WalMart Disappointed While Michael’s Shocked

We’re bored! Too much snow, blowing winds and deep freeze temperatures for us to get ambitious and get the hell out of the house. Mind you, we have had to go out a few times for food and some necessities of life, but other than that it’s been pretty pathetic.

With so much time on my hands I’ve been trying to get creative and do some little projects inside. Nat found a couple more albums which I’ve converted to DVD and I’ve got our 45 records to convert, but in the meantime I decided to re-arrange a few pictures in the living room. With a stroke of genius on my part I re-arranged my lapel pin collection in shadow box frames and canvass. I arranged two groupings for the alcove and we both agree they look pretty good there.

In order to accommodate the pin collection, I took down two family group photos from above the sofa and replaced them with the two collage frames from the alcove. At first, Nat and I agreed they looked pretty good there, but something kept nagging away – for some reason my collage frame contained too many white spaces compared to Nat’s frame. So, we talked, discussed some different ideas, weighed our options and decided my frame needed to match Nat’s somehow. At first we would look for a close replica to Nat’s frame. You have no idea what a task that turned out to be!! We looked at Michael’s, WalMart, Canadian Tire and even Home Outfitters – in store and online. No such replica (or even close facsimile exists – the picture arrangements were either too big, too scattered or the frame was all wrong. It seems to be the trend for collage frames to consist of a bunch of actual frames all clustered together in varying shapes and sizes. So, after an exhausted search I (with Nat’s hesitating consent) decided to buy one of the clustered collage frame, thinking that at least all that extra white space would be eliminated, giving it a similar look to Nat’s frame with very few white spaces and numerous size pictures, including an oval.

WELL, let me tell you!! Those clustered frames are a real crock. Once home, I disassembled the back, placed all of my family photos against the glass plates, put the backing back on, clipped it all together, and placed it up against the wall to hang, whereupon some of the glass plates fell completely out of place!! Back to the office, disassembled the whole thing again, put the glass back into each little frame, put a stiffer support in each, assembled again, but lo and behold the glass still fell from some of the frames. With a third try at hand Nat and I finally realized the glass plates were much smaller than the inserts they were suppose to fit in, plus, there were no clips or anything of the sort to even keep each plate in place.

Some more thinking and planning. Nat found some styrofoam and thought we could cut enough pieces to support the plates between the individual frames and the large cardboard backing. After cutting the styrofoam into 12 individual sizes, with scads of flying bits of styrofoam flying all over, we managed to assemble the frame again. No luck!! The plates still fell out of place and by now I was getting pissed and wanted to chuck the whole thing down WalMart’s throat (where we bought the damn thing). Cheap goods!!!!

Again, Nat came up with another idea. By now it was decided we would have to support the plates between each frame. With more thinking and cutting I managed to make small little thick slats to place in the grooves of each frame in order to support the glass plate above and the glass plate below. AGAIN – I assembled everything back together – styrofoam slats, glass plates, pictures, foam backing, large cardboard support and clipped the whole thing together. Finally, I had success after two days of utter frustration and anger at shoddy workmanship.

The cluster of frames was finally hanging up, alongside of Nat’s collage. The sizes in width and height were perfect. But, after another day or two, something kept nagging at the two of us. What was it? Again, more discussion, more weighing our options. There was something about my collage frame that wasn’t quite right – too much black now, no white spaces at all – what was it?? By now we had come to an agreement – just re-work both frames to be the same – but how?? Nat suggested we go to a proper frame shop and have something made up. Knowing that would be expensive,  it was a least worth a try. Then, it suddenly hit me!! Why not just re-work both family collages into the museum frames I have. They would match all the other frames in the house, and we would just have to have new mattes cut.

