So Now What Do We Do??

The month of November was a non-event. The month of December was becoming one until receiving Tam’s Christmas gifts to wrap. I love to wrap parcels – and thus the aversion to “gift bags” (I won’t bore you with my opinion!). Every year that I wrap for this busy sister, I get a kick out of what Santa, Mom and Dad bought for their two children and have watched the gifts change over the years – from kids’ toys and clothes to young adult electronics, a surprise or two and clothes. It’s all been fun and at times a challenging exercise to the old brain in how to wrap ackward gifts. I rose to the occasion, I hope.

Once the parcels were wrapped – sometimes in stages depending on her shopping – I felt like we were  having a clandestine meet-up in some retail parking lot. On-lookers would watch as she opened the trunk of her car and Nat and I would hand over boxes of wrapped parcels trying to find enough space in the trunk and back seat. Once in awhile we’d meet somewhere else depending on time and convenience. Really, great fun!!

Speaking of “clandestine”, Nat and I have now finished watching MI-5 (or Spooks as it’s known in the U.K.) and what a finish it was!!! Again, no stone unturned with continued surprises, death of beloved characters and sorrow in your heart for those left behind. What will Nat and I do now that this series is over. Knowing the two of us it may take some time before we hit on another great show, but will continue searching. We’ve also finished watching Covert Affairs and I will admit that this series really picked up as each season finished and a new one began. I must admit this series matured very nicely and I now look forward to another season, once it gets picked-up on Netflix.

Christmas was quiet, as always, for Nat and myself. We kept somewhat busy leading up to the festive day – me wrapping parcels and Nat supervising the renovations of the downstairs bathroom. It’s nice to have that little grungy space cleaned up. We spent Christmas Eve with Laura, Susan and the grandkids. A quiet evening of conversation, pizza and wings. We also had a chance to get caught up with one granddaughter and her new apartment. It’s so nice to see her becoming independent but alas, another chapter in our lives is beginning – watching as each grandchild leaves the nest. I suppose it’s worse for their Mom and Dads.

Christmas dinner – another fabulous meal – was held at Claudia’s this year. I admit to jealousy and envy as to Claudia’s calm demeanor, organization and energy. I need to remind myself that she has a few years on me and there is nothin’ I can do about it. Just sit back and let the “young ‘uns” do it!! Nat and I also had a great time, again, sitting around the table after the meal and chit chatting away with the rest of my family. I also admit to cheating like crazy on my (sort of) diabetes diet – I went back for that second piece of cake – a chocolate piece after first having the white cake. Even snitched a few of Claudia’s chocolate cookies upstairs before the meal. My addiction to chocolate certainly doesn’t take long to kick back in. I can still taste those cakes now.

As Nat and I don’t exchange gifts it was really nice to at least receive a couple of thank-you gifts from Tam, Michele and even Gail (I’m converting some old video tapes) along with an extra surprise from Claudia. I have to be really honest and miss gift giving so much, but I’ll abide by the wishes of certain family members!! Tam gave us a dinner card for Stradawest, which Nat and I are anxious to try. Michele gave us a beautiful box of Cadbury Chocolate Biscuits and Gail gave me one of her Red Maple Designs hand-beaded necklaces. Claudia’s little extra surprise was a box of those fabulous cupcakes from a bakery in Oakville, Ontario – white cake smothered mile high in white frosting and dripping in coconut. MY GOD they’re sooooo good. I’ve had to freeze them in order to take one out now and again to make them last.

Nat and I relaxed and enjoyed Boxing Day with our usual aplomb – sitting in our recliners, working on crosswords, iPad games and the odd snooze. Could our lives get more exciting!!!! Having said that I probably won’t post between now and January 1st, so here’s hoping Nat and I and our families will have a happy and great 2015!!!


Only The Brits Can Do It Justice

After hearing about the virtues of Netflix, Nat and I decided to give it a try. The monthly subscription fee wasn’t so bad, plus we could unsubscribe at any time. As we both abhor Reality Shows that insult your intelligence we leave those to the younger generation who still have a massive amount of growing up to do. Me, myself and I also abhor graphic violence of any kind and feel such scenes are inserted for ratings and shock value. So you can understand how the viewing choices we have on cable television are restricted to a large degree.

Having said that, I will watch a few shows where some violent scenes are warranted and somewhat necessary. I just avert my eyes, cover them with both hands or run to another room when the scene is going to be lengthy and Nat tells me when it’s safe to return. It’s a long story, but trust me, after watching violence on the television screen, my sleep is always disrupted by dreams of mahem, running excessively and graphic images only Stephen King could appreciate. American TV shows can and are the worst, in my opinion.

Having always been a huge follower and lover of all things British, Scottish, Irish or Welsh, (including being married to a Scotsman), my tolerance for more aggressive shows has increased somewhat only because such scenes are done by the Brits in order to move the story line along and for actual realism – not just for shock value and ratings. My need for laughter and having a very dry sense of humour can also come out while watching some extremely dramatic or serious show. A good writer will always insert some humour in order to offset the violence and ease the stress. The Sopranos, Blue Bloods, Castle, and Chicago Fire are all good examples of American TV shows that Nat and I watch simply for the good story lines, the intelligence and humour. The Sopranos was especially intelligent, dramatic, humorous –  just bloody well written, in my opinion.

Now I find myself, along with hubby, deeply engrossed in the British TV Series MI-5 (or Spooks, as it’s known in Britain). There have been times we’ll tape one of our regular television shows just so we can continue on with MI-5as our curiosity for what happens next is insatiable. We can’t get enough. We’ve become binge watchers as much as possible. The surprises just keep coming – a favourite actor is blown up, shot or even de-commissioned and sent into oblivion at any time and you never really see it coming. I love it. Nothing is predictable and a surprising story lurks around each corner with intertwined twists and turns. I’m only sorry this series will end after 10 Seasons (or “Volumes”). I have no idea what could ever takes its place. Plus we’ve also finished and enjoyed watching – The Fall, Happy Valley, Sherlock, Broadchurch, Scott & Bailey. 

The Americans kind of have their own version in Covert Affairs, but it’s sugar coated. While there have been good story lines, it doesn’t begin to show the underbelly of an agency such as MI-5, but I continue to watch this show while working out on the treadmill. It gives me enough of a diversion from being bored at such a mundane task at hand. Plus, I confess, to now being engrossed in what’s going to happen between “Augie” and “Annie”.

Only the Brits can write good comedy. Only in Britain will you find an engrossing dramatic series despite the short seasons (with the exception of Coronation Street – who’d have thought that would go on for over 50 years back in the day!).  Even if the Americans copy (and God knows, they have) a good British series, somehow it gets ruined or looses its quality, for example:- House of Cards. Albeit, I congratulate the Americans on this one, as their version was extremely good and obviously well written (all of its Emmy’s). However, I loved the British version just a tad more. Sir Ian Richardson was (and always will be) brilliant. That man has a look in his eyes no other actor can imitate. His subtelties in mannerism and cultivated voice are eerily chilling, even when he’s being nice!! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved Kevin Spacey, and always will. I’ve loved everything he’s done and he, too, was brilliant in the American House of Cardsbut it’s a whole different world of politics in the States, along with a completely different way of life. The names of past British shows the Americans have tried to imitate escapes me – they obviously didn’t make an impact.

I’m going to miss MI-5 when it’s done, including every actor that played a role somewhere or at some time in the series. It was a shame some real cuties had to get blown up. I’m surmising they were tired of the series themselves and wanted to get on with something else in their lives.

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!!