjoyable final year with Crocus Plains High School, with academics and MUSIC. With his flair on the tenor sax, Ja played in the CP concert band, jazz band and CPXPRESS, the school’s well known rock band. This group, headed by seasoned musicians, Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Perkin, have produced many musicians that went on to make good in the entertainment field (Angela Kellman of the Farmer’s Daughter etc.). This provided the students with a venue to showcase the skills they acquired with private lessons. Thru’ out the year, the bands performed at the WestMan Centennial Auditorium, all the schools in the Brandon division, various festivals in Manitoba as well as other provinces(more on the results of the festival performance later)..and last month, the Jazz ensemble performed for Prime Minister Chretien in Winnipeg. Thru’ this experience, Jay was hired by Ted Goode’s Music to teach tenor and alto sax as well as clarinet! Graduation was in June with Ja being one of 250 graduates from his school. It was difficult to get sentimental at the CP graduation as there were so many kids and parents that we didn’t know. Ja was invited as escort to the Strathclair graduation by Melissa Glenn, a classmate that he grew up with. This was great as he had grown up with all the kids in that group( but his girlfriend thought otherwise...). His Dad was invited as guest speaker for this class...and he spent hours making a special presentation video which left not a dry eye in the whole place! It was good to see Ja with all the kids with whom he started nursery school! I was VERY SENTIMENTAL at that graduation....knowing all the kids...fed many of them at the farm...and parents who are friends. Thru out the summer, Ja learned how to cook all the items on the Soo’s menu under the tutelge of our head cook. He worked over 50 hours a week and was a great help to us. He is a responsible young man and we are very proud of him. In the Fall, Ja started first year at Brandon University in the Arts program, with interests in computers and business. It is so hard for kids to decide what to pursue for a career these days, but maybe we will have someone to take over Soo’s in the next few years!? These days, he still works many hours at Soo’s for us, and enjoying his Ford Probe, on which he spends ALL his speakers, new CD systems...etc. He is a young man, out to enjoy life!!!

Robin! He’s off to Jolly Ole England this Dec. 27th!!!! I mentioned that the Crocus school bands peroformed at various music festivals in Manitoba as well as out of province. Well! at one of the out of province festivals, they were spotted by a music scout from the City Of Westminister, England, and because they were so IMPRESSIVE became THE FIRST CANADIAN SCHOOL BAND to be invited to perform at the 14th annual LONDON NEW YEAR’S DAY PARADE and MUSIC FESITVAL!!!! They leave Canada on Dec. 27 returning Jan. 3. Ja was to go as well...but decided that he couldn’t afford the time. Robin is involved with the concert, marching, Jazz and rock band. He will be performing at various venues, one of which is the Wembley Hall New Year’s Eve Gala for the thousands of participants. He will be in the first row for the marching band, as he plays the trombone!!! The parade route is 3 miles long, and will go around the Parliament buildings, Tower of London, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, etc. Wish we were going also, but with the was impossible...Robin tried out for the drummer postion in the rock band CP XPRESS...he is good...but because he is still a junior, the postions were filled with senior students. He will get his chance next year but for now, is one of the “bone” guys. Robin is in grade 10 and taking a couple of courses in accounting...maybe Dad and Mom will not have to do all the book work pretty son is the cook, the other will be the accountandt/bookeeper... Robin is still with the Air Cadets and is teaching acouple courses to the younger cadets. Spare time is filled with computer stuff..and skiing season just started. He is washing dishes at Soo’s on the weekends and saving his money for London and another ski trip to Fernie, B.C. in February. He and Dad have been busy doing web sites for the Hillman Family. If you have INTERNET, check out our homepages listed in our address....

