Posts Tagged ‘life’

My Florida experience.(You can’t win ’em all…)

March 19, 2008

The Florida Aquarium

We are back from Florida two weeks earlier than planned. Somewhat disappointed, but safe and sound and better informed. We had gone there, planning to drive around and pick a place we could migrate to for a month or two in winter. We discovered that place won’t be in Florida.

On the bright side, we enjoyed The Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens, the beach and Dolphin Aquarium in Clearwater, and Crabby Bill’s. Lots and lots of terrific shopping too. The weather was fine except for frequent tornado warnings, that don’t seem to scare any of the locals so we didn’t worry either. We enjoyed the fantastic temperatures and the very friendly, accommodating native Floridians and other Snow Birds that we encountered along the way. Local drivers were very patient and courteous with us.

However, we were very uncomfortable with the number of crimes every single day and night. The police helicopters buzzed overhead at night with search light beams and police and ambulance sirens screamed all day and night long, followed by the news reports of murder and mayhem.

Several well known restaurants we went to, were not really up to scratch in the cleanliness dept. When I am handed a sticky menu, I consider it a “tip-off” and I take a better look around. That was an all too frequent experience. At one McD’s, I was in the washroom when one of the employees exited a cubicle and walked right out the door (no stop for hand washing). I made a point of looking for her, and there she was behind the counter serving up the fries! (no gloves) YUK!! I left. The public washrooms in some very big stores and restaurants were a disgrace. It was all too common.

We didn’t take walks in our neighbourhood during the day and did not even entertain the idea of going out at night to a movie or a show. Sure enough, we saw surveillance videos of muggings right in plain daylight on the news!

Don’t misunderstand me, we have plenty of crime in Canada too. Muggings, murders, break-ins, but not the volume. That was disconcerting.

It would be interesting to know what the local politicians in Florida have to say about a tourists “take” on conditions. One would think that Government and businesses would be doing everything possible to improve their local economy and attract every tourist dollar.

We will continue to search for a suitable place to spend the winter months, but it won’t be in Florida!

PS: We came home to more snow banks and more on the way just in time to welcome spring. Maybe we can take up skiing…NAH!

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Flamingos

South Bound in Winter!

February 27, 2008

snow.jpgImagine my excitement! Having grown up in Canada’s North (Some of my readers think that Canada is North, and how can you be North of North.) This winter I am bound for southern climes. I repeat, in the winter! I just turned 65 and finally have said “enough is enough, eh?”

So, we are packing up and driving south, not stopping until I can take off my winter coat. It may take us three or four days to reach our destination in Florida as we plan to visit Charleston, Myrtle Beach, and any number of the lovely places beckoning us to visit. The advertisements promise that “we will have the time of our lives”. I sure hope so!

Once in Florida, we plan to visit as much of the state as possible, to make plans (or not) for the winters ahead.

When and where I grew up, I can’t remember people going for holidays in winter. Post WW2, times were getting better, but winter holidays…not on my radar. As a young mother in the 60’s and 70’s (I had two children, 10 years apart), I always dreamed of taking my babies to a tropical island. I imagined their tiny feet tucked into the warm sand, mid-winter. It was not to be.

One thing about time…”Tempus Fugit”

So here I am on the brink of a month long trip to a warmer, gentler, more inviting land of warm sand and sea foam, gynormous malls, outlets and flea markets, endless museums, aquariums, and theme restaurants, armed with coupon booklets for discounts on all of them!

When I get back, I’ll report on the trip and whether it lived up to my North “headed”-South headed expectations.

Au Revoir. Be well,


PS: For those of you, who don’t experience snow, and may not “get it”, here are few photos of today’s landscape, after another 8 inch snowfall. It’s our life in black and white.


Turning 65

January 17, 2008

Here I am. Poised on the very brink of 65. Not like in “miles per hour”, but in “years of age”!

65 has a certain ring to it. Sixty (sexy, silly,) & five (fine, live,). Could it be just that simple? Should I be doing/thinking something special? Maybe I am too old to do something differently. Should I be planning to take up a new hobby (I don’t have any old hobbies), go back to school, learn to make fudge, buy a new rocker? It has a certain “New Year’s eve” quality about it.

I hadn’t planned on doing anything to usher in the new age, except a small, family dinner party, that I will cook, (now there’s an element of control that I could give up), with copious amounts of wine that I received for New Year’s and held onto for this birthday. (I need an excuse to drink now.) DUH?

