Miners: A Rare Breed

October 17, 2010

The average person can’t imagine themselves going underground to earn a living. Underground is where we get to go when we die. For a rare group it is their daily routine, and though the recent Chilean disaster was another reminder about the one thing in life most of us are fearful of, it also showed that 33 miners are truly a rare breed. They survived. Their instincts were right on, their special-nish showed up.

It also showed that mines are not tiny tunnels and they don’t burrow in the ground like ground hogs. I think the old movies of coal mines gave us the wrong idea.

Not to say for a minute that the Chilean mine was being run properly. Maybe now they’ll work to code.

The mining industry is important to our economy here in Canada. It provides many families with an excellent living and life style.

Found mostly in the Northern reaches of Canada, people don’t usually get a glimpse of what it’s really like.

I grew up in mining towns. My Dad sank many new shafts and was fortunate to survive a few accidents, where some others didn’t. He always operated from a position of safety first, but working underground with explosives, water, the unforeseen, a moment of inattention, was always a challenge and of course when an accident happened there were often fatalities. No different than bridge building or tunneling of any kind.

Elmer (my Dad) always used the term “my men”. It was familiar to me and I never thought of it as patronizing. I never thought of it at all, until recently.Now I understand the teamwork and the responsibility he felt to keep “his men” safe.

Taxi drivers probably live more dangerously and are at a greater risk than miners.

My Mother was always aware of the possibilities. She was a city girl, so she probably started out fairly optimistic (ignorance is bliss), and as time went on and she counted off the fatalities and the times Dad had a narrow miss…she said that she never let him go off to work, angry words said. I think that’s a lesson to all of us in relationships. Mend fences.



June 30, 2010

On the eve of Canada Day 2010, I am doing a mental review of past years.

Some people love parades, fireworks, hot dogs and public celebrations. I am not one of them. I am not less patriotic, my Canadian flag fly’s year round, and this year I’ll try to tune in to the festivities from Ottawa~mostly to see the Queen. She is lovely and lends grace to our country.

The best July 1st celebration I recall was in Snow Lake Manitoba. A field day with hot dogs, baseball games and races. (maybe some ice cream). It was very exciting. I was 5 years of age.

I do remember singing “O Canada” and “God Save the King” in school everyday, and have always felt grateful to live in Canada.

As hard as I try, nothing else comes to mind! Except…it was another long weekend! Those precious long weekends, used to catch up on laundry, and get the house straight enough to go out and play with the kids. (Working parents know exactly what I mean).

Now, if  Mr. Harper would proclaim July 1st as a GST-FREE day, and allow stores to open, I would shop. Yes siree, that’s my idea of celebrating a holiday.


Father’s Day 2010

June 16, 2010

My Dad, Daddy, Pops, died in 1979 at the age of 68. I was 36 at the time and even though he had been sick for a year with prostate cancer, I was shocked and angry.

I was shocked that this “bigger than life” man with a booming voice, and huge physique had wasted away to a shadow and I was angry that he didn’t fix it, like he fixed everything else for us.

He was a true character.  “Get the thin edge of the wedge”, he would say.  I needed to put his advice and pearls of wisdom , into contemporary terms and apply it.

Mother said that she thought he could have done anything in life, if he’d had an education. I think she was right. He went to the school of hard knocks, a product of the 30’s, worked hard and provided us with a decent life, frill-free as it was in the 50’s for most. As luck would have it, “frills” would have added nothing at all to our childhood experience. The presence of  Daddy was everything! He played, cajoled, taught, encouraged and supported. I don’t remember him ever being critical. (is that the key?)

I still miss him. I wish he could see the person I have grown up to be, now. He would be proud, and wonder that it took so long! 🙂

What he left me with was self-esteem and a sense that I could do anything I set my mind to. Navigating the road of life need only those tools.

My message on Father’s Day. Be good fathers.


PS: I chose a wonderful person to father my children. He has all the same great skills as my Dad. It may be a coincidence.

Elmer & little Patti 1946

Mother’s Day 2010

May 8, 2010

My mother used to say “Mother’s Day is once a year, but every day is Father’s Day!”

