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VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND JUL/AUG 2008

Vancouver’s 50+ Active Lifestyle Magazine

Maureen Lalani’s

DIVINE GARDEN Your Health: A Laughing Matter


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A year ago, none of us knew each other. We weren’t looking for new friends when we came to Lifestyle. One day at lunch, we started talking about 5-cent ice-cream cones, the Eaton’s catalogue, our favourite hockey players when there were only six teams, and Frank Sinatra. The next thing we knew, we were singing “Come Fly With Me” at the piano. We drew quite a crowd. Now, we can’t imagine not knowing each other.


JUL/AUG 2008 MAGAZINE

(Vancouver & Lower Mainland) is published by Stratis Publishing. Other publications by Stratis Publishing:

• Senior Living (Vancouver Island) • Senior Lifestyle: A Housing Guide for Vancouver Island

FEATURES 4 Creative Ministry

Publisher

Maureen Lalani doesn’t let the fact that she doesn’t have a garden of her own stop her from doing what she loves.

Barbara Risto Editor

Bobbie Jo Sheriff editor@seniorlivingmag.com

6 Bees Keep Lloyd Buzzing

Lacrosse Hall of Famer Lloyd Tamboline is known across the Lower Mainland as the bee catcher.

Advertising Manager

Barry Risto 250-479-4705 Toll Free 1-877-479-4705 sales@seniorlivingmag.com IMG Innovative Media Group Mathieu Powell 250-704-6288 John Dubay 250-294-9700 Ann Lester 250-755-7750 Shelley Ward (Comox Valley) 250-702-3731 RaeLeigh Buchanan 250-479-4705 Robert Doak 250-479-4705

Visiting Cannon Beach on the northern coast of Oregon.

28 Destiny’s Call

Misao Higuchi found her calling in a most unexpected place – the water.

DEPARTMENTS

10 Retracing Roman Footsteps

23 BBB Scam Alert 31 Crossword

14 Say it with Flowers

COLUMNS

A Roman Empire cruise such as the Romans never experienced.

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26 Coastal Magic

June Strandberg’s unique floral classes help women blossom.

2 The Family Caregiver

16 Helping at Home

by Barbara Small

The Red Cross’s MELS program.

Contact Information – Head Office

20 Building Bridges

Senior Living Box 153, 1581-H Hillside Ave., Victoria BC V8T 2C1

Lorita Leung showcases ancient Chinese art by teaching Canadian students the dances of her homeland.

Phone 250-479-4705 Toll-free 1-877-479-4705 Fax 250-479-4808 E-mail office@seniorlivingmag.com Website www.seniorlivingmag.com

24 Your Health: A Laughing Matter

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The healing effects of laughter join the calming effects of yoga.

9 Between Friends by Doreen Barber

18 Forever Young by William Thomas

30 Ask Goldie

by Goldie Carlow

32 Reflections: Then & Now

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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 editor@seniorlivingmag.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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Cover Photo: Maureen Lalani tends the garden at St. Stephen’s United Church. Story page 4. Photo: Mary Anne Hajer

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THE FAMILY CAREGIVER

Caregiving from a Distance BY BARBARA SMALL

C

aring for someone long distance can be as stressful – sometimes even more so than being in the same location. Your initial reaction may be to move your family member closer to you, but consider whether this might be more disruptive and stressful for everyone involved. Are you prepared to have them live with you? Or are you prepared to be their only social contact once they move away from all that is familiar? Below are some suggestions to make caring from a distance easier: • Remember, you may not be able to do everything, but you will be able to do enough. Even the “best” caregivers feel a sense of guilt, believing they could have done more. • Establish a support network in your family member’s hometown with contact people who can provide you with a clear picture of the situation. These contact people might include a close friend, a minister, a doctor or others who regularly visit them. Ask them to alert you if they notice changes in your family member’s behaviour, appearance, memory, mobility or food habits. • Ask someone to check in with your family member on a regular basis. Keep the name and telephone number of this person with you, and ensure they have your telephone numbers. • You may need to set up a financial arrangement with a neighbour or student to run errands or perform various chores to help your relative better manage his or her life.

• Pick up a copy of the local telephone directory and take it home with you. • Schedule regular visits with your relative. Plan, in advance, what you need to accomplish during the visit. Be observant while you are there. Are they eating regularly? Are the bills being paid? • Some communities offer telephone assurance programs. Usually staffed by volunteers, these programs place calls to frail and disabled persons living alone. If the person who is called does not answer at the designated check-in time, the volunteer then places a call to an emergency number provided by the family. Many volunteer organizations also have friendly visitor programs that provide regular visits to elders who aren’t able to get out. • In a non-emergency situation, try to step back and evaluate whether or not you need to travel or if you can send someone else in your place. Can someone take care of it locally? This frees up your time and funds for emergencies or times when it is essential for you to be there. • Make sure legal and financial affairs are in place and upto-date. Find out the name of their lawyer, where they bank SL and where they keep important documents. Next month: Caregiver Syndrome Barbara Small is Program Development Coordinator for Family Caregivers’ Network Society.

• Gather information about services, resources and other avenues for care available in their community. Call the local senior’s centre for information. Do this in advance, even if you don’t need these services immediately.

Your gift to Make-A-Wish ensures the wishes of tomorrow. Planned giving enables individuals to make a future gift, lasting far beyond their lifetime.

Bri ti sh Columbia & Yukon Canad a

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Contact the BC & Yukon Chapter : tel. 604 688 7944 toll-free 1 866 277 9474 email: bcchapter@makeawish.ca web: www.makeawishbc.ca


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JULY/AUGUST 2008

3


CREATIVE MINISTRY

BY MARY ANNE HAJER

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Maureen had to give this garden up when the couple moved to Richmond, so she directed all her efforts to improving the one at her church. “I asked the church if I could have some topsoil, and they paid for two yards,” she says. “Someone helped me spread it out, and I planted flowers all around the car park. One side was a particular challenge because there were large cedar trees growing. Not only was it dark, but the roots of the trees sucked up all the moisture, leaving the ground very dry.” Undaunted, Maureen found ways to help shadeloving plants get past the roots of the trees and establish themselves. She is particularly pleased with the two variegated laurel bushes thriving there now. “The gold of the leaves shines in the darkness, as do the white calla lilies and the white impatiens I plant in the summer,” she says. Continually working to improve the soil, once a week she brings, in her shopping cart, a bag of tea leaves, egg shells, and peelings collected in her own kitchen to place in one of her five compost bins. The gardener hired to care for the church’s lawn adds grass clippings and leaves as well. When the organic matter decomposes, MauPhoto: Mary Anne Hajer

“I

t all started with rhubarb,” Maureen Lalani laughs, as she remembers how her career as unofficial gardener for St. Stephen’s United Church began. “I belong to the United Church Women’s Group at St. Stephen’s,” she continues. “We bake a lot of pies that we sell to raise funds for our church. Of course, we usually have to buy the fruit to put in the pies, and I said I could grow our own rhubarb on the church grounds. Someone said they thought the soil was too poor for anything to grow, but I thought, ‘Well, I could at least try.’” Seven years on, Maureen is not only successfully growing her rhubarb, she has succeeded in encircling the bare, unappealing patch of blacktop behind the church, located at 54th and Granville in Vancouver, with a colourful and varied border of flowers and ornamental plants. Despite chronic problems with arthritis, Maureen has done this almost single-handedly. St. Stephen’s wasn’t Maureen’s first “found” garden. When she and her husband lived in an apartment in the Marpole area of Vancouver, on her own

initiative, she planted flowers in the neglected area between their building and the sidewalk. “All the people on the block called me the flower lady,” says Maureen. “It cheered them up. Even people in the apartment building opposite would come over to tell me how nice the flowers looked.”


reen spreads it out in the beds. If she is lucky enough to be given manure, she spreads that as well. “One year, I went down to the beach in Vancouver and gathered two big black bags of seaweed,” she says. “I took it home on the bus and washed it in my bath tub to get rid of the harmful salt. Then I put it back in the bags, took it in my shopping cart to the church and worked it into the soil. I must say the soil is much improved from when I started.” Besides the flower borders, Maureen cares for the church’s Memorial Garden, an enclosed area where members can arrange to have their ashes buried if they choose to be cremated after death. A peaceful spot, the plants that grow there are chosen carefully to promote a serene, contemplative atmosphere. Once gardening season begins, weather permitting, Maureen makes the hour-long bus journey into Vancouver from Richmond almost every day to tend her flowers. During dry periods, she often spends five hours at a time

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just watering. Maureen is strictly an organic gardener. “I’m afraid of chemicals,” she says. “You can do more damage than good with them.” Not all Maureen’s time is spent in her garden. Since 2007, she has acted

“Being out in the fresh air lifts my spirits, and seeing things grow gives me a kind of excitement. And flowers cheer people up.” as secretary of the Richmond Garden Club, and this spring, on her small balcony, she propagated dozens of plants to donate to its yearly sale. She also volunteers as a shopper for shut-ins, filling orders that have been phoned in to a local grocery store. And, because she is as passionate about animals as she is about gardening (she and her

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husband share their living space with two demanding and entertaining cats), every Friday she works at a shelter run by the Richmond Animal Protection Society. Though her efforts require a great deal of energy and stamina, it seems St. Stephen’s garden offers as much to Maureen as she does to it. “Being out in the fresh air lifts my spirits, and seeing things grow gives me a kind of excitement. And flowers cheer people up.” And Maureen’s work is greatly appreciated by the congregation of her church too. “Maureen’s work is viewed as a true labour of love, a dedicated and creative ministry of caring for the earth,” says St. Stephen’s Minister Rob Pollock. “Some of the long-term members remember how barren the parking lot looked before Maureen began her work. They see it as truly transformed into a thing of beauty. She is described as embodying the principle of stewardship in her care and protection of the garden spaces she SL has worked to create.”