CHINA!!! Well, we already have a cook, and an up and coming accountant...guess she will have to take over Mom’s “Dragon Lady” role. She finally got to have last year’s birthday party! (Does this mean we still owe her one party?) China turned 11 this past Dec. 5 with a party at a local family arcade centre. Mom had a ball reviving her pinball skills!!! Mrs. Davidson is her grade 6 she was also her teacher for grade 5 (I think they belong to a mutual admiration club!). She is doing very well ...way ahead of her grade level. Mondays are filled with Treasure Chest Theatre...I think they are doing Alice in Wonderland this Spring. China wants to be Cheshire Cat! Tues evenings are piano and harp lessons with Ms. Germani. They have been exploring Celtic songs on the harp. Ms. Germani, by the way, is a harpist with the Winnipeg Symphony. Sunday is Highland dance classes with Mrs. Sharon McIntosh. The class performed for McKenzie Seeds 125 birthday celebrations this summer. Do you think the Scottish is coming thru’? China finally got a closet in her room. Our karate sensei and good friend Bruce Dunning made China an armoir which took 4 guys to move!!!! It is seven feet tall and five feet wide! China says “other kids have bedrooms...I have a closet!!!” It is big enough for her to sleep in...maybe it is like The Lion and the Wardrobe”? Don’t lean in too far!!! Her annual trip with cousin Quinn took them to Minneapolis with rides on the biggest and scariest roller coaster ever! China had a thrill in her braces off!!! and now, can chew gum and eat nuts! But...there IS a down side to this - she will have to have them back on again when all her new teeth grow in! In the last two months I think she lost four baby teeth. Does this mean she is growing up on us? We have and are surviving two teenage will the girl teenager be different? Anyone out there with words of wisdom!?

Bill is into another year of teaching in Strathclair Community School. The divison sprung for a computer networking system this summer so he spent a lot of time co-ordinating the efforts in his school. They have also been hooked up for INTERNET for classroom use. Bill spent the summer and many evening now downloading “stuff” from the NET for the students to work with. He and Robin worked for many days and nights on our family homepage...the fruits of which is LONGER than my XMAS epistle!!! So..if you have access to INTERNET and want to chaek out the pages...make sure you have at least a couple quarts of your favorite brew! He even set up a website for the school. As I mentioned, Bill was asked to be guest speaker at this year’s graduation. It was appropriate as these are the kids that went to school with our son Jay. It was an emotional effort for him and one that was shared by all who were in attendence. He wrote a song and collated a video with contributions from each of the students. (The song, speech etc. from this is accessible in our homepage) Each of the students received a copy of the video as a keepsake. He did a wonderful job. The chapter he wrote on Strathclair and area for the Brandon Univeristy geography Dept. was published by University of Manitoba Press this summer. This text will be used in Universities and schools through out Canada. It was thrilling to see his “words” published in another genre...other than recordings and lyrics! The documentary that CBC ‘s Coleman and Company produced on us last year was shown again,reformatted as “couples” thing for Valentines day. Later in the summer, it was shown across Canada as a summer replacement.

Bill’s Mom, Nana, doesn’t get to Brandon as often as we all like...but Bill is able to check on her when he is at work. She is enjoying her apartment and coffee time with her friends in Strathclair while acting as chauffeur for many who are not able to get around otherwise. Bonnie, Michael, Noelle and Michelle were home to Manitoba for a couple of weeks this summer. We hadn’t seen them since 1992, so it was a joyous reunion for us all! Mark and Ian were busy with their summer employment and were unable to come with the family. The girls have grown up, and Michael and Bonnie looked well. We miss having them closer to home. It is rather difficult to just drop in for a visit when they live in Saudi Arabia!!!

My Mom, PoPo celebrated her 87th birthday with a dinner at...SOO’S! She is spry and still challenges the stairs at the Hillmans on Wednesday evenings. Brother Ken and Rebecca went to Vacouver for an orchid show this summer and Mom was able to accompany them for a visit to daughter Sue-Sem’s. It was a treat to see grandaughter Ilym, husband Paul, and great grandchildren Brendan and Alanna; a couple of sweethearts!

