Tuesday, December 31, 2019


One of the most important facts of life for anyone is memory.  There are all kinds of memories, not all of them are nice.  What really drives us all are the good things--we want more of them, but if that is not in the cards it is a consolation to remember the good things in our past.  A few of you will find memories we share.

An early hi-lite was Florence, my mother-in-law's 90th birthday.  She has been good to me and a whole lot of other people.  The retirement home she lives in was very accommodating for our celebration. The photo is with her great grandchildren.

In February we were invited to the most diverse wedding in my experience.  My niece, Samia with a Moroccan father (and my sister for a mother) married Anderson "Andy" with parents from El Salvador.  They had had a religious ceremony awhile back, but we witnessed a Quebec civil ceremony with an emphasis on equal rights.  Throughout the day four languages were used; English, Spanish, French and Arabic.  The bride and groom were brought in on separate sedans on the shoulders of strong men with Moroccan dress accompanied by drummers.  Moroccan tea ceremony reminded me of my late brother in law.  We were offered 5 main courses to choose. Planned by Leila, the bride's sister.  Samia's mother in law gave me a Latin dance song title.  Saw a tiny bit of old Montreal.

We held a fund raiser for the FKMS team for the MS walk.  Heather had been a founder with Grain and Grit and won a lottery to get use of their facility for a few hours.  Sharon baked cupcakes and pretzels and we held a raffle with donated prizes.  We all got a look at the A linker.  A lot of fun and we raised money.

The Mandarin MS walk was a memorable occasion.  A good size team we won the Spirit Award,  More importantly we reached our goal.  Heather rode on her A linker.  Here is Heather on her A linker supported by Helen Rigby and Laura Rolph.

The same weekend I was able to squeeze in a little of Doors Open Hamilton.  A new site this year was for the Oddfellows Lodge in Dundas.  My interest sprang from my Grandfather and Grandmother Coakwell who were prominent with the Oddfellows and Rebekka Lodges.  Once in Dundas I decided to also visit the Dundas Museum and was surprised to see a whole section on the Oddfellows.  Places I enjoyed visiting included CBC Hamilton, Cable 14 and the Worker's Art Museum.  From an earlier Doors Open http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/05/doors-open-hamilton.html

We were gifted with a theatre credit at Theatre Aquarius enough for three productions.  "Crees in the Caribbean" was a recently commissioned play with indigenous theme woven into a plot.  Turned out the lead actor had performed with an aquaintance of mine, Glenda Fordham--they had performed together in night clubs..  A second feature was "Steel City Gangster" which was a version of Rocco Perri who had some links to my wife's family.  There are many missing details of his life, but the writer used speaker from the dead  Lots of humor--his lover/partner is shot dead, but later is brought back in ghostly fashion.  The third show was a Norm Foster play,, "Renovations For Six" and  he has always come through for us with a new format for us highlighting generational differences and a big twist.

The Raptors won.  Basketball has been my favorite sport for decades.  I've waited 60 years. http://bit.ly/2IMbEL

The Hamilton Public Library had an event for Ziauddin Yousafzai.  You might wonder who he is and he admitted that he is best known as the father of Malala.   He is really a key part of her story as in his country Pakistan and in his own family history women were relegated to a supporting role.  He helped change that a bit, but really energized his daughter.  Now he travels representing a variety of peace initiatives.  Prior to his presentation I enjoyed a musical performance by a father/son team on the sitar and tabla  A big regret is that after charging up my camera battery it got left  behind.  The guy in front of me to get our books autographed was clever enough that I took a photo of him with Ziauddin.  On the day before Father's Day it was very inspiring.  Read more:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/06/let-her-fly.html

Retirement came in the spring.  We had decided that we needed an addition with a downstairs washroom.  If you know me you realize my contribution was very small.  John Polkinghorne who has built his own home and cottage offered to provide the manpower and expertise.  He thought of details that totally escaped us, but have added to our comfort, guests and our two cats.  My main contributions was to assure a parking spot each day and run chores.  Started to go to a medical facility gym for exercise and walk down to the library about 1 kilometre away five times a week, did some volunteer work with immigrants learning English.  Mostly it seems like too many of us retired people spend too much time on social media.

