The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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The Last 16th And Honouring The Dead

As families go, mine is pretty damned great. There are just enough of us to gather around a good-sized dinner table, have small group conversations, have one large discussion, talk over each other or eat our meal in complete silence (nah, that has never happened!!). The same scenario goes whenever we get together for a birthday and so it was we gathered to celebrate the last person in our family to turn Sweet 16.

My niece, Zoe, has grown before our eyes and turned into a beautiful, talented and clever young lady. You just might say she’s going to be a renaissance woman. Her artistic talents became very apparent during her early years. A bit of Andy Warhol, Piet Mondrian or Amedeo Modigliani, along with a great sense of style, humour and intelligence. I managed to buy an early piece on canvas named “Owl” which hangs proudly in our office where we can see it on a daily basis.

Now in High School her talents are still expanding above and beyond. With her fabulous grades she’ll be able to name her career whenever she’s ready. I truly hope she finds what she’s looking for. Her 16th birthday was just as eventful and fun as her family is. Zoe and her family are in constant contact with another Aunt and cousins and we sit and listen to their hijinks, travels and tribulations whenever we are together. They really make Nat and myself look and sound like a couple of old fogies – and I suppose that’s what we’re getting to be. At times jealousy rears its ugly head but I know in my heart you make the bed you lie in. We do, however, always have a great time and good laughs.

Another family moment arose when The Welland Canal Fallen Workers’ Memorial was announced. The unveiling ceremony was held on November 12th, the day after November 11th, which was somehow very befitting. A large tent was set up along the Welland Canal Parkway at Lock 3. The turnout was more than expected and despite the slow chill that eventually set in to everyones’ body, the ceremony was lovely and well done. As my maternal Grandfather and his only son (an uncle) were both among the 137 that died while helping to construct the canal and its bridges, the entire familly turned out, including dear brother who travelled down from Sudbury.

We sat amongst other family members of fallen workers, along with a large gathering of interested spectators and a few historians and listened to speeches and stories that brought you back to an historical time in our local history and we all came away looking at the great expanse of The Welland Canal in a completely different light.

The Memorial itself is a pair of canal Lock doors partially opened with each of the names of Fallen workers inscribed in the black granite. After the ceremony the Memorial was flooded with families and guests and our family came to the conclusion that we can return on a quieter day to take pictures and appreciate the memorial in a more peaceful setting.

Claudia had invited the whole gang back to her place for Beef on a Bun, Shredded Pork and salads after the ceremony. As our brother was down from the Sudbury area, and as we rarely get a chance to see him, it was a real delight to sit around the kitchn table and get caught up on family news. The reality has now come down to discussions of medications, aches and pains, along with what we can and cannot do any more. Our childhood memories of the older adults in the family having the same discussions has now come full circle.

Two days after, it was my personal time to face some pretty ugly consequences. After a quiet, long and honest discussion, Nat and I concluded that it was time for me to take care of what has bothered me for years. He was fully supportive and will be by my side at every step. My first appointment was on the 14th. It went well, but we still have to wait and see what the next several months will bring. I’ll try and post as much as I can personally handle.

With a few errands to run in the days following, Nat and I quietly went about our business. We both got our requisite flu shots and then headed into St. Catharines with our To Do list.

Nat has had no luck getting his Nikkon camera to charge, so we dropped by Henry’s Camera Shop where it was concluded that the camera was, in fact, already charged and that he may have had trouble with the connection showing the proper results. With red faces and hands covering our embarrassment, we got the hell out of there. Duh!!!!

We grabbed some lunch at our favourite haunts – Wendy’s and Tim Horton’s – before we drove to the other side of the City for Costco’s. We stocked up on the usual, found a couple of new items and paid what felt like a massive hydro bill. At least this bill will hold us over for severeal months!!

The rest of November and December are going to be quiet with only a few appointments. No shopping for Christmas this year and we’ll give the usual amount of money to each grandchild whenever we get together over the holidays. All four grandchildren are now adults, completing their education, working nine to five or travelling. I feel for their parents in how they’re going to try and get everyones’ schedules in sync. Nat and I will just sit back and wait for when to show up. This year we may also just do our own thing and quietly let Christmas pass us by.

