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, Web Developer 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 rotations. 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 Software Architect 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
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