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THE JOY OF THE HOLIDAYS The Unretirement King Gordie Howe
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(Vancouver & Lower Mainland) is published by Stratis Publishing. Publisher Barbara Risto
Editor Bobbie Jo Reid
4 Sharing the Joy of Christmas
25 BBB Scan Alert
8 Hot Yoga
Contributors Goldie Carlow, Brent Cassie, Jane Cassie, Michelle Da Roza, Gipp Forster, Jim Gardener, Moira Gardener, Lise, Guillemette, Lynne R. Kelman, Julie Lawson, Patrick Lawson, Kevin McKay, Richard Neal, Lynda Pasacreta, CJ Relke, Barbara Small, William Thomas, Michael Timko, Bruce Winter, Joan W. Winter
Santa Claus a.k.a. Roger Dahlquist.
Proofreader Allyson Mantle
Civil War Re-enactment in Port Gamble, WA.
Barry Risto 250-479-4705 For advertising information, call 250-479-4705 firstname.lastname@example.org
Through the eyes of a ﬁrst-timer.
10 Day Trip to the Past
12 A little bit up, a little bit down
2 The Family Caregiver
15 Hobby Meets Humanitarianism
3 Forever Young
Exploring Ireland on foot.
The Puzzle Man uses woodworking for charity.
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by Barbara Small
by William Thomas
18 The “Un-retirement” King
28 Ask Goldie
20 Dickens, Scrooge and Christ(mas)
32 Reﬂections: Then & Now
Legendary Gordie Howe is still at it.
Contact Information – Head Ofﬁce
by Goldie Carlow by Gipp Forster
He shaped Christmas as we know it, but not just through A Christmas Carol.
Phone 250-479-4705 Toll-free 1-877-479-4705 Fax 250-479-4808 E-mail ofﬁce@seniorlivingmag.com Website www.seniorlivingmag.com
22 Nine Feet of Living Space
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26 United in Song
Camping out to build a dream.
24 Senior Dating
The Senior Living family wishes you and yours a safe and joyful holiday season!
10 Fun ﬁrst-date ideas.
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No portion of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Senior Living is an indepdendent publication and its articles imply no endoresement of any products or services. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the publisher. Unsolicited articles are welcome and should be e-mailed to email@example.com Senior Living Vancouver & Lower Mainland is distributed free in Vancouver, North & West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Delta, Twawwassen, White Rock, Surrey, Cloverdale and Ladner. ISSN 1911-6373 (Print) ISSN 1991-6381 (Online)
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Radio – for seniors and by seniors. Cover: This Santa Claus has been spreading joy for nearly a decade. Photo: Kevin McKay
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THE FAMILY CAREGIVER
he holiday season can be stressful. Add it to the busy schedule of a family caregiver and it can become overwhelming. It may be unrealistic to try to celebrate traditionally, while at the same time ensure your family member is cared for as needed. Take time to re-evaluate your expectations for the holiday season and create a more realistic view of how it might unfold. Figure out what you truly have the time and energy to do and what you can delegate. Below are some ideas to help reduce the stress of the holiday season: • Delegate responsibilities and activities. Ask, and then allow, other family members and friends to share in the caregiving duties.
Caregiving over the Holidays BY BARBARA SMALL
• Try to maintain a sense of routine for the care recipient. Ask them how they want to celebrate over the holidays. • Keep decorations to a minimum to avoid clutter that may be hazardous to a frail or disoriented person. • Suggest a potluck or ask other family members to prepare the meal. Order in or eat your holiday meal out this year. Some restaurants or grocery stores offer complete holiday meals for take-out.
Start new traditions that make sense based on the present.
• You decide how much you wish to celebrate – if others want to do more, let them take the initiative. • Don’t be afraid to say no. Only say yes if it’s comfortably manageable. • Start new traditions that make sense based on the present. It doesn’t always have to be done the same way every year. • Try to schedule activities early in the day. For someone who is ill or injured, fatigue and stress levels can increase throughout the day.
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• Keep the number of guests manageable. Noise and hectic activity can be exhausting for the person who is ill as well as for the burnt-out family caregiver.
• Ask family or friends to provide respite care for you over the holidays. Just a few hours of time for yourself can help renew your energy. • It is natural to feel sad when others are having what seems to be the “ideal” family gathering. Remember, your family is doing the best they can given the circumstances. • Not everyone will have a happy family gathering just because it is the holiday season. Old resentments can resurface when people spend an extended period together – especially when the stress of caregiving is added to the mix. • Avoid comparisons with past holidays. Yes, your family situation has changed and this year will not be the same as holidays in the past, but it can still be enjoyed in its own SL unique way. Next issue: Communicating with other family members
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Barbara Small is the Program Development Coordinator for Family Caregivers’ Network Society located in Victoria, BC. www.familycaregiversnetwork.org
FOREVER BY WILLIAM THOMAS
Applying Human Rescue Techniques to Dogs
Before she’d decided, Greg was n absolute animal lover, long-snouted Irish Wolfhounds can Maureen Fredrickson has look intimidating. To a small bird in straddling the dog from behind. Greg created a kind of healing an unfamiliar environment, big gangly had been in the restaurant business homestead in which all manner of Gaibhne (pronounced Gobbny) must and the chart on the wall came back emotionally damaged people achieve have looked like the Loch Ness Mon- to him. He did the hug and jerk on recovery by developing gentle touch ster. Which could be the reason the Gaibhne and, in so doing, performed and trusting body language while young cockatiel lost his balance and the ﬁrst successful Heimlich manoeuvre on a dog. That bird shot out of the interacting with her menagerie of fell awkwardly to the ﬂoor. There aren’t a lot of dog rules in the dog’s mouth and across the room like horses, donkeys, chickens and turkeys. Dairy sheep are expected any house, except one – anything that hits a cruise missile – only damp and backwards. The dog saw stars; the bird got day now in her huge arena-like barn. the ﬂoor belongs to the dogs. a glimpse of the inner workThe dogs and birds stay up ing of the canine digestive in the house. Maureen was witness to Before the bird could pick itself up system. The look of surprise on an amazing event in which the faces of both the dog and a life was saved in a mofrom its unceremonious landing, the bird was something Marment of crisis by applying Gaibhne was on it like a table lin Perkins never managed to a human rescue technique capture in 25 years of ﬁlmto a dog. scrap from heaven. ing Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Maureen had just arrived Kingdom. home with a prized addition Both dog and bird lived, to her line-up of therapists Before the bird could pick itself warily ever after. – a young and very sociable cockaOkay, so maybe it wasn’t the ﬁrst tiel. The small crested parrot from up from its unceremonious landing, Australia with its yellow head and Gaibhne was on it like a table scrap ever successful Heimliching of a dog, grey body was everything Maureen from heaven. In a ﬂash, two peo- but it had to be the only time in hislooked for in a teaching assistant – ple frozen in fright watched what the tory an Irish Wolf Hound has ever upgentleness and predictability. Moreo- chain of 7-11 stores refers to as “The chucked a parrot. And, it was certainly the ﬁrst time ver, the bird liked people more than Big Gulp.” Before either Maureen or Greg anybody ever Heimliched a dog and other birds. Watching it ﬂop around on the kitchen counter that ﬁrst day, could move, the Irish Wolfhound had saved the life of a bird. H. J. Heimlich would be proud – but confused. taking the measure of its new home, swallowed the cockatiel whole. Maureen appropriately named the Maureen lunged for the dog and Maureen was trying to come up with SL pried open its jaws only to see the trem- bird Jonah. a name. Just then, her roommate Greg bling tendrils of the bird’s tail feathers came into the kitchen with the dogs, sticking out of the dog’s throat. Her having just ﬁnished their daily walk. only option was to grab the tail and William Thomas is the author New bird, old dogs – there was an yank hard, but she was almost certain of nine books of humour including she’d only end up with a handful of Margaret and Me about his wee Irish awful lot of staring going on. Under the best conditions, tall, feathers. mother. www.williamthomas.ca DECEMBER 2009
Sharing the Joy of Christmas STORY AND PHOTOS BY KEVIN MCKAY
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
SPOILER ALERT: Do not let grandchildren read this story!
