"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 Priceline.com 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   |   www.hillmanweb.com   |    hillmans@wcgwave.ca

Bill and Sue-On with Kenny and Rebecca Choy at the 2008 ACC Gala Dinner
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