Saturday, June 30, 2012

Niagara Falls, Ontario, by Margaret Ullrich, part 6, Transplanting

Another hot day.
The neighborhood is pretty quiet.
Some folks have gone away for the holiday weekend.
Others, after doing chores in the morning, are staying indoors, like us.

This has been a strange summer.
Dry Monday to Friday, rain during the weekends.
Not good if you've been looking forward to weekends as a time to relax.

Holiday weekends come with such high expectations.
There are so many commercials and ads showing people having so much fun they're nearly delirious.
The food is fantastic!  
The fireworks are unbelieveable!
The family and friends are so happy to be together!! 
It's almost guaranteed there'll be disappointments.

Forty years ago it was a Friday and drizzling.
We were on the last leg of  the New York part of the trip.
Upstate New York still had a few surprises for us.
We saw an actual covered wagon.
It had gotten stuck in the mud and had to be pushed out.
No, the AAA couldn't help them.

In Genesee County we stopped in Batavia for a burger.
We met a fellow, about our age, who had never bought a burger before.
He kept asking the waitress how much everything was, then shaking his head.
He explained he was a farmer, and that this was his first time in a big city.
First the covered wagon, now this fellow who belonged in Little House on the Prairies.
We were beginning to wonder if we were doing some kind of time traveling.

The roads were bumpy.
The car was leaking antifreeze.
Paul figured the cap had been shakened loose.
Nothing to do but keep driving.
We finally reached Buffalo at 2:30 pm.
At a gas station Paul was told where the nearest repair shop was.
We drove three miles, past huge gas storage tanks and power lines.
We'd never seen power lines like that before.
They looked like invaders from Mars.
Finally, the shop.
A quickie patch up was all he could offer.

We were back on the road.
We were on our way to Canada.
We could actually see Niagara Falls.

This was the point where we, as immigrants, were entering our new country.
I know how in movies like The Godfather, the violins come on strong as the immigrants look to the new land, expressions of hope and fear racing over their faces.
I'd like to say we had a Kodak moment like that.
Nope.  Didn't happen.
We were tired.
We were hungry.
We were wondering if there was a bathroom at the border.

The border guards were pretty busy and they just waved us through to Ontario.
This was 1972, and they could see we were just another newlywed couple.
We were over 21, so we weren't going to Ontario to take advantage of the fact that their legal drinking age was 19. 
Why else would we be going there?
Why indeed?

In 1972 Niagara Falls was as cheesy as Manhattan's Times Square.
The wax museums and tacky souvenir shops were a joke.
Maybe if we were hot and horny, straight from our wedding, we'd have loved it.
I don't think so.
We'd honeymooned in a quiet Colonial-style bungalow in the Poconos.
We'd been married almost three months.
If we'd wanted this kind of crap, we'd have gone to Times Square.

Fortunately the Niagara Colonial Campground was more to our taste.
Mr. and Mrs. Brine were very helpful.
After chuckling at Paul's reaction to the funny colourful money we'd received as change, they told us where we could exchange our money and have our car checked over.
They also told us July 1 was a Canadian holiday.

After supper we watched our usual Friday night television shows, including a re-run of The Partners.
We enjoyed watching Don Adams and Rupert Cross as bumbling detectives.

It was another holiday weekend.
We were in a new country.
Canada had some different things, like the money.
But there were some familiar things, like Don Adams.

Another holiday weekend.
No big deal.  
We'd get through it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Aurora, New York, by Margaret Ullrich, part 5, Transplanting

Today was a hot, sunny day, as was on June 29, 1972.

Since we're now retired, we're not tied to a 9 to 5 schedule.
During the Summer we're "early to bed and early to rise".
Yes, it's weird to go to bed when it's still bright outside.
It's also weird to have have about 8 hours of light in the winter.
The weirdness and daylight evens out.

During the summer, the best time to take a walk is early morning.
Before it gets really hot.
Yes, I know Manitoba has a dry heat.
But so has an oven.
And no one enjoys being baked.
We know better than to fight Mother Nature.

When we first moved to Tyndall Park in 1988 it was a fairly new community.
The houses were only a few years old.
The fences were upright, a major feature in an area that gets permafrost, which can wreck fencing, house foundations and improperly prepared sidewalks.
But now the area is showing its age.

Don't get me wrong.  
Our neighbors have a basic middle-class pride of ownership.
The houses are painted, the lawns are cut, there are landscaping efforts.