Just in case I don’t post between now and 2018 – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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A Cornucopia of Family, Friends, Food and a Train for Good Measure

For the first time in several years, Nat and I are experiencing a very busy social calendar. September, for us, is usually busy because of family birthdays, the Fall Fairs (Marshville, Balls Falls) and prepping the house for Fall and Winter. This year has seen a few extra invitations to social events, which has been a real delight. We’re never ones to pass up a good social gathering with friends and especially with family, along with a good free meal for an extra bonus.

Our first extra event began in August with a renewal of wedding vows after 50 years of marriage. Nat’s buddy from his GM working days and his wife, renewed their vows in a quaint little church in Niagara-on-the-Lake on a perfect Saturday afternoon. We’ve been friends with this couple ever since Nat and John retired despite not being in constant contact on a weekly basis. The ceremony was beautiful but our ages were beginning to show. Linda’s hip replacement and other ailments of age were waiting to give her problems but managed to stay away at least for this auspicious occasion. Nat’s back aches were also keeping their distance even though they lingered after sitting on Church pews for an hour. The after party was relaxing as we sat with another one of their GM buddies, Connie and her husband, while munching on assorted cold cuts, rolls, salads, veggie plate and gorgeous celebratory cake. As John and his wife managed to make their rounds visiting guests, Connie and Nat got caught up on their lives since retirement. It was quite apparent every one was having their ups and downs in life, medical complaints, family situations, political tongue wagging and holiday excursions. It was great seeing these friends again after so many years apart. It’s probably going to be a very long time before we see them again, so Nat and I wish them each well.

Rounding out the month of August we were invited to a BBQ at Gail and Bern’s. They had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary back in February with a meal at The Mandarin but they also wanted to do something in the summer months so everyone could enjoy the celebration (including Bern Jr.’s 50th birthday) in a more open and relaxed atmosphere. When Nat and I arrived it became suddenly apparent that this party was going to be a biggy. The Fritshaw duo invited their Classic/Antique Car Club to display their vehicles on the front lawn for all and sundry to oooh and aaahh over. Being GM people, naturally most of the vehicles were Buicks or Chevys and each one took you back to an era that we all felt was pretty special with a lot of great memories. This was also going to be a reunion of sorts by great neighbourhood friends that lived on or around our original family home in Beamsville. Gail has remained life time buddies with her girl friends from our street and school and it was nice to see them myself after almost 45 years. More catching up on life time events and reminiscing about friendly mischief. Nat and I had another fabulous time with family and meeting a lot of new people, along with enjoying a great meal selection of beef, chicken, cold cuts, rolls, salads and yummy desserts, and two celebratory cakes. This was going to be a “cheat” day for me with my diabetes and I had certainly prepped for the event by practically starving the days beforehand.  Trust me, it was worth it!!

This Saturday is the big wedding. My nephew, Dalton, and his lovely live-in girl friend, are finally going to tie the knot. The pair live and work in Edmonton, Alberta, but will be returning to her home in Smithville for the big Garden Party Wedding. This is the one I’ve been waiting for. This is why I bought that designer dress, along with the new shoes and purse, and this is why I had one last wedding gift to spend so much time on. What fun!! Nat and I don’t go to weddings any more, only funerals, so you can understand my gaiety. For once we’ll be all smiles and no doom or gloom.

During all of these special occasions, Nat and I have been kept somewhat busy on the house and yard. I’ve returned to baking a little. Managed to try out a new recipe for bread sticks after The Olive Garden. Eating at that restaurant leaves me craving bread sticks. This time I did some research online and came across a Better Than ‘Olive Garden’ Bread Sticks recipe that seemed so bloody easy it was too good to be true. Sure enough, it was. In addition they are delicious and hubby and I agree that they are better than the Olive Garden. I’m still having a rough time believing that this bread recipe literally instructed you to dump all ingredients (including yeast and water) into a bowl and mix. The only time consuming part was waiting for the dough to rise and to actually shape the bread sticks. Easy, peasy!!! I’ll definitely keep this recipe on hand for future use and even get-togethers.

The door wreath I’ve been working on is turning out half decent for a stumbling crafter like me. My patients for crafting has gone out the door, but this is one project I felt I could really complete and it appears I just might do so!! In fact, as I’m typing this I should be getting back to it while Nat is golfing and I have some quiet time on my hands.

