New Year, New Outlook

A quiet New Year, as usual. Try as I might to stay up until twelve was a struggle and I gave up close to 11:00 PM. Nat continued on but came to bed shortly after the stroke of midnight. We woke up on January 1st with a new outlook for 2020.

We celebrated Nat’s 81st birthday with an early visit from Laura and dining out at The Queen Charlotte Tea Room in Niagara Falls later that evening. An old house located in a nondescript area of the City, decorated in the Victorian style and serving authentic English fare – Fish ‘n Chips, Bangers & Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, Roast Beef with Mash & Yorkshire Pudding, Steak & Kidney Pie, Battered Sausage w/ Chips & Beans, Afternoon Tea, High Tea, Assorted Sandwiches and desserts. The beauty about this whole menu is that you have to be patient, as each and every meal is cooked as soon as you ask for it, freshly baked, freshly made and absolutely yummy. You won’t find one frozen item used in the kitchen, even the french fries are homemade, chunky size and could be eaten alone as a snack!! Reservations should be made as this little home fills up fast and with limited seating it can get a little crowded when waiting at the door.

As the month is still fairly new, Nat has decided to start fresh with painting the living room, wanting to make it lighter and brighter. A great idea in the head, but the body tells you differently once the work gets started. He’s had this idea for quite some time and has decided the winter months would be perfect. With snow on the ground (what little we’ve had) and golfing days on hold until Spring, he felt this would at least keep him busy and fill the quiet days we’ve been having of late.

We’re still in limbo about the colour. Even tried a web site where you can upload a picture of your room and test different colours out. The ones we chose were not as expected, so we’re going to the paint shop for more research. In the meantime, Nat and I have cleared away furniture, wall decoration, pictures and other tripping hazards into the dining room so he can begin with any repairs and start the edging with the primer. He’s had his struggles with the two high walls – over the transom window and around the little alcove. Once he’s done that he wants to at least get the primer on so he can begin with the final colour. As I sit here in the office I can hear the moans, groans and ladder adjustments coming from the living room as he works his way around what appears to be a small living room, but somehow has grown into a banquet hall now that he’s started.

This month has also allowed me to get back to my regular baking. I’ve now refilled Nat’s cookie jar with his usual Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Coconut Cookies, a Coconut Loaf, British Scones and even a Raisin Loaf for good measure. My next baking day will be some bread. I’ve not had a chance to get some Dinner Rolls in the freezer for quite some time and I also want to try making an Egg Bread. Hopefully, once I get back into the bread making my “mojo” will return, which went the way of the Dodo Bird several months back and I’ve been looking for it ever since.

As I posted prior to Christmas, Nat and I decided to upgrade our computer and get the latest iMac. As it happened I also lost my “mojo” for even opening the box. It sat in the office for several days until we opened it after the New Year.  This was not like me. I love all electronics. Where did I go??  Watching my nieces, nephews and grandchildren working their iPhones posting things on Instagram, FaceBook, Twitter  and whatever other Apps they have, is mind-boggling. They’re fast, quick thinking and clever about what they do to the point I get very jealous. My mind can’t compete as the little grey cells are deteriorating even as I’m writing this post. I’m hoping when the Summer months come along and Nat is back to golfing, I’ll be able to start some new projects and try out some of the new doodads that came with the new iMac. Hey, we can hope!!!

We were pleased that Apple will recycle your old computer so we saved the box from the new one in order to pack away the old one to deliver to the Apple Store in Burlington. Worked out really well, as we packed up the old Mac, said our goodbyes and drove to the store this past Monday for its final resting place. Deleting the old Mac was also very simple – just a few key strokes while turning it on and within a few hours it was back to its original self.

Setting up the new iMac was a different story. A lot of our Apps and programs were just a tad outdated and the new Mac was kept busy trying to install what it could from Time Machine. The procedure took a few hours of hunting and pecking what it would accept and what would no longer run on the new Catalina Operating System. It was soon sorted out, but then I had to delete whatever Apps and programs contained in the LaunchPad were marked with the “No Entry” icon and get acquainted with the new operating system. This was definitely a learning curve for me and kept my brain busy with research and investigations from Apple and Chat Rooms. After all is said and done, having a faster running iMac is a real treat, but I’ll be kept out of trouble in Summer trying to learn a couple of new programs.

Our happy wanderers continue to check in on Instagram & FaceBook. Their postings have been fabulous and certainly do  justice to such a beautiful country with lush greenery, mountains, rivers and general excitement. So far, aside from their previous adventures on the North Island (New Zealand), they have gone Sky Diving, Bungie Jumping and Hiked along Mountainous regions of the South Island, taking gorgeous videos. The Sky Diving experience wasn’t as high as they originally booked because of extreme high winds on that particular day, so they had to settle for 13,000 feet instead of 20,000. They were able to buy one of the videos of their experience and as Nat and I watched on Instagram we were both grinning from ear to ear at the excitement on Kyle’s face. We’re both so happy for these two as they are making the most of their trip and experiencing so much more of life than either one of us had to chance to do. Good on them.

