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:  He was nominated for the award by longtime friend and mentor, Dr. John Tyman of Australia. 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 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

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