2019 – Almost Done

Well, here we are, approaching the beginning of 2020 and as often happens, folks say it is time for reflection and review of the soon to end year.

2019 has been an interesting year for me. It’s the first year I have been officially retired and unemployed. During the year I marked my 70th birthday, spent two months in Malaysia, met the Governor General of Canada, logged about 7000km on motorcycles, participated in Kiwanis activities in two countries, didn’t win the lottery, and lost several good friends.

On the family side of things, Kim and I celebrated twenty years of marriage, son Colin became engaged to Amy, daughter Anita and her husband Aaron had their 10th anniversary, daughter Jaclyn and son Colin both had their 40th birthdays, oldest grandchild Valen became eighteen, Kim’s brother Philip passed away in November and her brother Jimmy overcame a serious health issue about the same time.

Overall though, it was my year, the year that I experienced, having both highs and lows.

Losing friends is a difficult part of our existance, a part which is never easy. This year I lost five good friends, one being family, and the latest happened while I was developing this post. Each person was very special in their own way, and each is an important part of my year.

Just after mid January I headed off to Malaysia for two months. My home base is Melaka and I traveled several times to Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur. The intercity bus service was excellent and travel was quite comfortable. I also got some wind therapy in Melaka by putting in almost 1000 km on a rented scooter. Visiting with family and friends, along with a number of Kiwanis functions, kept me quite busy most of the time. Oh, and as always, I thoroughly enjoyed the food. Missing the coldest February and March to hit Edmonton in years was a bonus.

Shortly after my return to Canada, son Colin and his lady, Amy, came to visit from “Jolly Old”. Not only did he celebrate his birthday during the visit, he proposed to Amy while spending time in Kananaskis Country (she said yes). A short time later it was back to England for them. Quite a successful visit for sure.

Will You – Yes I Will

Less than two weeks later, Kim and I were off to Ottawa for a very special occasion. I was to be presented with the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by Her Excellency Governor General Julie Payette. It was a great honour as well as an amazing event.

After our return to Edmonton, lo and behold, it was summer. Our local Veterans UN/NATO Canada crews put on a successful fundraising event at the Kipnes Centre for Veterans. Shortly after Kim and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, and then came the Kiwanis Club of South Edmonton Annual Summer Picnic. I helped provide communications for the annual Edmonton Heritage Festival, and a week later we were attending the Kiwanis Western Canada District Convention. During all this, I managed to get in about 6000 km on my motorcycle, albeit mostly local around Edmonton.

Late September saw a number of our Veterans Crew head down to Red Deer to honour one of our members, Terry Turner, who had passed away in the spring. We sponsored a flag and plaque in his memory for the annual Flags of Remembrance ceremony. The flags and plaques were on display for two months (until Remembrance Day). When they were taken down, there was another ceremony where they were presented back to the sponsors or family. Kim and I took Terry’s wife Wendy to Red Deer and she received his flag and plaque.

Wrapping up the last quarter of the year were a number of Kiwanis activities along with our Veterans Group Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Well, there you go, a bit of an overview of my year. A sampling, as it were. There were, of course, many more happenings and events, however those included here are key memory items for me.

In a few days, a new year of happenings, events, and memories will commence. Bring it on 2020, lets see what you’ve got.

Spring Has Sprung

The spring is sprung, the grass is riz.

I wonder where the boidie is.

They say the boidie’s on the wing.

But that’s absoid. The wing is on the bird.

I remember this “Spring is Sprung Rhyme” by Anonymous, from my youth. It was always a signal that, hopefully, winter was pretty much done and we could get on with the primary season of the year – construction. Well not really, however that’s the way it seems. At least spring, summer and fall can be described as three sections of construction season.

This year, Edmonton had a pretty tough and nasty time from January to late March. Fortunately I didn’t get to experience it as I spent that time in our second home, Malaysia. A good friend commented on Facebook that I had missed the snow. I replied to her, “no, I didn’t miss it, I just wasn’t here for it”.

I really considered doing some blogging from Malaysia, but I was working almost exclusively on my phone, and my thumbs are not very accurate for more than fairly short messages, allowing autocorrect to drive me slightly bonkers. So here we are, attempting to make up for it.

Now to go back and provide a little background.

As the end of 2018 approached I was not really planning to go to Malaysia in 2019. I had not gone in 2018, due to some extent because of my high activity levels with my Kiwanis Club (I am the President), feeling that I needed to work hard in that area. Kim had gone to see her family in the spring for about a month however.

