Wednesday, October 31, 2012



Thursday Challenge

Next Week: ORANGE (Flowers, Produce, Candy, Signs, Clothing, Vehicles,...)
Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

aging population? let's do a study!

Aging populations are on the minds of governments and social planners all over the world. Note for example:

Canada is right in there with its attempt to keep on top of its aging population situation by implementing a Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA).

The study's definition and purpose (as described on its website):
"The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) is a large, national, long-term study that will follow approximately 50,000 men and women between the ages of 45 and 85 for at least 20 years. The study will collect information on the changing biological, medical, psychological, social, lifestyle and economic aspects of people’s lives. These factors will be studied in order to understand how, individually and in combination, they have an impact in both maintaining health and in the development of disease and disability as people age. The CLSA will be one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind undertaken to date, not only in Canada but around the world"

Locally the Simon Fraser Campus in Surrey is one of eleven Canadian sites for collecting this study's data. They held an open house with ribbon cutting and tours on October 4th. The site's lead investigator, Dr. Andrew Wister (chair of SFU's Gerontology Department) hopes the data will shed light on "'The many complex and interrelated biological, clinical, psycho-social and societal factors' that affect aging" (quoting from SFU Surrey joining long-term study into effects of aging, October 4, 2012,  The Province).

Living Lab
Sounds good. I just hope all that study doesn't take the place of action where it's already seen to be needed. In our province I often hear stories of acute care hospital beds occupied by the ill elderly until places in appropriate care homes can be found for them. It seems there's a lot  we already know about our aging population that could be acted on without 20 years' worth of study!


Here's a cool thing: SFU's  Dr. Tong Louie Living Lab

 Located in downtown Vancouver (7th floor of the BCIT downtown campus at 555 Seymour Street), the lab is made up of three spaces:

Experimental Space
- an 800 square foot area with moveable walls and ceiling and equipped with audio, video and motion detection systems. It allows researchers to simulate real-life settings like kitchens bathrooms, apartments, nursing home settings and study how participants interact with their surroundings.

Viewing Theatre - space where the researchers watch what's going in the experimental space.

Data acquisition and Analysis centre
- space where data from the video, audio, and sensors is collected and analyzed to develop and perfect new products and devices.

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Playing in the leaves


Thursday Challenge

Next week: DRESS UP (Costumes, Uniforms, Rain or Snow Clothing, Ceremonial clothing, Wedding Dress, Formal Clothing,...)

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

old and alone

An article titled "Aging alone: Planning can make those future years golden" (Denver Post) talks about the very real possibility that many of us will grow old alone without spouse or even kids nearby. The piece cites some action steps suggested by Nancy Orel of Bowling Green State University to  ensure comfortable golden years:

  • Assess your personal situation.
  • Consider and make a list of who to call in an emergency.
  • Get a good lawyer
  • Don't seclude yourself. Instead build a support system.
  • Keep exercising body and mind.
  • Consider what changes you may need to make to your house so that you can age in place.
  • Stay positive; look forward to something

I love the Orel quote that ends the article:
"Have dreams and goals and objectives for the future. ... Many people fall prey to 'I'm old, I'm old, I'm old.' No. If people assumed they were going to live the maximum life span of 122 years, they'd look differently at their 70s."

(Read all of : Aging, alone: Planning can make those future years golden)

Of course the life of a single person can be much warmer and richer than the above list would imply. In her book Embracing Your Second Calling Dale Hanson Bourke tells of a time she took her sons to visit their  widowed great-grandmother Hanson. When they walked into her nursing home room at the time they had said they'd arrive from out of state, she wasn't even there.

"Oh, she's probably at Crafts or a Bible Study," the nurses said. "She's a busy lady."

When Bourke and her boys returned an hour later, there was Grandma Hanson in her room with a half dozen other guests. There were college students, a middle-aged woman, and a young couple with their toddler, all of whom Grandma was delighted to introduce to her granddaughter and great-grandsons.

