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D. Schumilas/D. Happner
Box 359 White Fox, SK, S0J3B0

The 2008 Fox Report 

As always, I start the newsletter with a song Ö 

I am a lineman for the county and I drive the main road
Searching in the sun for another overload
I hear you singiní in the wires.  I can hear you through the whine
But the Wichita lineman is still on the line
I know I need a small vacation but it donít look like rain
And if it snows that stretch down south wonít ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you and I want you for all time
But the Wichita lineman is still on the line

(Wichita Lineman by JimmyWebb)

This lovely song with its lonesome atmosphere was made famous by Glen Campbell.  Although I was never a huge fan, I always respected his guitar playing.  I tip my hat to him again because at 72, he has a new album coming out. I read in an interview that he recently realized thereís a whole generation out there who have no idea who he was and all the rest have no idea who he has become Ė hence the albumís name: Meet Glen Campbell. He says he still loves to do the shows and still hates getting to them.  I can relate.

Aside from the influence of global economic catastrophe, all is well here.  When last I wrote, we were looking for some adventure in our lives, maybe even a change of scenery.  We find ourselves in much the same position as last year. When the economy turns down, College enrolment turns up.  So, I have a full, very strong class. Iím still traveling down on Tues. morning, boarding in Melfort and coming home on Fridays, and Iím very busy. Iíve been feeling a lot like the guy in this song - needing a vacation, missing his love but still on the line.  

While Iím working, music continues to simmer on the backburner.  Music performance is getting dangerous anyway.  I was just reading about a parachutist who was trying to land as part of an army ceremony in Kansas.  He crashed into the band, injuring 3 musicians and flattening 2 tubas!  Not dissuaded by this looming danger, Don is whipping his chops back to concert level.  Edmonton luthier, Andy Nicoll, finally got Donís guitars repaired, restoring the 36 year old Larrivee to the beautiful sound we remember and finishing the Nicoll custom copy, which still sounds new but is quite impressive. The genotype diet we are on (a revision of the blood type diet) has made both of us 10 years younger and Don has a renewed interest in recording. 

After a beautiful summer and unusually warm fall, winter has found us. We have a real cold snap now.  Highs of -30 with a wind chill of -48 degrees Celsius.  The best part about that is watching our weasel friend. Usually, weasels run around on top of the snow.  Right now the snow is too light and fluffy so every time he leaps, he creates a big puff of white.  Then he disappears because he sinks and has to do another big jump to get anywhere.  Each jump is about 2Ĺ-3 feet, which seems amazing considering he is only 8 inches long.  

The 3 adult whiskey jacks raised another brood of young in our yard this yearĖ we have no idea if that is mom, dad and aunty or what Ö perhaps it is something else Ö. but it seems to work for them. They make the kids leave home permanently because every winter itís just the 3 adults back at the feeder again.  The 3 jacks, the weasel and a bunch of chickadees share the feeder and get along just fine.  Our politicians in the House of Comics could take a lesson.

My ďpeopleĒ family are also well.  Uncle Joe is planning his 91st birthday party.  Sister Theresa (and Peter) tells me their lives are busy with full-time jobs, the organic commercial garden and greenhouse, golf, cycling and many creative projects.   Their daughter, Tanis Dawn Schumilas (that name sounds so familiar) is thinking about what program and university she will head to in the fall.  Last I heard, she was considering economics (is there a pattern here?). Brother Ralph still takes the summers off to be the national track builder for motocross.  Some say it is an art form Ö planning the bike jumps, sculpting the land with the heavy equipment, grooming everything just right for racing speeds Ö  With all the practice Iíve had being his baby sister for 47 years, Iím sure no one can get under his skin as well as I can, so let me just put it like this:  Ralph is still playing in the sandbox.  

Donís family is well.  His son, Bramm, finished his carpentry program and is working in Toronto, hoping to move west soon.  Donís sister, Doreen, is 10 years younger (she put us on to the nutrigenomics research) and her family is well. Donís mom and step dad are thoroughly enjoying retirement, still traveling lots. Some of that gang met up in Grande Prairie for a little family reunion this fall, and then Don and Bramm went on a father-son hiking/camping expedition in the mountains.  The camping quickly became motels due to the subzero night temperature.  (mighty hunters!).   

