Posts Tagged ‘life’

Puppies and Toddlers

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Puppies-Dunbar-LifeMany Dunbar families have dogs, which means most of those have had the Puppy Experience. Our now four month old puppy reminds me daily of how remarkably similar the experience of having a puppy is to the Toddler Experience. Sorry kids.

Both toddlers and puppies involve a general disruption of routine and constantly require surveillance and intervention. When puppy finally exhausts herself and konks out on the floor, we scurry about, having showers or putting things away while puppy sleeps. Try bringing in groceries or sweeping the floor or emptying the dishwasher with a puppy or a toddler ‘helping you.’ The ordinary can become a personal challenge: the other day I got crazy and decided to sneak the door mats back to their usual positions at the front and back doors. After 24 hours of their remaining in place I thought I had clinched a victory, until I entered the room to see our puppy whipping the mat in circles above her head like a cowboy swinging a lasso. The mats were collected once again.

Both puppies and toddlers regularly walk off with car keys and mail and shoes if not secured away. All possessions are at risk. A toddler in our family once hid a turned off pager inside a bread-maker, an extremely clever move given the frequency of that appliance’s use. Our counters and tables are strewn with a bizarre collection of random items retrieved from the puppy. Last month I was driving off almost late for a meeting when, with a sinking feeling, I noticed in my rear view mirror a Fed Ex truck pulling up to our house. Imagining perfectly the Christmas on-line shopping delivery scenario, I looped around and returned home again to find our puppy in the front hall, pleased to have her very own hand-delivered personal chew toy package in her mouth. Rescuing the home delivered “toy” and replacing it with an approved dog toy, pretty much identical to a baby toy, all ensured that I was definitely late for my meeting.

Toddlers and puppies both cause an inordinate amount of energy and conversation to be focussed on bodily functions. Those not involved in this world are surprisingly less enthusiastic about tales of successful potty use or, in the case of dogs, back yard visits. For proud participants in this endeavour, detailed reports provided at work or at dinner parties never quite bring about the thrilled response we are looking for.

Both puppies and toddlers provide constant reminders of the wonders of the world around us. We are amazed by a toddler crouched in that full-squat position young children rest in, staring intently at a beetle on the ground, tapping it gently with a tiny index finger. On a recent walk our puppy caught sight of someone vaping at a bus stop. She pulled over, sat directly in front of him and stared at the vision before her, glancing at me a few times to check whether this situation was alarming or not.

Nobody can deny that both are beyond adorable when asleep. How many times a parent finally has a toddler asleep on their chest, and, rather than carrying the child to bed, lingers there with the delicious weight and warmth of this small person upon them. Or having a puppy literally curled up upon one’s feet and not getting up, though needing to, for the sheer delight of the moment. We linger because the moment is beautiful and because we know all too well that the whirling dervish will soon return.

September Shoes

Monday, October 17th, 2016

When I think of September I think of shoe shopping. Of course, I also think of melancholy goodbyes, rustling colourful leaves and cool sunny afternoons but certainly of shoe shopping.

I guess that is because for years, almost two decades now, I have taken small feet, and then larger feet, in worn out flip-flops curled up at the ends or tattered sneakers with toes poking through holes, off to the store to buy school shoes in early September. The new shoes had to be comfortable and sturdy, with velcro and later real laces ready to take those feet back and forth to school, to run around at recess playtime, ready for rainy days and the busyness of school life.

The kids would try on shoes as if that were a sport itself, jumping up and down in them, walking on their heels and, my favourite, sprinting back and forth in the store “to see if they are fast.”

Once children are older and reach the teenage years, shoe-shopping is not so much reserved for “back to school” in September … because you just went in June, and then again back in February. This is one time that shoes don’t really wear out: they never get the chance. Having adult size 12s lying about is like having a few sets of trick skiis stacked by your front door. Even then your child with those big feet might make eye contact with you while putting them on one morning and say “You are really going to hate hearing this but…” And off to the shoe store again.

At this age, “new shoes” can involve all or some combination of school shoes, PE runners, basketball shoes, soccer cleats, kick-abouts, maybe even slippers. Forget about winter boots or dress shoes: those will have to wait for the growing to stop or be borrowed when needed.

For adults, new shoes purchased in September often hold a certain fresh promise too. New runners speak of a refreshed beginning to a regular workout fitness plan or to a beloved sport. Sometimes new shoes are purpose-specific: hiking boots in preparation for a long-awaited hiking trip, court shoes for taking up squash or walking shoes for travelling abroad. And nothing jazzes up the look of any outfit like new shoes, the “dress for success” piece that sparks up a work wardrobe.

