Grouse Grind for Alzheimer’s

Mark Lamont
Mark Lamont

This past Sunday my friend Mark Lamont of Burnaby participated in a team climb of the Grouse Grind to raise funds for Alzheimer’s research and services. On the same day a group of climbers assembled at Base Camp on the 5,895 metre high Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to mount an assent, also to raise Alzheimer’s research funds.

Except in winter months, Mark has been training on the 2.9 kilometre Grind every second day. Over the past 3 years he has done more than 200 climbs and has taken part in the Alzheimer’s Climb each year.  At age 52, he is physically fit, without an ounce of flab. In one climb he was surprised by an unanticipated blizzard. He’s extraordinarily determined and it didn’t stop him. For the Sunday Grind, participants were divided into teams of 7. Each team’s combined climbs amounted to approximately the same elevation as Mt. Kilimanjaro. With a time of 38 min.1 sec., Mark recorded the fastest climb this Sunday.

“I began doing it when I learned that a person very close to me was showing symptoms of Alzheimer’s,” he said. “I want to do something to help find a cure. If we do nothing, the situation will not get better.”

According to a brochure I picked up at the Alzheimer Society, Alzheimer’s is the most common of a large group of disorders known as dementias. It is an irreversible disease of the brain in which the progressive degeneration of brain cells causes thinking ability and memory to deteriorate. Currently about 70,000 British Columbians are suffering from some form of dementia.

Most of us know at least one person with the illness. We’ve seen victims held in its vice-like talons, being drawn relentlessly into a puzzling maze where there exist chaos and sometimes sheer mayhem. Like a heartless vampire, it sucks the life from loving relationships.

Not long ago, my friend Henry experienced the devastating impact Alzheimer’s can have on a relationship. On a cold winter day he walked into his wife’s room in an Alzheimer’s unit of an extended care facility. The puzzled expression on her face told him immediately she was confused by his presence. “Who are you?” she asked. He explained he was her husband and they had been married 42 years. “No,” she said emphatically, “you are not my husband.” Pointing at a photo of a young army officer on her dresser, she said, “that is my husband.” The disease had placed a veil between her and reality. He could not help her understand he was the young man in the photo taken 41 years ago.

For me a line in one of the pamphlets was personally disquieting. “In a population in which one parent has Alzheimer’s,” it said, “5 of every 100 individuals can expect an Alzheimer’s diagnosis by about age 65.” I find this troubling because my mother was given a dementia diagnosis in the last year of her life. Does this mean one day I might be one of those five?

To this time the complexity of the brain has prevented major breakthroughs. Research has however produced several medications that can help with symptoms such as declining memory, language, thinking ability and motor skills. The Alzheimer Society says earlier diagnosis can mean treatments are started in the early stages.

The Society recommends a healthy lifestyle to help the brain maintain connections and even develop new ones. Challenging the brain and keeping it active is important. “Try something new,” the Society suggests, “and change routines. Take up a new interest such as learning a language or playing an instrument. Be socially and physically active.” The Society stresses the importance of protecting the head by wearing a helmet in contact sports and other activities.

Mark  Lamont on Grouse Grind
Mark Lamont on Grouse Grind

Mark told me funds raised through the MKGG (Mt. Kilimanjaro Grouse Grind) will help ensure that people whose lives have been impacted by any of the dementias can connect to a province-wide network of support services and education programs.
Anyone desiring further information can go to To support Mark in raising funds, go to and click on “donate”. This will take you to the “Search for a Participant” page. Type in Mark Lamont and follow instructions.

For me a donation is a welcome way of making a positive difference without exposing my human frailty on the remorseless Grouse Grind.


Fruit Stands and Autumn Colours

Peach King Orchards Fruit Stand
Peach King Orchards Fruit Stand

Stopping at the fruit stands in Keremeos, or even driving by them, is an awesome way to experience the colours of autumn. Today Linda and I enjoyed the array of pumpkins, squash, apples, pears, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, grapes, plums and much more. People are arriving from many parts of the province. Our friends Terry and Lis come from the Fraser Valley every year to pick up fruit which they buy directly from an orchard.

Parsons Fruit Stand
Parsons Fruit Stand

I was particularly intrigued at the Parsons Fruit Stand because there is an assortment of ancient tractors on the property. Those old machines speak of a time when technology was in its early stages and life was simpler. Also harder in many ways. Certainly the drivers of those tractors needed to be physically robust to operate them and repair them. For me, this combination of fruit, vegetables and vintage machines brings a sense of joy I don’t get from gazing at my friend’s new red Corvette convertible.

