Poultney Family - June 1999 Newsletter
In late 1997 I (Gordon) was given a three month layoff notice by the company I had worked for since arriving in Canada - a national moving (furniture removal) and storage company. Really weird going into the office every day with nothing to do but look for another job ! Anyway I took the time to teach myself how to create web sites - hence the reason I'm now so involved in that. By March 1998 I hadn't had any luck in finding another job so decided to launch myself as a "consultant". Landed a contract with a small transport company in Calgary helping them implement a new computer system and generally jacking up their accounting and administration. At the same time I hooked up with a couple of other guys from my previous company and our new company Trilogic Relocation Systems was born. In late June 1998 we purchased a small moving company with offices in two small towns in Northern Alberta and immediately opened another office in another town. So my summer months were spent mostly in Whitecourt - 130 km North West of Stony Plain - getting everything up and running. My main responsibility in the company is Finance and Administration although several times I was needed to get out there to pack and load furniture when things were very busy.
In October we decided that we needed to open an office in Calgary because it is the second largest corporate head office city in Canada and growing incredibly fast. Many of the decisions regarding employee transfers and other transportation requirements are made in Calgary HO's. So we did a deal to take over the company that I had worked for earlier in the year - taking on another partner in the process. Through this expansion we have also diversified into some specialized transportation services and have some interesting contracts on the go. One of them is the moving of the incredibly popular "Riverdance" stage show throughout North America. The show moves every week - we load it up after the last performance on Saturday night and it is set up ready to open again on Monday night in a new venue !! It requires seven trucks and trailers full time so is quite an amazing project. It is totally sold out wherever it goes and current plans are to have the tour running until late 2001 !!
Things have not gone without plenty of trials and tribulations and we still have a long way to go. 15 hour work days are still the norm for me - but then I don't have anything better to do really, being away from home. But overall me being laid off was probably the best thing to ever happen to me. A lousy day in my own company is still better than a good day working for someone else !!
The only other "glitch" is that I have to "commute" to Calgary - 320 km South of Stony Plain where we live. I drive down on a Monday morning and head home again late on Friday night. Fortunately it is fairly flat here so the road is a double highway and very straight so it only takes me just over three hours to do the drive. (A bit more in the winter - which makes for quite scary driving.) Up until now I have been staying with friends - an older couple with a big house and no kids so I have had my own room and bathroom in their basement. However our company has just rented a flat - two minutes drive from the office - so I am going to be living there from now on. A bit more convenient as I can walk to work and won't have to be in anybody's way.
In the mean time, back at home ! Jenny started teaching full time in September 1998. For a couple of years she had been doing part-time work at Living Waters Christian Academy - the private Christian school where our kids have been going since being home-schooled for a couple of years. Some one-on-one tutoring and in 1997/98 she did the pre-school. Then through the help of several people - and lots of running around by relatives in Zimbabwe getting her TTC transcripts and records sent over - she was able obtain a letter of authority from the Alberta Ministry of Education to allow her to teach full time. The condition is that, at the same time, she must do courses towards upgrading her qualifications to a Canadian education degree. So in addition to running a Grade 1/Kindergarten split class of 19 all year she has also been doing a correspondence course - the first of many to come. Again, just as well I am not home much as she is also pretty much working 14-15 hour days and it would only be a disruption. We have learned to make good use of our few hours together each week-end !!
My Mum now lives with us - she moved to Canada in 1994 and we added on to our house so that she has her own small flat above a double garage for us !! So she is a great help to everyone as she keeps the house in order while everyone else is so busy with life. She is still famous for her rusks - there's always a tin full - and we recently bought a bread-making machine so there is always fresh bread around.
Also Jenny's Mum and step-dad returned from Indonesia in late 1997 having made a relative fortune working on contracts there for 5 years or so. They bought the plot next door to us, from us, and have built their dream-home on it - have been in just over a year now. So they are also around to keep an eye on things and help everyone if necessary.