WELL, this is now turning into another story. We disassembled Nat’s collage frame and he narrowed his photos down to the ones he absolutely had to include – his frame had 22 photos and mine only had 12. Logic told me that if the frames were to be cohesive, he would have to reduce some and I would have to increase mine. I then spent a whole afternoon enlarging a couple of his family pictures and trying to find more to add to my frame. After an exhausting time of thinking and figuring things out in this little muddled head of mine and using the black ink in our printer like it was a bottomless pit, all the photos were ready. We then began to work out a good design for his pictures, along with a newer design for mine. We stood at the desk sorting and resorting our designs. By the grace of God, looking at the size of his old collage matte and then at the size of mine it hit me like a ton of bricks – DUH!!!!! Why not just put his old collage matte into the museum frame we were getting ready to have to change. The actual frames were the same size and after holding his matte over the glass of the museum frame, it fit perfectly – another DUH!!!!!

Back we went to re-taping all of his 22 photos back onto his original matte – the big ones, the tiny ones and the in-between ones. Once done, the whole thing fitted into the museum frame as if they were made for each other and the entire thing looked fresh and updated. We both couldn’t believe it, and wondered what our problem was that we didn’t think of this before. I’m thinking it’s because I can tend to make things complicated and poor Nat gets lost in my brain wave and crazy idea. Now we only had to have one new collage matte made and we could do that at the Framing Department at Michael’s at Niagara Square.

This morning we headed down to Michael’s. We told the clerk our idea and showed her our collage design on paper, along with the photo sizes required. She began working away on the computer program, trying to get the sizes right within the 16 x 20 measurements. Nat and I stood there patiently as she worked her magic and once she was finished she gave us the shocking news – “You’re not going to want to do this, you know”, she explained. “Why, what’s the bottom line”, I asked. “$101.50”, she cringed, as Nat and I looked at each other and said together “You’ve got to be kidding”. “No”, she said, “it’s very expensive to have custom mattes made, especially for larger sized frames”. Nat and I hummed and hawed in disbelief. We both reminded each other how much trouble we’d been through up to this moment. We both knew there was nothing else out there that could solve our problem and any other Frame Shop would probably be just as expensive. Knowing what we knew we agreed to bite the bullet and go ahead. We were both at wits’ end by now and just wanted this project done with. Nat looked at me and said “this thing is never going to leave the wall” as I nodded my head in agreement. We both also agreed, however, that the final design was going to be great and was just what we were looking for. So now it’s a waiting game before we can pick up the matte and put the two frames back where they belong in the living room.

This whole scenario started off as one little idea of hanging up my collection of lapel pins. I was convinced that by switching the two items around (the pictures to the living room and the pin collection to the alcove) that this would be easy, peasy. Silly me!!!! The two frames looked great in the alcove only because they weren’t hanging side-by-side and on a corner wall. It wasn’t until they actually hung side-by-side that I became obsessed that “something just wasn’t right”. I’ve now told Nat, as I have so many times in the past, please smack me next time I have an idea!!!!

Warming Up Those “Chilly” Winds

Things got a little silent the rest of the evening after our blow-out. We sat in our recliner chairs after supper and spoke not a word. We only spoke when we had to. Shall we say that it was certainly a “polite” evening of light conversation, if any, and concentrating on whatever the hell was on television. Clearer heads would prevail in the morning???

As things happened, the Driver Emission Test was booked for 1:30 the next day. The two of us were again being polite to one another until Nat returned from Canadian Tire with the required certificate for the licence sticker. Unexpectedly, when he returned home he asked if we could finally complete the renewal form online. As we were now very proficient in completing the damn thing it went relatively easy, including the portion for the Emission Test and without any hassle the licence sticker was renewed and the Government explained our new sticker would be in the mail within a number of days. Again, not a word spoken, but I had that sinking feeling that Nat had asked some questions at Canadian Tire as he always likes to get the facts. My word is never enough and he always needs to confirm with a third-party.  From the renewal form it was very apparent that the Emission Test Certificate was required or it would’t have gone through. My words from the previous afternoon “The Driver Emission Test has to be completed because there are asterisks beside each portion and the form won’t get submitted unless they are” began to ring true. Nat had his doubts and only Nat could satisfy them. I understood his concern that he wasn’t given enough warning and yes, that was my fault. WE should have checked the form so much earlier to see what was required. I’m only glad the whole damn affair is done and yes, I’m going to delete our account for online renewal (which can be done) once the sticker has arrived and yes, with Nat’s consent, approval and a note made to file!!!

