The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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This Is The Short and Long Of It.

The days are long, the nights fall away too fast. So there sit hubby and myself as the Summer months decrease without much ado.

We’ve had a few activities of late. The party for my nephew’s 18th birthday was great. As usual the family frivolity was raucous and up-lifting. I, again, had a chance to get caught up with my other sisters, nieces and nephew on their comings and goings. I truly have to admit that at this stage in my life I’m jealous. When someone asks us “So, what’s new with you guys?”, my brain goes to mush to try and think of something exciting we’ve been up to. Alas, we can’t even come close to the others. Their travels, adventures and resulting stories are beyond what Nat and I could ever get up to, being the boring old sods we’ve become. I still enjoy listening and laughing along immensely.

Our one big event this past month came by way of an invitation to one of Nat’s golfing buddies 50th Wedding Anniversary. Nat golfs with the husband three days a week, and we’ve been to dinner with this couple in the past. The wife is Quebec French, speaks English enough for me to understand, but talks a little too fast for Nat. They’re definitely a fun couple and we love their company.

The anniversary party was held at their home in Port Dalhousie with a guest list of close to 100 people – mostly family and friends from Quebec who had travelled for hours on end and would be staying a few nights to enjoy each other. The Anniversary Couple decided not to do any of the work – and who could blame them – so caterers were hired to set everything up – tent, chairs, food, drink and an anniversary cake accompanied by gorgeous cupcakes.

As Nat and I walked towards the back of the house, the French language could be heard emanating around us. We were greeted by our friend and his wife, wished them congratulations and then wandered around to check everything out. Our friend owns and rents out the house next door to him, so there was plenty of space for guests to mix and mingle. We walked around where pockets of French were heard, along with pockets of English along with laughter and screams coming from the children in the swimming pool. They certainly had the perfect day, weather wise, for this whole soiree.

After meeting a few of the family, Nat and I soon found our way to some seating under the tent. Our necks were twisting and turning as we watched the party-goers and family members talk amongst themselves. It wasn’t long after that, a foursome sat down beside us. We introduced ourselves and the conversation started. I, for one, was very relieved one couple was originally from England. To top it off, the husband was from Manchester and a huge Manchester United football fan. I suppose you almost have to be if you’re born there. It’s probably a law, or something.

I’m not a discriminator of the French language and, in fact, am truly sorry I didn’t learn to speak it fluently. Yes, I know, I still can, but my patience has been lost somewhere between hear and the Atlantic Ocean. So having a couple born in Britain sit next to us was somewhat of a relief so Nat and I could have a more fluent conversation. The loud voices around us could, at times, drown out any talking resulting in Nat not being able to hear, especially with his newer hearing aid that (in my opinion) isn’t as good as the last one.

The entire party was lovely, the speeches (as always) a little too long and the food was delicious. Arriving around 3:30 pm and the time now well after 8:00 pm, Nat had to take me home. I was very tired and had pills to take. (Sadly, a routine that can break up a lot of get-togethers for us). It was our first night out in a long while, but was good.

Finally, this past week saw our Landscaper (GreenScapes Niagara) come around with the soil and garden stone for the bottom of the yard. This small project is going to help Nat when he’s mowing the lawn. He won’t have to twist and turn around the edge of the creek with the regular lawn mower, saving him quite a bit of time out in the summer heat. Wood edging now runs east to west across the lawn in a straight line about 10 +/- feet up from the shores of the creek. The area inbetween was filled with a plastic ground cover, lots of dirt and then garden rock.

Nat’s pleased with how the landscaping turned out and will certainly shorten his lawn mowing time. Hopefully, this next Spring we’ll find some large garden pots to plant with plenty of decorative, colourful plants to fill the space. Just spruce the joint up a bit!

With nothing else on our agenda, Nat suggested maybe we take a drive to Port Dover yesterday for a walk-about along with a Fish ‘n Chip lunch. We took the 2-2/2 hour drive using Garmin and with all things “Nat & Twila” the day somehow hits the proverbial rocks and went down the toilet from there.

