Friday, May 30, 2014

Evening Ritual

Until the vegetable gardens are planted, the chickens get the run of the back yard every evening.
My husband says they have a perfectly good pen to roam around in but it's not enough for me; just as I'm fussy about keeping their water clean, I like to know they are getting to really stretch their legs and find fresh grass and grubs for as long as they can. There is nothing lovelier than the sight of chickens wandering contentedly around a yard. For some reason, my hens love the ditch that runs around the property and I listen to their happy berking while they hunt for something delicious in the moist ground. You know, the chickens are enclosed all summer, until after the harvesting is done, so a couple of hours each evening between winter and late spring makes me feel like I'm showing some gratitude for the eggs they provide every day.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Be A Local Hero

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 by Sara Jewell.

One Saturday morning during my first summer as an official resident of Nova Scotia, my husband and I headed to the Pugwash Farmers’ Market.
“Now let’s go to the market in Tatamagouche,” we said and down the road we went.
“Now let’s go to the market in Truro,” we said and we carried on down the road.
“Now let’s go to Masstown,” we said as we drove home.
“Now let’s go to Economy,” we said and eight hours later, we arrived back home, having made an entire day, and one big circle, of buying local.
It remains the best day trip we’ve had, one we never repeated but always say we should.
It gave us not only an appreciation for the size of the bladder of our dog, left behind since we were only going to be gone an hour, but also for the abundance of locally grown products both edible and artistic that are available within an hour of home. 
According to the website for Select Nova Scotia (the government-funded agency that encourages us to buy local), “Nova Scotia has the highest number of farmers’ markets per capita in Canada. Farmers who sell directly to consumers via farm gates, farmers’ markets and CSAs receive a larger (and fairer) portion of food profits.”
So it’s really a no-brainer for buying locally grown, locally created products. We support our neighbours, some of whom have chosen our county as the place to start their small market farm or from which to create and sell their art, and in turn, their success supports other local enterprises, including community groups and events. When our money stays in our own communities, it makes our local economy stronger.
It gives us all a reason to continue living in rural Nova Scotia. 
Since this is stating the obvious, this is the end of the column, right? It’s not because there are those of us who look at the prices charged by local producers and balk. 
Years ago, my best friend, Sarah Whaley, who is an artist, explained to me why handmade and homemade items are, as prospective buyers complain, “so expensive”.
She created handpainted and personalized Christmas ornaments. 
“I had a woman buy 11 as gifts for each of her grandchildren who had different interests so she asked for a different design on each one,” Sarah told me. “One custom ornament could take me up to 15 hours from start to finish. By the time I paid for supplies, I was making just over a dollar an hour.”
At the time, she was working at a gift shop whose owner allowed Sarah to sell her own ornaments alongside the mass-produced ones brought in for Christmas.
“Each of those ornaments could be bought for less than six dollars. For most customers, purchasing four or five ornaments for $25 was a much better deal than one of mine,” she said. “Most people have no idea the amount of time goes into one-of-a-kind works of art. Most may not care.”
So that six dollar jar of raspberry jam? Buy it. Did you spend an afternoon picking the berries? Did you spend another afternoon making the jam? Did you purchase the jars and lids and sugar and pectin? Of course not. That’s why you are buying that mass-produced, preservative-laced jam at the grocery store for $4.99.
Grocery stores, shopping malls, big box stores and now online shopping keep us completely removed from the process of making food and gifts. That wooden boat for $19.99 of which there are 5,000 copies? Made in China. That one-of-a-kind wooden boat carved by the guy down the road in his garage? The $75 he’s charging is a steal.
A lot of thought, consideration and hard work goes into the creation of local products, whether it’s pumpkin seedlings, apple jelly or sea glass earrings. A lot of heart and soul, too, plus a big dose of faith. Families are relying on their neighbours buying local in order to make it worth their investment of money, time and talent. 
 When you buy a local product, you are bringing home a piece of someone’s dream. Whether you eat it, plant or display it, be part of making that dream a reality.