The hi lite  of the year for me was when Michael visited from New Zealand.  Michael usually attends a yearly education/computer conference that rotates among a few American cities.  Sometimes depending on his work schedule he extends his time to visit more North American geography.  On this trip Michael invited us to an escape room.  We were told there was only a 22% success rate for this particular escape room, but we escaped with three minutes to spare.

 In New Zealand it is difficult to find pierogies and Michael has a long history of eating them.  Fortunately Loaded Pierogi is located within easy walking distance and a bunch of us enjoyed this Ukrainian tradition.

We invited over relatives and friends. Most of them see Michael every two years or so.  The weather was perfect and a good time was had by all.

A trip to the Zoo brought back some memories plus some new experiences. Gorillas, Orangutans, beavers, butterflies, rhinoceros and polar bears.

Ripley's Aquarium had many colorful displays and was educational.  Here Michael is touching a sting ray which the rest of us did as well.

 On one day we visited Casa Loma, the Royal Ontario Museum,  the CN Tower and Ripley's Aquarium.  On an earlier day we visited the Metro Toronto Zoo.  Really interesting, but a bit exhausting.

It is hard to explain some relationships.  When I first met my wife and before we married I made my first acquaintance with Watertown, New York.  It was based on the brother of my wife's grandmother who got married at age 40 and then had nine children.  My father in law made close friends with the brother of the new bride and my soon to be wife and I formed friendship with the son and his wife.  A lot of water under the bridge, but now we want to keep the relationship alive.  On the Labour Day weekend four of them visited us--the two Watertown groups are now related  themselves through another marriage.  We ate, drank, did a tour of the Hamilton waterfront, visited a local craft beer outlet. and had a family gathering.  Looking forward to more meetings.

I have attended the AGH Filmfest for about 5 years never missing the Trailers night.  For the second time one of their shows was one that I was already tracking.  "Photograph" turned out to be as good as expected, although as usual trailers are a bit misleading. Took in a second feature, "Arab Blues" which turned out to be comedy of a Paris raised Arab going back to Tunisia to set up a business as a    psychoanalyst.  First time visiting the Playhouse on Sherman Ave.

Went to a fund raiser in support of Friday Night Community with friends we met through our neighbor Glen Canavan.  Joan and Peter who made it possible.  Jan and Brian and Heather.  Food by an international chef (and teacher) Olaf Mertens was wonderful.  Bought a pillow with art design by Julia Veenstra.

Christmas really starts with my brother in law Len's birthday which is December 24th.  This year I took my camera.

Three great- grandchildren added a little spice.

As usual we finish off the year with a New Years Eve party with long standing friends.  I have known everyone for at least 45 years and most of them have known each other for close to 60 years.  Great food, a little drinking and a lot of chatting.  

Everyone likes going out to restaurants.  My  favorites from this year include The Bread Bar (pictured below), Twins Elephants Thai, Charred, Wild Orchid, Mandarin in Burlington,  Pho Dui Bo and Wass Ethiopian.   Pokeh in the Hamilton Market

Charred restaurant held a Latin Night and we decided to take advantage.  Special menu was great, the band was great, but what I most remember are the dancers from the crowd.  They were dazzling and a bit intimidating, but very enjoyable.

Here we are at the Bread Bar right on James St.

Best of 2019

English Speaking movies:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/12/the-best-of-english-speaking-movies.html

Subtitled Movies:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/12/the-best-in-subtitled-movies-viewed-2019.html

Books enjoyed:   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/12/books-i-remember-from-2019.html

My most popular blogs for the year:

Memory of a great time with co-workers to Las Vegas.

When the Raptors won I remembered my 60 years as a basketball fan.

my favorite movie of the year

To read about memories from 2018:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/01/memories-from-2018.html

One memory.  John Polkinghorne had suggested we should use in-floor heating for an addition.  Never thought of it, but the cats Oscar and Izzy love it.

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