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Bees Keep Lloyd Buzzing D

elta pioneer Lloyd Tamboline entered this world on July 8th, 1925. He was born on the family farm on Westham Island, as was his father, who came from a family of 10. His mother, whose family lived next door on STORY AND PHOTOS Tamboline Street, grew up BY DEE WALMSLEY with Lloyd’s dad in what was then a small commuver and New Westminster.” nity across the bridge from The “modern” version of the game Ladner. Today, Lloyd and his second wife, Bev, live in Ladner, a stone’s was located on the Jim Savage farm on Tamboline Road. Before that, they throw from the family farm. “Growing up back then was great! played on an open field. Lloyd rememWe had no computers, television or bers playing the Tsawwassen First Naradio so, after supper, my brothers and tion team, including renowned player I would take Dad’s old lacrosse sticks August Williams, on the beach, approxand play until dark,” recalls Lloyd, 83. imately where Highway 17 meets the “A bunch of us kids were too small to ferry causeway. “As an adult in the ’40s, I played play in the fun league, so my Dad started a peewee group; we surprised a lot every summer. After my first marriage for the New Westminof folks with our skills against Vancou- in 1950, I played Peter Trill at the controls. 6

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

ster Seniors,” recalls Lloyd. “We won here and went to Toronto for the Canadian Championship, but lost after seven games.” In 1946, Lloyd was elected Secretary of the Delta Lacrosse Association. He topped the individual scoring race in the Delta Senior B Lacrosse League in 1948 with a 10-point lead over his nearest rival and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in June 2005. Lloyd beams, “I was absolutely shocked and thrilled. It was the high-


»

big business and requires a lot of work ry out to gather up the swarm.” Once Lloyd catches the swarm, he moving them around. I put my bees in the fields for their pollination and I get puts them out in the field with his other bees. To make a swarm productive, he the honey, so we both gain.” Lloyd receives calls from all over puts it in a box with 10 frames of wax. the Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland, The wax entices the bees, they will imRichmond and Vancouver from people mediately start collecting nectar and who have a swarm of bees come into pollen and the queen will start laying eggs. Once the bees organize the box, their yard or garden. “I’m known throughout these areas Lloyd puts another box on top to give by the police, fire halls and municipal them more space for their nest. If this 08-0730 WR ShedLonelinessSeniorLiving:07-0359 VANfull, SeniorsLiving .epsbox6/13/08 he puts another departments, so when they get frantic box becomes calls, they pass them onto me and I hur- on top. The queen lays eggs in the bot-

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light of my career.” Lloyd’s interest in bees also began on the farm, where his Dad kept two or three hives. “I’d sit for hours watching the bees coming and going as they brought the pollen and nectar into their hives. Dad let me help to look after them.” When he married, Lloyd left the farm and his bees. But, in the ’50s, his father, suffering from arthritis, sold the farm. “I got to keep the bees and moved them to my sister’s farm,” he says. “I collected swarms whenever possible and, at one time, I had over 40 hives. Never took a course, I just learned through experience and a few stings.” Honeybees live in colonies with one queen bee, up to 100 drones and thousands of worker bees. The queen is the leader of the hive, and no hive can live without her. She lays up to 200,000 eggs per year and may live for several years. The drones are the male bees; their only use in the hive is to mate with the queen. Afterwards, they die. The drones live six to eight months. As the drones do not work in the hive, the worker bees usually kill them in the fall. The worker bees, all female, clean the hive, protect it from intruders, gather the pollen and nectar, travelling up to one mile for a single drop, and feed the queen. They only live one to two months in the summer, when they are working hard. In the fall, however, when things slow down, they can last up to six months. Three kinds of bees live in Canada: the honeybee, the bumblebee and the Mason Bee. Bumblebees and Mason bees make only a few drops of honey to last them over the winter. The smaller Mason bees pollinate small flowers and blossoms. Killer bees must have a very warm climate to survive. Most scientists believe Canada’s climate is too harsh for them. “I have my bees scattered around the farms in Delta, Canoe Pass and Westham Island,” says Lloyd. “I don’t rent my bees to the farmers because that is a

JULY/AUGUST 2008

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1


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SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

Photos: Dee Walmsley

tom boxes, and the worker bees store the honey in the top. He must keep checking and adding boxes when the top box is filled to capacity. Swarms of bees are a phenomenon that usually occurs in the spring and fall. Swarms develop when a hive gets too full or crowded. The bees in the old hive make a new queen and she flies off with most of the younger bees of the colony to find a new place to live. The swarm lands on an object that will enable them to stay huddled together while a few scout bees fly on to locate a suitable place to build a new hive. Because a swarm is in essence a group of homeless bees, they have nothing to protect. Because they do not feel defensive, they are unlikely to sting. When honeycombs are filled with honey, the bees seal it with a thin coating of wax. This wax is cut off; Lloyd uses an electric knife to remove it from the frame. In August, when most flowers are finished, Lloyd brings all the honeycombs into his shed where an extractor removes the honey. “It’s family reunion time when my sons, daughter and daughters-in-law all help with the harvest,” says Lloyd. “We put the frame into the extractor, which is like a big drum with a motor on it. It goes around and the centrifugal force removes the honey from the frame. The honey runs into a pail, and is strained to remove all the wax particles. It is then poured into jars and the process is complete.” Since retiring from Canada Post in 1990, Lloyd looks after his bees and adds the odd stamp to his huge collection. “I have a world-wide collection, which I would estimate well over 100,000 stamps both local and foreign. It took years to collect them and now I don’t know what to do with them sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I’ll leave that for someone else to deal with later,” he says as he closes one of four albums. “The best thing about being a senior,” he says, “is you never have to be SL in a hurry.”

FUN FACT

S ABOUT • Bees have BEES: five eyes. • Bees fly ab out 20 mph. • Bees are in sect • Losing its st s, so they have six legs. inger will ca use a bee to • Bees have die. been here ar ound 30 mill • Bees carry io n years. pollen on th eir hind legs • An average called a polle beehive can n basket or hold around • Foragers m corbicula. 50,000 bees. ust collect n ectar from pound of ho ab ney. out two mill ion flowers • The averag to make on e forager mak e es about 1/1 • Average per 2 th of a teasp capita honey oon of honey consumption • Bees have in her lifetim two pairs of in Canada is e. wings. 1.3 pounds an • The princi nually. pal form of communicat called phero ion among h mones. oneybees is • Bees are im through chem portant becau icals se they polli including fru n ate approxim it, fibre, nut and vegetable ately 130 agri 14 billion do cultural crop crops. Bee p llars annually s ollination ad to improved ds approxim crop yield an ately d quality. Source: honeye e.tamu.edu


Between Friends Half Full or Half Empty?

“Although beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the feeling of being beautiful exists solely in the mind of the beheld.” –Martha Beck.

W

hy is it that some people, regardless of circumstances, believe their glass is at least half full? Does the glass these individuals view ever become half empty? Some seem to see the positive in every situation, and expect future events to fill the glass brimming and overflowing. While others see the opposite - like my friend once stated, “If it weren’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have any luck at all.” If we move through life with the perspective of hindsight, it is easy to be pessimistic if we carry wounds of past

mistakes. Life has taught me that I will likely get another chance to deal with a similar situation. You may have heard it stated this way, “I want to learn this life lesson the first time; I do not want to go around this mountain again.” “Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” –Benjamin Franklin Mistakes, which have a negative connotation, must be valued in order to become positive. Tallulah Bankhead, having learned this truth, said, “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” Our lives are always in a state of flux. Quick judgments need to be avoided to give us time to deal with our emotions and opportunity for an objective evalu-

BY DOREEN BARBER

ation of the circumstances. Taking a step back allows for a mood change and a more balanced perspective. Released from a job I found rewarding, ultimately launched me on a career path far more fulfilling and gratifying. Initially, my glass was half empty. Over time, as my new career developed, I saw my glass as half full. Whether our glass is half full or half empty depends on whether we are pouring into the glass or drinking SL from it.