Parsons Fruit Stand has been in Keremeos over 100 years.
Parsons Fruit Stand has been in Keremeos over 100 years.

Alex Atamanenko on Life and Politics



I share retiring MP Alex Atamanenko’s sense of disquiet at the state of governance in Canada. He believes an NDP government can save our nation from further undermining of our democracy at the highest level. At this time I’m not convinced any of the leaders have the will, integrity and wisdom required to bring about the change we need. I do respect Alex’s views though and if his party wins, I hope I will be proved wrong.

During an hour long conversation last week, Alex spoke candidly about his life and experience as an Opposition MP. He has an understanding of the turmoil that can overtake a nation. “My father was Ukrainian and my mother Russian,” he said at the outset. “My grandfather was executed by thugs released from prison by the Bolsheviks. My father was an officer in the Imperial Army, fighting against the Bolsheviks.”

Alex was born in New Westminster. He obtained a BA in physical education, a teaching diploma and an MA in Russian. He has taught Russian, French and English in Canada and America. His community involvement has included the Boys Club of Vancouver and instructing at the Castlegar Karate Club.

Concerning his entrance into politics he said, “I had become disenchanted with the Liberal government. Over dinner in a Medicine Hat restaurant on a trip across the prairies in 2003, I told my wife Ann I was thinking of running as a federal NDP candidate. She told me I was crazy, but she’d support me.” In the 2004 election he was narrowly defeated. “I just continued campaigning,” he said. “In 2006 I ran again and won.”

Initially, when Parliament was in session, Ann accompanied him on his pretty much weekly pilgrimages between the riding and Ottawa. His schedule permitted too little time together though. “It’s the most intense job I’ve ever had,” he said.

As NDP Agriculture Critic he met with farmers and farm associations. In his constituency he and his staff helped with a variety of individual issues such as obtaining a passport or dealing with a taxation matter. “As a final resort I’d write a letter to the minister and deliver it personally.” They were always very receptive. In Ottawa he participated in creating and examining legislation.

When possible, he collaborated with members of other parties, dealing with issues of concern to his constituents. “If I was touring in another member’s riding, I always sent advance notification. In many ways, our system of government is working. Our riding is receiving grants, even though it is represented by a party not in power.”

In spite of positives he is troubled by “an increasingly partisan and bitter tone in Parliament.” The NDP and Liberals suggested more than 20 amendments to strengthen the Food Safety Bill, he recalls. “The government rejected all of them.”

Alex found the corporate forces contending for free trade to be extremely powerful. During 9 years as an MP he proposed a number of bills, some designed to protect the health of Canadians. Only one made it to committee stage. “In one instance I suggested an economic impact study to determine if farmers would lose money if further GMO products were introduced. A representative from the biotech industry told me they didn’t want my bill to come before the House.” Some fifty lobbyists descended on the MP’s, pressuring them to vote against the bill. Initially the Liberals supported the bill but due to the intense lobbying, when it came to the committee level they sided with the government to defeat it.

In another agriculture related issue, he considers it a victory that by employing a seldom used maneuver, he was able to protect the Canadian Grain Commission from being dismantled for almost a year.

He believes proportional representation would eliminate many current abuses of power. Also, he would like schools to invite politicians to meet with students so they will become educated participants in our democracy.

In spite of concerns, in his final address to Parliament he said, “the privilege of serving as an MP has undoubtedly been the most enriching and rewarding experience of my life.”

It is my belief that Alex Atamanenko, like early party leaders J.S. Woodsworth and Stanley Knowles, is a man of integrity, without guile. A Canadian statesman.

Mountie Barry Kennedy on Policing and Life


Sitting at our kitchen table last week, I asked Sergeant Barry Kennedy if he has ever needed to draw his gun in a dangerous situation. “Yes,” he said, “I had been a Mountie only 6 months the first time. I was trying to handcuff a guy. He pulled a knife and slashed at me. Fortunately the knife caught only my clothes. He settled down when I pulled the gun.”

He already wanted to be a police officer at age 10. Unlike most of us, he never let go of his boyhood dream. “My parents were very clear about right and wrong,” he said. “That influenced me.”

“I was only 140 pounds when I entered the RCMP training depot in Regina,” he remembers. “Most recruits come out lighter than when they went in. I weighed 160.” He now sports the sturdy frame of a stevedore at the Vancouver docks and seems at ease in his role of Detachment Commander in Princeton.