As for myself...the restaurant is still the main BOSS! Business is brisk and keeps me on my toes. I really enjoy the customers...many who have become friends on a first name basis. I was talking to a family on Sunday and they introduced me to the fourth generation of their family that have been visiting Soo’s, either in Newdale where Dad had started...and in Brandon! We will be playing for the 3rd. annual New Year’s Eve Dance at Soo’s again...with pals Barry, Kerry and Kevin and several other musician friends we have met since moving into Brandon. We try to perform somewhere several times a year...just to keep our fingers nimble and to get together with the guys. In July, we played for the National Elks Convention dance. It was a blast! On Saturday mornings, the dance floor is cleared for the weekly Tai Chi class. The group is small..averaging around 8, but we enjoy the workout as well as the social time around a cup of Chinese tea..or the treats that one of the students brings from her garden...fresh strawberries!!!! Internet CHAT is still a favorite relax time. I am still chatting with the people that I “met” a year ago, from California, New York, Chicago, Ohio etc, as well as Malaysia,Brazil, Netherlands. This year, thru much pre-arranging via e-mail, I was able to connect with a friend from Strathclair high school days, Dennis Mclean , who married a japanese girl, Kumiko and residing in Japan. It is funny as his Mom will visit the restaurant and I will relay messages back and forth thru’ e-mail or chat on line. It is a lot faster and cheaper than long distance phone calls!

The Hillmans, as a family took a weeks vacation to Los Angeles last March. It was a much needed family time and we had a fun filled week. Any of you who have ever travelled with the Hillmans will know, that one has to return home to have a REST! We had a rental car, and travelled south to San Diego and Tiajuana, did the Hollywood trip, along the coastal area for the surfers, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry museums, and of course...Disneyland!!! March 1997, we will go to San Francisco for a week. Jay, unfortunately will not able to go as he will be in University. Do you suppose he will be disappointed to have the house all to himself?!!! I think he is already planning his own vacation...

Now!!! if I hope to at least try and complete the remainder of the TO-DO list, I’d better close for this season! We wish you and your family a MERRY XMAS of LOVE and ALL THE BEST FOR 1997!

Sue-On......Bill......Ja-On......Robin......China-Li.....THE HILLMANS!

Sue-On's Old News
November 23, 1995 & December 18, 1995 January 7, 1996
Merry Xmas and a Ho! Ho! Ho!
Snow came on the first of I thought I should start my "Xmas book" early... while my address book is still around...Some of you may or may not have received last year's letter as my book took a holiday behind the cedar chest... so I am sending a copy to all just to cover the bases! Better grab 2 or 3 jugs of your favorite brew if you have to catch up on two years!

HECTIC is still a key word in the Hillman household...with a slight change in TONE as we now have TWO TEENAGERS in the house...Both boys are attending Crocus Plains Regional High school. Jay (as he is called by all his friends...) is in his final year and very much into the music scene. He is playing tenor sax with the concert and jazz band, as well as CPExpress - which plays popular music from rock to country. They put on a concert on Tues. and very timely... played a 20 song medley of Beatles material. Of course the parents all can identify with that! He had a chance to work as senior cadet staff at Cold Lake this summer... but we really needed him to work at the restaurant...( truth was we missed him too much last summer) so he worked 40 hours a week for Soo's. Jay got a taste of all facets of the, hosting, preparation of food stuff, cooking and deliveries. No injuries until this weekend when he sliced his thumb. I couldn't look so one of the cook's bandaged him up! He cooks up a MEAN CURRY... suffer for days after from the burn. Career wise... probably still headed in the computer direction... university in Brandon next year... Right now... blondes are very important! Grew up on us while we weren’t looking. He's taller than me altho' that's not too hard! But he's the same height as his Dad. Bill's looking forward to Jay's hand-me-down designer clothes!

Robin too is taller than I am. He is in first senior year or grade 9 and also very much into music in school.(His music teacher is very impressed with his trombone techniques.) He was away to Junior Air Cadet Leadership camp in Penhold, Alberta this last summer and thoroughly enjoyed himself... even the camp food that Jay was relating horror stories about. His Saturdays are booked as dishwasher and bus boy for Soo’s. Gives him some spending money to indulge in his hobby - collecting comics. Yes, him too!!! Wonder where he got that passion from? We got hooked up to Internet this fall and Robin has been very involved with SURFIN’ the Net... He found a couple of “activities” that have gotten old Mom here hooked(more on that later!). He spent some time learning to program in BASIC - by reading books and programmed a game called COMMA MAN and his Dad was impressed enough to use it with his classes in Strathclair. Now he is learning to program in C++ and HTML. Don’t ask me what they are...I’m the only illiterate one here when it comes to computers. Has been busy these last few days setting up a homepage for Internet. Maybe you’ll soon see a homepage for Soo’s if you’re hooked up too! Got some new ski gear this Xmas and will be heading off to Fernie, B.C. for a school ski trip towards the end of January.