Two homeowners had been so proud of their Barkman fences.
"Never needs painting" was the big attraction.
Painting would've been no problem.
The fences are now at a 45º angle.
The gates are a joke.

Some of the sidewalks have buckled and the streets have potholes.
The potholes have been filled with a tarry goop and some gravel.
Buckling and potholes...  
Some of the perks of living on the Canadian prairie.

After our walk we went to get groceries at our local mall.
Just another summer day in Manitoba.

Forty years ago we were back in New York, on the highway.
We were headed north, past Coxsackie, in a pleasant rural area.
I said, "Isn't it nice.  No more trucks to bother us."
A truck passed us on our left.
It was followed by a huge vehicle, carrying cars, which had to pass us to take an exit on our right.
Paul said, "Truck."

We had arranged with Carol and Dorothy to have a picnic lunch in New Baltimore.
We trailerites had to stick together.
As was mentioned in The Long, Long Trailer, you really get to know your neighbors when you live in a trailer.
Maybe it's more a survival instinct than just a need to be social.
The highways can be a dangerous place.
We'd learned that lesson the first day out.

After lunch we said our farewells and went our separate ways.
We passed places we'd never heard of... Canajoharie, Fort Plain.
It was still hilly, so I think they were just being honest when they named the fort.
We got gas at the Iroquois Service Station.
Wow!!  We were meeting people that folks in New York City never saw.

As we drove past Syracuse we started making plans for the evening.
Paul had made a list of where we would camp each night.

Well, man plans and God laughs.

We were now in Cayuga County.
Paul had thought that River Forest Park in the village of Weedsport would be a good place to spend the night.
According to our AAA guidebook, Weedsport got its name from Elihu and Edward Weed, merchants who helped found the village. 
It was a port on the Erie Canal and had been called "Weed's Basin" because the town had a basin (boat turnaround) used during the Erie Canal era.
We were definitely in water country.
Weedsport - "Weed's Basin" - was flooded during the summer of 1972.
River Forest Park was closed.
The "Closed" sign just skimmed the top of the water.

We were beginning to realize that things were not going to go exactly to plan.

On we drove.
It was getting late.
As co-pilot, I checked the AAA guidebook.
The next town, Aurora, had a campground.

Cunningham's must've been the inspiration for the campground in National Lampoon's Vacation.
The guy at the desk was surly, no dumping was allowed and the restrooms should have been condemned.
We huddled in our trailer and ate macaroni and cheese.
It rained all night.

As the reception on our television was awful, we read the AAA guidebook and circled alternate campgrounds along our route.

We also read about Aurora.
Located on Cayuga lake in the heart of the Fingers Lake region, Aurora had been established as a village about 1795.
Aurora was over 175 years old.
Who knew how old Cunningham's was? 
Maybe Cunningham's was once a nice trailer park.

In 1972, Cunningham's was showing its age.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kingston, New York, by Margaret Ullrich, part 4, Transplanting

It's going to be another hot day today.
God bless whoever invented central air conditioning.
Our lilies are starting to bloom.
Our other plants are starting to wilt.
Yes, I watered them.

A week ago a robin was frantically building a nest in the grapevine which shelters our kitchen window. 
After she'd built it, she disappeared.
We were worried she'd had a bad encounter with one of the local cats.
She's back now.
Every so often her head peers over her nest and she stares into our kitchen.
The grape leaves shelter her so that she can't be seen from the second floor windows.

The other Mama Robin is still being hassled by her overgrown kid.
He's like Audrey the plant in Little Shop of Horrors.
Feed me!!  Feed me!!
Some kids just can't take a hint.
Hope the new Mama has better luck.

Forty years ago we were still parked in the Kingston Esso station.
We'd decided to take a walk to the town's shopping mall.
Nothing like browsing a mall to make things feel normal.
Sears, A & P, Azuma...
Shopping.  The great American tranquilizer.
After 9/11 Americans were told to go back to the stores.
That was to show the world that Americans were still okay.

We got groceries, tools, a flashlight, sunglasses and some cute owl-shaped candles.
I also got a pack of Tarot cards.
No, I didn't know how to read them.
They just looked interesting.
Paul worried they'd bring us bad luck.
It started raining on our walk back.
The rain developed into a heavy thunderstorm.
Maybe he was right.

