Holy Days 2015 / New Year 2016

Posted By on January 21, 2016

Dear Friends and Family,

We hope this greeting finds you well and at peace, or at least on the way there.  We are here in Fletcher, living La Vida Loca.  We have just enjoyed another wonderful Thanksgiving Day in Dunwoody, GA at the home of my sister-in-law’s parents, the Schneps – our tradition of 17 years now.

Luke flew in for the day from El Cerrito, CA where he lives with our three grand-chickens, Ophelia, Patricia and Carlotta.  Alas, we lost Henrietta this fall from an infection she was not able to overcome. As Luke nears his thirtieth birthday he is in transition, discerning his path for the next third of life. No doubt his new concertina will figure prominently on this journey, as he and Rose have joined a Morris dancing troop in the Berkeley area.

Lucy went down the day before so that she, Aunt Jill and Cousin Peyton could run the Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon – her third this year.  Last Sunday her roomie, Jessica, got tickets for us to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Greenville, SC—great fun, even if the light show brought me close to seizures. Our one-eyed-pirate-grand-dog, Padfoot, narrowly escaped the reaper after he ate a bag of Hershey’s kisses (the kiss of death?) last month.  Lucy continues with Thermo-Fisher Scientific gathering fun stories about customer service.

Conrad also joined us for the day, but had to get back to Boone for Black Friday.  After graduating last May from Appalachian State University with Psychology BS, he and his roommates found jobs in Boone to prolong the college experience.  He works in the new Verizon Wireless store, and has to beg US to pay our phone bill since we are now on HIS plan.  Life is good!

After sending in our last college tuition payment in the spring Leslie “ceased work.”  She did not “retire,” as people of our income status do not retire in their fifties, but she did cease working for mammon. Now she volunteers with Brother Wolf, a no-kill animal shelter, and our public library.  She has also started volunteering with Heart of Horse Sense, where rescued horses and human beings who need to be rescued learn to work together.  She also ministers to Rocky, our schizoid Golden mix.

I am in my fifth year as the Director of Ministries at Givens, a United Methodist Retirement Community in Asheville.  The work is most fulfilling, with great colleagues and very congenial residents – many of whom have figured prominently in my life and professional development.  Leslie and I celebrated our 33rd on July 4th at Bald Head Island with gracious hosts, Mark and Robin in their lovely home.  We have also been thrilled to have family move to Asheville: Cousins Ann and Steve “up-sized” in retirement from Midtown Manhattan to Montford!

I attended the Junaluska Peace Conference a couple weeks ago which focused on relations between the Abrahamic traditions.  There was a great spirit of togetherness among the Christians, Muslims and Jews there, even with the awful events in Beirut and Paris happening at the same time.  We all shook our heads and asked, “how long?”  We pledged to work harder for the peace, salaam, shalom that we all understand to be at the heart of our traditions.  It starts, of course, inside each of us.  May the Prince of Peace be born in us all this Holy Season, and may peace prevail on the earth.

Ed, for Leslie, Luke, Lucy and Conrad

Greetings for 2015

Posted By on January 19, 2015

Dear Family, Friends and Fans of HouseHillman.com (with special greetings to all who still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny and World Peace),

May you all gain clarity about your true desires in this New Year! First, the news:

Oldest son Luke is now the president of his own LLC, Agrarify, for which some venture capitalist is sure to pay millions.  He moved across the bay from San Fran to El Cerrito to be closer to our grandchickens, and to his girlfriend, Rosemary, a new Master of Professional Science in Biotechnology.  He visited Norway in October and is considering becoming a Viking. Our true desire is for Luke to find a real job. (Hallelujah! as of January 9th, this desire is fulfilled! Luke is a senior UX designer at Prosper.)

Lucy moved to North Asheville on Memorial Day with our grand-dog, Padfoot, a very protective and misunderstood beastie.  She continues with Thermo-Fisher Scientific helping Level 4 labs contain the BUG.  Our beautiful daughter will run in the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February where she will soundly defeat any handsome prince poseurs. Gentlemen, get your stuff together!

Conrad the Younger is a Psych major at App State on track to graduate in May.  His course of study has helped him realize a few things about our family, so he is now able to move forward into the Wide Open Future.  He is considering “plastics,” but is not limiting himself to any particular pursuit.  Our true desire here may now be evident.