The drive in was easy enough and when we arrived Nat asked if I wanted to check out the shops. With me, that’s always a given. Not being able to make up my mind, however, we decided to park down by the beach. Somehow I became a bit dazed. My legs were sore from sitting in one position for so long. The sun was beaming down and I was getting a bit hot. I asked Nat if we could do the shops, but by the time I began to walk the distance from the beach to the main street, I was about to collapse. He went back for the car and found a parking spot on Main Street, but then I became very disappointed. There was nothing of interest in any of the shops for me. I could tell Nat was getting a little disappointed. He had suddenly become very quiet. After a bit of a “discussion” on Main Street, we decided to go for lunch, maybe that would quiet things down.

Not knowing where any of the indoor restaurants were, and I had previously done a little research for fish ‘n chip places, I suggested we go to a very popular spot called “Willies” down by the beach. We were a little disappointed upon arrival. This was strictly an outdoor joint. Place your order, find a seat on the patio and watch the world go by. As we checked the menu, Nat found he could have his Perch lunch and I could get some Haddock. We took a seat but once we began to eat, I stated my huge disappointment in the Chips – over-fried, crunchy inside and out – with the fish not as well battered as I had hoped. I could tell from Nat’s face he was thinking the same thing.

We slowly ate in silence. I apologized for ruining his day and his silence said it all. He agreed his day had been ruined. In my defence I had long forgotten how hilly Port Dover is, how this was definitely a beach community with take-away, outdoor eateries and not a whole lot of quaint gift shops. I’m guessing the Bikers on Friday the 13th don’t exactly come for the shopping.

The day only got worse when we began to drive home. We set Garmin to Go Home but what to our surprise it was taking us a completely different way from whence we had come. We were told to turn right onto Haldimand Rte 3 instead of Provincial Rd. 3 throwing us a curve ball that lead to heated discussions about what was going on. I felt like Nat was looking to me for answers and (in my ignorant manner) began to explain what I thought was happening. I told him, in the end, that we could still get to Hwy. 3 once we arrived at Dunnville.  We continued driving in complete silence, arriving at Dunnville a half hour later. More frustration set in as Nat was unsure what to do and where to go. We soon found the road to turn onto to get back onto our beloved Hwy. 3 to home. It was extremely easy to do with sign posts everywhere. The balance of the ride home was in complete silence, but the Garmin situation was giving me an itch I had to scratch.

As Nat drove along, I reached for the GPS and went into the Settings. Long story short, I had soon realized that with the last Garmin Update done on the computer, the whole GPS had returned to its original Default Settings. With one of our trips we had changed the Settings – map display to 3-D, driving route to “Fastest” and not “Quickest” (huge difference), along with a few other minor items. I decided to open my mouth again and tried to explain to Nat what might have happened. I could see his face thinking this whole scenario out, and finally agreed that might have been the reason.

Our Tuesday trip was over – at last!! Arriving home in more silence, total frustration and disappointment we tried to think of what to have for supper and then headed to our recliner chairs. Please God, lights out and let this day be over. With all things “Nat and Twila” the silence continued into Wednesday morning with a little tip-toeing around afraid of who was thinking what, but each were afraid to ask.

 


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No Communication – Literally And Physically!!!

After many days of back and forth emails and telephone calls, the news of my dear sister-in-law, Jenny, is much better. This poor woman has now been in hospital for over 9 weeks, enduring ups and downs that would make anyone go crazy. The long original diagnosis of a broken pelvis has been confirmed. With MRI after MRI, CAT scan and God knows what else, the hospital has now transferred her to Palliative care where they specialize in pain management. To say the least, Jenny has been in major pain ever since originally being admitted. Even after being tested for a possible cancerous tumour, the pain remained (which, in my opinion, is very unusual for a lot of cancers). It is now hoped that she’ll be able to go home once the pain is being managed within a week or so. Nat and I are so relieved we have no words. Total frustration on our part and that of her family in trying to get her the medical attention she needed originally. Whatever this particular hospital was playing at we’ll never know. In the opinion of all family members, it’s been total incompetence and lack of communication, with a daughter-in-law having to read the riot act in order to get any results. Hopefully now, everything is under control and Jenny is now on her journey home. Nat has also been calling his older sister on a somewhat regular basis to keep her spirits up and she’s been enjoying each one.