Nat and I have also decided – on a whim – to book a 3 day trip on the Agawa Canyon Train Tour near the end of the month. We’ve not been on any sort of get away since our side trip to the Thousand Islands over a year ago. While both loving the train, this was Nat’s idea of a nice break before the snow falls, and we’re hoping the weather will co-operate and Mother Nature will display her fall colours throughout the Canyon when we arrive. The drive there will be somewhat tiresome (over 5-6 hours) but the end result will be worth the numb bum. Looking forward to this so much. A break from the ordinary hum drum of life.


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Separation of Place and Family

From the very day Nat and I moved to this fabulous little village, I’ve felt separated from all of my sisters and even my brother (despite living in the wilds of Northern Ontario). Only a half hour down the highway, to some it feels like a day’s drive away. Pack a lunch and let’s go for a day trip!

Yes, we’ve had family visits, have had family over for special dinners and even guests from England. How ungrateful can I be?? Nat and I have also been to their places and have always had a great time, but it never seemed long enough to me. I could never get caught up on everything that was going on. Too many people, too many events. Maybe just too nosy??

If I may clarify or explain, this has been a feeling I’ve had even while living in St. Catharines and only a block away from one sister. Isolated. No one knowing I was there. Married, or not, I still felt alone whenever we were all together. I was never in the loop with what was happening. I had no idea of what each sister was getting up to. It was only at family gatherings that I would huddle in amongst a group to listen in and see what was going on. My fault, of course. I hate the telephone – whether land line or cell. A working life time of being on the phone, dealing with good, bad and just irate clients. There was a time I would talk to an old high school friend for hours but it was usually about her love life. One sister (a self-appointed mother hen) and I would have a bitch sessions now and again, but health matters and marriage have put those times to bed. I’m the kind that likes to talk “mano e mano”.

You make your bed and you have to lie in it, and there stands the rub. Times have changed. I’ve changed (or so I’d like to think) and am wishing more and more to be involved in my other sisters’ lives. Somehow I now realize I need the sisterly inter-action. The camaraderie. The emotional connection. Sometimes, even the re-assurance. Each one of them have something to contribute and God knows, each have their own opinions. Each one of them also know how unabashedly independent and stubborn I can be – even dear hubby found this out early in our marriage. As I grow older and after 20 years of marriage, it’s taken me that long to realize I can’t always do it alone. Hubby (much to his frustration) has ever-so-slowly tried to tear down that wall. It takes constant reminding on my part that I have to let other people in. During our courtship I did confidentially confide in one sister about my relationship and it felt so wonderful to have someone actually sit and listen to what I had to say. Not criticize. Not judge. Just understand. I can still picture that day even now and I’m forever grateful for her advice. As I said earlier, this is my 20th year of being married. Trust me, no one would have seen that coming when I was 40 and single!!

A woman can sometimes get bored with a man (sounds crazy, I know, but it’s true!!). She needs another woman’s sympathy and understanding. Someone who “gets it”. Someone you can just bitch too. After 20 years of marriage and not really having a whole lot of outings with any of my sisters, I can sit alone with my thoughts, become depressed and lie to Nat that things are okay. There are times a woman just wants to bitch about “his side”. It’s not easy being a stepmother, with no relationship at all and it’s even worse when you don’t feel right telling your husband about all of this. Again, a man just doesn’t “get it”. Besides, he’s prejudiced.

I realize, too, that I’ve done some pretty goofy stuff in the past. I went through a lot of medical side effects after my transplant. I could tell people were being polite and wouldn’t say it to my face. I wished they would have!! It only made me continue on, wherein maybe I could have corrected or held back on some of those impulsive actions. But I continued to embarrass myself (and sometimes hubby) because no one would sit me down and just say “STOP”.  My one huge, huge grief – never ever lie to me. That old adage – If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all. A credo my family obviously stuck to. Hurt me once – I can get over it. Hurt me twice – I can be unforgiving.

At times I feel as if I’m being excluded. “Boring” has become my middle name. Maybe emotional instability has reared it’s head in the eyes of some. I don’t seem to have an opinion in the eyes of others – or at least one that doesn’t count. Unreliability – I’d do anything in a flash if asked – but maybe that’s a bit overkill. Every now and then I mull all of this over and before attending any family event I tell myself “shut up, listen, and be cool”. I get away from myself now and again – that’s understandable, but I’d like to think at most times I’m pretty good – at least Nat has helped whenever I ask.

