The Sounds Of The Season


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Driving, Biking and Baking – Getting Caught Up

Getting caught up:

Sunday the 5th – The kids came over for a belated birthday get together. Not being very original we stuck to the same old, same old – cold roast chicken, sliced ham and a couple of salads. I had already received my gift from Nat on my actual birthday and the kids gave me a gift card to the Future Shop so I could actually pick out the DVD’s I wanted (I have a list the length of  my arm!!). As the kids were getting ready to leave our good friends, Floris and Cecil, called and wanted to drop by in the afternoon and that was great by us. We never get to see them often enough so their visit was really nice.

Monday the 6th – Another quiet day at home. We decided to meander around the Future Shop and I could redeem that gift card. As luck would have it I found a TV series on my list and the first 5 Seasons were on sale for half price – bonus!! Being a no brainer I picked up all 5 seasons and I’m half way there.

Tuesday the 7th – I had an appointment at St. Catharines General for an updated echocardiogram, which went well, and we then headed over to Costco (since we were in town) for some more trout and haddock. We then headed for home with the rest of the day being spent doing the usual crosswords and whatever else we could think of to pass the hours.

Thursday the 9th – (Wednesday the 8th isn’t even worth mentioning!!) It was now time for the annual maintenance check on the Generator and one of Don Miskow’s men came by to give it a clean bill of health. After lunch we then drove to Welland to the Canadian Tire store to check out the Foodsaver vacuum sealing system they might have. Nat is still struggling with the one we now have and after packing up the fish from Costco yesterday, I’m more determined than ever to return to the little original one we had which worked just fine. We were a bit disappointed in what Canadian Tire had and decided to keep looking or else buy the one on we found. I can always sell the one we have now at the next garage sale I decide to have and maybe get a little return on our investment (this sucker was a bit more expensive than the previous one we had). I’m so close to just going ahead and ordering that one on without Nat’s knowledge, that I could spit. By the time Nat makes up his mind as to what to do the darn thing will be out-of-stock.

Friday the 10th – After doing the usual week’s house cleaning I decided to sit back in the afternoon and read the flyers that came with the newspapers. Going through them (and as it’s been on my mind for some time without Nat’s knowledge) I was taken aback by a recumbent bike on sale at Canadian Tire for a really, really good price. I struck up a conversation with Nat and asked his advice. He was a bit surprised that I was even thinking about one, as he’s been constantly talking about getting either a treadmill or something similar for himself. I explained how I enjoyed using the recumbent bike in Florida and that I knew I had to do something. I was neither gaining weight nor losing it and I’m now feeling so much better that I think I can maintain a proper routine. This bike in the flyer was small enough for the bedroom and compact enough that the price was right. I could place the bike in front of my bedroom dresser with the little TV and would then be able to do my biking while watching the television to take my mind off the mundane task I was performing. What to my surprise, Nat suggested that we head down to the store and check it out. Once we arrived there wasn’t such a bike on display and along with another customer looking for the same thing, we inquired of one of the clerks who informed us that they had only one left in stock. As we were there first, the other customer was polite enough to let us have it and the store would give him a rain check. Done deal! The bike’s in the bedroom and is working great. Now let’s keep the old fingers crossed and see if I can lose a little of that belly fat I gained after my transplant!!

Saturday the 11th – It was one of those weeks where we really didn’t need any groceries and with the snow now falling gently and accumulating somewhat, we decided to just stay put. After doing laundry in the morning, we decided to assemble the recumbent bike in the afternoon. Not having too many parts, Nat managed to assemble 99% of the bike while I assembled the little computer gadget. I was good to go.

Sunday the 12th – We were that bored in the afternoon we decided to head out in the cold and snow and pick up a few groceries. What the hell, if we got snowed in (which we didn’t) we’d at least have fresh food to eat!!