Should I apologize to anyone? Shape up? Make a new will? Pray more? Sin less?

I guess not.

Thank goodness! Just pass the wine and the chocolate cake.

PS… At 65- I understand that we are allowed to ask ourselves profound questions and answer them shallowly.(even using words that don’t exist).

More on “65” read “A Friendly Warning” posted September 6, 2007 or… read my entire blog which charts my progress from 0 to 65.

…and PS- I am so thoroughly, exquisitely, thrilled and grateful to be here!

Ice Storm 1998

January 12, 2008

icestorm-2.jpgJanuary 6th to January 27, 1998.

Small town, country living is a life style choice, not for all. We live in a Township, only a few hundred feet from the town limits, so we have a well, and a septic system as well as a sump pump in the basement. This only warrants mention in view of this conversation about electricity, or the lack thereof. None of the above function when the power fails. Within 24 hours our basement has 2 inches of water, which we bail and carry upstairs to make the toilet work. The pump for well water doesn’t function either and these days, not many homes have the old hand pumps still connected.

January 6, 1998
Day 1- I was on my usual way to work in Montreal, 45 miles away. The road surfaces were clear, but I didn’t like the look of tree branches clutching on to power lines along the way so I turned around and went home at 9 am. At 1 pm the power went off and we went into “camping mode”- Out came the candles, cards and Coleman stove.

Day 2 – We were concerned about the water rising in the basement, but impressed with our Town and Township who sent volunteers door to door to find out who intended to stay in their homes and offer shelter at the local school and meals at the Legion.
Reality started to set in by night fall when the temperature dropped and the trees were snapping-They were like loud gun shots all night long.
Day 3- We set up the family room, moving in a table and chairs, mattresses, emptied the kitchen cupboards and set up a cooking area in the adjoining back porch, where we could safely cook with the back door open. Fortunately we had a good supply of wood, a big fireplace along with some good survival instincts (and a black cast iron pot). During the night, we were horrified with the sounds outside; tree limbs were sliding to the ground like rotten corpses.
We woke up to devastation in our back yard and all around us, wires down, poles snapped in half.
Days 4, 5 & 6: We worked hard at surviving. Phones went down, we threw out food from the freezer, and went shopping at the local store using matches to light our way down the aisles. We took pictures and washed our hair at our daughter’s house in the town. She had running water, heated on their wood burning stove. Their house was cosy. Our 3 month old Grand daughter was snug.
There was a full moon. The backyard looked like a moonscape, almost daylight shining on the ice covered snow.
Day 7-We are getting outside everyday to break the monotony. Our names are on a list at the town hall to buy one of the generators ordered. Accolades to the Mayors and volunteers for their huge efforts to help out and organize the disaster area. The bank allows a withdrawal of $100. per account. The local stores are accepting cheques and giving credit. Our basement is being pumped out daily by volunteers. People are in good humour. It’s getting colder!
Day 8- The temperature is dropping for the next few days. -16c to-24c This is dangerous. My husband nailed a 9×12 carpet over the archway to the kitchen. 2×4’s on 3 sides ruined the walls but the heat will stay in the room.

