Claire Martin

Slow Down, Smell the Roses – by Claire Martin

It has been brought to my attention that I have been posting a lot of “ahhh, life” photos recently (check @ClaireMartin50 on Instagram). And here’s the reason why.

1. At 50 I found myself unemployed and diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma
2. At 51 I found myself a fabulous new job and cancer free (6 months and counting).

As has often been noted on #MyBackYard – I’m an acerbic, sarcastic little shit of a person. Until very recently, when life got scary and real. Then, surprisingly, I found myself soft, caring, vaguely weepy, introspective and in awe of L’Chiam.

So why the change of outlook?

I have recently moved to the BC Interior – given up on the Vancouver market as I got methodically priced out – and I am thrilled with my choice.

I am lucky enough to have found a little piece of heaven in Vernon, BC. I wake in the morning to the sound of birds, and I go to bed in the evening to the cacophony of bullfrogs. Last night I heard thunder booming in the hills around me, and I’ve routinely watched the space-station crest overhead in the night sky from my little backyard deck.


I am not writing this to

a) extol the virtues of the BC Interior,

b) encourage people to give up on the most magnificent city in the world (aka Vancouver) nor c) feel some sort of misplaced jealousy.

I am writing this to say that at the grand old age of 51, I have decided to start treating myself to the life I’ve always wanted.

Now, let’s be honest: I’m not retired. I will have to work for at least another 12.5 years (yes, I’ve counted), to pay off this decision. And, admittedly, at times I find myself a little lonely. But I am surrounded by astoundingly beautiful scenery, I am finally sleeping through the night and I am actually slowing down.

So here’s the point of this note: at some point, we all need to slow down and smell the roses. We need to put ourselves first.

So here’s to posting a few more “ahhh, life” photos. May they bring everyone a little piece of quiet in what can often be the chaotic, rat-raced pace of life!

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Pete Quevillon

Kindness in The Winter of Bert’s Life – by Pete Quevillon

In early 2015, I made the decision to move my dad from an assisted living residence in Kingston Ontario here to BC. He was in need of more intense care and had no family left in Ontario. Seeing him two or three times a year when I went to Ontario for work just wasn’t leaving me with a good feeling and so I began the search for facilities here in Vancouver.

I toured several care homes and Windermere provided the opportunity for him to access a room as soon as we moved him. I knew several people whose parents had spent time at Windermere and all of them had very positive things to say about the quality of care.  While the first six months, until he became a BC resident, were at a full rate; once he became a BC resident he qualified for the subsidized rate. Fortunately for those on fixed incomes, the rate is a set percentage of  income always leaving at least 25% of pensions to bank.

As one would expect of a care facility, the rooms are rather Spartan but he has his own washroom and some of his own furniture and pictures to add a homey feel. There are regular recreational opportunities for residents, music, and a host of other diversions that residents can participate in at their leisure.

With the care of an aging parent, there comes the guilt associated with placing them in care…in my case lapsed Anglican guilt rather than Catholic guilt! Should I be keeping him in my home with private nursing care? Could we afford a more exclusive facility? Bottom line for me is that dad is happy and has people around him who truly care about his well being and are far more skilled than I in providing the necessary professional care.

I am a dedicated reader here on and have noticed a definite theme, of late, as many contributors are of the generation where care of aging parents becomes their responsibility,

It is all too easy to target our challenged, under-resourced, health care system with criticism — those concerns are certainly valid.  It is very much up to us to  be aware, and hold our politicians to account, to ensure improvements are made. Often lost in this conversation are those who work within the current system selflessly.  They regularly bare the brunt of frustration at the system and are targets of abuse, undue criticism and most certainly are underpaid.

As someone who has a parent in long term seniors residential care I see, up close and personal, both the shortcomings of our health care system and the extreme dedication and passion displayed by those health care professionals. Certainly I’m not alone in seeing, and being constantly humbled and moved by, the concern — and dare I say love shown by the health care professionals in my dad’s facility.

Very few of us could display the compassion and effort put forth in caring for a complete stranger — yet there they are with my Dad, day in and day out. From care aides and nurses to cleaning and kitchen staff, everyone seems to know Bert and constantly make conversation and take every opportunity to exchange some friendly humour and barbs with my dad. He thrives on the interaction and, despite his mild dementia and his inability to remember everyone on staff, he feels loved and valued by everyone on staff.

