Monday, August 14, 2017

SEE THE WORLD, YOU ARE ABLE, PART 4

The cruise began in Montreal and sailed up the St. Lawrence River stopping at Quebec City, Charlottetown (Prince Edward Island), Sydney (New Brunswick), Halifax (Nova Scotia), Bar Harbour (Maine) and ending in Boston (Massachusetts).  We decided that the weather in May did not warrant having a balcony so we booked an Oceanview cabin with a window so that we could lie in bed and see the stars.  Remembering how sick I had been years ago on a ship, I came armed with seasickness patches, Gravol and packages of ginger tea, the latter of which was the only one that I had need to use.  "Look out at the horizon, not down at the waves" warned my brother-in-law Ed.  Good advice as I never felt one moment of seasickness.  Whether it was due to that or to the fact that the Maasdam was large enough that the sea didn't transmit any turbulence, I cannot say, but the handrails on either side of the wide hallways and the decks,  made it easy to get around and meant that I really didn't have to be accompanied by my cane wherever I went on the ship.

 I had ordered a cabin designated for disabled passengers and found that the  doorways and spaces in the cabins were very generous as was the size of the washroom.  The bathtub was easily accessible with bars and safety mats and there definitely was enough room for wheelchair access.  I can't say enough about the comfortable beds, so much so that we purchased one of their mattresses for our own house.  The furnishings, linens and cabin stewards were top notch.  We loved the towel creatures that rested on our beds each night. 
The ship had a casino and nightly Las Vegas-type shows and so many other activities that you could indulge in; however, avid movie goers that we are, we went into their "cinema" each night to view current movies and eat popcorn. 

We began our journey by flying to Montreal where we had booked air to ship transfers -- something that I highly recommend doing when booking your cruise.  It really does save the hassle of finding your way through the airport and getting to the right area to board the ship.  We were met by a very cheery representative who did her utmost to make sure that I had a place to sit while waiting for our bus and that I had a front seat on it when it came.  Boarding buses can be a challenge but she was prepared with a small footstool so that I could easily reach the front step and the bus driver was extremely helpful in guiding me to my seat. 

When we arrived at the terminal, we were shown to a special line for mobility challenged people and were processed and on our way to our cabins in no time at all.  Our luggage was delivered to our cabins within the hour; meanwhile we were invited to a welcome party on the deck.  We had chosen to eat in the dining room at the early sitting -- something you can arrange when you book your cruise.  As first time cruisers, we thought that a table with another couple would be ideal so that was what we chose.  You do have other options such as a later sitting or no dining room booking at all.  Should you choose this option, there are many other restaurants on board in which to dine. If you intend to do "free style dining", don't book the dining room seating as they prepare food for the number of people they expect, so if you don't show up, it wastes food.  Mind you, they are geniuses at transforming unused food for the midnight buffet which my husband truly loved.

Our first port was Quebec City.  I had been there on business several times but had never really seen the city itself.  One of the most magnificent views from the deck was the Chateau Frontenac.
There were many shore excursions from which to choose, ours being the trip to St. Anne de Beaupre.  Now, I must explain how I choose my excursions.  Holland America has a rating system which easily shows a one stick figure for the least amount of walking to four stick figures for a lot of walking and they also show dollar signs for the least to most expensive tours.  Needless to say, my upper limit of walking is two stick figures.  Most buses have the first few rows designated for mobility challenged people and there is storage for walkers as well.  You can also book private tours which many of the guests with scooters did because they could book vehicles which could accommodate them at their own pace.

Our bus took us through the city and the guide pointed out various areas of interest and then we proceeded into the country side, past Montmorency Falls
 to the great cathedral of St. Anne de Beaupre.  It was a Sunday, so while everyone else walked around looking at the grounds and the other sights, I went inside the church as part of the congregation.

 
See those steps -- I didn't climb them.  A tip about these old buildings is that if you walk around most of them, you will find an accessible entrance.
 
The next stop on our journey through the Maritimes was Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  I was so excited to see the home of my childhood hero, Anne of Green Gables.  In my youth, my curly, auburn hair was worn in pigtails and my nickname was Sue Ann of Green Gables.  The picture below is of Lucy Maude Montgomery's great granddaughter who works in the Green Gables house as a hostess. 
 
Unfortunately, I was limited to seeing only the main floor of the house as there were too many steps but what I did see was so interesting that I didn't mind.  One of the pictures on the wall that peaked my interest to re-read the books, was a portrait of Anne that I'm sure inspired the image we have of her so many years later.