He welcomes change and has enjoyed a varied career in policing. In North Vancouver he was police liaison officer for 8 schools. “At first the students didn’t want to talk to me,” he said smiling. “By the end of the year they were saving a seat for me in the cafeteria at lunch time. In the malls they’d come up to me to chat.”

Sergeant Kennedy enjoys horses and for 8 successive years he applied for a position in the RCMP Musical Ride. Only 12 officers are chosen each year and there are usually about 400 applications. Finally he was selected and he loved it.

“We were away a lot from May to November. I participated in events in Switzerland, England, the U.S. and Canada. It was an opportunity to meet people from a variety of cultures and ethnic backgrounds. We found a common ground with them.”

I asked what role cannabis and other drugs play in policing. “A lot of crime is associated with marijuana,” he replied. “Bullying and theft are a couple of examples. People not involved don’t face the same issues.” In regard to the drug house in Hedley which people are unhappy about he said, “to get a search warrant, we need to show the court there is repeated use of a drug. High traffic flow would be of interest to us.” He welcomes information supplied by the community. The Mounties have a Regional Unit that comes out on request, when it has time, to assist with difficult situations.

Although he says, “I’ve always wanted to get the bad guys,” there is a decided community emphasis in his thinking and actions. He has a longstanding interest in hockey and has played goalie at the major junior level. He refs Princeton Posse games and instructs in the rules.

“I encourage officers to participate in the life of local communities,” he said. He cited the example of Corporal Chad Parsons being in the colour guard at a 100 year anniversary event in Hedley recently. “Community involvement and service is the legacy I want us to leave,” he said.

When I asked what has surprised him in policing, he answered, “I’m surprised at the way the media blame the RCMP for everything.” On a more positive note he said, “there is a lot of good that happens. Not everyone agrees with everything we do, but I get meaning from doing what is right for most people.”

The message he likes to give is “this is your community. It will become whatever you allow. Parties on your street every night, fights, drugs, etc. If you see something that seems suspicious or wrong, call us.”

The Princeton Detachment has only 7 officers to police an enormous geographic area that ranges from Nickel Plate Rd. east of Hedley to Manning Park. For a Mountie on patrol in an isolated area it can be especially dangerous. On one such occasion in 2013, Sergeant Kennedy pulled over a vehicle and the driver exited brandishing a rifle. “If he had pointed it at me, I’d have had to shoot,” he said. For his wife and 4 children such incidents must be unnerving.

The next time we are annoyed at seeing those flashing lights appear unexpectedly behind us, we could remind ourselves that the Mountie in that cruiser has probably faced life threatening situations while protecting us.

Harper Song at NDP Gathering


Supporters of Angelique Wood, NDP candidate for Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola, gathered last week in the back yard of Bob and Marilyn Bergen in rural Cawston. Wood announced that party headquarters has noticed the local campaign is neck and neck with the Conservative candidate, who most election observers had expected to win.

“When Head Office decides a riding is in the game in a serious way,” she said, “they start paying attention to you. They have decided to send Bryan McIver, an experienced campaign manager to work closely with us. Things have been amped up a notch. We’re in the game in a whole new way.” A disciplined, hard working campaigner, she is heartened by this show of confidence.

Wood also told her supporters she and her team would shortly open a campaign headquarters at 1820 Byland Avenue in West Kelowna.

She and her team, and apparently many in the NDP, have enthusiastically embraced “The Harper Song.” After a meal of chili, bread and desserts, the gathering ended with an exuberant rendition. It was a crowd pleaser. Among the singers were Angelique Wood, retiring MP Alex Atamanenko, and Dr. Gerald Partridge, retired long time Keremeos physician.

The race in Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola certainly promises to be one worth watching. It may not be decided until the last ballot is counted on election night.

Pow Wow A Pageantry Of Colour


As Linda and I parked across the street from the Ashnola Campground on Saturday, we could hear the distinct, steady boom of a large drum. Somewhat akin to the toll of a village church bell summoning the faithful, the drum was announcing that afternoon’s session of the Lower Similkameen Indian Band Pow Wow. At the entrance to the circle of bleachers, we saw dancers in elaborate, colourful regalia assembling for the Grand Entry into the performance arena. We were about to experience the Similkameen Pow Wow of Champions.

