MURAnews Spring 2021

President's Corner

Helen Barton

The Annual General meeting on June 23 will move MURA into a new year, with the election of new members to both the Executive and Council as one of the key pieces of business. We will meet virtually using Zoom because of the pandemic. Although we will all miss the personal social interaction of our traditional AGM luncheon meeting, Zoom will give retirees from coast to coast and around the world the opportunity to participate.

Brenda Vrkljan, Professor of Occupational Therapy in the School of Rehabilitation Science, will give a talk before the business meeting begins about her study of mobility and participation of older Hamiltonians during COVID-19.

Please see the meeting notice and registration instructions below.

Among the many interesting articles in this newsletter, you can read about the activities of some of your fellow retirees during the pandemic, the cohousing movement in Hamilton, getting involved in virtual volunteering, how music can improve your health, and the benefits Mac retirees qualify for through MURA’s membership in CURAC.

Retirees receiving this newsletter by postal mail are again receiving a shortened, eight-page version. This limit was set by MURA Council for budgetary reasons. Please let us know by email if you can switch to electronic delivery. You will be able to enjoy the full online content, while helping MURA cut expenses.

As we move toward a new MURA year, I am reminded of MURA’s ongoing challenges. High among these is keeping the interests and needs of retirees in the minds of university offices and officials. MURA’s 2019 survey of its members highlighted the fact that retirees are very interested and willing to participate in helping McMaster, whether by teaching, research, or public service. MURA’s challenge is to continuously promote the retiree population as a university asset, and to encourage the university to find ways to harness this untapped service capacity. We also must remain vigilant in support of ongoing services to retirees. Retirees are often forgotten by the university when service changes are planned, and communications written. MURA’s role is to keep retirees’ interests in the minds and hearts of university leadership at all levels.

MURA Council also remains aware of the organization’s need to remain meaningful, helpful, and relevant to all retirees as conditions of retirement from McMaster change. People who retire without a defined benefit pension or retiree health and dental benefits will have substantially different needs, and relationships with the university, from most current MURA members. It will be MURA’s challenge to find ways to support this broad range of retirees, and to help maintain retirees’ connections with each other and with the university community.

My best wishes to you all for health and happiness.

-    Helen

Helen Barton

Phone: 905-518-5339

News from MURA

Notice of Annual General Meeting

Date: Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 PM
Location: Zoom online

(Due to the restrictions of COVID-19)

MURA members may participate either online or by phone.

Registration is required by 8:00 pm Tuesday, June 22.

To participate online:

  • RSVP by email to, with the subject line “MURA AGM”
  • Please include your full name in the email
  • We will send you a link and password for the Zoom meeting via email on Tuesday, June 22.

To participate by phone:

  • Leave a voice message for MURA at 905-525-9140, extension 23171
  • We will contact you with a phone number and password for the Zoom meeting by Tuesday, June 22
  • Please note that the closest Zoom phone connection is a 647 (Toronto) area code, so you may incur long distance charges.

Please plan to attend. All participants will be entered into an attendance draw for a $25 electronic gift certificate to Amazon or Chapters.

Special Presentation to the AGM

Resilience, mobility, and participation in older Hamiltonians: Navigating everyday life during COVID-19 lockdown(s)

The guest speaker will be Dr. Brenda Vrkljan, a Professor at the School of Rehabilitation Science, and a trained Occupational Therapist. Dr. Vrkljan understands that there is a lack of research in the area of automobile technology and mobility in older adults, which often leads to ageist policies that are implemented to discourage older adults from driving. She is also involved in the development of an in-vehicle camera system for tracking the driving performance of older drivers.

Dr. Vrkljan will share preliminary findings from her most recent interdisciplinary project focused on tracking mobility, participation, and other factors among older adults over the past year. The IMPACT Hamilton Study (Investigating Mobility and PArticipation among Older Hamiltonians during COVID-19: A Longitudinal Tele-Survey) is part of a larger project that aims to investigate early changes in mobility in later life. This research project is supported by AGE-WELL, the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, and Strategic Alignment Funding from the Office of the McMaster Provost.

Business Meeting: Including reports of Officers and Council Elections. The report from the Nominating Committee follows.