Graphic courtesy of Conscious Consumers

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In Good Company

River Philip

I don't often get morning photos any more. I don't get enough morning walks, for that matter. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings are about getting up early to do yoga before work; that's a habit formed both from my love of yoga -- the more you do, the more you want to do -- but also from the winter when it's too dark to be out on the road.
Winter is a memory of long ago on a morning like this.
So sometimes, the morning is too beautiful to resist. I decided the chai tea could steep a little longer while I wandered around. And see what I found? Friends just hanging out in the pretty morning too.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Humming For Warmth

One of the hummingbirds who visit our feeders.
Why is it that as soon as the hummingbirds return, the temperatures drop and the sun disappears?
These mornings are so cold, I wonder how the poor wee things are keeping warm. 
I once plucked a stiff body from a feeder after he froze while eating. That was heartbreaking. They are so small, so strong. Such survivors of everything -- but a cold Maritime morning.
We watched one drop off a feeder onto the ground one cold evening in May. Our old dog, Stella, rushed to "save" it and I do think she intended to by holding it in her mouth where it is warm. I convinced her that a vented ice cream container lined with a tea towel was a little more appropriate.
A hummingbird is a symbol of enjoyment of life and a lightness of being. Also of resilience and adaptability. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The May Craving For Rhubarb

Saw a recipe for rhubarb coffee cake and now, for some reason, I'm craving rhubarb.
Except that I know the reason.
Such an odd word and such an odd fruit. Really, not surprising, then, that I love it. 

This is one of those mysteries of growing, how the food you hated as a kid you now love as an adult.
When I was a kid, my Aunt Mildred would serve stewed rhubarb. She was diabetic so it was stewed rhubarb without any sugar in it. I remember one weekend at the cottage with all the cousins and we had a contest to see who could eat the most bowls of Aunt Mildred's sugarfree stewed rhubarb.
I won.
And I wasn't sick to my stomach.
Which likely explains why I grew up to like rhubarb. No negative connection to it, just the memory of darling Aunt Mildred and hen parties at the cottage near Coboconk.

In searching for a photo of rhurbab coffee cake, I saw a picture that reminded me of another moment of binge-eating rhurbarb.
My friend Shelagh in Cobourg had invited me over for supper when I was home visiting and it turned out my father was dying. So this was May 2009.
She served rhubarb cake for dessert, lovely thin squares of moist cake, and I ate half the pan.
Yes, I'm that friend -- "I can't believe she ate half the rhubarb cake!" -- but in my defense, my father was dying.
And it was a damn fine cake.

This is the photo from Canadian Living's Facebook page that started the craving.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Come to Mama

My mother feeds the birds -- and a squirrel -- year-round on her balcony. It's the only place they are safe from our cat.
(Whatever your feelings are about domestic cats being outside, I don't like being peed on while lying in bed so if she wants to go in and out, I'm happy to open the door for her.)
Every so often, a whispered, "Come here," gets shot down the hallway between my mother's room and my upstairs office. It means there's something on her balcony that she wants me to see, or it's the way the other cat, who we keep inside, is crouched and watching through her sliding glass door.
The tone of her hiss was such earlier today that I thought something was wrong. Rescue mission or sad ending?
"No, come see this," my mother whispered.
And this is the visitor having lunch on the balcony today:

Rose-breasted grosbeak! Jane and I saw one of these two years ago during one of walks through the woods in Oxford but the first time here in Riverview. 

I'd like you to note in the above photo how my mother arranges the seeds on the plate (yes, that's a pizza pan). I think it's tapas like that? She puts it on a plate because my husband complained the seeds are ruining the deck plus it allows her to bring it inside at night during a month in early spring when she gets raided by raccoons.