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JULY/AUGUST 2008

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RETRACING ROMAN FOOTSTEPS H

olland America billed our cruise as a tour of the Roman Empire, but it was a far cry from the sort of voyage a Roman traveller might have taken. Our ship was a black-hulled behemoth named the Westerdam and all it had in common with the overcrowded little vessels of ancient Rome was the Mediterranean sea upon which they sailed. But the cruise did touch ports that had all once been within the imperial embrace of Rome, and so, on day one, my wife and I arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci airport,

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SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

STORY AND PHOTOS BY JAMES ALLAN EVANS

ready to follow the footsteps of the Roman legions, and visit the seaports where Roman quinqueremes [ancient oar-propelled warships] once docked. As the starting point of a cruise, Rome suffers from a shortcoming. It has no harbour. It never did have a satisfactory one, though the emperor Claudius whom the TV series I, Claudius gave a moment of fame, built one at the mouth of the Tiber River. But it soon silted up, and a second attempt by a later emperor, Trajan, suffered a similar fate. Ancient Rome’s main port was Pozzuoli on the Gulf of Naples, next door to Naples where the garbage collectors were on strike, and better known nowadays as Sophia Loren’s birthplace. But, today, cruises board ship at Civitavecchia, an hour and a half by bus, north of Rome. The Blue Guide, which is the best guidebook to this part of the world, calls Civitavecchia a dismal city, and so it is, but it is satisfactorily distant from Naples with its heaps of garbage piling up for lack of a dump site, and obstruction by the Mafia. The Westerdam slipped away from her moorings at nightfall, and was sailing by next morning past the volcanic island of Stromboli where the subterranean fires of southern Italy emerge to the surface. At the Strait of Messina, where the toe of Italy seems perpetually poised to kick Sicily, a pilot came on board to guide our ship through the channel, for here the ancient Greeks imagined that the monsters Scylla and Charybdis lurked to prey on sailors. We passed through safely, and another day’s sailing brought us to Dubrovnik in Croatia, which has emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia as a popular tourist destination, particularly if you need dental work, for Croatian dentists are well-trained and comparatively cheap. Empires have passed this way, leaving their footprints behind. The Roman Empire in its declining years split into eastern and western halves with the


boundary line cutting through the Balkans, and it has been a fault line ever since; Croatia is west of it and Serbia to the east. The eastern Roman Empire evolved into the Byzantine Empire, which succumbed to the Turks in 1453. Then, it was the turn of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then the imperial Soviet Union, which has now fallen like its predecessors. Dubrovnik has survived remarkably well, though not without scars. It is a gem of a city, with pleasant cafés on its main square where tired feet may rest a while. Next stop, Corfu, or Kerkyra, as Greece calls it, resurrecting its ancient name. Britain took Corfu from Napoleon and held it until 1863, when she presented it to Greece as a coronation gift for King George I. The Greeks had just voted overwhelmingly for the second son of Queen Victoria as their king, but that would have upset the murky world of diplomacy, and the Greeks had to accept a teenage prince from Denmark instead, along with the gift of the Ionian Islands to make the substitute more palatable. Yet, British influence subsists; the Corfiotes still play cricket and, in the city centre, there is a cricket ground, which was empty while our ship was in port. Leaving Corfu behind, we sailed to Katakolon, a port of no great importance until the cruise ships discovered it, for a short bus trip away is the ancient Olympia, where Heracles founded the Olympic Games if you believe mythology. The list of ancient Olympic victors goes back to 776 BCE. Olympia is a magnet for tourists, but it is well cared-for, and the round shrine, which Alexander the Great built to honour his father Philip of Macedon and the Macedonian royal house has been partially restored since I last visited the site. The Olympic stadium hardly lives up to its reputation, for it is simply two grassy banks on either side of the racetrack, and since the Ol-

ympic Games were held in the hot, dry midsummer, the grass would be brown and sparse. Next stop, Santorini, or Thira, to give it its official name, for “Santorini” is the name given it by the Venetians, who once upon a time fought the Turks in these waters. The harbour of Santorini is the caldera of an active volcano. In the middle is an island of cinders, and when I first visited Santorini in 1955, I rowed over to it with a group of fellow students. The fumaroles were smoking impressively, but we sensed no danger. The next year, however, the volcano erupted, making the island of cinders considerably larger. It was an earlier eruption about 1500 BCE – radiocarbon dating gives an approximate timeframe – that made Santorini what it is now: the remains of a circular volcanic island, which exploded into a gigantic cloud of dust and debris, leaving only a crescent-shaped remnant of the caldera rim. Phira, the main town of the island, perches on top of the rim and a winding donkey path connects it with the harbour below. Once upon a time, when an earlier generation of tourists visited Santorini, they could to get to Phira either by climbing the winding pathway

or riding on the back of a long-suffering donkey. Now, there is also a cable car. But donkey rides are still available and the peevish temper of the donkeys has been, in no way, improved by the competition. Santorini’s ancient volcanic eruption intrigues vulcanologists, for the only modern eruption on the same scale took place in 1814 at the island of Tambora in Indonesia. The dust cloud from Tambora filtered the sunlight enough to lower the average world temperature the following year by one degree – enough in some regions to cause crop failure. What happened in prehistoric Greece when the dust clouds from Santorini’s eruption filtered the sunlight? South of Santorini lies Crete where there was, at the time, a remarkable civilization that archaeologists have called “Minoan” after a mythical king Minos, whose wife gave birth to the Minotaur, halfman and half-bull. How did the eruption affect the Minoans? Perhaps Minoan Crete could have been the prototype of ancient Atlantis, which according to a myth told by the philosopher Plato was overwhelmed by earthquakes and floods. This much we do know: there was a JULY/AUGUST 2008

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Minoan settlement on Santorini, and most of its inhabitants escaped safely, leaving their houses for modern archaeologists to discover, engulfed by debris. But it is unlikely that the eruption caused the collapse of a civilization. Natural catastrophes like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes rarely do. The survivors lick their wounds, rebuild their homes, and carry on. Kusadasi was the only Turkish port the Westerdam visited. Nearby is Efes, ancient Ephesus. Beyond its walls was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the great Temple of Artemis of Ephesus, or Diana of the Ephesians as the Acts of the Apostles calls it. All that can be seen is one broken column rising from a pond, for the water table has risen and flooded the site. But while my wife visited Ephesus, I headed for three other ancient cities, one of them Priene, a city built shortly before Alexander the Great conquered Persia. It was a carefully planned city, with houses laid out in blocks and a marketplace in the city centre, surrounded by colonnades. The second site was Didyma, where a vast temple housed an oracle, which continued to attract pilgrims long after the chattering classes of the ancient world ceased to believe oracular prophecies. And last, we came to one of the truly great cities of ancient Greece, Miletus, once a flourishing port, but now a dismal ruin, its port silted up. All that is impressive is its vast Roman theatre. Yet, long before the Turks invaded Asia Minor, this region was Greek Ionia, where western science and philosophy began. No Greeks live there today. But offshore, easily visible from the Turkish mainland, lay the Dodecanese Islands, the “Twelve Islands,” which did eventually become part of modern Greece, but only after the Second World War. We were near the end of the cruise. After Kusadasi, the next stop was the port of Athens, Piraeus. The day was clear, the sun bright, and it was too early in the year for the cloud of air pollution that hangs over modern Athens in the summer. We reached Athens in May; two months later, record-high temperatures would prostrate the city. Tourists swarmed over the Page 10, This is the little round temple of Hercules the Victor is the oldest surviving temple in Rome dating from the 2nd century BCE. Page 11, The remains of the theatre of Dionysos in Athens, Greece where the great tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were performed, as well as the ribald comedies of Aristophanes. The theatre is directly under the south side of the Acropolis. This page, The Aurelian Wall at Rome, which the emperor Aurelian (270-275) built (or at least began building) to protect the city of Rome from Goths who were invading Italy.

12

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

Acropolis, which rises above the city, crowned with the goddess Athena’s temple, the Parthenon. The endless chore of restoring it continues; the chief task, now, is to correct the ravages of previous restorations. Athens has a new subway, which is clean, efficient and graffiti-free. But the tourists come to see the ancient monuments. Mars Hill, a rocky outcrop on the slope of the Acropolis is worn smooth by the feet of pilgrims visiting the places where St. Paul preached and, since I last saw it, a wooden platform has been built over it for safety’s sake. Last stop, Messina in Sicily, where we climbed Mt. Etna. Or, at least, we drove by bus up the mountainside on narrow roads where bottlebrush bushes bloomed, to the line where the lava flow from the latest eruption stopped, halted by the prayers of the Sicilians. The Sicilians made two attempts to hold back the lava with their prayers. The first was a jolly party, according to our guide, who may have been a participant herself, but the cardinal of Palermo upbraided the merry supplicants, and ordered them to try again. They obeyed, beseeching Heaven seriously this time, and the lava stopped. But the underground fires of Etna are never exhausted for long. They continue to threaten destruction. And, so then we headed back to the Westerdam, where we sailed to Civitavecchia and boarded a bus that took us through SL the Tuscan countryside to Leonardo Da Vinci airport.


