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Carla Furlong
Longevity

‘Not bad for an old shape’: Carla Furlong is ahead by a century

Now that she’s 101, Carla Furlong goes to bed early in her house in St. John’s, Newfoundland, where she lives with her stepson. This, for her, is around 11:00 PM. Until recently, she stayed up late doing crossword puzzles, playing solitaire, and reading historical novels. She never needed much sleep. If you ask Carla what she did on her latest birthday, in March of 2023, she replies that the phone rang off the hook. “I don’t think people think I’m going to last much longer,” she says with a laugh. Carla carved her own way as a musician and music teacher in an era when it was hard for a woman to sustain an independent career in any field, much less a creative one like music. Both parents encouraged her ambitions, but she knew it would not be an easy path. The evidence is everywhere: her living room contains a

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Featured

God save the Queen

When a Queen, stepping out of a limousine, glances up briefly, surreptitiously, to a rooftop, what does it mean? What is she looking for? Why is she concealing her glance? We all live in many worlds, none more so than heads of state whose public appearances are complex, carefully scripted public relations events. What we don’t see can be as important, or more so, than the speeches and soundbites. Danger is often part of the equation, but it is carefully stage managed. We expect the police escorts and military pomp, but what of the actual danger itself? And what is the toll it takes on these public figures we may idolize or vilify, depending? The Queen and Prince Philip visited Nova Scotia in August 1994. One morning they would perform a ceremony on the Dartmouth waterfront. Max Brennan, publisher of Silver magazine, and I were working at Atlantic Progress magazine

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Featured

Time Travel Part II: Take a sad song, and make it better

Look back 50 years to 1972. The Vietnam War had spread to Cambodia, the US was bombing the jungles with the toxic defoliant Agent Orange, the Cold War with the Soviet Union meant the world was under the constant threat of MAD (mutually assured destruction). It was the era of Watergate, student protests, black power, and the birth of the modern feminist movement. The first Earth Day was in 1970, with the iconic first image of the Earth from Space on the cover of The Whole Earth Catalogue. “1968” was a symbol of global change, and not just a year on the calendar. In the background, rock music building on the blues, which had come out of slavery and the work songs on the plantations. As Canadian Gordon Lightfoot sang, “Motor City’s burnin’,” his apartment in Toronto was the hangout for other genius songwriters like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

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Featured

Time Travel: Part I – The return of 1968

PRELUDE In 1968, the human societies of planet earth were getting closer together, but it was hard to see at the time. The Summer of Love in San Francisco played out against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, B-52s dropping napalm in the endless jungle, while rock music pounded away, electrified European instruments meeting the blues. Student protests around the globe. Race riots in the US. Republican Richard Nixon elected president. The Vietnam War and Watergate will later bring him down. In Czechoslovakia, the Prague Spring was followed by a crackdown by the USSR and its allies. The move backfired, weakened Communism, and ultimately led to the demise of the Soviet Union. The launch of hypertext prefigured the Internet. History meanders. Underground drugs like marijuana, LSD, speed, and cocaine were becoming mainstream. The pill emboldened feminism. The peace movement went global. The beat poets begat hippies, the Black Panthers, cops

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Featured

The lost art of knowing your neighbourhood

I was on the back deck and looked down and saw a woman who seemed to have appeared out of nowhere. She said she was out for a walk. I invited her up and we sat and chatted for a few minutes.  Her name is Diane. She told me she grew up as one of 19 children in a small community in Cape Breton, NS. It is known across the world for its beauty and varied culture . There is also a long history of hard times for those who lived off the land and the sea, and who worked deep underground in the mines or in the steel mills. One day when Diane was a girl her mother was sick, and her father asked her to make bread. She protested that she didn’t know how. He said, “go ask your mother.” It was a command, not a request. She’s

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Featured

Guide to surviving revolution and war: the life of Theodor Abrahamsen

My father’s family survived – barely — both the Russian Revolution and the Nazi occupation of Norway. This included potential execution, a Nazi concentration camp, lack of food, brutal winters, and the constant threat of disease. As Russian tanks stream into the Ukraine, the crazy-quilt pattern of history repeats. Politics aside, until recent decades epidemics of smallpox, H1N1 (including the Spanish flu of 1918), diphtheria, typhus, cholera, malaria and the like left a trail of devastation wherever they went. Improved personal hygiene and public health measures like sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics are also recent phenomena. Case in point: Theodor Abrahamsen, my Uncle Teddy. Even after his hundredth birthday, he lived alone, doing his daily exercises and solving the Rubik’s Cube. He took regular boat trips to the northern tip of Norway and returned once a year to his old school in England. A multi-sport varsity athlete in his youth, he

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Resonance

Wolves and wolverines: Life and death on the trail

For several days I couldn’t get in touch with my Aunt Carla in Newfoundland to wish her a happy birthday because she was never home. “I don’t know what the fuss is all about,” she said, when I finally got her a couple of days before her birthday. Carolyn Filliter and her Siberian husky Neshka before hitting the trails. PHOTO: DAVID HOLT “It’s because you will be 100 tomorrow,” I said. “Thank you,” David, she said. “God love.” And, yes, she had received the flowers and card arranged by my sister Linda in California and the cookies from my wife Donna and our friend Gladys in St. John’s. Then she was off on another Zoom call. Carla lived in England when World War II broke out. She is a student of history. She knows life can be unpredictable. Play the odds. She doesn’t have much patience for the anti-vaxers. On

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