ontrary to popular belief, Santa Claus does not live at the North Pole, nor is he an imaginary ﬁgure. The Jolly Old Elf is alive and well and living near the waterfront in Vancouver! Roger Dahlquist is Santa Claus, at least for several weeks each year, and for nearly a decade has donned the red suit, grown his white beard out and helped spread the joy of Christmas. “When you put that costume on you are a different person,” he says. “It’s like magic.” Roger’s transformation into Santa started with a desire to visit Japan. “After retirement, I had a Japanese friend in the lumber business over in Hokkaido. I had been there a number of times,” he says. “When I retired, he came over here, and as I walked out the door at Telus, we went into a conference at the Bayshore Hotel, and I got into the lumber business, organizing, buying and custom cutting logs here to export to Japan. I did this for three years until their economy went downhill. “I always wanted to go back there because it is a beautiful place and people are very nice. It is also a very expensive place to go to as I knew from past trips.” In Japan, a friend told Roger, there were plenty of job opportunities portraying Santa; if Roger grew out his beard, he would be well suited for the jolly role. Roger didn’t know where to begin. He wandered over to the children’s market on Granville Island and started making inquiries, where they told him they had already had a Santa Claus. The person they put him in contact with informed Roger that he needed to gain experience as Santa before going overseas. His ﬁrst job was in the Brentwood Mall in Burnaby. “On opening day, I had to go out on stage with a woman entertainer, doing ‘Ho Ho Ho’, nervous as hell,” says
Roger. “Over time, it improved. I was there for the whole Christmas season that year.” In a way, it’s ironic that Roger wound up as Santa Claus because he grew up without a great appreciation for Christmas. “I stayed on because I enjoyed it,” he says. “As a child, I grew up under poor circumstances and Christmas was not a happy time for me. Up until recently that has carried over and Christ-
mas would come along and I would get sort of depressed. Through being Santa, it opens up a whole new opportunity to understand and enjoy the whole Christmas idea: the children, the parents, the buying of gifts, and the anticipation of waiting for Christmas day until they can open their gifts.” Roger, at a year old, and his older sister moved to Burnaby with their single mother in 1939 after their parents split up and their father went
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off to war. The struggling young family never had much money. When he graduated from high school, Roger went straight into the Air Force. “I was there between the wars and I was very fortunate,” says Roger. “I learned a trade and was able to avoid any real hardship. I was a Comm Tech Air [Communications Technician Air], basically a radio repairman and tester.” Roger was stationed in Ottawa and though they strongly advised him to sign on for three more years, he left the Air Force and lived it up in Ottawa: enjoying some good food and drink courtesy of a small inheritance he received from his father’s estate. “I spent it and acquired some expensive tastes I could no longer afford,” he says. “So, I signed on to work on the Distant Early Warning line [DEW line], a chain of radar stations along the Arctic coast as a radar technician because the high pay allowed me to support my newly acquired tastes.” He spent seven of the next eight years at various stations, a different one each year. “I loved it. I found the Arctic a beautiful place to be, but there are no trees and no women,” says Roger. “I spent a
Through being Santa, it opens up a whole new opportunity to understand and enjoy the Christmas idea: the children, the parents, the buying of gifts, and the anticipation of waiting for Christmas day until they can open their gifts.” lot of my youth up there, but I don’t regret it one bit. Finally, though, I decided I was up there long enough. It was time to get out. I came down to Vancouver and got a boring electronics job in Burnaby. From there, I went to work for BC Tel, which is now Telus. They were a very good company to work for. I retired after 26 years.” While working for Telus, Roger used his skills as a handyman to repair a speedboat he purchased, which had gone down in a lake. His next big purchase was a 48-foot sailboat, called a sloop, which he lived on for 20 years. Roger and his wife, whom he met in 1980, spent countless hours on that sailboat travelling the coastal waters. “We did plenty of sailing on the boat, pretty much every weekend. Now that we’re both retired we’re too busy,” he says with a laugh. “Our pleasure is to go out and anchor 6
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
and spend a few days or a week. Years ago, we did a lot of sailing. Now, we just slow down, have some nice wine, nice food and overnight entertaining.” Before he had the chance to take his Santa to Japan, Roger’s friend died, so he lost his motivation. Despite that, Roger continued being Santa year after year in Vancouver. “It’s like playing and I really enjoy it,” he says. “Very few people have the opportunity to play act but I do. I just love the children and primarily the parents. You call them over because you want them to hear what their child is asking for. Occasionally, you have a child who just absolutely knows you are Santa Claus and runs up and leaps at you, cuddling up under your chin. It’s great!” Roger loves the magic the suit creates. “It opens an opportunity to interact with people in a whole different way. When there isn’t too large a crowd, I enjoy going for a stroll around the mall interacting with people. They just love it. You can’t just do that out on the street, if you don’t have the costume on. If anyone did, they would probably be arrested.” Not everyone believes in Santa Claus, however, and sometimes this can be a challenge. One of the ﬁrst times this happened, Roger was fortunate enough to be working at
a place where he was equipped with a radio. The elves would ask the families a few basic questions and send the information ahead to Roger. “This one boy about 10 years old came up and told me I wasn’t Santa. I assured him I was but he would not believe me. Then I asked him about his brother and his dog, calling each by name. He called over to his mother with great excitement telling her that I really was Santa Claus.” Roger, a.k.a. Santa, has met an amazing array of people over the years at different locations and parties; the youngest was a one-weekold premature baby and the oldest a 101-year-old woman. “It’s mostly the little ones, two and younger who cry,” he says. “It is amazing that the same children come back year after year. Adults sit on my knee who say ‘we always took pictures with you, so I need one to go back to my mom in Ontario.’” Unfortunately, there are downsides to the job as well. Roger recalls one little boy who had an enormous list of things he wanted, and after ﬁnishing his lengthy recitation of what he wanted, implored Santa to not give his sister anything. In addition to the tragically paralyzed, sick and autistic children Roger sees, he also occasionally deals with some very sad cases. “There was this one gal who would be maybe 40 years old, who passed a note to me. I was trying to open it as she rushed away. The note said she needed a husband and a person to love. “Then there is the child who has had a parent pass away and asks if you can’t bring them back. That is a very hard one to deal with.” Most of the children ask for toys and video games and Roger always asks to ensure the video games are not violent ones. He is also pleased that many children tell him they don’t need any gifts because there are so many poor children in the world. “Generally, they don’t ask for too
much,” he says. Some children want to know about the ﬂying reindeer and how he can deliver presents all around the world in a single night. “An easy answer is that if you go up to the North Pole, every direction is south,” says Roger. “On Christmas Eve, when I go south, I go in every direction at once. “Regarding the reindeer, I tell them about the magic beans that started in a little village north of Florence. One
day, the reindeer got into the magic beans and after they did, they can ﬂy almost like they were jet propelled.” So now, every November and December, Roger undergoes a startling transformation. As part of the Christmas experience, he is able to help bring the joy of the season to so many others. “I intend to do this as long as I can,” he says. “I can’t imagine a reason I wouldn’t carry it on. It is magic, it reSL ally is. I see it ﬁrst hand.”
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H T Y GA through the eyes of a beginner
BY MOIRA GARDENER
Photo: Jim Gardener
o, what’s the buzz around hot yoga? Hot yoga or Bikram yoga is done at room temperatures of 110 F [43 C]. I’m a beginner and I would say a typical Canadian. A curious person by nature, I’m always ready to try what’s new. My introduction to hot yoga was through a bunch of colourful balloons dancing in the breeze – odd, but true. They were attached to a yoga street sign. What crossed my mind when they caught my attention was, “I tried Yoga once and liked it.” So, a happenstance led to my hot yoga experience. I stopped and found a new yoga studio opening up. “Come to a free introductory class and try it out,” they offered. “Our next class is tomorrow.” Free yoga sounded good to me. I wasn’t sure about the hot part; I really don’t like heat, in any form. The author in camel pose. I’m more the igloo type, but yoga – you bet. Donning what I typically wear cycling, a pair of spandex shorts (no they were not padded) and a red T-shirt, I headed into my ﬁrst class. It took extreme willpower to simply stay in the room, and being somewhat conservative, I admired the bravado of the outﬁts being worn. I still had that middle-age spread happening and the T-shirt covered it nicely. My ﬁrst class, I deemed a success due to the fact I didn’t faint or puke and managed to stay in the room. I left wondering why anyone would go through this torture. But I had to admit, the participants were svelte, ﬁt and calm – a deﬁnite plus; add to this the fact that it was a family enterprise and I decided once was not a fair trial. So, I bought a short-term pass on sale, of course, as I’m a bargain hunting Canadian. I went home and dug out some long-forgotten summer tank top, as the T-shirt was a killer. The cycling shorts, well I couldn’t quite part with them just yet. Thus clad, I headed back to the studio. I quit more times than I went, but the people were patient and generous – they kept extending my deadlines. They knew a time would come when I realized how much I was getting from my yoga practice. 8
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
I stopped, started, stopped and started again, until not only could I stay in the room without fainting, puking or falling over, but I actually started to like it and LOOK FORWARD to going. Hot yoga gave me more energy. I was losing weight and, to be honest, I wasn’t even trying to lose weight. I showed up consistently and practised more often. After a year, I took out an annual membership and started to get others involved. I felt wonderful, had energy and my ankles (my own personal weak spots) were strengthening. Then winter came, bringing with it a personal health crisis. I had to have some major surgery (a surprise) and hot yoga became a sanctuary. I did not allow myself to take my concerns into the yoga room. It was simply a place to come, feel the heat and relax. I had to be away from practice for months but gradually returned. It became a place of comradeship, and as I got to know the people in my yoga community, I marvelled at their journeys; people in therapy, recovering from burnout or from car accidents. Of course, not everyone is in a state of recovery, as I was, but those who were became personal inspiration. I have worked out my post-surgical trauma with quiet tears in the yoga room. It has become a place with no judgment, a place of grounding, a place for me to simply be. I love that yoga is always referred to as a practice, and that we are reminded every time will be different; and being in the moment is paramount. I love the letting go I have been able to do. It has been almost three years since I began this journey. I try to set myself up for success. I know the more one practises the better one gets, but I leave the temptation to guilt trip out of this equation and do what I can. I’m simply trying to master consistency. I realize the days I really don’t want to practise are the days I get the most beneﬁt. I still have times when I must be away, but I always come back. Of all the supplements, activities, and wellness rituals I have tried, it’s my hot yoga practice that has helped me turn a corner.
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To Move or Not to Move? A Helpful Guide for Seniors Considering Their Residential Options
If you are a senior who has been wondering lately whether you should consider moving - either because you ﬁnd the maintenance of your current home more difﬁcult due to diminishing ability or energy, or you simply want a lifestyle that allows you more freedom and less responsibility - then this is the book that can help you ask the right questions and ﬁnd the solution that is right for you. • What residential options are available? • Deﬁne your current situation - What residential option is right for you? • How to research and assess Independent and Assisted Living residences. • What do Independent, Assisted Living and Complex Care facilities have to offer? • How much does it cost to live in an Assisted Living residence? What subsidies are available? • Thinking of moving in with family members? Questions to consider before making your decision. • Are there any other residential options besides Independent, Assisted Living and Complex Care facilities? • If you choose to stay in your own home, what are your options and what should you plan for? • Who can help you decide what you can or cannot afford? • Funding sources available to seniors - tax deductions, housing subsidies, home care subsidies, equipment loan programs, renovation grants, etc. • Selling your home - how to ﬁnd the right realtor or relocation services to assist your move. • Downsizing - Where do you start? How do you proceed? • Adapting your home to meet your mobility needs - tips and suggestions • Hiring home care services; do it yourself or hire an agency? • Legal matters - how to make sure you receive the care you desire should you not be able to communicate due to some incapacitating condition • AND MUCH MORE Advice from professionals who are experts in the area of assisting seniors with their relocation
questions and concerns. A handy reference guide for seniors and their families wrestling with the issues around whether relocation is the best option. This 128-page book provides helpful, easy to read information and suggestions to help seniors and their families understand the decisions they need to make.