During the several days of her visit Bourke recounts:
"Grandma had many more visitors of all ages. They seemed to arrive at all times of the day, and not one of them seemed to be there because they were worried that my grandma was lonely. They came because they loved seeing her, were seeking her advice, or just wanted to spend some time with someone with twinkling blue eyes and a big smile"  Dale Hanson Bourke, Embracing Your Second Calling, pp. 193, 194.

Why was Grandma so popular? It had a lot to do with decisions she had made earlier in her life. When, as a young mom, she felt hopeless about her life married to an alcoholic, she decided to take the kids to church and came to know God in a way that changed her and her boys. Eventually her husband came around too. She  taught Sunday School for sixty years and had known many of her adult visitors when they were children. She had watched them grow, get married and have kids of their own, genuinely loved them, and was interested in their lives.

Bourke concludes:

"Our family can trace our spiritual roots back to this humble woman, and I like reminding my sons that one person's decisions can influence the next generation. We have so much, thanks to Grandma Hanson" Bourke, p. 196.

Bourke adds this bit of wisdom after telling her grandmother's story:

"A common principle of good management is, 'Begin with the end in mind.' The point is simply to know where you want to end up so you keep aiming in the right direction" Bourke p. 196.
If our goal is to end up surrounded by friends and family like Grandma Hanson was, we'd do well to cultivate some of those friendships now, so that when we are old and alone, we're not reduced to frantically casting about for a lawyer, someone to go for a walk with, or names for the list of who to contact in an emergency.

Do you know some elderly singles like Grandma Hanson? What makes them well-liked and popular?

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

the good old days in murals - part 2

A week ago I posted part 1 of these murals, on display in Sooke, British Columbia. Now, continuing on in our journey to the past (via the Sooke Agricultural Historium, Sponsored by the Sooke Fall Fair Association, created in 2008 by airbrush artist/muralist A.J. [Allan Wesley Johnson]). Descriptions of photos are copied from tags on the mural wall.

Threshing oats on the farm of Ralph Strong on Church Road in 1940.

The cattle farm, at the far end of East Sooke Road, looked across at Whiffen Spit, 1918.

Alexander Gillespie family of Glenairley East Sooke with pigs Biddy and  Isobell in 1918.


George Throup rolling oats with his oxen Plug and Buck on the Throup farm in 1890.  

 William Henry Anderson is plowing on the Malahat Farm in 1914 on one of the first tractors in Sooke.

Marnie Campbell smiles as she tries to milk Daisy at the Davidson farm, in Otter Point in 1947.

Percy Clark and Marjorie after their wedding on their way to their new house at the top of Shirley Hill, 1914.  

The fillers are not to be missed either—little paintings the muralist threw in between the photos:

Rooster and tools

The Sheep Spud


 Cat and milk can

What a wonderful project! Thanks to the folks in Sooke for a heart-warming meander into the past.

Violet Nesdoly / poems
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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

the good old days in murals - part 1

On our summer holiday we visited the town of Sooke on Vancouver Island. While driving around the town I spied what looked like pictures from old photo album only they were wall-sized! Imagine my delight to discover two entire walls of these reproductions.

I'll share those beautiful and nostalgic murals with you today and next Tuesday. I have captioned each mural with the information displayed beside it.

Loggers using springboards and crosscut saws felled these giant douglas fir trees by hand in 1900.

Mr. Wes Carscadden mowing oats on the Murray farm located at Murray and Goodmere Roads, in 1920.

Woodside farm, established in the 1860s by the Muir family has consistently remained agricultural.

A Jersey cow, vital to the farm in the 1920s resided at the Milne farm.

This barn, built in 1932 at Woodside farm, is a landmark along west Coast Road. Photo taken in the 1970s.

Hay load on the farm of Herb Blythe, in the Kemp Lake area in the 1940s.

Sooke Farmers Institute Exhibit, displayed in Victoria, in 1910.