2021 Nominating Committee Report MURA Council 2021/2022

Honorary President*: Alvin Lee


Past President (ex officio): Helen Barton
President (Nominated): Hank Jacek (One-year term, to 2022)
Vice President (Nominated): Susan Birnie (One-year term, to 2022)
Treasurer*: Nancy Gray
Secretary*: Nora Gaskin

Nominated for office, two-year term until 2023:

Betty Ann Levy
Nominated for office, three-year terms until 2024:
Cliff Andrews
Dina LoPresti
Kathy Overholt

Phil Wood
Continuing in office until 2022:
Mary Gauld
Barb Carpio
Continuing in office until 2023:
John Horsman

In accordance with Article 8.01 Section 3 of the MURA Constitution: “Further nominations for the nominated positions will be received by the Secretary of the Association up to seven (7) days prior to the date set for the annual general meeting from nominators who are regular members of the Association together with the verbal or written acceptance of the nominee. Nominations will also be received from regular members at the annual general meeting.”

Nominating Committee
Heather Grigg (Chair)
Pat Fraser
Mary Law
John McKay
Debbie Wiesensee

Let Us Know If We Can Stop Mailing MURAnews to YOU

Please help MURA’s budget by opting out of the postal mailing of MURAnews. Email the Membership Chair, Kathy Overholt, at or leave a message on the MURA phone (905-525-9140, extension 23171).

You can print your own MURAnews from the PDF copy we send by email, or just click the link in the email and read online. Current and past issues of MURAnews can be found online.

If you do not have access to a computer and would like a copy of any of the items for which we have provided computer links, please leave a message on the MURA phone (905-525-9140, extension 23171) and we will print a copy and mail it to you.

Retirees in the News

By Mary Johnston

Ronald Bayne
Professor Emeritus Ronald Bayne, one of Canada’s first geriatricians, spent much of his long career in medicine as a passionate advocate for better care for the elderly. At age 98, he turned his advocacy to another cause critical to the elderly: planning the end of life.

Before his medically assisted death, Dr. Bayne shared his story with the media and produced a compelling 12-minute video urging seniors and their families to take control of the end of their lives. “I want the vast majority of the population, and seniors in particular, to realize that they have far more control at the end than they realize they do. Every Canadian has the right to control their own bodies. There’s no question about it. You are legally entitled, should be able to control your own end of life.” Drawing on his extensive experience in health care, he reflects on death and dying, provides insight into the fear of death, and encourages planning for the final stage of life with family. He also urges seniors and their families to insist on and advocate for better long-term care.

To find out more about Dr. Bayne and this thought-provoking video, visit Professor Emeritus Has Last Words on Death and Dying.

Sue Baptiste and Sheila Sammon
McMaster’s Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching will mark its 50th anniversary in 2022 — one of the first teaching centres in Canada to reach that milestone.

To celebrate, the Institute is putting together a collection of articles submitted by McMaster alumni, students, staff, and faculty: Reflections on Teaching and Learning at McMaster: 50 Years of Stories. The book will identify important milestones, trends, developments, and achievements in teaching and learning at McMaster. 50 Years of Stories will be edited by Post-doctoral Fellow Alise de Bie, Professor Emerita Sue Baptiste, Associate Professor Cathy Grisé and Professor Emerita Sheila Sammon. To find out more, go to The Daily News.

Welcome new members

compiled by Kathy Overholt

Raymond Bayliss, Central Animal Facility
Lianna Butler, Education Services
Angela Frechette, Medicine
Dawnelle Hawes, Education Services
Danny Jang, Pediatrics
Catherine Kiernan, Medicine
Cheryl Levitt, Family Medicine
Marcia Macaulay, HS Human Resources
Alison Magi, Medicine
Jane Mah, Biomedical Engineering
Robin Southall, Campus Stores
Elizabeth Zelek, Financial Services

