The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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Feeling Great, Then The Bottom Falls Out

The days following our Stratford Trip were good. My body was co-operating and not acting up in any mind-blowing way. The legs were steady. The mind was clear and calm. I continued feeling the love for a few weeks and it was wonderful. Could not believe my luck.

We were invited to Claudia’s for Thanksgiving dinner. No one in the family could rattle my chains, I was feeling that great. The entire afternoon was filled with catching up on family affairs, a lot of laughter and joking around. My nephew, Zach, has a very quick-witted, clever sense of humour and he was in top shape, as usual. The dinner was fabulous, albeit a tad late, but enjoyed by everyone. There’s always a game or two between courses and this time was no exception. A crossword puzzle that had everyone stumped, including myself (a half-decent crossword player). One of the desserts was Claudia’s usual chocolate cake and I confess to sneaking a couple of pieces to take home for my enjoyment over the rest of the holiday weekend.

The following weekend Nat’s golf group, The Rangers Golf Club, had its’ annual banquet and dance. This year they were having a live band (a trio – 2 guitarists and a drummer) which we were looking forward to. Over the last several years a DJ was hired and the banquet became a little quieter than usual. The meal was great – the usual salad course, pasta course, chicken course and dessert. The band was really rockin’ and the ladies confirmed it by their constant dancing with or without a male partner. I was envious I couldn’t join them (a bit about that later). Nat and I did manage to get in one slow dance, as we do every year. Nat, however, didn’t wear his best shoes and opted for comfort. His feet didn’t exactly glide around the floor as the soles of his loafers were the non-skid kind. We managed at least to “step” through our one soiree. All-in-all we really had a great time and the turn out of golfers was exceptional this year.

My dancing days were limited as I somehow woke up one morning after Thanksgiving and couldn’t straighten up. Tremendous pain was emanating from my right hip. I couldn’t stand straight, was hunched over almost touching my toes. I hobbled around as best I could during the day but the more I walked around the more painful my hip became.

Nat and I soon surmised I had a pinched nerve. I have had this before but not to this severity. Research indicated that rest would ease the pain and, it began to ease up enough during the week that I was at least able to attend the Rangers’ Banquet. Sunday morning after the Banquet was spent quietly with Nat enjoying the peace and quiet. That was soon followed by another painful twitch Monday afternoon. As I went to take a wee, I arose from the throne to more agonizing pain in the same area. For some ungodly reason, I pinched that bloody nerve again. I only took a wee!!!! So today (Tuesday) I’m back to where I was after Thanksgiving. I have a couple of appointments this week and I’ll have to really take care not to do anything stupid between then and now or I’ll be hobbling around places looking like an old lady walking around looking for loose change on the ground. God forbid!!!!

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Giving Thanks In More Ways Than One

Thanksgiving Monday was great, in my opinion. Nat and I hosted dinner this year for my side of the family as I felt like it should be my turn to carry the load from a couple of my sisters. We seem to be dwindling down to a few now, who are able to take on the task of hosting at least 14+ people for dinner. Everyone, naturally, contributes whenever possible but it invariably turns into a two or three-day chore when you’re the actual host. At the time you volunteer to do the hosting you feel like it’s a snap, you can do so much more the day before, you’ll keep it simple (like that promise was kept!!!!!!) and you’re feeling so much better so what could possibly go wrong??

As it happened, nothing went wrong. The whole meal turned out pretty damn good. We even purchased a fresh 20 LB Canadian Turkey from our local Butcher and brined it the day before the meal. I managed to keep myself relaxed, took things in stride, and had a really nice time. Nat and I were also both able to sit down after the meal and visit with our guests which was a real treat.  In other years, for some reason, we miss the whole party by being caught up in the kitchen. This year, however, I was a bit more organized and said “to hell with it, if it doesn’t get done”. It worked!! Whatever it was, we’d do it tomorrow. What an original concept!! Plus we were very thankful that everyone was in relatively good health this year. A very thankful thing!

After Thanksgiving, Nat gave Jenny a call. She was now home from the hospital and Nat couldn’t believe how much better she sounded. The Doctors were weaning her off all (except one) pain medication. Once they discovered she had an infection in her bones, they now knew what road to take. I’m still a little leary why it took them over 4 months to detect what was going on. I was feeling so frustrated for her, as even I’ve never been in hospital for 4 months, and I can only imagine her frustration and agony. Finally, at least, she’s now on the road to recovery with her very supportive family helping out in any way they can. It’s so nice she has such a great family to rely on and not have to ask for any help – it’s just there!! For this, Nat and I are truly thankful and ever so glad Jenny has made it through this horrific ordeal.