Insanely beautiful wife, Leslie, continues in neuro-surgery (keeping records – especially of husband’s deteriorating cognition).  Her great fear in life is that family members will ignore the excellent advice that she gives frequently and totally free of charge.  Reading, walking and knowing what you should be doing are her avocations, and her true desire is a yellow Honda Fit (and that husband would desist).

Husband Ed is enjoying life far too much – especially my work at the Givens Estates Retirement Community in Asheville.  Serving is truly a privilege where I admire co-workers and residents (many “cup runneth over” days there)!  Luke and I attempted Mauna Kea in May and were turned back by the Lady of the Mountain for our hubris.  We helicoptered over Kilauea as a consolation, proving once again that the Agony of Defeat sometimes ain’t so bad.

We lost our gentle and beloved Heidi in October.  She was with us two and a half years, and, thanks to Pope Francis, we hope to see her again!  Baracki Hussein (Rocky), our golden mix, seems to be in touch with the spirit world as he stares upward very often (weirdo).

In this new year of 2015 we continue looking beyond world insanity for signs of hope.  Pope Francis, First Congregational UCC in Asheville, and many small acts of reaching across the aisle or other divides inspire us.  Our true desire for ourselves is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly; our desire for you is peace and prosperity (as you conceive these things).

Ed, for Leslie, Luke, Lucy, Conrad and Rocky

New Year Greetings 2014

Posted By on January 4, 2014

Blessings to all of our family and friends, near and far.  We hope these greetings find you well and reasonably fulfilled, and that you are able to escape to your happy place for a few moments often during the New Year.  We are still here, aging in place and celebrating the return of the sun.

Luke has moved to the basement apartment of a house in El Cerrito, CA (just north of Berkeley) to be closer to our grand-chickens who live in a coop out back.  He is also closer to Rosemary with whom he is raising said grand-chickens.  He will continue to commute to his work at Tripit in the Mission District of San Francisco.

Lucy now works officially for Thermo-Fisher Scientific – with benefits and everything!  This supports her true vocation of partying with friends, yearly pilgrimages to DragonCon in Atlanta, and, of course, the Culture Wars which are important to the young and the restless.  She spends much time with Deklan – who has a cat.

Conrad is a junior at Appalachian State studying Psychology – which is helping him tremendously in on-line war games (I just heard a bad-word-exclamation amid the gunfire from his computer; he is counseling the perpetrator).  He lives in an apartment with four other guys, and there is an odor.  Erica won’t visit there anymore.

Leslie remains the SAME as always with a couple of important exceptions:  she has accepted both Chiropractic and Acupuncture into her Personal Belief System, and gives to these causes extravagantly.  She also had a screened porch built on to the back of the house last fall where we drink wine and speak of death.

I continue to enjoy my work at the Givens Estates Retirement Community in Asheville:  great colleagues, wonderful residents – a genuine community.  Luke and I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in September, summiting in spite of all my doubts.  Motor biking and now mountain climbing:  I’m an Adventurer.

Our Golden mix, Baracki Hussein (Rocky), is as crazy as ever – regularly attacking Heidi though he was fixed years ago.  Heidi is our sweet, 12-year-old, blonde Golden who is blind, mostly deaf, and bumps into things.  We lost Judas IscariRat this year: on to the golden sewers of Paradise.  The neighborhood bear ripped off our bird feeder.  Grrr!

My cynicism has taken a real beating this year. I love our new Pope Francis, and look forward to more of his leadership.  World leaders turned out to honor the memory of Nelson Mandela. Congress passed a semi-bipartisan budget agreement (the adults reasserting themselves).  More Christians (and even non-Christians) are beginning to focus more on what Jesus actually said and did, rather than what the Church has told them to believe. Non-dual thinking is being embraced by more than just the mystics. And Duke is going to a bowl game (what up!).  Yes, our world is still in the throes of adolescence, but some interesting things are happening. Stay tuned, and stay awake.

Ed, for HouseHillman.com

New Years 2013

Posted By on February 20, 2013

Greetings, dear family and friends, from House Hillman!

