The Christmas Update from the Lishmans at Purple Hill 2015


Geordie              Paula             Aaron                 Bill              Carmen               Ivy                Cadence  Deagan


Whooeee! It has been a very busy year the headline is We Are All Well  – well?  and there has been very little negative stuff over the year.

Best wishes to you all and welcome to a new Canadian political atmosphere,what a breath of fresh air! Daughter Carmen the day after the election emerged to say “It feels like Canada just had a good shit.” Hear hear!


Paula and I started out 2015 sharing a rental house with Matt Swan and Aaju Peter outside of Oaxaca in Mexico it was 6 weeks of beautiful weather swimming every day visiting the local craft villages and dining on the fabulous fresh produce available in the many markets. Paula and I kept busy. I worked every day on my coffee table book entitled the Oak Ridges Moraine from Above which is self explanatory. While I leave you to guess what Paula did – did you answer knit ? well she did some crocheting also. And I think she has watched every net flix movie to date.


Pictures tell the story.IMG_5484                   .IMG_5522IMG_5519


When we returned in the spring Daughter Carmen and son in law Carmelo decided they had enough of living in a basement apartment in Ajax and went shopping for a house .– Nothing suited and everything was priced beyond reason so they came to stay with us while they figured it out.  Paula continues to “wind down” her business but seems busier than ever. she had a big inventory of fur and finished stuff so every weekend she and her good friend Lyn MacDonald have been going to high end craft shows and selling off her wares.  She says she is out of business by the end of the year.  hmmm?  she’s not one to sit around  we will see.


Carmen has taken on a contract with Durham Board of Ed to ply her skill  as a speech and language therapist while husband Carmelo who has become fluent in English has been working as the right arm to custom builder Gary Hayward.   As I write this The two Cs are in the process of purchasing a place in a small village in Pickering more on that when the deal is complete. THE BIG NEWS is they will soon be 3. Carmen is due in April and living with her through her pregnancy is enlightening whoo hoo a third grandchild. Would you believe they have been married for five years.   Carmelo keeps developing his music skills and plays and sings every night when he comes home from work he has a great voice  writes some of his own songs and is also part of a band.  His music is great and adds much to our home life  on occasion Carmen sings with him. the two have a busy social life  centered around an eclectic group of mostly latin American expats.  they have had several diners here at the hill where we dine on a variety of foods from Central and South America.


We have weekly visits from Aaron & Ivy and our two fantastic grand children Cadence 10 and Deagan 6 Aaron is teaching at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough during the winter and in summer still teaches dirt bike riding in The Ganaraska.  Aaron keeps developing his music skills.  and his band entitled Boom Bust and Echo  keep playing at gigs around the Peterborough area and they just produced a fantastic CD with the same title.  I listened to the Beta version on one of my many trips to Ottawa this year and just loved it.  It is all their original songs and it is hard for me to name the genre I guess it might be called Indie Rock ? I will have to ask Aaron.  they have the CDs for sale now.

Geordie still lives at the old homestead on Westney Road and as the year closes we have finalized an agreement where he will become the owner keeping the place in the family for yet another generation. He continues pursueing his sculpture career and has done some really great pieces, just recently completing a commission for the City of Windsor – a piece that commemorates the time of prohibition when high powered rum runner boats and police boats plied the St Claire River.

As for me at 76 I have had the busiest year of my life as I mentioned previously In the early part of the year I produced the coffee table book on the Oak Ridges Moraine and had 500 copies printed. We had the book launch here in the underground house on Earth Day April 22 and it all worked I have had great feed back on the book – And as of this date out of the 500 printed there are only about 50 left.




Working with David Woodhouse we continued on re working my Rescue Trike for the project I call AIR FIRST AID Basicly we built a new aircraft and used a few parts from the old one Unfortunately my concept for using this type of aircraft for disaster relief still has not got off the ground but I keep gnawing a way foreward with it. With that said I have lost my passion for flying and this year my total time in the air can only be measured in minutes. When I was flying with birds or photographing the Oak Ridge Moraine there was purpose to my flight but now they are both done. While I love the freedom and the spectacular visuals it is now a case of bin der and dun dat. Any one have idea what I can do with 3 perfectly good ultralight aircraft?


