17 Dec

2014 Christmas Edition of The Hepburn Home Page


Greetings friends and family! We hope that everyone has had a great year in 2014 and is looking forward to a few days off to enjoy each other’s company and some tasty food and drink.

We realized that there were voices in our family that haven’t been heard: Rosie and Tessa (the cats). Well, you know the saying “There’s an App for that”. The Google “Cat Translator App” which we used to give voice to Rosie the grey tabby. We tried it on Tessa, but she’s a “Cat of little brain” and we didn’t get much out of her. Here’s Rosie’s account of the year:

Hellooo, is this on? Oh Hello! I have to say that it’s nice that you people finally made the effort to understand my language. I’ve been fluent in yours for years, yet when I try to speak it’s always, “Rosie, what do you want?”, “Rosie, will you hush!”. Why do I bother with my lengthy orations on the issues of the day when you just don’t listen!

But I digress. I understand that it is my duty to inform the outer circle what life has been like in the Hepburn house this year. Well, despite that fact that nobody seems concerned about it, Gracia still has not returned home! She comes and goes occasionally, but her presence is not consistent or predictable. Most upsetting. When she does come home, she is often unresponsive, even when I walk on her books or computer.

Kiersten however has become my new best friend. For some unknown reason I’ve been banished from Laurie and Tom’s room at night. I did my utmost to keep their legs warm, notify them loudly when there were things of interest going on in the night, and wake them up with loving words very close to their pathetic human ears so they couldn’t help but hear me. These attentions were unappreciated. Kiersten now has the nightly pleasure of my company, and she never launches me off the bed like Tom used to!

Once again this year my family abandoned me for a long period of time. It was in the spring, and they left with little regard for how I was to survive with only Tessa for company. Lovely girl, but very Ginger! I told Brian and Tracey where the family had gone when they came to visit, but alas they too are deaf to my tongue. I knew they were bound for North Carolina, I saw them booking tickets online and heard them talking to Aunt Ruth. They think they’re so sneaky!

My family brought home a great gift for Tessa and I from their trip. You see they tie these strange little ropes around our bodies, and then take us outside. I think the rope is for the benefit of whoever is accompanying our foray outside, as they always seem to be very nervous about the outdoors. I humour them by not walking out of the contraption, as this seems to upset them. It is nice to feel the wind in my face and taste the grass, but I really wish my family had the slightest clue how to use their senses. I smell the most wonderful smells that need investigating, but they always drag me in another direction. Very upsetting.

I’m being told that my rendition of the year is self-centred in nature, and not very representative of the entire family. I’m a cat, what do you expect? Don’t turn that off…

OK, Rosie was babbling so we shut off the App. Christmas letter 2014 in point form, here we go:

What we did:

  • Tom and Kiersten went skiing, lots

  • Gracia switched her major to Psychology

  • We all went on a trip to North Carolina to see Aunt Ruth

  • Laurie got dirt for her birthday (yes, dirt!)

  • Tom fixed the shed room (with help)

  • Kiersten went to hiking camp

  • Tom and Laurie went out for dinner on their anniversary (shocking, I know)

  • Gracia quit Starbucks and worked for YMCA

What we didn’t do:

  • Laurie didn’t get fired in the great PennWest layoff of 2014

  • Kiersten didn’t hate hiking quite as much as she thought she would (close though)

  • Gracia didn’t get her car fixed (Greyhound ahoy!)

  • Tom didn’t fall off the roof

  • We didn’t lose our passports or miss our flight or not meet our connection or crash and burn in the airplane

  • Gracia didn’t regret finding out that she really doesn’t like other people’s kids

  • Didn’t build a dock – that’s next summer

Favourite moments:

  • Picking shells on the beach of North Carolina

  • Planning flowers beds for next year (remember the dirt?)

  • Kiersten getting information packages from Universities – exciting!

  • Taking Rosie and Tessa for “walkies” with bunny harnesses

  • Going to the Sun road and High Tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel

  • Celebrating momentous birthdays with Granny and Auntie G

  • Matt and Jesslyn’s wedding

  • North Carolina BBQ and hushpuppies enjoyed with family

  • Gracia researching Master’s programs

Our hopes for all of you:

  • A wonderful Christmas season

  • Much good cheer and many warm memories

  • Time for rest and contemplation

  • Strength of body, mind and spirit

With all our love,

Tom, Laurie, Gracia and Kiersten

22 Dec

2013 Christmas Edition of The Hepburn Home Page

  Tom’s turn to write the letter (but Laurie got a few words in too)…

2012-09-27 09:36:39The estimate was for $1600 dollars just to trim dead wood from our elm trees.  After Christmas 2012 I definitely didn’t have the money so I climbed the trees and did it myself.  Mother Nature never informed me that she was planning to take a lot of the branches off with wet spring weather, would have saved me some climbing. (Laurie had to leave the property when the trees came down, or would have chained herself to them in protest)

Kiersten has been doing a lot of skiing so we got her equipped with her own gear last year.  There was lots of snow locally and we also managed to get to the mountains a couple of times. I took Kiersten and her friend Michelle to Lake Louise, where we skied most of the runs.  (Michelle’s one of the “Yodeling Swiss” skiers, I’m sure she was putting Tom and Kiersten through their yodeling paces on the way down the mountain)

Laurie, Kiersten, and I went down to Cochrane to help her brother Chris with a family move.  They now live in Boonyland, er, I mean Benchlands.  We are looking forward to spending Christmas Day with them in their new house.  (They just keep moving farther and farther away from us, hmmm…)

Gracia has been spending more time working with the Peer Support Centre on the university campus.  She worked there most of the summer and continues working part time hours through the school year.  This work has moved her to a new major in psychology, so she says.  I believe that the mind expanding espresso she serves as a Starbucks Barista is the real reason. (Or maybe she just needs all the help she can get to figure out her wacky parents!)

