We have missed a number of birthdays during our time abroad: cousins, friends, children and grandchildren. It was so nice to celebrate Russ’ birthday while we were at the cabin.

Some presents were clearly more happily received than others, but one’s interests at five tend to be pretty specific. But whether opening presents, eating cake, or just sharing in the celebration of life, it was all a pretty joyous occasion.

Then and Now

August 1986

May 2018

For these guys anyway! Congratulations on another great year.

Eli has been waiting for three years for this birthday! Finally she got to go to the American Girl store to pick out her very own American girl doll.

After much debate the lucky doll turned out to be Maryellen Larkin, a little girl born in 1954. Each doll comes with her own life verse. Maryellen’s is very much like Eli herself:

“I follow my heart instead of the crowd
I have a heart full of high-flying hopes and a head full of
pie-in-the-sky ideas, even though they don’t all get off the
ground. But I know that if I stay true to who I am and what
I believe, the sky’s the limit.”

She will be a welcome companion for Kit Kittredge who has been already been around for three years, when Abi turned seven.

Our oldest son Jon was always investigating ways to get involved in what was then the emerging tech field. He took the initiative to offers his expertise to the only computer retailer in St. Thomas to help their clients get their computers setup then did a thriving after-market business in installing software and trouble-shooting for the clients he helped. He investigated the nascent bulletin board systems (BBS) in our area and taught himself early forms of computer coding languages. At Conestoga College he landed a cooperative learning position with a local tech company that allowed him to explore connecting various machines through a digital interface and began to think through the digital diagnostics that would make that possible.

After a three year stint with a local IT startup and a two year interregnum as digital manager for a customs broker, Jon and his new wife Nicole moved to the States to pursue his career in a succession of IT positions. All through those years he continued to develop and refine his concept of a digital diagnostic machine interface, pitching successively more advanced iterations of the concept to various companies. However, while generating interest, there were never any takers. Until three years ago. Then the company for whom he had originally designed the concept came head-hunting with an offer to facilitate its development.

After two years with this new company, and after months of heading up a diverse team of software engineers that included a former NASA scientist, the new product, called Shelby, was launched with much fanfare and widespread approval. Recently that approval coalesced in the Engineering Choice Awards. The annual Control Engineering Engineers’ Choice Awards “shines a light on 26 categories of control, instrumentation, and automation products.” A total of 88 finalists from 44 companies were chosen that were the most exceptional based on technological advancement, service to the industry, and market impact. A total of 1 grand winner, 26 winners, and 29 honorable mentions were named for 2018.

I will let Jon himself describe the product for which he received his award: “The new FactoryTalk Analytics for Devices appliance provides health and diagnostic analytics from industrial devices. It crawls your industrial network, discovers your assets and provides analytics by transforming the data generated into preconfigured health and diagnostic dashboards. The system also delivers action cards to your smartphone or tablet if a device requires attention. As the application uncovers information about how the devices are related to each other, such as their network topology or fault causality, it starts to understand the system on which it is deployed to make prescriptive recommendations.”

It goes without saying that we are inordinately proud of our eldest son, who like all our three children is pursuing his dreams in his chosen field. This post recognizes Jon’s achievement, but we are just as proud of our children on the days they don’t get recognized by the world for what they do. All three of them are independent and articulate, caring and committed. Though our own careers place us many miles away from them, they are constantly on our hearts and in our prayers. It has been the greatest joy of our lives to be the parents of such fine human beings.

We are travelling fools, Pam and I, so you have to take the following with a grain of salt, but when you get to the place that you can’t remember the last trip you took, it is time to take another. We try to fly home to Canada and the States as often as we can. Three kids and five grandkids are a big attraction. But other than that, there hasn’t been much. It is true that we did take a cruise a year ago. Sorry to say that was a bust, as any moment’s worth of reflection would have revealed before the voyage. Seriously? You live in the Caribbean and you are going to take a Caribbean cruise? D’Oh!

Anyway, after that fiasco of a cruise last year we decided to bite the bullet and actually visit a foreign country, even if it meant going through Miami to get there. We were coming up for our 40th anniversary and wanted something to match the amazing trip to the Nihiwatu Resort in Sumba, Indonesia on our 30th. After much debate and a consideration of options, we settled on Machu Picchu.

Because we hadn’t travelled in a while, I had a bucket of points on my Visa travel card that enabled us to get everything in country – flights, trains, and hotels – on points. We did what we normally do when a target destination is unknown. We have a look at the ridiculously expensive packaged tours, see where they are staying and how they are mapping the route, and then pattern our trip after that to book our own.

Having checked out Lima on Google, we thought it best to stay on the southern edge in a district called Miraflores. Again, no mistake there, for as we drove along the Pacific boulevard the hang gliders were sailing down over the cliff and the surfers were braving the gravelly beach by the score. We checked into the Radisson, where we got an upgrade to a superior room that overlooked the ocean and after a quick change of clothes and a brief look at Google maps, wandered out into the late Peruvian afternoon to J.F. Kennedy Park.

Peru is not Southeast Asia. Crowds, by Asian standards, were not a problem, and at least in the areas we travelled plenty of locals spoke sufficient English for our needs. We never felt threatened or were ever in any danger of getting lost or even separated from each other. After the organized chaos of Southeast Asia, travelling in Peru was a breeze.

Kennedy Park was filled with vendors with their leather and pottery crafts. The local art was amazingly bold and unique, with strong colours and dynamic designs. Bordering the park were a number of outdoor cafés where we stopped for dinner so we could watch the crowds.

A pleasant stroll brought us back to the hotel to cash in a voucher for free drinks, then off to sleep in a most comfortable bed. This trip to Peru, much delayed and postponed, was starting out on a very positive note indeed. Why, we asked ourselves, have we waited for so long to travel in this part of the world!









Our dear sweet Abi, we love you so very much that it is impossible to say all the things we would love to tell you as you turn ten. You have brought such special happiness into our hearts and our family. You are unique and beautiful and touch our hearts in ways that only you can.

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