In the spring as the Canadian election started to loom on the horizon and wishing to see the last of the Harperites I toyed with the idea of running as a candidate but then read the book entitled Tragedy in the Commons and figured at my age if elected with my limited energy it would be wasted time.

Back in about 2003 as part of a Project by my friend landscape architect Neil Turnbull, I took on a project working with son Geordie and long time friend and associate Richard VanHeuvelen to create 25 athletic welded steel figures for the roof garden of the Princess Margaret Hospital .– They were only visible to the patients of the oncology ward and unfortunately for a number of reasons it did not work that well so a couple of years ago we removed them and they sat here on the hill for a couple of years (to the delight of those who visited).  This spring  Tauba Spiro who had  commissioned them originally as a commemoration for her late father Max Tannebaum  found them a new home at Bridgepoint hospital which is a relatively new rehab hospital on the site of the Old Don Jail in downtown Toronto.  Richard V and I had a great time putting them together in a new context and repainting them in bright colours – and wow they took on a whole new life and brought a bunch of energy to the Bridgepoint. (during the winter you can catch a glimpse of them from the Don Valley parkway just north of Gerrard) or you can just visit the Hospital and take a walk out onto the west side planter area on the ground level.

Three muses at Bridgepoint

Three muses at Bridgepoint

RVH does the hair do

RVH does the hair do


the Lambada by RVH

the Lambada by RVH

Barishnikoff leaps by Geordie

Barishnikoff leaps by Geordie

The next big thing that happened after that. The Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa got all the approvals to do their planned make over of the surrounding landscape of the museum to reflect the varied terrain of the Canadian North.

The anchor to the plan would be the 40 foot high Stainless steel iceberg sculpture I designed three years ago. It was a full go to create that piece. It being too large a project to be fabricated in my shop, Pure Ingenuity Inc in Kingston under the leadership of Richard Ward took on the challenge of engineering and fabricating the piece, at first it was a bit of a nail biter because stainless is not the easiest material to work and the company while it had a great deal of experience with fabricating stainless steel they had taken on nothing of this size previously but they rose to the challenge and did a fabulous job, stayed on budget and installed it on time, how good is that? Richard V and I did have some input as work progressed over the summer but mostly we were able to stand back and nod our heads as the piece came together. In late October a train of three huge float trucks took it to Ottawa and a crew from Pure Ingenuity  erected it with the help of a couple of large Cranes. There will be an official launch of the whole landscape make over this spring I’m told. IMG_0179IMG_0177


Some of you may know that we have a little escape cabin/tree house high up in a hardwood ravine at the back of our property (Gordon Lee built for me back in 95 when we were making the movie Fly Away Home). It kind of fell in to disuse so a couple of years ago I installed a composting toilet put in a solar charged electrical system then listed it on Airbnb. It is a wonderful place to unwind and is booked now just about every weekend. It is mostly young professional couples from Toronto who love the escape. It brings a wonderful class of people to Durham region and the Port Perry area. Here is the link to the Airbnb site  the pictures really tell the story.

Our old house the Chalet which is  officially a studio and guest house.  over the years it  housed both Paula’s business for a time and the Operation Migration office in its start up years. It had become a bit dog eared and run down. This year it went through a make over and as the year end it nears completion so far it looks great from the outside. IMG_6301


I am still working on a couple of major extreme concepts one is the design of architecture for extreme climates starting with the Canadian north and a concept for replacing the crumbling prime ministers residence at 24 Sussex in Ottawa that more reflects current Canadian culture and suits our climate.

I have invited the prime minister to visit our earth integrated igloo home – yeah yeah I know both of these are long shots for an old fart but neither curling nor golf grab my passion here is the Concept for life in extreme climates .


Enough for this year thanks for reading and hope you have a fantastic 2016.

P.S. I’m looking for a bit of a quieter year and  oh yeah some news paper called and asked me for 16 words for 2016 and they just rolled out –   Aliens will finally reveal that they are actually Angels and will save us humans from ourselves.

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