Recent passings

compiled by Kathy Overholt

Ronald Bayne, Medicine, Feb 26/21
Claude Billigheimer, Mathematics & Statistics, Dec 15/20
James Browning, Arts & Science, Jan 18/21
Ronald Gillespie, Chemistry, Feb 26/21
Paul Knowles, Media Production Services, Mar 1/21
Emmi Morwald, Office of Research Services, Apr 15/21
Narendar Passi, Mills Library, Feb 5/21
William Potter, Physical Plant, Aug 12/20
John Premi, Family Medicine, Feb 19/21
Gary Read, Facility Services, Mar 5/21
Carl Riehm, Mathematics & Statistics, Mar 19/21
Hans Schmidt, Occupational Health, Jan 1/21
Walter Smyrniw, Modern Languages, Feb 15/21
Valerie Thomas, Library, Apr 14/21
Annette Willows, Education Services, Apr 2/21

Contacting MURA

Mail: Gilmour Hall B108, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West,
Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8

Phone: (905) 525-9140, ext. 23171 (voicemail is checked once a week)


Members' Corner


By Elaine McKinnon Riehm

During the past few months, three odd words have crept into my ken: paraprosdokian, factoid, and coffle. If you customarily use these words, gentle reader, please turn the page.

You may suspect, as I did until recently, that a paraprosdokian is a peculiar South American mammal occasionally found on riverbanks. This riverain sports a distinctive bristle of sharp whiskers. It lives chiefly on red ants which it laps up with its tongue and, in an acrobatic feat, flings into its mouth without being speared on its own mustache.

I was surprised this week when a graduate student in English informed me that the paraprosdokian is an altogether different creature. It is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is a surprising departure from the first part. Here, for example, are two paraprosdokians. American essayist and humourist E.B. White, in his old age, wrote “I am full of years and descendants.” We anticipate “years and memories” or “years and white hair.” Millennia ago, Aristotle wrote of a victorious runner: “On his feet he wore … blisters.” We expect Aristotle to say that the runner wore sandals or perhaps an ancient equivalent of Nikes or flip-flops. Did White and Aristotle know they were writing paraprosdokians?

There is no entry for “factoid” in my father’s 1929 edition of The Concise Oxford Dictionary or in my 1982 seventh edition. Apparently, Norman Mailer coined “factoid” in 1973 and used it in connection with an article he was writing on Marilyn Monroe. From there it wiggled its way into usage and into the Merriam Webster Dictionary, which defines it as “an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print.” A second definition is “a briefly stated and usually trivial fact.”

I have been waiting for months to share the following factoid with anyone who will listen. “Traveller Clärenore Stinnes, the first person to circumnavigate the globe by car, in 1927–29, stuffed 3 evening dresses and 128 hard-boiled eggs into her bags along with her Mauser pistols and snow chains” (New York Times Book Review, Hamilton Spectator, Sat. Jan. 11, 2020).

Howsoever it may sound, a “coffle” is not a combination of a sneeze and a cough. It descends from the Arabic word for “caravan” and describes a string of animals or slaves, chained, or roped in a line, coffled together towards an unknown and unspeakable destination.

Collecting oddities is the fate of people who these days are too much inside and too much alone and too much in their own heads.

Pandemic Pastimes

By Helen Ayre

We asked our members what they were doing to pass the time during the pandemic, and got some very interesting responses …

Joan Crook, formerly of the School of Nursing has sent us a photograph of her Pandemic project. She is knitting the very colourful “Safe at Home” throw designed by Margaret Holzman. The throw, upon completion, will comprise 81 houses and will be a reminder of our current reality: we are safest when at home. The “Safe at Home” pattern is available at

Bob Hodgson, formerly of the DeGroote School of Business, now living in Alberta, has reverted to Lego kits. According to Bob, Lego makes some very intriguing and complex kits that challenge one’s dexterity and brain. For him, it’s a great way to pass some time and have something really neat to pass on to a grandson. Bob has just completed his largest project yet at 58.2 x 48 x 17 centimeters, with 4018 pieces. The Liebherr 9800 Excavator had 1000 steps and is powered by seven motors and two hubs controlled from an iPhone.

When building a Lego kit, you can go as fast or as slowly as you wish, though Bob cautions that If you make a mistake on something like this, it is brutally difficult to fix.

As a member of Rosewood Consort, a music group of recorders, viola da gamba and harpsichord, Helen Ramsdale, formerly of the Department of Medicine, has been making music during the pandemic. The Consort received a grant from the City of Hamilton in 2020, to support their June concert. Of course, that did not happen. The Consort decided instead to make a video of their music, with pictures of Hamilton taken by members and friends.

