A Force To Be Reckoned With


When I was growing up, any reference to seniors made me immediately think of my grandparents. They always seemed frail and in need of assistance. They led rather boring lives and rarely left their homes. It appeared to me at my young age that their main purpose in life was to babysit the grandchildren and host large family get-togethers. I must admit I was in no rush to reach my senior years.

As I got older and had children and  my own parents became grandparents, I gained a new respect for the importance of these seniors. However, my parents seemed more active for their age, and their own social life was busier. They went out places together and even traveled a bit. I sometimes envied their freedom as I changed diapers and did endless loads of laundry at home.

Now that I am a member of the Senior Set, my views have changed completely. Seniors are a force to be reckoned with everywhere. I can’t help but feel that the Baby Boomers altered the concept of aging.

For instance, we have a day named after us EVERY WEEK! No self respecting business can compete without a Seniors’ Day on their agenda when they offer discounts of some kind or another. Just try shopping on these designated days to see how popular they are.


Almost every city, town, or village has some kind of Senior Citizens’ Center. These centers offer a wide variety of programming to appeal to every taste and the cost is incredibly reasonable. You can line dance, exercise, learn computer skills or do Chinese cooking to your hearts delight. Seniors line up in great numbers to snag a spot in the popular classes.

Gorgeous models in their senior years are making a big resurgence. Take a look at Maye Musk or Daphne Selfe (age 86) as examples.

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Even movie theaters offer senior pricing, and we take up the same amount of space as any other adult. And has anyone else noticed the number of movies that focus on seniors’ lifestyle? ” The Book Club” comes to mind immediately.

Statistics show that seniors are the fastest growing group to use and promote cannabis these days. Surprised? Not I. Everyone I know is talking about it and comparing information.

The newest confirmation that seniors are impacting society is this sign that was brought to my attention only yesterday. There are school crossing zones, and 45960158_10160729602020467_7700565530649821184_ndeer crossing zones; there are falling rock zones, and loading zones and now we have senior safety zones. I have to admit I am a little surprised and perhaps even a bit offended. It had to be some young whippersnapper who came up with this idea.

So don’t count us out quite yet. The wrinkle wranglers still have plenty to offer society. And if you don’t agree with me, well, …..


Thanks for reading,

Penny xo



How many times have you met an old friend or family member on the street or at an event and after a brief conversation, you both agree to stay in touch, have lunch, or give each other a call? It never happens! We get busy with our own lives and never make that call. So, why do we say it?


A while ago, I noticed my cousin on Facebook. I had not seen her or talked to her for several years. The actual last time we were together was at a family wedding. I have a good-sized extended family, and we all live fairly close. We grew up attending big family gatherings, and I saw aunts, uncles, and cousins very regularly. So how did we grow so distant? Yes, we all got older, married, and had families of our own, but that couldn’t possibly be the reason. So what changed?

I have given this a great deal of thought. In my own life, the person who kept me connected with my extended family was my mom. She made a point of calling her brothers and sisters regularly to find out how they were. That contact was very important to her. She made the effort to attend dinners and picnics, showers and weddings, new babies and funerals for everyone. She was the glue that held us together and kept us up to date on what was happening within our larger family circle. And then, she died.

Almost overnight, I fell out of touch with many family members. Not because I wasn’t interested, but because I did not make it a priority. My only brother lives close by, but if it wasn’t for the fact that we frequent the same local pub, I would probably rarely see him, and this is someone who means the world to me. Unfortunately, this disconnect is not limited to family; many old friends have also fallen by the wayside.

Several weeks ago, I again saw my cousin on Facebook and for some reason it struck me that I am not getting any younger. I clicked on her name and sent a private message. I asked her if she would like to have lunch. She responded immediately and said, “YES!” And without further delay, we set a date to meet. As the day grew closer, I decided to ask my 96 year old aunt to join us. She was thrilled. We spent a lovely afternoon together catching up and reminiscing.

As I drove my aunt home later that day, I told her we should get together with family and friends more often. She was quiet for a moment, then replied, ” I’d love to, but most of my friends are dead.” It was my turn to pause and think now.

I finally said confidently, ” Don’t worry. I”ll find people for us to have lunch with.” Her face lit up. Until now, we had  only been attending funerals together.


That night I promised myself to start reaching out to both family and friends. So far the response has been amazing. It is much more important to spend time with people when they are able to enjoy your company, than mourn the loss after they are gone. It takes nothing to pick up the phone and arrange a visit. You may be surprised at how good it will make you feel.


Thanks for reading,

Penny xo


What Shall We Do Today?


