Category Archives: Retirement

Should There Be Mandatory Vaccinations for Long Term Care Workers?

In the latest update from the personal care home where my father is a resident, we were informed that visiting privileges would be expanded to include anyone who is two weeks past their second vaccination date. Previously only two designated family members could visit and now others will be able to visit as well, as long as they are fully vaccinated.

All visitors however will still need to wear masks and goggles, do a covid questionnaire, have their temperature taken before entering and stay six feet away from their loved ones.

Ironically another section of the same newsletter responded to numerous inquires from families about whether all the care aides who look after people in the personal care home have been fully vaccinated. The administrators of the home simply don’t know.

Vaccination is still voluntary according to the provincial government and employers cannot ask if a worker is vaccinated. They can offer on-site vaccinations, encourage employees to get vaccinated, and educate employees about vaccination, but they can’t terminate their employment if they aren’t vaccinated.

Image from an excellent Policy Options article about what needs to be done to improve compensation and working conditions for long term care workers.

I would be the last person to criticize long term care workers. Every day when I visit my father I see the vital and very challenging job they do. According to a Canadian Health Care Institute-funded research paper long term care workers are generally middle-aged women, with a high school diploma, who speak English as their second language.

They are paid on average in Canada $18.95 an hour and 25% of them work in more than one care facility for financial reasons because they can’t get enough hours at a single placement. This despite the fact experts recommend long term care facilities should have a lower patient to caregiver ratio than they currently do.

I understand that much needs to be done to improve long term care workers’ salaries and working conditions. We are not treating them fairly given the extremely important work they do. But is it fair to require them to be vaccinated?

A City News story earlier this month said Ontario is making vaccination mandatory for all long term care workers and British Columbia is considering it as well. Is it something Manitoba should consider too?

Other posts……….

A Realistic Look at Aging?

Growing Old is Not For Cowards

We Are Vaccinated But…………


Filed under Health, Retirement

Keeping Up With Technology

I got a new computer last week. Mine was seven years old. It needed a new battery and the Apple technician informed me it was headed towards what they call the obsolete category.

I was happy to have a new computer but was feeling a little overwhelmed with all the things I needed to figure out and learn as I set it up. New programs, new versions of old programs, new passwords, and new ways of organizing things. It was a bit of a puzzle and I am still in the process of discovering all the solutions and possibilities.

I was complaining to my brother about the myriad of stuff I had to learn in order to get my computer operational and he suggested I shouldn’t see it as an obstacle but as an important and helpful opportunity for me to keep up to date on the latest technology.

He has met several seniors lately who haven’t kept abreast of new technology and it has really left them disconnected particularly during the pandemic. They don’t know how to do business or maintain social connections online and it’s made life difficult and isolating for them. My brother said it reminded him how important it was to keep up our technology skills particularly as we age.

So I’m going to look at my work to get my computer all set up and my journey to become familiar with all its new features as an important step in keeping myself current in the ever-changing world of technology.

Other posts……….

Will the Pandemic Change The Way We Work? 

The Social Dilemma



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Filed under Retirement

Ready to Die?

My husband Dave in a cemetery in Vik Iceland

“I’m preparing to die. ”  Four years ago I visited with a woman in her eighties who told me she was spending a fair bit of time reading, writing, learning, talking and thinking about death.  Even though she wasn’t terminally ill she wanted to be ready to die. She felt the more she could prepare herself for death and accept it as a natural part of life, the easier it would be for her and her family. 

Perhaps because we are faced each morning with a new death toll from the pandemic many of us are thinking more about dying, especially those of us in what is considered the vulnerable age population for COVID-19. 

Madeleine L Engle- image from her Twitter page curated by her granddaughter

In Madeleine L’ Engle’s book The Summer of the Great Grandmother she describes the last summer of her mother’s life. L’ Engle says we experience a series of letting go events or deaths that can prepare us for the end of our life.  

L’ Engle suggests we die to childhood and are born to adolescence. We die to adolescence and become adults.  We die to our single selves when we become someone’s partner or parent. When we move to a new place or a new career we experience a kind of death. She thinks these experiences can teach us things that will make the end of our lives easier. 

We spend much of our childhood and adolescence being educated and prepared for our adult lives. Many couples attend counselling sessions to prepare for marriage.  I took prenatal classes and read books to prepare for parenthood. Many people take seminars and visit a financial planner to prepare for retirement.  It makes sense that just as we prepare for these other deaths and rebirths during our lifetime we should also prepare for our final death and rebirth.  

