New Year 2015 Greetings

Written by  //  December 30, 2014  //  Nicholson musings and messages, Reports  //  1 Comment

We have been remiss in sending greetings, and therefore must apologize for the length of this message.

personal library Alberto Manguel2014 as a library* with treasured volumes from the past and glossy new ones, just opened and full of surprises, all side-by-side with the ever-present favorites wherein we discover new themes. Some of the volumes have been joyous surprises; others dark or deeply sad. We have reopened some old favorites cached in our personal library stacks, uncovering characters, plot lines and events from many years ago. We relish the ‘new arrivals’, some with exotic settings and handed on by mutual friends, while we in turn happily participate in the world-wide lending library of thought, analysis and characters that has no boundaries.
The impressive collection of sequels continues to grow – smaller volumes than the originals, but we feel sure they will become best sellers. .
Finally, we have regretfully closed the covers of a few classics, putting them away carefully, while recalling favorite chapters and images.
*a particularly apt description given the number of friends who have published books this year.

Health – at our age, an unavoidable topic
Not long after our return to Montreal from the family Christmas in Banff (see 2013 Greetings and Musings),  David (who had been diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s) became the very first person accepted for an 18-month clinical trial at the Jewish General Hospital, part of a world-wide study. The medication is designed to arrest the development of the dreaded disease and, so far, it seems to be doing so. The experience has been generally quite wonderful, although some of the side effects less so. The research team, under the direction of our friend, the remarkable Dr. Howard Chertkow, is incredibly supportive – and charming. In September, we were invited to be the ‘poster children’ at a press conference where the federal minister of Health, Rona Ambrose, announced the launch of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CCNA). Although we thought we would simply be part of the audience, it turned out we both had ‘speaking parts’, and met some exceptional people who work or have a special interest in the field, including some very dear friends with whom we had lost touch while they coped as caregivers to afflicted family members.
Our Singapore family have also had more than their share of health ‘issues’, but now all seem to be on the mend.

Our move
Those who were kept up-to-date during the exercise can skip over this, but as a number of friends were entertained by the saga, we include it.
On July 8 we moved! Not far – three floors up from the cosy apartment we had inhabited since leaving 33 Rosemount in 2010. What we had expected to be a simple exercise turned out to be an experience that we can only describe as ‘fraught’. The first indication was that our beloved lit clos were too big to go into the elevator and too rigid to make the turns in the stairs. Thanks to our intrepid friend and renovator, Jonathan Jonas, the two pieces were successfully cut apart and seamlessly put back together when they reached their new home.
#1700 celebration 2014-09-21 (9)We love our bigger, brighter digs with a nice view of cityscape and trees. It had been beautifully maintained, but we discovered a bunch of inconvenient truths because we needed to install a washer/dryer. The ventilation team created more dust than a brigade crossing the Sahara – and it was all horrid plaster/concrete dust. Every room in the apartment has a door, but they failed to close any of them, so every room benefited from the dust storm. The work entailed removing the ceiling in one bathroom. Once the (prehistoric) pipes in the ceiling were exposed, the plumber arrived and said we should change the pipes, which looked ready to burst at any moment. The building management agreed. Meantime the electrician found very strange things in the electrical panel, but no 220, so had to run a new circuit – more dust and mess. And we had to devise a way of hiding the cable in the ceilings with some sort of moulding. Two outlets in the master bedroom didn’t work. The electrician broke into the (newly painted) walls and again found really strange arrangements. All solved, but a new coating of plaster dust everywhere — more cleaning – and repainting!
We had to ask the movers to change the date for the third time – to give us time to get everything right – and CLEAN!
The telecommunications challenge was positively daunting. Bell sold us a lovely package over the phone, but when their technician arrived he confirmed it cannot be done in this building (heritage – no dishes on the roof – and who knows when the building can be made fibre optic friendly)– so back to splitting with PKP’s Videotron (Quebec political reference) whether we like him or not! We really don’t understand how well recessed dishes on the roof would detract from the building. SIGH!
The week of the move, there were 4 separate visits from a total of five Bell technicians for the telephone installation and at one point we were phoning from the coat closet in the foyer. Three visits from the Videotron cable person who terminated the initial one saying “I have another client who is waiting.” Whatever happened to the service concept of staying with the client until s/he is satisfied?
Degrees in Languages & Linguistics and Latin American Area studies did not really prepare Diana for this job as maître de chantier!