Aside from the wonderful furniture and mind-boggling clothes on display within the house, were the many antiques (horse and carriages, water pumps) that were on the property itself.  We even went on a hayride (a very, very strong farmhand managed to lift me onto the wagon).
Sadly, we had to leave this beautiful island where the scenery and food were plentiful and so memorable.  I have to admit that I didn't leave without first stopping at COWS, the famous ice-cream store and, it is worth the however many miles trip to taste such glorious craft made products.

Continuing on, on our journey, the next port was Sydney, Nova Scotia.  As I mentioned before, we had travelled through Nova Scotia on the Celtic Colours tour a few years before this cruise, so I wasn't too disappointed in not being physically able to descend into the mines.  While my husband waiting in the lobby with my husband who was going on the tour, I met a few other women who had the same mobility challenge, and, together, we hailed a taxi to take us to the craft show that was on in the city.  One thing I have realized is that I am not the only person who has challenges and I am getting pretty good at reaching out to others to find things that w have in common and discover things to do. 

Our next port was Halifax and there is not enough time to recount all the wonderful sights to see in Halifax.  You can take shore excursions that will take on historic sightseeing tours as my husband did or you can sightsee retail, as I do, on Spring Street or along the harbour.  Since we had previously visited Peggy's Cover, home of the famous lighthouse, we opted for a tour to Lunenberg, home of the famous ship and to various towns around that area.  There was a wonderful nautical museum there which occupied my time while others climbed aboard the schooner.
It was that night, as we entered the Atlantic Ocean that I experienced my first encounter with rough seas.  Luckily for us, there were railings on both sides of the hallways so our regular nighttime dinner plans and visit to the cinema were not hampered.  It actually felt like being rocked to sleep in bed rather than anything unpleasant.  When we awoke the following morning, we discovered the reason for the turbulence was the storm that we were going through.  We were about to dock at our next port, |Bar Harbour, Maine and were told that it was raining and it was up to us if we wanted to continue with our shore excursion and regardless if we went or not, we would receive refunds for the tour.  My husband decided that he would go on the tour while I spent a delightful afternoon under a tent talking to local residents about the town.  Darryl brought back a few pictures of the colourful houses and some useful information.  I learned that the town is located on Mount Desert Island and is surrounded by Acadia National Park, rocky cliffs and blue waters and that had the weather been better, we could have gone lobster fishing or on a Schooner ride. 
 
We were very surprised when, upon re-boarding the Maasdam, we were greeted with a champagne reception, courtesy of the ship's captain who was feeling guilty about the weather mishap.
 
Our next and final port was Boston.  Darryl decided to take the shore excursion entitled USS Constitution and Harbour Cruise.  By this time, I had had quite enough of climbing on and off boats, so I decided to get on a city bus and knit the rest of my prayer shawl while I saw a bit of the town.  I happened to position myself right behind the driver who took an interest in the what I was knitting and, while I gave him a lesson in the theory behind the prayer shawl ministry, he gave me a guided tour of Boston.  What a treat!  And here I must draw your attention to bringing something you can do like knitting or crocheting or reading a good book.  It not only gives you something to do while you wait while other tour companions go where you are hesitant to tread (cobblestones, steps, etc.), it gives you a chance to talk to local passers-by and to interested tourists as well. 
 
We disembarked from our cruise with fond memories of our journey and proceeded to stay for a few days in this wonderful historic town. We loved Boston, especially our hotel.  We stayed at the historic Parker House Hotel, famous for, you guessed it, Parker House rolls.  What we didn't expect was the beautiful room with the antique furniture.  When choosing a hotel, I would suggest doing a bit of research about it first.  I had no idea that we would have an antique bed that was so high that I couldn't get in unless Darryl gave me a boost.  I got into the bed but when I had to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I had to wake him up to help me.  That being said, the food made up for the difficulty.  Not only were the Parker House rolls everything we expected, but the Boston Cream Pie was unbelievable.  So this ends my tale of our first cruise.  We have gone on many more and I will continue the next installment detailing our trips to Europe. 
 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Associates, Oblates and Discerners can join the new Facebook Page! Here's how