They recorded three pieces (Genitori genitoque, The Honie-suckle, and Earle of Salisbury: Pavan).

Members overcame the challenges of learning new technology and then recording their individual parts separately at home. Stephane Potvin put all the parts together along with the photos, and the members are thrilled with the result.

Please click here for the YouTube video. Helen particularly likes the photo of a sculpture with masks to illustrate what we are going through.

Ellen Ryan, a name familiar to many MURA members and a former member of Psychiatry, enjoys writing poetry and has shared with us a recent piece that was published in the Hamilton-based, internationally known journal Tower Poetry:

Tower Poetry, 69(2), 36

Front door lock knows my key
fumbling in the shadows
Red bench at the entrance invites me
to sit take off my shoes
Hanger welcomes my coat
Others shuffle over to make room
for their enviable outgoing friend
Coffee cups vie for their turn in rotation
second-shelf camaraderie near the kettle
soup pot hungry for onions and garlic
My journal rolls over with yearning
when I walk by its bed in the kitchen
African quilt on wall catches my eye
like meeting a pal on a park bench
Upstairs or downstairs
books in piles jostle for attention
Framed photographs contend
one with another, to show and tell
Trees out back wave greetings
sing with cardinals, coo with doves
Balcony gathers my restlessness
setting me down with mug and book      Ellen B. Ryan

Glen Leinweber, a retiree from Engineering Physics, tells us that in astronomy, an analemma (/ˌænəˈlɛmə/; from Greek ἀνάλημμα analēmma "support") is a diagram showing the position of the Sun in the sky as seen from a fixed location on Earth at the same mean solar time, as that position varies over the course of a year. [extracted from Wikipedia]

Over the course of the previous year, Glen has plotted the shadow cast from his home's hydro entry post onto the grass in his backyard on sunny days at local noon (12:00). In the photo Glen provided, an orange flag at the analemma peak marks winter solstice. This photo was snapped on February 07, 12:00. Watching the sun's progression through the seasons helped Glen realize "spring is coming". We all feel so much better when we can see this first signs of spring and Glen certainly has a unique way of keeping track of the seasons.

A big “Thank you!” to everyone who responded. Please keep your contributions coming!

Volunteer Opportunities

Don’t want to volunteer alone? Sign up with a friend.

Are you looking for an opportunity to volunteer remotely? Visit the Hamilton Public Library’s volunteer opportunity page to learn about GritLIT and Newcomer Learning Centre Online Tutoring.

GritLIT is looking for volunteers to read to residents of Hamilton long-term care facilities via Zoom, for 40-50 minutes per visit. See the GritLIT website for more information, qualifications, and to register.

Newcomer Learning Centre Online Tutoring
This program provides English language learning through video/audio chats twice per week, for one hour each session. Visit the Learning Centre website for more information, qualifications, and to complete an online application.

Your Money/Your Health

Dental Care for Seniors

By John Horsman

It seems as if every month, every day even, is dedicated to some event, cause, person, or organization of various and sundry descriptions. Pick a day, pick a month and likely as not it is designated as “National whatever Day”. April is no exception. Apart from singling out fools for a day, April is National Oral Health month and oral health is nothing to fool around with.

Oral health is an important part of overall health and good oral health contributes to one’s physical and social well-being. It allows us to speak, eat, and socialize without pain or discomfort, either physical or mental. Brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly contribute to healthy teeth and gums.

As we age, we need to make a few changes in the care of teeth and gums. One is never too old to have a healthy set of pearly whites. Older adults are at higher risk for oral health problems, which have been linked to general systemic health risks such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, poor nutrition, and glycemic control in people with diabetes and respiratory infection. Despite the growing evidence of these health risks, good oral hygiene tends to be an overlooked area of regular health care.

But even those who are diligent about brushing and flossing daily can have problems. This is why regular visits to a dentist are highly recommended. A dental exam will include checking for gum disease, cavities, loose or lost fillings, broken teeth, mouth and gum infections - often referred to as gateway infections to other problems like heart disease. Regular brushing and flossing can keep plaque from accumulating and hardening into tartar, which can only be removed by a professional hygienist or dentist. A professional cleaning or scaling removes tartar build-up that can cause gums to recede leading to root and nerve sensitivity, exposed bone, and infections.