Monday the 13th – Up and out the door by 9:30 am, we were off to Hamilton for my annual visit at St. Joseph’s Hospital. One of those visits where we sit and wait longer than we actually see the Doc, but it’s a small price to pay and we’ve learned to make a day of it. My check-up was good and after a few laughs with the Doc (wherein the lobby could hear us!) we headed down the road for lunch – as it was now after 12:00 noon. Taking our time on the way home Nat decided to avoid the QEW and go our back route home – meandering along some lesser-travelled roads.

Tuesday the 14th – As usual, the old brain completely forgot what day it was, but dear hubby surprised me with a box of Nigh’s Chocolates – bless his gorgeous heart!!

With no more appointments scheduled now for a long time, I spent the rest of the week getting caught up on my baking – managed to get an Apple Loaf, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and some bread made. We’ll pick up some more time this next week as it looks like the freezer really is getting empty – oh my!!

Will You Still Meet Me, Will You Still Greet Me, When I’m 64?

 One more year to go and I’ll be singing that Beatles tune. Not exactly an accomplishment I want to achieve, but as I have no say in the whole  matter, I’ll just have to put up and shut up. Shutting up is the better of the two – you really don’t want to hear me sing!!!

The birthday morning was nice. I awoke, took my routine of pills and then opened up the birthday cards I had received earlier. (Nat doesn’t feel you should open your cards until the day of, so I abided by his wishes.) The cards from my sister-in-law, Jenny, and my cousin Wendy, in Britain, were especially appreciated. Nat then greeted me with my gift and card from him. His birthday card this year was spot on – he knows me too well and it’s a bit scary!! He gave me (or intended to) a Magic Trackpad for the Mac, but by accident had picked up the Wireless Keyboard which we already have. Before going to my birthday supper, we headed into Niagara Falls a little earlier and made the exchange. I’m anxious to get it going and see what all the fuss is about.

Around 4:00 pm we then headed into St. Catharines to try out Johnny Rocco’s Italian Restaurant for our dinner (after making the exchange at Future Shop). One of my dearest sisters (Thamazine) gave me a gift card for this restaurant in thanks for wrapping her Christmas parcels and both Nat and I were waiting in anticipation for this day. With each visit to The Keg  for previous birthdays and anniversaries, we passed by the newly built Johnny Rocco’s on Merritt Street, and each time our curiosity had been peaked. We now had no excuse not to give it a try.

We were not disappointed. The old building had been renovated beautifully and Johnny Rocco’s portion was gorgeous. The use of modern and old was extremely well done. The glass surrounding the pizza bar, the hi-tech televisions, the black and white old Italian photos hanging on the stone and brick walls blended nicely with the seating and rest of the decor. The food did not disappoint either. Nat ordered the spaghetti and meatballs and I ordered the lasagna. Once our plates arrived our eyes grew a little larger as we realized we were getting more than our money’s worth. The meatballs alone on Nat’s plate looked like they were On Top of Old Smokie, all covered in sauce … and my lasagna was smothered in gorgeous tomato sauce and towered 4 layers high. Each plate also came with a slice of garlic bread smothered in mozzarella cheese. We soldiered through our meals as best we could but alas neither of us could quite finish the whole meal. There wasn’t going to be any room for dessert. We could live with that, as we always enjoy our cup of tea once we get home and settled into our easy chairs.

We enjoyed the ride home listening to our favourite DJ, Robbie Lane, and tapping our fingers and toes to the oldies he was playing, along with one of our favourite songs, At Last, by Etta James, who had just passed away. The night was complete and the day was great. Hopefully I’ll be back this time next year singing that other golden oldie – When I’m 64.

Oh, What A Difference This Time!

Around Wednesday the 21st I had finished wrapping all of Thamazine’s gifts and had a lot of fun doing it. Having finished a few days early, we met up again at Future Shop in Niagara Falls so she could get her in-law gifts to them prior to Christmas. With nothing else to do that day, Nat and I decided to stay an extra few minutes and walk around the Square which was kind of useless. With no one around and really nothing new in the shops we wandered around aimlessly and gave up. I did, however, find a couple of sweatshirts on sale (2 for the price of 1) which would replace a couple of now tattered ones.