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SAY IT WITH FLOWERS BY JANIS FOSTER

“O

ne flower at a time,” June Strandberg tells her students. “You have to look at your flower and take your time before you cut it. It’s like painting a picture.” It is only the third day of class for this new crop of female students at Just Beginnings Flowers, but June already has them creating their second bouquet. Her students learn by doing. “You’re not going to fill them with a bunch of theory at first, they get too antsy. They want to touch the flowers.” Flowers do something to a person, says June. And she should know – her own love of flowers has flourished for more than 50 years. It blossomed when she was a teen, helping in her uncle’s flower shop and greenhouse in the break between her split shift as a trainee Morse code operator with the Canadian Pacific Railway in Calgary. Her fa14

ther, an executive chef for the CPR, had wangled her the communications job, which paid $350 a month – a princely sum in 1949. He was understandably put out when she informed him that she preferred the flower shop, where she made $14.27 a week. “He said, ‘If you want to be a florist, you better be the best damn florist there ever was.’ That was 58 years ago,” says June. “I’ve never turned back.” She grew into an award-winning florist, owner of two flower shops in Vancouver and a trade school in Burnaby. She also worked for two major flower wholesalers and travelled across Canada teaching other florists. Then, in 1980, she was asked by the parole board to admit two prison inmates into her program. After a dubious start, June says, “It was like magic happened there. One ended up as a florist with

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

Sears; one went to Powell River to work and ended up buying the shop. We’re still in touch. I thought, ‘Wow, look what flowers do for people.’ That was really something to me.” The experience planted a seed for June and she was determined to “do more.” A search through the phonebook, in 1990, led her to Beverly Roest, program director at Lakeside, the women’s unit at Oakalla prison. Meetings ensued with staff, guards, lawyers and judges over many issues – including the alarming prospect of putting scissors, knives and wire cutters in prisoners’ hands. “Beginnings,” the first floristry-training program and shop behind bars in North America, was implemented in the newly opened Burnaby Correctional Centre for Women in April 1991. “At first, I didn’t even have an outside phone,” June recalls. “I was behind seven


up costs of $120,000. She received $50,000 seed money from Vancity, with $30,000 going to Phoenix for leasehold improvements. June provided all the supplies herself, from furnishings to tools. She’s still seeking funds for a cooler to keep the flowers in the classroom. The flower shop must succeed to support the school. The cost for the program is $3,150 per student; all students need to be subsidized. “Generally speaking, funding is not easy to get for this type of clientele. I don’t know why it is, but it is,” says June. “It’s not a good thing for people who need to get on with their lives. Why is it so hard to get a woman something? It’s just a sad state of affairs that there isn’t more offered for women.” Ideally, June wants to have three classes of eight students per year. The break-even number is six. “I don’t care if there’s two women here, I’m still going to Allegro_032008_06_027_002_c1 3/14/08 3:48 PM Page do it. I’m here and that’s what I’m here to do.” SL One flower at a time. Photos: Magdalene Tamiola

locked doors. If you wanted to find me, you had to come through all seven of those locked doors.” Many other barriers needed to be overcome. The inmates, hardened by lives of abuse and bleak institutionalization, were initially unimpressed. On the second day, June had them make corsages. “I swear, every guard in that prison had a boutonniere or a corsage on their uniform.” Flower power took hold. Students created their own arrangements and took them back to their cells. “The whole prison was filled with flowers and it remained that way for 14 years,” says June. That first class of 10 included Suzy, a small, sickly woman from Kingston Prison for Women serving a life sentence, who walked up to a bucket of red roses and asked, “Are those real roses?” She buried her nose in them and said, “I’ve never seen a real rose.” Suzy took three roses back to her workbench and they remained there until they dried. “I never forgot that – that there was someone who had never touched or smelled a rose. That touched me. I almost broke down right there.” Over the years, June opened a flower shop in the prison, providing the flowers for 160 weddings. After three years, the authorities allowed her to hold open houses and 350 shoppers walked through those locked doors. “We were the only prison anywhere that had Visa and MasterCard. We needed it to conduct business and it never went wrong.” She had several of the inmates cleared to go to auction and wholesale shows and she entered their arrangements into competitions. “They won hands down, award after award after award. They did unbelievable things.” She found jobs for 58 women and they have never returned to prison – Suzy, who won parole, was among the budding florists. “I didn’t have a hard time getting them work, they were so damn good.” The program was a success, says June, because, “It gave them something they didn’t have. They just changed. The psychologist at the prison said it transformed the prison. It changed the atmosphere. It was no longer that cold, grey prison. The flowers created something beyond that.” Burnaby Correctional Centre was closed in 2004, but June wasn’t through. She was concerned how difficult re-entry into society was for prisoners. “They’re let out, and it’s the end of the story. No one looks out for them. I thought, ‘there’s got to be something I can do where they can be safe and learning.’” Through a partnership with the Phoenix Centre in Surrey, a residential treatment facility for recovering male addicts, and a grant from Vancity, Just Beginnings Flowers and School of Floral Design sprouted in 2007. June’s mission is to train women with employment barriers – coming out of prison, leaving the sex trade, recovering from addictions or simply making a transition in the labour market. Boundary marker plan called for startIt is an uphill battle. June’s business

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HELPING AT M

Home

BY NADINE JONES

Photo: Leanne Asante

From 8:30 a.m. to noon ost people are each day, Bernice greets cliaware of the ents with a friendly smile at Canadian Red the front desk, and reviews Cross being “on the spot” their listed equipment needs when national and internawhile a workmate fills their tional disasters strike. But the requests from available inRed Cross also provides onventory. The client completes going help at home for those a form so his or her name, adwho need medical equipment dress, postal code and phone on a short-term basis. number can be entered in the Over 60 years ago, a speoffice’s recipient database. cial service was created to Many of the MELS clients help the rehabilitation of (though not all) are seniors Second World War serviceabout to undergo knee or hip men arriving home. The replacements, and all agree original name, “Sickroom that MELS provides an inMedical Equipment Loan valuable service. One such Service,” was later shortened client is Elaine Nicholson. to “MELS,” the Medical “This place makes me Equipment Loan Service. happy,” says Elaine. “Depot With just under 100 large staff are friendly and nice and small depots throughout and lend me what I need to B.C., MELS is constantly recover.” growing. Although the service provides many students Some of the items availand new Canadians with volable for loan include wheelunteer experience, most volchairs, walkers, raised toilet Red Cross Volunteer Bernice Gibbeson (right) assists unteers, who keep the proseats, bath boards, and bed MELS client Sandie Long with the loan of a walker. gram running, are seniors. assist rails. Bernice Gibbeson, 73, a retired legal assistant, is typical of And the LOAN part of the name Medical Equipment Loan the committed staff at the Richmond and other depots. 2008 Service is important because it saves clients a bundle of monmarks her eighth year of volunteering; she also gives her time ey. For example, the average cost of renting a wheelchair for one afternoon each week at a non-profit thrift shop. one week is $90, a walker $30, a raised toilet seat around $18 “The Depot provides a really valuable and necessary serv- weekly and $35 a week is the average cost for a commode. ice to people who need to borrow medical equipment on a “It is rewarding to see the before-and-after difference to short-term basis,” says Bernice. “And each day I come here, our clients,” says Bernice. “We see so many who walk in haltI am reminded to thank my lucky stars I am on the providing ingly and in obvious pain before their surgery, and then we not the receiving end of the service.” see them happy and pain-free when they return equipment.” 16

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND


s d e fi i s s Cla Apprehensive people who consider borrowing equipment used by others needn’t worry about the condition of the items. Specially trained cleaners thoroughly scrub and sterilize all returned equipment before it is loaned to the next MELS client. Mobility equipment such as walkers, crutches, canes and wheelchairs cannot be loaned without a medical referral, so health-care workers are involved in the loan process, and aware of the value of the service. “I think I speak for every one of us in the health-care business when I say, ‘I don’t know what we would do with-

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out you,’” admits Jane Pratt, an Occupational Therapist with the Vancouver Coastal Health Continuing Care Services. “There is nowhere else to turn.” Your local MELS Depot also acts as a recipient for funds for disaster relief and redirects donations to be distributed where instructed. The depots are run by volunteers and funded by donations from clients who can afford to give. Everyone is eligible to volunteer, so for those who have a few hours to donate, enquiries are always welcomed. MELS is listed in the local telephone directory SL under Canadian Red Cross.

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EVENTS LISTING SECTION Event listings will be accepted for publication in this section. To qualify for free placement, events must be free to the public, of interest and benefit to our Vancouver readership, be under 50 words in length, and have no connection to a business or commercial venture - i.e. no company benefits financially as a result of the event. If the event has a charge attached to it or there is a commercial connection or financial benefit, the listing will be charged at the Classified Rate (see above). Senior Living has the right to refuse any listings it deems as unsuitable and has the final decision on whether a listing qualifies for free placement. Submit all listings to office@seniorlivingmag.com before the 15th of the month prior to publication. JULY/AUGUST 2008

17


FOREVER BY WILLIAM THOMAS

With Age, The Exits Are Not So Grand

I

am worried about this idiot sans savant thing I’ve been going through lately. I’m hoping it’s the age of incompetence we live in that’s making me a tad cranky – the girl at Tim Hortons who forgets to stir the coffee or the gas attendant who stands beside a squeegee bucket waiting for my tank to fill, but never washes my windshield. I can’t help thinking that the best word to describe this era is WHATEVER. So, yes, occasionally I snap. Like the day I stopped at the IGA in a small town for groceries and, once home, opened a bag of peanuts that were stale and tasteless. Although it would be a month before I drove back that way, I was determined to return the damn peanuts. “Look, I know I don’t have the receipt and I realize it’s been a month,” I said to the young girl in the produce section, “but I want a new bag of peanuts.” “OK, well…” she began. “These peanuts are stale, shriveled up and tasteless.” “OK, well…” “Look, this is not a big deal but when I buy your food, I expect it to be edible!” We stared at each other. It felt good to take a firm stand. “OK, well, sir,” she said, “what we’ll do is take this stale bag of peanuts you brought back, which is clearly marked “Birdfeed,” and we’ll replace it with a fresh bag of peanuts, which are meant for people to eat.” Then we stared at each other again. I’d have bet 50 bucks she was going to break up laughing, but, no, she reduced me to a disgruntled mental dwarf without a trace of a smirk. But I do not surrender in the war against inefficiency. More recently, I rented a car from Auto Jardim at the airport in Funchal, Madeira. After going over the contract and noting several scratches and dents on the side mirrors and bumpers, Rita sent me off with the warning to bring the car back with a completely full tank or pay the 100 euros penalty. Forty miles later on the far side of the island, I flipped on the headlights entering a tunnel, which also illuminated the dashboard. That’s when I noticed the gas gauge, bottom left, was hovering between a quarter and a half tank. I couldn’t believe it. The last guy didn’t fill the tank and Rita had missed it. I called Rita but got Lucia and gave her a good piece of 18

