Beyond the headlines

Cogitation #49, 2019 I read a newspaper, headlines first.

Then I go through the paper again to read the items that have caught my attention. Edited well, a newspaper, or magazine, lets you quickly find what’s of greatest interest to you, be that obituaries, letters, news of the day, weather, stock report, columnists, comics, weekend magazines, maybe even editorials and ads.

Three things caught my attention in the December 2 edition of THE GLOBE AND MAIL (Ontario Edition). I skimmed the paper on our way home from visiting family and friends. Marty drove, I played the role of navigator and kept my camera ready for pictures at 50-75 mph (75 is the speed limit on many parts of I 69 in Michigan).

During the seven-hour drive we stopped briefly for lunch and went out for dinner when we got home. We had good weather most of the time, with a few flurries now and then.

Sunday, roads too icy to drive, hostess Vivian soon had blueberry muffins a-baking, fresh coffee at the ready, we watching winter-like scenes appear on the garden window canvas. We talked, read, ate, listened to music, laughed, saw the world in slow motion, packed for home. In a future blog I’ll feature highlights of our week in Ontario with family and friends.

Stories from The Globe and Mail

Dementia-inclusive exercise. “Creating a dementia-inclusive exercise environment,” deals with how a national research team is working to make it easier for people with dementia to stay active, wrote Wency Leung, health reporter.

The research team is led by the University of Waterloo, with its focus on training fitness providers and personal trainers with skills to provide dementia-inclusive exercise.

One program involves debunking stereotypes about people with dementia. They, like others, benefit from appropriate exercise. The strategy involves using simple language and offering choices and support when clients struggle with attention or memory. Also, trainers need to be aware that loud music, bright lights and mirrors can be overwhelming for those with sensory issues.

What’s clear, is that in more and more places instructors are adapting workouts to suit varying cognitive abilities. One researcher, Jennifer Heisz, not involved in the UW-led initiative, from McMaster University in Hamilton, said her research shows it may be possible to prevent or slow the progression of dementia by staying physically active.

“Exercise appears to promote the growth of new cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory,” Leung quoted professor Heisz. While it’s too early to say whether exercise improves the cognitive abilities of people with dementia, it does boost their mood, alertness and sense of well-being.

Leung includes the story of Bill Heibein, 78, who owns and runs a horse-breeding farm. Heibein, she said, “believes strenuous daily physical activity is the reason he is still alive. Mr. Helbein was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2000, but his disease has not progressed as expected. Today, he drives and lives independently. He said he has too often seen people become sedentary after being diagnosed with dementia. ‘If there’s something you enjoy doing, even though you’ve been diagnosed, boy, you can go carry on and keep doing it as long as you possible can,’ he said.”

Pedestrian-friendly urban design. In an Opinion piece on architecture, Alex Bozikovic deals with, “The suburb of the future: Innisfil’s radical plan for a town built around transit, cycling and walking.”

Innisfil, Ontario, a city of 36,000, is aiming to add up to 150,000 residents while enhancing it’s small town character with an old/new urban plan.

Bozikovic said, “A hundred years ago, planners imagined a new kind of city: linked up to a big city by rail, but with strong connections to nature and its own diverse public life.”

The rural town of Innisfil, Ontario, is moving ahead with a plan toward a pedestrian-centered urbanism, connected to nature. The project, in a circular design, provides for many cut-throughs for pedestrians. The project could add 150,000 people to the community in a form that combines office, retail and residential in buildings up to 15 stories high. A new commuter rail station will connect the town to Barrie to the north and Toronto to the south.

“It’s radical, and Innisfil is looking for something radical,” Bozikovic wrote. “The town faces huge pressure to grow from its current 36,000 people, and municipal leaders intend to do that in a way that focuses on the knowledge economy, but keeps much of the town rural.”

I see other small cities embracing the same concept, connecting residents with larger centers via public transportation as well as creating livable pedestrian-friendly spaces in a downtown core of apartments, shops, restaurants, services and green space.

The city where I lived for 50 years. Elkhart, Indiana, is well underway in creating a downtown core of apartments, shops, restaurants, aquatic and recreational center, paths, bike-ways and green space. Goshen, the city where we now live, is doing the same.

Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, where I went to school, is creating a new urbanism with pedestrian-oriented communities and neighborhoods, rail links, spearheaded in part by classmates of mine from high school and university.

On with living, livelihood and mobility innovation for people-of-all-ages!

A Cats reboot.

A North American tour of a rebooted Cats is playing at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto through January 5. Reviewer Martin Morrow has not been a cat fancier, that is “before I had a preteen daughter whose fascination with felines knows no bounds.”

The two came away from the show with slightly mixed reviews. “I’m still perched on the fence when it comes to Cats,” Morrow said, “but it did gain one new convert. As we left, my daughter was fervently hoping her drama club would stage it as its next musical production.”

I am a Cats fancier from way back. Somewhere in storage there’s an audio tape (remember those?) that filled our home with the musical score many times over. Good to hear that the production has been tweaked for the better and that it’s anything but ageist.

Morrow: “Eliot, [T.S. Eliot, on whose lyrics the musical is based, along with additions by current writers Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber] alias Old Possum, loved his senior cats, and four get starring roles here–as well as Grizabella, there’s Old Deuteronomy . . . the tubby, tap-dancing tabby Jennyanydots . . . and doddering Gus . . . the theatre cat.” There are plenty of youngsters, too, leaping off the stage and stalking the aisles, Morrow added. He gave the show three stars.

The road home,Ontario

Canada geese flying in formation near St Marys, Ont. “Honk, honk, you’re not headed south.”
Crossing the Thames River on Highway 7, near St. Marys. There’s a trail along the river from St Marys to London we need to check out.

The road home, Michigan

Lake Huron, looking north from the Blue Water Bridge, Port Huron, Michigan.
Some snow squalls, but the weather was mostly clear all the way home.

On a street near home, Indiana

This family seems to exceed all previous years of display, no doubt planning and building the sets over a long period of time. I trust the family offers the display in the spirit of Charles Dickens, who said, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”


I’m told there’s a display of paintings by Maud Lewis (blog subject of two weeks ago) at the McMichael Gallery in Toronto, until January 5.

I’m going to read another article in The Globe and Mail. It’s a First Person feature by Kirsten Fogg who moved to Toronto from Australia. The title is: THE THRILLING EMBRACE OF WINTER.

Here’s Fogg’s take on it all: “Tobogganing, shoveling snow, relearning to ice skate and driving in winter conditions has been invigorating . . . There is an intrinsic excitement built into winter because I never know what’s going to happen next.”

Just keep the hot chocolate, or latte–and muffins–handy.



One thought on “Beyond the headlines

  1. Winter is here as your pictures attest. Glad your trip home wasn’t in a snow storm. Winter is not my favourite season but for some reason I haven’t minded walking Milou in it, slush and all. The sky is blue and the snow is white. I haven’t read the Globe and Mail in a long time so it was interesting to read your comments of those particular articles.


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