I was scrolling through Facebook today and a beautiful picture of Amsterdam popped up in my news feed. It reminded me of how much I missed that amazing city, and also that I had not finished my final post about my vacation there.  So here we go!

As with any vacation, there is the universal question,”What should we do today?” Some people take trips where everything is planned for them. You are told when to get on the bus, when to eat, what you are going to see, where you are sleeping at night, and in some cases when you can go to the bathroom. I hate that kind of vacation! Been there; done that! No thank you. It is my vacation, and I will decide what and when things happen.

Our Amsterdam trip was no exception; however, when there are four people sharing the same holiday, there have to be compromises. My friends are the best at this. We are also a “fly by the seat of our pants” kind of group. Yes, we had some loose outline of things we wanted to do like our visits to the Van Gogh Gallery and the Rijksmuseum. For those two exhibits, we actually purchased our tickets online before we left because we did not want to wait in long lines.


We also arranged to visit the cousin of one of the girls, and she lived in the northern part of the Netherlands. She was expecting us for lunch, so we planned our day accordingly. Here we are waiting for the train. It took us about an hour to reach her beautiful, small town. 20180902_101743

One morning we woke up and during breakfast, we decided to take a ferry to the “Eye” and the “Lookout”. The “Eye” is a film museum and the architecture is very modern in contrast to much of Amsterdam. “The Lookout” is the tallest building in Amsterdam; however, in comparison to skyscrapers in other parts of the world it is actually small.


I took this picture from the ferry (which is free to ride). On the left is the “Eye”, and on the right, the “Lookout”. If you look closely at the top of the “Lookout”, you will see a metal frame hanging over the edge of the building. That, my friends, is a swing which sways back and forth over the side. I must say, when I woke up that morning, I certainly had no idea that I would agree to doing that ride. But I did!


I was terrified, and shocked even my kids when they saw the video.

Some days we headed out from our boat just to explore. We visited the flower market.


We shopped and checked out markets in various squares. We walked, we took the ever so efficient tram, we used the “Hop-On-Hop-Off” boat, and even a bicycle taxi. We crammed as much fun into our ten days as we possibly could, and that included an evening in the famous “red light district”.

For myself, I prefer to experience things at my own pace. I have no idea where I will venture next, but I can assure you, it will be a blast.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Tasting Amsterdam

It is almost impossible to describe a visit to a new country or city without discussing its food and Amsterdam is no exception. The morning we arrived in Amsterdam, we had to wait for a friend to meet us, so to pass the time we settled in at a coffee shop located beside the arrival gate. It could not have been a more perfect location to enjoy a cup of coffee and people watch.

Koffie Verkeerd


Their coffee is fairly strong and served either black or white (Koffie Verkeerd), but best of all each cup comes with a small cookie called a Stroopwafel . These can vary in size, but they are usually thin, waffle-looking biscuits  with a syrup filling. These tiny treats really hit the spot. Dutch-food-Stroopwafels




Once we had settled into our houseboat, we decided to wander up the street to the local pub for some lunch. One of the girls order a favorite of hers, bitterballen. These are deep fried balls with some kind of mushy meat mixture inside and served with a mustard dip. I tried one, but was not a fan. It was quite bland and the texture did not appeal to me.




The croquettes were another version of these deep fried appetizers.


The Dutch seem to really enjoy their own version of French fries. There were numerous kiosks along the streets selling only fries. Theirs are cut a little thicker and often have a spicy taste and all are served with mayonnaise. I quite enjoyed them.


Before starting our vacation, one of the girls had found something called poffertjes while researching Amsterdam online. It was the one food she was really looking forward to trying. These enticing treats were advertised everywhere and about our third day we sat down for the taste test. Now poffertjes are really just tiny, inflated pancakes. They are air filled little balls, but you can have them with a variety of toppings. I ordered mine with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and fresh strawberries, and of course, a chilled glass of pinot grigio to accompany this decadent treat. Delicious!!!! The picture on the left shows the poffertjes on the special grill.




It would be impossible to talk about Dutch cuisine without mentioning their huge selection of cheese. One of my first purchases was cheese to bring home. I loved the gigantic displays with endless samples to try. It was difficult to narrow my choices. We also kept a good supply in the houseboat fridge for snacking with our wine.

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This gorgeous Smeg fridge held all our delectable snacks, including something I had never seen before…..


It was very tasty! I mean how can you fully enjoy the cuisine of a new place unless you sample everything.

There are so many other typical Dutch delicacies, and their cuisine also includes a good number of Indonesian restaurants which reflect Dutch colonial times.