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DAY TRIP TO THE PAST STORY AND PHOTOS BY LYNNE R. KELMAN
his was the ﬁrst year I attended Civil War Re-enactments. My interest was peaked by an ad I saw when visiting Port Gamble in Washington State in 2008. The ad showed that a re-enactment of the Battle of Port Gamble put on by Washington Civil War Association, would take place the following spring and I decided to go and take photographs. The date arrived, I checked the website and off I went. The trip from B.C. included a two-hour drive and a ferry ride to the beautifully preserved town of Port Gamble. I arrived early, the actual battle didn’t start until 11 a.m. but the camps opened to the public at 9 a.m. My ﬁrst surprise came when I arrived at 8:30, was stopped in the parking lot and asked by a serious young man, “which side I was ﬁghting for and was given directions to where I could get kitted out!” Okay, he was kidding. Phew! The actual event is held on the large display grounds in Port Gamble. I found the “camps” of the Union and Confederate armies on different sides of the grounds, with tents erected amongst the sloping greens. I was taken by how genuinely authentic these hobbyists are at recreating the scenes from the Civil War. The tents contain exact replicas of the cots, bedding and sideboards, and with uniforms and boots waiting to be donned. The camps were alive with re-enactors, practising among themselves, preparing for the upcoming drills and presentation of arms and battle. Nothing was overlooked – campﬁres, wood cut, billycans boiling water for coffee. The atmosphere was electric and the period so authentically reproduced, I felt I had gone back in time. I felt drab in my 21st century clothes, amongst all this history. There was the laundress’ camp, an important woman in the battle place. A laundress was hired to wash for an average of 15 soldiers. She received 50 cents 10
per month from each man, and luckily, this was deducted before he received his wages. The 50 cents per month for each soldier and four dollars from each ofﬁcer, made the laundress well paid according to the wages on the post. There was the camp of the medical and sanitation core. Nurses cleaned wounds, performed minor surgeries, administered treatments and had to endure hard physical labour. They worked under horrible conditions, were grossly understaffed and constantly exhausted. I met and spoke with a woman whose children were dressed in period costume and she explained how the little boy, all dressed in white, not unlike a nightgown, would not be allowed to be dressed in trousers and shirt until well out of diapers and of a certain age. There was the company store and the sutlers’ camps. A sutler was once a merchant who followed an army around or maintained a store on an army post and
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sold goods to the soldiers, ranging from tobacco, sugar and coffee to hard goods and furnishings. The public was encouraged to wander freely amongst the camps, where children played with hoops and women weaved on antique looms. The time passed quickly and I was lucky to get many images, but as the battle neared, activities became even more serious and the men in the camps proceeded to their stations. The morning parade of each battalion took place in both camps and I hustled to get photos of the two sides - each outﬁt took roll call and the inspection of arms. There was a short moment for prayer and the men then fell out and took up their places for the battle. Next, the artillery was wheeled into place on either side of the hills. The Gatlin Gun, which was cleaned and presented so proudly, was taken to the head of the battle: all was ready. Field notes of the Washington Civil War Association say, “Like other Civil War organizations in this part of the country, the WCWA has three components; Confederate, Civilian and Federal. They boast three artillery units: Cobb’s, Polk’s Tennessee and Stanford’s Mississippi Batteries.” They have two mounted cavalry units in the 14th and 43rd Virginia. Since the Federal Component doesn’t currently have a mounted unit, the 1st U.S. Cavalry is galvanized to keep things balanced. The Cornfed contingent is rounded out with the 1st Confederate Engineers. The Naval Detachment from the USS Tahoma supplies artillery service for the Union. This detachment also has marines who turn out as skirmishers or infantry as the needs of the brigade dictate. The Yankee’s also have the U.S. Medical Department, Army of the Columbia Fife & Drum Corps and for those not yet old enough to take the ﬁeld with a riﬂe, the Norwich Cadets. The cadets are gen-
erally attached to headquarters and serve as couriers. They also drill with the infantry, so when they “come of age,” they’re already well-trained soldiers. The Battle is reproduced from manuals of Civil War, which describe the procedures that the original battalions followed. The strategy and outcome of the battles will be determined by the generals commanding the troops just as they did during the actual war 150 years ago. As a photographer, I delighted at the smoke from the cannons, which in the wind drifted across the ﬁeld. I enjoyed the “falls” the soldiers took when “hit” and at the medics on the sidelines who rushed into the midst of the battle to pull them out. I have images of the spotters with their telescopes, acting as forward guides to direct each battalion. There were fall backs, regrouping, charges and, at one point, a young man ran madly across the battleﬁeld supposedly crazed by the destruction and death of his fellow soldier. My eyes followed the young drummer boy as he marched behind the ranks, only to be shot and, as I watched him fall, so did my heart. It felt so real! One of the most moving parts came at the end of the battle, as the ﬂags were lowered, reveille was called, and women laid wreaths at a makeshift cross and grave to salute the fallen. What a morning! The battle is usually re-enacted two or
three times during the weekend and the camps carry on all day with re-enactments of the soldiers’ daily lives. The WCWA is committed to honouring their ancestors both Northern and Southern, who fought and lived during the American Civil War; their dedication and sharing of knowledge are exemplary. As hobbyists, they work hard at keeping the battalions alive and they share that knowledge with school groups and clubs in the area. The magnitude of their devotion to realism, authenticity and all their hard SL work is to be applauded.
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A little bit up, a little bit down BY JULIE LAWSON
ow much farther? Better not ask. Not when it’s a full day’s walk and we’ve barely started. Besides, I already know. I’d asked the question numerous times on our ﬁrst serious “walking” holiday (in Nepal) and the guide always gave the same answer – “a little bit up, a little bit down and just around the corner.” It’s Day 1 of the two walking tours we’re taking in Southwest Ireland. Both the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry, the larger peninsula to the south, are popular loop drives for bus tours and rental cars, but we’re taking the “high road” (literally) and going by foot – eight days around the Dingle Peninsula (think Ryan’s Daughter), followed by ﬁve days of walking along the Kerry Way. Walking? Hill-walking’s more like it – or climbing and clambering – for our walks ultimately take us along farmers’ tracks, sheep trails and old stage-coach routes, through peaty bogs and marshes of yellow ﬂag iris, over boulders, along country roads bordered by wild fuchsia hedges, and even to the summit of Mt. Brandon (952 m), Ireland’s second highest mountain. And they’re not simply “walks.” Thanks to the knowledge, experience and enthusiasm of our native guides, the tours are mini-seminars on Irish history, folklore, customs and humour, geography and ecology, the Gaelic language, food, Guinness, whiskey, sports, music, the economy, and back to Guinness. 12
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O u r group is going up Slieve Mish (Slieve being Gaelic for mountain), following an old railway line. The views are spectacular, but the wind is ferocious. Keeping your balance while stone-stepping across a bog is tricky – especially when the stones are too far apart for short legs. Sure enough, in I plunge. According to Kerryman John Ahern, the head of SouthWest Walks Ireland, a bog isn’t wet, it’s soft. A lovely Irish way to put it, but wet is still wet. Fortunately, the sun and wind dry my shorts and boots quickly. We share a few good-natured grumbles on our ﬁrst walk, notably as we’re nearing the end. “We have to walk through that?” we gasp. “That” being a very muddy cattle track,
Photos: Patrick Lawson
hemmed in by dense thickets and ripe with fresh manure. “No way!” Our ﬂexible guide, John McKiernan, agrees. On to Plan B! Over an electric fence (nervously), across a farmer’s ﬁeld (guiltily), along a busy country road and all at a brisk pace too, energized by the knowledge that the Railway Tavern in Camp is close at hand. Ten years ago, my husband and I would never have taken a walking tour. Our reaction would have been a horriﬁed, “Are you kidding?” Travelling in a group, being herded by a guide – shudder! But we gave it a try (never say never) and now we’re hooked. We still like to travel independently, but there are times (and places) where a walking tour is a perfect option. We’re able to explore remote areas without having to organize everything ourselves and, since we make our own ﬂight arrangements in order to spend extra time abroad, a tour serves as a good introduction to a country. Another plus? Walking groups are small in number, so there is never the feeling of being “herded.” And since the tours are speciﬁcally geared to walking (or some variation thereof), they at-
tract like-minded people who, in spite of differences in age, nationality and experience, already have something in common. We’re a congenial group of 13 on the Dingle Walk, including our guide – four couples and four women (from Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany and the U.S.), ranging in age from the mid-20s to the mid-60s. Over pints of cold Guinness or Bulmers Apple Cider, we compare notes on the misadventures and highlights of the day. John let us walk at our own pace (until Plan B) so what some might have seen or heard, others might have missed. “Did you see the roan horse on the hillside? Nice change from sheep. Those tiny purple ﬂowers that we thought were orchids, they’re Greater Butterworth, they eat insects. This pub’s
like a railway museum. Blister alert, can anyone spare a moleskin? What time is dinner?” The days are packed over the next two weeks and follow a pattern – a substantial breakfast, an invigorating walk of roughly six hours (14 to 20 km), and well-deserved refreshments at the end. Sometimes, the walk takes us to our next night’s accommodation, other times a bus meets us at the pub and transfers us there. A couple of hours to unwind, and we’re more than ready for dinner – and guilt-free indulgence. Each day offers something different: a newborn lamb; a visit to Great Blasket Island, once inhabited, now home to sea lions, sheep and donkeys; the best-ever scones at Slea Head Café; Famine villages; a scramble around Staigue Fort, the largest and best-preserved prehistoric ring fort in Ireland; smoked salmon for breakfast. We have our share of “soft” mornings (misty and drizzly), but the light rain never dampens spirits. Besides,
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a visit to Ireland wouldn’t be complete without a few days of mist, fog or some of the rain that makes it so impossibly green. “If the sky’s clear, it’s going to rain,” a bartender tells us. “If it isn’t, it’s already raining.” On our last day’s walk on the Dingle, we set out in a state of shock. It’s sunny. The sky is blue and cloudless. Plus, a rare phenomenon, we can see our destination – the summit of Mt. Brandon. We get the usual high winds, but the sky remains clear. As we climb, we’re treated to the awe-inspiring view of the entire Dingle Peninsula and the Blasket Islands with the Macgillycuddy Reeks rising across the sea to the south. The good weather continues during our Kerry Way walk, apart from a brief, but heavy downpour that forces us up a steep track in record time, and drives away the midges. There are only ﬁve of us this time and two guides – John Ahern and a new guide, Maeve, who’s learning the ropes from a master. As well as accommodation – a variety of inns, family run guesthouses and the occasional hotel – all meals are included in the tour price. It’s well worth it, given the cost of eating out in Ireland, and we enjoy excellent three-course dinners (with up to ﬁve choices per course!), either at the inn where we’re staying or at a restaurant or pub in the nearest village. Dinners
were mouthwatering: a round of Brie with salad greens to start, fresh Dingle Bay mussels, grilled salmon or traditional Irish stew, fresh vegetables served on the side and, yes, there were potatoes. Breakfasts were immense: full Irish (eggs, rashers, sausage, tomato and black pudding), Irish porridge or both. As for lunches, we made our own with the sandwich ﬁxings, fruit and treats set out by our guide each morning. Walks are graded according to the difﬁculty of the terrain, the length of the walk and the elevation. The ﬁve-day Kerry Walk, ideal for a moderately ﬁt person, is graded “1 Boot,” whereas the eight-day walk around the Dingle Peninsula is “2 Boots.” A little bit up, a little bit down? More than a little! But the company is so engaging, the landscape so Ireland, we scarcely notice. Besides, after all the exercise, we can treat ourselves to some Sticky Toffee Pudding (with ice cream) at our evening meal. But ﬁrst, there’s a cold Guinness or a warm Irish Coffee waiting just around SL the corner.