We are alive and well, thriving in Fletcher, NC. Let us get right to the news… after this word from our sponsor.

Conrad is doing very well as a Halo warrior and Cutco hawker. He is a sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, majoring in psychology and looking forward to a career of helping people figure themselves out. Conrad is ecumenical in romance and positive in outlook.

Lucy STILL lives at home, or, more accurately, sleeps at home. She provides phone support service for Thermo-Fisher Scientific during the day, and parties with friends at night. She has become a serious contender at various trivia venues in Asheville.

Luke works in the Mission District of San Francisco and lives in the Castro — an interesting and colorful section of town. He is a User Experience Designer for TripIt of Concur Technologies (it’s a techie thang [editor’s note: groan]). Luke is with Rosemary, who is interested in biotech stuff. He also brushes angora bunnies.

Leslie has been in profound transition this year — leaving academia for medicine and (yes) going to the dogs. She works for a neurosurgeon friend part of the week, and washes dogs at a salon the other half of the week.

I am now 18 months as the Director of Ministries of the Givens Estates, a Continuous Care Retirement Community. I have never been happier in my vocation, and I hope the Lord will leave me stationary for the next ten years or so. January 1, 2013 I will begin training for an assault on Kilimanjaro sometime in the next two years. Hello Weight Watchers!

Baracki Hussein, the Golden mix, seemed to take the reelection of his namesake in stride. Heidi is a very soft, blonde Golden who came to live with us last February. She is twelve years old, blind, and very sweet. Judas Iscarirat continues to dwell in Lucy’s room.

As we head over the rainbow and into the Last Third of Life, we have certainly grown more philosophical. I am now actively preparing to leave this world. No big announcement or anything like that — just thinking of bucket list, legacy, staying warm, etc., and looking for that simplicity on the other side of complexity. And appreciating more and more those of you traveling alongside us!


Ed, for househillman.com

House Hillman State of Affairs, February 2012

Posted By on March 25, 2012

Editor’s note: Dad had this finished by Valentine’s Day, but I’ve only just now gotten around to posting it. Apologies.

Greetings from HouseHillman.com!

What a year of changes for House Hillman (!) ushering in a new era of change and newness.

Conrad has left home for the far (2 hours) north of Boone, NC to become an Appalachian Mountaineer. Having no (immediate) family connection to ASU, but anticipating the nearby skiing, he is enjoying our unprecedented warm winter as his Phys Ed / Skiing class dons bathing suits for the downhill. He made the Dean’s list his first semester, even while keeping close company with the most wonderful distraction, Nicole.

Our Only Child, Lucy, lives in a rat-infested bedroom in our house, and sleeps, quite literally, with her laptop. By day she is a nanny for cute Elena, the 3 year old daughter of one of Lucy’s favorite high school teachers, and at night she hawks bling for Charming Charlie. She is doing her part for the culture war effort on Facebook and certain Asheville nightspots, and recently came home sporting her second tattoo (excuse me while I go stick my head in the oven).

Luke graduated with Distinction from Georgetown last May with a Masters in “Communication, Culture and Technology.” He was cheered by the staff of GU Public Safety, with whom he has worked for the last three years. After spending Christmas break in Greece, Luke flew out to San Francisco on his 26th birthday to start a new life in his chosen field as a “User Experience Designer” with TripIt, a travel website of Concur Technologies. He lives in the Castro and works in the Mission district – a 20 minute walk.

Wife Leslie continues to work in the library of North Henderson High School even though none of our children are there to spy on (hey, someone has to pay for their education). She has been stricken by Graves Disease, husband’s dementia, and the lack of control that most people take for granted. Still, life isn’t too bad as she has been unexpectedly able to remain living in her very own home in Fletcher, NC. And we even go to HER church!

After deciding to leave First United Methodist Church, Rutherfordton last summer I fell into the most delightful opportunity at the Givens Estates United Methodist Retirement Community in Asheville, NC. As the new chaplain I serve a little over 600 residents and 300 staff members, all of whom have become my new dear family. After admiring the staff there for the last seventeen years, when they invited me to join them I was too flattered to refuse. Leslie was overjoyed with my new position until she realized I would be moving back in with her full time; but she is learning to cope. And I seem to be truly happy for the first time in my life – a product of immense gratitude (and the aforementioned dementia).