Margaret Dunbar, during the apple harvest at the family dairy farm, Dewdney Flats, in 1926.

Kay Welsh sitting on a 1929 Studebaker, in 1948, with bountiful potatoes grown on the family's Grant Road farm.

Cluny McPherson (left) and Victor Willerton planting potatoes at the old Adolphus Poirier farm, Otter District, 1988.

Here is a little information about the collection and artist A.J.

I'm trying to figure out why these murals resonate with me so. It surely has something to do with the independent spirit and perseverance that ooze from these pictures. Perhaps it's also because I grew up on a farm and know, at a gut level, what it feels like to care for the earth, work hard, and feel pride (good pride) in the results.

My favourites are the two girls—the young girl (Kay Welsh) perched proudly on the running board of that posh Studebaker between bulging bags of potatoes, and the woman (Margaret Dunbar) with her work-worn face, hooded eyes, and slightly worried expression, posing for just a minute before she carries on to deposit those apples in the cold room, perhaps, or the kitchen where floury crusts are already in pans and waiting for their filling of fresh-crop apples.

Come back next Tuesday for more murals of the good old days.

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

old friends

We decided to take the Vesuvius ferry off Saltspring in order to land at Crofton on Vancouver Island so we could rendezvous with old friends Charlie and Leslie. They have been on this blog before. Way back in 2005 we visited them in their home in Telkwa and explored Prince Rupert together.

There is something reassuring and right-feeling about connecting with friends from the past. We've known C&L since 2003 when Charlie and I met at one of Nathan Harms' poetry gatherings in Edmonton. Since then we've kept in touch loosely via email and poetry until we visited them in 2005. They finally repaid our visit last summer just before they made the big decision to leave the north and settle on Vancouver Island.

Our visit to them this August included a tour of their beautiful church, St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church.

 ... a walk through the market where Leslie and I tried on hats made by (as per her business card) "The Bag Lady: Unique hand-crafted bags, purses and hats"...

...and around town. Here we are posed in front of "The Little Inn on Willow' billed as the world's smallest hotel.

Then they took us back to where they live and showed us their new home built on scenic property and Charlie's new shop (he makes custom boots).

Later in the week we spent time with Tom and Marnie. Marnie and I lived together when we both taught school in Hazelton, BC. Our families have holidayed together, we've bounced and cooed over each other's babies and now we're sharing the joy of grandbabies.

These relationships make me think of the importance of friendships. As we age they are more important than ever and not to be taken for granted. In a BBC Health article Dr. Trisha Mcnaire says:
"Loneliness is unfortunately a common problem in older age, and a significant contributor to depression, as people lose their lifelong partners or become isolated when families move away. Many chronic diseases contribute to a decline in mobility which makes it harder for older people to get out of their homes and maintain contact and meaningful relationships with friends. Research suggests that at least one in ten of the elderly lead isolated and lonely lives, starved of emotional support as well as practical help."

The article goes on to list and discuss nine ways we can help ourselves and our aging friends and relatives to maintain good relationships. Read all of "Emotional and Physical Relationships in Older Age."

A few random thoughts:

1. It's wonderful to have friends move nearer, rather than farther away.

2. Facebook has been great in helping me and my husband reconnect with old friends.

3. School reunions (we had a high school reunion last summer) have both exciting and disappointing moments.

4. It takes intention and effort on both sides to keep old friendships alive.

5. Meeting with friends who are roughly our age and grew up where we did or shared a portion of our lives has its unique pleasures. There's a lot to be said for some common history.

6. The friendship situation only gets worse the older we get and our friends die or move away. That reality was brought home to my 91-year-old mom when, at her apartment, she was slowly  surrounded by much younger strangers. It helped her make the decision to move to an assisted living facility (which we loved because it was closer to us).

Have your friendships changed as you age? How? How do you maintain old friendships—or do you?

"Old Friends" by Paul Simon/Art Garfunkel

Violet Nesdoly / poems

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