On the home front, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I emerged from exercising this morning. As I walking up the stairs I could hear a table saw running, a ladder leaning against the house and our contractor’s truck in the drive. Nat told me Simon had finally showed up (after about 5 months) to redo the eaves trough around the front of the house!! Will wonders never cease!! I felt for Simon at times, as he remarked earlier this summer how crazy his business has become, along with bureaucratic tie-ups at City Hall, all of which was making his life miserable and dragging his business behind big time. At least our little job finally got done yesterday morning, and for that, I’m again thankful.

With everything else in order, Nat and I headed to the Advanced Voting Polls to make our mark in the Mayoral race. We had been to the Mayoral and Regional Council Debate earlier this week and were now well informed as to who we were impressed with and who we felt should be kicked out. Now the waiting begins to see if whoever is elected can finally turns things around in Fort Erie and stop the bickering so the economic situation can be improved.

The annual Rangers’ Golf Banquet was held this past Saturday night. As usual, during the day Nat and I became a little complacent about getting dressed up and toddling off for an evening out. As tickets had already been purchased and it would be a good meal, we made the effort. Again, as usual, we had a nice time getting caught up on news from Cathy, Jim, John, Ann, Tony and Jean while dining on roast chicken, pasta, meatballs, fingerling potatoes and tiramisu for dessert. Nat’s golfing buddy, Al and his wife, Armonde, sat at the next table and we were able to have a small chat with them, too. No live band or DJ this year (a tight budget) but that didn’t stop a lot of guests from showing their dance steps on the floor. After the awards were given out, each couple and group table were assembled for the usual pictures, and after looking at past year photo albums, I noticed a fashion faux pas on my part. I was wearing the exact same outfit as I had in the past three years. I felt a bit horrified, but I knew no one else would remember. After mentioning it to Nat, I decided it was time for an update to my wardrobe, but I know in my heart of hearts, it’s going to take me awhile to find something a bit more “up scale casual”. I won’t mind the shopping bit, but the searching part may be a bit daunting!

When Monday arrived Nat awoke with a sore throat. Unsure of where that came from, he soon became house bound as it progressed to his nose and chest. We’ve been relatively free of any illnesses in the past year and this became a frustrating shock to Nat’s system. As a result we’ve been staying close to home – including our 20th Wedding Anniversary night out – and we’ll continue to do so until Nat is feeling better. I can certainly sympathize with him, as it’s no fun at all trying to have fun while feeling crappy!!


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The Food, The Fairs, The Weather – Can’t Get Much Better!

Fall has officially arrived and I’m ecstatic! The time of year I look forward to. The weather turns down a few notches, the fall fairs and crafts shows begin and it’s time for great food and family get-togethers. Can’t get much better!

And so it was that I hosted Thanksgiving this year for my side of the family. Each year it’s getting harder and harder for any one of us girls to host a huge meal. We each try to take a turn for either Thanksgiving, Christmas and sometimes Easter, but we all have our excuses or reasons for not really making a large meal for 14 or so people. One sister has a growing family but tries to take her turn, one sister is struggling with fibromyalgia but tries to take her turn, one sister with two adult children takes her turn, one sister is unable as she lives in a small apartment, one sister isn’t really into cooking huge meals, and I’ve been taking my turn but am now starting to struggle as I’ve developed bursitis and hope it doesn’t flare up when it’s my turn to host. All things considered, each and every family get-together has been pretty damn good and lots of fun. We all try to bring a dish whenever someone else is hosting and we’ve yet to have a bad meal – with only once exception (see below!).

So it went that Nat and I hosted Thanksgiving yesterday (Sunday). We prepared as much as we could ahead of time – drove to Balls’ Falls for the Heritage & Craft Festival, bought groceries before the shops got too busy, ordered a marble cake, and brined the turkey on Friday –  picked up the cake, cooked the Turkey, made the Yorkshire Pudding mix, prepared the stuffing, made chocolate-covered Marshmallows, made the gravy and set the table on Saturday – sliced and warmed up the turkey and ham; baked the Yorkshire Puddings, mashed potatoes, cooked the vegetables, sliced the bread, heated the gravy and dressing and welcomed our guests by 4:00 pm. Whew!!