I’ve often said that the staff make him feel like Norm from Cheers…each time he comes back after our walks or trips out for lunch, he’s welcomed like a long lost family member. “Hi Bert”; “Where have you been Bert”; …all that’s missing is a cold beer on the bar!

I cannot imagine providing the same level of not only expert medical care to a nearly 90 year old, I’m not sure that I could maintain the cheery disposition and professional demeanour that is on display at Windermere at all times given the challenges of caring for seniors of widely varying needs. 

I would ask that our elected official, health care administrators and management continue to find ways to improve our medical system — but I also ask that we appreciate those unsung heros in our hospitals, clinics and care facilities.

To all of you, Bert says thanks!

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Charlotte Phillips

The Price of Vegas – by Charlotte Phillips

No matter how many times I visit Las Vegas, it always plays out the same way.

At first, I am excited and enthusiastic as the plane lifts off from rainy Vancouver and heads due south to the hot, palm tree environs of Sin City. I usually consider a cocktail as my self-control slips the surly bonds of real life on earth, but the good angel on my shoulder pokes me in the conscience a few times and I opt for tea or maybe a Canada Dry Ginger Ale and feel good about myself. Also, as it is not quite noon, I think about pacing myself.

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Jody Vance

“Old Fashionable” – by Jody Vance

Yesterday, at a family bbq, my sister in-law inadvertently coined a new phrase.  Chatting with my 79 year old mother (who was calling herself “old” and “old-fashioned”, of which she neither) my sister said: “you are old fashionABLE.”

We all loved that newly coined phrase.

Question: Why can’t we be fabulous at any age?  Answer: We can.

My mom is fashionable to the nth degree.  She’s always been independent and smart, driven and kind, sensitive and strong; beautiful.  She’s a fashionista on the inside, and out.  At almost 80 she’s cooler than most will ever be, yet is incredibly self deprecating.  She is a strong woman who will, often, say what no one else has the guts to say — she is the queen of nice, with a big dose of crassness.

While spring cleaning yesterday, I came across this photo of her from 1975.  That was the year that the hard working, single mom of two, scraped together enough money to take her kids to her homeland of Yugoslavia:

Later yesterday, here she is at the Everett Family Lamb Roast:

My mom has sparkle, she loves a sparkle. She is beautiful.  She is Old Fashionable, and one day I hope to be as old and fashionable as she is.

Sure, much to the chagrin of my Dad, she shops for things that she will never wear.  Sure, she wears things that no one really understands (the moon stones from her mom, the gecko pin I gave her in 1985, the gold Tiffany ‘bean’ necklace I talked my Dad into buying her one year for her birthday.)

As I look across the table to my mom, with all of the above, a fedora with designer knock off sunnies propped on them, the leopard print cardigan, the rings that tell a life story……I see myself.  I love that my mom dresses for herself.  She dresses for her history and for her soul.

She is Old Fashionable.

This post is about us all, men and women, taking a moment to consider our age and then ponder becoming Old Fashionable.  Own it.  Live it.  Devour it.  Like my Mom.

Perfectly imperfect.  Loveable and beautiful always.


** Update from Dad: “One error, her sun glasses are not knock offs, they are originals Now, I do have a problem getting her to wear them over her many knock offs ……………Why, only she knows.”

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Claire Martin

Campaigning: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly – By Claire Martin

As many of you know, I ran as the Green Party of Canada candidate for North Vancouver in the last federal election. It was an incredible experience. I learned so much about our country, politics, the process of election campaigning and where my strengths could lie if I was elected.

I wanted to be the second no-bullshit MP in Canada – with (in my opinion) Elizabeth May being the first.

The promise I made to myself, to my campaign and most importantly to my constituents was that I would always be straightforward, hard working and honest. And that hasn’t changed.

So as a defeated-but-not-down former federal potential MP, I’d to like to pen this note to the morons out there that think defacing campaign material FOR ANY PARTY is an ok form of protest.


IT IS 100% NOT OK.

Campaigning is a very humbling yet rewarding way of reaching out to as many people as possible and asking “how’s your government working for you?” The answers are incredibly enlightening – and if you’re wise enough to really listen to folks – you get a true litmus on the state and soul of the community. You get to chat with everyday people on doorsteps, in shopping malls, heading home from work and on holiday. It is honestly a massive learning experience.

The most rewarding aspect is hearing from people who then say “You’ve got my vote, how can I show my support?”. The answer – during the writ period only – is “I’ll give you a sign for your lawn, or your window, or your balcony”.

