The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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Somehow WalMart Is My Friend

My life has not exactly been an acid trip this Summer. No frivolities, no romping around and no glorious feelings of euphoria. That’s a good thing, I suppose, these days with the Opioid crisis going on around me. Whatever happened to just good-old day-tripping????

The hot summer days have been passing me by and the boredom has set in so much so that Nat has to insist that I do something to get out once in awhile. As much as I love living in Ridgeway/Fort Erie there isn’t a whole lot of places you can go to window shop. I walk about the town centre sometimes while waiting for a prescription pick-up at the Pharmacy, but again, only one or two shops that peek my interest and once you’ve done them you have to wait another season to see what’s new.

Unless you travel to Niagara Falls or St. Catharines for special items (ie Costcos, The Bay, Outlet Malls, etc.) the local residents are pretty much obligated to shop at our local WalMart stores (Fort Erie and the supersized one in Niagara Falls). With only two large actual grocery stores (Sobey’s and No Frills) in Fort Erie, it made a huge difference when our WalMart store began selling groceries. At least we now had some choices. In fairness to Ridgeway there is also our local Valu-Mart store owned by Presidents Choice but it’s small and only carries a limited variety of brands and items.

There are shoppers out there that may still scoff at WalMart and it’s cheaper goods, and to them I say – Give It A Chance. When you are forced to shop at this conglomerate on a somewhat regular basis, you become emboldened at how much you can actually find to buy that fits your wants and needs at really good prices. (God, I’m now sounding like a bloody commercial!!!!)

Every once in awhile I have a small list of items to buy – Medicine Cabinet supplies, a salad for supper, printer ink, picture hangers, etc. In olden days I would have had to drive around town to find a Pharmacy, a Grocery store, a Business store and a Hardware store. Now I can do it all in one big store. At this age I, for one, am glad to do so. It saves me time and gas money.

Getting to the gist of my story – I now take my list of items to buy and for an hour or so I am transported to another world where I can walk around looking at tools, kids toys, sporting goods, business supplies and DVDs, children and adult clothing, jewellery, shoes, housewares, computer supplies, cell phone centre, small furniture, crafts, cleaning supplies and grocery. All  in one big swoop.

Now whenever I need a quick pick-me-up, I drive down to WalMart, fulfill my itemized list and have a wander around. I will even admit that I’ve found a few bargains in Women’s Clothing – a couple pair of great walking shorts that feel good on and are inexpensive (my word for ‘cheap’). It behooves me to say, this once “stay away from the cheap clothing” advice has now gone by the wayside. You can actually find some pretty good buys if you look long and hard enough – including the Alia Brand for the older women. This is also a great place for inexpensive house slippers, office supplies, medicine cabinet supplies, groceries, hardware items, games and puzzles, etc.

For an even more grandiose trip, I travel down the road to the Super-Sized Double WalMart across from the former Niagara Square. This is an actual thrill for me as the individual departments are larger than our local store, and you have an even greater choice of inventory in each. This is also where you can find even better deals on casual clothing items where the selections are greater.

So, whenever you’re in Fort Erie or Niagara Falls you can probably find me on any given day walking around in my own little world shopping for items I need, items I don’t need and even wandering around in lost amazement.

Funny how some people get their kicks now-a-days!!

P.S. Another kick I’ve found to be useful – and, believe it or not, at dear hubby’s insistence – is to get a monthly manicure/pedicure. I had them a couple of times but for special occasions. As the years are passing and my body becomes more stubborn in what it can and cannot do, I find having a pedicure very useful. This has now become an impossible task for me. Nat insists I do this as he feels I deserve some special treatment now and again. And so it begins – my adventures of being hand to toe rubbed, scrubbed and painted.

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The Results Are In

The diabetes routine has been going along pretty successful. My diabetes nurse at St. Joseph’s checked in on Thursday and couldn’t have been more happier with my results. The Fasting Glucose, the lunch and supper tests were all within range of the goals that were set. I still have a couple of points to work on after the supper meal, but hey, I’ll take whatever I can get, especially when I don’t usually have that kind of success so fast.