The Balls Falls Heritage & Craft Show was pretty much the same as other years, but the morning was perfect – a great Fall day and I really wanted to have a look around. Looking for a couple of specific items for the house I came across a craft woman from Quebec who made little village houses out of recycle materials – wood, tin and little doodads found around a home or workshop. They were perfect for the look I was going for in our kitchen and I picked up two of them. The other item I was looking for is starting to become an enigma – a set of yellow canisters. Having looked everywhere on earth and the internet, I’ve yet to find the ones I want so the hunt continues. So, after a walk-about for just over an hour, Nat and I climbed that bejesus hill up to the parking lot and headed home for lunch and to get on with the preparations for Thanksgiving

As things worked out, Nat and I were glad so much was done ahead of time. As tired as we were when we hit the hay, it was all worth it, as we had time to enjoy our guests throughout the evening without hiding in the kitchen trying to get things done. The only disappointment for me was the Yorkshire Pudding. Normally I bake them in the proper Yorkshire Pudding pans, but as the batch only makes 6, I decided to bake them in cupcake tins and they didn’t rise like the huge mushrooms I expected. When you broke them open they weren’t hollow to allow all that good gravy to ooze in. To me, they looked and tasted like a bland, flat, sunken muffin. So much for whimsy!! Nat had his disappointment too, the gravy wouldn’t thicken up and was a little too runny for our liking. No complaints from the family and I’m assuming their criticism was left for the car ride home. But that’s okay, I was just to glad to see everyone that nothing else mattered.

Bonnie made a valiant attempt and for her convenience I sat her close to the dining room hallway so she could make a break for it if she wanted to lay back in the recliner and rest her weary bones. Naturally she’s lost a lot of weight after her surgery, but she’s looking so much better from when I saw last in the hospital. As she’s still not up to grocery shopping and Gail’s been doing as much as she can, I gave Bonnie a care package of left-over turkey, gravy and mashed potatoes. She’ll only need to warm them up and she’s good to go.

We missed Claudia, Darby and Tyler. As Tyler was home from Chicago for a few days (he’s in training for work at one of the new Target stores coming to Canada), we completely understood that Claudia wanted to spend some time alone with her family alone. It’s that time in her life where they’re flying the coup and who can blame her for making as many memories as she can.

Zach and Zoe, I’m afraid were really bored. They were missing their two comrades-in-arms – Darby and Tyler – but made the best of it with their Aunt Michele. I gave them the balance of the chocolate-covered Marshmallows to take home for a treat, along with a small goodie bag for their Dad, Daryl, who was home with a migraine.

Keeping in mind that we all love our oldest sister, Gail, there’s only been one dish that we all agree was a major disaster at one of her meals. We could tell she had worked so hard with everything but as luck would have it – and to this day we’re not quite sure what happened – but the mashed potatoes ran onto your plate like cauliflower soup. They looked pretty decent sitting in that huge serving dish, but once you tried to ladle some onto your plate it wasn’t pretty. Not paying particular attention at the time and as the meal was “family-style”, Daryl gave me a poke at the table and whispered as he passed me the potatoes “I wouldn’t if I were you” with a silly grin on his face and trying hard not to catch Gail’s attention. I’m sure Gail had to have noticed how her potatoes had turned out but saved as much grace as she could by mentioning “I think the potatoes may have been a little over-mashed”. So let’s all be honest, as we’ve all done it, on the car ride home the little snickers began to flow. To this day it’s a tradition that any one of us will offer to bring the mashed potatoes to one of Gail’s meals. Every family has a little “inside” joke, and I think this is ours’. Love you, Gail, and you really are a good cook – this was just one of your bad days!

This is the year I think we should all start thinking about eating out on special occasions. I truly believe we’ve all earned the rest, we’ve all had our turns and we’re all getting older by the year, along with those “little” medical problems creeping up. Plus it’s not fair that any of the younger sisters that are much healthier have that burden and expense forced upon them. Certainly getting closer to the time where we should at least be discussing the same.

After a great time and (I’m bragging here) a pretty good meal, Nat and I cleaned up what was the most important, put on our jammies and sat in front of the TV for the rest of the night. It goes without saying that Nat’s head was deep within his chest, snoozing, by 9:30 pm. I have to admit, I wasn’t close behind. My feet and hip were throbbing and I ended up hitting the hay earlier than usual. I was out like a light!