Brushing your teeth is not rocket science but there is a right way to do it. Use a soft, rounded bristle brush small enough to reach the back teeth easily. Brush at an angle at the gum line using a fluoride toothpaste. Brush in a circular motion but don’t scrub too hard as this can cause the gums to recede and bleed.

Even the best oral hygiene does not preclude that one will not lose a tooth or two. Lost teeth can be replaced by partial dentures in the form of a fixed or removable bridge. Even the loss of all teeth, upper/lower/both, can be replaced with full dentures. Those with otherwise healthy gums and underlying jawbone can have the individual false teeth, or partial or full dentures, secured with dental implants.

Poor oral health can have a detrimental effect on our overall well-being, but by adopting good, healthy oral habits including reducing sugar intake, daily brushing and flossing, and regular dental checkups, seniors can help ensure themselves a better healthier life.

Parts of this article are summarized from the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, Beyond brushing: How to maintain good oral health as you age, and the Canadian Dental Association, Oral Health - Good for Life.

courtesy of Meanwhile in Canada

Music and your Health

By John Horsman

There are many inspirational quotes about music and the benefits to all people whatever their stage of life and circumstance might be. Poets, musicians, scholars, philosophers down through the ages have waxed lyrical about music. Most of us know of at least one quote about music. How about Shakespeare’s “If music be the food of love, play on”? There are others expressed throughout history from Plato “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything”; Lao-Tzu “Music in the soul can be heard by the universe”; and E. Bulwer-Lytton “Music once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit and never dies”.

It would seem that most people have some connection with music and have so since our first human ancestors beat upon a hollow log with a stick or blew into a bone flute. The oldest known musical instrument in the world is a flute, fashioned by a Neanderthal from the thighbone of a bear over 60,000 years ago in what is now Slovenia. Its discovery and description are hailed as a confirmation of our spirituality and sophisticated artistic expression. It is this deep connection with music and musical expression that influences researchers around the world to investigate music’s therapeutic benefits. “Music is powerful. As people listen to it, they can be affected. They respond” – Ray Charles. Musical notations were etched into one of the first space exploration ships launched into interstellar space on the chance that extraterrestrial intelligence intercepts it. It is part of humankind’s attempt to define ourselves. “Music is the universal language of mankind” – H. W. Longfellow.

Music is not only enjoyable to listen to (despite what our parents may have said about Rock ‘n Roll or what we may have said about Heavy Metal), but it can also help improve our daily lives. It has been shown to increase walking speed, reduce anxiety, improve overall behavioural issues in people with dementia.

Research suggests that listening to music while you walk improves the pattern and manner of walking leading to a healthier and more active lifestyle. “Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music” – George Eliot. Hospital stays can be traumatic for young and old alike. Music as therapy has been found to lower anxiety, pain, depression, and fatigue. It is a non-invasive, inexpensive complement to modern medical treatments. “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without” – Confucius. It has been found that music can improve the social and mental well-being in older adults with dementia and also in their caregivers. Listening to music allows older adults with dementia to be calmer and this helps reduce caregiver stress levels. Group music therapy can help reduce caregiver anxiety and music has been shown to enhance the relationship between a caregiver and an older adult with dementia, allowing both to enjoy a common activity that is pleasant. “Without music, life would be a mistake” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Adapted from the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, 3 ways music is beneficial to your health.

courtesy of Meanwhile in Canada

Staying Social during the Pandemic

By Helen Ayre

We are all hoping there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that we will soon be able to see each other in person. Until then, however, the Hamilton Council on Aging suggests participating in some or all of these activities to keep in touch with friends and family:

  1. Invite a friend to a dinner party over the phone or over Zoom. The “host” can send out a menu and recipes a week ahead. With the phone line or computer open, cook and eat together. Play a trivia game after dinner.
  2. Remember pen pal letters and handwritten cards! Try writing to a friend; share some thoughts and reflections, a joke or picture and maybe a special memory. Try writing a handwritten letter to a young relative. Share with them a memory about your own or their or their parents’ childhood.
  3. Walk in your neighbourhood and say hello to others. This can reduce your sense of isolation. Just walking 15-30 minutes/day makes a big difference in your immune function.
  4. There’s no evidence of coronavirus being transmitted by food. Offer to cook for someone else or say “Yes!” if they offer to cook for you.

