Hello and welcome to The 2004 Haskin Family Once In Awhile Newsletter; formerly known as The Haskin Family Annual Newsletter; formerly known as The Haskin Family Christmas Newsletter; formerly known as mailing a store bought Christmas Card and being done with it. We trust you have all had a wonderful and prosperous year. Now with a show of hands, how many of you thought last year's newsletter was the best one ever? Come on, raise your hands. And how many of you really enjoyed last year's newsletter? Raise your hands, too. Did you really raise your hand while you were reading to yourself? Weird! Anyway, I sincerely hope that none of you enjoyed last year's newsletter because we did not send any out last year. Now if you thought the one you did not receive last year was the best one ever, please send a request to be removed from our mailing list so you can enjoy several more years of not getting our newsletters and we can save the postage. On the other hand, some of you have been wondering what happened to last year's newsletter. Well, now you know we didn't forget about you. We just didn't send you one. But you know how Dad is, sometimes he does not get things done on time, if he gets it done at all. So for those of you who have been wondering what happened to the 2003 newsletter, we present ... "'Twas the fate of the 2003 Newsletter"
And so last year's newsletter was nothing more than a figment of Dad's imagination. Well that was last year's newsletter; water under the bridge or over the dam or off the duck's back or whatever; anyway let's get on with this year's newsletter.....
As many of you know, Mom's expecting again and as you also know it is not her first time. But this time she really is expecting that Dad will get the new house finished this year. He has been working on it for over four years now and I am not sure if technically it is still a new house or not. Parts of it are new, parts of it are four years old, and parts of it aren't there yet. So I guess it is our new, old, future house. We still have a few odds and ends to do, like: tile the floor in five rooms, do some painting, hang some doors, put up some molding, do the finish work on the stairs and hand rails, finish the video, phone and computer systems and finish a few things outside. Other than that, the new, old, future house is finished. But in any case we moved into it this year; well actually, we are living in it. We haven't moved all of our belongings over here yet; but everybody is enjoying having the whole family secluded and out of sight back here in the woods; and the family is enjoying it too. Our new address is: 4938 Moore Rd.; Williamsburg, MI 49690. The new phone number is 231-267-5555, (even Dad can remember that one). Dad's email is email@example.com and Mom's email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Write or call for the kids email addresses. You can stop in at our web site www.haskincentral.com which gets updated once in awhile on a regular basis some of the time. And you are all welcome to stop in and visit us here at our new, old, future house if you can find us. Actually finding our driveway is the easy part. Getting from the end of our driveway to the house is more of a challenge. Our driveway seems to serve the same purpose as the moat around a castle. Nobody gets in easily or undetected, if they get here at all. Here is how you can successfully make it. To start with, when you turn off the road, don't be going too slow. You need some speed to make the first hill, but be careful, you still have to fit your car between the trees. Dad has a little problem with that part. Anyway, you go through some shallow "S" curves on the way up the first hill, which is a little too steep, then at the top of the hill you curve to the right a little and then swing back to the left between two banks of earth. At that point you will see the small valley we call, "the bowl." The sight of "the bowl" causes many a visitor to have second thoughts about proceeding forward; but backing down the hill they just came up isn't a pleasant thought either. Anyway as you go down into "the bowl" remember to stay between the trees and before you get to the bottom give it some gas or you may have a little trouble getting back out of there. If it is snowing you will have a lot of trouble getting out of there. Anyway, at the top of the steeper hill, coming out of "the bowl", you have to turn right and then curve left again. Now you can relax for a few minutes as the road gently winds its way through the woods. Remember to watch for the wild life that lives in these woods and an occasional animal as well. Now, as you are winding through the woods trying to avoid trees that seem way too close to the road, you should hope that nobody is coming in the other direction, because this drive is barely wide enough for one car. While the drive is narrower than usual, it really is wide enough that you will never take off both mirrors at the same time; maybe within a second of each other, but never at the same time, so relax. Eventually you will notice the hill you have been going up is starting to get a lot steeper. About then you can see a glimpse of the house, up the hill, through the trees. At this point you do not want to get squeamish. Step on the gas or you won't make that last hill. Now, if you made the last hill, the gas pedal is depressed farther than normal so please remember to stop before you hit the house. If you come by and do not think you can venture up the driveway, call us. We offer a shuttle service for a very reasonable fee. The service is free if you are on our special visitor list. If you call and the person on the phone just laughs hysterically then you are not on the list. And if you think coming up was like a roller coaster just wait until you go back down. Try putting it in neutral and coasting all the way down. I bet you cannot do it without using the brakes or hitting a tree.