For the most part the first month of the new year has been extremely quiet, relaxing and uneventful. We can only hope the rest of the year is a repeat of the first. We’re both now at that stage in life where too many events on our agenda can make us a bit anxious and our bodies get tired quicker than we’d like. I like to take one day at a time and one event at a time getting as much rest as possible in between.

The Grass Is Greener

At last the snow has melted. Despite the rain taking its place, we’re at least glad to see the (somewhat) green grass and sprouting daffodils starting up. What became a very long, boring and slow winter will hopefully now turn into a nice warm Spring and Summer. We can only pray that Mother Nature will be kinder and gentler these coming months.

Nat, despite his achy back, has started to do some lawn work. He’s pruned a few bushes, cleared away some debris, cleaned up the bird feeders and aired out the shed. He’s also had a couple of questions answered today when our Landscaper came by with a buddy to get another opinion on our new walkway that’s slowly been sinking in one corner. When the rains began we became acutely aware, again, how much this problem needs to be fixed. The water just sits in the one little corner keeping it damp and musty looking. Mike is now thinking that a good portion of the walkway will have to be lifted so he can lower the ground in some areas and raise it others. He’s also told Nat that some newer Eaves Troughs have been ordered and things should work out once that’s diverted well away from the problem corner. We’re thinking everything should get started in about 3 weeks – after Easter.

Nat and I have also been wondering when the stream diversion will start. He found a humongous log in the stream yesterday, and even though it’s not blocking the flow, it’s still way too big for even Nat to lift and dispose of. I suggested we grab one of the contractors when they start the diversion to maybe pick it up with something and get rid of it for us. Who knows if this log decides to shift and block the stream somewhere else. Even though once the stream is diverted, our little portion will hopefully dry up.

As the long winter has finally drawn to a close, I’ve discovered some laziness has set in. I’ve managed some baking of cookies and maybe a loaf or two, but somehow baking feels like a chore – a chore I don’t wish to partake in!! I’m craving a little sunshine and when it arrives maybe my spirits will be lifted and I can get in the mood again. I must admit today would have been a great day for baking, but alas after my usual house cleaning, that little slump took over and found me messing about in the office. This past winter did see me trying out one new recipe – shortbread – and Nat said it turned out pretty good. One more recipe for the book.

I’m beginning to feel a lot better emotionally and physically. The treadmill keeps me going, despite a little hesitation in the mornings getting started, but it certainly has helped the old hips from creaking!! I’ve also been puttering about the house with the decorating. Now that the living room looks bigger with a smaller coffee table, I’ve been changing the decorative items – on the fireplace mantel, on the TV stand, on the side table and even the dining room. I also ordered a “Welly Duck” from Amazon.co.uk and love the little guy to death. She’s hand-carved, has little green wellies and a name tag. I want to order another one, but will have to wait. I’ve been spending a little too much money online over the winter and should give our bank account a break!! I’m still anxiously awaiting the arrival of another purchase from Britain – some little ducks and sheep sculptured out of metal. Found them by accident and couldn’t help myself. I’m beginning to think I’m turning into a little grannie by ordering bric-a-brac items!! I’ve been feeling so good about how the living room has taken shape so I won’t chastise myself too much. It’s all for a good cause – me – and has done no harm to anyone. Maybe Nat, but unless it’s a huge major purchase, he’s not too concerned and so far he likes how things are looking.

Not much on the agenda this month, except a doctor’s appointment, Easter Dinner at Claudia’s (can’t wait!!) and a Memorium get together for Aunt Elva. With quiet months like these I feel less stressed and care-free. May it long continue!!

Elvis – ’68 Comeback Special – Whooaaa Baby!!!

We knew Saturday was going to be busy, so we took advantage a few days beforehand and finished off some things around the  house. Nat continued on painting the trim and doors in and around the hallway, and I baked three batches of cookies. The freezer was bare and with the grandkids coming Saturday I knew I had to stock up, and stock up I did – Oatmeal Coconut, Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Raisin. Should last a few days, but I’ll get some more done, along with some loaves of bread next week.

Thursday afternoon saw me calling Bell Canada once again!!!!! This time to correct a billing error. They reassured me that my next bill would have a credit (after I called to have the same corrected), but low and behold it was the age old scenario of one hand not knowing what the other was doing!! They had deducted the wrong bill from our account and after yet another full explanation of all things passed, we finally got things straightened out. Of course, it’s going to take another month and Bell Canada has use of our “extra” money to their advantage, but we should get it back over time. Please God, let this be the last of this whole mess!!!!

Friday was quiet. I cleaned and Nat finished off the painting.