As Christmas Eve was approaching, Nat and I had to keep telling ourselves that we were going out that evening. Another one of those years where it seems like just another Saturday and our usual routine was taking place. It was just as well we were going out as there was no hockey on that night and poor hubby would have been bored out of his mind. So why not visit with some of my family, eat a little, drink a little and laugh a lot. This year Claudia was hosting Christmas Eve and Thamazine was doing Christmas supper. Arriving at Claudia’s a little early we were able to have a nice quiet chat with her, Darby and Tyler before the rest of the gang arrived and the quiet would soon be replaced with two youngsters running around (excited about the next morning!), and adults meandering in and out of the kitchen, living room and family room. Who could blame them – with candy dishes sitting in every little nook and cranny, we all wandered around as much as we could with big hands dipping in every bowl containing coloured confectionaries that tingled the taste buds. Soon it was time for the buffet of beef-on-a-bun, salads, roast chicken, and desserts of cookies, squares and cakes. Every child’s dream – a house full of chocolates, sugar-coated treats, gum drops, jelly beans, Hershey Kisses, ribbon candy and so much more the old brain can’t remember them all! I always admire Claudia and how she can accomplish so much and still be sane!

With our usual excuse “We’ve got a ways to drive”, Nat and I headed home and snuggled in our easy chairs by 10:30 pm. I’m yawning so I decided to hit the hay, leaving Nat looking for something to watch on telly and amuse himself until he can meander off to bed. We both awoke early as we were scheduled to be at Laura’s place for 9:00 AM. She had her two kids for Christmas week and was hosting Christmas morning for herself, Karly, Lucas, her ex-mother-in-law, her ex-hubby and Zoe (her dog). We arrived just as the excitement was winding down from everyone unwrapping their gifts, so we handed to the kids ours’ and soon began to join in the conversation and visit with Marilyn and Shawn, both of whom we haven’t seen in quite sometime. Each of Karly and Lucas showed off some of their presents and both seemed happy with what Santa had brought them. We left Laura’s as it was getting close to noon, drove home for a bite to eat and then headed off to Thorold to visit with Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget before leaving for Thamazine’s for supper.

We arrived at Susan and Tom’s just after 1:00 and the girls were snuggled on the sofa playing with their new teen-age toys and gadgets. The Dagenais family looked as if they had a very happy Christmas and again, after giving the girls their gifts, we soon joined in the conversation and had a chance to get caught up on family news and activities. Another nice visit and we were off again.

Thamazine’s place smelled wonderful as we walked in the door. The aroma of turkey and all the trimmings emanating from the kitchen was a killer. I was full blown hungry by now and as Daryl said he was brining the turkey, I, myself, couldn’t wait to bite into that juicy bird. As usual we were the first to arrive and more quiet time to visit with the family before the balance of the other families arrived. Zach had arranged a ping-pong tournament for later and was all excited, being the sports lover that he is. He was organized like the pros. Zoe was primping and preening in her bedroom putting on the final touches for her guests. She’s growing up so fast and has somehow turned into an early teenager much before her time (only 10). Not long after our arrival the rest of the gang started to appear and meandered downstairs to where we were and had a seat before being called to supper. It was fun listening to what everyone had received from Santa and watching their eyebrows squint as they tried to remember. It sounded like each and everyone had a great morning and was thrilled with their presents, too.

The meal was gorgeous. Daryl’s brining the turkey was a success and with mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies and stuffing, we were all enjoying a great dinner with fun conversation and a few laughs. The meal was so good I just had to go back for seconds, which isn’t what I’ve being doing of late. For the longest time Nat nor I have been able to eat big meals and we’ve been practising restraint in portion sizes. Nat and I weren’t going to have any leftovers, so I made the best of things and enjoyed as much as I could. Dessert came a little too soon after the main meal and I was only able to enjoy a small piece of cake, albeit a great tasting small piece of cake!