Monday morning arrived and after sleeping in by only 15 minutes (whoop!) I dragged myself out of bed, tried to work out the kinks by walking into the living room, kissed hubby good morning, took my pills and sat down in the recliner  hoping that what was left in the dining room would be cleaned up by the little fairies in the Disney Movies.  No such luck, but what the hell, the exercise would work out the rest of the kinks left-over from the day before. We decided not to do anything or go anywhere today, so we cleaned-up and removed the extra leaves from the dining table and promptly returned to our recliners where we worked on crosswords and a golf game on the iPad, and discussed how yesterday went now and again for the rest of the day. What a life, eh??

Tuesday we’ve decided to drive into Niagara Falls to get a birthday gift for Laura whose birthday is the end of the week, find a sparkly top for me for the Rangers’ Golf Banquet this Saturday and then decide to see what day we can have the kids over to celebrate Laura’s 48th. That’s a whole other dilemma that I won’t even begin to get into!!


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Gobble, Gobble And Ready For My Bed

Thanksgiving weekends are just as exciting as Christmas to me. The good food and family gatherings are always worth the effort. Having said that, it’s a bonus when someone else is doing all the work!! As we were invited to Claudia’s for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday and, as it was Laura’s birthday this week, we also decided to have a supper but for Nat’s side of the family. We invited Susan, Tom, Felicia and Bridget to join Laura, Karly and Lucas for a combo Thanksgiving / Birthday supper on Monday and found a pretty good sized Turkey for our meal, together with a great Blizzard Ice Cream Cake from the Dairy Queen in Port Colborne.

Getting ready for the weekend we had purchased the turkey a week ago (’cause they were on sale!), along with the Blizzard Cake and then purchased the balance of our groceries on Saturday. We were ready! That afternoon saw me cleaning the house and getting laundry done a day before hand, knowing that Sunday would be busy with other things.

Sunday was soon upon us and after watching a good Leafs’ game the night before Nat and I were up and ready to go. We took our time and did our usual Sunday morning routine – watching Sunday Morning and Nat doing crosswords. After lunch we prepped the mashed potatoes (our contribution to Claudia’s meal) and as they boiled away I began to pre-set the dinning room table for our get together on Monday. I’m a huge believer in doing as much ahead of time as possible. Once the mashed potatoes were all fluffy and ready to go Nat and I then headed into St. Catharines for the first of our Thanksgiving meals.

Needless to say our meal at Claudia’s was absolutely delicious. Her Butterball turkey was tender, juicy and cooked to perfection. Nat carved the turkey while I placed the meat on the platters provided and temptation kept calling. We couldn’t help but grab a piece or two of that good looking bird while the electric knife whizzed away. The rest of the evening was extremely enjoyable as little games were played – taking a quiz regarding Turkey and guessing the amount of jelly beans in the jar. Bonnie’s guest and family friend from days of old, Dennis, came the closest to the number of jelly beans, but I came in a close second. Damn, I was so looking forward to more treats for the office, along with the great looking vase they were in!! Needless to say I hesitated when it came to leaving. It’s always nice seeing my sisters again and having a laugh or two. With us in Ridgeway and the rest of the gang in St. Catharines and Jordan it’s difficult to see them as often as I’d like. We headed home somewhat tired after a pretty long day (from our point of view) and settled down to watch a couple of TV shows before hitting the hay. It was going to be another busy day tomorrow.

Monday morning arrived and we were both up and ready to get the turkey cooked ahead of time. We’ve found by doing so, it was a huge time saver and we were able to enjoy our dinner guests more. Having been taught how to butcher a side of beef, along with other stuff by my Dad while we owned Rouse’s Red & White Store, I was able to cut up our Turkey in order to lay out the individual pieces on the cooking tray and the whole thing would cook more evenly and quicker. A little trick I learned from one of my cooking magazines that I subscribe to. We’ve done this in the past and it really worked well. This would also provide us with even more time when it came to carving the Turkey, as everything was already to go except for the breast meat, which only had to be sliced. So with the Turkey in the oven we proceeded to pre-prep as much of the other food items that we could and we were then able to take a seat before our guests arrived.