Speaking of getting things done, our landscaper finally arrived and finished off the repairs to the front walkway. He had to raise one corner under the office window in order to keep the water draining away from the house and not pooling in that area. He’s done a fabulous job and have had no water puddling at all, and we’ve had plenty of rain so far to test the drainage. We’ve also had our new driveway completed as Mike finished it off with a patio stone border and doing a great job. Now the total exterior of the house is looking “finished” with a bit more style.

Sidewalk to Back of House

Sidewalk to Back of House

Back Walkway

Back Walkway

Front Walkway

Front Walkway

Driveway Border

Driveway Border

The last project to complete will be the new eaves troughs in front to replace what appears to be older ones that are now a bit ragged. Hopefully this will be completed before the snow flies.

With this gorgeous weather upon us, Nat and I have been able to eat our lunches and suppers on the patio and it’s been wonderful. Some of the humid summer days have kept me indoors and it’s so refreshing to sit outside and enjoy a beautiful breezes when they blow by.

Speaking of summer days, Nat and I have found television to be utterly boring and insulting to our senior intelligence. There are a few shows we really enjoy watching, but we’ve now signed up for Netflix in order to ease the pain in between those shows. So far we’ve enjoyed a few movies and a few television series from cable channels we don’t receive, and that’s been a real treat. We always, always enjoy a good story or murder mystery and a couple of these shows have satisfied that itch. Not sure what will happen during the winter months when Nat’s beloved hockey starts up again, along with any new Network shows, but we’ll deal with that when the time comes. We might decide to cancel the monthly subscription for that period??

More bad news from the home front. Received an email from Gail about our Uncle Bill (our father’s baby brother) who had taken a stroke and was in critical condition. Our brother, Clair, who lives close by had a chance to visit with him despite the lack of response and knew in his heart of hearts that our beloved Uncle wouldn’t last the week. Uncle Bill did, in fact, pass away on Wednesday. Naturally, all of us “Rouse” girls and Clair were deeply upset. Uncle Bill always took the time and effort to call each and everyone of his nieces and nephew on their birthday or anniversary ever since our parents had passed away in 1981. Each one of us also have our individual memories of spending time and having great laughs with Uncle Bill, which we’ll all cherish. Sadly, because of timing and travel problems, we were unable to attend a memorial service and we know that dear brother, Clair, would represent us well. A wicker basket of colourful fresh flowers was also sent on behalf of us all. The last of the “Rouse” brothers and their one sister and their spouses have left this earth and will all be remembered and lovingly talked about by each one of us.

As Nat and I have found ourselves sitting around the house a bit more lately, we drove into St. Catharines to visit with my sister, Claudia. That girl always has a great story to tell, and we had a great visit. The Irwin and Pierson families are off for Las Vegas to celebrate Daryl’s 50th birthday and I’m sure each one of them will have more great stories to tell upon their return. Here’s hoping Daryl has a “lucky” winning streak on that special day!!

Since the week has been quite eventful so far, last night was no exception. As Nat and I were watching television the cable decides to go out around 8:45 pm. With everything Nat and I do, we naturally thought something was wrong at our end, but with further investigation we discovered that the Internet and phone lines were out too. We knew something was really amiss when our main landline was even down. This was particularly eerie as we had no communication whatsoever to the outside world. All of our services are with Cogeco and we felt stranded. In utter puzzlement we sat there debating what was going on – Nat gave his scenarios and I gave mine. Being the first time our entire network was down threw us for a loop. What in hell do we do now?? I picked up my iPad and Nat decided to turn on his iPod and so we sat there listening to some old and golden goodies reminiscing like any good senior couple would do. All this time the TV remained on with a portion of the cable guide showing, along with a message that service was not available. Every now and again the damn thing would flicker giving us some weird sense of hope, but to no avail. Me, being Me, I had to satisfy myself as to what was going on. There were no major thunderstorms in the area, we hadn’t heard any fire alarms or sirens and from what we could tell, Ridgeway was having a warm, calm and uneventful evening. So it was I grabbed the cell phone (the service provider being Rogers) and called Cogeco’s 1-800 number. My satisfaction was confirmed when a recording came on for the area advising that over 750 customers in the Ridgeway, Dominion Road and northern parts were without any Cogeco service whatsoever and naturally, they were working on the same and to be patient. It’s now 11:30 PM and I left Nat to continue listening to a few more tunes while I retired to my bed. Nat gave up shortly thereafter.