Soon after the meal the ping pong tournament was announced. I was informed Darby and I were up first and Zach led us into the small playroom, shut the door and soon began explaining the rules. This guy was serious! He had done his research and with his new laptop at hand he was ready to play a professional game – or so he thought. He didn’t realize or understand what the “Rouse” girls were like – a lot older, a little less mobile, and really slow in the old foot work! Darby and I were now ready to play. With Darby still young, springier and so much lighter on her feet, it was soon becoming apparent who was going to win this match. It wasn’t for lack of trying on my part, but for some reason the old “hand-to-eye” co-ordination had gone down the drain. I use to be pretty good at this game!! What the hell happened?? I couldn’t even get a good volley going and poor Darby was waiting at her end of the table as I struggled to even find the ping pong when it bounced around the floor as my paddle went swinging right by it. The final score was 15-2 (Darby) and at last I could go back to my easy chair in the family room, join the other older adults in chit chat and listen at the closed door for the other ping pong matches that were taking place. With roars of laughter coming from the playroom it was clear that everyone else was having the same trouble I was. It was apparent that the younger set had the advantage, but the whole game itself was fun and everyone had a great time. The huffing and puffing from the older adults as they finished their game was funny and yet sad. Each one of us had forgotten that ping pong was a fast-paced game if you wanted it to be, and the younger set was certainly making it that way. Zach had truly arranged a “pro-like” game despite having a major handicap – old Aunts!!

Our “We’ve got a ways to go” was soon coming from our lips again, so we said our goodbyes and headed home. We were getting tired, had had a great time and were now ready for those easy chairs at home. Another year of good food, great fun and loving family. Compared to last year’s Christmas with my miserable mood and emotional crisis in tow, this year was so much better. It felt good to be relaxed, somewhat carefree and being able to just let it go. I was able to enjoy myself, had only one small excitable moment which I soon took care of and didn’t let anyone “get to me” – even though I was tempted once or twice. “Take a deep breath” is now the phrase lit up in neon inside the old brain and so far, it’s working!

Boxing Day saw Nat and I literally doing nothing. We laid around the house with Nat doing his crosswords, me playing games on the iPad or Mac, and deciding what to have for supper after last night’s feast. It was nice. I even pulled out a jigsaw puzzle I had picked up for myself at Costco and began enjoying something I’ve not done for a long time. When I’m finished I’ll send it along to my sister-in-law in England – another jigsaw puzzle fancier.

The rest of this week has been quiet. We’ve done a couple of errands – license plate sticker for the van, some printer paper and getting frustrated as hell with the internet cutting in and out. Can’t wait for the new Airport Express to arrive. If that’s not the problem, then I’m a monkey’s uncle and will be totally out of mind as to what the real problem is. We can only continue to keep our fingers and toes crossed and believe that January 2012 is going to begin on a good note!!

Lion’s Ghost and A Little Elf

The saga continues with Lion and I’m beginning to think I’ve downloaded it’s ghost along with the operating system itself. My frustration is now reaching a fever pitch and the more research I do, the more confused I get. Too many other people are having the same kind of problem and no answers have been posted to date. Along with many other issues regarding Lion, I’m beginning to have doubts about whether I should have upgraded at this particular time.