September feels like new beginnings, for students of all ages starting a new year and for adults moving past the lazier days of summer back to the structures of work and routine. In some ways new shoes purchased in the fall represent a sampler of things to come over the next months or year: days in a child’s life, outings for an adult’s fitness or recreation, work days that hold many plans.

Maybe you don’t need new shoes this September. But if you do, have fun choosing your “sampler” of things to come. Happy autumn.

Sue Dvorak is a physiotherapist, mother of 6 children and lives in Dunbar with her husband Marcel. She has been a regular writer for Dunbar Life magazine since 2011.

Martin Brothers Funeral Services

Friday, December 4th, 2015

Martin_Brothers_Funeral_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_extThere When You Need Them

Death is a difficult topic for many of us to broach. When your family is faced with a loss, the caring and compassionate professionals at Martin Brothers Funeral Services are there to help get you through one of life’s most challenging times.

Martin Brothers is a well-established funeral provider although it is relatively new to Vancouver. The company dates back to 1907 when Benjamin Martin founded the company in Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1922 he and his brother Harry purchased the T.S. Fetterly firm, which then became Martin Brothers.

In 1961 Ben’s sons Derek and Dale Martin purchased the funeral home from their father and uncle. Dale Martin Sr.’s son, Dale Martin Jr., resides as President and CEO of Martin Brothers.

Director of Operations, Valerie Martell indicates this is not a traditional funeral home; there is no chapel on site as there are so many churches and other venues to choose from in the community.

Martell explains, “We did not want to pigeon hole ourselves by having a chapel internally, instead we go to our client’s church or other venue and bring the service to them.”

Located inside an attractive, modern glass fronted corner location at Dunbar Street and West 18th Avenue, Martin Brothers opened in August 2013. “Martin Brothers has been well accepted and people are pleasantly surprised when they walk through the door,” Martell says. The staff throws open the glass doors as often as possible to remove the mystery of funeral services. Martin Brothers staff is pleased by how welcoming the community has been.

How did a Lethbridge based funeral provider open a location on Dunbar Street? Dale Martin Jr. was educated on Vancouver Island and his family spent much of their time in Vancouver.

He was aware a funeral provider was not serving Dunbar and expanding to Vancouver was a natural fit for his family business. They were convinced Martin Brothers’ services would be of value to Dunbar’s established, multi-generational population.

Martin_Brothers_Funeral_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_Valerie_MartellMartell has been with Martin Brothers for eight years. Three years ago she came from Lethbridge to launch the Dunbar location. Vancouver is now her home, although she returns to her native Alberta as often as possible.

She meets all of the families who pay Martin Brothers a visit and she is also an embalmer. One doesn’t often meet a funeral director and questions inevitably arise in social situations. She is happy to shatter stereotypes and educate people about the importance of this job. She says there are not enough people going into this profession yet it is an essential service and she encourages people to explore it.

When Martell was a preschooler her aunt died and she recalls caring deeply. At the viewing she wanted to adjust the sleeve on her aunt’s dress to make her look perfect. With this innate attention for fine details and no fear of death, she knew she wanted to be a funeral professional but it was unheard of for a woman to consider this career option. She came to the job later in life as a second career after going back to funeral service school for two years.

Interestingly, career aptitude tests indicated she was best suited for a career as a funeral director or a comedian (even though she says she isn’t funny, she really is).

A death can leave family members shocked and reeling. This is where Martin Brothers staff is at their best. As professionals they step in and plan a full service. They have the connections to pull it all together – from arranging an emcee and musicians to catering and flower arrangements, all of the details are left in their capable hands so that you and your family are able to pause and reflect on the person you lost. They know the value of this.

Martin Brothers discovers what is important to the family and works with their style and budget. They can help determine if you would like a public reception and a second reception at home.

Pre-planning a funeral is always an option and it makes it easier when a loved one’s wishes are set down in advance. Some people even choose to prepay and the payment is held in an insurance policy. The amount is guaranteed at today’s rate, so even if a death occurs many years from now the price is fixed.

Unique to this funeral provider is the opportunity to book a ceremony at sea to scatter ashes from Martin Brothers privately owned 70-foot yacht, the Pacific Ceremony. They will take friends and family out to English Bay where your loved one’s ashes will be gently scattered. The GPS location will be marked so if you ever visit that spot again you will know where your loved one was put to rest.

Martin_Brothers_Funeral_Dunbar_Life_Palla_Media_urnWatch the beautiful ceremony at sea video on Martin Brothers website. It is extremely moving to witness passengers simultaneously release white balloons from the back of the yacht (and a little hard not to shed a tear). It is those moments of beauty that will be remembered in years to come.