In June, Diana happily returned to work as a consultant with the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation communications team to oversee content for the new website and Facebook page. One of the delights was a new alumni program that brought 10 former Sauvé Scholars back to Montreal for a few days of renewal. What a joy to see some of these wonderful young people again, learn about their personal and professional progress since they ‘graduated’ from the Scholars Program, the changes they are creating through organizations they have founded and nurtured. These gifted young people never cease to inspire.
She has also undertaken to assist a dear friend and former colleague from Expo 67 , Yves Jasmin, in editing the English version of  his personal memoir of  Expo La petite histoire d’Expo 67. Yves, who was Director of Public Relations, Information and Advertising, has a unique perspective on the lead-up to and the successful six-month event that was a huge turning point in the  development of Montreal, Québec and Canada. Not incidentally, it was Expo that brought Diana to Montreal and thus to meet David — and the rest is indeed our history!

Wednesday Night logoWednesday Nights continue unabated. The celebration of #1700 in a suitably festive and collaborative manner on October  was also the first occasion for many friends to see the new apartment into which we had settled over the summer.
The weekly Wednesday Night invitations (some refer to them as Prologues) are a challenging endeavor, and usually a source of great personal satisfaction. The research required is always interesting and often yields fascinating tidbits of information. It couldn’t be done without numerous promptings and Facebook postings from near-by and far-flung friends for which we are truly grateful.
Given developments at home and overseas along with the broad range of interests of Wednesday Nighters, we never lack for topics including some that lead to quite disputatious (e.g. climate change, pipelines, and Israel/Palestine) discussions. We are also particularly happy that our ‘away’ friends do not hesitate to recommend friends who are passing through Montreal and who add to the wisdom gathered around the table.

Bo and Maya Christmas 2014The children (horrors! now middle-aged) are facing their own challenges gracefully and we join them in their pride in the grandchildren who flourish. We are particularly delighted that Marc has successfully introduced the multi-cultural, multi-ethnic  concept of Children’s Creations to Singapore, giving a highly diverse group of  young people there a great vehicle to express themselves;  the first performance by Singapore Creations, We Have Something To Say! , in mid-December was a great success. Maya and Bo were both enthusiastic members of the cast.

Marc, Jean, Maya, Tebo, and Ryan representing the Vancouver family, were with us for Christmas which was a joyous occasion, despite Bo’s painful accident that resulted in an emergency operation. We wish that the whole family could have gathered, as we did last year in Banff, but with the presence of Astri, Sam, Somayeh and Hosein for Christmas dinner, we maintained our traditional blend of family and friends of many ages and interests, with laughter, good conversation and fellowship.

Christmas Dinner 2014 with Sam & Astri, Somayeh and Hosein

Fiona has faced difficult times since leaving the job she so loved at Cenovus, but we are hopeful that 2015 will bring her a new and happy niche. In the meantime, she and we, take great comfort in her fantastic photography.

In sum, despite all that ails the world, we are contented and can only wish the same for all our family and friends, near and far. May the New Year – whether 2015, or the 4712th Chinese year (Year of The Goat), or Anno Mundi AM 5775 – be filled with comfort and joy, peace of mind, good health, happy surprises, the warmth of friendship and the sustaining power of love.

And need we remind you that the door is always open (as long as the buzzer works) and the welcome always warm for any and all friends?

One Comment on "New Year 2015 Greetings"

  1. Glenda Scott December 28, 2014 at 12:47 pm ·

    Dear D & D
    Greetings from Whistler BC where Glenda and her Girlies – Leslie and Steve Aikins, Brooke and Scott resident in Whistler, Kim and Peter Watts, Liam from Duncan on The Island – joyously celebrate the holidays.
    Glenda’s residency in fairytale town Victoria which is temperate, beautiful and kind is a work in progress. It will be until she gets her landlords in line and endless things done in order to make #708 her HOME. Life #9, the significance goes without saying, is underway.
    Good to hear all your news.
    Always keep in touch,
    Love and look after one another
    Much love, hugs and God’s best,

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