China-Li is now down to only one hour of music lesson a week... not by choice but because Mrs. Carnahan retired after this summer. Miss Germani is still her piano and harp teacher. They put on a lovely Xmas concert this year. Her “spare hour” is now filled with highland dancing with Mrs. Macintosh, Orff ensemble, recorder ensemble and choir with Mrs. Cooper at school. Last March her theatre group put on Wizard of Oz. China was a wonderful Wicked Witch of the West...”I’m melting!!!!!” This Spring they will be doing Treasure Island. She will make a dangerous pirate. Lucky China got to go on another trip with cousin Quinn and family all the way down to Dallas, Texas. She was away for about 2 weeks and we sure missed her. When she returned, the local mental health wellness association invited her to participate in making a video to be used in all grade 5 classes - to teach self esteem. We all attended the premier showing in October and it was great! Especially the out-takes! China is still very much into skiing and also a Net Surfer. She certainly knows more about the computer than Mom. She has such a helpful personality. As she is in many of the advance classes in school, her teacher often asks her to help the weaker students. She certainly is a girl who aims to please all.

Bill is fighting a bit more with the snow driving to work this year as it came so early. The geography book to which he contributed a chapter is being published now and will be used in all the universities across Canada. We are looking forward to reading it in print. He spent most of the summer collating all the tapes and songs from our recording sessions in England. It was a lot of work writing away for copyright releases before we could send the tapes to the CD pressing plant. The product finally arrived in time for Xmas and is selling well. A friend of ours took photos in front of our house for the cover... with all of Bill’s 20 guitars! CBC-TV out of Winnipeg got wind of his collecting habits and after hours of planning, came out in May to spend 2 days filming with us. He overwhelmed them with his collection of old radio shows, records, books, magazines, comics, guitars, videos, guitars and his unique teaching style. In one day we had to clean up three years of dust at the farm house as they wanted to film there too. We filmed one day at the farm, then 6am the next day we were filmed doing karate on our upstairs deck!!! Now the neighbors are really wondering about us! They also filmed the kids at music and working at SOO’S. They even followed us to a gig for the Manitoba Motor Vehicle Dealers Association at Elkhorn Ranch, Clear Lake that evening. It was shown in November all over the West and gave us a lot of publicity. Many people did not know we were involved in so many things. Got some unwanted publicity, however, about a month ago when our picture appeared on the front page of the Brandon Sun... “Armed Robbery at Soo’s”. A frightening experience we hope we’ll never encounter again. Thank goodness no one was hurt.

Bill’s Mom had quite a year. She hadn’t been feeling very peppy all spring and couldn’t figure out why. She kept gasping for breath and getting lapses of memory. Finally we got her down to the hospital in Brandon and had to rush her to emergency. Her heart rate was down to 32/minute! The lack of oxygen had been affecting her memory. The doctor immediately put in a temporary pace maker while waiting for a bed in Winnipeg Health Sciences Hospital. The permanent pace maker was implanted two days later and she was able to come home after four days. What a difference it made... able to climb up stairs without stopping and gasping, etc. Daughter Bonnie and son-in-law Michael were able to spend a couple days with her before they headed back to Saudi Arabia.

My Mom had her 86th birthday this year and is still going strong. She still challenges our stairs every Wednesday to have supper with us and visit with the grandchildren. She felt she couldn’t handle a trip out to my older sister’s home in Burnaby this year so is coping with our cold Manitoba winter snuggled in her “apartment” at my brother Ken’s home.