I must take the first step. However “butting in” isn’t always a good thing. Getting pushy doesn’t help either. So I’ll sit and wait and continue on until someone tells me it’s okay to come out and play. Just don’t feel sorry for me ’cause all my life (the adult years, at least) I’ve lived on my own terms and have made my own fun and mistakes. I’ve survived just fine, thank-you!

Getting past all of this emotional crap, I’ve had this bug in my head about the kitchen cabinet door handles. The originals that came with this old house were not my style, butt ugly and difficult to clean. I’m facing reality, too, that there won’t be a renovated kitchen any time soon. Other repairs, renovations and upgrades have cropped up and the old reservoir is getting drier as I write. SO, I decided the least I could do to make things look a tiny bit better, was to buy new cabinet and drawer handles. I took on the task quietly without Nat knowing for a few months. Research online and in the hardware stores certainly gave me a huge amount of ideas. Then one day I announced it to Nat and naturally, he didn’t feel the need. “They’ll get changed when we renovate the kitchen”, was his reaction. “Can’t it wait until then?” he queried. Not in my eyes!! I get an itch and I need to scratch it right away. This little idea was not going away. I continued on my quest and then sprung it on Nat again this past week. My quick retort to his repeated statements – “Let’s face it, the kitchen isn’t going to get renovated any time soon as the money is almost gone. It’s going to take a few years to recoup what we’ve spent. At least for now I’ll feel better and it will make the cabinets look a bit more modern and clean”. I think I had him – he couldn’t answer and he knew I was right. Kitchen renovations are huge expenses – especially when you want new cabinetry.

As a result, after a doctor’s appointment in St. Catharines, we headed over to Lowe’s in Niagara Falls. I had found the handles I wanted online and we were there to make sure of their availability and amount. I got lucky. We grabbed the 24 needed and headed home. We would try and install them on Saturday afternoon. Rain was forecast and this would occupy a little of our time, plus give me a great chance to clean the doors thoroughly.

Saturday evening we were invited to Zoe’s 13th birthday. Cake and family – a no brainer.  The cabinet handles would wait ’til Sunday. We arrived early at the party after having a quick supper at Swiss Chalet and had a chance to sit with the kids and their parents for a half hour or so before the other guests arrived. I could see in Nat’s eyes, he was at least glad Zach had the hockey game on. Couldn’t hear the play-by-play, but at least he was seeing some of the game. Nat and I stayed long enough to have a piece of cake and see Zoe open our gift, along with a few others. We headed home early because the rain was now on and a night time drive back to Fort Erie. We both had a great time and a few laughs to lift our boring spirits.

This afternoon, the door handles were finally installed. I wiped down the cabinetry as Nat installed each handle and it makes me feel so much better. I can now look at kitchen cabinets that have had a bit of upgrading and modernizing – even if they are just door handles!! I’m happy!!


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Quiet Moments And Anxious Times

Since my last posting wherein we began to anxiously await the arrival of our landscaper, it turns out the rain has beaten him to it. Rainy nights and soggy days have taken over as every landscaper and contractor in town is waiting ferociously for the grounds to dry up. Everyone is now behind in their contracts and jobs and their bank accounts, I’m sure, are dwindling. Nat and I, in the meantime, called for a couple of quotes on a new driveway. Both contractors were very decent and their prices were reasonable, as were their choices of what we could do. One contractor suggested that we just resurface (filling in and topping up the deep ruts along the garage floor) or we could do a total repaving. We decided on the second choice – getting a brand new repaving so we could ensure that the base will be solid (for our own piece of mind).  Alas that, too, is now on hold until our landscaper can get caught up on his contracts before he arrives at our door. Plus we’ve changed the design of the back walkway, just a tad, so he has to re-adjust his quote.

