Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And there goes another one.

Year, that is.

We’ve been doing a bit of gadding about,  and just got back from a brief visit to Guelph for a visit with a couple sisters-in-law and such.  Not that you care.  Lovely evening,  but we headed back in this direction around eight or so. 

No late night New Years celebrations for us this year I’m afraid.  We’ll be having a little gathering of the clan on Friday night.  A much more suitable night for a late night,  especially for the hosts,  who had to work during the week. Hey, I’m flexible.

I’ve never been one to be too terribly caught up in the whole “Happy New Year”  thing,  so being tucked into my wee bed come midnight suits me just fine.  I’ll do just fine without the champagne and caviar.  (gah! never caviar!)

Just the same,  here’s hoping your New Years is a safe and happy one.

Happy New Year!


Thanks for sticking around.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

And we survived.

Well,  that’s a little overly dramatic I suppose, as it wasn’t that big a deal.  Christmas Eve has come and gone,  along with Christmas Morning.  Not overly hungry at this point.  Just wanted to say that.

Thankfully we had lots of help for Christmas Eve, since Travelling Companion was determined that she was going to “have Christmas”,  which to her means hosting a hoard on Christmas Eve for a meal. 

There were some protestations from her siblings,  or at least those who were up to the task of doing the hosting themselves,  but she was determined.   I think I said that.

Well,  she admitted after not too very long into the day that, “I couldn’t have done it”.  

I said nothing.  I knew this.  She had surgery four weeks ago.  And it’s not like an appendectomy, wherein a person might just be a little sensitive around that area,  knee surgery is usually followed by this thing called “walking”.  This then,  lo and behold, involves the use of said knee. 

Which,  when not elevated at proper intervals,  does tend to get “tight”,  as she well noticed.


It so happened,  that the crowd was rather light this year,  as there were only 17 of us.  Quite manageable. 



Some helpers:




The lady on the right there, one of T.C.’s sisters,  came at around noon time and worked like Cinderella all day getting things ready.  T.C. did make the stuffing and one other dish,  and that was more than enough.

I man handled the bird when it came to getting it in and out of the oven.



Only 22 pounds,  no sweat.


There was plenty of stuffing.




Not only was certainly enough turkey, but in the picture above there, Daughter Number One is dealing with the ham. 

No,  not her sister.



That’s her there.

There were more pictures,  but we don’t need to get carried away.

We once again did “buffet style”, with everything laid out in the kitchen.   You can then load up, find yourself a seat, and if you failed to get one particular ingredient or other, it’s nobody’s fault but your own.  There was a time when we’d try to put all the dishes on the table,  but then someone would invariably say there was not enough “whatever” on their table.  Only took us about 20 years to figure out that buffet style would solve all of those issues.


Earlier in the year,  Travelling Companion had come up  the idea to have portraits done of her late father who,  by the way,  was the previous owner of this house.

So she commissioned her sister to do portraits,  we had them framed and gave one each to the girls.

Here’s an example.


There is a third one that we had framed for ourselves.  We haven’t figured out where to hang it just yet.



I’ve been whiling away the hours this afternoon browsing through one of my presents,  which is an archive of all copies of Fine Woodworking going back to 1975.


Fine Woodworking.

It’s a DVD that I’ve been covetous of for a few years now,  and this year I dropped enough subtle hints,  “Look,  it’s 30% off!!”  such that it did manage to find its way under the tree.

Hey,  they’re always asking for Christmas ideas.  I’m only too willing to oblige.


Fine Woodworking.2


That particular cover above from the spring of ‘89, was one which caught my attention back in the day, as I was intrigued by the look of that chest on the cover. (Hm, good thing you know I’m not referring to anything of a lascivious nature)

And so I built one.

For a number of years now,  there has been a copy of that very same blanket chest sitting in our bedroom.  It took me several months of going over to the vocational school every day for a couple hours and chopping dovetails and such.  This was when we were still apartment dwellers.  Somehow I’ve had difficulty taking on such a huge undertaking after we bought a house. 

Funny how that works.

Well,  with the exception of that big woodworking project at the front of the house.  I suppose that counts for something.





The gentleman on the cover there,  with whom I spoke by phone,  had made something like a dozen of the things. When I caught up with him (I had a question about something or other that wasn’t covered in the article) he was working as a restorer for Sotheby’s.


Anyway,  hope your Christmas was grand.  I haven’t quite got caught up in the nap department,  but I’ll be getting back to that shortly.