After I'd put our groceries away, I wrote a short note to Ma.
We mailed the letter and walked by the river.
The river seemed higher.
Not a good sign.
We were having a particularly wet summer in New York in 1972.
Oh, well, we'd soon be in Canada.

After supper another trailer was towed into the station.
They'd had a flat tire.
By now we were settled into Kingston.
We helped the family get organized and told them about the mall.
As Marjorie Main said in The Long, Long Trailer:
"I'd like to know what a trailerite is good for if not to help another trailerite."

Carol and Dorothy and their son were longtime trailerites.
We spent the evening learning more about the trailer life.
They shared a few hints with us.
The trailerite life was beginning to look pretty good.

Hope the Mama Robin with the overgrown kid has a few hints for the new Mama.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Trailerites in New York by Margaret Ullrich, part 3, Transplanting

Getting rid of the chives really improved our lives.
This morning we saw a goldfinch in the bird bath.
Never saw one when we had chives.
Who knew they were so picky?

Remember how I said that sometimes it feels like I'm living in an eternal rerun?
Well, this afternoon I watched an old favorite on Turner Classic Movies.

It's a 1954 comedy starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez.
It was directed by Vincente Minelli.
The plot is simple:
Lucy and Desi are newlyweds.
Their new marriage seems headed for disaster when they decide to buy a trailer home.

This movie was one of the major influences on my life.
No, really, it was.

Back in the 50s I had attended a Catholic school which was run by Dominican nuns.
My parents sent me there because we were immigrants.
They were terrified that I'd pick up American ideas in the public school.

We learned about the Catholic religion every day.
Obviously the kids in public school did not.
To make up for this lack, the Catholic kids in the public school hiked over to St. Fidelis to get a dose of religion every week.

Now the nuns had to make room for the public school kids every week.
They couldn't just toss us out on the streets every Wednesday afternoon.
We had religion, but the nuns knew better than to let us loose on the neighborhood.
Their faith in their influence on us went just so far.
We were kids, after all.
They trusted us about as far as they could throw us.

The solution was to herd us into the school's basement and show us a movie.
No popcorn, but still it was a free technicolor - usually - movie every week.
We saw quite an assortment:
Okay, they weren't first run films, but they were real movies.

Another movie we saw was The Long, Long Trailer.
I don't know why, but that film stuck in my head.
Traveling across the continent while hauling a house really appealed to me.
It seemed like the right thing to do.
Maybe in an earlier life I'd been a turtle.

All the problems Lucy and Ricky had didn't scare me a bit.
One day I just knew I was going to haul trailer across North America.

And in 1972, that's exactly what I was doing.
More or less.

Okay, forty years ago we were stuck in a lot behind the service station in Kingston, New York, waiting for our car to be repaired.
But, without The Long, Long Trailer would we even have made it that far?

All in all we'd had a good night's sleep.
I called Ma to let her know how we were doing.
She'd insisted on us giving her a daily call.
She'd expected that day's call to be from Albany, not Kingston.
But still, we were out of College Point and on our way to Vancouver.

Just like in the movie, the mechanic gave Paul driving lessons.
He explained that, when hauling a rig, one should drive at 50 miles per hour.
Reason? So we wouldn't be blown off the road when a truck passed.  Again.

Just like Lucy and Ricky we made do with what we had.
We didn't have an electric hookup so we used candles.
While her trailer was in the woods at an angle, Lucy had tried to cook eggs.
While our trailer was in the lot and leveled, I did cook eggs.
We weren't big yuks, but we were managing.
We ended the evening playing checkers by candlelight.

Yes, even a light comedy movie can influence a life.
Nora Ephron died yesterday.
Who can forget:
I'll have what she's having.
Who knows what affect her films had on people?

Thank you, Lucy, Desi and Nora.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Albany, New York or Bust by Margaret Ullrich, part 2, Transplanting

It's interesting to see robins searching for worms.
Mama Robin sticks her beak into the dirt and digs.
She really does toss out the dirt.
Our yard's walkway is littered with the dirt from her digging.

Mama is totally giving the cold shoulder to Junior.
He's right behind her, a really noisy fellow.
He can chirp all he wants, as far as Mama is concerned.
He's bigger than she is. 
Time for him to fend for himself.

Now that the garden is chive-free we can see more from our kitchen window.
This is a much better view than the one we had in 1972.