Nat and I continue doing everything we can think of with the Airport Express that’s done us so well over these past years. Even after the cable guy checked our lines and they were fine, the problem reared its ugly little head again the next day.  We went on a quest to search out this mysterious ghost, find the little bugger and get rid of him. We reset the Airport, we unplugged and plugged it in, we reset it again using it’s original network settings, we turned the Mac off and on, off and on, we went through diagnostics, we went through every networking step we could think of, and still the internet would still drop off every now and then. We were now thinking it had to be the actual Airport Express and again, with more investigation, I realized ours was 802.11g and the new Airport Express is now 802.11n. Hmmmm – I’m now thinking there was something amiss since our AE was now more than 5 years old I’m guessing it’s past it’s prime. While on another errand we dropped into the Future Shop and had a wee chat with their Apple expert. After our long explanation was over and his eyes now glazed, he soon came around and agreed that it very well could be the Airport Express. Once I told him it was 802.11g his eyes blinked, his head jerked a little, and he told us that our 802.11g AE hadn’t been sold for 5 years now and was probably the culprit. He did, however, suggest that we try using Firefox as our browser and test that before going through the expense of buying another AE. After some discussion, Nat and I agreed that it was probably in our best interest to just buy a new Airport Express and so I ordered one yesterday evening.

Waking up this morning I was thinking to myself that it should be a relatively easy day. One little errand this morning and that would be it. No such luck. It turned out to be another one of those mornings where I couldn’t get the internet up, I couldn’t get the bluetooth mouse recognized and the printer was showing no paper, when, in fact, it was loaded. As I wanted to deliver some cookies to my hairdresser for her wine and cheese party tonight, I decided to leave the computer mess until I was done plating up my little treats to take down the road. When I checked the freezer for my Christmas stash I had baked a few weeks ago, I discovered some “little elf” had been snacking and I was suddenly depleted of the Krispy Krunch and Oatmeal Cookies. I plated up what was left, along with some Chocolate Chip and headed down the road for my delivery. My hairdresser was pleased as punch when I walked in the door and her customers were all smiles as well. I apologized and told Jen I was unable to attend her soiree tonight and wished them all a Merry Christmas and a good party. Scurrying back home I soon began setting up to bake two more batches of cookies for Christmas gift packs. I mixed up the dough before lunch and I’d bake them in the afternoon.

With the new Airport Express not scheduled to be delivered until the end of December, Nat and I were going to have to press on and continue to struggle with getting the net up and running whenever it decided to fall off the grid. Every morning so far, I’ve had to re-recognize the Airport Express and wait for as long as it took for the Bluetooth to recognize the mouse. This is now getting very frustrating and I’m having withdrawal from not being able to get connected. After all, Nat needs his crossword printed out each morning (now a daily routine) and I need to get the mail, and, well, just get connected!! It’s psychological perhaps, but not knowing I can get online gives me a feeling of somehow being isolated from the rest of the world. I wouldn’t be able to post to this Blog, I wouldn’t be able to look up Nat’s crossword answers whenever he got stuck, I wouldn’t be able to email my family in Canada and overseas. Not that I do that much, but hey, it’s the thought that counts, right!!! Yes, I could use my iPad, but it’s the fact that we’re not getting connected on the main iMac. The iPad being able to get online via Airport Express was another reason why we came to the conclusion that we did. The iPad is running a less powerful operating system and I’m still not able to get to my iMac games – Tiny Bang Story, Sudoku and Solitaire – along with the programs (or Apps, as they’re now called) – Handbrake, Evernote, Pages, The Print Shop, iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes – all of which need updating by getting online. I’d miss my podcasts which I watch and listen to almost on a daily basis, whether through the Mac or the iPad. These are things that have become fairly important in my daily life – mundane as it may seem – but it’s my life and this is how I fill some of my quiet time.