That would have been circa 1950’s, and I am sure that there was more than just a little truth to that statement.

Here we are, 50+ years later and much has changed for those of us who came to our senses in the 60’s and 70’s. My turning point was really “set in time” when I  heard the popular commercial “she can bring home the bacon, cook it up in the pan and blah-blah, let him know he’s a man”… Betty Frieden was preaching and writing, breastfeeding was a no-no, reporters (men) made an international incident of a few women burning bra’s, and we were encouraged to use birth control,  have a career,       ( get paid a paltry sum) and develop critical thinking (?). The pendulum was at the extreme.

Life has a way of  “righting itself” and I can look back, appreciate where I was and where I am today. Mine was not a harsh journey. I married a nice man who understood the complexities of the society we were born into and after much nagging, not only agreed in principal, but undertook many household tasks and gave me permission to remind him what needed to be done -He learned to cook and enjoyed it and learned to look after the children and especially enjoyed that! We saved our marriage by adopting an attitude of staying together, not because we had to but because we wanted to. We reached a stage where we could have survived well enough without the other. He didn’t need a “maid” and I didn’t need a “caretaker”. Today, we are thankful to have found the patience with each other to develop a brand new partnership, unlike our parents, uniquely our own, and mostly without a road map. We were pioneers, crafting a different kind of society.

We celebrate Mother’s Day quietly. We have two daughters who are kind and loving and a grand daughter who is super- awesome. Is there really anything else?



A Milestone

December 23, 2009

Milestone: A marker. An event worth noting in the development of a lifetime, a career, or an endeavor.

Life is one milestone after the other. Some milestones are predictable- finishing school,  a broken heart, having kids, growing old, losing parents, retirement, death.  Some milestones are unpredictable such as winning a lottery,  a  disappointment, a “light bulb” moment.  And some milestones are not worth noting at the time, but they come home to roost, good or bad, along the way…between milestones.

I am fortunate to have experienced most of the above and hundreds more. At least, I am fortunate to have lived long enough! I am still waiting to win the lottery. (Hopeful). Sometimes a milestone sneaks up-“a who-da-thunk-it event.” I’ve had quite a few of those. Sometimes we pass a milestone, unaware of it’s importance but the effects are buried in our brains ready to spring out at a most unexpected moment and remind us that we are very unique, and our experiences and milestones may be similar, but the results can be very different.

So, to all my very unique friends, and readers. HAPPY NEW YEAR!


PS: Today’s milestone- 15,000 readers have visited my blog.  WOW!

Please leave a comment below and tell of your milestones.

The Perfect Gift

December 15, 2009

Okay!  It’s here again.  I get it.  Warp speed is real.

Please read OMG, it’s Christmas again (Dec 2008) and A Heart’s Desire (Dec 2007). I have nothing to add to that!

The holiday season is here, I’m ready for it in mind and spirit.

I  wish my wonderful family and friends,  a joyous holiday season and peace and blessings for the new year. Every day is a gift.

Every good gift

and every perfect gift

is from above…

James 1:17

The ALL Time “Top Ten”

November 15, 2009

Snow Lake continues to be the runaway leader with over 900 readers. Yeah! Snow F’lakes!


Snow Lake, Manitoba

Quebec Copper, Eastman Quebec

Eastman~The Haunted House

Air Planes & Mining Towns

Float Planes

Central Patricia Gold Mines, Ontario

Ice Storm 1998


Heath  Steel Mines, New Castle, N.B.

Chibougamau, 1952

Ironing and other things

September 21, 2009

My Father’s line: “When I got married, I promised I would give her the best of everything. I bought her a glass wash board”.  That was one of his favourite lines. As far as I could tell, it was a popular joke as everyone would burst into laughter. I didn’t get it for a long, long time.*

I hated ironing because that’s what my Mother would say, but I was always fascinated that she was so meticulous, almost artistic, when she ironed every seam and corner. Fabrics were horrible back then. She would hang her clothes on the lines out the back door, summer and winter. She always made us laugh when she stood Elmer’s long johns in the corner when they came in on a freezing day and we would watch as they sank to the floor slowly but surely. Then the laundry would hang all over the kitchen and on a rack over the grate that was pumping hot air into the house from some unknown source. It smelled delicious.  She would sprinkle the dry clothes and roll them up in a basket until it became their turn to be ironed. The iron was heavy and she would work away at the little smocked dresses and puffy sleeves until they were perfect. I loved to watch her. She would say that she hated ironing, but I learned that she must love us so much to work so hard.