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

my mind – Rita’s lecture, the gas tank below half, a contract in error, etc. “I don’t care what the report says. The tank is less than half full.” “Well, we are very particular about that, Senhor.” “Not particular enough. Look, I’m not driving back to the airport. You send somebody here to Jardim Do Mar. They can calculate that I’ve only driven about 70 kilometres and they’ll see that the gas tank should be full. But it’s not! I’m bringing that car back with less than a full tank and don’t even think about that 100 euros penalty! I won’t pay it!” I felt good standing up for my rights, a small victory in my ongoing war against sloth. Entering the next tunnel, I flipped on the lights and that’s when I noticed that the arrow I’d been looking at was actually the heat gauge. Over in the bottom right corner, the gas gauge indicated a full tank. “Hello Lucia. This is Mr. Thomas. I called about the gas problem? Yeah, well, in Canada the cars have the gas gauge in the bottom left corner of the dashboard, where oddly enough, you people put the heat indicator. Well…” Lucia did not possess any of the intestinal fortitude of the produce girl at the IGA and was laughing so hard I had to hold the phone away from my ear. Upon returning the car to Auto Jardim two weeks later, the young woman at the counter said: “So Senhor Thomas, did you fill the petrol tank?” And then she broke up laughing. “You must be Lucia,” I said. “No, I am Elsa, but I heard all about it.” By now, head office in Lisbon had heard about it. “This is alright,” she said, trying to console me. “Sometimes we have cultural differences.” I had one word for Elsa, Lucia and Rita. I looked at the car, I handed over the contract, shrugged and said: “WHATSL EVER.”

William Thomas is the author of nine books of humour including Margaret and Me about his wee Irish mother. www.williamthomas.ca


R UVE O C VAN AND ISL ON I EDIT

To Move or Not to Move? A Helpful Guide for Seniors Considering Their Residential Options

To Move or Not to Move?

To Move or Not to Move? A Helpful Guide for Seniors Considering Their Residential Options

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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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JULY/AUGUST 2008

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20

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND


Building Bridges STORY AND PHOTO BY KEVIN MCKAY

W

hen she was 12 years old, Lorita Leung few classes on campus and in Chinatown. Suddenly, her life joined the army. Though she wore a uniform was markedly different, yet she persevered. When her husband graduated, the couple moved into a and learned how to march, she was not a soldier and never fought in a war. Instead, she served in the Vancouver home, and Lorita started giving Chinese Dance Chinese Army as a dancer, a performer, an entertainer and lessons in her basement. Because the area was so cramped, she looked around for a larger space, finally settling on a teacher. While she was a young girl growing up in Shanghai, room at the Kerrisdale Community Centre, which she rentLorita took up ballet and excelled. So, when the opportu- ed on weekends for many years. She called her school the nity to dance with the armed forces was presented, she au- Lorita Leung Dancers. Eventually, the dancers outgrew their space again, so the ditioned and was accepted into that elite group. For more than six years, she served her country, learning school moved, this time to a location on West Seventh Avand performing folk dances, classical and dances from the enue in Vancouver. After five years, in 1990, Lorita finally minority groups within China. This experience culminated bought studio space in Richmond and has remained in that in a teacher’s position, which she held for nearly two years. location. She and her staff of teachers have provided instruction in various forms From there, Lorita chanof Chinese Dance to hunnelled her talent and love dreds of students over the for dance to achieve her years. dreams. “I felt good to be able to bring a In 1984, she formed the When her teaching generation of young people back Lorita Leung Dance Aspost finished, Lorita sociation, a non-profit somoved back to Shanghai to their country so they could see ciety dedicated to serving for a short time before the community and raissettling in Hong Kong in where their ancestors were from.” ing funds for worthwhile 1963. For the next seven causes. After arriving in years, she worked on a Canada, Lorita noticed a contract basis for film and television production companies training actresses to separation between the cultures of the West and the East. dance, and serving as a choreographer for countless dance She was determined to lessen the gap, and set out to have productions in variety shows and musicals. It was while her dancers showcase the performing arts from China as a Lorita was working in this capacity that a volunteer teach- way to expose part of their culture to Canadians who were unfamiliar with it. ing opportunity at the local YMCA changed her life. “My goal was to form a bridge between Canada and A young traveller from Vancouver was exploring the world and hopping from country to country, taking odd jobs China using dance to showcase ancient Chinese arts. This where he could. He and Lorita met while she was teaching would increase awareness and understanding.” That same year, Lorita and her dancers received an unat the Y and they started a correspondence that resulted, a few years later, in Lorita giving up everything to move to precedented invitation: Zhao Ziyang, the Prime Minister of China, at the time, asked Lorita and her students to come to Vancouver to marry her sweetheart. For the first few years of marriage, her new husband China and perform their dances in a three-city tour. Natuwas still working on his university degree. Lorita left her rally, Lorita accepted and, in the process, became the first career and family behind in China and was now living in overseas performing arts group to perform in China since student housing at Simon Fraser University, and teaching a the end of the Cultural Revolution decades earlier. The shows in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing were exLeft, Dance instructor Lorita Leung assists ceptionally well received, and Lorita and her daughter, a student with her form at the Lorita Jessica, were given the opportunity to dine with the Prime Leung Dance Academy in Richmond. JULY/AUGUST 2008

21


Minister. “I was very touched and honoured to be asked because of how closed China was following the Cultural Revolution,” she says. “I felt good to be able to bring a generation of young people back to their country so they could see where their ancestors were from.” Five years later, in 1989, Lorita was invited for a return visit. Once again, she and her company travelled overseas to perform in China. At that time, Jessica was accepted as a foreign student at the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy, where she spent several summers

dancing and learning. Later, she would spend a year there, and is now teaching at Lorita’s Dance School, as well as working on her own dance projects. One amazing benefit of this relationship was that Lorita was given special permission to learn dances no one outside of China had. Access to teachers and materials allowed her exclusivity over teachers in North America and Europe. The Chinese government also allowed Lorita to study with the top teachers in the country and even bring at least one over each year for a month

Reflections, Rejections, and Other Breakfast Foods Reflection��s,�������� and Other Breakfast

Foods

Limited Edition

Limited Edition!! 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

MAGAZINE

& Unpublished Writings A Collection of Published nist Gipp Forster by Senior Living Colum

Price: $14.95

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of training. In 1993, the Chinese Minister of Culture signed an agreement allowing Lorita to use their syllabus of Chinese Dance; further enhancing the reputation of the Lorita Leung Dance Academy as a place where students could learn dances they would learn nowhere else without moving to Asia. This was all made possible by the relationships Lorita had forged, and because of her school’s status as a Society. In 2005, Lorita began discussions with the British Columbia School Board and those talks have resulted in the decision that students who attain certain levels of accomplishment in her dance classes receive a high school credit equivalent to either Grade 10, 11 or 12 in a Fine Arts course. Through the Dance Association, Lorita was able to start holding North American Chinese Dance competitions every second year. These events are attended by dancers from across Canada and the United States and are adjudicated by the best Chinese Dance instructors from China and Canada. Contestants pay a modest fee and all other expenses are covered by the Association, which receives its funding from the shows Lorita’s company performs throughout the year around the Lower Mainland. The purpose of the competition is to allow the students to improve their dancing skills, attend workshops and meet other young dancers. Justifiably, Lorita is proud of what she has accomplished, and even more proud that her students graduate from her school as talented and accomplished young women who possess positive attitudes to be productive, worthwhile members of society. She believes in teaching the whole person. She treats all her students the same, providing no private lessons or special favours. Most of her students stay with her for 12 to 13 years, and some of her graduates now work for her. Lorita started with a goal to help build a bridge between China and Canada and it is hard to find someone who has done SL a better job of this than her.


BBB Better Better Better Better

Business Business Business Business

Bureau Bureau Bureau Bureau

SCAM ALERT

BY LYNDA PASACRETA

Avoid Crooked Contractors

H

ome improvement can be a costly undertaking. If something goes wrong with the company you hire to fix your roof or install rain gutters, it can be extremely stressful to correct the situation. Summer, when the weather is ideal for home repairs, is considered the boom time for contractors. During this high season, homeowners could be hard pressed to find a contractor to work on their home for prices they consider reasonable. In some cases, a few unscrupulous and unqualified people market themselves with cheap offers to do everything from asphalt paving to tree trimming. In the end, these unreliable operators pave your driveway with leftover materials, or do a shoddy job of shingling your roof, leaving you to undue the damage they caused. Before you give people any money or allow them into your home, BBB suggests: Safety first: if an unknown person shows up at your door, don’t invite them inside until you feel sure they are trustworthy. Name and location: get the name and address of the company the vendor claims to represent. Put it in writing: ensure all details and verbal promises are included in a contract. Review it and make sure you understand the document. Never sign a contract with sections left blank. Check for qualifications: verify the individual is licensed, bonded, insured and is registered with WorkSafeBC (Workers’ Compensation Board). Price is not everything: don’t always go for the lowest bid. If estimates for the same work vary widely, find out why. Sometimes, unscrupulous operators may use sub-standard materials or take longer to finish the job. Make cheques payable to the company: do not pay in cash and do not make cheques payable to an individual. Avoid “Bait-and-switch” tactics: some disreputable companies will offer low prices for installation of items like windows and home siding, but then come back later to the client saying the item is currently out of stock and can only be replaced with a high-priced substitute. Get everything in writing, and know the terms in advance.