We've had two other rare birds drop by in the past. In 2012, a female cardinal who did not stick around and who did not return, and in 2011, a painted bunting:

But perhaps the blue bird of happiness?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

In Conversation With...Shaun Whalen

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 by Sara Jewell Mattinson.

Passion and therapy. 
That’s how Oxford resident Shaun Whalen describes his photography and the hours, not to mention the litres of gas, he devotes daily to what is definitely more than a hobby. 
“I have about $15,000 worth of equipment now,” Shaun says, the best pieces accumulated since he retired from his job as a survey technician with the Department of Natural Resources in 2011. 
While his photos are a staple on Facebook and with photography groups, Shaun has provided his services for the Oxford Frozen Foods 40th anniversay celebration, Anne Murray and Saltscapes magazine, and his sports and wildlife photos appear regularly in this newspaper. A career highlight was being part of the media pool for the U2 concert in Moncton in 2011, a double delight since Shaun is a huge music fan. 
He also does family portraits and weddings.
Not bad for man who didn’t pick up a camera until he was an adult. 
“I was more seriously into it when the kids came along, when Lachlan was two or three years old,” he says. “I very rarely used a camera before that. Even on our honeymoon, we grabbed disposable cameras.”
That honeymoon was in 1988 after he married Sandra Fraser. They have two sons, Lachlan, 20, and Tiarnan, 16. 
With the kids, including Lachlan’s longtime girlfriend, Ashley, Shaun and Sandra celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last September, a quiet celebration because Sandra was in the hospital. She died in November, nine years after being diagnosed with cancer.
Since then, Shaun’s silver SUV parked on the side of Route 301 has become a common sight for other drivers. Taking photos of the boys playing sports and of the wild animals he sees while driving around the back roads is therapy for him, he says.
“I can forget all the stuff that’s going on and concentrate on that, on looking.”
Shaun, who is 54, credits two activities from earlier in life for helping him take the remarkable photographs he’s known for. 
“I used to draw and paint quite a bit and I think it helps,” he says. “One thing that really helps me is playing a lot of sports. I have good reflexes and good hand-eye coordination.”
He says this helps with sports photography but also taking photos of birds.
“If you’re playing hockey or basketball, I can tell within reason where someone is going to go, where the play is. Most people chase but if you can get ahead of the action, you get the shot you want.”
It was his older son’s athleticism that pushed Shaun to get serious about his photography.
“When Lachlan started playing soccer, I wanted better quality photos because he’s an exceptional athlete. I wanted to try and capture the best I could under the conditions.”
Since then, he has photographed both his sons playing soccer, basketball and baseball, as well as their friends and teammates. While Shaun is generous in sharing his photographs with others via Facebook, he makes sure his signature appears on each photo. 
Every artist deserves credit, and thanks, for how he or she uses and shares their talent.
“I see stuff people wouldn’t normally see,” Shaun says. “If I’m driving along the river, I see scenes so  stop and bang them off. I do a lot of landscapes a lot of people, sports.”
And animals. His photos of wildlife, including birds, are finely detailed and close-up.
“It’s kind of a high,” he says of getting that perfect shot of a person or an eagle in motion. “I’m looking for that shot of you diving through the air to catch the ball.”
He missed getting shots this spring of eagles’ mid-air courtship but he hopes to snap some shots of ospreys fishing. Right now, he’s on the hunt, photographically speaking, for bears.
We joke that Shaun will be okay if he ever comes nose-to-nose with a bear on the rare occasion he ventures into a field. Because of psoriatic arthritis,  Shaun doesn’t walk very fast or some days, very well so he’ll easily be able to obey the first rule of meeting a black bear: Don’t run.
 A self-taught photographer, Shaun says he learns from reading and making mistakes.
“Nobody ever helped me out. I had to read and figure it out. And I only know about one percent of what there is to know. The main thing I’ve learned through screw-ups is to have the settings ready for the conditions,” he says. “The camera is always turned on and the settings are set and the lens cap is never on it. I’ve lost shots just trying to reach inside the hood trying to get the lens cap off.”
The only thing worse than losing that great shot is losing the love of your life.
“Sandra was always very supportive of me doing photography,” Shaun says. “She never crapped on me for going out all the time. She did tell me, ‘I am amazed by some of your work.’ That kinda blew me away.”
Her loss touches him even more deeply because he can relate to how their son Tiarnan feels about losing his mother at the age of 16. 
“Tiarnan and Sandra were really close,” he says. “My mom died when I was 23 and we were really close.”
But they were -- are -- a close family, and that is helping them through this difficult year of firsts. 
“I keep going for the boys and the dogs,” Shaun says of the dual challenges of losing his wife and struggling with constant physical pain. “I try to keep things as normal as I can.”
But with everything, what is normal is constantly changing. Lachlan is in college and soon Tiarnan will be learning to drive. Yet there will always be that perfect shot to chase. 
“I love macro photography, too,” Shaun says. “Like a bee an inch from your lens. I don’t care, I just like getting the kick-butt awesome shot. To get the best shot I can.”

