Deer looking at the Vege GardenCrab Apple Tree and House
Happy Holidays

Caledonia, MI, USA
December 2006

(You can click an image to see a larger version of it)

Winter is well and truly here in Caledonia – it’s snowing onto the layer of ice and freezing rain that fell Friday and we’re past December 1st and so it’s time for this year’s Lisa and Roger update.

Thankfully there was nothing of major importance this year, which makes a change from the last 2 years with the death of Roger’s Mum in August 2004 and almost exactly a year later Lisa’s Dad in 2005.

Lisa’s Mum, Joan, did have another stint in hospital again in April – another complication of her bowels, with another surgery required to fix this. She has recovered from this really well, and with her sister Carol headed off for another trip to Scotland in September.

May saw us driving around Lake Michigan, through Chicago to go to Wisconsin for dinner – well actually we had two dinners there on Friday and Saturday nights, and came back Sunday. This was with our friends from Grand Rapids and the Dinner Club we’re part of. The couple in Wisconsin used to be in Grand Rapids, and we met up there with another couple from Grand Rapids who now live in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Lisa's Daffodil PictureJuly 4th was Christensen Family Reunion at Uncle George’s house. A couple of days before this we learned of the death of Lisa’s nephew, Michael in a car accident. Jim (Michael’s father) and Kim headed up to Calumet in the Upper Peninsula, and our 9 year old niece Kathy was dropped off here to stay with us for a few days so she could go to Family Reunion with us. After the Reunion we drove on up to the UP with Kathy and Joan for Michael’s funeral. Despite the circumstances we had fun looking after Kathy for a few days – and we got to learn all about “cup stacking” or “speed stacking”.

The start of August saw us in Saline at Joan’s house having a “Celebration of Bob’s Life” party for family and friends. This was kind of his funeral, since he didn’t want one, and with circumstances last year at the time of his death (Lisa and Roger off to Scotland the day he passed, Jim and Kim on vacation, and Joan in hospital about 3 days after that) there wasn’t opportunity for anything then anyhow. After the party Kathy came back to Caledonia with us for a few more days, staying mainly with Kurt and Ann and Zoe, then Kathy and Zoe came and stayed here a couple of days where they entertained, and were entertained by Uncle Roger during the day while Lisa was at work. Roger looked good in the makeup he bought the girls at the neighbour’s garage sale.

Kayla, Zoe and Kathy on the HammockWe had a trip to Chicago in August with a couple of friends to go to the Field Museum to see the King Tut exhibit, and to the Shedd Aquarium for a day to see the penguins and aquatic mammals of various kinds. We’ve tried several times in the past to visit the Shedd while in Chicago, but failed each time due to the long lines waiting to get in. This time I bought advance tickets, and we got there soon after it opened just to really make sure we’d get in.

Also in August Roger received a phone call from Madam Jean Moffat in England – Chief of the Clan Moffat, asking him if he would be her Representative in North America, to which the answer after a week of consideration was “Yes, I’m honoured”. So as well as his duties for Genealogy and Membership for the Clan Moffat Society, Roger is now also “Commander – Representative of the Clan Chief”. The pay remains the same though.

October saw two trips away – first to Delaware for a couple of nights to visit with electronic friends for the Porch Party, then just a few weeks later back to the east coast to Richmond, Virginia for the Clan Moffat Society AGM. We had a day at Williamsburg – a preservation and recreation of one of the early English settlements and capital of the Colony of Virginia from 1699 to 1780. We also got to stop at Chancellorsville where Lisa’s great great grandfather Tonsing was part of the Battle of Chancellorsville (Chancellorsville was the name of a house, not a place) during the Civil War – his unit showed their mettle by running away when attacked by the Confederates in the dark of night. His unit went on to fight in the Battle of Gettysburg where he had his leg amputated after being shot.

Newly hatched Monarch ButterflyPicture 1October also saw us playing “parents” to some Monarch caterpillars and butterflies. We had 3 monarch caterpillars make their cocoons in the milkweed that grows in our vegetable garden. Two of them were late and chose a very inopportune time to decide to hatch out after the cold weather arrived early. We ended up bringing one of the newly hatched butterflies and an unhatched cocoon inside away from heavy rain, very strong winds and not so warm weather. After the second cocoon hatched we had two butterflies in our dining room for a few days until the weather warmed up and they were put outside again to hopefully fly off south safely for the Winter.

On the genealogy front it’s been a case of forward and backward progress. Roger heard from a distant cousin in Australia – a descendant of a previously unknown sister of the William Moffat who left Scotland in 1857 and went to New Zealand. But she was later to provide evidence that William’s father George was NOT the son of the people listed on the headstone in the Swinton Church yard in Scotland (a photo of this stone was on our newsletter in 2000) – their son George died unmarried. So that chopped two generations off the Moffat family tree. Attempts to find out where “our” George came from have been unsuccessful so far.

Lisa continues on with her family history quests too, including a lot of work on sorting out the hundreds of photos and negatives that belonged to her grandmother. They have pictures of the Christensen families from the 1930s onwards. In November we had a trip to Detroit to drive around the area where her grandparents lived in a variety of houses during this time. Several of them are still standing, looking much like they did 70 years ago.

The company Lisa works for, Delphi, has continued on this year, with major changes in the way they do business a they try to come out of bankruptcy. Most of their factories in the USA are to close, but Lisa’s is one of the few to survive. About 30,000 of their hourly workers have been “bought out” and left as Delphi tries to get back to making a profit. Those who have left from the plants that are still working are being replaced by new workers being paid a fraction of what their precedents were both in terms of wages and benefits. We’re also the recipient of benefit cuts going into next year – health care will cost more, and Lisa’s retirement will be less – but at least (for now) she still has her job.

We wish you the best for Christmas, the Holidays and for 2007.