A few essentials for a walking trip: • Hiking boots – well broken-in, with good ankle support • Waterproof jacket and lightweight rain pants, for keeping out the wind as well as the rain • A warm hat and gloves for “soft” days, sunscreen and lighter hat for the sun • A re-usable water bottle • Layered clothing – zip-off pants, a T-shirt and ﬂeece jacket • Moleskins, in case of blisters • A daypack, big enough to carry the essentials, but not so big that you’re tempted to ﬁll it. Additional Information SouthWest Walks Ireland offers guided and self-guided walking holidays all-year-round in various regions of Ireland. www.southwestwalksireland.com
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Hobby Meets Humanitarianism BY MICHELLE DA ROZA
Photos: Lise Guillemette
ake one retired realtor, add a love of woodworking plus a passion for helping the community and that equals Wayne Helfrich. Although not a volunteer in the traditional sense, Wayne takes thirdparty fundraising to the next level. In his spare time, he creates beautifully intricate wooden puzzles that are sold by donation with all proceeds going towards Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver. Why Habitat? Because they are “doers,” says Wayne, just like him. Creating these puzzles is a labour of love, he says, and he cannot justify selling them for his own beneﬁt. The idea of creating puzzles came to him after he picked up a few wooden puzity Greater Vancouzles at a garage sale a ver by 2010, which is twice the required couple of years ago. amount for corporate-build teams. This These small pieces may seem like a lofty goal, but after sevof wood piqued en months into his campaign, Wayne had his interest, inspirraised over $9,000! A huge component of ing him to make his his success is his puzzle website and online own. He was fondly fundraising option (www.woodenpuzzledubbed “The Puzzle Wayne Helfrich – The Puzzle Man sarefun.ca). Man” shortly after, As of September 1, 2009, Wayne ofﬁcially met and exhowever, his creations are not limited to just wooden mind mysteries. Cutting boards and washer games are some of ceeded his fundraising goal. The Puzzle Man’s next project is a run of wooden piggy banks for children with sections the other woodcrafts that can be purchased by donation. For several years, Wayne has made it his mission to for saving, spending, investing and, of course, donating spread the good word of Habitat for Humanity and the work with the intention of inspiring another generation of Habitat SL they do by appearing on the organization’s behalf at com- for Humanity Greater Vancouver fundraisers. munity events, in addition to marketing his woodworking. He even began to “charge” friends and family by donation for his assistance with home repairs and renovations. If a neighbour calls Wayne to install shelves, for example, Wayne asks for a donation to Habitat for Humanity in lieu of payment for his helping hands. After an overwhelmingly positive response to his message and one-ofa-kind wooden pieces, Wayne issued a challenge to himself in early 2009: Raise $10,000 for Habitat for HumanDECEMBER 2009
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Recommend a Distribution Location Near You! Senior Living is looking for convenient, high trafﬁc distribution locations throughout the Greater Vancouver region. If you know of a place of business or activity centre that would be a convenient location for interested readers to pick up our magazine, let us know. Email: ofﬁce@seniorlivingmag.com Phone 1-877-479-4705 DECEMBER 2009
The “Un-retirement” King
Photos: CJ Relke
BY RICK NEAL
Vancouver Gia nts part owner and hockey legend Gordie Howe.
any retirees ponder the decision to return to work or take on a second career. Money is often an issue, but many do so because they miss the sense of value and self-respect that comes from being productive. For professional athletes, their loss of self-worth is even more pronounced as they are no longer the centre of attention. Many have attempted “unretiring,” but only a few have played at the level they achieved during their prime. Soccer legend Pelé, boxing great George Foreman, and basketball’s Michael Jordan would all rank high on a list of the greatest comebacks in sports history. But with all due respect, to the aforementioned athletes, the No. 1 spot belongs to a soft-spoken hockey player from Floral, Saskatchewan. Starting in 1946, Gordie Howe patrolled right wing on the Detroit Red Wings for 25 seasons. His six Hart trophies as league MVP, four Stanley Cup championships, and six scoring ti18
tles earned him the nickname Mister Hockey. From 1949 to 1969, he was among the top ﬁve scorers every season, regularly scoring 80 to 90 points in the old six team NHL. His physical playing style inspired the term “The Gordie Howe Hat Trick: a goal, an assist and a ﬁstﬁght.” When the League expanded to 12 teams in 1967, the diluted talent pool beneﬁted veterans like Gordie. In 1968-69, he scored 103 points, the only time an NHL player over age 40 scored 100 or more points in a season. But when his total dipped to 52 two seasons later, it seemed that Father Time, and injuries, had ﬁnally caught up with the venerable superstar. Gordie retired from the Red Wings in 1971 at the age of 42, accepting a public relations job in their front ofﬁce. However, he soon became frustrated with a token position that required little more than attending award ceremonies, and he missed being at the centre
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of the hockey universe. After a couple of years, Mr. Hockey was ready for a new challenge. That challenge presented itself when a new hockey league, called the World Hockey Association, took to the ice in 1972-73, aiming to compete with the NHL by signing veteran stars to lucrative contracts to complement their rosters of journeymen and minor-leaguers. One of the new teams, The Houston Aeros, made headlines when they drafted Gordie’s teenage sons, Mark and Marty, who were too young to play in the NHL. The hockey world was soon abuzz that Gordie was coming out of retirement in order to play with his two boys. One day, the elder Howe called Houston coach and exteammate Bill Dineen and casually asked him if he would like to sign three Howes
instead of two. “Hell, yes!” Dineen declared. Gordie’s wife Colleen, who had acted as her husband’s agent for the last several years, negotiated a fouryear package deal for all three Howes worth nearly $2.5 million, more than Gordie had made during his last 18 NHL seasons. There was speculation that his comeback was merely a publicity stunt designed to generate hype for the upstart WHA. Many feared that the 45-year-old hockey legend would embarrass himself. But Gordie reported to training camp in excellent shape. His two-year break had helped heal some old injuries and, after a few weeks, he was back in game form. The city of Houston embraced its newest celebrities; a downtown skyscraper was draped in a banner that read, “Welcome to Howeston!” Aeros ticket sales skyrocketed, and the team packed them in on the road as well. The rejuvenated Papa Howe quickly dispelled any concerns about his playing abilities. He notched 100 points during the 1973-74 regular season, good enough for third in league scoring, and led his team in capturing the league championship. He also took the Most Valuable Player award, which was named after him the following season. When asked how he managed to play so well at the age of 45, Gordie just said, “I got the love of the game back.” Gordie’s original contract with Houston speciﬁed that he would play for only one year, and then move into the front ofﬁce. But after his amazing debut season, he decided to keep going, and for two more years, he continued to rack up astonishing numbers. He tallied 99 points in 1974-75, again leading the Aeros in winning the championship, and scored 102 points during the 197576 campaign – his highest-ever point total – at the age of 48. But in spite of their on-ice success, the Houston Aeros, like many other WHA franchises, faced money problems. When team owners failed to meet the payroll, the team folded after the 1976-77 season. Gordie’s point total had slipped to 68
that year, so when the Aeros went under fans wondered if he would ﬁnally retire for good. Once again, Mr. Hockey had other ideas. Gordie decided to keep playing, so it was time to ﬁnd a new team. His heart was still in Detroit, so Colleen put together a proposal to the Red Wings that would see her two sons as players and her husband eventually returning to the front ofﬁce, possibly as general manager. But Wings owner Bruce Norris was still peeved about Gordie’s abrupt departure four years earlier. To make matters worse, Detroit general manager Ted Lindsay, Gordie’s
Gordie and his wife Colleen.