As for this old gal, I’m now known as the CHAT DEMON. Robin made the mistake of introducing mom to Global Chat through the Internet and... well... you all know from first hand experience (like you are experiencing now) just how I LOVE TO TALK!!! I am having a ball chatting to people from all over the world - filling up Cyberspace: Hong Kong, Australia, Brazil, Sweden, Norway, Mexico, USA, Canada, Singapore, Pakistan, Malaysia, and on and on. Bill wonders how I can still talk when I spend all day doing that at work! When Bill and I get a minute together, he’s been showing me some of the topics one can search out. Another mistake! We got a new computer for Xmas and it is a fight to get the computer before Mom gets her hands on it!

In case you are wondering about all the references to Xmas and it is already past... that’s because it is now January 5, 1996! Guess you realize I didn’t make it on time this year either! But then... Chinese New years isn’t until Feb. this year. So I do have a bit of time yet.

The restaurant is running smoothly and the expansion we made last October has served us well. We have many groups that come in for luncheon and supper meetings, large family get togethers, retirement parties, etc. From November on it was staff Xmas parties. We played for our annual New Year’s Eve dine and dance in the banquet room/showhall. Pals Kerry Morris (Winnipeg), Barry Forman (Dauphin) and Kevin Pahl (who rushed back from B.C.) joined us on stage and it was a blast working together again. I am still enjoying my job very much. Many of the customers have become friends and some of the overseas university students have come to look on Soo’s as home.

I am still involved with Tai Chi and the over-30’s Wado Kai Karate Club. We meet every Saturday morning for about two hours of workout followed by a tea chat. The group is small and we have become good friends. The Tai Chi in particular helps me relax if I am ever stressed. Our teacher is working with us on Chi Gung, Pushing Hands and Grappling - and eventually will teach us the “form” with weapons... swords etc. Look out... who needs kitchen knives?!

Well... It is time for me to close this year’s chapter on the Hillmans. Besides, it is time for INTERNET! Ha! We hope you all had a great Xmas, and we wish You and Yours ALL THE BEST IN 1996! Hope to hear from you.

Sue-On......Bill......Ja-On......Robin......China-Li......The Hillmans

December 8, 1994

Hello Everybody!

Snow at last! Guess I had better get into the mood and start my annual festive epistle. Hope you all have had a great year. We wish you and your family a Merry Xmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year. That's what we want too!!! So... get yourself a mug of your favorite, 'cos this will be "a read" as usual...

Never thought this was possible... but the Hillmans are busier than ever!

China-Li was nine years old on Dec. 5. Had her birthday party on the 4th with a kid's game show at our house. We decorated the family room with coloured lights, etc. and divided the 7 kids into two teams. The birthday girl did a great job interviewing all the contestants - just as they do on the actual game shows. What a flair! The two big brothers also go into the act as prize master and quiz master. China is in grade 4 and a little disappointed with her first male teacher... but she still looks forward to school everyday. She started piano lessons last January and is doing very well. They had their recital in June and she was even accompanying her teacher's husband as he played the fiddle (the event was even broadcast on local access TV). She learns to read music, play for fun as well as being an accompanist... which will be great for the Hillman Family Band? She was wanting music through the summer so we signed her up with another teacher for Music Appreciation. Ms. Germani scheduled her for classical piano, string harp and recorder. Well, she took to the harp so well that we've continued lessons after the holidays (her big birthday surprise gift was her own 30-string folk harp). Now, she has an hour of old style thumping music on Tues. and classical and harp for an hour on Wed. She's back with the theatre group on Mondays and looking forward to the next production. She auditioned and won the role of the Wicked Witch of the West. She has so many tricks up her sleeve... and keeps surprising us with all her abilities. She and her Dad are quite a pair. They can lead you on for quite a spell without cracking a smile...