It’s a visible, non-confrontational show of support.

Now, it’s not for everyone. Politics can a be a tricky subject in some households – and some chose to keep their choice private. And that too – is fine.

But when someone decides to put up a sign, that action should be respected.

Several candidates in North Vancouver have recently fallen foul to idiots out there that think defacing a sign is akin to saying “I don’t support you”, or “I don’t support this election” or whatever.

You know what – IT ISN’T.

As Jody Vance, Sarah Daniels and many of us ex-TV types will tell you – voting (and by that, I mean changing the establishment) comes by simply changing the channel. Nothing hurts a TV station/network more than falling audience numbers. And it is exactly the same in politics. Defacing a sign does little more than garner mediocre, momentary attention. Then it’s back to getting people to vote.

If you’re pissed off with the established political party in power, vote against it.

Change the channel. Don’t scrawl on the TV screen.

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Jody Vance

Bill O’Reilly – by Jody Vance


Getty Images: CBS Archive Photo

Anyone else missing David Letterman?  It’s hard to put into words how much I do.  He was my “must watch” daily.

You might assume that my motivation to write about my “Letterman Withdrawal” is Trump related, it’s not — as much as I’d love Dave to be going “no holds barred” on his nightly monologue about POTUS — today I’m missing Letterman because I’d love him to weigh in on Bill O’Reilly.

The O’Reilly Factor here (pun intended) is that the FOX News Host had been accused, by five women, of sexual harassment and – between himself personally and FOX News owner Rupert Murdoch – had paid out a reported $13m dollars in settlements.

O’Reilly kept his job.


When the story of these payouts were leaked, public outrage was significant. One woman, Wendy Walsh, a psychologist by trade and regular contributor on The O’Reilly Factor, accused the host of backtracking on a job offer after she declined to join him in his hotel suite after a dinner in 2013.

O’Reilly has denied all allegations, even while acknowledging millions in personal payouts, in the name of “protecting his family” from a media circus.  With 4 million nightly viewers, a ratings juggernaut, he didn’t blink.

O’Reilly kept his job.


Bill O’Reilly is known for his viewership of right-wing Americans who watch religiously and often believe everything he says as The Gospel.  If you’ve ever watched The O’Reilly Factor, you know that it’s anything but steeped in truth.  It’s a ratings beast and therefore a magnet for advertising money.

Enter the all-powerful advertising dollars.  A couple of weeks ago advertisers started to pull their sponsorship and spots from his show: Mercedes, BMW, Hyundai — Caldwell Banker, GlaxoSmithKline, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Bayer, and on and on.  To date more than 50 have bailed, good for them.  Proof that there is power in the ad dollar, clearly more power than a group of women accusing a famous “News” man of sexual harassment.

Early today we woke up to “several reports”, in The New York Times and from The BBC (among others), saying that “high level meetings were taking place today to plan his exit”.

O’Reilly’s lawyer, Marc Kasowitz has gone on record saying that this was all being driven by “far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons”.

According to the BBC, 21st Century Fox (Fox News Parent Company) owner, Rupert Murdoch was “in favour of keeping Mr. O’Reilly in his post, while his son – James Murdoch who is the CEO of 21st CF wanted him gone.

Now the news has come down that he’s been forced out, fired.

Just released statement from 21st Century Fox:

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”

This isn’t the first scandal to hit FOX News, the top guy – Roger Ailes – was recently sacked due to his own scandal of the sexual harassment kind.  The man who built the Fox News conservative television empire lost his job.  How is it that Bill O’Reilly kept his for so long?

This is what’s really at issue.

David Letterman is by no means an angel (we all saw his mea culpa about the affair with the intern) but how he addressed his own indiscretions would certainly have given him carte blanche to throw down the facts, and hold O’Reilly’s feet to the fire.

Boy-oh-boy would I love to see Bill sit with Dave tonight.   Damn … I truly do have Letterman Withdrawl.

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Doug Murray

No Fixed Address – by Doug Murray

When I first read ‘The Four-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, I was surprised to find much of the content strangely familiar. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a terrific book, and I highly recommend it. It gives you a completely different perspective on what your life can be, if you choose.

As I leafed through its pages, I discovered that I was already doing much of what Tim recommends. That is, living a different kind of life. One with more freedom and less work.

Let’s rewind.

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