We had quite a shaky start to 1997, with my Mom breaking her ankle and my Dad suffering from a heart attack. However, I am glad to say that, despite some anxious moments, their health has improved again.
David (9) and Sarah (6) are growing up very nicely, and have really brought us a lot of joy. We are very happy with their school -- the principal and teachers are really committed and caring, the classes are small, the academic standards are good, and it's just a short walk down the road from home. David has finished Grade 3 (Std 1) and Sarah has finished Grade 1 prep. David has spent a lot of time playing soccer this year, and received an award for the most improved player in his team at the Randburg Football Club. Both children have also been involved in tennis and swimming too.
We were involved in starting a Climbing & Hiking Club at the school, and have had some wonderful fun. The children (and I) have abseiled off the school walls, climbed and abseiled at Northcliff Hill, and at Roodekrans. We visited the Kromdraai Hiking Trail, and explored a fossil site, went through a trout farm, did a rope slide across a river, had an authentic 1917 ox-wagon ride with an old farmer called 'Oom Paul' who was impressively adept with a whip (although he controlled the team of oxen mostly with his voice), and visited the spectacular Wonder Cave.
Debbie and I have continued our involvement in teaching Sunday School, and have enjoyed spending time with a super group of children.
Deb has had a very busy year. She studied English II through Unisa, and now has only English III to go, before completing her degree, with a view towards doing Psychology Honours after that. She has also been very involved in Life Line training and counselling, as well as assisting with the teaching of a young autistic child.
I have spent a lot of time writing and presenting papers at conferences. I attended the Nickel-Cobalt-97 conference in Sudbury (Ontario, Canada), and enjoyed the conference and seeing friends again. Other 'high'-lights of that trip were a helicopter ride over the Inco plant and surroundings, as well as going up the CN Tower in Toronto (the world's tallest building at 553 metres) and standing on a glass floor more than 350 metres above the ground. Back at Mintek, we have had a steady stream of overseas visitors throughout the year (from Canada, USA, Australia, Sweden, Poland, and India).
We managed to fit in only a couple of short camping holidays this year. We spent a couple of days at Mountain Sanctuary Park in the Magaliesberg mountains during April. During October, we had a few more days at Umlalazi Nature Reserve (a little south of Richards Bay). We really enjoyed having a wide stretch of beautiful beach and dune forest to ourselves, and enjoyed looking at the hundreds of crabs in the nearby mangrove swamps. Right now, I am enjoying some leave at home with the family (until the beginning of January), with great weather, alongside the swimming pool.
Rodney, Debbie, David, and Sarah