Getting back to our usual selves took yet another day. The frosty air began to melt only because I had the oven on again and got back to some more baking. I also had a couple of small Christmas gifts for the grandkids I wanted to wrap. We don’t exchange gifts, but I’m their step-grandmother and I can do it if I want – so there!! Along with some cash each child will get a pair of funky mittens as an excuse for me to wrap something and an excuse for them to unwrap. It makes me feel like it’s Christmas and that’s got to be good for anyones blood pressure!!

Nat has finally returned to the garage (his workshop) and has begun work on my little side table for my recliner chair. He’s had a small problem with the small size I’ve requested, but he says he likes a challenge. So far the little cabinet is looking fantastic even though Nat has his doubts that I’ll get anything in it. “Are you sure you want it this small?”, he asked. Yep, I took the measurements and if I’m wrong then I’ll have to live with it. If it does end up looking goofy in the living room then I can always find a small nook to stick it in!!!!

Our friend and old neighbour from Green Maple landed in hospital last week. We were going to go for our pre-Christmas visit when I caught her hubby off guard. After the phone rang and rang and rang, Cecil answered the phone while he was huffing and puffing and talking as if he’d been awakened from a long winter’s nap. Turns out he had just returned from the hospital, had been there since the middle of the night, and had returned home to get some sleep while his dear wife was being taken care of by professionals. When Floris returned home and was able she gave me a call to re-assure us she was alright, had explained what had happened and we agreed that Nat and I would call in later. Nat and I were worried about her and her hubby and are anxious to see them to make sure things are good. They’ve been married 61 years now, which is a testament to their love and adoration for each other and it’s only been a couple of times that they’ve ever been apart from one another. Dedication!!

I’m now waiting on dear little sister for her Christmas presents so I can get them wrapped and returned for under their tree. It’s been a treat to wrap the presents to her family these past couple of years. I get just as excited as her two kids when I check things over to see what each received. Plus I can’t believe how well she does for everyone on her list, including mom and pop-in-law. I’ve also discovered that her family likes the new cookies/biscuits that I’ve learned to make – Empire Biscuits. I’ll sneak a few extra in their family cookie tin only because her son, Zach, knows how to win my heart!! So looking forward to Christmas Dinner at their  house this year.

14′ 5,000 LB Rat

Another hit on Nat’s “To Do” list has been eradicated – at last! We both knew that the umbrella tree had to be chopped down in order to make room for the new front walkway and small patio area. We also knew that that old poplar tree stump had to go. We should have had it chewed into sawdust when we had the tree cut down, but money was an issue and we only did what we could afford at the time. Tree cutting is big business!!!

We found a few names for quotes and, for some odd reason, a couple didn’t call us back. That’s fine – if they don’t want our business, then they won’t get it. We did, however, get a great response from Paul’s Stump & Tree Removal, along with a great price and he was hired on the spot. He showed up yesterday (Tuesday) with his gear and within seconds the umbrella tree was hewed to the ground. It was down before I even had a chance to get to the window to watch! He dragged that sucker to the curb and we joked that maybe someone would pick it up, as they’ve done with a few other things we’ve ‘left sitting around’. Dave (the son of Paul, who now runs the business) then grabbed his wood chipper/chopper machine and within a few more seconds the tree roots were history. It was now onto that big sucker out back – the poplar tree stump. Dave shook his head and confirmed our thoughts, this was one big stump!

