Hello and welcome to the 2005 winter edition of the Haskin family newsletter. I know what you are thinking, the Haskin newsletter is here so it must be February. WRONG! It is not February and you have this newsletter, so it must mean that either Dad did not write, Dad does not have anything to do, or Dad does not know what day it is.

Anyway things are not much different around the Haskin house. Things are hectic, hairy, hurried, hassled, heated, hustled, hyper, and half finished as usual. I just wonder how we can keep working on the house, claim to be making progress, and always be half finished? We are still in the same place as last year and can be reached by family and friends at: 4938 Moore Rd. Williamsburg, MI 49690, by phone at 231-267-5555, by fax at 231-778-3325, or by email at brian@haskincentral.com or diane@haskincentral.com (write for other email addresses). And do not forget to check out our family website at www.haskincentral.com. If you are a bill collector, solicitor or telemarketer you can reach us at (800) 438-5678. That's 800-GET-LOST. I wonder who really has that number.

As for the events of this year, it only seems right to begin with Cathy. I suppose by now most of you have heard that Cathy is no longer with us. On May 14, 2005, she became the first dearly departed member of our family. Dad conducted a wonderful service for her at the church amidst a lovely display of flowers. We know that God called her to her new home and we know she is very happy there but we do miss her. For those who did not know, Cathy accepted an invitation to leave home. No, Dad did not ask her to leave. Rodney invited Cathy to be his wife and she accepted. In fact, she accepted faster than he invited but that is a different story. Anyway, they are living happily ever since on their farm in Rapid City.

That's the short and sweet version but let me inform you of the reality of a wedding. Once the lovely couple decided to get on with the inevitable there wasn't much time to get everything ready. In fact, there wasn't enough time to get anything ready. You wouldn't believe how much time and energy and planning and preparation and frustration it takes just to get Dad ready; not to mention all the other things that had to be done. The date they settled on was great except for the fact that every facility in town was already booked or way out of Dad's price range. (Dad's price range is the dollar menu at McDonald's.) So between a serious lack of available facilities, Dad's wallet glued shut, and only three months until the wedding, it was finally decided to have the reception in our pole building. That didn't exactly solve the problems, it just created different ones. For one thing, there was no electricity in the building. Second, the building is 50' x 100' with a 16' ceiling, which makes 80,000 cubic feet. If you know Dad, then you know that it already had 90,000 cubic feet of junk in it or as Dad calls it, the necessities of life. What ever you want to call it, there was sure a lot of it. So we pitched in and spent a lot of time helping Dad move his necessities of life. Mom said that Dad should just remove a lot of it but Dad's idea of removing it is that you move it once and then later on you re-move it, as in move it again. Dad had a distinctly different way of cleaning the building than the rest of us. Dad said he had this cleaning thing down to a science. Actually he worked like and archeologist. He would carefully pick up a piece, examine it thoroughly, dust it off, smile and nod, show it to everybody in the room, discuss it with everybody individually, then gently carry it around looking for someplace else to set it down so he could come back later and re-move it to another spot. On the other hand, the rest of us were making much more progress using brooms and shovels.

When we were finished the necessities of life all fit in less than 1,500 square feet. Dad, feeling good about his organizational skills, asked, "Where do you think it all went?" We just looked at him and said, "You don't really want to know." What ever happened to it, the building was cleaned up which then left the small matter of trying to get electricity into the building. Dad had 225' of extension cords running from the house to the pole building and it does not take a masters degree in electronics to figure out that that wouldn't work. We had to plug in a refrigerator, freezer, several roasters, a sound system, video equipment, and lights. So Dad had to open his wallet again. I never saw Dad's wallet open as much in my whole life as it did in those few months. But believe it or not the electricity was done correctly, which means that Dad hired somebody else to do it. And the electric was hooked up with three days to spare. Now that only means that we had a service panel installed. So now we had a big empty pole building with an electric service panel, how exciting is that? Well, we got to work and transformed the area, complete with a 12' screen, video projector, plasma screens, and 150' of drape, sound system lighting, waterfall, flowers, tables, chairs, decorations and even a few fog machines. The room had everything, well, everything except heat. The morning of the wedding Dad went out and turned up the thermostat in the shop to get some heat in the building. But as he found out later, turning the thermostat up without turning the furnace on does not get the room any warmer; but Dad saved money on the heat bill.