The rat infesting my daughter’s room is Judas Is-scary-rat. He is not a Fancy Rat, just a plain ol’ rat Lucy rescued from snakes at the pet shop. I have to admit he has grown on Les and me, but not on ‘Racki (pronounced Rocky) who regards him with deep suspicion. Baracki Hussein is a great dog – mostly Golden, with some spaniel and other stuff. He is very entertaining, but, alas, addicted to rabbit raisins in the back yard. I brought Bonnie home when I moved back in, though Leslie continues to hate her: wives just don’t understand these things.

So, House Hillman remains based in Fletcher for the foreseeable future, though we now stretch from coast to coast. Les and I plan to visit San Fran for our 30th anniversary this coming July 4th, perhaps head up to Napa for a spell, then down to the desert to visit the Twin (and Batman, the Dark Kitty Cat).

My cultural comment is suggested by a bumper sticker I saw not too long ago: “Non-Judgment Day is Coming!” Were people to actually obey the teaching of One who said, “judge not, lest ye be judged,” that would be about as counter to this culture as you can get. But that seems quite impossible in the “United States of the Offended”*. Be careful; it’s a real cow pasture out there!

Ed, for House [Sladky] Hillman


* Thanks to my friend, Roger, for this moniker showing yet again that the USA is not exceptional.

Greetings from HouseHillman.com

Posted By on December 24, 2010

From our house to your house – warmest wishes for Peace on Earth, beginning in our hearts and stretching to the far coastlands. Come, People of Earth; let us walk in the Light of the Lord!

Family news: Luke is the Systems Administrator for Georgetown U. Security, and hopes to finish his master’s degree there in May.  He seems ready to move on from DC and get to it (it being AI). He and a friend toured Istanbul over spring break (pics here).

Lucy graduated from Wake Forest in May and moved back into her bedroom in Fletcher. She continues her interest in English nobility, having experienced Sir Paul and Sir Elton in separate venues. Job offers welcome!

Conrad, oh my Conrad, is a highly-focused and determined young man – just not on his schoolwork (♫ you can see she’s a beautiful girl, she’s a beautiful girl… ♫).  Ever since the Winter Olympics he has been keen on Appalachian State University and its proximity to the slopes – AND he has just been accepted!

Leslie continues her work as assistant in the library at our high school. She underwent cervical fusion surgery in November that made her a truly stiff-necked person – alas.

I am in my fifth year serving First United Methodist Church of Rutherfordton, NC. Commuting has taken a toll on my marriage, and my new love, Bonnie, came to live with me in July. She is a beautiful red Suzuki TU-250; Leslie just doesn’t understand us.  In September I donated one of my kidneys (and who knows what else) to Leslie’s cousin Mark. He is doing surprisingly well.

Baracki Hussein (‘Racki), our golden retriever mix, is entertaining as ever (he is also dangerous: 86,000 people a year in hospital due to their pets). We lost Captain Jack Sparrow, Lucy’s cute teddy bear hamster, this year: RIP, our little friend.

May 2011 be the year blind eyes are opened, the suffering are healed, and the poor receive good news. Let us all BE the change we want to see in the world.

Ed, for House Hillman

New Years 2010; Update on House Hillman

Posted By on January 5, 2010

New Years Greetings from the Sladky-Hillmans!

Strength and peace to all of you! We hope you are in good health and spirits, and that the holidays were a time of renewal for you. We began 2010 with the obligatory blast of the shofar, and went skiing the rest of the afternoon. Since I am unable to walk today, it seems good to write our reflections.

Luke (23) is in Washington, DC working for his alma mater, Georgetown University. He will begin a Masters program (Communication, Culture and Technology) there later this month unless he gets a better offer from a company in Afghanistan. Luke is “in a relationship” with Pam (a very smart Claire Danes lookalike), and would like for us all to consider not eating animals in 2010. [Editor’s note: I assume Dad used the phrase “in a relationship” in quotes because it’s facebook-speak. I left facebook early last year due to privacy concerns. -Luke]

Ms. Girl (Lucy) is a senior theatre major at Wake Forest University: to graduate or not to graduate, this is not a question. Her mother and I are thrilled that Lucy is putting her considerable dramatic gifts to good use. She directed the play, ‘dentity Crisis, this fall (I-dentity, you-dentity, he she or it-dentities), a comedic romp that sent several into therapy. As far as the future is concerned, Lucy is keeping her options open at this point. Employment is one of many possibilities.