The next time you travel make sure to sample as many new foods as possible. It is all part of the experience, so don’t miss it. You can have McDonald’s any time!


Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Amsterdam….City of Cyclists


I have spent most of my adult life trying to get in better physical shape. I now know the solution…. move to Amsterdam. Everyone there, both young and old, is in good shape because the entire city rides bicycles. If you don’t have one, you can rent one everywhere.

And although the city is quite walkable and beautiful, it is most definitely not safe for pedestrians. The main streets are designed like this…. pedestrian sidewalk, bike lane, car lane, tram lane, car lane, bike lane, pedestrian sidewalk. Walkers must juggle five busy lanes of traffic to cross the street. After my first close call with a bike, I became ultra aware and began shouting out, “Bike!”, “Car!”, “Tram”, to the others in the group. Or in some cases, “Run!” was our only option. I must admit it sharpened my attention skills and occasionally provided good exercise for my reflexes.  Smaller side streets are more manageable as bikes and cars share the same lane.

It will forever be a mystery to me why there are not more accidents. I witnessed one mishap that was actually caused by pedestrians.

The Dutch are ingenious with their bikes. They have designed every manner imaginable to carry things on their two-wheeled vehicles. My favorite was the children being delivered to school or daycare in a wheel- barrow styled box attached to the front of their parent’s bike. I saw as many as 4 toddlers crammed into these open boxes, smiling, waving, laughing, and eating with not a helmet in sight. Older kids doubled on handle bars, cross bars, or even on the fender rack.


In Canada we have parking lots and garages for cars, but in Amsterdam there are two and three level garages dedicated to bikes. Everything from railings to trees are utilized to secure your bike.








Another rather interesting thing about this city of waterways is the fact that there are virtual few if any barriers along the canals. People parallel park mere inches from the edge. It was amazing to watch them maneuver into place. Of course, the lack of railings also resulted in this…

20180904_145158.jpg20180904_145209.jpgBarges with a crane on one end, regularly scoured the canals to remove bicycles that have fallen in. A guide on the Hop On Hop Off boat joked that the canals are one meter of water, one meter of mud, and one meter of bicycles. He is probably correct. These guys were working near our boat so it was interesting to watch what came up.



















This cycling mecca absolutely fascinated me. While sitting at our favorite pub located on the corner of a busy intersection, it was fun to watch what I fondly referred to as a “bicycle ballet”. Riders passed each other in perfectly synchronized harmony without ever stopping, no matter what direction they were going. Car drivers on the other hand were often sitting helplessly waiting for a break in the dance so they could join the fray.


Perhaps I should pull my bike out of the shed and pump up the tires. I may have been inspired!


Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

Houseboat Living Part 2


Living on a houseboat is not without its challenges. The fact that our boat was once an open deck freighter only added to its quirkiness. Most people we met found it rather extraordinary that four women ranging in age from 70 to 80 would choose this mode of living. After all, the deck was on a 45 degree angle, there were no railings except on the slippery metal gang plank, the stairs were narrow and steep, and we were given no instructions on how anything worked. We were left a list of rules. I still laugh when I read them.


What could possibly go wrong?

Getting our luggage inside was our first ordeal. We worked like a chain gang passing each piece from one to the other down those stairs.

Our next concern was the washroom situation. We had chosen this boat because it had 2 bathrooms, but the second bathroom might as well have been in another country because there was no way to maneuver along that narrow passage to the far end of the ship in the dark of night or in rain. It’s a given that with age comes frequent peeing, especially during the night. To give some perspective, I took this photo from the doorway of the bedroom. Now imagine making your way in pitch dark (two were sleeping in the bed you can see) from the bedroom to that door on the left side at the far end, navigating furniture, loose floorboards, a substantial tilt, and a multitude of squeaks while under the influence of a little wine. We became experts!


In the middle of the night, I would stand in the doorway until my eyes became accustomed to the dark then plot my course to miss chairs and tables, and hop over precarious floor slats. Then do the same in reverse. Our worry about 4 ladies sharing only one bathroom was completely unnecessary. We operated like a well-oiled machine.

The bathroom itself offered a challenge. The sink was so high that it required a small ladder to get your chin over the edge to clean your teeth. We nicked this one from the far bedroom since we were not using it. It was needed there to climb into bed.


To get clean towels or bed linen, you had to climb on the roof of the boat from outside to access a large cupboard where supplies were stowed. Every once in a while the water heater would turn itself off when someone was in the shower, but we called and got instructions for resetting it.