Of course, all the other normal details were going on at the same time. All the work of doing your own catering, sorting through recipes, deciding what to serve, decorating the pole barn, decorating the church, writing checks, getting Dad calmed down, ordering tables and chairs, cooking, arranging everything, rearranging everything, doing it all over again, writing checks, getting Dad calmed down, making table decorations, making floral arrangements, making table treats, making a wedding dress, making bridesmaid dresses, making 16' x 150' of drape, writing checks, getting Dad calmed down, buying Mom's dress, returning Mom's dress, buying Mom's dress, returning Mom's dress, buying Mom's dress, writing checks, trying to unconfuse Dad, buying tuxedos, the list was endless.

And then sooner and later, the big day came. Sooner than we were ready for and later than Cathy had hoped for. Anyway, the church was filled with family and friends. The candles were lit. The white runner rolled out. The bridesmaids in place and the music started. It was time for the bride to make her entrance. There she was, Cathy, looking like a princess, all dressed in white being escorted by Dad. What a sight! I had never seen anything like it in my life. Dad in a tuxedo! Can you picture it in your mind? The church all decorated beautifully. Cathy, the lovely bride in her gorgeous dress, walking into the church on a white runner, looking radiant and being escorted by what appeared to be a 900 pound penguin; yeah, with the waddle and everything. Anyway, by the time Dad waddled to the front of the church and gave Cathy's hand to Rodney it was evident that the sniffling had started. And it wasn't long before tears were seen rolling down cheeks, followed by sobbing, and then outright uncontrollable crying, but Dad finally got a hold of himself and got on with the ceremony. No, Dad is not really that sentimental, he was only crying because he saw all the people in attendance and realixed how much it was going to cost to feed them. After all, we all know that nothing can bring a tear to Dad's eye like spending money.

The whole day was hectic even by our normal standards; the ceremony, pictures, more pictures, the reception, visiting each person for 2 seconds, pictures, trying to get a bite to eat, pictures, trying to get some heat in the building, a few more pictures, cake, sore feet, more pictures. And then, after three months of nonstop preparations, purchases, and planning it was suddenly all over. Cathy and Rodney left and the happy coupler were finally alone, it was quiet, everything came to a stand still and they rejoiced that it was over, I was referring to Mom and Dad; but I suppose Rodney and Cathy were happy about it as well. But I don't think anybody was happier than Dad. Sure it cost him a few dollars, but after all, somebody else had taken over the payments on Cathy, who it is rumored to have been their most expensive child because she was born in the middle of a 10 day uncovered period between Dad's insurance coverages.

Speaking of rumors, rumor has it that some of you think that Mom writes these letters. Some of you have even chastised her for saying such awful things about her husband. Well let me put that rumor to rest once and for all. First of all, those are not awful things about Dad, they are true. And second, Mom does not write the newsletter, she just makes sure that all the awful things said about Dad are true.

Speaking of rumors though, there may be some talk going around about Mom being pregnant, miscarrying, being divorced and/or having a new husband. Let me also put that rumor to rest. I will address the miscarriage first and we can deal with the other issues later. Mom did indeed miscarry this year. She miscarried sweet little peaches. It happened when she was at Cathy's house. Cathy had spent hours canning and Mom was helping by carrying some jars down the stairs for Cathy. And then Mom, in her delicate and graceful way decided to try going down the steps without using her feet. And she did it too. It was not like she was trying to flu; it wwas more like she was diving off of a diving board. The main problem was that the pool was empty and Mom did a belly flop on the basement floor. As she fell Mom did her best to protect her sweet little peaches, but in spite of her best efforts when she landed on her belly all four quarts of peaches that she had been carrying (or at this point miscarrying) smashed between Mom and the cement floor. Half of those sweet little peaches were splattered all over the basement and the other half were splattered in Mom's face, clothes and hair. Once the damage to Mom was assessed and she was found to be okay the long process of cleaning up began. The large pieces of glass were not so bad but it was difficult finding all the little slivers of glass, and scraping up the peach chunks and then still having to deal with the sticky peach juice, what a mess and that was only the stuff on Mom. Her was matted with peach juice, pieces of glass were embedded under her skin and she had a pretty nice cut on her hand. Mom wrapped her hand in a cloth and applied pressure to stop the bleeding. That is normally a good idea, except when applying pressure pushes glass deeper into the flesh, which does not slow down the bleeding. Now if that had happened to any one of us Mom would have been whisking us off to the doctor immediately; but when we suggested it to here that was a different story. It was an interesting game of role reversal. Mom was making up excuses for not going to the doctor and Brian and Jessica were telling her she should go. Then Jessica used Mom's favorite line, "When was the last time you had a tetanus shot?" Well, Mom did go to the doctor with some coaxing and is doing fine after a few xrays and stitches She may still have a piece of glass under her skin but she is used to having things getting under her skin, after all she is married to Dad. Funny thing though, Cathy hasn't needed any more of Mom's help with canning since the accident.