Laura decided to bring her latest addition to the family – her new puppy, Zoe – which thrilled the rest of the grandkids to no end. Bridget has practically been on bended knee begging her Mom and Dad to now get them a pup, but with two cats already in the house I’m thinking it’s going to be awhile. Trust me, though, Bridget’s that good and I’m sure there’ll be pitter patter sounds of little puppy claws in their house in no time. With the meal ready shortly after everyone arrived, we sat down to eat and for once in their lives, the grandkids were able to sit at the ‘adult’ table. They were thrilled and so were we, as we were able to get caught up on all of their news which we hardly get to do.

With (if I do say so myself) a delicious meal over, we headed to the living room where we could rest before slicing into the ice cream cake. Laura was then able to open her gifts while everyone looked on and Zoe played on her Toronto Maple Leaf blanket. It was obvious the kids were enjoying their new pet and Zoe wasn’t playing shy with anyone. With the gift opening complete, we then cut into the cake and enjoyed a nice treat at the end of a good meal. Lucas was especially pleased. Being a bit of a picky eater, he was thrilled we were serving one of his favourite desserts – ice cream. The kids had left for home by by 7:00 pm, as they all had work in the morning. Nat and I cleaned up only the necessary stuff, washed those items that couldn’t go into the dishwasher and then crashed for the night. We were exhausted.

Tuesday morning saw us up and at ’em again, only this time cleaning up the mess from the night before. It didn’t take us too long, however, and by the time we were done it was close to noon. We settled in for (you guessed it!) a turkey sandwich, watched a little television and decided that would be it for the rest of the day. By now I couldn’t stop yawning. Those Turkey endorphins had somehow stayed with me through the night, or else it was physical!! Every time I tried to speak a big yawn would take over my lower face. Frustratingly, this went on the entire day and early evening. Taking the hint I decided to retire early and hit the hay to hopefully get caught up on what my body was telling me I needed – sleep, wonderful sleep.


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With Each Step …

Slooowwly I turn, inch by inch, step by step …

That about sums up my day-to-day recovery. Yes, it’s slow going, but at least it’s going and I’m in the home stretch. I must admit, however, that not being able to do laundry and house cleaning is agonizing especially to a clean freak. Each night as I sit in my easy chair watching television with my loving hubby, I can sit and look across the coffee table and watch as the dust taunts me. I also look around and see small specks on the entry hall floor, the area rug in front and little scatterings around the kitchen floor. Being a little old-fashioned in my beliefs I have a hard time asking Nat to clean the house when, in fact, I know it will still be there later when I recover. Nat has enough on his plate maintaining this bigger yard we have – mowing it, raking the leaves, plowing the drive, etc. – so I leave him to his chores and he leaves me to mine. In his defence, he’d help me out in a heartbeat.

Being invited to Gail’s for Thanksgiving dinner was very nice. Besides a great dinner, seeing sisters, nieces and nephews was such a treat. With their busy schedules, along with Nat and I now living further afield, our families don’t get together much, except for holidays, and you miss hearing the latest news in their lives and even watching a couple smaller ones get taller with each passing day! I have to also admit it was wonderful having someone else do the cooking, despite the fact I can relate as to how much work is involved – so thanks again, Gail.

Yes, the recovery has been slow – the older you get and all that – but I’ve at least been able to put some bread in the new bread maker and pop a few loaves and rolls into the freezer. This is where the bread maker truly is a godsend, doing all the work for you!! As for the house cleaning, I know that will be there when I’m ready and it really doesn’t look all that bad. After all it’s just the two of us!

I’m now hoping to get back to my volunteer work this next week. The kids at the Library and visiting with a senior are two activities I signed up for and am looking forward to both. Hopefully both activities will get me out of the house a couple times a week and I can contribute a little something to this great community of ours’.

I’m also anxious now that Nat and I have decided to get going on the main bathroom renovations. The new vanity is being stored in our living room, the new tiles are lying on the basement floor and we’re now ready to order the new shower surround, vanity countertop, light fixtures and accessories. This is one project I can’t wait to have finished. It’s been a sore spot ever since we moved in, and hopefully the whole thing will be completed by Christmas. After getting a couple quotes from recommended contractors, we’ll be well on our way!!

So with the surgery behind me, renovations, volunteering and Christmas in front of me, I should have enough to keep me out of trouble for awhile. Now, if I could just find that pot of gold …