Get involved in some of these local programs:

McMaster Phone a Friend program (MacPFP) - connect by phone with a trained volunteer – taking referrals for seniors at risk of social isolation.

email: for more details

Flamborough Connects is offering talks on Brain Health and Finances. Call or email to register.

phone: 905-689-7880

The City of Hamilton Recreation Centre has a Seniors’ Centre Without Walls – Join by phone! Hours vary by program. It’s FREE. A program that provides free group recreational activities for older adults over the phone. No special equipment needed – any phone will do! Each phone session averages 8-10 people on the call. You are able to hear each other, talk to one another, learn, and/or just have fun!

phone: 905-973-0891

The Hamilton YWCA offers classes Monday thru Saturday by Zoom. Call or visit their website for details.
phone: 905-522-9922

view monthly schedule:
to register please contact: Marnie Warman, Manager of Health and Wellness, email:

The Hamilton Public Library
The Hamilton Public Library has a Virtual Branch with all kinds of programs and activities happening.

  • Young at Heart & Seniors without Walls series:
  • Large print & digital resources
  • Friendly Calling program
  • Bookmobile scheduled weekly stops

phone: 905-546-3200 to talk with HPL staff

Dundas Community Services and Ancaster Community Services are continuing to operate during the pandemic: Meals on Wheels, Frozen Meal Program, and other services for seniors are available.

phone: 905-627-5461 (Dundas); 905-648-6675 (Ancaster)

Hamilton Jewish Family Services- Kibbutz Corner - Seniors Centre Without Walls
Hamilton Jewish Family Services is providing a phone-in program called Kibbutz Corner which is open to everyone!

phone: 905-627-9922 for details

Cyber Seniors – connecting generations
This organization links seniors to one-on-one telephone support for help with computer and online use for up to 45 minutes at a time. They also have daily webinars, which offer training on different topics, as well as past webinars on record.

phone: 1-844-217-3057

Tech Serve
Free help for older adults with technology problems. Simply fill out a form or call and selected, trained volunteers will help you promptly.

phone: 1-888-418-4771

courtesy of Meanwhile in Canada

Other News

A Reminder for Your End-of-Life Planning

You might be amazed to learn how often Human Resources does not find out about a retiree’s death until months – or even years – after it occurs.

Make things easier for the executor of your will and your family by putting a note with your will and other important papers, instructing that both Human Resources and CIBC Mellon, which administers our pension payments, should be informed of your death as soon as possible. The Human Resources Services Centre can be contacted by phone at 905-525-9140, ext. 22247, or by email at Contact CIBC Mellon Retiree Assistance by phone at 1-800-565-0479, or online via

Without timely notification, your estate will be required to pay back any pension payments received after your death. Also, you should keep a copy of your McMaster life insurance documents with your important papers. The Human Resources Service Centre will be pleased to provide you with a copy if you need it.

Microwave Shakshuka

Courtesy of BBC Good Food

Whip up shakshuka, a Middle Eastern favourite, in just 10 minutes. Perfect for brunch, lunch, or supper, it's healthy and a great option for a budget meal.

It's a simple combination of simmering tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and gently poached eggs.

Traditional shakshuka originally came from North Africa--Tunisia is said to be its place of birth--but it is quite popular in the Middle East and you'll find variations of it in Palestine, Israel, Egypt, and many other places.

Prep Time: 5 min, Cook Time: 5 min, Serves 1

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 200ml passata or canned tomatoes, whizzed to a paste
  • 1 garlic clove , finely sliced
  • 1 heaped tbsp red pepper salsa or ¼-½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander and pita bread, to serve

Brush a microwave bowl or dish with a little of the oil. Stir the passata, garlic and salsa together and season well. Tip into the bowl and make a dip in the centre. Break in the egg, then prick the yolk with the tip of a sharp knife.