Remember to cool off: If you sign a contract from a door-to-door salesperson and you change your mind, you have a 10-day cooling-off period to cancel. For information about door-to-door contracts, visit Business Practice and Consumer Protection Authority at www.bpcpa.ca Avoid crooked contractors by going to bbb.org for a Reliability Report. Also find hiring tips and can request a job quote SL from BBB Accredited Businesses on our website. Lynda Pasacreta is President of the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. For confidence in marketplace transactions, contact the Better Business Bureau to check a company report or Buyers’ Tip before you purchase or invest. www.bbbvan. org or 604-682-2711. To contact Lynda Pasacreta, e-mail her at president@bbbvan.org

JULY 2008 VANCOUVER ISLAND

Housing Guide for Seniors Up-to-date listings of senior housing facilities throughout Vancouver Island, including Independent/Supportive Living, Assisted Living and Complex Care. This guide is an indispensable resource to:

• seniors looking for alternative housing • seniors moving to Vancouver Island from other parts of BC or out of province • children of seniors who are assisting their parent to select a housing option • professionals who work with seniors or their families • businesses that provide services to seniors.

Listings include addresses and contact information, housing costs, number of units in the housing complex, hospitality services, optional home care services, amenities and security features. View Online at: www.seniorlivingmag.com

(Look for HOUSING GUIDE> To view a copy...)

OR have a copy mailed direct to your home...

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 resourceful housing guide upon receipt of payment. JULY/AUGUST 2008

23


Your Health: A Laughing Matter “Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain.”

BY TRACY URBAN

–Charlie Chaplin

I

describing how he used belly didn’t want to go to the laughs to help him recover laughter yoga class. from ankylosing spondylitis, The idea of standing a chronic, degenerative inaround with a group of stranflammatory arthritis. In recent gers, laughing for no reason decades, scientists studying made me feel uncomfortable. the effects of laughter on the However, my chronic asthbody have made many interma had been flaring up and esting discoveries. a friend assured me the class Research conducted by Dr. would open my gummed-up Lee S. Berk found that laughairways. ter boosts the immune system. It’s not easy to laugh For example, laughter can inwhen you’re feeling sick and crease the number of antibodstressed. But, as more and ies in the immune system, more people around the world Allan O’Meara (second from left) and his class of laughers. making it easier for the body are learning, laughter really is a tonic that helps relieve the pain – and you don’t even need to to kill viruses and cancerous tissue. Laughter and yogic breathing oxygenate the body, clear mucus from the respiratory system and have a sense of humour to benefit. In the mid-’90s, Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician from build lung capacity, helping people who suffer from respiratory Mumbai, India, began collecting scientific literature showing that diseases such as asthma. It can even help reduce snoring by tonlaughter could ease both physical and mental health problems. ing the muscles of the throat and palate. Studies in Austria and America show laughter helps lower By March 1995, he decided to do some active research. At a local park, he persuaded four people to join him in starting a laughter blood pressure as well as benefits cardiovascular health because club. Within a few days, 50 people had joined, telling jokes and it relaxes the arteries, allowing blood to flow more freely. Laughsharing laughs. However, the group soon ran out of good jokes. ter is also used to treat chronic pain, especially for those sufferThis is when Kataria came up with the idea of “laughing with ing from cancer and AIDS. Scientists believe laughter works like no reason.” With the help of his wife Madhuri, a yoga teacher, other forms of aerobic exercise, reducing pain by releasing enKataria devised the blend of deep breathing, stretching and simu- dorphins. Laughter also releases muscle tension, which can help lated laughter exercises now known as Laughter Yoga. Today, alleviate pain and muscles spasms. According to Allan, one of the greatest health benefits is that thousands of people around the world practise laughter yoga and “laughter prevents hardening of the attitudes.” He says, “Over the number of laughter clubs is growing. Entering the Vancouver club, I receive a warm welcome from 70 per cent of all chronic diseases like high blood pressure, heart Laughter Yoga teacher Allan O’Meara. Within minutes, I’m sit- disease, and depression are a result of some form of stress. A lot ting in a circle on the floor with about 30 other participants, lis- of our illness is in our heads. If we can laugh at our problems, we tening to a recording of a baby laughing. Soon, we are laughing can release them.” Numerous studies dating back to the 1940s support Allan’s along with the baby and the ice is broken. The next 20 or so minutes are a blend of simulated laughter exercises and stretches. claims. Laughter has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression We make eye contact with each other and shake hands. We have and stress as well as improve self-esteem, optimism and sense of “conversations” using nonsense words and twist ourselves into self-control. For people suffering from chronic disease, laughter funny positions. With each passing minute, I notice more and can improve overall quality of life by helping release the anger, more of us are genuinely laughing, proving Allan’s motto, “fake pain and fear that often accompany long-term illness. Additionally, laughter yoga allows people to interact with others in the class, it ‘til you make it,” works. which builds community and reduces loneliness and isolation. A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the docAllan sees a lot of long-term illness, and the pain and frustrator’s book. –Irish Proverb tion that can accompany it, in his job as recreational therapist for It’s fun, but is it really healthful? Research says yes. Anec- seniors. “It can be really sad and depressing in nursing and retirement dotal evidence of laughter’s health benefits has been around for years. In 1979, Norman Cousins published Anatomy of an Illness, homes,” he says. It motivated him to become a laughter yoga 24

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND


teacher. “The best thing about doing laughter yoga with seniors is that it’s inclusive of everybody. Almost every senior from high-functioning to low can participate.” Some of the seniors who attend laughter yoga have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia; some are autistic; others are in good health but lonely or bored. Not all of them can communicate well, but all are capable of smiling and laughing. There was a strong sense of community in the armchair laughter class I attended. Felecia, a cheerful woman in her 90s, says, “Laughter class opens us up. It’s like having a second childhood.” Her friend Billie, who began to attend armchair laughter classes as part of her therapy after a debilitating stroke, agrees. “You can be yourself here. It’s a community.” It’s also a good workout, especially for people who might not be fully mobile. Hearty laughter exercises the muscles of the face, chest, abdomen and skeleton as well as the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract. Some even argue that it’s a good way to lose weight. Author Katie Nemrevo, a self-described former stress-eater, wrote Laugh It Off: Weight Loss for the Fun of It after using laughter yoga to lose 35 pounds. Thirty minutes into laughter class, I’m lying on a mat on the floor, convulsing with laughter. My diaphragm is pumping in and out, as I suck air deeply into my lungs. Tears are pouring down my flushed cheeks. My classmates are in a variety of states, some merely smiling, some giggling, and some laughing uncontrollably, kicking their legs up and down or rolling around on the floor. Two teenage girls, who seem to be born

to giggle, are cracking up everyone around them. The more I hear them laugh, the more I laugh myself. I can feel tension pouring out of my body – replaced by feel-good endorphins. A few minutes later, I’m still snorting and hooting, only now I’m beginning to get a little worried. An image from an old movie about inmates in an insane asylum flashes through my mind – people with long ragged hair rocking and shrieking with laughter. What if I can’t stop? Soon Allan’s soothing voice breaks through the noise and slowly, slowly, he talks us down off the ledge of laughter insanity. Within a few minutes, most of us are resting quietly, though fits of giggles do burst out from time to time. I leave the class feeling energized. My breathing is definitely easier and the tension headache that has troubled me for days is gone. The next day, I notice I’m in an extraordinarily good mood, laughing easily and feeling fine. Since then, I’ve attended other classes and always walked out feeling healthier, happier and with a smile on my face. Laughter yoga is not suitable for everyone. Check with your physician before attending this or any fitness class. For more information on clubs, special events and Laughter Yoga teacher certification go to: http://laughteryoga.ca/ For more information on Allan O’Meara’s classes, go to SL www.readysetlaugh.com/ Tracy Urban is a sometimes grumpy Vancouver writer who makes funny wheezing sounds when she laughs.

ripple effect

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������������ JULY/AUGUST 2008

H OLLY H OCK

25


COASTAL MAGIC M

Photo: Bruce Winter

agic reigns in this picturesque coastal village, with its miles of sugar sand beach, rolling, lace-edged surf, rugged coastline and capricious climatological moods: its flower-bright streets, colourful courtyards, boutiques, art galleries and bistros. We discovered Cannon Beach many years ago while touring the north Oregon coast. It draws us back, year after year, with an indefinable quality that soothes the spirit and refreshes the soul. A tourist town with a difference, slightly off the beaten track, no flashing neon announces your arrival, no large advertising billboards, only a small historical marker, an inoffensive-looking cannon and a sign indicating turn-offs from Highway 101. The first exit from the north, past the entrance to Ecola State Park, arrives at the village itself. Approximately four miles [6.4 km] long, the town is divided into three connecting parts. A charming mix of earthy simplicity and smart sophistication, the downtown area consists of attractive shopping areas, a conference centre, a library and post office, the Coaster Theatre Playhouse, galleries and restaurants. It runs parallel to the beach, giving way to the cottages and shops of Midtown. Here, Haystack Rock, a towering 235-foot monolith of basalt and its flanking Needles, rise majestically from the ocean floor. The south end of town ends at Tolovana Park, two miles [3.2 km] from midtown. Much as we love poking around the galleries and shops of town, it is the sea and shoreline we find irresistible. We rise early and head for the beach. Almost deserted at this hour, a wispy, bone-chilling mist