Speaking of accidents, most of you know about our "switches back" driveway. No, not a switch back road, that is a road that curves sharply back and forth. This is a "switches back" road. In the sumer it is a beautiful little drive through the woods; and in the winter it is a long treacherous encounter with death; and it "switches back" every spring and fall. I think it's some how connected to daylight savings time. Anyway, the "switches back" driveway explains the car that was and is not and is but was not. (You can stop and read that again if you need to.) Anyway, Brian Jr. and Mom were leaving in the car that was, when a sheet of ice dove under the car, grabbed the tires, and pushed them into an oncoming tree which the threw them off the other side of the driveway making the that was into the car that is not and leading up to making the car that was not into the car that is. In other words, our old car was totaled and we bought a new car. Brian said Mom scared him half to death with her screaming. Mom said Brian scared her half to death with his driving. Dad was scared half to death with the cost of repairs. Oh yeah, good old money saving Dad took the collision insurance off the car a few days before this to save money. That plan did not work.

Anyway, it's all just part of the ongoing driveway game. Rather than go into all the details maybe I will just give you a recap of the driveway game so far. Season One: The Toyota four-wheel-drive blew a head gasket coming up the hill (that was before the driveway was even there) Driveway 1, Dad 0. Season Two: Dad hit the tree at the end of the driveway with the maroon mini van; actually, he hit it on several occasions before the mini van was put out of the game, Driveway 2 Dad 0. Season Three: Dad hit a stump with the tractor while blowing snow and had to get the tractor repaired. Driveway 3 Dad 0. Season Four: Dad rallied for a comeback and cut down the tree he had hit so often with the maroon mini van, Driveway 3 Dad 1. However in retaliation the driveway tossed the gray mini van into an oncoming tree and totaled it, Driveway 4 Dad 1. Then Dad hit the stump from the tree he had cut down and broke the tractor again, Driveway 5 Dad 1. So this year Dad had several trees removed and the stumps ground out. Mom then put markers along the driveway to show Dad that the driveway is actually located BETWEEN the trees. That must have been an enlightening bit of news for Dad. So now Dad thinks he can get ahead of the game. But this winter season has only begun and the trees are in a very good position to destroy anything that moves along that driveway. However, the trees have been slightly intimidated by the fact that Dad bought a wood stove this year and wood along the driveway is easy pickin' on a cold night.

Yes, you heard right, we now have a wood stove. How's that for progress? It is one of those outdoor models, so that you don't have to bring wood into the house. So now when the stove needs wood, instead of having the wood in the house, we can go outside in the snow and cold and try to break a piece of wood out of the ice in the dark and put it into the stove. I am still not sure where the logic is in all of this. But if you want to see something totally illogical you should see Dad trying to put wood in the stove. Actually you should see him after he has tried to do it. He comes back in huffin' and puffin' like and old steam locomotive. And that would not be so bad except he smells like one too. Mom said that Dad must get into the stove when he fills it because he sure smells like smoke when he is finished, plus the fact that his eyebrows seem to be permanently singed. When Mom goes out there she puts the wood in the stove and comes back in smiling and looking beautiful. But Dad goes out and in twice the time time, looks ten times worse. Come to think of it, he looks ten times worse to begin with.

Do you recall Mom and her squirrelly go-cart rides? And that we returned the go-cart before anybody got killed? Well, Mom went out this year and bought a golf-cart, which is a go-cart withe and lf in the middle. "LF" means "less flashy", other than that there is no difference. But the transformation began almost immediately. It was not long after the golf-cart arrived that James and Grace removed the roof and windshield. There went a good deal of the "lf". Then the rear tires were removed and a set of larger knobby tires were put on instead. The "lf" was gone for good. The new cart can now go places that the old one never dreamed of. The old cart was confined to the driveway but this new cart can go anywhere. We made several trails that wind through the woods, going up and down the hills and barely squeezing between the trees in a few places. So now we can pretend we are Dad on the driveway. But we haven't hit nearly as many things as he has. Jessica, James and Grace will all pile on the cart and drive around for hours singing and laughing as they whip through the woods. Mom uses it to get the mail, take the dog for rides and gather wood. Dad tries to use it to go back and forth to the shop. But quite often while he is in the shop somebody will steal the cart and head out singing. This cart has been great. And its "lf" stigmatism is gone forever. But I don't think the transformation is quite finished, I overheard something about a new paint job and a small hemi, whatever that is.