The real advantage of having the driveway so narrow is that since it is almost half a mile long there is more than enough time for Dad to get confused. Yes Dad really could get lost in that much time; and with the driveway being too narrow to turn around in, Dad is forced to keep going in one direction. He will either see the house and know he is home, or he will see the mailbox at the other end and again know where he is. He may not have any idea where he is going or why; but at that moment he at least knows where he is. Dad has had his share of problems with the driveway, usually when there is snow on the ground. There was one particular tree that Dad had a great deal of trouble with. It was right at the beginning of the driveway. Dad would either go too slow in an attempt to miss the tree, and then not be able to make it up the first hill, in which case, when he tried to back down the hill, he would hit that tree with the rear of the car; or he would try to go too fast up the hill and hit the tree with the front of the car; and once in awhile he was somewhere in between and he would hit the tree with the side of the car. Mom's solution to the problem was to get Dad an all wheel drive car with very good snow tires. Dad's solution was to cut down the tree. We did both. Dad has also managed to get the four wheel drive tractor with chains on it stuck in "the bowl," which does not say much for Dad's driving, but says a lot for Brian Jr.'s patience in continually digging Dad out of another hole. The kids said it has been a little difficult raising Dad but they love him anyway. Most recently Dad was driving the 12' truck up the hill when he did something none of us had ever seen before. Dad did a wheelie with the 12' truck. The driveway/roller coaster was covered with snow and ice making it more than a little slippery, and as Dad was about half way up the last and steepest hill, he began to lose his grip. Dad sat there spinning his wheels for awhile and then the truck began to slide backwards down the hill. It started slowly at first but was quickly increasing in speed. Jessica and James watched as Dad's day went rapidly downhill. While Dad frantically tried to steer the 12' truck backwards between the trees, it happened, the front wheels came off the ground. Dad was actually doing a wheelie in a 12' truck, backwards, going downhill between the trees. With the front wheels off the ground Dad was totally out of control (so what's new.) Dad, helpless and hopeless as he was, was looking in the side view mirror at a large maple tree that was getting larger as it got closer. The kids were watching Dad's expression turning from frantic to horrified as the maple tree got closer. What a sight, this white 12' truck reared up like the Lone Ranger's horse, running backwards, down a hil;. and Dad in a state of horrified anticipation, waiting for the sudden jolt of slamming into the big maple tree; but the truck never hit the maple tree. It hit another tree that used to be there. And as it tore the tree out of the ground, the truck spun around like a cart on an amusement park ride, and came to rest nestled peacefully in the snow covered woods. Yes, Dad had dug himself into another hole. Brian Jr. and Dad used the tractor to work the truck back up to the shop. In the after math of that event, Mom said Dad should not drive the truck in the snow. Brian said Dad should find a better method for taking down trees and widening the driveway; and our mechanic said we should get the tail pipe removed from its new location wrapped around the rear axle. We did all three!