Of course I grew up saying “I hate ironing” too. Fabrics became more washable & wearable in the 70’s & 80’s, so I didn’t have to iron too much, and lived one piece at a time or not at all. There was always a basket or two of  laundry to be folded and ironed…someday.

I learned the secret of ironing in 1997 just a few days before my Grand daughter was born. I unpacked a few precious clothes that I had packed away left over from her Mom & her Aunt. (my daughters). I washed them in Ivory Snow and then I stood over the ironing board and meticulously ironed all the little dresses, the corners the frills and puffy sleeves. I didn’t need to sprinkle them, my tears flowed down my face. I don’t cry very often and I made up for it that day. I was crying because I was happy, excited, nostalgic, and lonely. I discovered that I could love ironing, but mostly that it was an act of love.

*Some wash boards were made of tin. The better ones were glass.

Getting there, and back

September 4, 2009

We visited  Miramichi, NB and attended a family wedding. Everything was beautiful. The bride and groom had made their arrangements with lots of help from the wedding party (bridesmaids, matron etc.) and their loving families, so if there were any glitches, we certainly didn’t notice. The temperature was 100F, or close, which is an unusual occurrence in that neck of the woods, but weddings are such a joyful occasion that we hardly noticed all the wedding programs used as fans in the church.

I enjoy new technology: When we entered the church an attendant led us to a photographer who asked if we would like a photo for the Guest Book.  Why not? I was so surprised when we got to the reception there was a guest book for us to sign, right under our photo and an extra print to take as a souvenir. Nice touch.

The decorations and flowers were exquisite, as was the food, the harpist, the MC and the speeches and video clips of the bride & groom as youngsters. It was all flawless and we had a great time.

Getting there, was a 12 hour drive which we did over 2 days. The evening we arrived, we went for a boat cruise on the Miramichi River. It was two hours + and gave us a nice view of the area.

On the way home, near St. Quentin, we “kissed” a moose. Thanks to skillful maneuvering and a measure of good luck, we avoided a head on hit. As it was, we clipped the hoof. It went down and then recovered and ran to the woods. At a second glance we saw the baby moose waiting by the roadside, ready to cross.  We stopped in St. Quentin, just 2 miles away to celebrate our good luck, and check the small damage to the bumper, at an ice cream stand. There is nothing like “cookie dough” flavoured ice cream to calm ones nerves.  It was our only incident. We found the highways were in good shape for once, and for the most part drivers were courteous and obeying the law which makes it a pleasent drive for all.

We over-nighted at the Quality Inn,  Riviere Du Loup, both ways, and it was very nice, with a big heated pool and lots of nice restaurants in the town (city?). We liked this pretty spot and could spend some time there… someday.

We learned a few things about travelling at our age now. (Besides avoiding Provincial Parks). One week at a time is enough these days, and we need to stay in one place, to ensure restful sleep. Moving from one hotel to another and schlepping our suitcases up hills and down dales (stairs) is not on our agenda anymore.

Cruises are looking better and better…Stay tuned!


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Getting there…

August 12, 2009

“Getting there is half the fun”. I agree. I guess that I have a wander lust, because I feel like a kid when I get out the suitcases and start making my lists. I pack and repack to be sure that I don’t fall into that much-criticized category “taking everything but the kitchen sink”. We have a truck, so it’s hard to keep it simple with all that space that can be filled up.

Nevermind. We are leaving for the Maritimes and a family wedding. It’ll be short and sweet. Our grand daughter has decided to come so there’s an added plus to this trip. She is very entertaining and will inspire us to do things…swim, site-see, and dance. (and watch a DVD while travelling) (?)

 Kids add another dimension to everything around us, I forget that sometimes. Thankfully I can be reminded.

Au Revoir