Conrad (16, going on whatever) is into true head-banging metal now. He is a high school junior, plays soccer in the fall / tennis in the spring, is on the Student Event Clean-up Staff, and is a real player (young men are now full participants in drama-crisis circles, breaking the lock teenage girls have had on these for years). Conrad got a new iPod for Christmas, because “one does not simply rock into Mordor.”

Leslie is aging like fine wine – that special vintage in the poetry of Julia Ward Howe. Eschewing all artificial dyes and sweeteners, her natural beauty and disposition freely shine forth nowadays. Still enjoying her work in the media center of North Henderson HS, she nonetheless dreams of veterinary medicine, mucking out stalls and more time to herself. Paradoxically, we dread the empty nest.

I am in my fourth year at First UMC, Rutherfordton, NC, working with an excellent staff and active laity. The highlight of 2009 for me came in September when we hosted one of my personal heroes, Tony Campolo, for a three day preaching mission. It was, in a word, awesome!

Racki under xmas tree‘Racki (short for Baracki Hussein) is a demon dog, but highly entertaining at times. The backyard bunnies drive him absolutely nuts! Captain Jack the Hamster lives as an illegal on the Wake Forest campus. Cousin Mark Prak flew to California with Batman and Robin in July. Batman (the Dark Kitty) now resides with Leslie’s twin, Lorraine, and Robin Prak returned to NC with her husband.

We felt very fortunate, though with mixed emotions, to have sold our mountain house last summer. Shedding such a possession makes us feel lighter, though less grounded – one more divestment in that inexorable march. Nekkid, we came forth…

One hopes that 2010 will be the Great Turnaround Year from the previous decade. If it is true that we learn from our mistakes, the human race is poised to exhibit unbelievable wisdom. And having been warned not to preach, I leave you with our love and best wishes for this brave New Year!

Ed, for Leslie, Luke, Lucy, Conrad, Racki, Jack, Batman, and lots and lots of bunnies!

Holiday Greetings

Posted By on January 4, 2009


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to friends and loved ones far and near.  We hope these greetings find you in good health and determined spirit.  News of the House:

Our fifteen year old Conrad is a Guitar Hero off on World Tour.  He gets an “A” for Attitude (not a high mark), but he is doing relatively well in the classroom.  He went to Costa Rica last summer with a youth mission, and will be taking Spanish 3 next semester in Escuela de Calor.  He will get his driver’s license this summer, and a brand new BMW for his 16th birthday (just kidding, Conrad).

Lucy is twenty years old now and a junior at Wake Forest University — a true demon deaconess majoring in Theatre.  She remains in close touch with her peeps from high school (Facebook & txting), and is a fierce culture warrior exposing the ignorant and callous with her profound wisdom.  All this we hope will lead to self-sustaining employment.

After months of homelessness and unemployment in our nation’s capital, son Luke (23) now works as a “desk jockey” for Georgetown University, from which he graduated last May.  We think it may be just a short hop from Georgetown Security to Homeland Security.  At least this keeps him close to the action as he seeks a more suitable path to power.  Luke is a skinny vegetarian now, and had a melanoma removed from his arm last fall (prayers, please).

Leslie is also skinny again through counting points and great self-discipline (her heart goes out to Oprah).  She is our inside ma’am at North Henderson High School (in the library), and continues to read voraciously.  She soon plans to let go of her natural hair color:  no one should plan to visit.

We bade farewell to Sierra the Golden Retriever at the end of the summer.  She was a calm and peaceful presence and will be sorely missed.

The week before Sierra died a black cat came to stay with us — just jumped into Leslie’s lap as she read on the front porch: Batman, the Dark Kitty.

Captain Jack Sparrow, the dwarf hamster at our house, sleeps during the day and runs all night long.  It is an alternative lifestyle that I do not understand, so I leave him alone.

