The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT

He Didn’t See It Coming

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Ahhh, the good life. Not a lot of money, but boy oh boy, the relaxing part is fabulous. Nat and I have been spending an awful lot of time on the patio. The odd job around the house or yard gets completed and then we both head for the shady canopy, a comfy seat and feel the breeze as it gently cools our heads. Heavenly. Naturally, within a half hour, I could fall asleep despite the fact I’m sitting up straight, but my head begins to bob and weave around my shoulders and the eyelids get heavier and heavier. I’m only awoken when a cardinal begins to tweet out his message to anyone who’ll listen, especially a female that may be flying by.

The life in Ridgeway has been at a slow pace since most of our landscaping and new driveway have been completed. Still waiting for Mike, however, to return once more to fix and redo the front walkway in that little corner that gets drowned out every time it rains. The water gathers and sits in that shady area waiting for Mother Nature to suck it back up into the atmosphere. In the meantime, it’s made a mess of the patio bricks and has discoloured them a brassy rust. Looks like they’ll have to be replaced, and the ground certainly has to be lifted or raised in that area for good drainage. Hope Mike has some great ideas!!

I’ve had my annual visit to St. Joseph’s and everything is looking good. I have to, naturally, continue to monitor the Diabetes scare. Apparently I’m on the border and have to keep up with the exercise and try even harder with the diet to reduce my numbers. Being a daughter of a chocolate fanatic doesn’t help, as everyone in my family has inherited his taste for the good stuff!!

The one event around here that has peaked our interest has been the diversion of the stream that runs throughout our little town. Certain homes have been flooded because of heavy rains this Spring and inept planning of some new homes that have been built along Dominion Road. As our house, and many, many more, sit in this Water/Flood Plane, there’s been a constant problem with blockage and lack of flow of some parts of the stream. The Town of Fort Erie in its’ infinite wisdom has now decided to build a Berm and re-route the stream from Maple Leaf Drive, divert it across and down portions of Dominion Road (across the street from us), and then have it run back into the original system from Burleigh Road and beyond. As a consequence, the portion of the stream running through our yard and that of our neighbours, Wayne & Barb, will eventually dry up and become (what some people might say) a “big ditch”. This is not a big deal to Nat and myself, however, I do have some concerns that after some rain falls this may be a breeding ground for mosquitos, etc. However, we’ll have to wait and see and deal with that situation if, and when, it may happen.

Naturally, the Town called for a community meeting for all residents that were interested in this matter, along with questions or concerns anyone may have. Nat and I decided to attend this meeting in order to keep abreast of what was happening and to also hear opinions from the residents that will be affected. We were the first to arrive and became concerned when no one else was showing up for some time. The meeting was called to start at 6:00 PM, but as most people in our area still work, it naturally took them a few minutes to arrive home and attend. There were about 10 or 12 that finally arrived and began listening to the presentation.

The spokesman for the contractor awarded the job, was a mild-mannered young man who looked as if he had just graduated Engineering school. He began his presentation with a history of the Acts that related to drainage and flooding and any other Acts pertaining thereto. Also on hand was Fort Erie’s newly hired (2 weeks) Drainage Manager, along with another Engineer from the contracting company. Once the presentation was over, it was obvious no one in the crowd agreed that this project needed to go ahead at all. This poor young man didn’t see any of this coming and was totally taken aback. The residents were very outspoken about the lack of maintenance on the entire stream – how it’s never been properly cleaned or cleared of debris over the years – how the Town turns a blind eye to anything that concerns this stream – and the lack of enthusiasm from any of the Maintenance workers for the Town. According to a few of these residents there is no respect for any of the Town’s Maintenance crew! One resident (that has been flooded in the past) voiced his concerns about the cost of this whole project (over $900,000.00) and how much money could be saved if the stream was just dredged or cleaned of debris in order to allow a faster flow. He also stated that once the new houses behind him finally had a slough (or something to that effect) put in, his problems were solved. With this new plan, he was now going to have a berm built up in front of his house, along with a new ditch, and he was concerned about the welfare of his children playing in the yard. Another gentleman from Burleigh Road expressed (quite vehemently) concern about the flooding on the other side of Burleigh Road and how nothing has been done, despite his constant complaints, to fix the matter. Apparently he, too, has had floods as a result of the stream backing up and is having a running battle with the Town of Fort Erie on how to fix the problem (and I quote) – “Clean the damn thing up”. The residents all recognized the fact that this young man was just a spokesman for the project, but, as such, they had to vent their anger over this whole affair to someone. The residents have obviously had enough. Even our neighbour, Wayne, advised the Town and this young man that this whole problem has been going on for over 10 years now, and, in fact, this exact same plan was proposed 10 years ago and never proceeded. Wayne expressed his concerns over the ineptness of the Town’s officials and produced copies of the same drawings and letters he’s had in his files all these past years. It was evident Wayne was containing his anger knowing these were not the officials that started this whole problem and being the “elder statesman” of our little Village he recognized the fact that common sense and clear heads had to prevail. At this point our one very angry resident from Burleigh Road threatened to put his house up for sale and then stated he had to “go home for his supper”. A few chuckles were heard as he left the room.