The diet has still been steadily going strong. My meals have pretty much been the same, except in decreased amounts. I’m not really missing anything except maybe the french fries and baked potatoes, but there’s been one or two cheats, which haven’t really blown my levels out of the water. At the present time I’ve levelled off at one weight and I’m trying desperately to break the barrier. Knowing that one’s weight tends to go in highs and lows, this is one of those levelling off periods I’ll just have to keep working at. I’m also now getting into the treadmill routine and  am ever so pleased that I’m continuing on. It’s now actually making me feel more invigorated. I’m not a very disciplined person when it comes to exercise, but my determination and resolve have hit me hard. I’m desperately trying to lose as many pounds as I can and I’m having thoughts of Size 12 – 14 clothes dancing in my head. I enjoyed dressing up for my job so much, that I’d like to relive a few more of those years before I depart this dearly messed up World of ours’.

Nat and I are now proceeding with the Solar Panels with the application being submitted this past week. We should have some sort of answer within the next couple of weeks. That’s when the ball starts to roll – organizing finances, getting a business licence, getting a new roof and all that other stuff that’s still swirling around in my head. It’s been a long time since Nat and I took on something this big (at least for us) so we can only take it one day at a time and hope things all work out.

With time on my hands in-between these events, I’ve been re-working some of the decor in our little white cottage. I’m now in the works looking for a table lamp for the hallway table after having disposed of the vase with the twigs or other dried sticks which kept getting stuck in my hair every time I dusted. Drove me nuts!! I was also successful at Michael’s purchasing a couple of nice white containers to go with whatever lamp I find. I’m still debating on which style/design to go with our very eclectic style. I’m so drawn to art deco but not sure if that style is appropriate. This time I’m really taking my time to buy something that will work quite well and make the hallway table “pop” a little.  Nat and I have also decided to look for a more decorative floor rug for the Living Room. I’ve seen a couple I like but it’s going to be such a departure for the two of us, if we could only find one with the right colours. I’m sure looking for these two items will keep me guessing until I find ones that look and feel right. At least it’s another excuse to get out of the house and go on short shopping trips now and again.

As they’ve now closed down our local Home Hardware store in Fort Erie (with Nat and I both very curious as to what happened), we had to venture into Niagara Falls to purchase the bags for the Vac ‘n Seal system, which has been quite successful for short term freezing. We also took the time to go to a couple of other stores to pick up items on our “To Get” list. As we arrived at the Drummond Home Hardware we ran into one of the clerks from the former Fort Erie store and what to our surprise he remembered us, too. He was the nice clerk that helped us with our bathroom renovation and we were really pleased with his help. We quietly pulled him aside to “get the goods” on what was happening. He advised that the previous store had been purchased by a father for his son to run. Turns out, the son didn’t really have the retail ambition in him, and he had gotten rid of a very vital department for this area – the plumbing department. In my opinion it’s not really a hardware store without plumbing supplies!! Eventually, and to no surprise, the Father sold the store to our local small Rona Hardware, which will be up and running in May, including the return of our friend from the former plumbing department. We’ll soon have a hardware store again along with our favourite clerk, but just under a different name. It’s funny how you really do miss a hardware store when you don’t have one!! One drawback, however, I’m still going to have to head into either Port Colborne or Niagara Falls to a Home Hardware, as the Vac ‘n Seal system is their product.

As a little added bonus, we were advised that the old hardware store will be torn down and a new strip mall is going to be built. Maybe they’ll also tear down the old Ridgeway Furniture Store and build a BIG strip mall. Afteral, there’s nothing like having a few new stores in the area. I hate to say it, but little Fort Erie and Ridgeway aren’t exactly shopping meccas, so the more we get the more choices we have!!

On another front, with our income taxes being done and finished, we managed to put a little something into our Savings Account to bump it up for whatever else comes up and bops us in the head unexpectedly. It’s also good to have some sort of reserve, especially when you’re folks who hate surprises. I have to admit that I’d dearly love to dip into the account to get the new white bed I’m wanting. Our bedroom is so close to being finished I could spit. The new duvet cover (at lease one of them) has now arrived and in the linen closet, the new sheets have been ordered, the curtains are done, the picture are hung – all waiting for the “big guy” to compliment them all. Somehow with the new solar panel project in the works, I’m thinking the “big guy” may be awhile getting here. Doesn’t stop me from looking!


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Could He Become A Pro?