I provide support for a 97-year-old family member who has prepared very well for her death.  She has her financial affairs in impeccable order. She has paid for her funeral and burial plot. She has written and published her life story.  She has given away or sold most of her personal belongings. She has designated which charities will be the beneficiaries of her estate. She is at peace with God.

I suspect it is never too early to begin to prepare for death. As Steve Jobs once said, “Death is the destination we all share.” As we travel through life we need to think about how we can live to the fullest but yet prepare ourselves for eventually reaching that destination.  

Other posts…….

Death Toll

Wind Blessings

Hold Their Hands And Say Their Names As They Die

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Filed under Reflections, Retirement

What Is It?

I am a volunteer at the Mennonite Central Committee Thrift Store on Selkirk Avenue. The first thing I do when I arrive on a weekday morning is tackle the pile of Christmas related items that have come in since I volunteered last. Often that takes all my time, but this week I only needed to pack up and price one box of holiday items and then I switched to sorting and pricing things for the housewares department. It wasn’t long before I came across this item. What in the world was it?

It was in the shape of a fish so it must have something to do with preparing and cooking fish. But what? Why did it open and close? Why did it have those holes?

I showed it to all of my fellow volunteers and no one had a clue. So here it is. Does anyone out there know what in the world this fancy fish is for?

Looking forward to your answers.

Other posts……..

What Is It? Inuit Art

What Is It? St. Boniface Sculpture Garden

Is It Art?



Filed under Retirement

A New Writing Challenge

I became a member of the Winnipeg Friends of the Library Board this past fall.  I helped to found the Friends of the Library group in Steinbach many years ago and as I contemplated retiring from my part-time job at the University of Winnipeg I was looking for other ways to get involved in my community. The board has been a good fit and a good challenge so far.  Friends of the Library groups located in North America, Europe, Australia and South Africa fund all kinds of special programming in libraries. One of the ways I thought I could support the Winnipeg group’s work was by writing articles for their newsletter called NOTES which is printed several times a year. The most recent issue just came out and I wrote four articles for it.  Each provided an interesting experience for me.  

For my first article, I had the privilege of interviewing Carolyn Gray the current writer in residence at the Winnipeg Public Library and recently appointed editor of Prairie Fire magazine.  Carolyn and I  met at a local coffee shop and had a wonderful chat.  Among other things, I found out she was an accomplished puppeteer, shared her home with a Golden Retriever named Minnie and had recently completed a Masters degree in Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan. I also was assigned to write profiles of four new Friends of the Library board members, including myself.  I learned such interesting things about the people who sit around the board table with me.  I found out Rita loves the Bombers and the Jets almost as much as she loves ballet and the theatre. I discovered Kim loves to cook, is a marketing and communications consultant and has a family cottage.  The interview questions Chelsea answered revealed she loves playing board games and her favorite writer is a Japanese author named Haruki Murakami.  The editor of Notes asked me to contact the latest winner of Governer General’s award for English language fiction Joan Thomas to see what books were on her nightstand and write a short What Is She Reading piece. Joan was so gracious when I contacted her and quickly sent me a message about what she was reading. Finally I collected comments from folks who attended our group’s annual fundraising book sale at Grant Park High School. They were excited about their experience at the sale.  These were incorporated into an article by the book sale manager. 

I have all kinds of ideas about how we can make our newsletter an even better vehicle of communication with our members.  I am looking forward to perhaps implementing some of those ideas in the future.  In the meantime I am finding it interesting and challenging to be a kind of roving reporter for NOTES.

You can learn more about The Friends of the Winnipeg Public Library here.   And you can read the NOTES newsletter online here. 

Other posts……….

Five Wives by Joan Thomas

This Was Crazy Wonderful

Winnipeg’s Millennium Library

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Filed under Retirement, Winnipeg, Writing

Look At The Bathroom Floors

Recently my husband Dave has been inviting guests to come and see our bathrooms soon after they arrive. “Just look at those floors,” he will say.  Most guests are puzzled particularly if they have been to our home before.  “Did you change the flooring?” they will ask. “It kind of looks the same.”  At this point, I usually intervene.  “Dave washed the bathroom floor and he wants you to notice what a great job he did.” 

In December we did some minor renovations to our two bathrooms.  New toilets, new hardware and newly painted cabinet doors.  I also wanted to replace the flooring which readily shows any speck of dirt and needs to be swept or washed far more often than I like to do it.  However, after consulting with a friend who is a flooring expert, Dave decided taking out our old tiles and putting in new ones would be far too difficult and costly. So he made me a counter offer. “How about from now on I wash the bathroom floors?”