We are beginning with the basic Facebook page. the Page as a Secret Group, i.e., no one can see what is on the page unless they are accepted by one of our administrators -- Sue Ann Elite (Nakamoto), Michelle Loftus or Gail Holland.  While all Group Members are encouraged to tell others about the Facebook Group, we must remind you that only SSJD Associates, Oblates and Discerners can be invited to join and have access to the Page.
In order to become a member of our Facebook Group, you must be what is called "invited" and the easiest way for us to do this is for you to establish a Facebook profile.  We know that some of you are reluctant to have anything to do with social media like Facebook as you have several concerns relating to things that you have heard about it (complicated, too many notices, etc.). This Group is a "secret" Group which means that it has the highest level of security available on Facebook,  i.e., no one can see who the members of the group are or what they are posting and you will also notice that there are only Like or Comment buttons under the posts.  Normally there would also be a Share button.  That way as it is simply not possible to share anything from our secret group to anywhere else from inside our group.  It is also very easy to establish your profile,  For these reasons, Sister Helen Claire and Sue Ann who previously hesitated in attempting this challenge agreed to give it a shot.  "The small amount of steps to access the page, are really worth  being able to join with other Associates, Oblates and Discerners in expanding our wonderful community." 

If you already have a Facebook profile and would like to be "invited", please contact any of us -- Sue Ann at saelite@bell.net , Michelle at theloftusguides@gmail.com ,  or Gail at gailhollandajax@icloud.com.

If you are not a member of Facebook, here's the easy instructions on how to do it.
  1. Go to www.facebook.com
  2. You will see at the top in bold letters "Sign Up". Click on it.
  3. Enter your name and your e-mail address.
  4. Enter a password that is NOT your e-mail address
  5. Enter your birth date (you can make up a date as long as you write it down for future reference as you need it to keep your own Facebook secure)
  6. Click on "next" which is on the bottom right.
  7. On the next screen, click on "SKIP" which is in the middle of the page.Congratulations, you are now on Facebook.
  8. Send your name to one of us and we will invite you to the Ward of the Ascension Facebook page.
  9. You will now have access to our wonderful community and we hope that those of you who inspired us to undertake this project. will use and contribute your ideas to the page.

Friday, August 4, 2017

SEE THE WORLD, YOU ARE ABLE, PART 3

REALITY SINKS IN!(or maybe "sinks" isn't a good choice of word)
 

On our tenth wedding anniversary, we took the Celtic Colours bus trip through Nova Scotia and had a great time listening to wonderful music and visiting some very interesting locales. I particularly remember a harrowing bus ride up and down a mountain in Cape Breton on a very foggy day and wondering how on earth the bus driver could see her way on the narrow, winding road.  Most of the passengers were women who were of the age that really felt the heat and thus the bus driver kept the air conditioning at full blast.  This proved to be a problem for me as I am sensitive to the cold.  I was extremely happy to have my alpaca cape with me to use as a blanket.  I really wanted to go down into the mines in Sydney but alas I couldn't manage the terrain.  I became increasingly aware of my inability to get on and off the buses and the strain on my energy level having to unpack bags in each stopover. It clearly was time to reconsider our future mode of transportation as I was not yet ready to toss away my "bucket list" of places I'd like to see. 

As we had enjoyed the East Coast so much, we decided to take a cruise to see more of it and happened upon the Holland America Cruise Lines itinerary for 7 Day Canada and New England aboard the Maasdam.

Its capacity is 1,258 people.. Named for the Maas River in the Netherlands, ms Maasdam is the fifth ship in Holland America Line's 140-year history to bear the name. Featuring an interior motif that pays homage to the historical Dutch East and West India companies of the 17th through 19th centuries, the centerpiece of this elegant ship features Luciano Vistosi's "Totem," a monumental sculpture using nearly 2,000 glimmering pieces of glass, prominently displayed in a soaring three-story atrium.
There are many onboard activities that allow you to pursue new interests or just relax and rejuvenate. I was so excited to learn how to "show and tell" my vacation memories thanks to the saintly patience of the Digital Workshop "techspert".   I spent a lot of time there trying to figure out how to get my pictures out of my camera and onto my computer. .  I was delighted to discover that there were onboard cooking shows and hands-on workshops although I did feel a bit guilty participating as I am a professional chef.  I loved being able to tour the kitchen and see the food preparation in progress.  I was amazed at the fruit carving and cake decorating skills of the staff.
 