Nat and I had every intention of going to Christie’s Antique Show in Hamilton on Saturday, but the heat dictated otherwise. I was a bit disappointed as I’ve never been and after seeing the Canadian Pickers show, my interest had been peaked. Hopefully we’ll give it another attempt for the September show. Instead we opted for going into Fort Erie and Steve’s Place (a bike shop) to see what they had in the way of an upgrade for Nat. As it stands now, Nat has (shall we say) “outgrown” his bike and wants to take a step closer to a professional bike. Of course, he had no intentions of buying something right away – he just wanted to have a look see!!

Stepping into Steve’s Place you’re immediately surrounded by all kinds of bikes – little ones, mid-sized ones, regular ones, professional racers and even skateboards, along with every accessory in the world pertaining to biking. We explained to the young lad wanting to assist us, what Nat’s requirements were and he immediately took us into the next room where even more bikes were lined up row-upon-row. Nat and the young lad discussed the pros and cons and differences in each style, preferences of different riders and answered all of our questions. The young lad pulled out a particular bike Nat thought would suit his needs and was told to sit on it, get it adjusted to his height and then take it for a ride. Out into the sweltering heat we went and suddenly Nat was riding up and down the sidewalk, leaving the young lad and I to chit chat under the hot May sun. I was starting to feel like I could melt quicker than a popsicle when Nat finally returned. I immediately left the two men talking out front while I slipped back into the store to the shade.

I knew Nat was hesitating, mainly because of the price. He hadn’t planned on spending much more than what his previous bike had cost. It was obvious, however, that in order to get quality we were going to have to pay for it. The bike Nat had picked out wasn’t that much more, but it was enough to give Nat pause. I became a little insistent when looking at Nat and told him that this was more than worth the price. He loves biking up and down the Friendship Trail, was usually gone for over an hour and in order to go faster and further this was the bike for him. The deal was done. The bike was then adjusted and fitted by the shop pro, Steve, and soon popped into the back of the van. He’s had a chance to ride it several times now and is loving it. He’ll have to take it back, however, one of these days to get the seat adjusted a bit more. The fact that Nat is happy, means the world to me.

With the purchase of the new bike, we then listed Nat’s old bike on Kijiji (on Monday) and within the next two days had several inquiries. A young student from Niagara College ended up buying the bike and as he drove a small car, we decided to deliver the bike to him in St. Catharines. He rode around the parking lot near where he lives, was completely happy and handed us the purchase price with a smile on his face. We were both thinking that he’s going to save parking fees at the College and we couldn’t blame him!

Sunday found us having a belated Mother’s Day lunch at the Mandarin in Niagara Falls with Susan, Felicia and Bridget. What a treat! Nat and I always enjoy seeing the girls and hearing about their good times and troubles. Felicia is getting ready for College now (where those days went, I’ll never know!) and it’s becoming a battle of wills as to which one she’ll attend. It’s been hard times for Mom and Dad, and Felicia, naturally, is anxious to leave home and be on her own and away from little sister. Can’t blame her really, as I completely understand (I’ve been independent most of my life), but being a married and mature woman now, I certainly understand Mom and Dad’s side. I’m hoping both sides will come to an agreement and I feel for Felicia, as I think she’s the one that’s going to have to compromise. Papa Nat and I wish her every success. Lunch, by the way, was delicious as usual!!

Tuesday the heat reared its ugly head again. It was so hot I couldn’t even peak outside the patio door. As the day wore on, Nat and I soon felt like climbing the walls – we were that bored. Between crosswords, jigsaws and games on the iPad, we had pretty much worn out every activity that we thought about. I suppose I could have cleaned out the bedroom closet (which has been on my to do list for some time), but what the hell – it’s too damn hot!!


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The Tube’s In The Tank

Finally, we’ve made some headway into our Christmas shopping. Not that we have a lot to buy for this year; the ‘adults’ have decided to forego gifts and we’ll concentrate on the four grandkids. Certainly makes our shopping trips lighter, but you can’t help but still feel something is missing. I’m one of those people that love to wrap gifts and to watch as they get opened, so not being able to wrap an extra 4 more gifts somehow makes me feel a little regretful. Money seems to be the main obstruction this year – or the lack of it, but we all agreed and we’re going to try this new system out for a couple of years to see how it goes.

We trekked into Niagara Falls on the 2nd as I wanted to visit a somewhat infamous landmark shop. I wasn’t disappointed and found something I hope will be liked by a certain sports fan in the family. Nat always seems to light up a bit when we go to this particular store. He gets a big kick out of the owner and was pleased to see he was there and as always had a nice chat.