We left Dave to his devices and went inside to fix our lunch. Within a half hour, or so, we heard nothing but silence. The chipper machine had stopped. As we were sitting on the back deck eating our lunch we heard Dave holler if Nat had a large allan wrench. Apparently Dave had hit a rock and his blade came loose. With Nat only having smaller allan wrenches, Dave said he was going up to Turkstra Lumber to see what they had, and with that he grabbed the umbrella tree, dumped it in his trailer and headed up to town. As he drove away I saw a receipt go flying past on the front lawn. I could only assume it came from Dave’s truck so I went and retrieved it. Making sure it did belong to Dave, I took a look – a Canadian Tire receipt with today’s date and the purchased item was a 14′ 5,000lb rat  $34.99!!! I couldn’t help but give a snicker – if you read the receipt literally it was funny. Who in hell would want a 14 foot, 5,000 pound Rat, and where on earth would you put it!!! Having hung around my brother (as kids) and being married to Nat, who has a well-equipped tool box, I knew exactly what it was – a new set of ratchet straps (14′ – 5,000 lb capacity) for his trailer. His previous set had been stolen and he had just purchased a new set with receipt still in the bag. I quietly placed the receipt back with  his ratchet set he had left in the driveway until he returned.

Once he had his chipper up and running again, it took him another hour or so to finish that big ‘ole stump and its’ one protruding huge root. The lawn was now full of sawdust or mulch, which Nat would place around the back garden when he returned from his Wednesday golf game. We thanked Dave for his service, handed him his cash, and he was off to grab some lunch at a friend’s house. He was pretty good and we’d certainly keep him in mind should we need any “dump runs” of trimmed trees, bushes or whatever else we can find (it’s a side business, along with the stump removal).

With the umbrella tree now gone, we both had clear vision through the living room window, along with a bit more light. Now we really, really can’t wait until the front walkway is done. Our little cottage/home is beginning to look like it’s getting a second life.

A Familiar Refrain

Sunday the 23rd saw a deep freeze set in around our little area. Naturally it was too bloody cold to do anything outdoors, except Nat had to clear the driveway of what fell to the ground on Saturday. I took advantage of the day and decided to try a new recipe for Muffin Tops which I’d seen on one of those ‘healthy’ cooking shows. Not a muffin lover myself, I figured what the hell, I’d give ’em a try and maybe Mikey (Nat) will eat them. As it turned out, he did. Full of raspberries, blueberries and whole wheat flour, Nat thought they were pretty good except a little dry. The recipe called for a cream cheese filling, which Nat abhors, so I left that out. He opted for putting a little jam on top and problem solved!!

Monday the 24th we wandered around Canadian Tire and Walmart in the morning. Nat was looking for a new tea kettle, as the one we had purchased about a year ago was acting up and not worth the repair. The afternoon hours were whiled away with crosswords and iPad games. Another day to stay in and keep warm from the deep cold outdoors.

With the arrival of Tuesday and another cold and snowy day, we both knew this was how our week was going to go. Another day with nothing on our plates, but willing to brave the cold, we decided on the spur of the moment to head into St. Catharines and get a few supplies at Costco. Being big fish eaters we stocked up on our favourites, along with a few other necessities and arrived home in time for lunch. At least now if Ridgeway got pelted with snow we’d have food on the table and could eat ourselves out of boredom.

The snow theme continued on Wednesday, but Nat took off for Niagara Falls. His excuse was he wanted to walk around Home Depot for a bit, but I knew he also had an ulterior motive. Along with looking for a solution for the ‘intake’ pipe (fresh air for the furnace) which keeps clogging or freezing up because of its closeness to the ‘outtake’ pipe, I figured he’d be looking for a birthday card for me, and I loved him for his thoughtfulness. He came home empty-handed regarding the pipe but at least he had a chance to get out of the house and have some ‘alone’ time. While he was gone I stayed put and updated the back-up drives of our photographs and home movies, which took me most of the afternoon. A tedious but necessary job where I dragged and dropped them all onto an external hard drive in case the CD back-ups decide to go flaky. Having at least 3 back-up plans is a safety net I’m adamant on keeping.

