The White Cottage

MY DAYS IN RETIREMENT


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Bad Luck Comes In 3’s -Please!! Let It End There.

These whole crappy bad luck days began this past Friday. Nat decided he wanted to change cell phone carriers. His Roger’s yearly plan was charging him by the dollar amount and not by the minute – ergo he was losing money from his account faster than he was using it. He found that Telus has a yearly plan that went by the minute and it made more sense to change over now when his Roger’s plan was down to $8.00.

An added note:- In October of 2016 Nat updated his old Nokia unlocked phone to a new SKY unlocked phone from Staples. After checking them out at the store, we ordered one online a few days later.

Friday afternoon, we decided to go to Telus to sign up as the Roger’s plan was now down to $8.00 and wouldn’t be renewed until June of this year. We’d be out of minutes long before that and it was going to cost us extra. We drove to Niagara Square, found the Telus Store, signed up for their new yearly plan, had SIM card inserted, and were now ready to go, or so we thought.

Saturday, as usual, I started doing laundry and in order to prepare for my upcoming Cataract Surgery we headed down to WalMart to buy some collapsible headphones for Nat. He was going to stay with me at the hospital for over the 3 hours it was going to take – waiting, eye drops, waiting, eye drops, surgery, waiting, eye drops and then hopefully home. While waiting, Nat could listen to his music on his iPod Mini and hang around the front lobby to pass the time. When we returned home, Nat decided to put the new Telus SIM card into the old Nokia phone, thinking he might like a change. The damn Cell wasn’t accepting the new SIM card no matter what he tried. AND THEN, when he went to put the card BACK into the NEW SKY phone, the card wasn’t working there either. What in hell happened!!!!

Not being too sure exactly what was going wrong and discovering that the battery charge wasn’t staying where it should have, we checked and re-checked online for a possible new battery but to no avail. Soon found out you have to return to the Cell Phone maker for such a thing. We continued putting the SIM card back and forth into each cell phone and nothing was happening. Total frustration was now setting in, and it didn’t help at all that everything connected with cell phones goes completely over my head. I have no idea what anyone is talking about when it comes to plans, the inner workings of a cell and get very touchy when it comes to such things. Everything was just fine before dear hubby decided to play around with this stuff. After several “discussions” between the two of us we left things alone until the next day. It was now getting a little heated in this little home of ours!!

Sunday morning the SKY cell battery was at 100% and by noon was down to less than 50%. Nat was now worried why the Telus SIM card was no longer working and what the hell was going on with the phone. That afternoon, we had no choice but to return to the Telus Store at The Square to hopefully get the SIM card re-inserted. It was obvious we were doing something wrong. This is where we got totally perplexed with more frustration setting in.

The staff at the Telus store soon informed us:

(1)  Roger’s had locked our Nokia phone to their network when we were using their service (the unlocked Nokia phone was “unlocked” only for certain carriers and once you use them they become permanently locked until you PAY a fee to unlock them!!!!);

(2) the new SKY phone definitely had something wrong with it as the staff checked the SIM card with their equipment and it was definitely working. We would have to return to Staples store to hand it in for new battery or repair.

(3) the new unlocked SKY phone should be unlocked for all carriers – as it was an international phone. Who knew!!!!!

So, like the good little consumers we are, we drove over to the Staples store across town and were immediately informed – they don’t carry the batteries nor do they do repairs. We would now have to call the SKY tech service to see what we should do. As the phone was still under warranty, we were told it shouldn’t really be a problem.

As we were returning home, we discovered the 4-way traffic lights were all out at Stevensville, downtown Ridgeway and beyond. The generator was also running as we pulled into the drive. Once inside not only was the hydro down, but so was the computer, TV and home phone lines. The generator was doing its job – we still had lights, heat, stove and fridge, etc. We just couldn’t watch TV or play on the computer. We were now really worried about what was going on in our lives. Somehow, somewhere, someone wanted us to suffer.  We were totally shut off from the world. Not knowing, was driving me around the bend, so I decided to drive up to our local drug store until I tried to open the door and realized they were closed on Sundays. However, lucky me, the owner and his wife were in there doing work and Donnie let me in to find out what was going on. Yes, he had cell service, yes, he had TV (on Roger’s cable) and phone line service. He wasn’t, however, aware how big the outage was – all the way back to Stevensville. With that knowledge I returned home but we were still baffled as to why we had no TV, phone or computer. I couldn’t even get news from my Twitter account on my  iPad – our internet was out. Now I’m a little scared!!