Cover the bowl with its lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 1 min, and then in 20 sec bursts until the white is set. Scatter coriander over the top and serve with the warm pita.


Nutrition: Per serving
Nutrient    Unit
kcal              244
fat                16g
saturates    3g
carbs           13g
sugars         12g
fibre             2g
protein        10g
salt               0.43g

Cohousing Coming to Hamilton

Contributed by Ellen Ryan and the Cohousing Hamilton Communications Circle

As the COVID-19 cases soar in Ontario, we are also seeing housing prices soar, and there is no way to tell when and how either of these trajectories will crest. We know that vaccines are the antidote to rising COVID-19 cases. There is no vaccine, however, for the feverish housing market, but there are alternatives to traditional housing. One of the emerging alternatives is cohousing.

Cohousing has existed in various forms in Europe and other parts of the world, but the concept is relatively new to North America in that it was introduced in the 1980s from Denmark. Now it is coming to Hamilton.

For those unfamiliar with cohousing, picture a cluster of small homes surrounding a garden and footpaths, with a larger communal building as the focal point. But upon a closer look, you will see seniors and families living in their private residences, sitting on their porches, puttering in the garden, or sharing a communal meal in the common house. What is less visible but equally noticeable is the spirit of a community with intention. A community in which people share not only the spaces, but also the care, decision making, labour and pride in that space. This is what seniors and families can look forward to, a lifestyle of vitality, community care and pride of ownership.

“Sounds lovely,” you say, “Where will this place be?” The answer is “Somewhere in Hamilton.”

Cohousing Hamilton was established in early 2020 with the intention of creating such a community within the City of Hamilton boundaries. A core group of approximately 10 people has come together and shared the work of creating a membership policy, a mission, vision and values statement and a plan to seek out a consultant, an architect, and a developer to help us move through the next phases of finding property and building our new home. Each person in the group is involved, and decisions are based on consent using compassionate communication. That alone has been an inspiring experience and will continue to be the form of decision making used within the community.

We have set our sights on 2024 as a move-in date but are not beholden to it. There are so many factors that can and will influence this. Finding the site (and possibly rezoning) is key to getting the ball rolling. One thing we’ve learned in our combined effort is that it truly is about the journey and not just the destination. Our community exists, it just needs to find a home, and it will.

Hamilton is an ideal place to launch such a housing project. The city is reinventing itself, and housing solutions such as cohousing are bound to succeed. There are wonderful walkable neighbourhoods with access to nature. Seniors in Hamilton do not have to leave the city to find supportive care if they choose to live in a cohousing community. Cohousing Hamilton will be seniors led, but open to younger adults and families, with a village-like vibe to it. We are aiming for a community of 20-35 units.

Sustainability is a key component of cohousing, and Cohousing Hamilton will be working with professionals who adhere to best practices of environmentally friendly design and construction.

The true benefit of our cohousing community will be in the sharing. Not only will we be sharing the carrying costs at a fraction of what individual homes pay (taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc.), but also some meals, the workload, our time and our experience and expertise. We will be sharing common space and grounds, and also organizing to share items such as bicycles and power tools. Car sharing and offering rides will build our interdependence and help us participate in the wider community.

Cohousing members purchase their units, but cohousing can accommodate individuals with varying incomes. One option will be for an owner to share their home with another person. In this way, home sharing can extend the benefits of living in community.

With a balance of privacy and community, cohousing offers a housing model for seniors not usually seen in more traditional seniors’ housing, where residents remain active and engaged and contribute to the community any way they can. The sense of belonging and camaraderie from the inherent rich social network creates a nurturing environment where mutual support, co-care at some level and reciprocity are the norm.