26

BY JOAN W. WINTER

hangs over land and sea, creating mysterious forms out of trees and rocks on the shore; a huddle of gulls rest sleepily at water’s edge. Only the cry of a seabird and the thundering whoosh and roar of waves upon the beach break the silence. Ethereal-looking riders appear out of the fog, solid, friendly “ghosts” who stop to chat and allow us to take their photograph before riding on. Alert to the vagaries of the ocean, we keep eyes peeled for sneaker waves – powerful rogue waves that can roll in unexpectedly and knock an unsuspecting person off balance, or at least (speaking from experience), soak shoes, ankles and pant-legs. Hug Point, four miles [6.4 km] south, is our destination. Near here, the original cannon, after which the town was named, was washed ashore when the USS Schooner Shark sank in 1846. Treetops on the misty headland at Hug Point disappear into the clouds. A stray shaft of sunlight highlights the small waterfall, which meanders down the embankment. We explore damp, shallow caves and manoeuvre over the narrow, roughhewn road cut in the rock face, marvelling that, at one time, before the road above was built, cars negotiated this curving, narrow ledge. It is slippery, bumpy and wet. Mindful of the incoming tide, and need for haste, we perch on a dry rock for a quick breakfast of rolls and hot coffee. Retracing our steps to Tolovana, we hop on the shuttle bus to take us back to town. The Cannon Beach Community Shuttle service offers free, or by donation, transportation approxir ve, the autho bo A . ch ea B non at CanMAINLAND e beach. Sunse&t LOWER SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER g jog down th in en ev an s take


GREAT ESCORTED TRAIN TRIPS Enjoy the romance of comfortable train travel combined with modern motorcoaches PHONE FOR DETAILED ITINERARIES!

Photos: Joan W. Winter

mately every halfhour within its 6.5-mile [10.5 km] loop, and is wheelchair accessible. We return to midtown around midmorning. The sun has burned off the mist revealing an azure sky. Sun sparkles on the ocean spray flung high against the rocks and white-fringed water curls over the beach. We breathe in the clean salt air. A light breeze flaps our clothing and ruffles our hair. Shedding warm outerwear, we stroll at water’s edge past the fascinating, birdcrowned bulk of Haystack Rock. People of all ages have emerged from homes and holiday accommodation; wet-suited surfers ride the waves, there are joggers, walkers, bird watchers and children playing in the waves and tide pools. We take pictures and exchange pleasantries with other beach visitors – ladies enjoying a walk with their dog, honeymooners and a young-at-heart kite flier catching the wind. At daytime low tide, between March and September, Haystack Rock Awareness Program provides interested visitors to Haystack Rock, a National Wildlife Refuge, with educational information about the ecosystem of the area, and the 2,000+ seabirds that nest and raise their young on Haystack Rock each year – tufted puffins, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, cormorants and western gulls. The Marine Garden at the foot of Haystack Rock provides amazing opportunities to see marine wildlife in its natural habitat. A protected area between extreme high- and low-tide lines, the tide pools are dynamic and rich with marine wildlife. Live intertidal specimens are on display and spotting scopes for birdwatching are set up.

After a delectable lunch at one of the fine restaurants, afternoon finds us meandering around the shops and intriguing galleries. Painters, sculptors, glassblowers, photographers – Cannon Beach inspires artists, and attracts art lovers from around the world. The next day, we visit Ecola State Park perched on the forested headland that frames the north end of Cannon Beach. From the viewpoint on Tillamook Head, incredible panoramic views of the Pacific coast can be enjoyed. Here, in 1806, explorer Captain William Clark journeyed south over Tillamook Head from the Lewis and Clark expedition encampment at Fort Clatsop, and recorded in his diary the first known description of Cannon Beach: “From this point I beheld the grandest and most pleasing prospect which my eyes ever surveyed.” Seas along the Oregon coast are often stormy and treacherous. A mile offshore from Tillamook Head sits “Terrible Tilly,” the ill-fated Tillamook Rock lighthouse, which both saved and sadly took many lives in its 72-year history. Early evening sees us again on the beach, cameras poised to catch the last rays of the parting sun and one of Cannon Beach’s spectacular sunsets. Explosions of colour paint the sky. Mirrored in the swirling, rippling tide pools are images of dark seastacks, silhouetted gulls and wispy cloud shapes cast in orange, fiery red, gold, purple and blue; Mother Nature at her finest. Many community events entertain Cannon Beach visitors year-round. The

A young-at-heart kite flier. Left, horse-back riding at dawn.

Coaster Theatre offers a variety of live entertainment. There is ever-popular Sandcastle Day, Dog Show at the Beach and Stormy Weather Arts Festival. The latter, held the first week in November, is a celebration of the arts – writers, singers, sculptors, painters, potters, photographers, chefs and dancers share their creativity with the public in a variety of exhibits, concerts and workshops. Again, we leave Cannon Beach with reluctance. As always, we take with us SL the wish to return soon.

All tours include a train ride somewhere. We explore Vancouver Island’s West Coast, the Cariboo & Chilcotin regions, Whistler, the Steam Trains of the interior, and the Rockies. Free home pickups. As travel agents let us plan your rail journeys using: VIA Rail Canada, Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, Alaska Railroad, Amtrak, and the White Pass & Yukon Route, which can be combined with air one-way.

PHONE US SOON to get on board!

West Coast Rail Tours

Ph: 604-524-1011 Toll-free 1-800-722-1233; Running successful railtours for over 40 years e-mail: tours@wcra.org BC Reg. # 1866 www.westcoastrailtours.com JULY/AUGUST 2008

27


DESTINY’S CALL STORY AND PHOTOS BY KEVIN MCKAY

M

isao Higuchi won eight gold medals at her first swim meet. She was 61 years old. With no formal training or coaching, her innate ability in the water is a gift. A petite woman with a dazzling smile, Misao is modest and humble, despite the phenomenal results and rankings she has achieved in the pool. Born in the final year of the Second World War, Misao grew up in postwar Japan with her parents and two brothers. The family was well off prior to the war, but lost everything during it. After a few years, they settled in Chiba Prefecture, a suburb of Tokyo, and Misao’s father went to work as a fisherman. The family struggled and did not have extra money for the children to participate in sports or other extracurricular activities. Misao’s leisure opportunities were limited. For a short time, she got involved in her school’s tennis, gymnastics and swimming teams, but they didn’t take her far. Of the four cardinal elements in Japanese culture – earth, fire, water and air – Misao never sought out water. Instead, it beckoned her. With the family home built near the ocean, Misao’s first exposure to water came at an early age. She spent countless hours swimming in the surf. With no supervision or training, Misao taught herself the best way to keep her head above water. She says she was not passionate about swimming, but “it was all I had.” 28

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

After graduating from high school, a young man, Seiichi, caught Misao’s eye, and she his. Unfortunately, he lived far away. Over a period of years, the two got to know each other by writing letters back and forth and, occasionally, getting together, like at the World Fair in Osaka in 1970. A chef by training, Seiichi was transferred to Miami, Florida shortly after that encounter. He asked Misao to join him, but she made him wait three years before emigrating and marrying him in July 1973. A year later, the couple moved to Richmond when Seiichi was transferred again. Eventually, they settled in Vancouver and started a family. When tragedy struck and her husband died, Misao was forced to support her family, and she worked at the Japanese Consulate for 13 years before retiring. Water came back into her life during this time, following a couple of illnesses. Both times, her doctor recommended Misao swim to assist her recovery and, after retirement, she increased the pace and swam nearly every day. While she was spending time at the pool, she would often notice swim meets and competitions taking place, and wanted to compete to see how she would do. Her daughter did some research and connected Misao with a local swim club. The club did not have any members her age, but the coach told her of the 2006 Seniors Games being held in Abbotsford that year. Misao decided to enter. It was Misao’s first meet, but it wouldn’t be her last. At the


Games, she connected with other swimmers in her age group, and discovered a number of them trained with the Winskill Otters in Tsawwassen. She joined the team and has practised with them since – finally receiving the coaching she lacked as a child. Misao’s best event is the breaststroke; she is ranked No. 1 in Canada. Since joining the team, she has had a chance to work on and improve her other strokes. In the first half of 2007, she entered three Masters swim

competitions leading up to the 2007 Seniors Games in Nanaimo. She won nearly every race she entered, constantly improving her race times. Misao takes pride in her attitude towards racing – she only competes against herself. While she enjoys winning races, she is happier if she produces a better result than the last time she competed, regardless of how many others beat her. At the 2007 Games, she cleaned up again, this time swimming against all the best swimmers the province had to offer in her age group. She won four gold medals – three in different lengths of breaststroke races and one in the backstroke, as well as three silver medals in freestyle and a relay. At the end of the 2006-2007 season, Misao was ranked first in Canada in the 100-metre and the 200-metre breaststroke and third in the 50-metre breaststroke. She is No. 1 in British Columbia in all three distances. She takes quiet pride in her accomplishments. And while Misao has few regrets, she admits she wishes she had been coached when she was younger. Who knows where it may have taken her? Misao may not have sought out the water, but it became SL her destiny.