Although I knew about the Greenhouse Spa & Salon offering spa treatments, a thermal pool and lounge and a variety of salon services and the fully equipped Fitness Center including state-of-the-art cardio and weight machines, as well as classes in Yoga, Pilates, indoor cycling and more, I was too busy going on shore excursions to participate in them.  I did, however, manage to find time to enjoy the two outdoor pools and to walk along the decks with the help of railings along the sides of the deck. 
Needless to say, there were many elevators so I didn't have to walk up and down stairs.  I commented that if you didn't have a walker, a cane or a scooter, you didn't look like everyone else.  The other great thing about the ship was that it had a medical centre where you could go if you had any issues.  I do remember one day when we were on our way to Bar Harbour, Maine, when the Atlantic Ocean waves necessitated some seasickness help for me.  My ginger tea just didn't do it!  Another thing that I noticed after a few days was the lack of children except at mealtime.  I was amazed to know about the existence of Club HAL®  which provided a wide variety of youth and teen-friendly activities for kids ages 3 to 17 that was supervised by qualified, full-time staff
We spent most of our days going on shore excursions in the various ports, in fact, we booked so many that my schedule reminded me of being at summer camp.  That being said, we were novice cruisers and eager to see everything that we could.  In the evening there were so many things to do but we were often too tired to do anything except go to the first-run movies that were shown in the Wajang Theatre.  Had we had more energy, there was The Showroom at Sea that had Las Vegas-style shows, a Casino and several bars offering various types of entertainment.  My husband thoroughly enjoyed the Trivia Games in the Piano bar and I dearly wished that I could stay up later than 11:00 p.m. so that I could go dancing. But, enough about the ship...the next installment will be more about the destinations.  Bon voyage!
 





 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Priest Associate celebrates 100th Birthday




Last year Sr. Constance Joanna and The Reverend Frances Drolet-Smith, Oblate SSJD spent a lovely, lively afternoon with the Rev. Canon Russell Elliott, who became an SSJD Associate in 1945. He regaled them with stories, recalling the Cottage Hospital at Springhill where the Sisters offered nursing care. Canon Elliott turned 100 last month and has been an Associate for 70+ years!




From the Facebook page of the Diocesan Times- July 2017

 
Canon Russell Elliott delivered the homily at Trinity Anglican Church in Fairview  on July 30th.  Father Elliott celebrated his 76th year of ordained ministry l and his 100 birthday just prior to that.
His homily spoke to how the church evolved as communities evolved. And how change must continue if the church is to continue its work

A video of his sermon may be viewed here   
https://www.facebook.com/diotimes/videos/1278304172295565/




Below is a meditation from the SSJD website, written by Canon Elliott



The following was written by the Rev. Canon C. Russell Elliott who lives in Wolfville, N.S. He has had a long and creative ministry; nearing his 99th birthday, he is still active and sharing his faith and love with all he meets. 
He has had a long association with the Sisterhood. His wife bore his first two children – boy and girl twins – at the hospital in Springhill, N.S. in the 1940s under the capable management of Sister Anna, SSJD. He has been a faithful Associate of SSJD for over 70 years. 
We print the following with Fr. Elliott’s permission and with thanksgiving to him.

AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS

Whatever else Lent may include it is inevitable that eventually I stand at the foot of the Cross. 
The Book of Common Prayer indicates that from the fifth Sunday onwards is Passiontide, fixing attention upon the Cross, its pain and promise, the Collect or daily prayer asking simply that God may “mercifully look upon thy people”. 
On Good Friday I am still standing at the foot of the Cross in profound prayer. I feel those eyes looking down upon me, now from the Cross. 
There are no words, there are no names, there are no reproaches, there are no promises. Yet I hear them all, I know what they tell me. I listen with my heart, I hear deep in my soul, I feel in my inmost being.
I am shattered and torn apart, I am burned and battered, I cannot die and I dare not live. That Man on the Cross, I once saw him weeping over the city – Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how I tried to draw you safely, like a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not come. 
He once told disciples, like me, that he is the first in a new kingdom, though there is no first there, all are free to care for everyone else – he even told Pilate that the kingdom is not of this sinful world. I heard him rebuke Peter, and me, for superficial loyalty. 
I saw him weep again when the death of Lazarus so deeply touched the heart of the sister. This morning I heard him promise to a thief – to me too? – ‘thou shalt be with me’. As the eyes closed and the head dropped, I heard a voice, from somewhere, maybe from my own throat: Make no mistake, this man is the Son of God. 
From wherever my own today’s personal Golgatha is, I find my quiet way to my home. The original Lent measured forty hours from death on the Cross to life at first Easter appearance. 
My soul counts quietly from darkness to light, from death to life. In the Garden, if I hear a voice call my name, as He once spoke to Mary, I know that all is well between us once more. 
Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Peace by Piece: Stitching together Canadian Stories

