Friday, January 1, 2021

2020 A year in remembrance

Not what one expected at the begininng of the year, but life has always been full of surprises.  Retirement gives one lots of time to reflect.  I can acknowledge that I have lived over half my life and of course want to enjoy what is left as best I can.  Part of that is looking back and remember the good times and learn from the not so good.

Unfortunately some will not share the future with us, but our memories of them are important as they were a part of our lives.  For me it is important to remember those who had a positive impact on my life.  Recounted in chronological order.

Hank Bulir is someone I knew as his wife and mine were very close friends.  His wedding to Debbie Linke was outdoors at scenic Webster's Falls.  Looking back we visited each other fairly often,   I remember some anniversaries, New Years Eve and visits for no particular reason. But Hank became ill and the visits became rarer, although we frequently saw Debbie.  I remember Hank as always in a pleasant mood and a good host who liked to cook.  He raised three good boys (now men) Matthew, Andrew and David.

For several months I acted as a sort of chauffeur for a special lady, Audrey Erica King who died in January.  In short conversations I learned a lot about her and her family.  Her middle name came from the family doctor, Eric who delivered her at birth.  She had been born in Sheffield, England, but moved to Canada when her husband had a job opportunity.  She enjoyed identifying unusual license plate numbers and got me doing it.  I also got to meet her sister Ann who flew over and found we shared a lot of tv favorites, in fact steering me to one of my all time favorites.  I knew one son and his daughter who were both very nice and obviously been brought up that way.

A long ago neighbor, George Harrison died in July.  He and his wife Shirley lived on the opposite corner to our house.  He had a quiet sense of humor; one of my favorite of his sayings was "When I get up the morning one of my first things is to look at my garden."  He is not actually talking about his own garden, but my wife's across from his bedroom window.  George and Shirley had two dogs and Sharon liked to give them biscuits and loved their reaction--George had to point out that he thought the biscuits were the big attraction.  George had lost a lung and had bought a snowblower to take care of the snow for his corner lot and when he moved he gave it to me as he didn't think he would need it.  Eventually I ended up giving it to another neighbor who had storage and had helped shovel snow for neighbors.

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Helen Rigby had been a neighbor to my wife, Sharon when she was growing up and while my mother in law and Helen became close friends.  Many years ago Helen left for England, but there remained close  ties with visits on both sides of the Atlantic involving my wife.  When her partner died Helen moved back to Burlington, but also spent much of her time visiting her daughter Janet in Tampa, Florida sometimes accompanied by Sharon.  I remember Helen and my sister Rebecca had a friendly rivalry over making banana bread (I was one of the winners).  Helen was quite the knitter and at least twice gave us knitted goods to give out in Cuba and another time donated knitted goods for a class my son was teaching in New Zealand.  All that was normal as she donated to many charities.  Favorite photos of our two youngsters were taken in Helen's sweaters.  Into her 80's enjoyed long walks from Burlington to Hamilton.  She also golfed, swam with the dolphins and para sailed.

Another death impacted me even though I never me her.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a person easy to admire.  I had watched two different films on her and was anxious about her health.

A Christmas gift from Heather.  In the Dead of Winter at Merit Brewery was an event with good food, beverage and conversation.   Fortunately for us it is within walking distance.

A little quieter (?) birthday for Florence for number 91.  Three great grandchildren join in the fun.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a life changer.  Sharon was in Florida when it became a serious concern and cut her trip short and then went into a 14 day self imposed isolation.  Stores and restaurants closed.  We will never go back to what is remembered as "normal" and it could be worse, but it could also be better.

On Earth Day I went on one of my walks dropping by Peter Ormond who likes to do something special on what he thinks of as eARTh Day.    Read more with more photos:

A gift from a young boy three doors away.

Early in the morning to set up Heather's birthday party.  Honking horns was one way of celebrating when large indoor parties were discouraged.


In the afternoon a party outdoors on a deck with limited party goers including two dogs.





Our first restaurant outing after the Covid-19 shutdown. We had a gift card we had intended to use much earlier, but for Sharon's birthday, an Italian restaurant Castelli in walking distance seemed appropriate.  The food and service was wonderful.  As a final touch when we ordered their famous canoli for dessert they marked her birthday on a presentation board.

Some old friends dropped by and we had a open air meeting at LaSalle Park.  Josie and John were moving from South Carolina on their way to a new home in Oregon.  Roberta, Sharon, Barb, Mike, Josie and John


Sharon had gotten some gift cards from work for Lake House Restaurant in Vineland Station.  The food was especially good and with an enjoyable view of Lake Ontario.

There was no MS walk this year, but we took part in the special day from A & W burger day for MS,  Here I am wearing a T shirt from a previous MS walk.

I received a surprise gift in October that brought back a lot of memories.  About 50 years ago I had driven from work in Barrie to attend night school at York University, parked at a shopping mall where I was approached by a young man who talked me into buying a membership in the Canadian Automobile Association.  I have done my share of impulsive things in life, but that turned out to be one of my best investments.  I have calculated that I have probably driven over a million kilometers with many pleasant experiences and challenging moments, but it was made possible by being rescued numerous times by their road service.  Also occasionally used their tourist and travel insurance services to to add to my enjoyment.   They gave me a lovely clock which will be a memory aid.

Sharon is a part of a group of women who all went to the same high school and get together each month for socializing.  This year they had to forgo a yearly trip to Erie, Pennsylvania which was originally picked when one of their members moved to Ohio.  Here they are in our back yard with their jackets on.




Here we are at Merit Brewery with some American guests.  Janet came to help her mother, Helen Rigby going through some surgery.  Unfortunately Helen did nor survive after her surgery and Janet invited her daughter Kristen and her husband Rob to come up from Tampa to help sort things out.  They had just finished their quarantine period and we all celebrated.



 Noting favorite restaurants is a tradition for me:  Berkley North, Twins Elephants,  Bread Bar (on James), Mesa,  Pho Dui Bo, Bul and Golgi, Gate of India, and Castelli all contributed to our enjoyment in this difficult year.

My most popular blogs:   

A little family history:

Small details in your history can have a profound effect.  For me being born cross eyed was one.

I like to think I am free of prejudice, but really the truth is that we all pre-judge when confronted with something new and it goes back to survival.  Spending some of my high school years in a rural setting helps me understand one of the more critical divides in Canada (and the rest of the world).

Favorite English speaking movies:

Favorite subtitled movies:

Favorite reading of the year :

Check out last year:

Looking forward to 2021.  How about you?

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