One beautiful spring day the Volvo station wagon broke its arm. The arm got infected and the car died.  I found a donor card in the glove box and am now harvesting organs from it.  We bought a newer, better, faster, (more expensive to repair) version of the same car.  Cathy did the reliability test for us while we went to Ontario with her Honda Odyssey. Laurie: “That makes 2 dead vehicles in the yard Tom; looks like your brother James may have some competition!”

20130705-184959.jpgDaniel and Erin came with us to the cottage.  Daniel only came with us so he could go to the Pizza Ranch featuring an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet.  There is now a grainy, black & white picture of Daniel with the caption “Double Charge This Patron!”.  (I think that was the only day that Daniel got enough to eat, my learning curve regarding how much a 16 year old, 6’2” boy eats was not quick enough, sorry Dan!)



Tipi poles were harvested, peeled and set out to dry.  Late this fall all four of us tried to put up a tipi.  I can tell you that there are no natural instincts that white people posses that will make this task go smoothly.  When we were done it looked like a French circus tent without the walls and took 60 man-hours of labour to accomplish.  My next plan is to declare the acreage a sacred Aboriginal Hutterian Druid Temple site and never pay taxes again. (When the county sees the tipi they’ll probably double our taxes, on account of the “second residence”)



A very Merry Christmas to you all, anyone wishing to take advantage of our tax free status is welcome to come for a visit and stay in the Tipi! (Our best to all in 2014!)

10 Dec

Christmas Eating Tips

Chocolate Candies on sticks

Are those Rum Balls?

1. About those carrot sticks. Avoid them. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.

Decorated Sugar Cookies

Decorated Sugar Cookies

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it’s rare. In fact, it’s even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can’t find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an egg- nogaholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

Holiday dinner on decorated table

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello? Remember college?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

Star shaped glazed cookies for Christmas

Sugar is good

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. You can’t leave them behind. You’re not going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards, mate.

10. And one final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Reread tips. Start over. But hurry! Cookieless January is just around the corner.

11 Dec

2012 Christmas Edition of the Hepburn Home Page

Hi, it’s Kiersten with this year’s Christmas letter.

Pop Quiz!
Question #1:How are you?
a) Good.
b) Awesome!
c) Ok…
d) Horrible.

If you answered c, wrong. If you answered a, wrong. If you answered d, well, I feel bad for you and, that one is wrong too. If you answered b,…. Right!!! Since this is the CHRISTMAS letter we should all feel AWESOME, because… well, just because. It’s Christmas!! Be happy!!! You don’t believe me?? Fine. Here is an example of what Christmas can do. (be warned this is not a real story, but it should be)


Random Person sulking in the corner:  “I’m sad.”

Me: “It’s almost Christmas Random Person! Be happy!!”

Random person: “Yaaaaay!!! I’m happy now!!!”


See?? Christmas has magical powers!

Christmas bells with holly and holly berries

Well, enough of my rambling about Christmas, I’ll talk about what we did all year. For starters, I don’t remember much, so don’t blame me if I start putting ps, and pps, and ppps, at the end of the letter. Also, don’t blame me for bad spelling, blame my teachers. So, I’ll start with when we got teepee poles, not sure when we did that, so I’ll guess. I think it was sometime in January… maybe February… anyways, dad went camping in -30 weather in uncle James’s truck, I wanted to go too, but I had school… dumb school…. anyhoo, he got 22 poles, and, moving into summer, we stripped them. Erin and I went to Camp Chief Hector at the Hector lodge, first year of Kananaskins! Can’t wait for next year. We hiked up a mountain (was it Mount ‘Yumnuska’, Erin?) and there was some parts of it that were really steep, and we had to go up it with bags almost as heavy as we are. By the time the hike was done and we were setting up tents, all our shoes were soaked. We had had to walk in water. We went on a canoeing trip too, at the end of the trip we all tipped our canoes (on purpose, of course). At the end of camp Erin, Dad, myself and my Dad’s friend Bill, all went to a restaurant in Calgary (why I am mentioning this you will understand later), and me and Erin got fettuccini Alfredo. Heads up, if you ever get this dish, it will be the best thing you have ever tasted (other than lasagna) [Editor’s note: restaurant is Joey’s Tomato].


After that we didn’t do much. Gracia, my beloved sister, got a job at the Penhold library, and now she is a billionare! Just kidding, she did get enough money to buy her own house* this year, though. She is now living with her friend, Dakota. So me and Gracia went back to school, me to high school(!) and Gracia to 3rd year university(!).  Piano started, and skating started, and now on Thursday I am having a talent show for skating. And on the Thursday after that I am having a test day for skating. And last Friday Mum and Dad went to a Christmas party for Mum’s work, and while they did that I hung around the hotel room. And the best thing that is coming soon is Christmas, so that we can all have a great time with family, eat food and share gifts and put up trees and do all kinds of Christmas stuff. Happy Christmas and whoever has ham for dinner, eat lots for me.


Love you lots,  The Hepburns

 Merry Christmas!

*Editorial: She rents an apartment.  You thought she was rich, didn’t you.