Robin won a scholarship for summer music camp last July - and despite what he thought was terrible camp food - had a great time and plans to go back next summer. He likes his trombone and we bought him his own instrument this fall. He is in the jazz band as well as concert band and must get up for 7:30 practises every Tues. and Thurs. Nice to see the dedication. Drum lessons are still on the go and with his dish washing money, he bought himself a new set of Pearl drums. (We'll be able to open up in competition with our local music store soon!) My kit was too old fashioned, road-weary and unmatched! Friday nights he goes to Air Cadets with Ja-On. Maybe he'll qualify for Air Cadet music camp this summer... For the last few weeks he's been busy with the school volleyball team. He's smaller than the rest of the team members but he made the team. Robin continues to be a clown and sometimes his "teen humor" can drive you up the wall. I guess he's typical? The big decision comes next year as to which school to attend. Kirkcaldy School goes up to grade 8. His buddies will be going to Crocus... his brother is at Vincent Massey... guess we'll have to check them all out. He still helps out at the restaurant and is very quick and efficient in dishwashing. Money is a great motivator! Computer is still is a major interest area; as it is with all three kids. Robin is a whiz at the keyboard and I was amazed at the technical level of discussion he was having with his computer teacher on the first day of school. I think the teacher was asking for information from Robin! Now that we have snow, they are itching to go skiing. Wonder if I'll dare get on the boards this winter? It is so much warmer to stay home and let the kids go.

Ja-On, a full-blown TEENAGER! His own car... a 1989 white Probe... and his own phone line which always seem to be tied up.... I think he is growing up on us. Ja was awarded a 6 week Air Cadet Senior Leadership course at Cold Lake Alberta this summer. He was actually up for the glider scholarship, but it was awarded to a cadet with seniority. The first couple of weeks he sounded awfully homesick and we felt bad for encouraging him to stay. But after the third week, when he got to know more kids, esp. the girls, he sounded much happier on his calls home. I think he learned a lot and it certainly turned him into a more confident young man when he came home in August. Now, when he goes to cadets, he is assigned to teach the younger ones. Ja's in grade 11 this year and trying to decide whether he should change to another school which has a more aggressive computer science program. This semester is all sciences and I think he's really looking forward to the writing courses after Xmas. He is still in the concert and jazz band at school, and drops Robin off on the way to his own Tues and Thurs morning practises. It is so nice when they can drive... but one worries as well! He has been helping out at the restaurant with dishwashing, but has been promoted to working up front as host/cashier/phone person with the girls. He's quite happy about that and doing a good job. The girls are only a year older than Ja so they have a lot of fun.

Bill has started another year of daily commutes to Strathclair. We were glad the snow stayed away until Dec. if it had to come at all. William wore many hats in 1994; researcher, author, morning man on an Oldies radio show, talkshow guest, DJ and restaurant decorator and manager as well as teacher extraordinare! He helped an Ontario relative by providing research for a family history book, then he researched and wrote a chapter for a Manitoba Geography textbook for Brandon University. It should be published in the new year and is to be used in various universities across the country. Based on his reputation as an endless source of musical info, he was invited to be the morning man for radio CJVM, a special license radio station set up for two weeks during the national model airplane competitions at Brandon airport. He had a great time in spite of getting up for the early morning shift during his summer holidays! Through the Spring, he was interviewed by Bill Starling for a radio show featuring Manitoba performers; called Star Billing. It is broadcast every Sunday on CKX at 6:30 pm and we have received excellent exposure on it. Driving the kids has eased up a bit now that Ja has his license, but there are still days when we seem to need all three vehicles on the go. In between kids, he also caters food out to various house parties, sets up music or performs at our weekly Friday night dine and dance (never thought he would be a "music man DJ"!) and helps organize the banquet room for the Xmas parties, etc. He finally gave in and bought a satellite dish system for the house in Brandon since he was going into chronic withdrawal away from the system at the farm. He is having a great time taping all the old and new movies... as usual. I think we will have to buy another house for his burgeoning collection.