Around 4:00 pm the power came back on. HALLELUJAH!!!!! When all was said and done, the power outage had also affected Cogeco customers in this area – of which included US. The outage had lasted close to 4 hours and we were at least lucky enough to have a meal with a working stove.

Monday morning, all is back to normal – we think! I decided to call the toll-free tech number given to us by the staff at Staples. Not necessarily a fun call, as I had a hard time understanding this lady from Doral, Florida and she had a hard time understanding what I was trying to tell her. After quite a few minutes, we managed to straighten things out and were informed we would have to fill out a form she was going to email us, wrap up our SKY phone and return it to them for repair. Once receiving the form and printing it out, the fonts were so small I had to use a magnifying glass to read the damn thing. AND NO, it wasn’t just me, it was Nat, too!!

We packaged up the phone – I just happened to have the perfect box – included the form and with a $20.00 postage stamp the damn thing was on its way to sunny Florida. How nice for it!! The delivery will take 4-5 business days to get there and who the hell knows how long to get the damn thing back. So, as it stands now, Nat is without a cell phone for my surgery tomorrow, which isn’t really a big deal, but it’s become a part of his body and he’s lost without it. The security of it all, I suppose. We now sit and wait.

With everything else going on, it was about time I filed the GST/HST for the solar panels with is due the end of the month. With my eye surgery being done tomorrow, I felt it best to get it done beforehand. Everything went well, as usual, until it came time to submit my payment online through the Canadian Revenue Agency site, which is extremely handy. Every time I tried my debit card it was refused and told it wasn’t being accepted. I tried and tried over and over again – maybe my account number was wrong, maybe I had the wrong PIN number. Nope, everything was right at my end, but total frustration was again setting in, as I’ve done this from the beginning. I ended up calling the Bank of Montreal to inquire as to what was going on. I was informed that as we received new Tap ‘n Go” debit cards in April of 2016, and that they were with the good folks at MasterCard, the CRA had not been updated yet to accept these cards. Apparently all kinds of stores and services were on their list to be completed. More damn dumb luck!!!!

That’s the 3 – the old and new cell phones – the hydro – the debit card. I’ve got eye surgery tomorrow at 9:40 AM and not being a good early riser, things had better go really well, or there’ll be hell to pay and I wouldn’t want to be in Nat’s shoes if that happens.

Wanting to get this payment done, Nat and I drove to our local Bank of Montreal and paid the account there. Done at last.

There actually was one more thing – our Cogeco cable receiver. For several weeks now the receiver was cutting out for a few seconds but only on recorded events. Plus the TV guide wouldn’t load very quickly. We’d get the names of a few shows and then a lot of “To Be Announced”. The only good thing about this was when I called the tech people at Cogeco they were great. The receiver only had to be reset at their end. Thank God for small mercies.

After my cataract surgery in the morning, I’m returning  home, sticking half of my head into sand (have to keep the surgical eye clean, ya know!) and won’t be coming up for air until this month is over. It’s not been a good one and I’ll at least have until April 27th when I get my right eye done. God, here’s hoping the start of April will be a good one.

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Kitchen Renos – Oh, What A Beautiful Day

Monday – Somewhat rested and trying really hard to begin this week with my usual routine, I did my workout and was finished by the time the boys arrived to continue on with the renovations. It felt good to get back on the treadmill (something I thought I’d never hear me say) and get back to my story I’ve been following. For 45 minutes I was able to clear my head watching a TV show where other people had worse problems.

The rest of the day wasn’t as bad as Nat and I thought. Simon and Dale worked along at a pretty good pace and before we know it, the range hood was up and the sink was down. I’m loving the new sink – all white and no more discoloured stainless steel.

I managed to get some errands done at WalMart as Nat watched the goings-on in the kitchen. By mid-afternoon the kitchen was really beginning to take shape. Dale worked vigorously attaching every drawer pull and door knob while Simon installed the other hardware. By the end of the day Simon advised that tomorrow would probably be the last day. The Electrician and Plumber would be here to finish up their installation and we would have lift-off. He even told us to go ahead and start loading up cabinets, if we wanted. Not yet, for me, at least, as I wanted to clean each one out before putting anything in.

Tuesday – What a difference a day makes. The plumber arrived while I was doing my exercises. Once changed and ready to go, it wasn’t long before the bad news began. The Plumber was unable to shut off the water from downstairs. The valve was so seized up it was going to break off if anyone tried to turn it any harder. It was soon concluded that the Town had to be called and turn our water off from the main shut-off valve in the front lawn. The Plumber tried to call the Town but knew it was going to take more time than he wanted. He grabbed the shovel, handed it to his apprentice and said “start digging” – the valve in the front yard was buried about a foot down in the ground and no one was able to reach it without digging.

