Archive for November, 2007

Phor watt it’s werth…

November 25, 2007

Delving into my childhood memories and writing them down has given me a totally new perspective on myself and it’s not the scary place one would think!

For one thing, I can look backward with a certain amount of appreciation and awe. I can also look backward with some guilt and regret. I guess, if we are blessed with a long enough life, we can all reach this state of Nirvana, of delight and forgiveness. To each his own.

Hindsight for me is over 60 years and I feel kinder towards Little Patti. I find her to be fascinating, smart, stupid, funny, pitiful, inspiring, reckless, and somewhat unreal. There is so much time and space between her and me.
One of the many discoveries I made: Most people don’t think they can do anything by just watching someone else do it a couple of times.


At 6, I signed up for an adult doubles badminton tournament. (we came 2nd…rats!)

At 7, I dove off a dock in water wings and nearly drowned. (Nothing to it if you don’t.)

At 14, I drove a car for the first time and rolled it over. (Just steer, press on the gas, oops.)

At 16, I danced in a marathon for 52 hours. (Ow-ow-ow!)

At 18, I got married. (So, didn’t we all?)

At 19, I had a baby. (Ow-ow-ow…)

At 21, I wanted everything. (reality: it costs money.)

At 30, I had a 2nd baby. (Ow, and realized how under qualified I was for that job.)

At 31, I opened a boutique called The Tiger’s Eye. (7 years later, my bank manager said “throw your pen away!”)

At 40, I started a career in sales in the printing industry. (How hard could that be?)

At 60, I retired after a successful sales career, with my husband of 42 years and 2 daughters who still loved me. (who-da-thunk-it.)

At 65, I started Blogging. (I wanted my Grand Daughter to know Little Patti’s life.)

Like most, I have a “selective memory options” button.

I have been very fortunate to have lived and learned, and lived.

Heathe Steel Mine, Newcastle, NB

November 22, 2007

Our family parted ways in 1961, when Elmer and Mary moved from Chibougamau, Quebec to New Castle, New Brunswick with their 14 year old son, my brother. I was newly married and my sister was in Nursing in Montreal.

Elmer was offered a big challenge to get a mine back to full and profitable operation, and although they loved Chibougamau, I think the challenge was too great to pass up and after all, moving on was part of the mining game.

In retrospect I wonder if the decision was made for him. He was diagnosed with Silicosis and his X-ray card was taken away, so he was only allowed to go underground once or twice a week. The new deal may have helped him to comply. The mine was an open pit copper, lead and zinc mine.

Heathe Steel mine was discovered in 1952- By 1957 a mining and milling operation had been established.

It was a property with nine lives much like many other mines in Canada- highly dependent on metal prices and reserves.

It was suspended in 1958 and resumed in 1962. Between 1969 and 1979 the mine was in full, profitable operation, but through the 1980’s and 1990’s it opened and closed a few times and finally the mine was allowed to flood in 1999.

Elmer worked at Heathe steel from 1961 to 1974, when he retired. It was said, that he was largely responsible for it’s success during that period of time and he was very highly regarded by co workers and friends.

Newcastle was just one of many little towns along the Miramichi River that was impacted by the varied “performances” of Heathe Steel mine. They were towns long before the mine came in and towns afterward but the human experience was immeasurable.

Many mining towns in the old days opened in the wilderness, grew-up, operated, closed. Everyone got invited to the “party” and when it was over they all packed up and moved on.

That was not the case in populace areas such as the Miramichi where employment and education opportunities were few and families had homes and roots in their towns for decades.

My family planted new roots- Elmer and Mary lived in Newcastle’s Heath Court (a company housing area) and worked for Heathe Steel followed by his son, and then his son’s son from 1961 to 1999.

Their livelihoods and entrepreneurial skills and spirits rose and fell with the mine’s precarious history.

The Heathe Steel Mine brought huge changes to The Miramichi, both good and bad, and left an important legacy: Young people understood the value of education. The periods of prosperity, as well as the uncertainty and hardships visited on their parents and grand parents by big industry will not be as likely to happen in the years to come. They are educated and can orchestrate their lives.


Beautiful People in Life

November 10, 2007
25th wedding anniversary- 1999

25th wedding anniversary- 1999

Beautiful people walk through our lives. Sometimes they stay and sometimes they visit. Sometimes we recognize their beautiful qualities and sometimes we don’t .

This is the story of my friend Barbara, the most beautiful person I have ever known.

Barbara was born in Montreal, and found out at the age of 14, when her Father died suddenly, that she was a foster child and she was removed from the only home she knew.

I met Barbara two years later. She was a student at the same school for the deaf as my 6 year old daughter. I was looking for a deaf student to babysit my daughter through the summer and teach her sign language. I had noticed Barbara on several occasions at school and thought she would be the perfect person. I had no idea at the time, just how “perfect” she was!

We had a wonderful summer. Barbara loved staying over at our house even when she wasn’t babysitting. We coaxed her to taste food she had never tried, (like banana peppers and liver) we encouraged her to continue going to school, and our family bloomed- Our only child had a big sister, we had a little sister and it was hardly a difficult decision when she came to live with us because she was already a part of our family.

The following years were busy ones for all of us. We all remembered laughing… a lot!

At last, Barbara met the love of her life. She married and had three brilliant children. Our lives entwined, our children entwined and we celebrated special occasions and New Years Day together every year and always considered ourselves so lucky to have each other.

In 30+ years we never had a harsh word among us. That’s remarkable.

Barbara was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 45, she was treated with new therapies that took a devastating toll, but she fought through, wanting to be with her family as long as possible. Her children were young adults when she lost the battle. She was 50 years old.

I remember her vividly, frequently, with love. She was a remarkable woman, a faithful friend. I never think about the day she died. I always remember her birthday in November.

Barbara would approve.

PS: Barbara died at age fifty, & Peter at age 60. We are all richer for having them in our lives.