ex-line mate, was on the outs with the Howes since maligning the WHA and its 49-year-old star. Lindsay couldn’t, or wouldn’t, obtain Mark’s NHL rights from Montreal, so the deal collapsed. Colleen had better luck negotiating with the WHA’s New England Whalers, where she bagged Gordie a 10year personal services contract worth $5 million for combined player/front ofﬁce duties. In his ﬁrst season, the 50year-old Gordie produced numbers that deﬁed logic, scoring 96 points. Whalers coach Harry Neale, now a CBC colour commentator, called it “the greatest achievement in sports history” in a television documentary. When Neale scheduled a mandatory practice, that didn’t include Gordie, a few players complained about the star’s preferential treatment. Neale recalled that, “I looked them in the eye and declared, ‘When you turn 50, you can have an extra day off, too. That was the end of the conversation.’” On December 7, 1977, Gordie scored the 1,000th goal of his combined NHL
and WHA careers, including playoffs. Neale stated in Dick Irvin’s Behind The Bench that Gordie was so focused on scoring the goal that he sat on the bench between shifts with his left hand in a bucket of warm water for arthritis, and his right hand in a bucket of ice for a sore wrist. After he reached the milestone, an X-ray revealed that he had scored the landmark goal with a broken hand. By the end of the 1978-79 season, the WHA was near bankruptcy. An agreement was proffered whereby four WHA teams would be absorbed into the NHL, one of which was New England. At the age of 52, Howe returned to the NHL for one ﬁnal season. He recorded just 41 points, but he played in every game and, as opposition players soon discovered, his famous elbows were as sharp as ever. By the end of that season, he had attained an iconic status to the point where his on-ice contribution was nearly irrelevant. Since hanging up the blades for good in 1980, Gordie has pursued various business interests and made numerous charity-raising appearances. As most local hockey fans know, he is a part owner of The Western Hockey League Vancouver Giants. On March 17, 2008, The Giants celebrated his upcoming 80th birthday with a special Gordie Howe Night. Over 12,000 fans came out to get a glimpse of the hockey legend. There has been a great deal of conjecture about Gordie’s miraculous longevity and inexplicable comeback. His extraordinary physique, incredible strength and rigorous conditioning have all been cited as contributing factors, and no doubt, he was also rejuvenated by the thrill of playing with his sons. But, above all, it may have been his deep devotion to the game that inspired one of sport’s greatest comebacks. As he typically understated in his autobiography, “I truly played the game for the love of it; that’s what kept me on the ice for hours as a boy and brought me back to the NHL as a grandfather.” Mister Hockey. The “Un-retirement” King. Whichever label you prefer, Gordie SL Howe continues to inspire. DECEMBER 2009
Dickens, Scrooge and Christ(mas) BY MICHAEL TIMKO
ith the approach of Christmas, many look forward to hearing or seeing that perennial favourite, A Christmas Carol. Without disrespect to this tradition, perhaps it is time to take another look at Dickens and Christmas. Though the Carol will always remain his most popular and loved tribute to the Christmas season, Dickens wrote many other works about the holiday. With the commercialization of the season, and especially of the Carol, society seems to have missed the point: In all his Christmas novels and stories, Charles Dickens was attempting to show the signiﬁcance of keeping Christ in Christmas. It was Dickens, with the help of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, who made Christmas, which had become a controversial holiday, respectable again. Albert did his part by introducing the Christmas tree, with its bright decorations and lights, and Dickens, through his ﬁve Christmas novels and his annual Christmas stories, set the tone for the presentday season. With his iconic book, A Christmas Carol, published in 1843, he played a major role in reinventing Christmas as a holiday emphasizing family, goodwill and compassion. Dickens wrote ﬁve Christmas novels: A Christmas Carol, 1843; The Chimes, 1844; The Cricket on the Hearth, 1845; The Battle of Life, 1846; and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, 1848. Then, he started to run his and his friends’ Christmas stories 20
annually in his weekly magazines. At various times, Dickens wrote about what Christmas meant to him. In the preface of the 1852 edition of the Christmas Books, he wrote that he had wanted to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts “never out of season in a Christian land.” Dickens often spoke of his “Carol philosophy,” which he thought of as conveying the “moral lessons” of the season rather than all the embellishments and frivolities. One editor of the Christmas stories writes that this “Carol philosophy was at the heart of all his work and formed the basis of the Christmas stories.” The other important aspect of the season, clearly illustrated in the Christmas stories, is that it brought out thoughts of the past, especially those of idealistic childhood when one believed in magic. When he began to edit Household Words, Dickens wrote that one of his goals was to “cherish the light of Fancy which is inherent in the human breast, which can never be extinguished.” It is this belief that enabled Dickens in his various Christmas stories to focus on childhood memories, memories that often brought a mixture of joy and sorrow to the characters in the stories. The same thoughts are presented in, “What Christmas Is, As We Grow Older.” Written when Dickens was
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grieving over the deaths of his infant daughter, Dora, and his father, this story emphasizes Christmas Day and dwells on the way the Christmas ﬁre “bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped everything and every one around the Christmas ﬁre; and made the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete.” In the story, it is stressed that Christmas is a time to forget petty grievances and to not ﬁnd fault with others. Instead, he writes, “Nearer and closer to our hearts be the Christmas spirit, which is the spirit of active usefulness, perseverance, cheerful discharge of duty, kindness and forbearance! It is in the last virtues especially, that we are, or should be, strengthened by the unaccomplished visions of our youth.” He concludes: “Therefore, as we grow older, let us be thankful that the circle of our Christmas associations and of the lessons that they bring, expands. Let us welcome every one of them, and summon them to take their places by the Christmas hearth!”
They all convey the major themes of the power of love, especially family love, and the way that memories, especially painful ones, are able to bring about moral redemption. Dickens’ own view of Scrooge’s “redemption” is found at the end of the novel. Unlike the “unredeemed” Scrooge at the beginning of the story, the one who is described as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner,” the “redeemed” Scrooge is a changed person. The redeemed Scrooge, it seems, is now fully aware of the true meaning
of the Christmas season: remembering the birth of Christ and unselﬁshly helping others. All is possible at this magical time of the year. Scrooge’s veneration of its name and origin is also present in all of Dickens’ Christmas stories, and they should be remembered as Scrooge reinforces that sentiment. “It was always said of him,” Dickens tells us, “that he knew how to keep Christmas well. May that truly be said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every SL One!”
A Great Gift Idea! Reﬂections, Rejections, and Other Breakfast Foods Reflection��s,��������
and Other Breakfa
A collection of Gipp Forster’s published columns in Senior Living magazine, with other unpublished writings thrown in for good measure. A unique blend of humor and nostalgia, Gipp’s writings touch your heart in such an irresistible way, you will want to buy not only a copy for yourself, but as a wonderful gift for friends and family members. 128 pages Softcover • Published by Senior Living
& Unpublished Writings A Collection of Published ist Gipp Forster by Senior Living Column
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One of Dickens’ most moving Christmas stories is “Nobody’s Story.” Again, it focuses on the plight of the poor and helpless during what should be a joyful season. The central character, the narrator, is simply called He, and his ﬁreside, unlike that of Mr. Bigwig, the rich and prosperous protagonist of the story, is “a bare one, hemmed in by blackened streets.” At one point in the story, He appeals to the Bigwig family: “We are a labouring people, and I have a glimmering suspicion in me that labouring people were made by a higher intelligence than yours to be in need of mental refreshment and recreation. Come! Amuse me harmlessly, show me something, give me an escape!” “But here,” writes Dickens, “the Bigwig family fell into a state of uproar absolutely deafening.” Dickens, as in the Carol, contrasts what happens and what is possible when the real meaning of the season, when one celebrates Christmas with the veneration due its sacred name and origin. To make his moral theme clear to the reader, Dickens concludes He’s story with two brief sentences: “So Nobody lived and died in the old, old, old way, and this, in the main, is the whole of Nobody’s story. Had he no name, you ask? Perhaps it was Legion. It matters little what his name was. Let us call him Legion.” In the last sentence of the story, Dickens returns to the image of the hearth, a symbol of warmth and hospitality: “O! Let us think of them this year at the Christmas ﬁre, and not forget them when it is burnt out.” While one cannot dispute that A Christmas Carol remains Dickens’ most famous and most popular Christmas story, one that captures the quintessential Dickensian sentiment and pathos, the Carol philosophy; it is important that all of his works and especially the entire corpus of his Christmas novels and stories be kept in mind.
Nine Feet of Living Space... and Loving It! BY JANE CASSIE
ithout changing my stance, I was able to take the eggs out of the fridge, fry them up with bacon, and serve them to the table. One hop away was my cozy night nook, and an easy pivot got me to the biff. It was certainly no Beverley Hills mansion, but I wouldn’t have traded my nine feet of living space for any other home – at least not back then. For two summers, while our retirement retreat on Big Bar Lake was erected, a portable camper ﬁlled in as our temporary homestead. Though we had always looked forward to more headspace, ﬂush toilets, and modern upgrades, this cozy abode had provided a panorama that we coined, “Paradise.” Our search for recreation waterfront began a number of years ago when we felt the need to escape Vancouver’s bustling hub. There were lots of B.C.