My heart is starting to go out to our contractor and plumber. Every time they turned a corner something unexpected came up, including finding a pumpkin carving kit hidden deep beneath an old drawer. Simon told Nat and I not to worry, that they’ve seen so much worse and even told us a few horror stories.

The Plumber and his apprentice were, with a lot of effort, finally able to get the Town water supply to the house shut-off. The Plumber was then able to give us a new main shut-off valve downstairs and then continue on with the kitchen hookups. I must admit Nat and I did a damn good job on picking out a new kitchen faucet and range hood. We received approval from both our Contractor and Plumber. Trust me, it helps to please these guys as it makes for an easy install and less fuss and muss.

I had my semi-annual appointment with Dr. Broski at 2:15 and was going to go alone at first because of any future plumbing problems, but once Nat was satisfied everything was good he tagged along to get out of the house. We left quite a bit early, leaving Simon and Dale to their own devices to finish up. Before leaving I packed up my usual package of homemade cookies for the two boys and (in case we weren’t home in time) thanked them for the fabulous work and workmanship. Always appreciated.

Good news awaited me at the Doc’s. He was thrilled that I had lost so much more weight and congratulated me on a job well done. Because of the weight loss he said I could now be categorized as glucose intolerant instead of pre-diabetic. I’ll take whatever downgrading I can get and almost skipped out of his office. Walking on Cloud 9 with my good report, Nat and I headed home and discovered the two boys were just finishing up – packing up the truck, cleaning and dusting. Again, more thanks all around and we’ll see Simon again once Nat and I decide on the new back-splash, which he agreed to instal. We still needed the Electrician to arrive and finish up with the lighting and then all would be good with the world again.

Now that we were alone, Nat and I took a look around our new kitchen and grinned from ear to ear. Despite the little surprises, heated discussions and running around, we both came to the conclusion that it was all worth it. We were now living in a home that was complete – with only one or two rugs to be replaced. We’re looking forward to a peaceful summer and hopefully some family events that we can host feeling good about ourselves.


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WalMart Disappointed While Michael’s Shocked

We’re bored! Too much snow, blowing winds and deep freeze temperatures for us to get ambitious and get the hell out of the house. Mind you, we have had to go out a few times for food and some necessities of life, but other than that it’s been pretty pathetic.

With so much time on my hands I’ve been trying to get creative and do some little projects inside. Nat found a couple more albums which I’ve converted to DVD and I’ve got our 45 records to convert, but in the meantime I decided to re-arrange a few pictures in the living room. With a stroke of genius on my part I re-arranged my lapel pin collection in shadow box frames and canvass. I arranged two groupings for the alcove and we both agree they look pretty good there.

In order to accommodate the pin collection, I took down two family group photos from above the sofa and replaced them with the two collage frames from the alcove. At first, Nat and I agreed they looked pretty good there, but something kept nagging away – for some reason my collage frame contained too many white spaces compared to Nat’s frame. So, we talked, discussed some different ideas, weighed our options and decided my frame needed to match Nat’s somehow. At first we would look for a close replica to Nat’s frame. You have no idea what a task that turned out to be!! We looked at Michael’s, WalMart, Canadian Tire and even Home Outfitters – in store and online. No such replica (or even close facsimile exists – the picture arrangements were either too big, too scattered or the frame was all wrong. It seems to be the trend for collage frames to consist of a bunch of actual frames all clustered together in varying shapes and sizes. So, after an exhausted search I (with Nat’s hesitating consent) decided to buy one of the clustered collage frame, thinking that at least all that extra white space would be eliminated, giving it a similar look to Nat’s frame with very few white spaces and numerous size pictures, including an oval.

WELL, let me tell you!! Those clustered frames are a real crock. Once home, I disassembled the back, placed all of my family photos against the glass plates, put the backing back on, clipped it all together, and placed it up against the wall to hang, whereupon some of the glass plates fell completely out of place!! Back to the office, disassembled the whole thing again, put the glass back into each little frame, put a stiffer support in each, assembled again, but lo and behold the glass still fell from some of the frames. With a third try at hand Nat and I finally realized the glass plates were much smaller than the inserts they were suppose to fit in, plus, there were no clips or anything of the sort to even keep each plate in place.