In between all of this hustle and bustle, Nat and I made a gift exchange at Niagara Square (Future Shop) with Thamazine. I returned her second batch of gifts that I had finished wrapping and she gave me another small load to be done. As there wasn’t that much to finish off I managed to get the balance of her items wrapped by the next morning. And that was even taking my time and flitting in and about the office every now and again to check on how things were going. I really, really enjoyed wrapping Thamazine and Michele’s gifts and hope I’m able to do it again next year. As I’m feeling so much better than this time last year, I took my time and made a couple of special bows for a couple of special gifts, and tried to get the old imagination in gear to do a little something extra for each parcel. I’m afraid the imagination couldn’t do what it wanted, as my supplies were running low, so I was a little disappointed in a couple of items, but I know the kids won’t remember while they’re ripping open the Christmas wrap faster than you can blink an eye. As I had spent only $1.00 on some additional small bows, I prided myself in using up what I had left from years past. The wrapping papers I bought from Costco was still running strong after 5 years, but at last getting low, and the wired ribbons I purchased along the way were more than enough to complete the tasks at hand. This was also a great way of filling some of those days where sitting behind a computer monitor was now (even for me) wearing a little thin.

Now the cookies are baked, the parcels are wrapped and the little decorations around the house are looking pretty good. With only boringly mundane (and repeat) shows on television, (except for the hockey games), Nat and I will pull out some of the DVDs that have gathered a little dust, snuggle in our easy chairs by the fire and enjoy what WE want to watch over the Christmas holidays.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!!

P.S. to this post:  Just received an email from Apple – that Airport Express is on its way. Merry Christmas and God Bless, Apple!!

Yes, We’re Still Here

Neither one of us can believe how idle we’ve become these past few weeks. The odd day or so we’ll drive down the road on a couple of errands. It’s usually WalMart for some doodad (much to my chagrin) or Canadian Tire or for groceries. The other odd days I’ve been doing Christmas baking, and I’m really on a roll in this department. As my hip hasn’t been bothering me since our return from Britain, I’m taking advantage of how good I’m feeling and heading down the road like a steam-roller.

For excitement, Nat and I have been watching the PVC guys come by now and again to do their markings for utilities, etc. all along Dominion Road. Apparently we’ll be getting house number poles for the emergency response people. These poles will be lined up in the front of each home that have the individual house numbers on them. Nat and I have seen them mostly in rural areas where it’s completely impossible to read house numbers in the dark. This way the emergency response folks can find any particular house without any hassles, as the numbers are on blue background and are visible at night. It’s a good thing and no complaints from our perspective – except for one more thing Nat has to mow around in the summer!

For excitement I’ve also decided to rework some of our pictures in the bedroom, dining room and office. Every now and again I have this need to re-organize something, and this time it’s pictures. Nat and I were very pleased with some of the photos we took on our trip to Britain, so we had some enlarged and framed and I’ve been hanging them up in groupings. The dining room is now done and I’m now trying to figure out the bedroom. Being the impatient one that I am, I managed to take some of the paint away on one bedroom wall while taking down the old pictures I wanted to replace. As careful as I think I’m being, I never manage to do a good job, but Nat’s assures me we can fix the two little patches and we’ll be good to go. Naturally, the new picture arrangement I want to hang won’t cover those two little spots. Figures!!

The Christmas cards are also done, thanks to a pair of idle hands. It’s nice to get them done early, especially the international ones. As we won’t really be celebrating Christmas ourselves, we won’t be putting up a tree. We did plan, however, to at least decorate the fireplace mantel and a table or two. At least now we’ll look as if we’re in the Christmas spirit. In the past few years Nat and I have bought one larger item and have called that our Christmas gift to each other. It’s usually something for the house that we can both use – one year it was a big screen TV (which has since been replaced due to a blown tube) and last year it was the Apple TV which we both enjoy watching movies via the internet and iTunes. This year Nat’s found a golf club he likes and is now asking what I’d like to get. To be honest I have no “blinking” idea. I’ve searched the cobwebs of my brain, rattled and browsed a few weekend flyers and even spent a couple hours on, but to no avail. I know I want lots of things, like more clothes, shoes, handbags, the latest and greatest Apple product, etc. but let’s face it – when in hell am I going to wear or use it all!!