We're waiting for a tornado to blow in from Saskatchewan.
It's muggy and overcast.
It's a perfect day for paying bills.
Amazing the dent the property tax and a mastercard bill can make in a bank balance.
Didn't forget to renew our CAA membership.
Whether it's CAA or AAA, our relationship goes back a long way.
If it wasn't for them in 1972, we'd still be stuck in a ditch.

Forty years ago today we were on our way to Canada.
More or less.

We'd gotten up nice and early.
As our trailer was parked a block from my parents' home, we had breakfast with them.
After breakfast we left to cram more crap into our trailer.
Just before we were ready to go, everyone came and wished us well.
They wrote messages in our travel diary and waved us off.
By 1:00 pm we were on our way.

By 1:30 we were back.
Our trailer was making the car lurch to one side.
Not good.

Ma's brother, Uncle Charlie, had helped Paul make some adjustments to our trailer.
Originally our little Shasta was supposed to sleep six.
Well, we didn't need bedding for four other people.
The shelf, which was supposed to sleep two, was heavily packed.
Where there had been a couch, there was now a closet and cabinet. 

The lurching was not caused just by the junk we were hauling.
Pop and Charlie had given Paul some 2 x 4s they'd had laying around.
Good, sturdy wood.
Heavy wood.
Much heavier than the flimsy furring strips, which were just 1 x 2s.
It was a wonder that the trailer wasn't laying on its side like a dead horse.

Okay, on to plan B.
Pop, Uncle Charlie and my brother George helped Paul redistribute the load.
It only took a little over an hour.
While they packed, I listened to Ma saying we should wait a day.
Nope.  I explained to her that we had a schedule.
Paul had planned all the stops along the way.
First night - Albany.
Of course we'd make it, just a little late.
By 3:00 pm we we were on our way.

Paul missed the exit for the Garden State Thruway.
So, we were delayed another hour.
Did that make us rethink the plan?
Nope.  We were young.
Time was a moveable, elastic feast.

After 5:00 pm truckers take over the highways.
They were doing 75.
We were doing 55.
Our trailer was like a ship's sail.
By 7:30 pm we'd been blown off the road.

The mud in the ditch slowed us so we didn't crash into a farmer's fence.
A family came by to help.
When we opened the door, we saw that our possesions had been redistributed.
Only the ceramic house-shaped cookie jar cover was broken.

The cops came to examine the damage.
The mud had bent the blades of the fan.
The bent blades had bored a hole into the radiator.
The AAA tow truck came by to take us to Kingston, New York.

By 9:10 we were settled for the night in an Esso station.

No, we weren't in Albany.
But, we were in one piece.

Yes, CAA or AAA, our relationship goes back a long way.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Transplanting by Margaret Ullrich, part 1

Things have gotten a bit busy.
Nothing major, just stuff.
Stuff like gardening.

We don't have a huge garden.
Food: five rhubarbs, eight tomatoes and two zucchini.
Flowers: irises, lilacs, alyssums, bleeding hearts, lilies and daisies.
A grapevine provides shade over our kitchen window.
The branches from a chokecherry Paul had trained into a tree provides more shade.
Grass and white nancies provide ground cover.
A few perennials - some I planted, some planted themselves - complete the decor. 

Oh... and I have chives.

If you are starting a garden and someone gives you a package of chive seeds, please, please, toss them.
The chive seeds, I mean.
I know, I know... they look pretty.
Pretty purple ball-shaped flowers on slender green stems.
They'd look lovely, waving in the breeze in Spring.
And it would be handy to have some onions in the garden.
What's the harm in planting a few seeds?


Those pretty little purple balls are seed bombs.
After a couple of years you'll be finding chives everywhere.
They're worse than fleas at sneaking into any bare spot. 
Chives are vicious little squatters.
They'll be trying to choke anything else you'd like to have in the garden.

Today I decided to get rid of them.
It took me three hours.
The slender chive stalks were just the tips of the icebergs.
The root balls were huge.
I had to dig them out with a long-handled shovel.
My composter smells like a vat of onion soup. 
Maybe next year it'll only take me one hour to get rid of the new crop.
I know I'll have to do it again.

One thing about being over 60 - sometimes it feels like I'm living in an eternal rerun.

June 25, 2012 - I was weeding my garden.

June 25, 1972 - I was weeding everything I owned.
Paul and I were getting ready to leave America.
We were living in an 8 by 11 foot trailer.
It was so cute.
The dinette set converted into a double bed.
It even had a toilet.
What it didn't have was enough room for all our stuff.