On Thursday morning I finally received the call from Walking On A Cloud shoe store at Seaway Mall that my shoes were in. Looking for a proper pair of shoes in a narrow size is a major task nowadays and I was so relieved to finally find a pair of loafers that were good looking and fit properly. We drove into Welland to pick up my shoes and decided at the same time to drop by the Dairy Queen just down the road to get an ice cream cake for Sunday. With the kids coming over for an early birthday lunch for me, the ice cream cake would satisfy the varying tastes of everyone. Really now, who doesn’t like ice cream??

With snow now covering each and every little crevice in Ridgeway, except the well-plowed roads, Nat drove me down to the Lab on Friday for my usual blood work. Taking advantage of being out, we bought what little groceries we needed a day early. With the day turning out to be cold, snowy and blustery we stayed put in the afternoon and I popped some more of those Cheddar Bay Biscuits in the freezer, thinking they’ll come in handy for that night we decide to put on the crock pot full of hearty beef stew. Cold night – hot beef stew and biscuits – yum!!

Up and at ’em early Saturday morning. I started the laundry and house cleaning, while Nat headed into Ridgeway to get those groceries items we couldn’t find Friday. With the kids coming Sunday for lunch I decided to get the chores done ahead of time and would now be free and clear for the week. Saturday evening with no hockey game on (horror of horrors!!), Nat and I nestled in our easy chairs and watched another movie I had downloaded from iTunes – “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” – which we both enjoyed immensely.

Sunday morning arrived with Nat and I up early to put on some pasta salad for lunch. Susan would be bringing a regular salad and along with the cold cuts, kaisers and ice cream cake, lunch was looking pretty good. Nat had received a call from Laura Saturday afternoon that she might not be able to make it. She was feeling pretty sick – we’re guessing the flu – and thought she’d be best staying in bed. Her Dad agreed and gave her a phone call Sunday morning to check in on her. She was still feeling pretty bad and thought it best to still stay home. With just Tom, Susan and the two girls coming for lunch it was a quieter affair and we had a good time chatting around the dining room table during our meal and retired to the living room for dessert. Susan and Laura pooled their resources and gave me some gift money for Niagara Square and Nat popped an iTunes card into his birthday card which would be nice for those nights we had to rent some more movies. Every little contribution towards the cause is much appreciated! After lunch the Dagenais family was headed over to Walden Galleria Mall for a party dress for Felicia who is keeping an active social life now that she’s in high school. After their departure Nat and I finished cleaning up and fell right back into our routine of crosswords and wondering what was for supper! A comfort zone we’re getting a little too familiar with.

Thumbs Up, Dear!

For some reason the weather gods couldn’t make up their minds on Tuesday. Rain was predicted and the clouds certainly made you think they were about to open up, but alas,  nothing fell from the skies. Thinking that it was going to rain, Nat and I headed into Niagara Falls in the morning. I had an errand at Michael’s for Karly’s birthday gift and Nat drove over to Canadian Tire off of Thorold Stone Road to see if they had the rain barrel base that was advertised. I got lucky finding the container I was looking for and Nat got lucky getting the one and only base left in the Region. We accordingly drove home happy with plans to stay indoors when the rains came.

After lunch and still no sign of rain, Nat took time out to continue on building the base for his new shed. He’s got the 2 x 4’s connected, the concrete blocks sorted and needs to level the whole thing. At first he struggled to get started with this project, but now that it’s begun he’s feeling better about the whole thing. I’m thinking the good times will come when it’s time to assemble those gazillion pieces of shed that lay on the garage floor!!!

Wednesday morning found Nat heading into St. Catharines. He had a follow-up appointment regarding his “trigger” thumb and naturally the news was what he expected – surgery. We’ll wait to hear from the surgeon’s office for an appointment – hopefully sometime after golf season. He continues to struggle but has discovered that wearing an old golf glove helps whenever he’s working outdoors. The glove gives him enough support around the thumb and enables him to at least get some things done.