Some more thinking and planning. Nat found some styrofoam and thought we could cut enough pieces to support the plates between the individual frames and the large cardboard backing. After cutting the styrofoam into 12 individual sizes, with scads of flying bits of styrofoam flying all over, we managed to assemble the frame again. No luck!! The plates still fell out of place and by now I was getting pissed and wanted to chuck the whole thing down WalMart’s throat (where we bought the damn thing). Cheap goods!!!!

Again, Nat came up with another idea. By now it was decided we would have to support the plates between each frame. With more thinking and cutting I managed to make small little thick slats to place in the grooves of each frame in order to support the glass plate above and the glass plate below. AGAIN – I assembled everything back together – styrofoam slats, glass plates, pictures, foam backing, large cardboard support and clipped the whole thing together. Finally, I had success after two days of utter frustration and anger at shoddy workmanship.

The cluster of frames was finally hanging up, alongside of Nat’s collage. The sizes in width and height were perfect. But, after another day or two, something kept nagging at the two of us. What was it? Again, more discussion, more weighing our options. There was something about my collage frame that wasn’t quite right – too much black now, no white spaces at all – what was it?? By now we had come to an agreement – just re-work both frames to be the same – but how?? Nat suggested we go to a proper frame shop and have something made up. Knowing that would be expensive,  it was a least worth a try. Then, it suddenly hit me!! Why not just re-work both family collages into the museum frames I have. They would match all the other frames in the house, and we would just have to have new mattes cut.

WELL, this is now turning into another story. We disassembled Nat’s collage frame and he narrowed his photos down to the ones he absolutely had to include – his frame had 22 photos and mine only had 12. Logic told me that if the frames were to be cohesive, he would have to reduce some and I would have to increase mine. I then spent a whole afternoon enlarging a couple of his family pictures and trying to find more to add to my frame. After an exhausting time of thinking and figuring things out in this little muddled head of mine and using the black ink in our printer like it was a bottomless pit, all the photos were ready. We then began to work out a good design for his pictures, along with a newer design for mine. We stood at the desk sorting and resorting our designs. By the grace of God, looking at the size of his old collage matte and then at the size of mine it hit me like a ton of bricks – DUH!!!!! Why not just put his old collage matte into the museum frame we were getting ready to have to change. The actual frames were the same size and after holding his matte over the glass of the museum frame, it fit perfectly – another DUH!!!!!

Back we went to re-taping all of his 22 photos back onto his original matte – the big ones, the tiny ones and the in-between ones. Once done, the whole thing fitted into the museum frame as if they were made for each other and the entire thing looked fresh and updated. We both couldn’t believe it, and wondered what our problem was that we didn’t think of this before. I’m thinking it’s because I can tend to make things complicated and poor Nat gets lost in my brain wave and crazy idea. Now we only had to have one new collage matte made and we could do that at the Framing Department at Michael’s at Niagara Square.

This morning we headed down to Michael’s. We told the clerk our idea and showed her our collage design on paper, along with the photo sizes required. She began working away on the computer program, trying to get the sizes right within the 16 x 20 measurements. Nat and I stood there patiently as she worked her magic and once she was finished she gave us the shocking news – “You’re not going to want to do this, you know”, she explained. “Why, what’s the bottom line”, I asked. “$101.50”, she cringed, as Nat and I looked at each other and said together “You’ve got to be kidding”. “No”, she said, “it’s very expensive to have custom mattes made, especially for larger sized frames”. Nat and I hummed and hawed in disbelief. We both reminded each other how much trouble we’d been through up to this moment. We both knew there was nothing else out there that could solve our problem and any other Frame Shop would probably be just as expensive. Knowing what we knew we agreed to bite the bullet and go ahead. We were both at wits’ end by now and just wanted this project done with. Nat looked at me and said “this thing is never going to leave the wall” as I nodded my head in agreement. We both also agreed, however, that the final design was going to be great and was just what we were looking for. So now it’s a waiting game before we can pick up the matte and put the two frames back where they belong in the living room.

This whole scenario started off as one little idea of hanging up my collection of lapel pins. I was convinced that by switching the two items around (the pictures to the living room and the pin collection to the alcove) that this would be easy, peasy. Silly me!!!! The two frames looked great in the alcove only because they weren’t hanging side-by-side and on a corner wall. It wasn’t until they actually hung side-by-side that I became obsessed that “something just wasn’t right”. I’ve now told Nat, as I have so many times in the past, please smack me next time I have an idea!!!!