On the good news side, our landscaper has now advised us (on Friday) that he’s now in the process of reworking the quote, ordering the appropriate supplies and will be around for a deposit this next week. Hurrrrraaaaay!! Gee, ya think Nat and I are anxious – you betcha ya!!!! The two of us are praying to get things done and nip these long, boring rainy days in the bud. The days have been way too quiet, some unproductive because of sheer laziness and some semi-productive just to start the ball rolling. Nat’s been slowly working outdoors getting the yard and shed in order. Out with the Winter supplies and in with the Spring. The lawn has now been fertilized (in-between bouts of rain) and the BBQ readied for some good cooking. As for me, I’ve been so bored that I got into one of those “let’s re-organize” modes and hit the kitchen pantry and drawers with abandon. The pantry got a good cleaning, new containers for baking powder, cornstarch, salts, herbs and spices and anything else I could fit in. The kitchen drawers have been cleaned and re-sorted for a more organized feel and now Nat can’t find a bloody thing, despite the fact the same stuff is still in the same drawer!! It feels better for me and I’m sure Nat will get use to where things are just in time for me to re-organize again!!

On the family front, Nat and I attended a beautiful memorial lunch for my Aunt Elva. As she didn’t want a funeral ceremony, her two sons decided to have a get together sometime thereafter. The luncheon was small and held at the Tallman Funeral Home in Vineland. With cousin Jim, wife Janice, cousin Judy, four of us “Rouse” girls, two hubbies and some dear friends, in attendance, we all had a great time getting caught up with family news, whose doing what, where everyone’s kids are and health issues, along with a tasty and delicious array of sandwiches and sweets. It was truly nice seeing the family members that could make the trip, while others lived too far away and were missed. The “Rouse” side of the family is thinning all too fast and promises were made to keep in touch and have some more get togethers soon. Alas, sometimes promises get broken or lost in time due to other family business, holidays or just plain difficulty in travelling. I spoke up this time and volunteered to at least hold some sort of “pot luck” party this summer and hoping I can pull it off without me getting in a tizz.

Speaking of “getting in a tizz”, I saw my local Nephrologist this past week. I’ve been feeling so emotionally stable and healthy lately I still couldn’t help but worry that something might be found that I didn’t see coming. However, really couldn’t have asked for a more perfect report. Creatinine is great, blood pressure is great, cholesterol is great, no signs of diabetes, and my weight is holding steady. Poor Doc couldn’t find anything to fix so I left on a real high note. I joked that if everything is so perfect, I guess I don’t need to see Docs any more. Alas, he gave a smiling smirk, as if to say “Yeah, right”. At least now the appointments are getting fewer and far between. What more could a gal ask for??


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Just Us Gals and a Mushroom or Two!

Nat finally had a half decent golf game on Wednesday. He’s been a tad disappointed with a few of his rounds this season, so it was nice to see him smiling when he arrived home. Despite the heat it was a good afternoon for him. While he was out I did my usual puttering around in the office, getting caught up on a few Podcasts and just generally goofing off. So it was that we both ended up having nice days!

The arrival of Friday morning saw Nat and I sitting on the back patio. Our day was going to be filled with lunch at the Mandarin in Niagara Falls and then off to Gail and Bern’s for Nat to drop me off and then pick up Terry for a game of golf that afternoon. Not wanting to get into anything too heavy, we whiled away the morning hours before we left, and during that time Nat spotted a couple of mushrooms popping out of the tree trunk that formed part of our fence. I grabbed my camera and snapped away. Not seeing too many mushrooms in my life, I was fascinated by their natural beauty and size. I also snapped a few pictures of around our yard. It’s not the most beautiful yard in the world, but it’s ours’ and we both enjoy the wild foliage along the stream and it’s never-ending colour all year long.

After a wonderful (and quite filling) lunch at the Mandarin, we then headed into Jordan. With Nat’s regular golfing buddy, Bill, having back problems, it was just going to be Nat and Terry that afternoon, so they headed down to Queenston for a couple of hours away from the women in their lives. As I was going to be alone, I tagged along and spent the day with Gail and Wendy while the boys were playing golf. We had a great afternoon chit chatting about this ‘n that and jumping from topic to topic in a flash. We decided to get outdoors for a few minutes and drove over to Jordan Village to see what was new and exciting. As with every “walk about” I ended up buying something! Like a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to stores and my wallet opens up on command!! I at least restrained myself this time. I bought a wee chunk of Maple Walnut fudge for myself, and three sample jars of homemade jams for Nat all bundled in a neat little package. We continued on meandering in and out of some exclusive little shops admiring all kinds of goodies we wished we could buy but knew in our hearts it would give each of our hubbies heart attacks if they saw the price tags! With a few pictures we snapped of each other for Wendy’s photo album when she returns to England, we headed home for a drink and that requisite piece of chocolate we so desperately needed to replace any memories of those exquisite goodies we had just passed up!!