Thursday was another one of those days where the rain gods couldn’t make up their minds. The rains came, the rains stopped, the rains came, the rains stopped, all day long. Just as soon as Nat started to work on the shed base again it would rain. He packed everything up, said the hell with it and came indoors where we both took some time out to watch one of the World Cup soccer games. It’s becoming a bit frustrating with the extreme heat, the off and on rain and the inability to complete anything you’ve started. Nat’s even had to sneak out at night to mow the lawn before the next batch of rain decides to fall. This past evening he just finished mowing when the rain drops began to appear.

A Busy Day For Dad

Watching the weather channel has been a little deceiving this past week. They’ve been a little off the mark as far as our little corner of the world goes. As they were calling for rain Saturday, Nat and I decided to run out, get the few groceries we needed, and then stay indoors and putter around the house. We were fooled. As the day wore on it was quite apparent that the rains were not coming this way and despite the fact that we really didn’t have too many places to go, we were a tad disappointed that we didn’t plan to get outdoors and enjoy the day. As it ended up, Nat read the paper and then we watched a little World Cup soccer and the U.S. Open. I suppose you could say we were getting rested up for Sunday.

Laura invited us over Sunday morning for a Father’s Day get together. Shawn, Karly, Lucas and the Dagenais family would all be there and she was providing a light lunch. The girls gave Nat a gift certificate to the Mandarin and a couple of his favourite chocolate bars, which he enjoys as a bit of a “late night” treat! After a short visit and getting caught up with the grandkids’ activities and school, the Dagenais’ headed home for their additional Father’s Day and the rest of us headed over to Ker Park for Lucas’ baseball game at noon. The Boys of Summer league had started and this was going to be a double header day, but Nat and I could only stay for the first game. Upon arrival we were grateful for loads of shade and were able to enjoy the game in relative coolness. Lucas’ team had a hard fight on their hands at first but managed to pull an 6-4 win out of their hats. The game was exciting and the Coaches were getting clever in the game plans – having the boys bunt a bit more than usual and having one or two batters get out in order to advance a runner on base. Made for great and fast-paced game which we truly enjoyed.

Once the game was finished Nat and I then headed off to the Canadian Tire store before going to the Irwins’ for another Father’s Day celebration and Zach’s birthday party all rolled into one.. He had seen in the weekend flyer that Canadian Tire had rain barrel bases on sale, but as usual, none were to be found. We had checked with the Fort Erie store before leaving and they were out and thought maybe we’d have more luck in Niagara Falls. Nope, they were out too. Then, as we were a tad early for the Irwins’ we decided to check the St. Catharines Store on 4th Avenue, but again, no luck. We’ll have to check mid-week to see if any more come in.

We arrived at the Irwins’ home just in time as everyone was returning from the Kiwanis’ duck races in Port Dalhousie, and the kids by now had all jumped into the pool to cool off. The party was fun, as always, and the burgers and hot dogs delicious as well. We also soon discovered that Zach, his parents and grandfather had attended a baseball charity game put on by a few pro hockey and sports heroes at a ball park in Niagara Falls. Zach was able to get his picture taken with Doug Gilmour and Marcel Dionne, along with receiving a couple of autographs from Gilmour and Pat Quinn. He was thrilled by the whole event and grinned from ear to ear when he talked about it. Nat and I were sorry we hadn’t heard of the game, as we would have attended and be in just as much awe as Zach was. Hopefully there’ll be another game next year!! Zach was thrilled with the photograph of Mats Sundin’s 500th career goal mounted on a blue plague along with a hockey card and gold hockey figure. “Awesome” was his exact word as he thanked us for a great collectible. We also explained that Marcel Dionne himself had helped us put the gift together and when he gets a chance to talk his granddad into taking him to Marcel’s store in the Falls. Nat and I know Zach would be thrilled to wander throughout each room and check out every piece of memorabilia and neat stuff!

With the kids out of the pool and getting cleaned up for bedtime by their parents, the adults soon jumped in to cool off. Nat and I headed home to leave the ‘big kids’ to it as we had had a long day and were getting tired. With a 40 minute drive home we’d then be able to get a cup of tea, take my meds and put our feet up. For us, it was a long day but a most enjoyable one.