The army came to town. They could not believe the devastation. They said our town was the hardest hit and the best organized community that they had seen in the triangle.
Day 9-No generator yet. We were no. 101 on a list-only 70 generators came in. Our phones are working. We are hearing from friends and family, worried about us. We have a small battery radio, keeping in touch with what is going on.
Day 10- -21c Terrible cold closed in at 3 am. We barely slept. The room was cold despite the fireplace going full blast. In our bathroom, our toothbrushes were frozen. Early morning, we went to Champlain, NY. another town suffering ice devastation, and purchased a good generator. The price was right. The US Government is monitoring businesses for price gouging. By 2 pm the generator was running off and on and providing some furnace heat and TV!! We watch the 1st live images on TV since the storm started. It’s beyond belief. We are so thankful that we have a fireplace, survival skills and energy to stay home.
Day 11- We are feeling better- It’s amazing what a little creature comfort can do. A little heat, a little TV.
Day 12- -16 & sunny. We had to turn the furnace off- The carbon monoxide monitor kept beeping. We called the fire department, but it’s o.k., The police did a door to door check of our living conditions. They said they were impressed with our set up, they were evacuating some people to shelters.
Day 13- Happy birthday to me! I had a Birthday Pecan Pie. It’s -7c and feels warmer with a little celebratory wine!
Day 14- I went back to work in Montreal- The 1st time since the storm hit. I could hardly describe our experience to people there. I feel like we are on another planet- Everyone else had power back in 3 days to a week. We are at day 14, with no relief in sight. I’m really too tired to work.
PS: Carl Perkins died today.
Day 15- Back to work again for a few hours. It seems to normalize life a bit.
Day 16- The furnace is working part time on the generator- The inside house temp got up to 15c briefly during the day, so we slept in our own beds. What a treat that was, but ice cold by morning.
Day 17- -21c again! We heard that the power may be on in a few days. My husband is exhausted, he’s feeding the fireplace, and running the generator, part time, which is kept outside during the day. We drag it inside for the night when it’s not running as we heard that some generators have been stolen.
It’s a full time job, cooking meals, and keeping everything sterile, clean and comfortable.
Day 18- -18c How “alike” each day is. We are so dull and ordinary. The US news keeps us entertained: Oprah is in Texas, Bill Clinton is “in heck” again and the Unabomber (Kuzinski) gets life.
Day 19- It’s warmer. We have been obsessed about the temperature for so long! We are almost out of our wood supply. The free wood coming into town is pretty green but appreciated.
Day 20- -7c We called a hotel in Vermont and made reservations for Easter. Now there’s a sign of life!
We are rooting for John Elway and the Broncos in the Super bowl.

Day 21- -20 Deep freeze again, but we see Hydro trucks everywhere. At 8 pm it looks like, yes! It could be… POWER!
Day 22- We woke up to -24c outside. We were in our own beds, warm, relaxed and even took a bath.
Is this heaven?

Back yard devastation.

Happy New Year

January 4, 2008

Christmas was always my favorite time of year. I spent as much as I possibly could without the slightest regret and I showered my friends and family with presents and enjoyed every second of it. Even knowing that it would take until the following year to pay off the bills…no regrets! Fortunately for me, that was a time when we didn’t have credit cards to run up.

New Year’s was also special. Life was full of expectation. Somewhere along the way, I had developed a mantra, “Turn the Page”. Every New Year’s eve was the best time to use it.

“Turn the page”, I would say to myself, after having made a royal mess out of the year, or part of it. Turn the page, forget it, start anew.

There was something about January 1st. It was a big blank page- regardless of my failings, disappointments, regrets, mistakes and catastrophes, I could put it all behind me, start anew. I would resolve to work harder, be a better person, save money, lose weight. I was successful with some more than others… sometimes, but I tackled them all with optimism.

Some New Year’s eves were more memorable than others.

1960- At eighteen years old, a New Year’s party was the most important night of my life. I had the dress; a pretty powder blue brocade and rhinestone jewelery but I just couldn’t find suitable shoes anywhere. Living in the far north, with only few stores, we learned to be resourceful. Just hours before going out, I rummaged in the basement of my parents home, thrilled to find powder blue paint, (the colour of my brother’s room,) and I set about painting my white, summer, very high heeled sandals, and while I was at it, touched up a couple of the rhinestones on the necklace and earrings. I was just dazzling!

1963- Pink chiffon cocktail dress with silver shoes & bag. (Audrey Hepburn-ish)

1968- Purple elephant hipster pants with a purple satin blouse.

1974- A white turban with a real diamond broach on the front with black Palazzo pants.

Ah, life was just wonderful.

Eventually, one of my New Year’s resolutions was “get over yourself!”

I still make New Year’s resolutions with fairly predictable outcomes, and mostly hope that I will be a better person this year. I will be 65 this month. I am still a work in progress.



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.

Air planes and Mining towns

October 30, 2007

flying-box-car.jpg dc-3.jpgfloat-plane-1.jpg

Mining towns are generally located in the middle of “nowhere”. If you really want to know exactly where “nowhere” is located, just follow a map to mining towns or read my blog: Mining Towns In Canada by littlepatti

Central Patricia, Northern Ontario. Snow Lake, Northern Manitoba. Chibougamau, Northern Quebec. In the early days roads could not be built fast enough and were weather sensitive, to say the least. Snow and mud ruined the gravel roads frequently and freeze-up, break-up on the lakes dictated the flow of goods and services to people who were brave enough to work and live in those remote communities. The military referred to those areas as “isolation”. As children of the mining town pioneers, we were well fed and cared for, so we were oblivious to our precarious living conditions. Our greatest hardship may have been that we didn’t know the luxury of fresh milk and rarely had lettuce. We drank tinned Carnation- (ugh) and canned peas & corn were the most popular vegetables. We are living proof that kids don’t need lettuce, lettuce is not real food. Everyday living took lots of planning, not to mention special occasions like Christmas and Easter. The Sears catalogue was priceless. We would be carefully measured, our foot prints drawn on paper and then we would hold our breath waiting for that big box to arrive a couple of times a year, containing new shoes, winter boots and school clothes along with our gifts. Keep in mind, in those days no one had a credit card so even saving money regularly to make an order for necessities was an achievement!

