Saturday, December 18, 2010

The 2010 Christmas Newsletter

The Toft Family Newsletter, 2010

2010 began with great promise and ended similarly despite the hiccups that occurred at the half-way point of the year. To see some of the details of items that attracted our attention on a month-by-month basis, see the blogs I wrote. For example, the blogs for January 2010 can be accessed at

In January, I was quite focused on three major topics: additions made to my on-line store at , how Adrian’s behavioural problems and weight problems were affecting him and family, and the promise that Julian’s gift to us of Wii Fit would result in significant personal weight loss for me. Through the year, I made steady sales of both basketry and vintage items. Our concerns about Adrian’s behaviours and weight are still prominent, though efforts are being at his group home to increase his daily physical activity, and reduce his daily calorie intake. And I did manage to lose 25lbs from January to June.

Highlights from February included a blog that told about stories of Adrian-related mishaps that brought tears of laughter to my Mother’s eyes a few weeks before she died. A blog lamenting my age focused on a mysterious Face book friend that turned out to be the daughter of a past student. One comment on that blog was from another past student saying that I really was that old (Thanks!) and that she was now a Grandmother! February was also the month that Anne and I visited Arizona for the second time. Our mountain-climbing exploits were recorded there.

Many of the blogs for March focus on putting back our front garden. As you may recall, a consequence of the flood of 2009 was that much of our front garden was excavated so that repairs could be made to broken sewer pipes. These excavations were made in the fall, and I managed to move the perennials to an untouched section of my vegetable garden to over winter there. March was the month to move the perennials back and to restore the pathways too.

In April I wrote more stories about basket-making, about Adrian and autism, and a story about my adventures on Face book. In May the focus was once more on the garden and Ottawa’s Tulip Festival. Music was a secondary focus. Tamir, the agency that looks after Adrian, put on the show “Joseph and the amazing techni-colour dreamcoat,” in which there was a dual cast of persons with developmental disabilities and persons without developmental disabilities. It was an amazing performance. I also highlighted the Choir Show and the men’s choir performance of “Jailhouse Rock,” coupled with pictures of me in my prison outfit. A favourite blog for that month was where I featured the Baylor Choir’s rendition of “Prayer for the Children.” Our Men’s Choir (Gabriel’s Chorus) did an equally moving version of this anthem.

June was a month of changes to say the least. Julian readied to move to his own apartment at the end of the month after staying with us for four years. It was the time we took Adrian to Pennsylvania for our annual holiday with him. And, the end of June was when I had my heart attack. I am now fully recovered from that and back to jogging. This was also the month that I introduced my followers to a past student of mine, Shy-Anne Hovorka. Shy-Anne is making a name for herself in the aboriginal music field.

July was the beginning of my recuperation period as I began to walk increasing times and distances on a daily basis, starting at a 10 minute shuffle. It was also the time I returned to the Heart Institute for an additional four stents to be placed in other arteries to compliment the two placed there in late June. Julian did move to his own place and we were able to fix up the basement to become the Basketry Studio it had been designed to be prior to his arrival back home.

In August’s blogs there are stories about the garden, about exercising and beginning bike riding once more as well as a blog about a book, published by the Red Lake Museum about Fire 14. That fire was the one that lead to the excavation of Red Lake in 1980, a time when my Mother and Father were visiting us there. The book included reminiscences about the fire including a letter written by my mother to my sisters in England. It is a well written and very descriptive letter that can be viewed and read in that blog.

In September, I began my eight week Heart Institute rehabilitation program by attending a twice-weekly supervised exercise program there. This lead to my being able to take part in a walking program at the local Running Room, and eventually to enrolment in a 10 km running program. September was the month that I was able to take part in more and more social activities too, including my first exhibition and sale of the year.

In October, Anne and I took our first vacation after the heart attack. It was one of the best vacations we have ever had as we flew to Calgary to begin it. From there we took part in a four day extravaganza via the Rocky Mountaineer. Luxury living could be addictive! This was also the month that we investigated and found a solution to the problem of finding medical insurance for me, out-of-country, for pre-existing conditions.

November’s highlights included the renovations to our upstairs bathroom. Other highlights were the men’s choir (Gabriels Chorus) singing a 21st century version of “We three kings of Orient are,” including a verse penned by me: “Ties I receive and manly perfume, Gifts I hate and never consume. Now Senator’s tickets, That would be wicked. Then I would really swoon.” (The Senators are Ottawa’s National Hockey League team.) We have been asked for an encore performance at a local retirement home. This was the month I also introduced my Anne Boleyn line of basketry products: free standing wicker heads (hat stands), and wicker torsos (scarf and necklace display stands).

As December moves towards Christmas, our thoughts turn to how well this year has turned out. Canada’s medical system came through in spades. Friends and relatives rallied around, and life continues well. For next year we are looking forward to a February holiday somewhere on the Gulf coast of Florida. We are looking forward to a holiday within a day’s travel of Ottawa with Adrian in late June, and sometime in late summer or early fall we are looking forward to a two week plus vacation in England to visit with family and friends.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all, and God Bless!


John and Anne…………………….

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