What is most fulfilling about her line of work? Martel says, “I am amazed at the number of gracious people I encounter in my profession.” It warms her heart that people share their gratitude when that they should be devoting their energy to care for themselves. She remarks, “I see the goodness in people and it surprises me every day.”

Martin Brothers is dedicated to making things easier for people by providing comfort in death by being honest, authentic and approachable. At the end of the day these trained funeral professionals are able to take the worry out of a family’s hands and offer a beautiful and meaningful service so you can celebrate a life well lived.

Martin Brothers Funeral Services
3398 Dunbar Street
Vancouver BC V6S 2C1
Telephone 778-330-7799

Life Lessons From a Horse

Monday, June 15th, 2015

web_Ailsa_Hemming_Dunbar_LifeIt turns out winning a prize at a country fair can change your life.

Ailsa Hemming (15) won a gift certificate for a pair of riding boots and helmet at the Southlands Country Fair when she was seven years old. Once she had the equipment her parents and grandmother decided a couple of riding lessons were in order, and so began Hemming’s adoration of horses.

Highlander is the name of her majestic 11-year-old Palomino horse that lives at Southlands Heritage Farm. Her family free leases Highlander, which means although they do not own him, they pay for his boarding and food, they are in charge of the day to day decisions, and first and foremost, Hemming cares for him.

Hemming is devoted to Highlander. Every day after school and on weekends she visits the barn and mucks out his stall and feeds him.
She says, “Both of these jobs help cut back the cost of boarding him at the farm.” She also rides Highlander six days a week. “If I am unable for some reason to muck him out, feed and ride him, then it is my responsibility to find someone to cover me.”

Oh, if Highlander could talk, the stories he would tell. He led a chequered past before meeting Hemming. She reports, “Highlander was born wild in a herd looked over by hippies. He then somehow wound up in a drug addict’s basement and backyard along with another horse.”

That is when his current owner found him and bought both horses. Highlander lived in Southlands for a while. When the owner moved to Europe the horse moved to California for a couple of years. In March 2014 he returned to Southlands.

It was at this time Hemming was looking for a new horse to lease. Her coach, Hilary Leach, alerted her that she knew of the right match. Hemming ended up leasing Highlander twice a week until last September when she took him on full time. In addition, she works at the barn all summer unless she is away at a horse show.

Hemming describes Highlander’s personality as being stubborn and pushy. “We’ve been working really hard on teaching him about personal space. He’s broken my glasses by flinging his head in my face. However, for all his faults, he is incredibly sweet and loves his job.”

She goes on to say, “He can be super strong when you’re riding and jumping him, but he can tell if he has an inexperienced rider on him, and he is super calm and reliable then.” He also does some therapeutic riding lessons at the Southlands Therapeutic Riding Society (STaRS) during the day when Hemming is at school. She adds, “He’s perfect for this as he is so dependable on the roads and rarely spooks.”

In addition to the time she spends caring for Highlander, Hemming helps with birthday parties, camps and lessons at Southlands Heritage Farm. She also takes lessons there. She says, “It’s a really great atmosphere and all of the barn staff really go out of their way to make sure your horse is well cared for.”

web_Ailsa_Hemming_horse_Dunbar_LifeOver time Hemming’s riding involvement has increased. Highlander shows in the “jumpers,” which is judged on the speed of getting around a course without knocking down the jumps. She says, “Highlander absolutely loves it and is quite the little speed demon.” They compete at local show grounds including Maple Ridge Equi-Sport Centre and Thunderbird Show Park, as well as at Southlands Riding Club shows.

Her family has been incredibly supportive of Hemming’s passion. Two years ago her father became the district commissioner of the Vancouver Pony Club, and her mother runs the stable management section of the club. She mentions, “Since I got Highlander my mum has ridden him a couple of times in lessons and on a trail ride. My grandmother in New York is an enthusiastic supporter too.”

Riding has moved to the top of Hemming’s interest list. She confesses that dance and piano lessons moved to the sidelines when riding became more serious.

Last Thanksgiving Highlander became ill, only one month after their partnership commenced. Hemming describes the sit-uation as being very serious. “He wasn’t eating anything and would lie down and refuse to get up, and he had a fever.” Except for a quick dash home to eat Thanksgiving dinner she spent the entire weekend at the barn. The vet was called and with the help of antibiotics Highlander was soon well again.

The experience proved to be a crash course in “owning” a horse. It also demonstrated Hemming’s maturity, devotion and responsibility for Highlander who was finally receiving the love and care he had missed in his early years.

She concludes, “I definitely think that having Highlander has changed me. It has taught me what it is like to be completely responsible for something other than myself.”