So, once I returned to Taiwan I had to hit the ground running. Despite massive amounts of jetlag I had to quickly get my application for my new visa in order and equally important: find a new place to live! As of March 1st I was homeless, so I had to race around to find for two weeks and find my new accomodations. At first I was planning to live with another teacher because her roommate was moving out, but in the end the teacher and I both decided that our lifestyles wouldn’t be compatible so we decided to look elsewhere.
The day was saved with only a week to go by my fellow teacher Terrance Mercer, a great guy I work with at ESP who, when called up by a worried Rob, said in his usual laid-back East-coast manner “no problem”. It turned out his landlord specialized in renting to foreigners, and had a few places available, fully furnished modern apartments that were a little more expensive that my old place, but very close to my office (which I wanted). In the end I took the first apartment I saw and began getting ready to move right away since I had to clean up the old place before I turned it back over to the landlord.
Pictured above is the old apartment on the day I left it behind. It was a nice 1-room apartment that served me well, but was a really to small to do anything but sleeping in. When Connie visited we were tripping over each other because it was just too small to be comfortable for two people. I don’t know how one of my neighbours managed who actually had two people living their apartment full time!
Now I have a nice newer and larger studio apartment with a bigger bed, sofa, kitchen and a lot more moving and clost space! If only we weren’t next to a Kindergarten with 100+ kids who have a habit of singing the same songs every morning…I often find myself singing along as I wake up…”Shake Shake Shake…Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” O_o!
So, January 30th, I arrived in Canada with Connie for a two week visit with family, friends and relatives. Both Connie and I were severely jetlagged after a long flight that included a visit to George Bush International Airport (hightech, cold, and secure) and eventually ended in a 2 hour bus ride to London from Toronto. When we got to London we greeted my parents, and then crashed into our beds to enjoy them.
On Monday we visited with my friends Lisa To, Janet and Arthur, but I forgot to take my camera and it was just a short visit because Connie and I were still pretty tried.
On Tuesday Connie and I finally had a real visit with two of my old friends, Graham and Lisa Mo (pictured above), and spent time chatting at a local restaurant. I’m afraid we were still too tired to be good conversationalists, and poor Graham and Lisa had to do their best to keep things going! Sorry guys! Graham is one of the best read people I know, and an old friend whom I often chat about many things with. He’s a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario who’s studying to be a librarian. Lisa Mo is hoping to be a graduate student soon (I’m keeping my fingers crossed), and is an international business student from Hong Zhou, China who I met through another friend at school. She’s a cheerful lady who is always smiling and while she seems soft, there is a tiger inside her, so guys better watch out!
The Friday after we arrived Connie and I went to visit some old friends of mine, Charles and Cindy Dowswell. A couple from Northern Ontario who I have played games with to pass the time for many years, the Dowswells are blessed with two beautiful daughters, Amber (in red with her mother) and Jade (the baby on Connie’s lap). They are my good friends, and I miss them a lot while I am in Taiwan. Charles is a manager at a technical support company in London, and is one of the most talented computer programmers I know. He’s also fond of bragging about his steel leg, which is in fact steel, and very dangerous!
Saturday afternoon I met at my home with my friend Christina Chan, who unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of, a brilliant future dentist. Chris and I chatted about dentistry and caught up while Connie and my mother prepared things for the coming of…Charlotte! On this afternoon I was able to hold my niece for the very first time. She was born while I was in Taiwan, and this was my first chance to hold her. (I’d seen pictures and seen her over the webcam many times.) She was heavier than I expected, but a very beautiful baby girl!
The guy doing his best Popeye impression here is James Wegg, with his lovely girlfriend Sheena just behind him. Saturday night James, Sheena and my other friends threw a dinner party for Connie and I at a Taiwanese restaurant called The Rickshaw which is popular with all of us. It was a chance to get together my friends who I have played games with for over ten years in London. James is an extremely talkative and gregarious guy who can tell stories about his gaming exploits for hours, and talk about many different subjects. Sheena is a scholar when it comes to movies and televsion shows.
To the left of the picture in the grey shirt you will see “Little” Mike Horsepool, the organizer of this reunion party and an all around cool guy. Horsepool and I have known each other since I came back from Japan, and now gamed together for many years. He’s smart, clever (sometimes too clever for his own good), opinionated, and never boring. His long-range goal is to get into the army and get shipped off to someplace to get shot at, I don’t know why, he just seems to like punishment.
In the middle of this picture, the man doing the cartoon face is Mike Armstrong, aka “Big” Mike. Mike and I have known each other for a while, and worked together to run Anime London for many years, a local Anime Club to promote Japanese animation in London. I started the club back before Anime was popular, and after a few meetings Mike showed up, and the rest, as they say, is history. Mike is a really clever and good hearted guy who cares a lot about people and is always trying to help out good causes. (When not chasing Cosplay girls with a camera….)
Steve Malloy is a guy I’ve known and gamed with for about 10 years now, he is one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to Fantasy and Science Fiction literature, and has read practically everything the London library system has, twice. (Which is a LOT of books!) If you have questions about Sci-Fi, “Big” Steve is the man.
All in all, it was a wonderful time with good friends. Thanks guys, it was great to see you all and really touched our hearts! I can’t wait to see you all again next year!
Part of the reason I went home when I did was to attend the Christening of my Niece, Charlotte Irene Jacklin. Sunday morning we all bundled up and went to the church for the big event, and while we were waiting for the ceremony to start I snapped this Father-Daughter moment for the history books.