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Quality Time With Chickens

I did something last evening that I haven't done in a very long time: I hung out with my chickens.
It's a busy life (who knew writing full-time would consume so much time?) and like any farmer with an off-farm job, we don't get to spend enough time with our livestock.
The rabbit spends her summers outside in her "cottage" so yesterday, we cleaned it out and moved it to a new patch of lawn which we will allow to grow up, jungle-like, in her cage so that she can spend the summer living in and consuming the tall grass. The ground where the cage had rested since last spring, now exposed, cried out for one thing.
"I'm going to let the chickens out so they can get into that," I said to my husband.
"They're going to get into your gardens," he replied.
Ah, but little did he know, I wasn't just letting them loose (because he's right; it's not the pecking and scratching the hens do that annihilates gardens, it's the dirt baths they like to take). I was going to be a shepherd to my flock.
A chikherd, if you will.
And with the help of a long stick to discourage the occasional dasher from making a break out of the prescribed area of before-bedtime foraging, the hens and rooster and I spent a pleasant hour wandering the back lawn searching for worms and beetles.
For some reason, the chickens love the shallow ditch that runs between their fenced pen and the rest of our yard.
I have always found hanging out with chickens very relaxing and I'm sure other chicken keepers, like my friend Heather, will agree that unless they are a naughty rooster or a nasty hen, chickens create a stressfree environment. They are content with green grass and fresh water, and a little bit of dirt. They are equally as excited by bread crumbs as they are by grubs. They hold their own quiet conversations and when Brewster tells them it's time for bed, they follow him obediently back to the coop.
There are always stragglers in our coop, those hens who are the first out the door in the morning and the last to go in at night. Just like us humans who want to enjoy as much of these long days of spring as we can.
Last Sunday at supper, I made a comment about an upcoming newstory about robots doing the work on farms and my father-in-law talked about going to a nearby farm and seeing a robot milking the cows. I've been thinking about that a lot, first as a columnist then because I think it's a shame to leave something to important, so intimate, so fundamental as milking a cow (or butchering a pig or collecting eggs) to a machine.
Then, as the talk of cattle always does, seeing as that is the livestock I have a bit of experience with but not nearly enough, it reminds me of one of my favourite Harry Thurston poems in which he writes about going to barn to feed his bull calf. I love this poem because it speaks to the connection we make when we are hand in hand and eye to eye with that for which we are caring. TV and video games and smart phones aside, we wouldn't really leave our children's upbringing to machines, would we? We'd lose so much connection that way, we'd lose so much of that knowledge that comes only from close interaction. So how can we do that to those animals who provide us with our food?

From Revelations, by Harry Thurston:

"And as I always do
I get down on my hunkers
to watch and listen
to him feed awhile.