When I awoke this morning Nat informed me that the cable, internet and phone services had been out the entire night. Nothing returned until 8:00 AM. I suppose if you’re going to lose your entire connection to the outside world it might as well be during the night when hopefully you’re in LA LA land. In days before cell phones, this would have been quite a conundrum. God Bless technology with every good thing and bad thing it may bring!!


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SHHHH – Someone’s Trying To Sleep Here

Tuesday ended on an extremely high note – well, at least for an hour!!  Mike and the boys finished off the back walkway as far as they could until the driveway was paved. They would then return (hopefully mid-Summer) to finish off with the sanding and tamping and then proceed renovating the front walkway, along with putting pavers along each side of the newly paved driveway. All was right with the world at this point.

Once the boys were finished, Nat and I prepared large, juicy, Panko encrusted chicken legs on the barbecue, along with a delicious Spinach and Frisee salad. We had then just settled in to watch the news when the phone rang. It was Coliseum Paving with the news that one of the guys had some freed-up time and could come by first thing in the morning (8:00 AM) to at least dig up the old driveway. He knew we were getting anxious to get the driveway done in order to allow our landscaper (Mike) to finish what he had started. He felt this would be a good start, and he was right. Nat approved, but knew Mike was returning sometime this week to clear up the balance of pavers and dirt that was left behind on the driveway. Nat wasn’t sure at this point exactly what to do. With Mike, being as busy as he was, we were both concerned whether he would have time to come by early tomorrow morning before the paving guys. Nat decided to give Mike a quick call (all he could do was at least askand Mike was more than agreeable to come around earlier than the paving company. Nat and I agreed that we had hired a great company (GreenScape Niagara) as not too many landscapers would take extra time out of their day to arrive earlier than planned.

Finally the opportunity arrived where I really had no reason to get my ass out of bed earlier than usual. I went to bed Tuesday evening a little sooner than usual – absolutely nothing on television these days – and left Nat to watch his sports channel. My sleep was great – no weird dreams this time around – and come 6:30 AM I could barely hear Nat arise from his sleep to take out the garbage bins for pick-up, before my mind drifted back from whence I came . About an hour later, while still in semi-consciousness, I heard a pick-up truck hauling an empty trailer clanging along the side yard outside, then came the scraping sound of steel shovels on tar along with the chitter chatter of voices. I could hear Nat quietly walk past the bedroom to open the garage door and it became apparent that Mike and his gang had arrived for the clean-up. Damn, I thought. I tried to roll over and take comfort lying on Nat’s foamy support pillow, but it was apparent my lye-in was going nowhere. It was only 7:15. My eyes were still begging for sleep. I couldn’t block out the noises coming from the drive. I couldn’t get upset, they had their work to do. I gave it a second try – closing my eyes a little tighter – but to no avail. It’s now 7:30 am and I’m awake. What the hell, might as well get dressed and join the crowd outside.

I’m up, I’m dressed and now have an hour and a half before pill time and then down to the treadmill. I’m in the process of brushing my hair and suddenly more noise begins. The paving guys have arrived with their two-rear axle dump truck hauling a wheeled digger with back hoe, ready to make even more noise. It took a bit of maneuvering for the dump truck to find the best spot to unload the digger, but with true professionalism the deed was done. Mike and the boys had just nicely finished and scurried off down the road to finish the other jobs they had on the go. As I headed back indoors, I turned for a minute and watched Nat standing there looking on with that little boy enthusiasm as the digger driver began to do his thing. The digger pounded its teeth into the tarred driveway with prescision as it found soft spots to start. Then with aplomb the digger would take multiple stabs at the pavement as it cracked and broke apart in various sized pieces. At one point, it was like peeling an egg – where the whole shell came away in one long strip. I knew Nat would remain in the garage for the duration. It was impressive and what man wouldn’t be interested. A big truck, a lot of noise. The only thing missing was the sandbox.

Finally as 10:30 approached, the noise had stopped. The banging of the digger on the pavement was silent. The back-up beeping had come to a stop. I’m sure at this point in time the neighbours were as pleased as I was – all was quiet and no man in sight (except Nat, of course). He returned inside and it was apparent from the look on his face, his day was going well so far. As he stepped inside I added to his “good” day. I had called Informed Energy Solutions regarding our little furry friend with ringed tail. Apparently they were thinking of us, too, and would be sending someone out tomorrow to install the Squirrel Guard that had arrived Tuesday and was sitting on the work bench ready to go to work. NOW, Nat would be able to relax until the next instalment of machinery and noise would start up again sometime this June.