Hope all your left overs are enjoyable.

Thanks for taking a look.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Winter Solstice.

I didn’t quite realise it,  until someone mentioned it on the Book of Face,  but from now on the days will start getting longer.  Hazzah!

Well, there will be more hours of daylight.  You know what I mean.  Some days are still too freakin’ short,  but then there’s always maƱana.

We’ve been getting way too much cloud cover these last few days,  so when the sun does come out I do notice that it puts a positive spin on my outlook.

Of course,  it also means I can see just how dirty the front windows are,  but I’ll tolerate that minor aggravation.  I might even break down and try out a window cleaning company,  because I’ve done my darndest to try and get them squeaky clean,  with mixed results.  Or maybe I’ll try a mixture of vinegar and water, even though I’m not overly thrilled with the smell of vinegar.

Then again, I could just lower the blinds.



This is in keeping with the “bright and cheery” theme.  Received this earlier in the week for Travelling Companion from one of our good friends.  Note, anyone who is willing to put up with me,  should be considered a ‘good’ friend.  Just saying.

Anyway,  the timing was really good,  as this cute arrangement arrived just in time to replace one of the ones that had started to show its age.  That’s the down side to flowers.  They only last so long.

We seem to be getting packages delivered to the door on a daily basis.  We’ll see how we make out for the final couple things we ordered.  I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with dealing with the Hudson’s Bay.  

thebay 1

thebay 2

They seem to like you to go in circles.  THEN we discovered that they are now owned by Saks Fifth Avenue?   Wtf?  At least that’s the name that showed up on the call display when they called to confirm an address, but that’s another story. 

After placing my order and realising I hadn’t clicked on “free express shipping”,  I figured I’d suck it up and call their 1-800 number.   Holy cr*p.   That was painful.  Got cut off a couple times,  and then was on hold for about a half hour.  More or less.  I lost track.  Nearly lost consciousness. 

Just yesterday I noticed an email from the person who helped me (yes, there was eventually a human there to help) asking me to complete a survey.   We’ll wait until the order actually arrives at the pre-determined “promised” time before we do that I’m afraid. 

There have been a couple hit and misses in the online ordering department.  Some folks have a good grasp of the concept. Others, not.

With Lee Valley for example, we placed a couple orders on Friday for pick-up,  and I was able to go first thing Saturday morning and fetch them over at the side.  Away from the hoards of people who flock to that place before Christmas.   So many of them don’t understand how easy it is to order an item on line and simply go and fetch it.  And that’s OK with me,  because there was nary a soul over at the side picking up their purchase.

Then there was Home Depot. 

Wow, what a clusterf**k.   I’m not sure how it’s supposed to work,  but my best guess is,  if your website says you have “x” number of an item at your location,  then that should be the case, yes? 

Nope.  Wasted trip.   So then I continued my search on line,  only to determine that yes,  they had 11 such items at another location.  And look,  they’ll deliver it before Christmas!  Awesome! So let’s do that then!

But then,  some poor sap called from that location to say that no,  they don’t have them.    So that was that. 

I’m a bit like a dog with a bone when it comes to this sort of thing, and I wasn’t going to settle for another brand of product,  so I tried Lowes.  

Well I’ll be darned!   I think I might be ordering from Lowes from now on,  since they not only know how to operate a computerised inventory system,  but the price was the same,  and delivery was free.    I like “free”.

I’ve only actually gone into Lowes once,  and that was to look at dishwashers.  I may have to go back more often,  or at least browse their website.   So thanks Home Depot!  By being such dorks, I now know where (else) to shop.


Other than getting ready for the big Christmas feast and such,  nothing much else has been going on.

I did notice the Union Gas Dude had pulled up the other day to take a look at the new installation.




I didn’t think I needed to go out and talk to him.  He took a look,  went back to his truck and sat there for a time,  probably filling out some sort of report.  I guess it “passed”.  I figure I paid the money to have it installed by a licensed gas fitter,  so it’s not my deal.


You’ll note the lack of snow on the ground.  There hasn’t been any for days.  It’s probably going to be a rainy Christmas to boot.  A white Christmas seems to be a rarity these days.  I can suffer the lack of snow.

Oh,  and T.C. is progressing nicely after her knee surgery.  The walker needs to go back to the Red Cross,  since she now only needs the cane.  I don’t worry about her going up and down stairs anymore (as much) either.   I mean,  she could still take a tumble,  but part of the process has to do with developing the muscle memory for getting around.  Which foot goes first and such.