destinations to choose from and each offered their own pros, cons and price tags (the latter being a primary determinant). A gulf island cottage was just a puddle jump away, yet the thought of weekend ferry lineups didn’t thrill us. There were a number of hot spots snuggling up to Lake Okanagan’s shoreline, but with its recent popularity boost, we’d be nudging elbows with our neighbours. Whistler’s gamut of adventure opportunities was mindboggling, but so was the cost of a teeny weenie condo. We spread out our B.C. map on the dining room table and checked distances, lakes and travel time. What regions were doable for a weekend escape, yet far enough away from the growing masses? And what areas would coincide with our line of credit? After ruling out the above prospects,
our choices were limited. “How ‘bout the Cariboo,” my husband said, with a western drawl, after checking out some property listings. I knew Brent had always had a hankering to become a cowboy, but my idea of the perfect wardrobe never included chaps and spurs. “It seems to ﬁt our criteria,” I agreed cautiously, “but I’m really not the cowgirl-kind-a-gal.” Before two weeks were up, I was eating my words. After the ﬁrst glimpse of Big Bar Lake, I’d been countriﬁed. The southern Cariboo is dappled with dozens of ﬁshing holes, but this shimmering gem was our ﬁrst and ﬁnal stop. We had found instant serenity. Like the bountiful trout that are regularly reeled in, we were lured by its natural beauty, then instantly hooked! Ringing Big Bar’s sapphire core Above, the portable camper, The Slumber Queen, was dwarfed by the magniﬁcent vista of Big Bar Lake. Left, the log home construction commences alongside the Cassies’ temporary refuge. Top right, the ﬁnished product – worth the wait! The author and her husband Brent taking a break during construction. Photos: Brent Cassie
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is a shallow shoreline that boasts the most iridescent aquamarine green. If it wasn’t for the timber-choked Marble Mountains framing the backdrop, you might think you were fast-tracked to the Caribbean. But, of course, it’s far away from tropical destinations. While plunked on its lofty elevated plateau at 1,100 metres, this geological terrain is as diverse as the weather. It also typiﬁes the well-known catchphrase “Beautiful B.C.” Thanks to the melting of glaciers some 20,000 years ago, this captivating landscape hosts everything from craggy peaks to rolling ranchlands that are pot-marked with lakes like this heavenly swim spot, and soon, our front yard pool! But before there’d be any frolicking, we soon discovered there’d be lots of work to do. My idea of a getaway haven had we sat on the bluff overlooking this always been just that – a little cabin picturesque parcel of land, there was where we’d easily escape, far away only one answer. Let’s go for it! And where would we shack up from any form of physical work. In my mind’s eye, I had envisioned sitting while this dream retreat was erected? on the deck, reading a book, listening “We could always dust off the Queen to wind rustle through the trees – you and perch her on a couple of stilts,” know, the iconic image that most wan- Brent had suggested. In spite of soundnabe retreat owners have. Well, was ing like royal living, the well-travelled I in for a surprise! Not only were we abode that clung to the back of our minus a deck – we were sans the entire pickup was far from Buckingham Palsanctuary. No chalet, lodge, cottage, ace. Sure, it had been comfy quarters not even a rickety lean-to – pardon me, while we had once roamed B.C.’s back of log home builders, a ﬁrst aid stathere was one shack on the property roads, but I couldn’t imagine a lengthy tion to remove the occasional splinter stint within these four aluminum walls. and a games room at the end of most – a worn-out and well-used outhouse. Although we knew from experience Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither days. It provided warmth on chilly nights, coverage during downpours that building a place together could would this habitat. Well, that was over ﬁve years ago. and had turned out to be the perfect be a true test to the relationship, this wasn’t the retirement strategy we had During the entire building process, temporary refuge – all nine cherished SL in mind. Instead of swinging a hammer our camper was a kitchen for a crew feet of living space. with my hubby, I wanted to be swayingrash in a hammock together. Were we prepared to build from the ground up, and for the work that lay ahead? It would include everything from at. ave a drawing up plans and major log house we h ine for th construction to digging trenches for vacc a geothermal heating system, drilling the well, hooking up the power and enHealthClinic l e v a suring that the existing septic ﬁeld was Tr ination Vacc up to snuff. And based on the whiffs around the biff, it would be none too soon. Yet, in spite of all the ramiﬁcawww.doctortravel.ca 604 . 541 . 2829 tions and obvious work ahead, while
Senior Dating: 10 First-Date Ideas
hatever your age, the best way to enjoy a ﬁrst date is to keep an open mind, focus on the things you have in common, and make your primary goal to simply have fun! Here are 10 ﬁrst date suggestions to get you started. Fun First Dates for Single Seniors (or married couples renewing the spark): 1. Dance the Night Away. Check your local recreation centres for dance classes or look for dance clubs that welcome newcomers. Whether you are an accomplished dancer, or a novice with a desire to learn, being with a group of people engaged in the grand sport of dancing will open doors to new relationship opportunities. Most dance classes invite singles to join and will match you up with a partner, or possibly several partners. Get close, have fun and check to see if there’s any chemistry. 2. Picnic in the Great Outdoors. Find a beautiful spot to spread a blanket and share a tasty basket of goodies. Shop the local deli together for some exotic items, or bring a potluck of homemade items. Find a beautiful spot to spread a blanket and enjoy your bounty. It will taste that much better in the fresh air and in the company of someone you want to get to know better. 3. Attend a Charity Function or Volunteer. It’s fun to support a good cause while you get to know your date a little better. Find a charity you both care about and see what happens. There’s always plenty of people to mingle with should conversation get a little strained. You may ﬁnd the person of your dreams – and it may not be the person you came with. Keep your options open, but be prepared to enjoy the company of everyone around 24
you. There are always charity-driven events in your area that are in need of volunteers and participants. You can get to know one another and lend a helping hand in the community all at once. 4. The Dog Park. If you’re both partial to pooches, take an hour and meet at the local dog park. Both you and your furry friends can say hello and you can get to know one another in a relaxed, familiar environment. 5. Get Artsy. Nourish your artistic side by expanding your creativity. Research current exhibits at local art galleries, or the museum. If you both have an artistic bent, take an art class together and perhaps try something new to both of you… stained glass, woodworking, etc. If you’re not the hands-on type, you can still nurture your artistic side by going on a local art tour. These usually take you to a number of locations, involve a variety of art forms and give you and your date something to chat about. 6. Set Sail or Take Flight. With water so close at hand, ﬁnd out where you can rent kayaks, canoes or sailboats, take an evening dinner cruise, or go whale watching…You’ll probably want to do this when the weather is at its best but it will deﬁnitely let you see your surroundings from a different perspective. If you haven’t seen your local area from the air, check out the tours offered by plane and helicopter companies. Even just a half-hour ﬂight can give you a fantastic bird’s eye view of the local sights and scenery. Instead of taking the ferry or a commercial ﬂight, take a local harbour ﬂight, instead, to a nearby destination, like Friday Harbour or Seattle. Do a little shopping or visit a couple bistros, before making your way
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back home. A full day, indeed, but one you’ll remember for a long time. 7. Enjoy the Classics. Classic car shows can bring back many memories to share with your date. Automobiles are a big part of our history – what better way to ﬁnd out more about each other by reminiscing about the cars that were part of your past? 8. Be Like An Open Book. Bookstores are great places for dates. You’re surrounded by conversation starters and the chairs are usually pretty comfortable! Even if the date doesn’t go as planned, you can still pick up a great read for later. If it goes well, you can comfortably take the next step towards seeing one another again. 9. It’s All In Good Taste. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or have trouble telling Cabernet from Merlot, visiting a local winery, joining a tour that takes in a sampling of several vineyards, or attending a wine tasting together is a great way to get to know each other while learning something new and sampling one of life’s pleasures. 10. Join the Circus. Is there a midway coming to town? Turn back time by strolling among the stalls and the rides, recall what you enjoyed most as a kid, savour the popcorn and cotton candy, ride the ferris wheel; all those things you loved as a kid but perhaps forgot as you grew older and took on more responsibilities. Start your new relationship by becoming a kid-at-heart again. Do you want to read more about dating for seniors? Visit our website at www.seniorlivingmag.com/articles/senior-dating for more information or to SL share your dating interests.
BBB Better Better Better Better
Business Business Business Business
Bureau Bureau Bureau Bureau
BY LYNDA PASACRETA
Smart Shopping Tips for the Holidays
uring the busy shopping season, consumers like to use debit and credit cards. However, scammers often see this as a great opportunity for fraud, which causes the public to mistrust shopping in-person or buying online. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, Canada ranks second in the world for debit card usage. In 2008, Interac reported a total dollar loss for cardholders to be approximately $104 million with 148,000 ATM cardholder victims. As for credit card related frauds, Canadian Bankers Association statistics show losses of $407 million. Sadly, most of the time, we’re only aware of how prevalent debit and credit card fraud is after it happens to us. You may receive a call stating that your credit card has been compromised, and you have no clue why it happened. To protect yourself against debit and credit card frauds, Better Business Bureau would like to offer the following advice this holiday season: If you are shopping in-person: Check the PIN pad to see if it has been tampered with before handing over your debit card. Look for raised screws on the back, the absence of a serial number, or if the machine looks like it doesn’t ﬁt. Think twice about your habits. Often we see convenience as the key factor of why we use debit and credit cards for purchases. However, you may want to consider only using ATMs at bank branches, not at convenience stores or delis, since bank security cameras can
offer evidence that fraudulent withdrawals with your debit card were not made by you. Check your statements. Check your bank and credit card statements often, daily if possible, for any illegal activity. Call the card provider or institution at once, if you are suspicious about anything on your account. If you are shopping online: Do not click pop-up ads. These ads show up on e-commerce sites after you’ve made a purchase with your debit card. The pop-up promises cash-back rewards once you click “Yes” on the ad. But you may not realize that you’re actually agreeing to automatically sign up for a company’s online membership service. Unless you cancel, your card will get charged every month indeﬁnitely. Don’t fall for phishing. You click on a link in an e-mail purportedly from your bank and end up at a website where you’re asked to enter and “verify” your debit card number or PIN number. Your bank would not contact you by e-mail to verify information, so do not fall for the phishing trap. Conﬁrm your online purchase is secure – Shoppers should always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// and in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before paying. If there are any doubts about a site, BBB recommends right-clicking anywhere on the page and selecting “Properties.” This will let you see the real URL (website address) and
the dialog box will reveal if the site is not encrypted. BBB wishes you a safe holiday season, with a reminder to trust your gut. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. For more tips like these, SL visit us at mbc.bbb.org Lynda Pasacreta is President of the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. Contact the BBB to check a company report or Buyers’ Tip before you purchase or invest. www.bbbvan.org or 604-6822711. To contact Lynda Pasacreta, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Embrace the Journey - A Care Giver’s Story by Valerie Green The very personal story of her own journey as a care giver to her elderly parents. This is a story which will touch many hearts and be relevant for numerous adult children who, in midlife, are faced with a similar challenge and must make agonizing decisions and choices. It painfully addresses the problems encountered of ‘aging in place’ and the desire for loving couples to stay together in their home until the end of their lives. 96 pages. Softcover. 5.5” x 8.5” Published by Senior Living. Price $14.95 To order, please send cheque for $19.84 ($14.95 plus $3.95 S&H & GST) payable to Senior Living. MAIL TO: Embrace Book Offer c/o Senior Living 153, 1581-H Hillside Ave., Victoria BC V8T 2C1
Please include your clearly written shipping address and phone number. Allow two weeks for shipping. DECEMBER 2009
UNITED IN SONG B
ob Poutt seats himself at the piano and strikes the opening chords of, “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow.” Bright sunshine warms the third-ﬂoor room at Vancouver’s 411 Dunsmuir Seniors Centre. Christmas is still three months away, but members of the 411 Multicultural Choir respond with a rousing rendition. Those familiar with the song, that is. Some have never heard it before, but they give it their best try anyway. Male and female voices from 20 countries, 20 different cultural backgrounds, bound together with a shared love of music, blend joyfully in song. They sing in English, but few of the choir’s 32 members were born here. Most have come from other parts the world, some to escape discrimination, repression and poverty. English is a second language they learn through song and the spoken word. Earlier in life, one or two sang in church 26
choirs or with operatic groups, but for most, singing with a multicultural choir is an exciting new experience. But singing is not the only glue that binds together this lively, enthusiastic group of seniors who make up the 411 multicultural choir. There is a strong feeling of kinship, of belonging; a sense of friendship, fellowship, fun and, despite cultural differences, joy in their shared interest in music. And there is Bob: the choir’s beloved director. Three years ago, Vancouver resident Bob Poutt impulsively decided to drop into the 411 Seniors Centre, a facility he knew little about. Picking up a newsletter, an article about a multicultural choir in the process of being formed attracted his attention. Curious, Bob telephoned José Mendosa, 411’s Multicultural Coordinator, at the time, to see how the choir’s recently held inaugural meeting had turned out.