We were very fortunate with weather conditions; however, one day it rained very hard. That was when we learned most of the skylights leaked.

20180829_184332.jpg We grabbed every pot and bowl from the kitchen to catch the drips. Mieke called the owner to report the problem. We were laughing so hard our sides ached. The very next morning, owner Paul showed up with a big box of chocolates and a bottle of champagne to apologize for our inconveniences. We were still laughing. 20180829_184313(2)

My favorite part about living on the houseboat was spending the time together. In a hotel, everyone goes off to their room, you order room service or have to get dressed and go out for breakfast or coffee. On the boat, we made coffee and breakfast together and sat around in our pajamas planning our day. Late in the afternoon, we would sit out on the deck drinking wine, snacking, and watching the activity on the Amstel River.


As I mentioned previously, houseboat living is not without its challenges and is certainly not for everyone; however traveling itself requires all of us to step out of our comfort zone and be open to new experiences. I had a fantastic holiday because the people I was with were amazing.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

P.S. Stay with me for more about the trip.

Ship Ahoy!


It has been several weeks since my last post as I have been busy fulfilling another item on my bucket list…. Amsterdam.

Well over a year ago, four of us decided to plan a trip to Amsterdam. Life temporarily got in the way, but in August we realized our goal. To make the trip even more fun, we chose to rent a houseboat instead of  hotel rooms. This is a normal practice in the city of canals. So back in January, I found a web site called Bookahouseboat.com . There are quite literally 1000’s of houseboats available for rent in this city. The first question we are always asked is, ” Who is going to drive it?” The boat does not move. It is simply a floating hotel minus room service.

Booking a houseboat, sight unseen, can be a little disconcerting even for the most adventurous; so, add to that fact that we are four senior women and you have an interesting situation. We are all seasoned travelers, so we are accustomed to a variety of accommodations from luxury hotels to smaller B&B’s, but nothing could have prepared us for our boat. We had of course seen interior pictures, but nothing above deck. I think we all had in our mind that we were renting something like this….


When in reality we had actually rented the huge green freighter at the top of the page. Yes, the “Everdeen”, built in 1928 and used to haul sand and gravel up and down the canals, became our home away from home. It was tethered to another huge freighter on the Amstel River in an excellent location beside the famous Magere Brug better known as the “Skinny Bridge”.

After flying all night and arriving at 6:30am in Amsterdam having had no sleep, we were very anxious to check into our accommodations and put our feet up. Unfortunately, our check in time was 12:00 noon, so we stowed our baggage in lockers at the train station and went for breakfast. After eating, no one felt like wandering aimlessly, so we called our contact number and asked if we could move into the boat sooner.  He was very kind and said he would call the cleaning lady and give us permission to wait on the deck until she was finished.

With some difficulty, we found a cab to hold the four of us and our luggage. It was no more than a 5 minute drive. I would love to have had a picture of our faces when we first set eyes on “our boat”. Someone finally said, “What have we done?” Like the blind leading the blind, single file we pulled our suitcases over the gang plank.

There were four chairs on the tiny deck with a gas fire pit in the middle. Sounds lovely, right? I need to mention that the deck is on a 45 degree tilt. I quickly learned to brace my chair legs against the edge of the fire pit lest I sail across the deck, over the open edge,

20180827_182231 and into the water. And there we waited contemplating our situation until the cleaning lady finished.

She finally gave us the okay to come inside. Once through the door, there was a narrow stairway to navigate down to the living quarters. The interior was exactly as we had seen in the advertisement; it was very spacious, clean, and bright.


However, the main reason we had chosen this boat was because it had two bedrooms and two bathrooms.


We found the first bedroom easily. The second was going to be a bit of a challenge especially after a glass or two of wine.


The second bedroom was located in the stern of our ship. As the picture demonstrates, one must make a precarious walk along the narrow, railing-less footpath to reach said bedroom complete with its own toilet and claw-footed bathtub. Needless to say, we decided to use the pull out couch in the living room instead.

The initial shock gradually wore off and we looked at the bright side of our rental. Less than half a block away was a great little pub that became our local. Around the corner was a nice little grocery store where we stocked up on breakfast essentials and all the wine we could carry. The tram stop was only two bridges away and restaurants were plentiful in every direction. But best of all, there was always something happening on the busy waterway by our boat.

The morning we were leaving our “old girl” was bittersweet. She had grown on us all with her quirks and groans and loose, squeaky floorboards. We all miss her and would go back in a heartbeat. Sometimes in life you have to throw caution to the wind and just take a chance.

Thanks for reading,

Penny xo

P.S. More to come on our adventure.