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.

They Were Both So Big!

Anticipating Hurricane Sandy was frustrating. With each news cast this massive storm seemed to change its path, its intensity in certain areas and its time span. Closer to the day of direct hit, the news was more consistent so Nat and I made our escape plan, if needed. We knew for sure we wouldn’t be able to set up in the basement – flooding was a good possibility. So we decided what we would pack up and where we would head to. This was one thing my niece, Darby, has taught us. Working in the Emergency Preparedness field, she’s told us what was needed in case we would be trapped for several days. With her great advice, Nat and I set up our emergency kit – not as complete as Darby would like, but it was the best we could do with what we had. We were ready.

Monday arrived with stress and worry by Nat. He hates (absolutely hates) the wind and you can see it on his face every time there’s a huge wind storm. I knew he wasn’t going to get any sleep that night once the storm started by mid to late afternoon. The rain wasn’t as fierce as we anticipated, but the wind more than made up for it. Our little umbrella tree in front swerved and swayed all night long and the little forest of trees lining the stream in the back yard, swayed to and fro as if they were in the Pacific Islands. We weren’t too sure which way they would fall as the storm was coming from all sides, especially up Dominion from the U.S. border. It felt like New York State was throwing back at us what they already received. Every once in awhile Nat would walk around the house, peaking out windows and seeing if anything was amiss. Looking out the windows into the dark abyss, there was nothing he could really see, but it made him feel better, and that was fine by me. All night long the cable and telephone wires slammed, banged and swayed on the exterior of the house, exactly where the bed was  inside. Both Nat and I listened to the uneven rhythm all night long while getting what little sleep we could during each lull in the wind gusts. We really believe this was the fiercest wind storm we’ve experienced in years. At times we could swear there was a huge CN train rolling down the middle of Dominion Road!

Awaking Tuesday morning, sighing a huge sigh of relief, we could still hear small gusts of wind taking their last blows before dying out to a somewhat dull, but quiet, rainy day. As we made no plans, due to the possible length of this storm, for the most part we sat around the house and dozed off and on in our recliners, getting caught up on what sleep we missed.

Knowing we weren’t going anywhere, I decided to bake a new bread recipe – Egg Bread – one that I found through the Robin Hood web site. Man, was I surprised at how it turned out. After letting it rise the first time, I decided to braid the loaf (one of the alternatives suggested) and let it rest for the second time. When I returned to the kitchen I was taken aback at how huge it had gotten. It looked fabulous and I knew it was going to bake up  larger than I had anticipated. The final loaf was, in fact, huge and so tempting to cut into that Nat and I had to hold ourselves back. The feeling of euphoria came over me along with a great deal of pride that the egg bread was so professional looking. Alas, this loaf was too big even for us to eat alone. I decided to freeze this one and I’d bake smaller loaves or rolls just for the two of us, as I usually do. We had already taken out one of my other smaller loaves from the freezer and that would be sufficient and delicious with our lasagna for supper. As I’ve not tasted this new recipe yet, I’m anxious to do another batch and give them a try. That will be my plans for Thursday.

This afternoon (Wednesday) we took a drive into St. Catharines to Costco to stock up on haddock, trout, chicken and other food stuffs we normally go for. We’d also drop by the bakery for Nat’s favourite kaiser rolls. As Halloween is tonight, Costco was all set up for the Christmas holidays. I decided to also pick up another roll of their fabulous wrapping paper. The last roll I purchased has lasted me at least 10 years and this new roll (with up-dated design) will last me for the next 10 years!  As Nat and I have decided not to celebrate Christmas ourselves, I’m looking forward to wrapping Thamazine’s gifts and at least I’ll have some sort of emotional attachment to the holidays. Ho, Ho, Ho!!