Then, as life would have it, there came a death and a serious illness in my circle of acquaintances. Adding to that were, in retrospect, wise words from Kim and a couple of good friends, telling me that I needed to go, see family and friends, and enjoy the weather because, as they pointed out, we never know what the future holds.

As a result, following an interesting thought process, at the end of December, a decision was made, and flights were booked. I would be going to Malaysia for two months.

Departure day came, January 22, WestJet to Vancouver, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong and Cathay Dragon to Kuala Lumpur. There had been some concern as my arthritic hip can be an issue, however my travel arranger Stephanie had done a fine job and I was treated very well the entire trip. Every trip I’ve made, my experience with Cathay Pacific/Dragon has been outstanding. Upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur, it turned out that one of my checked bags had grown an attachment to Hong Kong and decided to stay a while longer. The KLIA folks did an awesome job tracking it down and it was delivered to me in Melaka the next day.

Having arrived in Malaysia, methinks I will wrap up this post and over the next while perhaps generate a couple more about some of my experiences. There is also an event I am currently involved in, which is very exciting, however I cannot share with you as yet, keeping you in suspenders for a while.

Until next time, thank you for reading and I appreciate any comments you may have.

A Home From Home

There is a British expression I very much like. It is “a home from home”. To me it feels much more inclusive than the American equivalent “a home away from home”.

My “home from home” is 12,980 kilometres from my usual residence, in the city of Malacca, Malaysia, on the southwest coast of the Malay Peninsula.

Originally founded in 1396, Malacca became a prominent location for traders from across Asia, notably India, Arabia and China. In 1511, Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese who ruled until the city was captured by the Dutch in 1641. They were not that interested in developing the area and ceded it to the British in 1824. Under the British the city became a Crown Colony, which was dissolved in 1946 as Malacca and Penang became part of the Malayan Union, then the Federation of Malaya in 1948, and transitioning to an independent Malaya in 1957. Finally, in 1963, Malaysia was formed with the merger of Malaya with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.

A colourful history indeed. So much so that Malacca was declared a historical city in 1989, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Located in Malacca are three significant religious facilities. The Kampung Kling Mosque is close to the oldest functioning mosque in Malaysia, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is the oldest functioning Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and St Peter’s Church is the oldest functioning Catholic Church in Malaysia. One last item of interest. The Bukit China Cemetery in Malacca is reputedly the oldest, and largest, remaining traditional Chinese burial ground outside China with over 12,500 graves.

Today, Malacca (often referred to as Melaka, the name of the state) is a city of just under 875,000, located midway between Kuala Lumpur (160 km to the north) and Johor Bahru (210 km to the south). The city is 2.2 degrees (244 km) north of the equator, with typical temperatures in the area of 24C at night and 33C during the day, and typically has 6-9 days of rain per month. The sun rises at 7:24am and sets at 7:24pm (within a couple of minutes) each day.

So why Malacca, for that matter, why Malaysia. A number of reasons actually. Malacca is where Kim grew up, where she lived most of her life. Currently we have two daughters and seven grandchildren living there, to say nothing about other extended family members and a great many friends. Some other main considerations are the economy, which is very advantageous to those of us from Canada; the people, who are so very friendly pretty much right across the board; the ease of travel, not only throughout Malaysia but across Asia as well; the history, so many interesting places to visit; and oh yes, the climate.

Okay, now back to the “home from home”. So what prompted me to begin this blog post anyway. Last year I spent three months at our place in Malacca, and for various reasons, am not able to do the same thing this year so I have been feeling a bit down in the dumps and depressed about that. A temporary situation for sure and I know I’ll be back there within the next year.

Our place in Malacca is not fancy, not on the beach, not on the 47th floor, not in a rich area of town. It is a comfortable three bedroom apartment/condo on the fourth floor of a fairly large, very diverse, complex with regular working class neighbours. It is in the middle of the city, however it has a country view which I absolutely love. We have a 2017-04-04 07.40.13small clam-shell balcony, facing east, upon which one or two can stand, but none can sit (it is good for drying clothes though).

 

My routine, pretty much every morning when in Malacca, is that I get up sometime between 5am and 6am, get my cup of coffee, and sit in the living room watching, listening, and enjoying as the world wakes up outside and the sun rises. Here are two videos, both taken the same day from our balcony, the first about 5:00am and the second at 7:30am. In the first you can hear the crickets and frogs, so loud they even overpowered the praying from the local mosque. In the second, the birds have taken over along with the occasional human and traffic noise.

To me, the photo and videos above illustrate a big part of my attachment to our “home from home”. There are many other things which contribute as well of course, and I will share many of these with you in the future.

For now, thanks for reading. I would appreciate any comments you may have, feedback is always welcome.