Here is 2023 in a sentence:
The year began with Christian’s first Autologous Stem Cell Transplant (ASCT), which fed Julie’s stress level amply, so much so that she backed the Hymer into a concrete pole early one morning going to the hospital and ended up in ER, mistaking a panic attack for a heart attack then once he was released from the transplant day hospital mid-February the recovery began in earnest and included more and more walks and exploration of the wild places of the east side of Toronto, visits with friends, a three-week adventure to South Carolina and back followed by a bit of winter camping at the Pinery, lots of outdoor visits with friends and a surprise second ASCT which was both good and bad, good because we knew what to expect, and bad because we knew what to expect except the improved weather was much more conducive to recovering outdoors and meant we were able to visit during the recovery with several friends in the backyard, have picnics in parks, ride our bikes at the beach and eventually visit museums and art galleries and by the end of June we celebrated Julie’s birthday with her birthdate twin, Michael, at Eigensinn Farm, got to have a proper visit with our soon-to-be doctor niece Mackenzie and her beau Jackson visiting from St. Louis and then enjoyed porch pizza and a surprise birthday cake with our old neighbours and friends, Lori and Dave, and once Christian was feeling well enough we embarked on our first post-ASCT number two camping trip along the shores of Lake Erie, camping at three different provincial parks, a private park and a museum and looked at houses in Essex County, which were all horrible and left us feeling like we would never find a home again topped off with a visit with our daughter and grandkids in Highgate and then back in Toronto celebrated our wedding anniversary with our anniversary twin friends, Sophie and James, and unexpectedly but happily met up with friends, Buck and Camp, who hail from the coolest town in southwest Texas, Marfa, at the Broadview Hotel for rooftop drinks and then on the most momentous date of the year, July 18, Dr. Stewart confirmed that Christian achieved remission and, by mid-August, would begin maintenance therapy and so to celebrate, we drove to Bluffer’s Park Marina to look at two houseboats and then the following morning we left Toronto bound for Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and quickly talked ourselves out of the idea of living on a houseboat before enjoying a grand couple of weeks of island hopping in the Bay of Fundy which Dr. Stewart seemed surprised about because he wanted Christian to start maintenance therapy sooner than we anticipated so we cut our trip shorter but still made time for a visit with our friends, the Campbell sisters, in La Malbaie, Québec, on the way back to Toronto and once back in Toronto on August 13 Christian immediately began maintenance therapy meant to prolongue his remission and then we won a wack of VW merch for a photo we had taken of our old VW while at Crystal Cove State Park in California in 2014 and Christian began the process of being revaccinated with all the childhood immunizations and started from scratch with the COVID-19 vaccine before heading to Prince Edward County on September 1st to look at potential housing and to spend time with our friends including the living angels that housed us throughout Christian’s cancer treatments in Toronto, Sarah and David but once again, the housing options were limited, extremely expensive and required way too much work to make them liveable and we left PEC defeated but a few days later our friends Michael and Nobuyo invited us to join their Living the Dream Project, an all-afternoon moving feast over their 100-acre farm which was a perfect antidote to defeat though we still needed to solve the dilemma of where we would live and resolved our need for a home base as soon as possible, as Christian will always be in treatment so included Nova Scotia listings in our search which quickly resulted in finding a house we actually liked that was in our price range, well below anything we could afford in Ontario and our long-time friends, Katherine and David, offered to do a walk-through with us on FaceTime, after which we put in an offer and arranged for an inspection and just before the conditional offer expired a week later with the blessing of Dr. Stewart and a new oncologist arranged in Halifax we decided nothing was stopping us from moving to Nova Scotia and with just two weeks to arrange to have our belongings in Windsor moved to Nova Scotia, plus a whole wack of other logistics related to moving 2000+ kilometres to the far edge of eastern Canada we headed to Windsor, on the way meeting up with new friends we had met on Grand Manan in July at Rondeau Provincial Park on Lake Erie for one night and then spent a week visiting with family and friends in Windsor and Amherstburg, a busy and sometimes stressful couple of weeks followed by a quick stop in Toronto and a deadline of 3 pm on October 3 to sign the papers at our Pictou lawyer’s office after which we saw our house for the first time on the morning of the closing, October 4, and then slept in the van in our driveway until our belongings arrived the following morning and the remainder of October consisted of unpacking, building furniture, hanging art and getting a safety inspection and vehicle insurance for the Hymer, beach walks, meals, visits with our friends and exploring our new hometown, county and province, applying for NS Health Insurance, replacing the brakes on the Hymer, ordering blinds, driving to Halifax twice, once to meet Christian’s new oncologist, winterizing the van while being warmly welcomed and given gifts of maple syrup, homemade apple pie and stew by our neighbours, handing out candy on Halloween and meeting even more neighbours plus Christian was invited to submit a piece of art for his 40th anniversary, Ontario College of Art Show in Toronto and we of course continued to explore, went to hear live music, finally got the van registered in Nova Scotia and got NS plates and driver’s licences, met up with more old friends, got enough of Christian’s maintenance medication so he was covered until our NS Healthcare kicks in on January 1st thanks to our friends, Deb in Toronto and Nancy in Amherstburg, and we finally got around to taking some photos for our moving card, then design, print and mail it, endured some wintry weather, massive windstorms and power outages, got the van properly stuck in deep mud requiring the need for a tow by CAA, then bought a used 4WD vehicle with snow tires, attended the New Glasgow tree lighting ceremony, the Santa Claus Parade, the weekly farmer’s market, and the Wednesday night market, met a couple of brothers who were long-time friends with American artist Robert Frank and kept exploring, a trip to Cape George Lighthouse one day, a visit to the Museum of Industry another day, to nearby Truro in our new old car, stopping to see snowy Mount Thom and shop at the Earltown Market followed by our first house guest, our friend Lise from Ontario who bought a house in Port Mouton on the South Shore and stopped to stay with us for two nights on her way back to Ontario, together with whom we attended a holdiay Lennie Gallant concert and the next day our neighbours, Kelly and Joey, invited us to join them and their extended family on a tree-cutting trip to McLeod’s Christmas Tree Farm, the most beautiful tree farm we’ve ever seen and then we got a family doctor in Sheet Harbour and drove across the island to meet her and by the time we arrived back home another wind storm was in full force with 100 km/hr winds and of course, our power went out for several hours then a couple days later our friend David joined us on a pre-Christmas food-shopping trip to Halifax which was followed by another wind storm and a more extended power outage after which we returned to Halifax again then prepared packages to send to loved ones, baked cookies which we delivered to our neighbours and our friends, Katherine and David and their daughter Sandy joined us for oysters, caviar, smoked salmon with latkes and seafood chowder on Christmas Eve interrupted by a drive by Santa and Mrs Claus led by the New Glasgow fire brigade and on Christmas day we spoke with our loved ones in Ontario, joined our friends for a walk on the beach at sunset/ moonrise and then enjoyed dinner followed by charades with them and a few of their friends from the area, visited our favourite nearby beach on Boxing Day, lunch with friends in Tatamagouche followed by a couple of quiet and reflective days leading up to the last night of this very full, tumultuous, at times joyous, always beautiful, test of a year.
Wishing you, our friends, good health, something we do not take for granted, many moments of joy and beauty, and connection with family, friends, and fellow beings that fill you up in 2024. We love you all. Happy New Year!
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