His snout flecked
with the grain
he looks up, see me
slumped down -- asleep.

And in the whole great sounding box
of the barn, there is only
the music of his soft face
in the trough."

(from the collection Animals of My Own Kind, Signal, 2009)

FYI: This is what a dirt bath looks like. You can see how they quickly destroy a garden.     

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Mother of a Road Trip

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 by Sara Jewell Mattinson.

The Catholic church in Trenton, Ontario, was packed for the funeral of a 54-year-old woman killed in a traffic accident a week earlier. Her family – a husband of 23 years and her two teenaged children – were in the front row with their arms around each other. They were well-known in the community. The woman had lived and worked in Trenton for 35 years. 
In fact, she’d worked for my father. Her husband was wearing a pair of black tasselled loafers of my father’s, new shoes never worn that we’d given him after Dad died.
For us, this was a death in the family.
For me, it was all about the 15-year-old daughter.
When it was my turn to hug and speak to Samantha in the endless line of mourners who came to pay their respects at the funeral home the day before the funeral, every profound and thoughtful thing I wanted to say to her disappeared from my head. When faced with her red eyes and tear-streaked cheeks, all I could say over and over was, “I’m so sorry.”
Then I walked out of the funeral home and attended the funeral and reception with my own healthy, lovely, good-natured mother. The same kind of mother Samantha had. I’d wanted to reassure Samantha, who witnessed the accident that killed her mother, that some day the memories of that moment will fade and won’t be the only thing she remembers about her mother, but I was overwhelmed by a deeply empathetic reaction to this young girl’s loss.
A reaction heightened by three words that had been rolling around in my mind for the entire two-day road trip I’d just done with my mother. 
Between the phone call with the news and the drive to Ontario, I went to work. Since my job includes updating the church notices and putting together the two pages of Classifieds, the Card of Thanks that arrived by email was my responsibility. It was a follow-up to a mother’s death and I know the woman who sent it. In the course of our email exchange, Ruth Gamble wrote, “Enjoy your mother.”
Enjoy your mother. Ruth was speaking from her own experience, the loss of her own mother recent and raw. She had no idea what news I was dealing with and that I was about to spend five rather intense and emotional days with my own mother.
Enjoy your mother. Ruth didn’t know that a young girl was devastated by the death of her mother, a life cut off in its prime of success and happiness and plans the future. I’m sure if Ruth had known what was going on, she likely would have said the same thing. Enjoy this moment because you never know when a person – friend, daughter, mother, spouse – could be gone. 
Enjoy your mother. There’s something else that Ruth couldn’t possibly know, something that has been a fact throughout my entire life: My mother was three years old when her own mother died. She grew up without knowing her own lovely, good-natured mother and I grew up knowing that.
My mother and her older sister are not alone in this; there are others who grow up without a mother for one reason or another. So I write this thinking of the people of all ages and gender who have lost their mother too soon and I write this feeling grateful that not only can I take Ruth’s advice, I already am.
For my mother, Mother’s Day meant a visit to the cemetery to leave flowers at her mother’s grave. It could mean the same thing for Samantha. So if you are lucky enough to have a mother in your life, to have a good mother that you want to spend time with, take Ruth’s advice. 
If you don’t, I’m so sorry.

My role model and her co-pilot.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Morning Lift Off

Let's head into a new week with a long weekend -- and THIS -- to anticipate!
The Pugwash Farmers Market opens this Saturday.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

In Conversation With...Crystal Wallis

First published in The Oxford Journal on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 by Sara Jewell Mattinson.