You'd be surprised at how much stuff two recent college graduates could have.

I'd kept a travel diary for our trip across the continent.
I started it on June 25, 1972.
It was a rainy Sunday in College Point, Queens, New York.
We'd had a family dinner with both sets of parents at Ma's house.
After Paul's parents left, we went back to packing.

Packed almost everything in every available spot.  Not safe for traveling, though.  
Hope we get done by tomorrow.

June 25.
Weeding stuff. 
Weeding chives.
I'm in a rut.

Don't ask how much junk we've got after 40 years of marriage.
About the chives...  You've been warned.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Safety Hints for Seniors - Margaret Ullrich

Recently two elderly women were robbed in Winnipeg.  
One was over 90 years old.
A friend reminded me of a piece on Senior Safety I had written in 2005 for the radio show "2000 & Counting".
I'm posting it here and hope it helps keep others safe... 

     One thing I've heard a few seniors say is that they're lonely.  They can't remember the last time the kids called and said, "Let's meet for lunch" or "Let's window shop".  
     The lonely folks wonder.  Is it something I said?  Could it be my deodorant, my denture cleanser, my Jean Nate?

     Most likely you haven't said anything out of line or at least nothing the kids haven't heard before.  And they're used to how you smell.  
     So why the neglect?
     In one word, FEAR.  No, you're not a spectre of what we'll become.  You look just fine and we can only hope we'll be as healthy.  It's just that we're scared of what might happen when you're out in public with us.

     There've been a lot of articles about how seniors are often the victims of scams and muggings.  We hear how trusting the elderly are.  How they grew up in a time when they didn't lock their doors.  How helpful everyone was, how you could trust perfect strangers.

     Guess what?  Crooks have parents, too, and they've heard all about how wonderful it was before the invention of the light bulb.  They know that the greatest generation trusts everybody.  They know you're easy marks.  And that's why we're afraid to go out with you.  We feel the same way we did when we took our kids out, back when they were toddlers.  We feel responsible and we can't yell at you.

     Now, before you get all snippity, think back.  Even Erma Bombeck had a column about driving her Mom to the doctor's office, braking suddenly and reaching out to keep her Mom from crashing into the windshield.  It was just instinct, something she would've done with a child.  It's normal.  You did it with Granny.  Now we're doing it with you.  Parents and kids change places.  

     Annoyed at being compared to your grandchildren?  Think I'm talking out of my hat?  Ok, I'll give you an example.  
     On Friday I went to our local Green Machine to pay a couple of utility bills.  No big whoop.  Ahead of me was a mother and daughter.  The daughter was about my age.  She was showing her Mom how to pay her bills on the machine.  No problem.  There was enough cash and the bills went through without a hitch.  The daughter sighed with relief, mentally crossed another item off her 'To Do' list and started to walk away. 
     Not Mom.  There's a small shelf on the machine.  Mom had plunked down her purse and was rummaging through it, probably sorting used from clean tissues.  She wasn't aware of anyone behind her.  I could've been a mugger for all she knew.  Her daughter looked horrified when she saw her Mom alone and so defenceless.
     Moments like that haunt my generation.
     Want us to hang with you?  Get with the program.  Learn how to survive in 2005.

     If you're walking down a street try to have 'an attitude'.  Walk with purpose.  Be alert and aware.  Don't appear distracted or hesitant.  Don't look like you'd be an easy victim.  If you were a mugger which would you rather attack: sweet old Aunt Bea or Murphy Brown?

     Cross at corners and with the light.  Give the drivers a break.  Hey, some of them are seniors, too.  Mix their reduced peripheral vision with your arthritis and you're asking for an accident.  And even if you have the right of way, be careful.  Right doesn't always win out over might, especially if might has four wheels. 

     Use all your senses.  Leave the walkman at home.  Don't cut off your hearing with earphones.  Don't wear anything that blocks your peripheral vision.

     Use reflective surfaces to see behind you.  Glance at car and shop windows as you walk.  If you think you're being followed enter a store or cross the street.  Even just stopping and staring as the person passes you by is good.  It shows you're aware of him.  At ATM machines check the plastic strip.  If someone starts crowding you, turn around and give him that hard stare you're famous for.  

     Be careful at pay phones.  Always face out so you can see if anyone is approaching you.

     By wary of strangers.  Rude can be good.  Anyone asking for the time, directions or a light might be distracting you so you won't notice his buddy reaching for your purse.