The towns, the mines, the people depended on air planes. In the early days, some of the planes were rudimentary to say the least.

Here are some photos of aircraft that flew into those mining towns in the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s.

I don’t know who the pretty lady is pictured with one of the planes. I suggest the photo is circa 1940(?) I guess her dress & shoes would be “sports clothes” of that era.

I would appreciate any comments on these aircraft. I found these photos among Elmer & Mary’s old photos. The cargo planes flew from Sioux Lookout and Pickle Crow to Central Pat, and a friend commented that the oldest plane looks like something that was flown by Gaby Hayes. That’s funny if you are old enough…

Here’s a Snow Lake site, you will enjoy. float-plane-2.jpgfloat-plane-3.jpg

The day Jimmy Scott died

October 20, 2007

1945, Central Patricia Gold Mines, Ontario.

I remember the day Jimmy Scott died…

We ran along a narrow, snowy path towards the river. I clutched the hem of Mother’s coat as I had been taught to do. We stopped and Mother talked to people along the way. Somehow, I knew better than to interrupt. There was confusion, Mother was crying. Suddenly I was grabbed by my Dad and hugged in his huge arms. He was wearing his mining hat with the light that I loved. He was crying too. I was almost three years old.

That scene was interpreted a few years later: My favorite playmate, Jimmy Scott had fallen in the River.

When Mom got the phone call that there had been an accident, she bolted out the door and ran to the neighbours house to find me in the backyard playing as I should have been. Whenever there was a fiasco, she looked for her little Patti to be front and center. That day and many to follow, she was grateful that I had not followed Jimmy to the river’s edge to be swept away.

Mine rescuers, including my Dad were called to the scene. Jimmy’s red scarf floated on the icy water and they pulled his lifeless body to safety, but it was too late despite their every effort.

It was just a few days before Christmas. Family friends had to go to the home of the devastated parents to remove the Christmas toys that had been lovingly built, ordered from a catalogue, and hidden away for their only son.

I remember Jimmy Scott. He and I would hide under a bed and peek out at the ladies playing Bridge in the living room.

I remembered Jimmy Scott later on, when I learned Bible stories and about Jesus and Heaven. That was when I knew exactly where Jimmy Scott was.

Show up or Shut up

October 11, 2007

Expressions are interesting…or not.

This one just struck me. “Show up”.

  • Show up your neighbours.
  • Show up for work.
  • Show up at a party.
  • Show up uninvited.
  • Show up dressed to kill.
  • Show up on TV.
  • Show up to face charges.
  • Show up for practice.
  • Show up in full force.
  • Show up a flaw.
  • Show up in contrast.
  • Show up on a blood test.
  • Show up in the strangest places.
  • Show up on time.
  • Show up empty.
  • Show up alone.

I could think of more but I didn’t want to show off, so some of your favorites may be a no show. Let me know or… Show up or shut up.

A friendly warning!

September 6, 2007

1966 was the year that the Canada/Quebec pension plan was born. It seemed like a good idea: every employed person would pay into the plan through deductions at source, employers would match the contributions, and it was portable and painless. (Much like Unemployment Insurance and Medicare.)

At the end of the first year or two of the plan, I received a statement which reported my retirement date would be 2008.

2008!!! That was “forever”. Not only so many years ahead, but in another century. I couldn’t possibly imagine that I would live that long. I didn’t want to live that long, I’d be ancient. My parents weren’t even that old and they were really old.

2008? Me? It was inconceivable, unimaginable, impossible.

Guess what? January 2008 is just around the corner and I qualify for my pension!

I’m not nearly old enough to be 65 already, and I am far from ancient. I did survive while some of my favorite people in the world didn’t.

I’ve had to learn and learn again: P e r s p e c t i v e.

Life is a gift. An exquisite, fleeting gift!