Read the CBC story HERE


Last week I visited Hamilton to see an exhibit ‘Quilt of Belonging’, which is 120 feet long and ten feet high. This AMAZING piece of work is made of 263 hexagonal blocks about 6 inches, with each block representing Canada’s main Indigenous groups, or a country from which immigrants have come, with a depiction of something from their home country, or what Canada means to them. The bottom row, the foundational one, is from main Indigenous groups.

The creativity and ingenuity displayed by the artists are phenomenal. Few of the blocks are quilted in the traditional way, rather they are a display of embroidery, appliquéing, tatting, beading, and other kinds of textile art. The exhibition runs from July 10 – August 16 and is free. Guides are available to explain some of the blocks. My friend bought me the book that shows each block and explains why the artist depicted the country that way. For example, France has a petit point oval about 4 inches long and about 3 inches wide—depicting a scene in the Impressionistic style. This sits on a square with Richelieu cutwork embroidery. The Canadian block is an incomplete maple leaf, outlined in beadwork.

The quilt shows the diversity of the cultures of Canadians, both new and old. Though it has been around for more than 10 years, the showing is particularly important in this year of Canada 150.

Sr. Helen Claire, SSJD
July 27, 2017


The incredible journey of making this project is a testament to what can be achieved when ordinary people work together with hands, heart and spirit for the good of all!







Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Associates of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine. Who we are!

Associates of the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine are men and women, lay and ordained, who are members of a Christian parish community and seek to deepen their life in Christ through following a Rule of Life in association with the Sisters.
In other words, they are ordinary people who are seeking “something more” in their spiritual life and believe they can be nurtured in their spiritual journey through being connected with the life and ministry of a monastic community. 
The Sisterhood of St. John the Divine, was founded in 1884. It owes its founding to the vision and dedication of a group of women and men who prayed and worked for a monastic community to be established in Canada – where the life of Christians could be nurtured and strengthened. 
The first Associates of the Sisterhood were members of the group who had the vision for the Sisterhood. A relationship of mutual support of prayer, love, and ministry exists between the Sisterhood and the Associate.

The Rule for Associates

  1. To become informed, and to be willing to tell others, about the overall principles of the Monastic Life, and in particular about the life and work of the Sisters of Saint John the Divine. 
  2. To be an active member of a worshipping congregation within the Christian faith, and when possible, to share in the Eucharist on Sundays and on Major Feasts. To pray especially for the Sisterhood of Saint John the Divine on their four major anniversaries: February 9 (Hannah Grier Coome, Founder, SSJD), May 6 (Feast of St. John), September 8 (the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Foundation Day of SSJD), December 27 (Feast of St. John the Evangelist). 
  3. To include in one’s daily intercessory prayer the Community and Associates. 
  4. To seek to grow in prayer, for renewal of life in Christ, by spending time daily in some form of listening prayer, often called meditative or contemplative prayer. 
  5. To seek to live an intentional Christian life with thoughtfulness and integrity. 
  6. To read some portion of Holy Scripture daily, and to read books helpful to growing in the Christian life. 
  7. To make an annual Retreat of at least two days whenever possible or to have/participate in two or more Quiet Days annually. 
  8. If called upon, to be willing to help the Community, and to help Associates who live in their vicinity. As they are able, Associates contribute financially to the Sisterhood. 
  9. To report yearly through a reflective letter or to visit with the Director of Associates in their area (Eastern, Central, Prairie or Western) within the month of the Anniversary of their Admission as to the value of the keeping of this Rule.

To Become an Associate

Write, phone or e-mail the Director of Associates at the Convent or the Branch House nearest you to request further information about becoming an Associate. 
A period of discernment is required (approximately one year) before being admitted as an Associate. The purpose of this time is to discover if the Associate Rule of Life is a help to you on your spiritual journey and in deepening your relationship with Christ; it also provides time for deepening your understanding and practice of prayer and for developing a relationship with the Director of Associates and the Sisters. 
The Rule for Associates is intended to provide a framework for the journey of faith, a trellis to support you in your own life and ministry of love in and for the world.

