Christmas Update - 2015

What We Did This Year

Published: 16 December 2015

A Vintage Giles' Cartoon For Christmas

I bet the Japs and Germans don’t have to suffer two weeks’ Christmas holiday whether they want it or not. - Giles Cartoon
I bet the Japs and Germans don’t have to suffer two weeks’ Christmas holiday whether they want it or not

Off on Holiday

It’s forecast to be a pleasant 70ºF/20ºC here most of this and next week. So, our usual rationale of ‘escaping the NOVA damp and cold’ doesn’t wash this time. Nevertheless, we are off down to Isle of Palms, South Carolina, for Christmas and New Year later this week. It is a coastal suburb of the beautiful historic city of Charleston, so we don’t need to trump up a reason for going. Also, there are huge beaches where dogs are welcome to run leash-free for long periods every day. It’s a 520-mile drive straight down I95 for all but the last hour.

So, before we leave, we would like to take this opportunity to wish friends, family, and colleagues a Merry Christmas and a healthy and wealthy New Year. We can also update you on what has been happening with us this year.

Hip Hip Hooray

Persistent pain in my right hip led to a visit to an orthopaedic consultant last December (2014). I left with an appointment for him to do a total hip replacement op five weeks later. I was glad that there wasn’t a long waiting list; it was better to get on with it.

It was still dark on the Op day (2 February) when we arrived at the clinic. The staff processed me efficiently, wheeling me into the pre-op within a few minutes. Next, I remember coming around with the new joint in time for lunch. They had me up and walking around in the afternoon and let me go the following day.


A visiting physiotherapist ensured steady progress back to mobility in the following days.

  • She encouraged me to discard the walking stick as soon as I could do without it. Almost right away.
  • After about a week, I walked a mile and a half without discomfort and resumed dog-walking duties.
  • At the 2½ week stage, the physio cleared me to drive. The first driving task was to collect a new SUV from the dealership and steer it the 25 miles home in near whiteout conditions as a record-breaking blizzard raged across the area all afternoon.


Responsibility for this progress lies with the extraordinary skill of the surgeon and staff. My contribution was to do as they bid me. Years of regular daily dog walking along the trails around here likely played a part, too, as did having shed about 50 lbs a couple of years ago and kept it off.


I had never been too curious about my ancestors until recently. I derived most of what I knew from snippets my Ma provided us. It was mainly wrong.

On opening an account with, I quickly found that a cousin in Texas had put together her whole family tree back to the Middle Ages. It had the lineage on my father’s side going back to the settlers from England in the early 1600s and beyond. Until then, I had assumed that the Hastings were Scotch Irish (Ulster-Scots) who would have crossed the Atlantic around 1750.

US Civil War

Captain Jo Hezekiah Hastings, 17 Regiment, Tennessee Infantry

I come from a much longer line of Joseph Hastings than I thought before. Perhaps the most notable is 3-times-Great Uncle 2Lt Joseph Hezekiah Hastings of the 17th Infantry Regiment of Tennessee. Taken prisoner by the Union Army at the Battle of Petersburg in 1864, he became one of the ‘Immortal 600’. They were a band of Confederate Officers ordered at the highest Federal level to be human shields by being confined in an enclosure in front of the Union artillery besieging Charleston. They were also deliberately starved. They endured this brutal treatment for more than three months. It was said to be in retaliation for the ill-treatment of Union POWs by their Confederate captors. Many died due to the treatment, and the survivors supported and sustained each other through the ordeal. They became famous and a symbol of dogged resistance throughout the Post Bellum South.

My Grandmother’s Grandfather, Private William Sims, served with the 19th Texas Cavalry Regiment and perished at the Siege of Vicksburg. Another 3-times-Great Uncle, also from Tennessee, was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia fighting with Robert E Lee. There were others, of course, but I couldn’t find any ancestors on the Union side. Farther back in time, though, several of my ancestors were on the winning side in the Revolutionary War.


I turned 70 on 4 August. I enjoyed sharing that birthday date with the Queen Mother when she was alive. These days, I have to share it with Obama. Bummer!


I think I haven’t travelled anyplace this year, not even into adjacent Maryland. On the other hand, Karen’s job has taken her to Australia for a week. She managed to get a couple of days off to go and visit Douglas and Louise in Coffs Harbour, NSW, while she was there. She travels widely in the US and made multiple trips to the West Coast. She certainly racks up the Air Miles, that girl.

 Ye Wee Blogger

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