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A Familiar Refrain

Sunday the 23rd saw a deep freeze set in around our little area. Naturally it was too bloody cold to do anything outdoors, except Nat had to clear the driveway of what fell to the ground on Saturday. I took advantage of the day and decided to try a new recipe for Muffin Tops which I’d seen on one of those ‘healthy’ cooking shows. Not a muffin lover myself, I figured what the hell, I’d give ’em a try and maybe Mikey (Nat) will eat them. As it turned out, he did. Full of raspberries, blueberries and whole wheat flour, Nat thought they were pretty good except a little dry. The recipe called for a cream cheese filling, which Nat abhors, so I left that out. He opted for putting a little jam on top and problem solved!!

Monday the 24th we wandered around Canadian Tire and Walmart in the morning. Nat was looking for a new tea kettle, as the one we had purchased about a year ago was acting up and not worth the repair. The afternoon hours were whiled away with crosswords and iPad games. Another day to stay in and keep warm from the deep cold outdoors.

With the arrival of Tuesday and another cold and snowy day, we both knew this was how our week was going to go. Another day with nothing on our plates, but willing to brave the cold, we decided on the spur of the moment to head into St. Catharines and get a few supplies at Costco. Being big fish eaters we stocked up on our favourites, along with a few other necessities and arrived home in time for lunch. At least now if Ridgeway got pelted with snow we’d have food on the table and could eat ourselves out of boredom.

The snow theme continued on Wednesday, but Nat took off for Niagara Falls. His excuse was he wanted to walk around Home Depot for a bit, but I knew he also had an ulterior motive. Along with looking for a solution for the ‘intake’ pipe (fresh air for the furnace) which keeps clogging or freezing up because of its closeness to the ‘outtake’ pipe, I figured he’d be looking for a birthday card for me, and I loved him for his thoughtfulness. He came home empty-handed regarding the pipe but at least he had a chance to get out of the house and have some ‘alone’ time. While he was gone I stayed put and updated the back-up drives of our photographs and home movies, which took me most of the afternoon. A tedious but necessary job where I dragged and dropped them all onto an external hard drive in case the CD back-ups decide to go flaky. Having at least 3 back-up plans is a safety net I’m adamant on keeping.

On Thursday morning I finally received the call from Walking On A Cloud shoe store at Seaway Mall that my shoes were in. Looking for a proper pair of shoes in a narrow size is a major task nowadays and I was so relieved to finally find a pair of loafers that were good looking and fit properly. We drove into Welland to pick up my shoes and decided at the same time to drop by the Dairy Queen just down the road to get an ice cream cake for Sunday. With the kids coming over for an early birthday lunch for me, the ice cream cake would satisfy the varying tastes of everyone. Really now, who doesn’t like ice cream??

With snow now covering each and every little crevice in Ridgeway, except the well-plowed roads, Nat drove me down to the Lab on Friday for my usual blood work. Taking advantage of being out, we bought what little groceries we needed a day early. With the day turning out to be cold, snowy and blustery we stayed put in the afternoon and I popped some more of those Cheddar Bay Biscuits in the freezer, thinking they’ll come in handy for that night we decide to put on the crock pot full of hearty beef stew. Cold night – hot beef stew and biscuits – yum!!

Up and at ’em early Saturday morning. I started the laundry and house cleaning, while Nat headed into Ridgeway to get those groceries items we couldn’t find Friday. With the kids coming Sunday for lunch I decided to get the chores done ahead of time and would now be free and clear for the week. Saturday evening with no hockey game on (horror of horrors!!), Nat and I nestled in our easy chairs and watched another movie I had downloaded from iTunes – “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” – which we both enjoyed immensely.

Sunday morning arrived with Nat and I up early to put on some pasta salad for lunch. Susan would be bringing a regular salad and along with the cold cuts, kaisers and ice cream cake, lunch was looking pretty good. Nat had received a call from Laura Saturday afternoon that she might not be able to make it. She was feeling pretty sick – we’re guessing the flu – and thought she’d be best staying in bed. Her Dad agreed and gave her a phone call Sunday morning to check in on her. She was still feeling pretty bad and thought it best to still stay home. With just Tom, Susan and the two girls coming for lunch it was a quieter affair and we had a good time chatting around the dining room table during our meal and retired to the living room for dessert. Susan and Laura pooled their resources and gave me some gift money for Niagara Square and Nat popped an iTunes card into his birthday card which would be nice for those nights we had to rent some more movies. Every little contribution towards the cause is much appreciated! After lunch the Dagenais family was headed over to Walden Galleria Mall for a party dress for Felicia who is keeping an active social life now that she’s in high school. After their departure Nat and I finished cleaning up and fell right back into our routine of crosswords and wondering what was for supper! A comfort zone we’re getting a little too familiar with.