Resources about Cohousing

Canadian Cohousing Network
Cohousing Hamilton
The Cohousing Company

Resources on Seniors’ Housing

A Place to Thrive: Options and Possibilities for Seniors’ Housing - (YouTube Video, March 2021)
Resources for Seniors’ Housing – Prepared for our March 2021 Panel

If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact Judy Shepalo at 905-517-6494 or email or

website: Cohousing Hamilton

The Period Promise Campaign

Donations Accepted until May 28

Contributed by Rosemary Viola,
Chairperson, Unifor 5555 Retired Workers Chapter

For the past few years in March, United Way Halton & Hamilton has led a local “Tampon Tuesday” initiative, a drive to collect and distribute donated menstrual products for people in need. Now operating locally as Period Promise, organizers and supporters continue to collect and distribute donations, while advocating for free menstrual products in common spaces. Periods are a fact of life: Menstruation products are a basic necessity, but if you’re living in poverty – or vulnerable in other ways – access to tampons, pads, cups, or menstrual underwear, can be challenging. Periods don’t stop for pandemics. The pandemic has worsened period poverty for vulnerable populations with more people having to choose between menstrual hygiene products and other essentials, like food. Lack of access to public washrooms, school closures and other pandemic-related barriers make it even more difficult for people who menstruate to access the products they need. The Period Promise campaign by United Way mobilizes local citizens to be a part of the solution. Community members, like you, can make a contribution to the Period Promise campaign through the United Way website. In the note section you can indicate the contribution is to go towards the Period Promise Campaign. The Campaign runs until Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28.

CURAC Discounts and Affinity Agreements

CURAC has negotiated discounts and affinity agreements with providers of various types of group insurance. All MURA members qualify for these discounted rates through MURA’s membership in CURAC. Here is a short summary, adapted from CURAC’s web site:

  • Home and Auto Insurance: Where provincial laws allow, Economical offers auto and home insurance at advantageous rates. Visit Economical Car and Home Insurance for more information.
  • Extended Health Benefit Insurance: The Retired Teachers of Ontario (RTO/ERO) plan is one which might be of interest to members who are seeking to purchase new extended health benefit insurance, transfer to a new plan, or add to their existing insurance. CURAC members who are currently in a group health benefits plan will be accepted as members of the RTO plan with no medical questionnaire. Those with no current extended health benefits plan will need to complete a questionnaire to be assessed for acceptance. Visit Extended Health Benefit Insurance for more information.
  • Travel insurance -- Emergency medical & trip cancellation / interruption:
    • The Johnson Inc. MEDOC insurance plan provides competitive travel/trip cancellation insurance and emergency medical insurance, with rates varying by age and medical condition.
    • For those who already have out-of-province medical insurance, Johnson Inc. offers stand-alone trip cancellation/interruption insurance. Extended family members or friends of CURAC members are also eligible. This insurance may be attractive to individuals who have existing trip cancellation/interruption insurance with lower limits than they would like.
    • Visit Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance for more information on both these options.
  • Pet Care Insurance: PetSecure offers pet insurance at advantageous rates. PetSecure is a member company of Economical. Visit Pet Care Insurance for more information.

courtesy of Humour is Contagious

Parking on Campus

Permit Expiry Renewal Reminder
Retiree parking permits are issued on a 12-month basis and must be renewed annually. Renew prior to your expiry date by email. Your transponder number is on the front of your transponder. If you have questions or have not made a note of your expiry date, please contact McMaster Parking Services by email at or at 905-525-9140 ext. 24232.

A note to retirees without parking transponders
Free parking on campus is available to retirees. To take advantage of this perk, and to view retiree parking access, go to the McMaster Parking Services retiree web page. Due to COVID-19, the Parking Office is accepting permit applications by email only. For further information, please contact Parking Services.

Notifying Human Resources of Address Changes

Are you moving? Please don't forget to update your address on file at McMaster University to ensure you receive any correspondence, including your T4A, at the correct address. The Human Resources Service Centre provides McMaster retirees with one point of contact to update their new addresses. Upon receiving your address change, the HR Service Centre will update the following as applicable on your behalf:

  • Communicate updated address information to the McMaster University Retirees Association (MURA)
  • Update the Sun Life System (for benefit purposes)
  • Communicate address information to CIBC Mellon (for pension purposes)
  • Update the McMaster HR System

Address changes can be forwarded to the HR Service Centre using any of the following methods:

Please do not hesitate to contact your HR Advisor with any questions.

Remember also to let MURA know if you have a new email address. You can send this information to

MURAnews is produced by MURA members Denise Anderson (Production Editor), Helen Ayre (News Editor), Helen Barton, Nora Gaskin, John Horsman, and Mary Johnston. We welcome submissions from MURA members.

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