High River United Church was devastated by the floodwaters that ravaged the town of High River, Alberta, last June. This March, the church, which re-opened in December, asked congregations across Canada to send packets of sunflower seeds that they will distribute this spring to every home in High River. 
Sunflowers are good at pulling toxins out of contaminated soil. 
At the urging of “green enthusiast” Crystal  (Blenkhorn) Wallis, the three churches in the River Philip Pastoral Charge, of which she is a member, collected 89 packages of sunflower seeds to send to High River.
“I love sunflowers,” Crystal says at her home in Claremont where she grows sunflowers in her own gardens.
She was born in Amherst and moved to the family farm in Nappan when her father left the air force.
 “When I was 16, my mother decided she couldn’t make a lady out of me, this is the honest truth. She thought if she sent me to the Baptist university, they’d make a lady out of me,” she says. “So I went to Acadia and studied Home Economics, met Glenn, went to Montreal, taught school and had a couple of children.”
Her husband, originally from Montreal, went back to get his education diploma. 
“It was quite a change because it was a huge school, coming from rural Nova Scotia,” Crystal remembers of the school in Chomedey where she taught Home Ec. “It was a school where 80 percent of the students were Jewish and that was a real education. I learned so much about another culture.” 
In the end, however, the FLQ Crisis and Bill 101 made them feel like they weren’t welcome in Quebec anymore so they thought they’d move to Alberta.
“My husband needed a couple of credits to finish his degree and he had to get them from Acadia so we went to Alberta in the summer, spent quite a bit of time looking around, wondering where we were we going to live,” Crystal says. “We met some people at a campground who happened to be the chair of the school board and he offered my husband a job. Then we came back to Nova Scotia to finish school – and we’re still here.”
The couple settled in Windsor and by the spring of 1976, Crystal had a third child (she has two sons and a daughter, plus a granddaughter who lives in Amherst). She worked for six years as an Activity Director in a nursing home then spent the following 23 years working at a preschool.
Working with children and involved in the activities of her own kids nurtured her respect for the earth and allowed her to encourage children to share that respect.
“I’ve always been aware of the Earth,” she says. “I suppose it came from growing up on a farm where you are aware of the Earth and what you got back from it if you took care of it. It was where the food came from. My father had ideas about how things should be treated. When I was teaching, people weren’t as aware of anything and it kind of evolved as my children got older. 
 Crystal remembers the first Earth Day (in 1970) because Windsor had a parade.  She says her growing awareness of environmental issues came from reading Rachel Carson’s books and realizing what people were doing. 
“When I started in preschool, that was fun. The children are impressionable and you want them to know there is a way to treat the Earth and what they can do and how they can help so they grow up to be good citizens of the Earth. We did all kinds of interesting things, like don’t kill the bugs. They liked to stamp on the ants!”
After Glenn and Crystal retired, they decided to move to Cumberland County. 
“We came back because I had some land in Nappan that we thought we would build on until we found out all that’s involved in building a house,” she says.
Instead they bought a house on a hill in Claremont because of the view, high-speed Internet and the proximity to the highway.
“And we wanted a bit of land and this has two and a half acres,” she adds. “I knew when we came up the driveway to look at this house, it wouldn’t matter what the house was like, my husband would want to stay here because of the view and the land, and it’s quiet.”
They moved in September 2007 and Crystal made friends through a scrapbooking group and the River Philip Pastoral Charge. She became a “green enthusiast” when she joined a committee called Project Hope that wanted to raise environmental issues with congregations. 
“I gather it didn’t really take off because they didn’t find people that were passionate enough to do a little research.”
Crystal is. She continues to provide a weekly “Greening Moment” during the church service. 
“It hasn’t been hard to find a tidbit here and there,” she says. “I try to do it in such a way that it is fun and informative and different. I get a lot of positive feedback about it and no one has said that it’s silly or preachy.”
Her pet peeves are bottled water and plastic bags.
“I think people are more aware now than they have been in the past and I still think that it’s not a big deal to take your cloth bag to the grocery store. It’s not the plastic bags that are the problem if you recycle them properly. They don’t break down in the landfill but if you recycle them, they’re made into something new.”
Speaking of recycling properly... Crystal is the person who adopted the “Collingwood Post Office Kitten” in December 2012, naming the abandoned kitten “Rosie”.  
According to Crystal, Rosie’s endearing quality is that she had beautiful green eyes. 
“She’s tiny, she’s feisty and she loves to hunt,” she says. “Our other cat, Katrina, hated her on sight but the two cats get along now. We were very happy to provide a home for Rosie and I’m just pleased that whoever didn’t want her put her in the post box instead of throwing her out into the woods.”