You may have picked up on the "banquet room" reference a few lines back. Since September we have tripled the seating capacity in the restaurant to 300. Bill spent many days and late nights decorating the new facilities with thousands of bamboo poles, lighting systems, murals etc. He designed three murals with our new logo, for the outside walls of the restaurant as well as the feature wall in the banquet hall. These were painted by Lance McLean, son of Terry McLean, who is a renowned wildlife artist. Spent many, many hours cutting bamboo poles and making wainscoting for the walls. We had our first banquet in the new facility on Sept. 17, for our niece Cindy's wedding. It was a traditional Chinese banquet with a 12-course menu served on round tables and followed by celebratory dancing. Our grand opening was in the third week of October, ending with a band reunion on the 22nd. Tickets were sold out in advance and we had a packed house. Kerry Morris, Kevin Pahl, Jake Kroeger, Russ Gurr, Jim Atkinson and Bill Starling all joined us on stage. It was great working with all these guys again. We are trying out a Friday night dine and dance, and even without advertising, we have been getting good crowds. Bill would much rather play, with his last year's Xmas present - Fender Stratocaster guitar - but usually ends up as DJ! Haven't been able to plan many band activities as we have been booked with many private parties especially on Fridays and Saturdays. In the new year we hope to stage monthly special functions and get the old music gang back for some fun on a more regular basis. Would like to get the kids into the act... Robin is itching to do some drumming, Ja on the sax, China on the piano or harp? Our next gig will be New Year's Eve... in between the frenzy of supper hour take out and midnight rush, we will be jamming with the old gang... Barry Forman (possibly with daughter Shawna and son Kent), Kevin, Kerry, etc.

The two Moms are doing terrific for their ages. Mom Hillman comes down towards the latter part of the week (or whenever we call) and looks after the grandkids while we are busy at the restaurant. The kids look forward to her visits and cooking - a nice change from Soo's. I think she also enjoys her trips down to the city...and her trips to K-Mart, her favorite store! Bonnie and family were in Canada this summer but it was so hectic for them and we just couldn't seem to get together. Mom Choy comes for supper with us on Wednesdays - my day off. She will be 85 next August - looking forward to spending the winter with my sister Sue-Sem and family in Burnaby. She leaves on New Year's Day, flying out with a cousin. Ken and Rebecca will head to Central America for their annual winter break while Mom is away.

The Ole Scribe? Well... one of these days she's going to catch up with herself and surprise the hell outa her! Life is pretty hectic... to put it mildly, but I really enjoy the restaurant. I just hate the paper work and there never seems to be an end to the pile on my desk! Every day is different and we have to do a lot of planning and maneuvering of tables, chairs as well as staffing. Bill's muscles are getting a real good workout these days. At the moment we are running with five cooks during the week and two extra helpers on the weekends. We just hired a man who is well versed with Canadian menu so our options have expanded. Two weeks ago we had a Xmas party group which requested roast beef, meat balls, perogies, etc. From traditional Chinese fare to English and Ukrainian... Richard also worked in a East Indian restaurant prior to Brandon... Our business sees a lot of regular customers and we are getting to know their favourite tables, time preferences, etc. as well as getting weekly updates on their families. We've even had several expectant Moms coming in one week nice and round only to show up the next week with an external package. They swear it is the shrimps that do it every time! Talk about babies... Sue-On played midwife again this year... to the wife of the cook from one of our other Chinese restaurants. Funny part was... the cook's boss and his wife were both doctors! Still involved in the RCMP Commander's Advisory Committee on Multiculturalism. They are planning to fly the group into Regina for their graduation some weekend. I was taking Tai Chi last year and hope to resume lessons again after new years. We have a great parquet dance floor in the banquet room and I hope to arrange for classes there. My biggest discovery this summer was MASSAGE! The girls on staff gave me a gift certificate for my birthday... for a massage. I was having some problems with my left arm... tendonitis, so I booked in with a Chinese acupuncturist and massage specialist. I am HOOKED! She uses electronic acupuncture as I detest needles, then she does about a three quarter hour massage... WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL HANDS... Dr. Ge is close to 60 years old and I can't believe how strong her hands are. She also uses various herbal ointments and hot towels. Stopped after 5 sessions and now I am back for a couple more visits. I usually fall asleep on the bench. It's a crime to make one get up and leave after such a relaxing hour! What do you mean Xmas is this weekend!!! But the date up at the top says Dec. 8! Sorry Folks, but it has been THAT busy... and my other problem is...I've lost my address book somewhere in this house. So I will be sending out this letter as your letters come in, and I do hope you guys are putting return addresses on your envelopes! Anyway, Merry Xmas, Happy New Year or Happy Chinese New Year, depending on when you recreive this letter. Hope to hear from all of you sometime soon.

Best wishes, The Hillman Family

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