     Fall's a great time to take classes.  How about a martial arts course?  It's good exercise and you can learn how to break a mugger's kneecap.  A kick to the knee is hard to block.  Don't have time for a course?   Rent Sandra Bullock's Miss Congeniality.  Pay attention when she shows that S-I-N-G is a reminder to aim for the Solar plexus, Instep, Nose and Groin.  If you're too much of a lady to do such things then remember that a clenched fist to the Adam's apple is a good thing.

     Be armed and fabulous.  Carry an umbrella or a nice old hat pin or metal nail file in your hand, not your purse.  Be ready to use them.  If you have to take a long walk late at night, pick up a cup of steaming hot coffee.  It can be tossed into a mugger's face. 

     Back to that Mom at the ATM.  Once you have your card back, walk away, fast, especially if you've gotten cash.  If you just have to check that you've gotten the total amount, put the money in your purse and count it there.  Don't make like a Mississippi gambler and flash your wad.  It's no one else's business how much cash you have. 

     And about that purse, clean it out at home.  Some women carry every piece of identification they have, like they were leaving the country.  If you're not going to 20 different stores, then why carry 20 different store charge and identification cards?

     And please, please, don't leave your purse in the shopping cart while you check out the produce.  Crooks have to get groceries, too.  

     If you're driving, focus on the driving.  'Don't talk on the phone while driving' isn't as catchy as 'Don't drink and drive' but it's a good rule, too.  
     Don't run out of gas.  Buy it in the daytime.  And never leave your keys in the car, even for the short time it takes to pump the gas.

     Be careful in the parking lot.  Choose busy, well-lit parking spaces near stores or security booths.  Always use the club, roll up your windows and lock your car.  I've seen cars with keys in the ignition and the windows open.  Owners have said, "This way I know where my key is."  Yeah, but one day you won't know where your car is.  If the kids are asking what you'd like for Christmas, how about an immobilizer? 

     If you have to return to an empty parking lot or garage, ask the security guard to escort you.  Keep a flashlight in your purse for when you've parked on a side street.  Walk quickly to your car with your keys in your hand to avoid fumbling at the door.  Carry your key aimed out, like a stilleto, ready to use in either the car or a mugger's eye.  And check the back seat of your car before you enter it. 

     Sometimes an accident isn't an accident.  If you're bumped from behind, call for help on your cell phone or drive to a busy area to exchange information.  The driver of a locked car is safer than a pedestrian is.

     If you suspect you're being followed, drive to the nearest police station, firehouse, emergency room or open service station.  Misery may love company, but a car jacker doesn't. 

     Unless you live in a full house a la the Waltons, a few little tricks should make a burglar think twice about picking your home.
     Get a 'Beware of Dog' sign.  We're dealing with criminals here.  You can lie.
     Use timers to make lights, radios and TV sets go on at regular times.  They make a house appear occupied.
     Get motion detector light fixtures that can spotlight anyone walking nearby.
     Put good locks on exterior doors and the door between your garage and house.  Use them.  Don't forget to secure your windows, too.

     Want an excuse to invite someone on a shopping trip?  Tell her you're picking up a few items for your Emergency Kit.  We don't get hurricanes like Katrina, but our blizzards are just as good.  Now's the time to prepare.  If your Emergency Kit list is in a safe place, here's another: a flashlight and portable radio, fresh batteries for both, candles, matches, a manual can opener, bottled water, nonperishable food (including powdered instant sports drinks to prevent dehydration), a first aid kit with a manual, extra prescription medicine, cash, pet food and a list of emergency phone numbers. 

     The following are household basics: smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a multipurpose fire extinguisher, emergency lighting wall units, a camp stove or hibachi, a coil of half inch rope, duct tape, work gloves, a crowbar, a shovel, a hammer and a handsaw.  Add a portable toilet or plastic bags, plastic sheeting for covering broken windows, a suitcase packed with warm clothing and sturdy shoes and you're set for an emergency.  If you live in a mobile home, know where the nearest safe structure is.

     If mobility is a problem, have a network of people to help you, and give someone a key to your home.  Wear your medical alert ID.  If you need dialysis or other treatments, know the location of more than one facility.  And know the size and weight of your wheel chair and if it's collapsible.

     We can't leave it all to government agencies.  Now's the time to plan your own evacuation route and emergency housing.

     Don't be scared, be prepared.