In a phone conversation several days earlier, one of the organizers, Wendy Terbasket had told me a Pow Wow is “a social and contest event. There are competitions in singing, dancing and drumming. The dancing is about prayer,” she said. “While dancing you think about people who can’t.”

Smiling Fawn Sound Woman, a mother & grandmother, who said "The Pow Wow is a way of teaching the children our traditions."
Smiling Fawn Sound Woman, a mother & grandmother, who said “The Pow Wow is a way of teaching the children our traditions.”

We would also learn it is about family and culture. Some of the dancers were barely past the learning to walk stage. Young parents and grand parents were making an effort to keep the children involved.

Leon Crane Bear
Leon Crane Bear

Noticing a man in an especially intricate regalia, I asked if I could take his photo. He agreed readily and told us he is a Blackfoot (Siksika) from Alberta. His name is Leon Crane Bear and he has an M.A. in Native American Studies.

The ceremony began with a brief talk and prayer by an Elder. She prayed earnestly for her people, especially youth who have gone astray. “We must love them and give them a hug,” she said. She also prayed for people with cancer and other illnesses, and those who have passed on. I sensed her deep desire to see the values and culture of her people transmitted to the next generation.


The dancers, a wonderful splash of colour, now proceeded with great dignity onto the grass floor of the arena. Here their pent up excitement and energy was released in eye pleasing dances, accompanied by drumming and singing. There were too many to count, children, youth, adults and some elderly individuals. It was an impressive moment of joy and exhilaration for dancers and audience.

Moonlite and the other princesses were introduced as "The Royalty"
Moonlite and the other princesses were introduced as “The Royalty”

I wandered away several times from the arena to speak with individual dancers waiting to perform. Moonlite was one of the princesses honoured by the MC. Some of her brief address to the audience had been in the Okanagan language. She permitted me to take several photos and said her ambition is to become a psychologist.

I also spoke with Tyler Jensen. His outfit had cost him about $1800 but still needs beadwork, which will be costly. Many dancers do some or all the work themselves. I gathered that being a dancer involves commitment of time, energy and funds.

Kirshon Terbasket
Kirshon Terbasket

For Wendy and Lauren Terbasket, the initiation of their 7 year old nephew Kirshon into the Pow Wow gave special significance to the event. The initiation included several dances in which he was central. Steven Point, a provincial judge and former Lieutenant Governor of B.C., was present to witness the ceremony. Laurence Trottier, a respected dancer, singer, and friend of the family spoke in Kirshon’s honour. For the Terbasket family it was a memorable occasion.


In a conversation with Lauren I came to a greater understanding of the Pow Wow. “Our committee spends the whole year planning,” she said. “We get a lot of help from the community.” She especially appreciates the assistance given by Darlene Choo of Bright Light Pictures and also Gorman Brothers.


“The singing and dancing heal the participants and the onlookers,” she believes. “It’s a celebration dance and it draws families together. We want children to participate at a young age. We give them each $5.00 for dancing. Pow Wows help keep the culture alive. We don’t allow any drugs or alcohol.”


Lauren paused for a moment to consider, then said “the drum beat is the heart beat of the people. Watching the dancers makes you feel good. It lifts up the spirit and heart. The Pow Wow is our way of giving to the people. Blessing comes when we give.”

When we left, I was impressed with the organization and efficiency of the Pow Wow. Equally important is the emphasis on teaching values and culture, giving young people a sense of pride in their heritage, and striving to keep families intact. As we drove away, the big drum was still booming.

Awed By Classic Rolls Royce


This elegant classic Rolls Royce was parked at the Hitching Post Restaurant in Hedley a couple of weeks ago. The restaurant has a solid reputation for sumptuous dining well beyond Hedley and I frequently see expensive cars there during the dinner hour. Apparently people with means consider it worth a lengthy drive, or plan to stop here when they are travelling to other destinations. Certainly the high priced vehicles I regularly see here are not owned by local people.

When I spotted this Rolls, I hurried home to fetch the camera. Probably I should have gone into the restaurant and found the owner so I could learn more about it. I considered it but don’t like to disturb people at their meal. It might have been a special anniversary for them.


For me the car exudes character. It doesn’t have lines similar to virtually every other car on the road. When we see a car like this, we don’t need to look for the name of it’s maker. It is truly distinctive.

Linda went online in an attempt to find out when it was made but we’re not certain of this. What she did find is that there are a number of very impressive models.

I realize now I should have looked for the owners. Was it an elderly couple marking a special occasion? They might have been as interesting as the fabulous car they drive.