As for Mom, well, you all know her as the sweet, happy, smiling, innocent girl from Anchorville. But since moving up north, Mom has decided to get a little squirrely. It all started with Mom putting bird feeders in the yard at the new house. Well, as it turned out, the squirrels like bird feed, too. Mom was not about to let those furry little food thieves get away with stealing from her birds. That is when we first noticed that Mom was bound to get a little squirrely. No matter where Mom put the bird feeders, the little squirrels would find a way to get into them. Mom tried everything. She thought of putting the feeders on slippery poles. She suspended them in the air. She bought every kind of squirrel preventing feeder she could find; but to no avail. The squirrels just kept on coming. They would jump from the nearest tree to land on the feeder. They would hang by one leg and eat. They did everything they could to provoke Mom to wrath; and it quickly became apparent that Mom in her frustration was bound to get a little squirrely. She was like Donald Duck going after the chipmunks. She even got a permit to trap the little monsters alive and move them a few miles down the road. Squirrels had been everywhere until Mom put the live trap out, then all the squirrels disappeared. However, they evidently ran out of food and to prevent all the squirrels in the woods from starving to death, one brave little squirrely sacrificed himself by walking into the trap to trip it. And with the trap sprung, the rest of the squirrels were free to eat again, until Mom moved the squirrel to a new location and reset the trap. Well, eventually Mom's permit ran out and the squirrels seemed to know it; but Mom has not finished with them yet. She has a bait pile in the yard that the squirrels have been learning to enjoy. What they don't know is that Mom bought a hunting license. Dad said Mom is still bound to get a little squirrely sometime. I think it is from being around Dad so much.
The children are all doing well and are a huge help with the business as well as with the church. Jessica plays the piano for song service; Cathy and Grace play violin for the song service; James plays cello for the song service and Brian tries to sing loud enough to drown out Dad for the song service.
In pursuit of a life long dream Brian and Jessica left home in September. NO they did not run away. Mom and Dad actually helped them pack and sent them on their way. They drove through all 48 of the continental United States. Well, actually Brian drove and Jessica took pictures. They completed the whole trip of over 12,200 miles in 23 days. They literally lived in the car. They also routed their trip so that they would not go into any state more than once. They saw all kinds of interesting sights like: Yellowstone Park, Mount Rushmore, The Grand Canyon, The Petrified Forest and Jessica trying to sleep stretched across the front bucket seats every night while Brian roughed it in the back of the van on a four inch thick memory foam pad. Mom was surprised that Brian was able to do that much driving. Grace was surprised at the pictures Jessica took while driving 60 mph or more. And Dad was amazed that Brian and Jessica were still talking to each other.
Brian Jr. is still the captain of the local fire department and plays hockey with some unemployed NHL players. He is also involved with several highly technical and computerized things that none of us really understand.
Cathy is fine. She got a little buggy last year. Well, she got ticked. I mean she got bit by a tick and ended up having a bout with lyme disease. She was rather ill, spent a lot of time in bed with a severe headache and had periods of losing her memory for about six weeks. Everybody had a lot of fun with her memory loss. She would forget things like our phone number and how to get dressed. She even told James and Grace to iron the garden once. It was a lot fun for everybody but Cathy. Cathy is still giving violin lessons, babysitting, and sewing.
Jessica is also doing well. She is still a little dizzy at times, but that has become normal for her. The doctors think it may be from low blood pressure, but I think being a little dizzy runs in the family. Jessica has been doing some graphic design work for web sites, CD covers, and of course Dad. She is hopelessly lost without any hockey season this year but adjusting well.
In 2003, James and Grace won scholarships to Pathfinder Music Camp and signed up for video production classes, but as it turned out the teacher said she could not teach them anything. They already knew more about video production than the teacher. This year they both won scholarships to Blue Lake Music Camp. Mom and Dad sent them off to learn more about violin and cello. When they came home from camp two weeks later, James had learned how to juggle and Grace had learned about eyeliner. Dad is not sure about Grace and the eyeliner thing, but he has been asking James to juggle his books for him.