W NE July

2008 Senior Housing Guide Available

S

eniors interested in retiring or relocating to Vancouver Island will be happy to know a new edition of Senior Lifestyles – A Housing Guide for Seniors on Vancouver Island is now available. This helpful guide is published semi-annually by Senior Living magazine as a service to our readers in need of a reliable, comprehensive, easy-to-use guide of senior housing services and resources within the region. Now in its third year of publication, it has proven to be a popular reference for seniors and their families, and health professionals who assist seniors with their housing decisions. Numerous health units, hospitals and social service branches hand out this guide to clients who are looking for alternative housing to meet changing health and mobility needs. The guide also provides a helpful section on “Aging in Place” for people who want to spend their retirement years living in their own home, but realize they need to make adjustments to their living space, and/or hire extra help to carry out certain functions, such as help with bathing, cooking, cleaning or doing errands, etc. Others, who decide they are ready to move into an assisted living or complex care residence, may not be able to make the move due to waiting lists. They, too, will find the “Aging in Place” section helpful in the interim. Finally, there are those who want a living arrangement that decreases their responsibilities, but don’t find communal residential options appealing. They prefer to downsize, instead, to a condominium or apartment with amenities to support their active lifestyle. In addition to decreased home and yard maintenance, they have the freedom to travel more, perhaps seasonally, knowing their home will be maintained and secure in their absence. Senior Living’s housing guide provides information and resources to direct readers to services and products to suit each living possibility. Free copies of Senior Lifestyles can be ordered for the cost of postage and handling ($5.25). Mail your order to Senior Living, 153, 1581-H Hillside Ave., Victoria BC V8T 2C1. As a companion to the housing guide, Senior Living also publishes a book called To Move or Not to Move – A Helpful Guide for Seniors Considering Their Residential Options. This 96-page book provides more comprehensive guidance and information to help seniors who are trying to decide whether to relocate or stay in their own home. It presents most of the housing options available to seniors, whether their choice is to move into communal housing, stay in their own home, or downsize to a more manageable property (purchase or rental). An order form for this book is on page 19. SL JULY/AUGUST 2008

29


Photo: Jason van der Valk

ASK

Goldie

BY GOLDIE CARLOW, M.ED

Dear Goldie: I am a widower in my 70s, in good health and very active. In addition to walking and swimming, I am a volunteer and busy nearly every day of the week. My social life includes dating a few ladies for dinners, shows, etc. Therein lies my problem. One of the ladies has become possessive and is demanding that I stop dating others. I don’t want to be rude, but I want to end all association with this possessive widow without making a scene. Can you help? –D.A. Dear D.A.: My first reaction is that your behaviour has led this lady to believe she is special in your life. Naturally, she wants to get rid of the competition. If this is not the case, and you have been honest about dating other women, then you must discuss the situation immediately and not give her false hope for the future. Many seniors who have lost their mates miss the proximity and affection they once enjoyed. If they can stay active and volunteer their time, there is less loneliness. You may be able to help this lady get involved, but not if she is

enraged at your perceived infidelity! Only you know if you led this lady to believe she was the special person in your life. A Don Juan character may have been in vogue in the past, but HONESTY is the name of the game now. Dear Goldie: I was married at 20, had a baby girl and then my husband left me. He said he wanted to be free of responsibility, but soon married a lady with four children. He had no further contact with us. Now, my daughter is married and has two beautiful children – a boy and a girl. Suddenly, her father has appeared on the scene demanding to spend time with his grandchildren. She reminded him that he was never part of her life and he has apologized. My daughter still feels bitter. I understand, but worry about the outcome, including the impact on the children. –V.P. Dear V.P.: This situation has evolved over many years and won’t be resolved quickly or without effort. It would be beneficial for everyone if a counsellor were involved. A clinical counsellor could establish a plan, and volunteer counsellors could

continue to work with the family. It would be necessary for you, your daughter and your ex-husband to agree to attend the sessions. You would probably meet together with the counsellor in the beginning and then have separate sessions. I am pleased that you wrote about this problem because it indicates you want change. No matter how badly we are hurt in these situations, healing can take place. You need a good counsellor to guide the process. Don’t delay! SL

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

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.

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Crossword PUZZLE

Mind GAMES

Across 1. Oldest 7. Surveillance device 11. Distributed cards 12. Unicellular organisms 14. Input data again 15. Increase in size 16. Float through the air 17. Unsuccessful car 18. Mary ----, women’s educational pioneer 19. Very dry champagne 20. The power to reject 22. Petroleum engineer 23. Turn with the wind behind you 26. Hang suspended in the air 28. Cut of meat 31. Always 32. Gossip 33. Tossed 34. Portable bed

Down 37. Attack 38. Foot-wear 39. Yielded 41. Project 43. Song in praise of God 44. Unit of weight in gemstones 45. Venture 46. Dull 47. The wise men 49. Over-promotion 52. Mown grass 54. City in central Belgium 57. Sullen 58. Malay dagger with a wavy blade 59. Accident 60. Female monsters 61. Stinking 62. Temperate 63. Tied up

1. Reward 2. Quercuses 3. Arm cover 4. Genre 5. Agile 6. Cavalry soldier 7. Bovine locators 8. Emperor of Russia 9. Beancurd 10. Winemaking stage 11. Remove silt from river 13. Holder 15. Dimness 21. Dull sound 24. Unappetizing 25. Shrubby plant 27. Elector 29. Alphabet board 30. Become liable for 35. Offered 36. Goat’s milk cheese 38. Realm 39. Nightclub 40. Imprecates 42. Tried out 44. Horseshoe cleats 45. Automatic caller 48. Faux pas 50. Person who practices yoga 51. Knitting stitch 53. Learned 55. Stringed instrument 56. Slip ANSWERS

JULY/AUGUST 2008

31


Reflections

BY GIPP FORSTER

THEN & NOW

D

o you, like me, sometimes think that somewhere, somehow, you have been left be-

hind? I cannot afford a new car and probably never will. I went for lunch recently with a friend in his year-old auto and have been in awe ever since. His car could talk! With a real voice! It actually talked! Now, I know this is probably old hat to worldly, active people, no matter their age. But to me, who goes so slow that people often think I am going backwards, this is a revelation! I remember when the automatic transmission was first introduced, and power steering and power brakes and flashing turn signals. At the time, I thought that was revolutionary, but agreed with many that the automatic transmission could never take the place of the clutch. That was only 50 or so years ago; and it was only a few years ago that I finally accepted the fact that all those things that made driving easier was here to stay. Then, to go for a drive with a friend and find out his car talks and draws a map on a little screen in the dash with the voice directing him how to get there and when to make each turn? It’s no wonder my wife got me a walker. I need it to try to keep up! As my friend pointed out all the bells and whistles in what seemed like a grounded jet, I fell deeper and deeper into the lake of incredibility until I was sure I was near drowning. I wanted to break free and rush back to the mid20th century, find my old ’51 Pontiac and drive as fast as I could to uncomplicated times. 32

I have watched my grandkids operating computers since they were about seven, and I have still to learn how to set the digital clock. It’s not conducive to the eldership of years to find out your grandchildren, in certain areas, know more than you do. It’s embarrassing, really, to go to them for advice on how to survive in a digital world. I wasn’t always slow. I did try to keep up at one time. I was one of the ones who said eight tracks would beat out cassettes. I was the one who bought a Beta machine over the V.H.S. when VCRs came on the scene. I still have a Polaroid camera. Rather hate to let it go. I keep it with the Beta and the eight tracks. I was in my 20s when we got our first black and white television set. That’s when I was first introduced to Howdy Doody and the Indian head test pattern that was on, it seemed, more often that the TV shows of that era (1957-58). Compared to today’s television programming, Ed Sullivan, Perry Como and Jim Anderson on Father Knows Best were like monks who had strayed from their seminary. No remote control then. No colour TV. No 24-hour broadcasting. Today, I find it embarrassing to flip from channel to channel. If I were a catholic, I would be heading for confession each morning. Confessing what I had seen the night before on television, just clicking around. Most of it makes those who have been left behind blush. At least that’s what others tell me. And I certainly agree. But at least when I blush, my wife

SENIOR LIVING VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND

Photo: Krystle Wiseman

LEFT BEHIND

comments on my good colour. I haven’t the heart to tell her it has little to do with health, unless it is, of course, mental health. In this day and age of computers, digital programming, cellphones, Internet, e-mail, image telecommunication, talking cars and whiter than white teeth, I find it difficult, and often impossible, to take it all in, let alone understand it. Now that the DVD has arrived, I guess I will have to put my V.H.S. with my Beta machine, Polaroid camera and 27 eight tracks. Why do I keep them? You never know! They could make a comeback. (I haven’t totally given up on the clutch yet, either.) I don’t know when it happened. Being left behind, I mean. But that’s how I feel. Sometimes it gets lonely staring at a penny that was once such a treasure and now is not only meaningless, but valueless, as well. I’m thinking, too, that maybe my left leg would not be as useless as it is if I had held onto my old ’51 Pontiac with the clutch. Who knows? All I really know is that I am not as young as I once was, but neither am I as old as I am going to be. There’s a kind of a strange comfort SL in that.


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July 2008 Senior Living Magazine Vancouver Edition  

50+ Active LIfestyle Magazine for Vancouver & Mainland BC Canada

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