With a good game of golf under his belt and a few laughs with Wendy and Gail in my heart, Nat and I then headed home for a quiet evening. We’d be seeing the gang again this weekend for a bon voyage party for our nephew, Tyler. Lucky boy has landed a job at Disney World in Florida for a year and being the close family that we are, we’re all going to miss him. But man, oh man, if you’re a big kid at heart and love to play, you couldn’t pick a better place to go to work. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go – so good luck and best wishes Tyler!!!!


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Hot Day, Cold Food And Great Fun

With the weather these past few days being a little “iffy”, Nat and I awoke Sunday morning not too sure what to expect. We were hosting about 16 family members that afternoon and the morning was looking as if it could possibly drop a few showers on our heads. However, as the day wore on the sun came out and dried up the dewy-soaked lawn. It soon became apparent that the ensuing afternoon was going to be humid. No complaints, though, as it could have gone the other way!! We soldiered on, setting up a few lawn chairs, the patio table and umbrella, along with getting certain food items ready. I had cooked a turkey the day before while Nat was playing golf and then had him carve up the pieces for the get-together, while I made a pasta salad. Other family members were going to contribute dishes which helped immensely and the dining room table was soon ready and waiting for the goodies to arrive.

Bonnie was first on the scene and we had a nice quiet visit before the rest arrived. It wasn’t long thereafter for the table to be full of good food from family contributors – turkey, ham, rolls and homemade bread, pasta and potato salads, devilled eggs, and even Daryl’s special salad that’s always a hit wherever he goes. The little party was in honour of our cousins, Terry and Wendy, from “across the pond” (that’s England, for those that are too young to know that little phrase!), and the whole afternoon was filled with chitter chatter and laughter covering every topic we could think of. Because of the lack of shade in the back yard, we all huddled under the perimeter shrubs and trees that did provide some relief from the sun, and as the afternoon turned into early evening things were a bit more comfortable. We ended up indoors to enjoy coffee and dessert in more comfortable surroundings. Everyone had to fend for themselves in finding seating, and Nat and I can only assume that they all found somewhere to rest and enjoy the finalities. Bonnie then soon gathered everyone around our fireplace and it was “group photo” time. As with all things in our family it took some doing to get everyone in place, in a good photographic order, but we soon stepped into line and the picture was snapped. Bonnie will have to “photoshop” in Tim (Liz’s loving companion), who took the initial picture but being the clever photographer that she is, I know she’ll get him worked into the whole scene somehow and we’ll all have a nice memory of the day.

As with all things good, they soon have to come to an end. Liz and Tim soon hopped on their motorcycles shortly after dessert so they could enjoy a good ride before the day ended, followed by the Irwin’s, Michele and Claudia so as to relieve Darby from babysitting Zach and Zoe. With that, the rest of the gang sat around the living room and talked until 10:30 or so. It was also nice getting Bonnie, Gail, Wendy and even Terry’s opinions on the new plagues Nat and I had purchased for each side of the fireplace. We were wondering how they looked through others’ eyes and it was soon evident that we were going into the Outlet Mall in Niagara Falls to purchase a couple more. From the feedback we received, our instincts were right but just fell short of a couple more plagues to fill a small void. Works for me – I’m always willing to spend a couple extra bucks to pretty up the place!!

With a short clean-up (leaving the rest ’til Monday morning), Nat and I watched a bit of the news and soon retired. Despite the fact that it was a great day, we were both zonked. We were pleased, however, that it had worked out for the two of us. A little prep work the day before and getting things organized, along with serving cold dishes and having contributors, we were both able to enjoy our company and the afternoon.