Donís father died this summer. He was 82, living independently and still playing gigs.  He played a dance job the week before he had a stroke and died leaving his band scrambling to find a replacement for 6 months of bookings! Thereís no better way for a musician to go. On the bright side, after 22 years with Don, I finally got to meet all the cousins, aunts and uncles on that side of the family.  

After visiting friends and family in Alberta, we spent a few weeks hiking in the Kootenay mountains, thanks to Holly who again loaned us her house at the foot of Copper Mountain, just outside of Nelson.    We cut our trip short because I was offered a great career-building gig.  The Edwards School of Business at the University of Saskatchewan asked me to design and teach two crash courses in introductory economics to students entering the MBA program who, for various reasons, didnít have all the prerequisites. Most of the students were graduates from science programs. It was a blast! I guess I did ok because the university offered me the gig again this coming summer. 

We managed a few projects on the property this year. We moved in a small building and fixed it up as a shop for Don.  And, we replaced the batteries for our power system. Rated life for these batteries is 5-7 yrs.  We got 8 years out of ours so we must be doing something right.   Speaking of alternative power, I was just reading that in Spain they have decided to make better land use by installing hundreds of solar panels in cemeteries.  That got me thinking Ė we should start a trend to have people put up solar panels, with a little memorial plaque on each, instead of headstones.  

A few words about the global meltdown Ö I found it hilarious to read that the Optimist Club of Quakertown, Pennsylvania disbanded after 24 years, citing lack of interest!  Here in Saskatchewan, the government responded by doing away with legislation that required mandatory retirement at age 65! Yes!  Freedom 85!  

If you are one of those people needing medication to deal with your portfolio these days, you might appreciate this Ö SCHIZOPHRENIA: Do you Hear What I Hear?    MULTIPLE PERSONALITY DISORDER: We Three Queens Disoriented Are    DEMENTIA: I Think I'll Be Home for Christmas   NARCISSISTIC: Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me   MANIC: Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets and Stores and Office and Ö PARANOID: Santa Claus is Coming to Get Me     PERSONALITY DISORDER: You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why   OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER: Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell, Jingle Bell Rock     DEPRESSION: On the First Day of Christmas the Market Gave to Me (and then took it ALL away!).

If it makes you feel any better, Santa also has had some bad days, but it all worked out, in time.   One particular Christmas a long time ago, Santa was getting ready for his annual trip... but there were problems everywhere. Four of his elves got sick, and the trainee elves did not produce the toys as fast as the regular ones, so Santa was beginning to feel the pressure of being behind schedule. Then, Mrs. Claus told him that her mother was coming to visit, which stressed Santa even more. When he went to harness the reindeer, he found three of them were about to give birth and two had jumped the fence and were out, heaven knows where. More stress. He began to load the sleigh when one of the boards cracked and the toy bag fell to the ground, and scattered the toys. Frustrated, Santa went back into the house for a cup of coffee and a shot of whiskey. When he went to the cupboard, he discovered the elves had hidden the liquor and there was nothing to drink. In his frustration he accidentally dropped the coffee pot and it broke into hundreds of little pieces. He went to get the broom and found that mice had eaten the straw it was made from. Just then, the doorbell rang and Santa cussed his way to the door. He opened the door and there was a little angel with great big Christmas Tree. The angel said, very cheerfully, "Merry Christmas Santa. Isn't it just a lovely day? I have this beautiful tree for you. Where would you like me to stick it?Ē Thus began the tradition of the little angel on top of the Christmas tree.

Which reminds me, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year (the only members of the deer family to have females do so), male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid December. Female reindeer retain their antlers until after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to every historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer, every single one of them was female. Thatís how they manage to get it all done in one night!

We wish you all the very best in 2009. 

Dawn and Don