Friday saw us mucking about the house. Nat took a few minutes to go into Fort Erie. Our local Sobey’s had a sale on Butterball turkeys, but alas came home empty handed. What was on sale wasn’t the size we needed. As we’re having my side of the family over for Christmas dinner we wanted to get a good-sized one. Leftovers are very much appreciated. So while Nat was out, I finished off making our Christmas cards for Britain. Nat’s sister has been keeping each and every one that I’ve made over the years and each and every year the pressure is on to top what’s been done previously. This year I surprised myself at the idea that popped into the old brain, and I hope Jenny gets a giggle out of it. The rest of the day was, as usual, quiet and uneventful.

With another quiet weekend under our belts, we started off the new week watching the snow fall. Nat retrieved the snow shovels from his new little shed and did his usual clean-up of the drive and back patio. I put some bread in the oven and made major gains in completing Liz’s recipe project. This is one of those projects where I have to tell myself to “stop”. I keep coming up with better ways of doing her recipes, but as I’ve already got them typed and printed, I can’t go back now. It would cost too much in time and supplies. Maybe down the road if she ever wants improvement, then she knows where I can be reached.

By mid-week we decided to head into St. Catharines. Nat had an early Doctor’s appointment and we thought we’d get some Christmas errands done at the same time. After his appointment, we headed over to our favourite bakery and stocked up on Kaisers and dinner rolls. We then stopped at the Pen Centre for a gift card and back across town to Costco to stock-up on groceries and whatever else we could find that would keep us well fed and happy over the holidays. Despite the fact that it was a zoo – everyone had the same idea as us – we managed to find everything we wanted and the shock at check-out wasn’t quite as bad as last time (when we purchased that new Foodsaver system). On the way home Nat wanted to top up the van’s gas tank while the prices were down by a few cents, so we headed to our usual gas station in Niagara Falls.

Our day so far wasn’t too bad, until we reached the gas station. Nat was struggling – and I do mean struggling – to get gas into the tank. Somehow the pump nozzle kept stopping, thinking that the tank was full. Nat kept squeezing, jiggling, squeezing some more, jiggling some more, rocking the van some more and getting madder by the minute. I turned around to see what was going on and the look on Nat’s face wasn’t one of his best. Frustrated to say the least, and not knowing exactly what was going on, he had the attendant come out to see if something was wrong with the pump. As always, it wasn’t someone else’s problem, it was ours’. The pumps were working just fine and after managing to get about $20.00 worth into the tank, we drove home wondering what in hell was going on. Nat’s brain was now working overtime. It wasn’t exactly that time of year where we needed van repairs and naturally, he was thinking of every scenario going, especially involving a vehicle’s gas tank! Once we arrived home he drove down to Jack Shaw’s in Fort Erie and was told to bring the van in on Friday and they’d have a look at it.

With the arrival of Friday morning, Nat was up, dressed, had breakfast and headed down the road for 8:00 AM. The garage loaned him a car for the morning and they would call as soon as they knew anything. Once he arrived home there wasn’t much we could do except to sit and wait. But the wait wasn’t long. The garage called within the hour. They began their usual diagnostics, and soon thereafter discovered there was something obstructing the gas intake area. With flashlights in hand, and just barely seeing this thing, they had to use a long stick to pull this thing out and soon discovered it was an old piece of rubber tubing. When Nat arrived to pick up the van, it was felt that maybe someone had tampered with the vehicle while we were out shopping. Despite the fact that the van is always in our garage and that we’ve never had any vandalism done, we’re still just as vulnerable as everyone else that parks in a mall or big city parking lot. We can only assume that’s where it happened, and we counted our blessings that it turned out to be a minor repair costing under $100.00. With our past luck, we were both thinking that it would be a major repair, cost us a few bucks right before Christmas and we’d have no choice. Afterall if the gas tank ain’t right, you’re not going anywhere!!!! With a huge sigh of relief we were now able to concentrate on other ways of spending what little money we’ve got left this month! An early Merry Christmas to us, I suppose!!

As an aside – I’m having great luck using Amazon.ca this year. With a couple of the grandkids wanting DVDs or games, it’s certainly been a breeze ordering everything online and having it come right to our door. I’ve been doing so well, that our UPS guy keeps asking “Is this the last of it??” What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him – and besides, it’s keeping him in a job!!