Once the meeting concluded and opinions and ideas expressed, the residents departed but Wayne and Nat stayed behind for just a minute or so. As I walked to the car and waited, Nat soon returned and advised how Wayne talked to these Representatives in a very business-like manner and apparently has a good handle on this whole affair. It also sounded like he made some minor alterations to the Engineer drawings. I’m sure the Representatives were relieved to hear from a calmer, more informed residents and even Nat and I understood that Wayne would have more of an effect talking directly to these gentlemen. The project is supposedly due to proceed this Fall with another Phase II (from Burleigh Road) to be started at a later date (otherwise, perhaps, another 10 years down the road).

As Nat and I returned home we both felt better informed, even having a couple of our questions answered, and felt a bit more connected with this community. We both knew the residents around us were committed to the Village of Ridgeway and surrounding environment and had the same concerns as we did. We also discovered we live near several “Contractors” (which was stated several times at this meeting) who lived here but worked in St. Catharines.

As for the rest of this year, Nat and I have decided to take a Thousand Islands Cruise in September. We did a little research and found a great little Bed and Breakfast just down the street from one of the Cruise lines and managed to book a room right on the water overlooking the docks. The Town of Rockport is a small and unassuming little place just north of Kingston, On. and looks to be just our speed. We’re both looking forward to this little get-away as we’ve not been on a holiday or short trip for a few years now. Once in a while we get that “travelling” bug but because of other priorities have been unable to scratch that itch. Hopefully this will stem off our urges for another couple of years and we’ll be able to make another trip to Britain. As Nat’s sister, Jenny, took a tumble this summer and has been bed-ridden with a broken pelvis, Nat and I are now both worried about her health and how she’s going to survive in that little two-storey home with only one bathroom upstairs. I can tell that Nat is anxious to actually visit Jenny and see for himself how she’s getting on, despite the fact she has a fabulous family who takes great care of their Mom. If I had my way, I’d emigrate to Britain and have Jenny live with us. Jenny’s been a good sister-in-law and has helped me through a couple of crisis by calming my fears and re-assuring me that “I’m not nuts” when it comes to certain habits and personalities in the family. It takes a lot of patience to understand certain habits of some Scottish people I love.

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Author: Twila

Born and raised in a small town in Ontario, Canada, with 5 sisters and a brother. Now retired, my husband and I travel, play golf and am slowly renovating our new (old) home. After my kidney transplant in 1999, we've learned to enjoy life to the fullest. Nat and I have driven across Canada, taken an Alaskan cruise and drove home via the Northern United States. We've also been to Mexico, the Caribbean, the East Coast of Canada and Cape Breton. We've done the "Snowbird" thing, having lived in Destin, Florida for a couple of months of the year. In 2007 we changed our travel plans in order to move into and renovate our new "old" home, but hope to someday get back on the road again. We also love returning to Scotland (Nat's origin of birth) to visit his family and tour the Highlands and surrounding Isles.

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