Monday morning saw us both puttering around cleaning up what was left. Once finished, I put a load of laundry in – my dish towels were depleted – and Nat washed the van before the humidity reached too high a temperature to bear. The afternoon saw us both sitting on the back patio working the crossword, reading and enjoying a drink. While sitting out, we soon heard the sounds of a buzz saw coming from the little bridge that crosses the stream. Bless his heart, our newer neighbour was in the throws of cutting down the part tree that fell onto the bridge and the other tree that was about to. Nat and I both walked over to finally introduce ourselves and thank him for his efforts. Nick, Julie and their two-year old son all seem really nice and it looks like we lucked out again in the “neighbour” department. Each and every one of our neighbours are wonderful, friendly and quiet. Another reason why small communities offer so much more!!

When things quieted down, Nat and returned to the deck and soon spotted another Iris growing at the bottom of the garden. This one was in a different spot than the one that sprung up last summer, and it also had a couple of buds on it. I grabbed my camera, which was dusted off but never used for Sunday’s get-together, and snapped away. There was one great and funny surprise once I had finished and was about to add my pictures to my iMac. As soon as I opened up iPhoto, I cracked right up with laughter. My very funny and dry-humoured brother-in-law, Daryl, had taken his picture with the iSight camera on the computer. There he was in all his glory, wearing his straw hat and sprouting his infamous smile!! So, it’s with no regrets and I hope without offending Daryl, that I’m including his picture, along with a couple Iris pics. Thanks, Daryl!! You can make me laugh anytime!!!

What To My Surprise!!

A Beautiful Surprise

A Bloom to Behold


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Elvis Is Alive and In Niagara Falls

We’re now ready to start the bathroom renovations. Our contractor is scheduled to show up on Tuesday morning – or so we hope! With everything being stored in and around the house, we’re now anxious to get this thing going. Plus, as I’ve said before, I’m so ready for a new bathroom – or at least a sink sitting level in the countertop and not igglety, pigglety, as it is now!

While waiting for things to get started, Nat and I have been biding our time. It’s that “inbetween stage” where you can’t do a whole lot outdoors, not much to do indoors and the golf season is winding down and, in fact, done. Nat’s been trying hard to fill the hours. We’ve struggled some days, but others would find us looking around some area shops getting paint chips, ideas for towel bars and other accessories. We even took a day trip to Limeridge Mall in Hamilton to have a look about, came home empty-handed, but not empty-minded – a few good ideas and nothing more.

So it was a good thing that Nat and I had purchased tickets to see Stephen Kabakos at the Greg Frewin Theatre for Friday night. An Elvis impersonator who has won awards for his impersonation and Nat and I could certainly see why. At first, the day turned out to be a damp, rainy one and sitting in our easy chairs after supper we always get to thinking “do we really want to be bothered this time of night?”. Turned out there were no regrets on our part for getting out!! We knew it would do us good (we’re getting a little stagnant), we’d be entertained and we’d also see Thamazine, Daryl, Claudia, Darby and Michele there and how bad could that be??

The theatre is set up Vegas-style with tables and chairs, along with booth seating. Drinks and popcorn could be purchased while you enjoyed the show in a close-knit atmosphere. Needless to say the show was fabulous!!! I certainly had the feeling that Elvis was alive and well and performing in Niagara Falls (despite the fact that Stephen is a Milton boy). What the hell, he’s Canadian – and that’s a good thing!!!!

Before the show began, during intermission and after the show ended, Nat and I managed to chit chat with Thamazine and the others in their booth just a couple of seats over from us. The actual performance was Elvis’ best – some rock ‘n roll hits, some Christmas songs and even a gospel tune. A good range of songs, great costumes, great back-up band and singers and the night was complete! Stephen Kabakos is truly the best Elvis impersonator I’ve ever seen. His vocal range was right on, and I believe Elvis himself would be proud. It doesn’t hurt that Stephen has a great body and looks like Elvis Presley did in his 1968 Comeback Special – at the peak of his career.

After Friday night’s excitement the rest of the weekend was a bit of a let down, quiet and uneventful. Back to looking a paint chips and deciding what colour the bathroom should be was about par for the course this afternoon. I also managed to set up a few Christmas decorations and we’ve decided to forego the Christmas tree this year. Not to be Scrooges about the whole matter – but we’re not hosting any parties or dinners this year, not exchanging gifts with each other and will probably be on the road Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and evening. We’ll save ourselves the set-up, decorating and clean-up which can take a whole day each time, and maybe rethink things for 2010. Besides, we’d rather see family – his, mine and ours – on and around Christmas. We prefer that to presents anyday!