In an effort to solve our Christmas gift problems we wandered into St. Catharines this afternoon. Nat decided to hit Golf Town and see if he could tryout that new driver he’s been looking at. His success was kind of a failure, as he had bad luck getting distance from this new club. With some disappointment showing in his face, and after talking to the sales person, we left the store empty-handed. He’s now leaning towards maybe getting some refresher lessons and maybe work out a few kinks and bad habits he’s developed over the past couple of years. We then headed over to Best Buy to look at printers. Another disappointment, I’m afraid, as this big box store didn’t sell what I was looking for – the Epson series which I really love. So we picked up a Christmas gift for someone on our list and headed for home. On the way, we stopped in at Future Shop and as it happens found what I was looking for, only a newer model. Not knowing whether I’ll use the little extra doodads on this newer model, we again walked out of the store empty-handed. I’ll do some research online and see what I can come up with – if I do end up actually deciding on a new printer. It’s starting to look like another bit of a disappointing Christmas. Much like last year, things aren’t going exactly the way I wish they would, but then I’m getting older now and have to face a personal and financial reality. I suppose I can always ask Nat to just give me a few dozen chocolates from Nigh’s and I can drown my sorrows in wonderful dark chocolate with creamy centres!!

The Wii and We

I married a non-gamer – full stop. Except for playing golf in real life, Nat has no interest in any games – cards, bowling, bingo, gaming consoles and the like. So it was much to my surprise that he bought me a Wii for my birthday, and set it up to play on the new 40″ TV, to boot!!!  As for me – well I’ve been a gamer all of my life. I’ll play anything – bowling, cards, bingo, Nintendo Game Cube, Nintendo DS, etc. Of late I’ve been playing “Anagrams” on Nintendo DS, listening to podcasts on my iPod and keeping one eye on the hockey game. It’s what I call multi-tasking and it’s great fun!! I’ve now succumb to playing the “Anagrams” game while sitting up in bed, instead of reading a good book – of which I have one on the go!!

It was also much to my surprise when Nat suggested that he wouldn’t mind buying the Tiger Woods ’09 golf game. I can only assume he came to this conclusion after we played the little golf game in Wii Sports – a not so challenging game but it at least gets you in the groove of how to play the Wii -along with hearing some of his golf buddies tout the good times they have while playing Tiger’s game. He’s also been hearing the stories from his two children of what family fun they’ve been having with their Wiis. When his girls give him glowing endorsements of anything, somehow his interest is suddenly peaked and he’ll at least try to watch the show they recommend, or taste something new they’ve said was delicious. If this is what it takes for him to try something new, then so be it.

As luck would also have it, while we were on errands the other day, we just happened to drop into the Future Shop and just happened to pick up the last copy of Tiger Woods ’09. And we were off!! Nat is now hooked and is having what appears to be a good time – or so it seems.

Suddenly last evening when there was nothing on television for an hour – and we were up and down that satellite guide 50 times – we decided to slip a disc into the Wii and have a game of bowling. Naturally I kicked his butt, but I’ve played before and I’m just good!! We had a good laugh as we watched our little invisible characters “Nat” and “Pat” approach the alley, swing their arms and toss that bowling ball down the centre line. Nat was tickled to death when he was working on a couple of strikes and spares and his score was going up. Me, on the other hand, knowing nothing about how to keep score, was ever so glad the machine would do it for you. I’ve never been able to figure out scoring in bowling – math was never my forte.

This afternoon we tackled “Tigger” (as I like to call him) and had a great time once we figured out how to get past the training session. We had a round at “Pebble Beach” and Nat later played a game at “St. Andrews”. His game at St. Andrews was so good he was wishing it were real!! It only took us up to the 18th hole to finally figure out how to “spin” the ball. In our defense I don’t think much of the instruction booklet or even the tips on the screen. We may be a little slow sometimes, but we eventually get there, and ended up filling in what was going to be a long, drizzly, rainy, snowy and windy afternoon. Tennis, anyone??