James and Grace won scholarships to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp again this year. Grace went for violin and James went for art. They were both excited about going again. Mom was excited that they were able to go and Dad was excited that he didn't have to pay for it at all. James brought home some great art objects that he made. And Grace brought home a video tape of her playing the violin with the orchestra. She really looks like she is playing quite well too, it's just too bad there is no audio on the tape. But on the other hand, if we put on a CD while watching the video we can have Grace play any song we want.

Grace likes to fiddle around. She fiddles with computer animation and has produced several things for Dad's productions as well as for friends and to post on the Internet. Grace is a calm person and very patient with Dad when he frequently tries to get her to blow up. Well not to blow up herself but to model an object on the computer and then blow it up for him. No, not make it bigger but make balls of fire and explosions. She blew up a whole planet for Cathy's wedding video. Grace fiddles with everything, she even fiddles with the violin and plays in the Traverse Youth Orchestra. While she was at music camp this year with 1200 other students in attendance, she won the scholarship for the essay contest. She evidently fiddles with a pen and paper too.

James is not as dizzy as everybody thought he was. He is an artist and is quite talented in that area. He has designed and drawn several things for Dad's productions as well as for friends and to post on the Internet. He also plays the cello in the Traverse Youth Orchestra. He is more stable than he was a couple of years ago. You recall he was having trouble with his balance and went out to the Mayo clinic. Well this year the problem returned. The doctor suggested that since James is allergic to wheat maybe he should try not eating it for awhile and see what happens. Well, the results are that James has become a more stable person and is not as unbalanced as he used to be. Maybe that is why they call it eating a balanced meal.

Jessica has been in the hospital a lot lately. In fact, it seems like Mom is driving her to the emergency room at least once a week. Some of you know that Jessica has something wrong with her head, she blacks out and has migraine headaches. She has been to a lot of specialists and had a lot of test done but nobody is sure what Jessica's problem is. Well none of that is why she has been in the hospital lately. Jessica has volunteered to work in the emergency room at the hospital once a week. Between that and her medical transcription school her life is full of doctors, nurses and medical stuff. At the emergency room she gets to do a lot of exciting thing like help the nurses and clean up when the patients get sick. She seems to really enjoy it too, but I wonder if they can figure out what is wrong with her head?

Brian Jr. is still putting out fires. Usually the ones that Dad starts because he had too many irons in the fire, or too many cooks in the kitchen, or too many things he did unsupervised. Brian builds, repairs and in general keeps our computers running. He also does a lot of the business meetings and does follow up for Dad. That means that after Dad has done something, Brian follows him and fixes it. Brian is the captain on the fire department and puts out a lot of fires there as well. I think he is good at it because of all the training he gets following up after Dad.

Mom spends a lot of her time trying to keep everybody else spending their time properly. She is still going to her quilting classes and has made some very nice quilt blocks. Mom also does a million other things while keeping an eye on Dad so he does not hurt himself.

Dad spends a lot of his time thinking about how he would spend his time if he ever had the time to spend on anything besides thinking about how to spend the time he might have if he had any.

But we are glad that God has allowed all of us to spend Christmas time with each other. Now if Dad would only let us spend a little money it would be a really Merry Christmas.

Oh yeah as for Mom being pregnant, divorced and having a new husband. Don't believe a word of it. A friend of the family has Cathy confused for Mom and will NOT be convinced otherwise. Mom is not pregnant. The only addition to the family is Rodney, which we are very happy about but came into the family through marriage to Cathy. The only thing Mom miscarried was an arm full of peaches. And she is sticking with Dad until death do they part. And Dad is not dead, he only looks that way. Of course, after doing the wood stove he smells that way too.

We trust you all had a Merry Christmas.

And have a Happy and Blessed New Year

The Haskin Family

Brian, Dian, Brian Jr., Jessica, James and Grace

P.S. I found out who has the phone number 800-GET-LOST.

It is SBC. Hmmmm, what do they think of customer satisfaction?