The Sounds Of The Season


The new year came in quietly for Nat and I. Never one to celebrate, I was in bed by 10:30, leaving Nat sitting by himself (sad to say) watching the festivities on TV. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer – I was zonked, and Nat certainly understood after watching me literally take small afternoon naps ever since that mini-stroke. The feeling of tiredness is still with me, albeit slowing down somewhat.

The first day of 2014 became the first time Nat and I watched television most of the day. Something we don’t normally do, mainly because there is nothing on that even remotely peaks our interest. This day, however, there were two sporting events we both wanted to watch. The first one was a New Year’s Day soccer match from Britain between two of our favourite teams and in the afternoon the Winter Classic Hockey Game was on between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. We especially enjoyed the Winter Classic, which was exciting and being an old-fashioned outdoor game, had all of the elements – snow, wind, bouncing puck and players with smiles on their faces. They, too, were very much into the spirit of the game. The icing on the cake – the Maple Leafs won without a shoot-out!! Nat and I enjoyed the afternoon immensely and felt it was a good entry into the new year.

I had booked reservations for Café Amoré on Nat’s actual birthday – January 2nd – but Mother Nature decided to take an ugly turn and blew into our little village with abandon. The snow and blowing wind were too much and I decided to cancel and rebook for January 3rd. The day was still cold, but the meal was hot and delicious with the staff just as warm. We had one little hiccup with our bill. As this was my treat, I handed the waitress our gift card received from Thamazine as a thank-you for wrapping her gifts, and she soon returned with the check showing the balance owing by us. As usual, I took a look and soon discovered that the balance on the gift card was only $10.88. That’s odd, I thought. Tam wouldn’t do this to us – even if it was some kind of joke. Then I thought perhaps she owned a card herself and accidentally gave us the used one. I called over our waitress, expressed my concerns and then showed her the envelope the gift card came in, stating the dollar amount and the receipt number. She somehow knew that something was wrong, too. She soon returned after checking everything and explained that their machine had screwed up and was showing a previous customer’s balance. Whew!!! I could have paid the bill, that was no problem. This time, however, being Nat’s birthday, the two of us went a little overboard and ordered a decadent dessert (triple layer white cake, buttercream frosting and oodles of fresh coconut sprinkled all over – yum, yum, yum!!). The gift card was going to be our saviour and allow us the extra treat, so we were glad and relieved when everything was straightened out, and our actual balance reduced. We returned home, despite the extreme cold weather, with a smile on our faces after enjoying a very good evening.

The rest of our week has been uneventful as both Nat and myself have been unable to get back into any sort of routine. With the cold weather still hanging around we only managed to nip out to the stores for what was absolutely necessary. We did, however, decide to finally sell the Sony Home Theatre System that we’ve had for a number of years. A complete home theatre surround sound system that we used in our home on Green Maple Drive in St. Catharines. Our rec room downstairs was perfect for setting up such a system, but alas our new little living room is another story. With only one practical spot to place the TV, the rest of the room is in such a shape that we’ve been unable to find a great corner for each speaker, unless we were willing to have wires  from wall to wall and corner to corner. We’ve listed the stereo unit on Kijiji and will hope for the best.

Nat’s Christmas gift from me was the Bose Sound Dock Series II where Nat could sit his iPod in the dock and play his music for as long as he wanted. His entire playlist is on his iPod and he’s forever going for walks while listening to his songs. It only stood to reason that I get him something decent for indoors where he could play his songs in the warmth and comfort of his own home. He informed me this afternoon, after we were both listening to it, that the Sound Dock made a huge difference and he was really glad I got him one. We had debated for some time whether to get one or not and I decided to just jump in and take a chance. Turns out my decision was a good one.