I accepted without hesitation.  After some forty years of cleaning bathroom floors I was ready to turn the task over to someone else.  And not only does Dave clean the floors of our bathrooms he has taken to doing all the other cleaning in the bathrooms as well.  I am thrilled!  Knowing he will take care of that loathsome task makes the rest of my housecleaning less onerous and dreaded for me. 

If having my own personal bathroom cleaner means our guests will be treated to a bathroom viewing at the start of their visits I can certainly live with that.

Other posts……….

I Don’t Make My Bed


Doing Housework in Costa Rica

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Filed under New Experiences, Retirement


I don’t want less, I want more
More stars, more sun
More truth, more love
More kisses, more spring
I just want more of everything

My brother introduced me to the song More by Lynne Miles.  It really resonated with me.  In her spoken introduction to the song, Lynne talks about how as people get older they tend to turn more inward and become more isolated.  She says she wants to do just the opposite.  As she ages, she wants to reach out to other people, to have new experiences, to appreciate deeply all that life has to offer.  

Lynne Miles

Often as we get older some of our time is freed up from family and work responsibilities and so we actually do have the opportunity to examine things more closely, to look at things more deeply, to experience things more intensely.  Lynne puts it this way. 

The sky’s not blue, it’s indigo
That’s not a tree, it’s a willow
I’m not crying, I’m deep
I don’t cry, I weep

To me Lynne is suggesting that growing older doesn’t mean getting more complacent, becoming less involved, being more cautious or fearful. I know I am realizing that it is actually easier to take risks as I age because I have already had a great life and I am not worried about it ending.  I’m realizing as I grow older there aren’t necessarily as many ramifications for expressing my opinions freely, exploring new ideas openly, facing some real truths about myself and my relationships, or trying things that aren’t exactly safe. Lynne says……..

I want the whole bottle, not just a shot
Don’t want a little, I want a lot
I don’t want rain, I want a downpour
I don’t want less, I want more
I don’t want the evening, I want midnight
Don’t want to argue, I want to fight
Don’t show me the outside of my heart, I wanna see the core

I don’t want less, I want more
More stars, more sun
More truth, more love
More kisses, more spring
I just want more of everything

Listen to Lynne singing More here.

Other posts………..

Growing Old Is Not For Cowards

What Will You Be Building When You Have To Go?

Should We Get Tatoos Or Go Skydiving?

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Filed under Music, Retirement

Kindred Spirits

Last week I spent a morning in Carmen Manitoba talking to a group of some twenty -five women about my life and travels.  Susan Mooney had invited me to speak. She and her husband Tom are long-time residents of Carmen, but Tom’s parents Isaac and Lottie Mooney lived in the Steinbach area from 1944-1980.  One Christmas Lottie gave her son Tom and his wife Susan a gift subscription to The Carillon and they have been subscribers ever since. Susan has been reading my newspaper column Viewpoint since I first began writing it in 1985.  She had always wanted to meet me and decided inviting me to Carmen, as a speaker for her women’s group, would be a way to do that.

I was interested to learn that the group, which meets at the Carmen United Church, has been in existence for almost forty years. Every Wednesday they invite a speaker to make a presentation and then they ask questions and have a discussion. In the weeks prior to my October visit, Theresa Oswald, a former Manitoba Health Minister had been a speaker as had Jean Friesen a university professor and spokesperson for the Treaty Relations Committee of Manitoba. The week following my visit Nilufer Rahman a Muslim community builder and filmmaker was scheduled as the guest and after her retired Canadian senator, Joanne Buth was speaking.  I was told authors Miriam Toews and recent Governor General award winner Joan Thomas had presented in past years.

The women began their meeting by introducing themselves and then answering a question posed by Susan Mooney. She said since she had always wanted to meet me she wondered who might be a person the other women had always wanted to meet. A number thought they would like to meet Queen Elizabeth while several named favorite childhood authors like Lucy Maude Montgomery, Beatrix Potter, and A.A. Milne. Others mentioned the Dali Lama, Michelle Obama, Margaret Atwood, and Eric Clapton. One woman was looking forward to meeting a refugee family that would be arriving in Carmen shortly. Hearing the women’s answers was a great way for me to get to know the group a little better. I told them I already felt like we were kindred spirits. 

In my talk, I used examples from my own life to expand on an idea I was first introduced to at my son’s university graduation many years ago.  On the journey of life we have a choice to be pilgrims or tourists.  Which will we be?   After my presentation, the women asked questions and made comments and their ideas and contributions were thought-provoking and meaningful.  During our lively discussion, I learned more about the women’s families, travels, reading preferences, community work and faith affiliations.