The Sunday before the election someone dropped a flea-bitten pupster off in front of the church who found my car and sat by it.  Baracki Hussein looks like an apartment-sized golden retriever (see picture), ‘cept he ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog! ‘Racki (pronounced “Rocky”) is a booger, though he has settled somewhat during the holidays.  The vet thinks he’s six to nine months old; he will be lucky to make a year.

I am now in year three of my current assignment at First United Methodist Church of Rutherfordton, NC.  It is a very tolerant congregation, which, of course, is the only way someone like me survives in the ministry.  I live there during the week, and see Leslie and Conrad on the weekends in Fletcher where a house owns us.

We face great challenges in 2009, staying within ours means and current clothing.  We were thrilled by the election of Barack Obama (especially with his victories in NC and Colorado).  If America can lose weight and get its economic house in order, I might (I say, just might) embrace American exceptionalism as a good thing.  While I am hopeful about this (faith), I am not optimistic (encouraged by any observable data).  I’ll let you know how my New Year’s resolutions go.

Let us keep the faith.

Ed, for House Hillman

(Cross-posted here)

A Belated Update for the New Year

Posted By on January 21, 2008

House Hillman moves into 2008 in as precarious a position as ever, grasping for a control over our lives two steps removed from reality. Ah, life! To be thoroughly set in one’s ways and to be so unsettled at the same time certainly keeps one on edge. What edge? You decide, gentle reader.

Conrad “Guitar Hero” Hillman is a freshman in high school, playing soccer (indoor and out) and doing well academically. Most of the time he plays with his Wii (snicker) as a first person shooter, rocker or fantasy soccer player. When wrenched away from the tube, he has a hand-held device to keep his edge. He rocks!

Lucy in the Sky is a sophomore (sophos/moros) at Wake Forest University majoring in Who-Knows-What, a degree that will put her in a solid position for thinking about What to Do in Life. It is thought that her prince will come; though her experience of family and friends thus far makes that seem unlikely. Fostering little ones out of wedlock is all the rage these days, so Lucy has Jack, a cute little longhaired hamster.

Master of the World Luke is on the edge of adulthood as he graduates from Georgetown University in May. He has majored in “Government,” believing bureaucrats and politicians will make excellent associates in the next phase of his life. His desire is to rule, though he has a strong secondary interest in the latest technological gadgetry (he has one of those new phones that even defecates in three colors). He is the Station Manager for GUTV, and has interned on the Hill (the true Hill-man) learning the fine art of manipulation and misdirection.

Pentagenarian Leslie continues as a redhead in all her flaming glory, widely discussed by the male students she serves in her work in the Media Center at our high school (not really). She manages the headquarters of House Hillman in Fletcher, NC, a job which often brings “the look” to those not up to snuff at the facility. Leslie works, reads, exercises (still), cleans house, chauffeurs the One Left Behind, and watches Desperate Housewives – activities that make her life “happy” or “satisfactory.”

I am in my twenty-fifth year of ministry in the United Methodist Church, the last year and one half at First UMC in Rutherfordton (pronounced RUF-tun), NC in an area devastated by the loss of textile manufacturing jobs. The county is clawing its way back as retirees from the North and refugees from Florida move into our lovely foothills of the Smokies. I live in a parsonage in Rutherfordton part of the week and at our headquarters in Fletcher the other part – an arrangement which, to my surprise, is not all that unusual in our arcane system of deploying clergy by episcopal fiat.

Dragon, the Green Iguana, passed away over a year ago. She was with us for ten years, and is remembered with great affection. Sierra, our 13+ years Golden Retriever, has been passing away for some time now. She is full of tumors and has a bad disease smell about her, but she still functions and maintains her winsome personality. Sweet old dog!

That’s the news, gentle reader. House Hillman continues a long-standing tradition of “education rich/cash poor,” and the search for the true Jesus in this wacky Bible Belt. For further commentary/observations, see individual blogs at HouseHillman.com.

Site Renovation

Posted By on January 2, 2008

House Hillman completely redesigned its web site today and moved it to its new domain, www.househillman.com. Comments on the design are welcome, but criticism (even constructive criticism) will not be tolerated.  News about the family will be posted to news.househillman.com semi-regularly.  An RSS feed is also available; see the link on the lower right side of this page.