Christmas Letter
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As I start this letter I hope that my Muse will kick in. (Never has a letter been less well planned!)

She ( the Muse) suggested the obvious, like how I was captive on a ship in Santiago Chili harbour in February and how I saw most wonderful things in Turkey in May. She passed on to the large number, the enlarging number of requests for money my post-lady brings me almost daily. She then reminded me that my little family has grown since we were last in communication, that some of my friends , if not falling by the wayside are starting to crumble a bit. No big ideas and nothing that the rest of you aren’t experiencing just as I am. Life just goes on and so does my letter.

Going back to February/March:
Late last year (2009) I was determined to take a trip to South America. I hoped to take Eric (my son) with me. But he had serious shoulder problems that might require hospitalization and so  I had to rethink my plans. I went to see an old friend, Kathleen Harrison (travel agent)., told her that I didn’t want to go on a cruise, and ended up going on a cruise! From Buenos Aires , Argentina, with stops at Montevideo, Uruguay,  the Falkland Islands, around the bottom of South America (Cape Horn-not very stormy that day) and up the west coast of Chili to Santiago. To our surprise Santiago had had their terrible earthquake two days before our arrival. Part of the dock area was destroyed ( so we spent most of our time out in the bay, ) the airport was in ruins and many of the city’s hotels were damaged. What to do.? No flights back to Winnipeg, my hotel was only marginally operating, my luggage was off the ship in the terminal building. And I was scheduled to leave the ship myself. (We could actually feel aftershocks  of the quake on our boat.)
The old eleventh-hour rescue happened. The ship’s company offered people like me a return trip to Buenos Aires  for $50 a day.  After looking at my options for 30 seconds I left the boat, headed for the terminal, grabbed my luggage and returned to the boat, emailed Kathleen “Get me a flight out of B A in ten days.” She did and  a trip that should have taken about half a month took nearly all of it! Thankfully it was a luxury cruise ship so the Mojitos were wonderful! And the boat was filled with tango dancing, tango lessons, tango music. Being as I was alone and don’t dance anyway, I endured!
For those of you that know the name, I cringe when I hear “Piazzola” !

 I joined up with another group that my friends Dave and Helene Reisen  put together for a trip to Turkey. (The Reisens have been my leaders on previous trips). The experience was great all the way. No unpleasant surprises and many things to see. (My pictures  are available for you to look at if you wish. Instructions later.)

What is it about non-profits and magazine publishers? I changed address in the fall and they still track me down! I was living in Suite 505 at 71 Roslyn Rd. It was pleasant, had a great view and was a tad small.  Especially the kitchen. I was able to move to the top floor of the block into a PENTHOUSE.  Not that grand but much larger. Especially the kitchen! Anyway I can’t see how many of these non-profits can make money the way they spend it on mailing after mailing, after mailing. You know the routine. And the magazines I subscribe to: Walrus Magazine ( They dun me to renew a subscription that’s already renewed; to make donations to the organization that supports them which I already have; to send subscriptions to friends four of whom are already getting the mag courtesy of me. But the pleas keep coming. Similarly Nutrition Action Health letter ( which by the way I highly recommend for sound, research-backed advice on intelligent ingesting.
I enjoy these publications but their junk mail is not only wasting paper ( ie- trees, a precious resource)  but overloading my recycling box.
End of rant.

I see a fair amount of Liisa and Curt since they live in Winnipeg.  Curt lives a rant in that he is Project manager- Climate Change Connection. He dedicates himself to stop the aforementioned rape of our forests, to lessen our need for  dependency on fossil fuels and the concomitant need for  better bicycle paths in a city that has grown and persists on growing around the automobile culture. But rant is what he needs to do in the face of indifference from government and industry. He isn’t exactly a voice in the wilderness given the size of the support people are giving to these problems but he certainly has to keep the volume up and the information before the public. Liisa happily supports him. She also continues to work for two  cardiologists at St Boniface Hospital. Curt’s son, Calab, has joined another man in a computer service company. Conor, his other son has joined the Apple Store,. He is one of those friendly people that take no end of time to introduce you to the BEST COMPUTER PRODUCTS IN THE  WORLD. ( I digress).
Curt’s daughter Berkley, and her husband Dave were over here for dinner in the fall. With their daughter, Ella, my putative great granddaughter. Great people all.

Down East live Shaun, Sheila, Michael, Hunter, Tyler and Nicolas. Their lives seem to move along so smoothly and without surprising turns that I’m almost at a loss for words! I visited them this last summer at a cottage at  Muskoka Lakes. Had a great relaxing time and took a few pictures too. (Which are also available for you. More later.)
Shaun is working for Loblaws (read Superstore in western Canada) and enjoying the job. The latest word is that he and Sheila are now moving into overdrive to finish the reconstruction of their en-suite bathroom (one of those projects that’s hung over their heads for months (years!)) Shaun’s heart problems have not re-occurred, fingers crossed. 
Tyler is now through high school. Hunter is working for a house remodeler,  Nicki is a bright guy who is enjoying elementary school and Michael lives his life independently.
Poor Shaun. He does try to communicate with me. But I’m rarely home when he calls!
So be it. They’re well!.

Eric’s news this year is most interesting. A girl he went out with when in high school found him earlier this year on Facebook, traveled to Bolton to spend some time with him. And they decided that it was time to get back together. Eric quit his job (after 10 years) at United Hoist and moved out to Alberta. His once-again friend, Lois Harcus, has a lovely home on a large piece of forested rural property south of Edmonton. He has a job with the same firm where Lois is an accountant and I haven’t seen him smile so broadly in years.
(Pictures available. More later.)

Now that my little family is all paired up, what about me?  I think it says in the Bible somewhere that man was not made to live alone. But I must confess that I like living alone.  I sometime feel lonely but then my friends such as Marilyn and Fran, and many others who will please forgive me for not listing them  even though they are great people– all  keep tabs on me and make my life happy. Happy for me too is my computer, the men’s choir I accompany, the church I keep busy at, the concerts and movies I go to (just heard two superb choral concerts recently- Camerata Nova and Winnipeg Singers- wonderful repertoire and splendid performances in both instances) and the dinners I prepare for friends. And books , books , books,  

People ask me where I’m traveling to next. Adventure Canada (  haven’t heard of me yet but I hope to change that in 2011.  I’m looking at one of their trips that head up to Greenland, Baffin Island etc. I remember, fondly, the trip Betty and I took to northern Norway and the incredible beauty of the tundra. Better than tropical climes? No, but just as fascinating ( shrubbery is great to look at but unadorned rock  has its own particular  statement to make as  well.)

In the meantime my doctor is satisfied that I’m really trying to live my life as sensibly as he recommends (and he’s very firm about it!). I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but today I like the way things are. And haven’t any plans to change. I hope that your lives are going well. Thank you to those of you who still send me cards and news of your doings.

Roy Halstead
P4- 71 Roslyn Rd. Wpg
R3L 0G2
Cell phone (iPhone of course!) 204-290-4066 No land line anymore.
All those pictures I talked about are at MobileMe