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“Not very well,” said José, “nobody came.” When he learned that Bob had a strong musical background, José suggested they meet for lunch. Bob’s family had immigrated to North America’s west coast from Finland when he was a boy, settling where his father could ﬁnd jobs in the lumber, ﬁshing and mining industries. Bob started piano lessons in 1948, when he was in Grade 8, and received singing instruction after his music teacher, who taught voice, discovered he had a strong, melodious voice. After graduating from high school, Bob majored in music therapy at UBC, before switching to a career in education. He earned his teaching certiﬁcate and, for the next 23 years, taught administrative and supervisory programs at UBC, a position that later, as supervisor, enabled him to utilize his early music therapy training. At 411, the meeting between Bob
Photo: Bruce Winter
BY JOAN W. WINTER
s d e ﬁ i s s a Cl
life stories draws the already cohesive group closer. Choristers talk about their homeland; show pictures with maps and photographs. They sing in a multitude of languages – Mandarin, Japanese, Filipino – from memory, spontaneously, and from the heart. Sometimes Bob translates the words into English and the group sings the song together. Musical instruments – piano, guitar, violin – played by choir members often accompany. For special occasions, zipper songs are sometimes used. To create a zipper song, a familiar melody (such as “Happy Birthday”) is chosen. Arnaldo, a talented Filipino, or Bob, create a lyric that suits the occasion and can be sung with the melody. When a piece of music is particularly irresistible, the lively group may get up and dance. The choir enjoys road trips. Not to distant venues, but to hospitals, senior residences and community centres throughout the Lower Mainland. They have visited Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, the Holy Family Hospital and Mount Saint Joseph’s, to name a few. A young-at-heart, upbeat group, they like mingling with the audience, encouraging others to participate in sing-a-longs, dancing and clapping. Without exception, the group attributes the choir’s success to the knowledgeable, friendly, professional expertise of its director. “Without Bob,
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Choir Director Bob Poutt
we wouldn’t have a choir. He keeps us coming back, week after week,” they enthuse. Bob laughs. “We’ve had three wonderful years together. They are my therSL apy group; a joy and a blessing.” New members welcome. No previous singing experience or audition required. Contact: Bob Poutt, Choir Director, 411 Dunsmuir Street Seniors Centre (3rd ﬂoor), Vancouver 604-6848171.
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$30 for 20 words or less. $1.25 per extra word. Boxed Ad - Small (2.2 x 1.2) $110. Boxed Ad - Large (2.2 x 2.4) $210. Add Logo - $25 extra. Red spot color 10% extra. Plus 5% GST. All Classiﬁed ads must be prepaid. Cheque or Credit Card accepted. Toll Free 1-877-479-4705 Deadline: 15th of the month. Make cheque payable to: Senior Living, 153, 1581-H Hillside Ave.,Victoria BC V8T 2C1
Photo: Joan Winter
and José went well. As Christmas approached, it was arranged that Bob would play Christmas songs at the Centre three times a week. Encouraging sing-along participation, Bob had interested people signing up for a three-prize pre-Christmas rafﬂe. “Just his sneaky way of getting our phone numbers,” quips choir member Virginia, with a smile. Bob distributed the prizes and sent letters to each person who had signed up, and encouraged them to attend a ﬁrst rehearsal. Ten people showed up. Since then, the choir has gone from strength to strength and has never looked back. Ranging in age from 45 to 94, almost all the choir’s founding members have stayed with the group, including Betty Shimoda, who says, “I couldn’t sing a note and joined on a dare.” Meeting every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon, Bob instructs the choir in how to learn music, memorize songs and vocal technique. Appreciative of the quality of instruction they receive, the group works hard to improve their knowledge and skill. “We are serious about our music,” Bob says, “but the approach is relaxed, with the accent on friendship and having fun. And for anyone wishing to join the group, no previous voice training or auditioning is required.” The choir learns new and seasonal songs throughout the year, with input from everyone. Sharing individual
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BY GOLDIE CARLOW, M.ED
Dear Goldie: Something has gone wrong in a serious relationship I have been in for about three years. I am a widow in my early 70s; physically well and active in community volunteer work. I have three wonderful children, four grandchildren and a new great-grandchild now in the picture. I treasure my independent life but have a very good relationship with my family. About four years ago, I met a gentleman who was divorced and we got along extremely well right away. A close relationship developed, but neither of us wanted marriage again. We each had our families and spent our time as a couple travelling and as volunteers in a local theatre group. In the last six months, we seem to have drifted apart. The spontaneous fun seems to be disappearing and, at times, we now have little communication. Is this possible after all the wonderful times we shared? I just can’t think of any special incident that brought this about. –S.L. Dear S.L.: Without the binding ties of marriage, there is little chance that you will regain the closeness that has disappeared in your relationship. Each of you is free to choose your path ahead. If you did not have a disagreement that precipitated this change, there is a possibility you can discuss it like adults and at least preserve a friendship. A counsellor could help you in this regard and volunteer counsellors are available. You can’t change events of the past but you can change your perception of them. Let go of negative thoughts so positive thoughts can come in. Dear Goldie: My wife and I have been happily married for 45 years. We never had children but enjoy our friends and their families. Life has really been good to us health wise and I really anticipated retirement. We purchased a motorhome to go south in the winter and have made plans to travel to other countries. The problem is that now, when everything should be exciting and beckoning us to new adventures, my wife suddenly has no interest. Goldie, I can’t understand what has come over her. She 28
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
seems to have become a different person lately. She watches television but hardly talks about anything. What should I do? –W.T. Dear W.T.: Your wife’s lack of interest in life may be a more serious matter than you realize. When someone undergoes a sudden personality change, they need the help of a professional. Get in touch with your doctor immediately and explain her sudden change in behaviour. If your wife gets medical help now, you can plan to travel SL together in the near future. Senior Peer Counselling Centres (Lower Mainland) New Westminster 604-519-1064 North Vancouver 604-987-8138 Burnaby 604-291-2258 Richmond 604-279-7034 Vancouver West End 604-669-7339 Coquitlam – Tri-Cities 604-945-4480 Vancouver Westside 604-736-3588
Goldie Carlow is a retired registered nurse, clinical counsellor and senior peer counselling trainer. Send letters to Senior Living, Box 153, 1581-H Hillside Ave., Victoria, BC V8T 2C1.
We Got Results through Senior Living! My husband Bob and I were sitting in Ricky’s restaurant in Cloverdale one morning and I noticed the Senior Living Magazine at the entrance. I am always looking for various avenues to get our tours out to the senior market. I was very impressed with the blend of informative articles, advertising, layout and also the distribution of the magazine. I contacted RaeLeigh, in the sales department, and she suggested to go three issues. Being the ultimate skeptic I said no, just one issue. I did get some inquiries on our ﬁrst ad so I agreed to two more issues. RaeLeigh was correct when she said that it takes three issues to see results. I know now exactly when the issue is out. Our phone starts ringing. You will deﬁnitely see Pitmar Tours in future issues so join Bob and I on one of them and you will see why we are having so much fun. Happy Coaching! Bob and Teresa Marshall, Pitmar Tours
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A Helpful Residential Options Guide for Seniors
If you are a senior who has been wondering lately whether you should consider moving - then this is the book that can help you ask the right questions and ﬁnd the solution that is right for you. Maybe you ﬁnd the maintenance of your current home more difﬁcult due to diminishing ability or energy, or you simply want a lifestyle that allows you more freedom and less responsibility. Easy to read information and suggestions to help you understand the decisions that need to be made and some of the solutions possible. Published by Senior Living. 128 pages.
THE SUNSET WATCHER by Barry Proud
Peter is devastated when he learns of his half-brother’s murder in Colombia, but is determined to seek out those who knew him and learn the context of his last days. Peter’s experience as a bright young accountant in Ottawa does little to prepare him for the dangerous and turbulent world he confronts. 307 pages.
REFLECTIONS, REJECTIONS AND OTHER BREAKFAST FOODS by Gipp Forster
A collection of Gipp Forster’s published columns in Senior Living magazine, with other unpublished writings thrown in for good measure.
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EMBRACE THE JOURNEY - A Care Giver’s Story by Valerie Green
The very personal story of her own journey as a care giver to her elderly parents. Relevant for numerous adult children who are faced with a similar challenge. 96 pages.
By Patricia O’Connor
The search for the truth behind the reported death of the mother of top model Annie O’Hanlon. Annie receives an urgent call from journalist Dermot Moore who believes her mother Jacqueline is still alive.
MY PATCHWORK LIFE by Patricia O’Connor
After training as a fashion model in Dublin Patricia O’Connor travelled Europe and the US, working for many top designers, then several years as a popular TV presenter, followed by a career as a stockbroker and real estate agent.182 pages.
THE SPOILS OF ANGEL’S WAR by Dave Sheed
The story unfolds in England at the beginning of WWII. Angela Gibson, affectionately known as Angel, ﬁnds out that it isn’t always the plans that we make for our life, sometimes it’s the plans that life makes for us that determines the course of our life. 144 pages.
IDENTITY THEFT: In Your Good Name by George Greenwood
One in four Canadians has been directly affected or knows someone who has been a victim of identity theft. The best prevention is to be aware of the problem and how it is carried out. 173 pages. Price $26.95
RED TOMATOES by Les MacNeill
In 2001, a brutal attack while sailing the South Paciﬁc, left Les MacNeill with 8 skull fractures, severe brain trauma, and a ruptured eye. Although not expected to live, he wrote this story of the trip, his recovery, and how he lives with his injuries. 100 pages. Price $14.95
NUDE ON A FENCE by Eliza Hemingway
Fourteen short stories about people in compromising situations similar to being caught nude on a fence. Some are humorous, others poignant. 269 pages.