Contact

  • ST. JOHN'S CONVENT Attn. Director of Associates 233 Cummer Avenue Toronto, ON M2M 2E8 TEL: 416-226-2201 FAX: 416-226-2131 E-Mail: convent@ssjd.ca
  • ST. JOHN’S HOUSE, BC Attn. Director of Associates 3937 St. Peters Road Victoria, B.C. V8P 2J9 TEL: 250-920-7787 FAX:250-920-7709 E-Mail: bchouse@ssjd.ca
  • To view and/or download the Associates brochure click here »

Monday, July 17, 2017

See the world, you are able, Part 2


I have always been a traveller, so after many years of hitchiking and couch surfing and going to all-inclusive resorts, I decided (in the early 80s) to go on a cruise with a female friend of mine. We went on Carnival Cruise lines to the Caribbean and visited San Juan, Barbados, St. Kitts, Martinique and the Line's private island of Bequia. My memories of that experience are clouded, both by age and overindulgene at the time, but I do remember that we stayed in an interior cabin which was so small that we two "curvy" women had trouble moving around inside it. The washrooms were the size of the closets and were a challenge for both of us. Other than that, the ship itself and the cruise were what we expected -- sun and fun. What do I remember of our itinerary? The large size womans' store in St. Thomas and the wonderful shopping. Stuffing the hungover friend into a cab so I could see the beautiful island of Martinique and winding up in a restaurant surrounded by aquariums. Swimming ashore from a rubber raft to the not yet touristy island of Nevis. Getting off the ship in San Juan and having my  'no sea sickness'' patch fall off and becoming so sick that I had to sit in a restaurant that used to be a convent while the rest of the passengers went on a tour of the Fort. Not too bad an experience as the London Fog outlet was across the street and, even though I was ill, I could still shop. It was a very long time before I had the urge to cruise again and then I found Holland America Cruise Lines,

My husband, Darryl, and I had spent several years taking short trips to various U.S. cities to visit museums, art galleries, theatres, music venues and, alas, relatives.  As time passed, I became sadly aware that my mobility and energy levels were declining rapidly and that the actual physical effort to get places would have to change.  For instance, to get to Pearson Airport, we used to love hopping on the subway to Islington station and taking the Rocket to the Terminal for the price of a ticket or token.  Each of us just pulled our carry-on bag behind us and that was it.  Unfortunately, with my cane and arthritic hands, the transporting of even the smallest of suitcases and the challenge of the stairs and the airport distances were daunting, if not impossible.  The price of limos and cabs were out of the question since we live in the east end of the city and we have not yet won Cash for Life or Lotto 649.   My mobility challenges qualify me to get Wheel Trans and I soon discovered that they would transport me and my escort to the airport! I hope that the upcoming changes to this wonderful programme will not include the discontinuation of this valuable service.

 I also found out that I could order a wheelchair or other mobility solution from the airlines.  The airlines, if you notified them when you booked your flight, would be happy to make all sorts of accommodations for you.  They will ensure that you can board early and will even cater to most of your food requests.  I have bizarre food allergies and I can honestly say that I have not gone without food on any flight.  The only problem that we have ever encountered were the seats on an Air Canada flight overseas that were so small that we both had to order seatbelt extenders.  We have also found that it is worth the money to ensure that you have seats where you can either have no one in front of you or a seat where you can easily get up and walk around.  On one flight, our very knowledgeable travel agent, booked us in the last row so that I could stand up in the area behind the seats.  (Have I mentioned that I am accident prone -- a klutz -- and have broken my leg and torn ligaments shortly before two of my vacations and that I caught pneumonia during my travels?) 

We have also purchased a large, ultra lightweight suitcase with wheels rather than taking two small suitcases.  Why?  Not only does it cut down on how much you have to unpack and carry, but it costs less than paying for two suitcases!  Beware, the airlines keep the cabin temperatures at what I consider to be sub-zero C..  One of  the best purchases that I have made was the travel package on Air Transat that contained earphones, eyeshades and the best blanket all in a small pouch. And, don't be afraid to ask for a blanket.  Sometimes there is a small charge to buy one; however on a recent trip to Calgary on West Jet, the flight attendant became concerned when she saw me shivering with my sweater and a scarf pulled over my head and happily offered me a medical blanket.  Dress in layers and especially, DON'T WEAR SHOES WITH LACES.  So those are my tips on getting to your destination.