In 2003, for about 9 months, James was having some falling problems. He would be walking along and fall to the ground. It was like he forgot how to walk or something. Once he fell down the steps and right out the door on to the porch; and another time he was walking to Mom and fell on the ground at her feet. Mom thought that was quite respectful of him. Anyway, they took lots of tests. They did CAT scans and MRI's of his head but they never found anything. In fact, one of the MRI reports of his head did contain the word empty. So after the doctors could not figure it out, Mom took him to the Mayo clinic and wouldn't you know it, just before he was scheduled to go, the problem went away. So the Mayo clinic couldn't find anything when they checked James' head either and the symptoms have never returned. So Mom, Jessica and James had a little vacation. James' art work has come full circle now. When he was little he would draw something and Dad would say, "What is it?" He is now a very good artist but once in awhile he draws a picture and Dad still says, "What is it?" When you stop in, ask to see his art work and you will know what I mean.
Grace, well to borrow a few lines from Dad's sermons, Grace is still and always will be amazing. We will never fully understand Grace in this life time. Grace has been working on learning animation. She has animated a few things that Dad has needed for different corporate productions; and Mom is trying to get her to animate Dad into finishing the house. You should really stop in some time and see how amazing all of the kids are in spite of their father.
Do you remember a few years ago when old romantic Dad bought Mom a garbage can for Christmas? Well Mom does! Anyway, Dad had a better idea last year and he bought Mom a go-kart, and when the box was opened Mom was really surprised; but not nearly as surprised as Dad was when he looked in the box. It seems there was "some assembly required." Now, as most of you know, Dad and wrenches were never meant to be in the same room together. Watching Dad with a wrench gives a whole new meaning to the term "monkey wrench." But a lack of knowledge or ability never stopped Dad before, so he jumped right into it with wrenches, screwdrivers and a hammer. There was a blur of activity or maybe it was just Dad in a fog; but paper and packaging was flying, red and chrome parts were flashing, tools were banging against metal. Dad was frantically working and grunting. And finally, after what seemed to be forever, Dad got it out of the box and began to read the instructions. After looking at the instruction book for some time, turning it this way and that way and upside down and over again, Dad told Mom there was a problem. The instructions were written in 27 different languages including Greek but there was not anything in English. Mom took the instructions and assured Dad that words like "carburetor" are indeed English. So Mom "helped" Dad build the go-kart. You should have heard Mom reading the instructions and telling Dad how to assemble it. We could only print Mom's side of the conversation but it went something like this. Mom's voice: "Put this on that. No, this on that. NO, NO, NO, this on that. Here give it back. There, like that. Now put the bolt through there. NO, through here. NO, here. NO! Give it to me. There, now put the nut on the bolt. NO, on the other end of the bolt. Yes, I am sure! NO, I don't need to look at the picture again! Put the nut on here. Here let me do it. Now tighten it up. NO, with the wrench! That is the screwdriver. Yes, with that. NO, the other end. NO, not that direction! OK, put the nut back on the bolt. NO, NOT that end! NO, here give it to me." Now what I don't understand is how they figure that Dad built it. Anyway, after hours of Mom and Dad bonding in that manner, there it was the red and chrome screaming machine. Mom driving and Dad screaming. Really, when Mom got behind the wheel of that thing she was like a crazed Italian race car driver. The first thing she did was take it out in the snow and start doing donuts in the church parking lot. By mid-summer the go-kart had been air born more than once and rolled over at least once. Mom also used the go-kart for hunting. Yeah, it was the squirrely thing again. She would cruise around the yard squirrely looking, and when she spotted one she would take off chasing it, trying to make that poor little squirrely into road kill. And don't let her try and tell you it was an accident either, because while she chased them, we could hear her yelling, "Run squirrel run!". Dad eventually returned the go-kart muttering something about sanity or safety or something.
Well, we better let you folks get back to your normal life and we will go our separate way for now; but next time you are on I-75, stop in to see us. We are only 45 minutes from Grayling.