So good, in fact, that we also decided to buy the Bose Solo TV Sound System. I noticed this on the Bose Canada web site and as I have extreme difficulty hearing all of the words on certain television shows, I told Nat about it. The speakers in the television set are pretty good, but this speaker system makes the sound even more clearer and more defined. We decided to take a drive to Future Shop one day and have an actual look and even maybe a demonstration. The clerk was very  helpful and, in fact, the system was already hooked-up and in demo mode. Nat and I were pleased with what we saw and made a decision to get one – albeit through Bose Canada’s web site. I felt we would get better customer service ordering through the manufacturer and as I had no problems with the Sound Dock Series II it was a no brainer. I ordered as soon as we returned home and as luck would have it, on sale to boot!!!

The Solo TV Sound System arrived via courier yesterday – through blowing snow, high winds and white-out conditions – our UPS man arrived at the door just after lunch and had to ask if this thing was on sale, as this was the second one of these he was delivering that day!! Turns out we’re not the only ones looking for a good TV speaker system. The system was set up within minutes. Yes, despite the ease of set-up, Nat and I still had a problem. I had managed to plug the cords into the wrong Audio plug in the back of the TV and for a few minutes had no sound at all coming from the Sound System  until I realized what I had done. However, once the panic mode was over with, Nat and I are extremely pleased with our purchase. The Sound System produces such a better quality sound, with a bit more bass to it that allows my old ears to hear so much more. Now I can watch some of those British TV Shows I love and hear every word despite the fact the characters may be walking down a busy street in London or huddled in a nook in the pub!!

Another stroke of luck arrived for us when Nat read about a person in Ridgeway that will refurbish, clean up and re-work any kind of computer system, laptop or other electronic device in order to donate to needy kids in the area whose families can’t afford such items. This was another no brainer, as we still had lying around our original HP Laptop with Windows XP on it that was not being used at all any more. I pulled it out from the closet and as I had already cleared the entire memory by reloading Ubuntu operating system, I gave PDC Computers a call. The owner, Paolo, dropped by later that evening in the blowing snow and wind, and as luck would have it was in need of another laptop. He told us that he had two young boys in need of one for school. He already had one lined up for one young lad and this laptop would be perfect for the second young man. Nat and I were so glad we could be of help and it made us feel so much better knowing that this old laptop would become new again.

With our lives now back to what it was before the holidays and despite the fact that my blood sugar levels were elevated, Nat and I have returned to our quiet days again. Crosswords and iPad games have become a bit of the norm. I’m hoping to get back to some more baking, as cookie levels have been depleted somewhat, but for now I’m enjoying the peace, love and company of my hubby. Mother Nature has decided to give a good part of Ontario and the U.S. a huge snow storm with high winds, blowing snow and extreme white-out conditions (apparently a winter vortex) which has left Nat and I even more settled inside and resigned to the fact that going outdoors is NOT an option. The weather conditions are suppose to dissipate, or at least ease up, before appointments the end of the week so we’ll have our chance to get some fresh (albeit cold) air into our lungs. Ahh, the warmth of Spring is just around the corner – a very long corner!!

Home For The Holidays

The week before Christmas was relatively quiet, We delivered the last of the Irwin gifts to their house on Saturday the 21st, had a wee visit, grabbed something to eat at Tim Hortons, and then headed over to our good friends and former neighbours for our usual pre-Christmas visit.

We don’t see our friends as often as we’d like so when we do, we try to make the best of it. Like me, Floris had a bit of a scare with a trip to the hospital via ambulance. She found it hard to breath in the night and discovered she had developed a chest or lung infection. After a night or two in hospital, she returned home and was getting better as each day progressed. The two of them were both in great spirits and we all had our usual laughs with gossip and stories, which we always enjoy.

Christmas Eve arrived all too quickly and we headed into Niagara Falls for what looks to be a traditional trip to Laura’s for her “Christmas Eve” Christmas with her two children, before they go to their Father’s to spend Christmas morning. We enjoyed pizza, wings, cookies and other treats along with Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget. We all headed for home around 7:00 pm so Laura, Karly and Lucas could get on with opening their gifts before their father arrived to pick them up. A good time was had by all and I soon discovered that the new cookies I had added to my repertoire (Empire Biscuits) was a great hit and now looks to be a regular.