With the kids coming over Saturday noonish, we ordered a tray of pizza and wings around 11:00 for my (early) birthday celebration. Despite the fact that Laura and Shawn have split, it’s still nice to see Shawn show up and continue to join in our family events. For a son-in-law, he’s pretty damn good and I hope our friendship with him and his mom continue. We had a great time and the pizza and wings were delicious as always. Thanks, Tony (Aneta’s Pizzeria).

Nat and I had a light supper and then headed into Niagara Falls. We were going to see Stephen Kabakos do his “‘68 Comeback Special”again at the Greg Frewin Theatre. As before, Michele, Thamazine, Daryl, Claudia and Darby would be there, along with Gail and Bonnie this time. Michele had won a couple of tickets from work and handed them over to Gail and Bonnie so they could join the festivities. It was going to be a sisters’ evening and I was looking forward to it.

Nat and I arrived early and once seated ordered a glass of wine to wait for the others to arrive. Gail and Bonnie showed up and gave us the latest family news – Daryl wouldn’t be coming as his Mom was in hospital, along with other good news, bad news – and then we spotted the rest of the gang arriving. The show started shortly after that and what a show it was!!!! My God, Stephen Kabakos is fabulous. Big sis, Gail, being a dedicated Elvis fan as a teenager, was even impressed. She agreed that you could close your eyes and swear Elvis himself was in the building. Plus, bonus, Stephen Kabakos looks fabulous, is nice and has a great sense of style and humour. The whole show was energizing and thrilling. The entire audience got into the act clapping, bobbing and weaving their shoulders back and forth and singing along as best they could. Stephen had everyone in his hands and at his mercy – we were revved up and ready to go. I swear we would have “followed that road wherever that road may lead” as long as he was taking us there!!!!! Again, another great evening and even Gail said she’d love to see him again. Have a girls’ night out, Gail, with Darlene, Elizabeth and the gang. A few drinks, a few laughs, great music, a hunk on stage – how could you loose????

With smiles on our faces, we headed home. A late night for Nat and I, but well worth it. We’ll see about getting tickets for his October show and maybe give them to Bridget and Felicia as birthday gifts. Bridget (aged 12) discovered Elvis’ music a few years back and has been a fan ever since. Nat and I both know she’ll enjoy the show, and it’s even great that kids are allowed in and can order “kid-style” fancy drinks. We’d like to think it would be a nice outing with Papa and Nana!!

Sunday saw us resting up from Saturday – yes, we’re getting old but it’s our privilege!! So we decided to stay put (Nat with his crossword and me with my  Sunday Morning) – the weather was crappy anyways with snow and high winds and we weren’t too thrilled to go out if it wasn’t necessary.

Monday morning saw us head back into St. Catharines to Costco where we would spend more than intended, but at least get stocked up for the rest of the winter. A good hibernation needs lots of food and other supplies!! After all, we’ve got the snow where the rest of Southern Ontario seems pretty dry – go figure!!!!!

I’m Throwing Myself A Birthday!

Every year it gets harder and harder to have a family together. As the grandkids get older they tend to get more involved in school activities, sporting events, hanging out with their friends and even part-time jobs. So it’s with great organizing skills, a mega amount of phone calls and some jiggling,  that we finally arrange some sort of date when they’re able to stop by for either their Father’s birthday or mine. Nat is fortunate, his birthday is right after Christmas and the kids haven’t quite gotten back into their routines so it’s a little easier, but as time passes and they get settled back in, the scheduling problems begin. As does the fun, frustration and sometimes (quiet) disappointment when it looks like no one is available.

After Christmas and New Year the freezer somehow looks like a desert wasteland – it’s just plain empty and bare. We squeeze out just  enough goodies for Nat’s birthday and then the cupboard needs to be replenished. So, every January I begin to bake cookies, squares, bread and loaves for the ensuing months and for my birthday. I’m getting too old for an actual birthday cake, and sometimes it’s not a really good time of day for cake – well, at least in “their” opinion!!!! God, I’d have cake for breakfast!!! I’m also reassured there’s at least something to munch on for our evening tea, Nat’s lunch and any passersby that just happen to drop in. These past couple of  years I”ve been getting a little tired of baking for moi but that’s the price you pay when your husband can’t bake, the kids are too busy and somehow if you don’t take care of yourself, then no one else will. To each his own, baby!!

As a result I’ve been baking for me, and me alone. Oh, Nat will love whatever it is that’s in the freezer. The love of my life loves most things and is easy to please when it comes to sweets and treats! As the kids are coming in “shifts” this year, one group for lunch, one group afterward, I’ll put out a buffet of deli meats, kaisers and salads and they can munch away ’til their hearts content and go back for dessert afterward. Take something or nothing – the choice is there.

This year will also be different – I’m sticking a beautifully decorated, store-bought white cake with buttercream frosting (purchased by me, naturally) in the middle of the table for moi. I’m going to literally and physically have my cake and eat it too!!