THE SEARCH FOR JACQUELINE
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NATURE’S BOUNTY: Why certain foods are so good for you by Dr. Bala Naidoo
Reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and obesity by choosing your food carefully. 176 pages.
NATURE’S BOUNTY: More about foods for a longer and healthier life by Dr. Bala Naidoo
By choosing your food properly, you can reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, type-2 diabetes and obesity. 168 pages.
GIPP FORSTER’S COLLECTED RAMBLINGS by Gipp Forster
A collage of over 150 anecdotes and insightful ruminations on life’s experiences, ﬁrst aired on C-FAX radio, now provided in print format for your reading enjoyment. 188 pages.
On The Air STORY AND PHOTOS BY KEVIN MCKAY
Roger Allford (left) and Ray Wagner are on the air with the 411 Seniors Radio show on CFRO 102.7 FM.
ood afternoon everybody. This is the 411 Seniors Radio show and we come to you every week at this time on CFRO radio, 102.7 on your FM dial.” So goes the introduction to the seniors radio program broadcast every Thursday at 2 p.m., as voiced by longtime host Roger Allford, 75. From their modest studio at the 411 Seniors Centre located at 411 Dunsmuir Street, Roger and his team record their shows for broadcast weekly. The idea for having seniors put on their own radio program – by seniors and for seniors – was started at the centre about 20 years ago. In the beginning, they got the program up and running and hooked up with co-op Radio. After a few years of success, the group decided they needed a bit of polish, so they advertised to attract some new talent. “I saw the ad and went for an interview,” says Roger. “They had some people already running things, but they had no one with any broadcast experience. They wanted experience.” 30
The radio program beneﬁted greatly from the talents of Roger, John Kennedy, who had worked high up at CBC, and Norma MacMillan, who had been the cartoon voice of Casper the Ghost and Gumby. They also had a team of producers, who worked behind the scenes booking guests and helping prepare the topics for the shows, among other tasks. “We got the radio show into a more professional mode,” says Roger. “We knew a little bit more about what we should be doing and it became a better show after we got involved. As a bonus, we all became friends along the way.” Though he has called Vancouver home for many years, Roger was born and raised in Edmonton. His career was in sales, ﬁrst with Imperial Oil and later with a few different breweries and liquor companies. Aside from better weather, a transfer to the Canadian Breweries facility in Phoenix led to Roger’s second career. “I did catalogue [modelling] work for the GWG jean company in Edmonton,” he says. “When I went to Phoenix,
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
they had a relatively active media business due to the climate. I got an agent down there and got into television commercials and some photo shoots.” From there, the family settled in the Lower Mainland, where Roger’s ﬁve daughters and 12 grandchildren all live today. Even though his sales career continued, Roger found another agent and continued to stay busy doing commercials for radio and television, along with some small parts acting in movies and television programs. He also retained an agent south of the border and did some work in Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles. “I was hoping for the big break along the way and got close a couple of times, but it never came,” he says. “It’s a tough business. It was a lot of fun and when I worked in that business, it paid pretty well. I got a couple of commercials that went national, so the residuals were quite nice. I still get the odd job, mostly voice work. It was a lot more fun than the old nine-to-ﬁve stuff.” But Roger is not the only member of the team. The other on-air voices be-
long to Ray Wagner and Carol Graham. Carol runs the equipment and books the guests, in addition to providing some of the on-air voice talent. She lived in Toronto until her husband landed a job in Vancouver in 1980, where she raised her two boys and worked in the ticketing department for Air Canada. It was here that Carol realized the importance of post-secondary education. In addition to attending Ryerson College for Journalism, she received a library technician diploma, a Sociology degree from Wilfred Laurier University and a Masters Degree in Library Sciences from UBC. “I was going to my classes at UBC at the same time as both my sons were going there,” she says. “This was great as far as I was concerned, but I don’t think it was so cool for them to have their mother going to university with them. But I didn’t care: I was going!” Carol got involved with the radio program nearly 10 years ago when they needed someone to operate their equipment and she knew how to do it. “I was probably the only person they could ﬁnd who could run it,” she says. “Eventually, we knew we had to upgrade the equipment and that day came when we sent our cassette down to the station and the person who received it at the co-op said he didn’t know what to do with a cassette. Our microphones were probably CBC castoffs. We had a computer given to us by WEAC, an organization we share it with. We got a new mixer, at that point, that just suddenly appeared.” At least twice a year, they run their
show live and do extended broadcasts as part of co-op radio’s annual fundraising drives. Since the show is on co-op radio, rather than regular commercial radio, the half-hour show is a true half hour without any commercials or advertising. On most shows, the team selects at least one song to play and, while they have to comply with Canadian Content regulations (35 per cent of the songs have to be Canadian), they do not have to pay for their music. Nor do they make any money from the program. “All our work through the 411 is volunteer,” says Roger. “We usually play one song by an artist that is appropriate to our audience.” But who is the audience for their radio program? The fact they do not entirely know is one of the frustrations faced by Roger and Carol. “The CRTC does not rate any of the co-op radio shows, so we don’t know much about our audience,” says Roger. “We have no way of knowing how many people are listening. We get feedback, so we know there is an audience, but we don’t know how many there are.” Most shows feature a guest interview, a little music, some introductory remarks and other assorted announcements about events in the community. “There is no speciﬁc organized plan to do our shows,” says Roger. “Carol does most of the bookings of guests.
We get people to interview from anywhere we can ﬁnd them. We run into people all over who are involved in interesting things. We ﬁnd it works quite well. We’ve had Dal Richards, Grace McCarthy, Rafe Mair, Bob Lenarduzzi and some of the high-proﬁle Vancouver people, who are of interest to our audience.” Carol adds, “We had one woman who just loved to phone people and ask them to come on the radio program. She created relationships with people. When she was ill, I took over and I have inherited it ever since. I’m willing to give it away, but no one seems to be jumping on it. Usually, it is topic driven. We ﬁnd an interesting topic and then ﬁnd someone to interview.” The topics run the gamut from entertainment to serious, and Carol ﬁnds her librarian skills helpful when locating guests. Both Roger and Carol insist they intend to stay with it for as long as they can – and as long as there are topics to SL be discussed and broadcasted.
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Reﬂections THEN & NOW
BY GIPP FORSTER
e have an artiﬁcial Christmas tree. We’ve had one for years. I like the old traditions as much as the next person. For many Christmases, I went to the lot faithfully to pick up my aromatic tree, fresh from the forest. Then, in about 10 days to two weeks or so, the tree would be so dry (yes, I watered it) that if I had have shaken some pepper on it, it probably would have burst into ﬂames. I hear people talking about going to the forest to cut their own tree. I think of that ﬁrst little seedling, struggling to grow, season after season reaching for the sun to grow ﬁve, six or seven feet tall. Then, unceremoniously chopped or sawed down to stand in some living room for a dozen days, only to be burned or tossed into a shredder. These thoughts make me sad because I still believe in possibility and trees that talk if we take the time to listen. That’s why we turned to an artiﬁcial tree. In fact, we have four of them: one in the living room and three in our display in the garage. We have tons of tree ornaments: baubles and beads, bulbs and lights, small toys, garland and so on. We save all that for the two in the garage. The other two are ﬁbre optic, whatever that means. They need no decoration because their branches glow and pulsate with different colours. They’re really quite pretty – almost ethereal. When I was a kid, you could buy a tree for 50 cents. It didn’t look like much! But when you put those old 32
fragile bulbs on it and a string of big lights (compared to today’s) with that twisted red and white or blue and white cord with the big round plug on the end, and two or three tons of tinsel to hide all the gaps, it almost looked magical! I can still hear my mother scolding when I’d grab a handful of tinsel, “Place it, strand by strand. Don’t throw it! We need to use it again next year.” And when it came time to take the tree down, we were directed on how to retrieve each strand of tinsel carefully so as not to break it. Then, lay it out neatly in a shoebox that was to be carefully lifted and never shaken. I think we had the same tinsel for eight or nine years. I didn’t really care too much for tinsel after that. Those old bulbs – yellow, green, red, blue – sure were hot to the touch! If one went out, they all went out. Trying to change the culprit bulb that dared to die in the Christmas season was quite an ordeal if you didn’t wait for the bulbs to cool. Many a blistered ﬁnger or ﬁngers throbbed in nearly every home over the festive season. There was always an old tinfoiltype star to sit on top of the tree. Battle-scarred and vulnerable, it would bravely take its place. Nearly all the trees I saw, at that time, looked the same: nothing to get too excited about. Not like today! Today, some trees can light up a city block all by themselves. Some are so magniﬁcent it takes your breath away. But then again, if you total up the costs of all the bangles and bows, the bulbs, ornaments, and lights, you could have
SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
almost bought a home in the old days. A little exaggeration, I admit, but perhaps closer to the truth than not. Christmas had an innocence about it in those days – at least for me: a quietness that pervaded change and peace after a world war. No decorated trees on lawns or coloured lights on houses; a gently dressed tree sometimes standing in a living room window gave a gentle reminder of love and a season of goodwill. I’m not saying I don’t like Christmas today and the abundance of decorations and the glittering trees dancing with the giggling lights. I love it! I try to be right in the middle of the explosion of celebration. I’m simply saying that in the days of old, times were different, simpler and not as loud. But I felt sad for the tree that was cut down then to brag of festivity as much as I feel sorry for it now. I love the smell of the pine and the spruce and the balsam, but I can go to the forest anytime to enjoy them. Our artiﬁcial trees have done (and will do) nicely thank you very much. I don’t have to burn them or shred them each year and it’s fun to awaken them in December and tell them it’s time to go to work again. Whether artiﬁcial or live, the Christmas tree reigns. SL
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AUGUST 2009 VANCOUVER
Senior Living Special Housing Edition Contains articles pertaining to senior housing. Find out more about
• senior housing options and alternatives • how to determine what kind of housing is right for you • how other seniors are managing their housing • professionals, services and products available to seniors who are living independently (aging in place) • and much more
TO ORDER a copy... Please mail a cheque for $5.25 ($5 plus GST), along with your name, phone number and address, to Senior Living, 153, 1581-H Hillside Ave., Victoria BC V8T 2C1. We will mail you a copy of this special housing edition upon receipt of payment.
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