Personal Best: On the road again

Pat Black discovers that the best laid plans, when tossed aside, often result in a happier outcome

It was just about one year ago that I wrote about my travels to assorted ports in Ontario, Florida and Newfoundland and thought at that time that it might be my last trip east, the land of my birth. Yet here I am again returning to the homeland to visit relatives and friends and have new adventures, all thanks to the generosity of my son, Chris, and his family and to the generosity of my sister, Connie, who presented me with the airline tickets to go. Only this time I am going for two months rather than four as I did last year.

My flight from Kelowna to Toronto was amazing. I sat next to a non-stop talker. At first I was very dismayed and kept raising my book to read but the message went unnoticed and on and on he droned. His monologue covered many subjects. He was a retired school teacher with many interests and lived in a small Ontario city with his wife of 45 years. I travelled alongside him as he revisited Cuba, Hawaii, Alaska, his daughter’s hillside home in Kelowna and the new baby. We went back to the ‘50s with his camping and his trekking around Europe with other would-be-hippies. Finally I was treated to most of the thousand or so photos he has on his iPad. Pompeii, a Mediterranean cruise, the Vatican, Santorini, Venice, he had been to them all, and on and on it went. By now I recognized his sisters and brothers-in-law and other relatives.

If I had known before I boarded the plane that I would have to sit next to a person who never stopped talking I probably would have changed my flight. But amazingly as I got up to go to the bathroom for the third time, the pilot announced that we would be landing in 30 minutes. I didn’t even have time to plan at what point to take my tranquilizer and we were already arriving in Toronto.

Most of the time flying for me is very stressful and this long trip usually seems to last forever and a light tranquilizer is my insurance against anxiety attacks. This time the trip seemed to take no time at all and I thanked my seat mate for his company before he rushed to get off the plane. Isn’t it interesting how inaccurate our convictions can be when opportunities arise to put them to the test?  It doesn’t seem to matter how old we are, we can always learn something new and valuable. This old dog is certainly learning new tricks every day.

For the first week of my trip I am staying at my son’s home in Aurora before flying to Naples, Fla., to spend a month with Connie, my sister, at her condo. I have been here almost a week and still haven’t developed any kind of routine to write or work on projects. I have been too busy having fun and experiencing new adventures, while eating fantastic meals cooked by Kathy, our resident gourmet cook, and drinking lots of wine. More about my adventures in my next column!

March is nutrition month and living on a limited income doesn’t have to mean that seniors can’t eat healthier. Kerri-Ann Jennings, registered dietitian of the Eating Well magazine, identifies 12 super foods that are inexpensive. The list includes: lentils (high in fibre and protein), oats, kale, almonds (one ounce serving has 37 per cent of the daily requirement of Vitamin E), tea (especially green), oranges (one orange has the daily requirement of Vitamin C), tuna, peanut butter (look for natural peanut butter without hydrogenated oils and sugar), apples, eggs, carrots, and cabbage.

If you have questions or comments you can reach me at

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.