Nat and I finished off our Christmas Eve by watching a couple of episodes on DVD of “Hustle” before I headed to bed while Nat stayed up to catch the news. I was exhausted and didn’t even play my usual game on the iPad!!

Christmas morning saw me waking up maybe a half hour earlier than usual, but I had a good gift to give Nat and I was anxious to see his reaction. I donned some comfy clothes, grabbed my gift and handed it to Nat as he sat in his recliner trying to finish off the previous day’s crossword puzzle – his way of killing time waiting for me to get out of bed. He was really pleased with the Bose Sound Dock Series II  I gave him so he can now play his iPod as it’s docked and listen to his music without any headphones. He loves his music so much and it seems like he doesn’t get a chance anymore since our mini stereo system gave up the ghost. It was a great little unit we had purchased from Sharper Image in Florida but once the CD part stopped opening and closing properly we felt it wasn’t worth repairing as we had gotten our use out of it. While we’re deciding what kind of music player to purchase in the future this little docking speaker will do in a pinch and besides, like anything “Bose“, it sounds fabulous.

My gift from Nat was Chanel No. 5 perfume which I love and am too bloody cheap to go out and buy for myself. I’ve always managed to get stocked up while travelling and going through Duty Free Shops, but we haven’t exactly travelled too far of late, so I ran out and really missed it, so I’m glad Nat remembered!!

With our little “opening” over, we soon got cleaned up and drove into Thorold to spend a couple of hours visiting with Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget to see how good Santa was to them. When we arrived it turns out they had just finished opening themselves and were in the process of prepping their traditional bacon on a bun, so we had a chance to join in and they were delicious as usual. I knew my diet and exercise were going on leave over the holidays so I thought what the hell, and had half of one!!

Nat and I were soon headed home for a couple of hours peace and quiet and by 3:00 packed up the gifts to my sisters, along with a tin of cookies for each and were headed back into St. Catharines to Tam and Daryl’s for a fabulous turkey dinner. This year Tam and Daryl ended up with two turkeys – one of which they cooked the usual way (after brining) and the other one was deep-fried in Daryl’s new Christmas gift – an electric turkey deep fryer. Both birds were absolutely delicious, along with the veggies and rolls and I surprised myself by not going back for seconds. Somehow I kind of knew that Claudia would bring one of her fabulous chocolate cakes and I wasn’t disappointed – she brought my favourite (chocolate cake with white frosting) and I really cheated by having two slices.

I had decided this year to give each sister a small and relatively inexpensive gift because I miss shopping for them, and there have been times that I’ve received a gift I didn’t know was coming, so I decided to do something myself. Nat and I had found some beautiful warm neck scarves at By The Lake in Niagara-on-the-Lake which I couldn’t resist. We’re all at the age now where a good warm scarf is always handy to have on these cold winter days and handy to have a second choice if you already have one.

During our visit I had a chance to see Zach and Zoe’s bedrooms, which I haven’t seen since they each moved to different rooms – Zach downstairs and Zoe in Zach’s former larger room. I was really surprised to see the great collection of sports – especially hockey – memorabilia collected by Zach. He’s done such a great job and is quickly running out of room to store it all. He’s even had to give up collecting hockey cards as his collection now is enormous, but I’m sure he’ll find that gem one day in the future that he won’t be able to resist.

Zoe’s room is a typical young girl’s – walls covered in posters and pictures of her favourite group (“One Direction“), along with other famous people, and her dresser loaded up with make-up items, jewellery and anything else she needs to make herself more beautiful. Too bad she thinks that way, as with any young girl, she’s already perfect just the way she is. I do understand, however, as I felt the same way at her age.

After such a delicious meal, groups of us sat around each of the small dining tables and talked amongst ourselves and then back and forth to each other. I really miss seeing every one of my sisters and really didn’t want to leave, but Tam was in the kitchen cleaning up, Gail’s eyes were fighting hard to stay open and I think Bonnie was ready for her bed too. Plus, Nat and I had the longest drive, so we left the festivities around 7:00 and arrived home to sit some more and watch DVDs to fill the rest of the evening before heading to bed ourselves. So, good night to all and to all a good night!!