The women take turns bringing soup for lunch each Wednesday, so I was treated to a hearty bowl of hot vegetable soup and some fresh bread before beginning my drive back to Winnipeg.  The women in the group are busy with all kinds of other interesting things.  The woman to my left at lunch had come to our meeting from her yoga class and the one on my right told me she was headed off to a community choir practice.

Before I said goodbye the women posed for a photo with me.  I wanted a reminder of my morning with them. I gave Susan Mooney a hug and thanked her for inviting me. Two other women who also happened to be near the church door as I left gave me hugs too.  I left Carmen enriched, blessed and delighted to have spent a morning with such a group of caring, engaged and intelligent women. 

Other posts…………..

Strong Women

I’ve Been A Newspaper Columnist for Decades

Women Were Honored?  Think Again John Kelly. 


Filed under manitoba, New Experiences, People, Retirement

A Role Model

I’ll never forget Colleen. When we visited New Zealand in 2008 we stayed in the lovely bed and breakfast Colleen and her husband Bob ran in the city of Taupo. This past week I was preparing for a talk I will give to a women’s group in Carmen on Wednesday. In a section of my talk about a fulfilling retirement, I will describe Colleen.  I had written about her at length in my journal when we were in New Zealand.

Dave with Colleen’s husband Bob. He took Dave golfing.

Colleen and her husband Bob were both in their seventies and already great grandparents. They were the consummate hosts. They had been sheep farmers. After selling their farm they used some of the proceeds to finance travel adventures on every continent. They were wine connoisseurs. They showed us pictures of their granddaughter’s recent wedding. Bob and Colleen chuckled about the fact they had attended barefoot because the wedding was on a beach by the ocean.

Me with Colleen

Colleen was active in her church, was in the midst of taking a writing course, belonged to a bridge club, and one afternoon during our stay she canned thirty jars of apricot marmalade and then whipped off a letter to the editor of the local paper concerning an issue she felt passionate about. She was the president of the local Women’s Institute and was in the midst of preparing for a New Years Eve party they were hosting. She wrote the invitations to the party in the form of a narrative poem that she shared with me.
Colleen bounced around her home whistling hymns and Beatles’ songs. One night she cooked us a lobster dinner that also included glazed ham, potatoes, beets and salad, was highlighted by two bottles of fine New Zealand wine and capped off with a homemade bread pudding served with cream and apricots.

Colleen gave me a valuable piece of retirement advice over a cup of tea one evening, “ I love my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren desperately” she said to me, “but I’ve realized its not healthy for me to be involved in every single detail of their lives.”
Colleen was vivacious and opinionated and I wanted to be just like her on my own retirement journey.

I did an internet search yesterday to find out if Colleen and Bob were still running their bed and breakfast in Taupo and was saddened to discover an obituary for Bob who died in September of 2017. I did learn from a Women’s Institute newsletter that Colleen was still hosting events for their organization in 2017 and I found the photo below of Colleen with other women from the Women’s Institute. In a May 2019 newspaper article I read that she and her friends at the Women’s Institute were hosting a national meeting of women from all over New Zealand.  It seems Colleen is as active as ever. 

Colleen is second from the left

 Other posts……..

Taonga Treasures

A Realistic Look At Aging


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Filed under New Zealand, Retirement

A Puzzling Achievement

I finished before they did!  When we were in Mexico last winter Dave and our friend Rudy who was staying with us, did crossword puzzles together almost every day from a big book of New York Times crossword puzzles Rudy had brought along with him. Although I wanted to participate the puzzles were clearly too hard for me. Dave has been doing the New York Times crossword puzzle every weekend for over forty years so he’s an expert.  

Here in Winnipeg Dave has a regular Saturday morning date with his friend Les at a neighborhood coffee shop to do the New York Times crossword puzzle in the Winnipeg Free Press. After we returned home from Mexico in March I decided I would start joining them in an attempt to develop my crossword puzzle skills. Although the New York Times crossword was too daunting for me I would work my way up to it by doing the less difficult Premier Crossword in Saturday’s paper.  

Initially, I could get only a small portion of my puzzle done before Dave and Les had finished the New York Times crossword.  Then Dave would take my crossword and quickly finish it. 

Slowly but surely I improved and would get more and more of my puzzle done before the guys finished theirs. Then this past Saturday a miracle! I finished my puzzle before the guys finished theirs.  Granted they said their puzzle was VERY hard and I figured out the theme to mine quite early on so that made it much easier to complete.  But still…………. I was pretty pumped!

I may not be ready for the New York Times crossword puzzle yet but I’m getting there.  

Other posts……….

Sunday Morning At the Olive Mill

Coloring Books- Not Just For Kids


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Filed under New Experiences, Retirement