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February 2018

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I could not resist taking some further snaps of some of details of our recent renovations. I hope that my posting some of these to this forum will not try the patience of the gentle reader too far. This will – I promise – be an end of it!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Image from Pixabay
In 2014 John Mann – actor and singer with the Vancouver based Celtic-rock ensemble, Spirit of the West – was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He was just 50 years old.

Many of us will have had some experience of a loved one contracting Alzheimer’s or dementia and of the subsequent evanescence of personality and the dissipation of a presence that once played a large part in our own lives. Tragic and deeply sad enough in someone who is approaching the natural end of their days, we can only imagine what this might be like for one still in the prime of life, not to mention for those around and close to them who must endure the slow premature declension of a loved one.

Mr Mann’s wife – Jill Daum – is a playwright and her instinctive reaction to finding herself in this grievous position (with her husband’s full support, I should add) was to give in to her subconscious urge to allow the play that she was currently engaged in writing to morph into an examination of what it is like to find oneself in such a situation. The world premier of this brave piece – ‘Forget About Tomorrow’ – took place recently at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria and The Girl and I were present at last Sunday’s performance.

One might fear that such sombre subject matter would result in a worthy but grim night in the stalls, but Ms Daum is – thankfully – a far better playwright than that. She successfully locates (and subsequently mines auspiciously) the emotional motherlode that most writers spend their lives seeking – producing in the process a piece that can move an audience to tears one moment only to have them rolling in the aisles laughing but a few seconds later. The payload of the play is delivered all the more effectively for this skillful balancing act and the audience reaction at the close left no doubts that the target had been well and truly straddled.

Plaudits of course to Ms Daum and to Mr Mann (who contributed two songs – which may well be his last – to the enterprise) as well as to Michael Shamata, who directed with the most assured of touches, and to Jennifer Lines and Craig Erickson who play skillfully and truthfully Daum and Mann’s alter-egos – Jane and Tom. Excellence all round…

For me, however, the highlight was quite possibly the creation of Lori – Jane’s larger than life (how Canadian!) boss – played with considerable panache and dry, dry humour by the splendid Colleen Wheeler. Not only is Lori the source of much of the humour in the piece but she also manages to act as a very necessary counterweight to the emotional drama elsewhere – standing up for the everyman (everyperson?) who represents us in the face of others’ tragedies.

Following a couple of shaky seasons (in our humble opinion) the Belfry has landed three from three thus far this year.

Fight for a ticket!

 

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Some before and after views of our just-about-finished renovation – before we moved back upstairs. Double click on the images for the full effect.

This is our living room:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Here is our sparkly new kitchen:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

This is my bathroom… yes, it is the same room:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

…and this is The Girl’s:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Master bedroom and entrance hall:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Now to clean thoroughly and to move everything back upstairs again.

Phew!

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There are many reasons to look forward to escaping from our semi-subterranean hidey-hole and taking up residence again on our newly renovated main floor. This recent experience is just one more such to add to the list.

Our basement does have a kitchen – of sorts! It is quite small and the equipment is – er – ‘old’ to put it mildly. Like some other old things in the house it does not always function as efficiently as once it did – many, many years ago when it was still full of life and charged with the vigour of youth…

Ahem! – sorry about that!

Anyway… a couple of days ago I was roasting some vegetables in the antique oven downstairs. The temperature therein always seems on the low side so I had pushed it up a notch. Unfortunately when the cooking time was up and I opened the oven door a billow of smoke was released into the room – and into the ceiling-mounted smoke detector.

Now – when we purchased the house back in 2015 we inherited with it an alarm system. An eye-watering cancellation fee persuaded us that we should stick with it. The service – which is I believe monitored from somewhere in northern America – not only provides break-in sensors on doors and windows and motion sensors throughout, but also fire and smoke alarms on each floor. When an alarm is triggered a disembodied voice hails one through the console outside the master bedroom, endeavouring to establish whether or not this be a genuine incident.

On this occasion the alarm sounded and I had to rush upstairs to converse with the distant operative. I cancelled the alarm on the console and informed the enquirer that it was a false alarm. I was obliged to give details such as my first and last names and to quote the secret password – to prove that I was not in fact an arsonist who had broken into the house. All this time the smoke was wafting around downstairs.

As the conversation finished the alarm was again triggered. I cancelled it once more and assumed that the distant overseer would recognise that this was in fact the same incident. I went back downstairs. As I was dealing with the oven I heard a call coming in on my cell phone in an adjacent room. I did not get to it before the caller rang off but was informed that a voicemail had been left. It was from the alarm company enquiring about the second alarm. I called them back at once and patiently talked the lady at the far end through the sequence of events. After a couple of minutes of conversation she asked me if I wanted them to cancel the call to the fire brigade. “Yes!” – I exclaimed urgently, somewhat perplexed that it had taken her this long to ask.

At that moment the doorbell rang. It was a fireman! Outside in the road I could see an appliance and a couple of other fire service vehicles – lights a-flashing. I patiently and apologetically explained that there had been a false alarm and that I had cancelled it and spoken to the alarm service. Apparently they had tried to reach me over the console again after the alarm went off for the second time but I was clearly already flapping about downstairs by that point.

I suppose that I should be grateful that we are this well covered – particularly given that this is a wooden framed building – but I can’t help feeling that a little common sense on this occasion would have saved a fair bit of panic on all sides.

Hey ho!

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