Simon is just about to turn 16 (!!!) and is now 2 inches taller than me. He is in his first year of (Canadian) high school - Grade 10 - and is really enjoying the challenge of it. One of his courses this year was learning Japanese and he is hoping to go on a student exchange there one day. He is very involved with the youth group at our church and we are glad that he has a great group of Christian friends that he hangs out with. We really don't have to worry about him getting up to too much mischief as there is a lot of accountability amongst them all and he is extremely responsible. Fortunately he has been dragging his heels about getting his driving licence so we have a bit more time before we have to deal with that whole scenario !! Last year he went to a youth conference in Salt Lake City - 9,000 kids from all over North America so it was quite an amazing experience for him. This summer he is probably going to come and work for me - needs to earn some money for another trip he wants to do to Seattle in August.
Bronwen is going on 14 (in August). She is very much a tom boy - has a very strong sense of her self worth and luckily for her, to boot, has been a late-bloomer. She is extremely difficult to keep challenged and it has been a tough year at school because she has found everything "boring". However she presently has a couple of great things to focus on. In July she, and several others from her grade 8 class, along with their teacher and his wife, are going on a 3-week mission trip to Guatemala. So they are all furiously busy raising the necessary funds to go - some $ 1,600.00 each needed. Lots of babysitting, gardening, car washing, garage saling, pop-can collecting etc going on !! The purpose of their trip will be to help re-build a school damaged by Hurricane Mitch and also do some street ministry. She's only home for a few days and then heads off for a three-week Air Cadet camp for most of August ! So she is very pumped with excitement these days.
Johanna - our only true-blue Canadian - has just turned 10 (June 13). Hard to believe that our baby is already that old. She's very skinny and lanky - so much like Jenny was at that age. Doing very well at school - just finishing Grade 4 also at Living Waters. She is the sporty one in the family and is currently into her swimming season. Last year she did exceptionally well and made it to the Provincial finals in a couple of events. She's not doing as well so far this year as she's in the younger end of a two-year age class although she is cleaning up in back stroke, her best stroke.
It must be our African blood in us but we are all mad about animals and currently have quite a menagerie. A dog, two cats, two ferrets and two big tanks of fish ! Johanna would love to have a horse but our plot is just not big enough and it would be too much to look after one through our long winters.
Jenny's sister, Angy, and her husband, Laki, have just arrived from Zimbabwe for a holiday. He is only here for a month but Angy plans to stay on for another couple of months. They are struggling to have children due to damage to her fallopian tubes caused by a huge infection after her appendix op when she was 13. She is going to see some specialists here to see if something can be done to repair them - amazing what operations they can perform these days to "fix" ones body. They have already tried in vitro (?) in Harare but without any success so may go that route again here.
We are in for a busy summer, apart from kids going away, swimming etc. My sister, Bronwen, is coming over to see us - will be here for three weeks in August on a round the world trip to UK, USA, Canada and back via Australia. Her first time in Canada and I haven't seen her for 11 years (I haven't been back to Africa since we moved to Canada), so am getting VERY excited. Jenny's great friend from TTC, Dawn (Eccles) and her husband James and two boys will be with us for a week, also in August, from the UK. So we are looking forward to having a house full of people and showing them all around our part of the world.
In closing I must just relate a fun episode last year as it was 40th birthdays for both Jenny and I. She and I knew that we would both try and plan surprise parties so we hatched a plot together. I called all our friends and asked them to come to a surprise party for her at our house. I said that we would be having dinner at her folks house just next door and then we would come home to find everyone in our house. Well a few days before the date she called all our friends and asked them to a surprise party for me at her folks house, on the SAME DAY ! She told them that we would be having dinner there and that they could all gather at our house and then walk over to her folks house to give me a surprise ! Well of course our friends were in total panic - they couldn't talk to either of us about this "predicament" for fear of spilling the beans either way. (Several of them deliberately avoided both of us - they simply couldn't face the whole dilemma.) And of course what was the outcome going to be. On the day itself our whole family (who were in on the prank just because they had to know what was going on - and Richard never really figured it out !) hid upstairs in our house. Everyone arrived at our place, greeted by my Mum and told to just wait and see what happened. We eventually crept down the stairs and gave our guests the SURPRISE ! It was so funny seeing people trying to figure out what had happened. One person was convinced that we had got it wrong and that WE were the ones surprised !!
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