By way of a postscript to Nat’s “good” day, his usual Wednesday golf game (this afternoon) was one of the best he’s had this season. He broke 45 and was thrilled to bits, all of which was apparent as he walked in the door holding our bacon and ham pizza with a big grin on his face. May these “good” days continue!!!


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A Pickaxe, A Shovel, Some Dirt and Bricks – Can’t Wait!

Since moving into this “new” old house six years ago, Nat and I have managed to do quite a bit of fixing up. (I must admit it feels a lot longer that six years!!). We’ve managed to -cut down a huge poplar tree – gut and redo the god-awful bathroom – install and upgrade a new sump pump – install a larger back patio/deck with new patio doors – all new thermal windows installed – and installed solar panels on the back roof. It’s been a slow, sometimes painful and costly expense but well worth every dime. With each new improvement this house is becoming more and more our “own” home and we’re reaping the benefits. BUT, we’re still not finished.

After sitting down and discussing our next project we’ve come to a decision. The two finalists in the discussion were a new kitchen or new front walkway and step. So far I’ve been able to work with the old kitchen despite the fact I absolutely despise the cabinets, the flooring and the corner sink. After purchasing a new rectangular table with butcher block top, Nat painting the chairs white to match and a few little decorative touches here and there, I told Nat I can live with the kitchen the way it is for another year or two, and that we should proceed with the front yard landscaping. We’ve both been worried about the large pool of water that gathers around the drain pipe and door to the garage every time it rains. Plus anyone parked in the driveway I’m sure has to look for the walkway to the front door. It’s small, unattractive and boring.

With recommendations from our contractor, Simon, we went ahead and called a landscaper for a quote. He arrived this morning and seems like a really nice young lad with a lot of good ideas. He showed us some of his work as Nat took him around the front to explain what we’d like to have done. After seeing a few of his sample jobs we decided to go with the interlocking brick for a walkway, make it wider and add a few curves for appeal, along with adding (at long last) a step to the front stoop that takes a ladder to get up onto in order to ring the door bell. We’ve also decided to take out the planter that borders beneath the office window. We’ll have that little “sitting area” included with the interlocking brick. We’re thinking it would look cute with a potted plant, a rod iron chair and table to make it look like an inviting space to “sit-a-spell”.

Mike  (GreenScapes Niagara) came up with a few good ideas himself which we’ll have him include in his quote when its ready. We were both surprised at the cost he quickly quoted – adding a “plus/minus” exception, naturally. It was less than we had (or at least I had) envisioned and am now excited to get it done despite the fact we’ll be leaving the job now for the Spring. We then left Mike to do his measurements and drawings and head home to do up the quote, which we’ll anticipate with some eagerness.

After lunch, Nat and I sat down and discussed our options and we both agree that this project is now a go even though we haven’t received the final quote yet. We’re both very anxious to have it done and will definitely tell Mike to put us at the top of his Spring list of jobs for 2014. This will give Nat and I plenty of time to top up the piggy bank, add some of the solar money that should be rolling in soon and get our ducks all in a row before the job begins. Nat also wants to have the umbrella tree cut down in the front yard and have the poplar tree stump removed , which we should have had done when the tree was being hewed the first time. Our decision, our mistake. We’re going to work on having those two jobs done before the Spring so the new landscaping won’t be disturbed once it laid.

There was a time a couple years back when I was getting frustrated with this house. What needed to be done was daunting and it sounded like we may be putting good money after bad. However, now that the deck is done (which we enjoy almost 7 months a year), the bathroom is complete and the windows don’t weep and sob during the Winter months, Nat and I are enjoying retirement and feel a bit more relaxed. We know the renovations now are decorative and have or will increase the market value of the house. There are still a couple more projects to come – the kitchen and the backyard around the bridge – but we’ll take those one year at a time and as the piggy bank gets topped up. Not to close out 2013 too fast, but Nat and I are very anxious to see the Spring of 2014 arrive. We both know it’s going to start off on the right foot.