Crystal prepares to mail 89 packets of sunflower seeds that the River Philip Pastoral
Charge collected for the High River United Church sunflower project.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

This Should Terrify You, Rural Nova Scotia

Buried on Page 4 of the business section of The Chronicle Herald newspaper today is a story from the Associated Press (US) with this headline: FRACKING BYPRODUCT: CRASHES
It seems that in our great rush to exploit more of the earth and to seduce communities with promises of jobs and money, we are putting those communities at risk with more than the threat to our drinking water.
People are dying because more trucks on the road are resulting in more traffic accidents, many of them fatal. The article uses the word "frenzy"to describe our rush to begin hydraulic fracturing. Quote: "Drilling activity often ramps up too fast   for communities to build better roads, install more traffic signals or hire extra police officers to help direct the flow of cars and trucks."
Anything that is a frenzy is not a good thing. Where is the balance, the common sense, the respect for people and for established communities? Our way of life in Nova Scotia will be destroyed if hydraulic fracturing is allowed here. Our infrastructure certainly cannot handle the number of trucks that take supplies to the wells. Quote: "It requires 2,300 to 4,000 truck trips per well to deliver those fluids [the water, sand/gravel and chemical mix required for hydraulic fracking]. Older drilling techniques needed one-third to one-half as many trips."
The story is based in the United States but if this is happening there, it will happen here. Can you imagine what this will do to our roads and our communities in Nova Scotia if the fracking frenzy begins here? Apparently funeral homes will benefit from this boom, too.

Read the entire article, complete with traffic fatality numbers, here:

Monday, May 05, 2014

Walk For Memories, Walk For The Future

Dementia is not an easy disease and there isn't much to celebrate when it comes to dementia.
And yet...yesterday's Walk For Memories in downtown Halifax, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia, was a lot of fun. It was a celebration -- of love and care and encouragement, of family and friends, of memories, and of the changes that are happening already, finally, when it comes to changing people's perception of this disease and those who live with it.

This was my first year participating in the walk and although "Team Pachydermentia" (because elephants never forget!) was small, it was mighty! By the night before, we'd raised over $3,000 for the Alzheimer Society.
The biggest kudos go to my husband who is the king of asking and receiving. Of the four of us, he managed to raise over $1000, half of that on the day before the walk. No wonder we make such a good team! I come up with the (good) ideas and he makes them happen (in a big way).
We will participate again and again in this event and hopefully Team Pachydermentia will grow in numbers as the years go on.

Thank you to our friends and family and neighbours who were so generous. Your donation not only supports the programs and resources provided by the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia (including the very important InfoLine - 1-800-611-6345) but also my public speaking in an attempt to make this world dementia-friendly and people-centred.

My mother and I ready to head to Halifax for the Walk For Memories -- in memory of my father.
Celebrating our team's achievement with Dawn Boudrot, walk coordinator. 

Our team mascot, Peaches, meets "HaliDerby", the mascot for the Alz Society duck derby in Sept.
Almost halfway!
At the halfway mark, those who made online donations could send a message!
This one received from friend and neighbour Christina Martin whose song I use in my presentations.
This is Faye Forbes who is living very well with dementia, thank you very much,
and is an inspiration to all of us getting to know her. 
There is a light, you know. Christina Martin is so right. You see it in the faces of everyone who gathered at the Cunard Centre on Sunday, May 4 to raise money to support those living with dementia and those caring for them. The light is love and there was a whole lotta love on the Halifax waterfront yesterday.