I’ll try and get back here before Christmas,  but if I don’t,  here’s hoping you all have a good one.



Thanks for stopping by.



Monday, December 15, 2014

It’s Monday, right?

Sometimes I sort of forget.  That’s either really awesome, such as when my eldest brother, who has been retired for something like 30 years once said, “Every day is Saturday”.

Or maybe kinda sad?

I’m thinking mostly sad. And that’s because there are moments when I draw a complete blank on what day it is.  Eventually I snap out of it,  and figure it out,  but I suppose that, with the exception of trying to stay out of the stores on the weekends,  most every day is the same. 

And speaking of which, what’s with the Seniors hanging around the stores on a Saturday?  I swear to Gawd!  Lookin’ for the good stuff?  I just don’t get it.  You’ve got all week people!   There are working folk who only have the weekends.  Stay the hell home!

The best time to shop ever in my life was after midnight,  when I was on afternoons and there was a grocery store here in town that was open 24 hours.  With the exception of the boys stocking the shelves,  and possibly playing their music a little too loud,  the place was gloriously empty.  I would actually take a buggy,  and leisurely float from isle to isle.

The joint down the street here is right across from various “old age” establishments,  and if you’re there any later than 11:00 in the morning,  they’re out in full force.  Even on a Monday. 

And forget Saturdays, jaysus.

I take a basket,  and make a bee-line for what I need,  and get the hell out.


I’m still Christmas shopping.  Mostly done.  I think.  A lot of it has happened on line. Definitely my kinda shopping.  Or I order something and pick it up off to the side.  One of my favourite stores has multiple ways of ordering stuff,  and there’s never a line-up at their pick-up area.

I think eventually most all Christmas shopping will be done on line.  Well, that would be my ideal means of doing it.  I’m sure there are those who still wander the mall looking for just the right “thing”.  To me that’s the worst kind of torture.



You may have to click on that to see the price.  This was one of those moments when I actually took a second look.  I think my jaw dropped ever so slightly as well.

We haven’t seen gas prices like that for a long while.  Certainly well before we did the European visit.  And we left here in ‘08.   I think it was already over a buck at that point already.

Too hard to figure out what that is in gallons and then do the conversion to US dollars.  Figure it out and let me know.  It’s always cheaper in the States anyway,  so what difference does it make? 


I guess I really didn’t have a point in being here,  except to beak off about people being in stores when they hadn’t ought to be,  and the price of gas.

Oh well,  if you’re a stock pickin’ kinda person at all,  let’s just say there are some dealskis out there?  Everyone is dumping oil stocks like crazy.  Time to buy!  Psst, go for the ones paying dividends!


That’s all I got.


Keep it between the ditches….and…


Thanks for stopping by.




Sunday, December 14, 2014

What the sun does to my brain.

I started blathering on about something or other on Friday,  and I’ve just now turfed it out.  Something to do with it being sunny out. 

Well, not anymore.

I was about to head out to the mall that morning (I know!)  to pick up some Christmas cards,  when around the corner comes Gas Man number two.  This is the fellow I’ve hired to hook up the generator once we had our new bigger meter installed.


He used this rather cool flexible plastic coated corrugated stuff,  that worked out quite nicely.  I couldn’t quite visualise just how it would work with black pipe,  because it’s getting a little crowded back there.

I took the opportunity to sort out a little issue I had with the “skirt” that goes around the base of the generator.


Taking away the platform and the steps makes it a whole heap easier to work back there.

The thing is,  when I went to install this “skirt”,  the darned grounding lug was right in the way.


Somebody missed something on the drawings I guess.  So I drilled a couple holes in the plastic, which gives just enough room to get a length of copper in there.  Mind you,  the fellow who came out a couple weeks ago (from whom I’ve heard nary a peep)  said they like to use aluminum,  since it’s not as tempting to steel.  We’ll see.


Anyway, the gas is hooked up.  Of course I took that with the ladder sitting there.  Dough head.


He had some gray Tremclad with him,  and offered to touch up the existing line.  Something I’ve been meaning to do.  I happily let him.

It’s not even a requirement in a residential situation,  but it never hurts to keep the line painted.  Plus, it just looks better.



Then I put everything back together in time to get T.C. to her hair appointment Friday afternoon.  Yes,  it seems that one cannot properly convalesce from knee surgery if one’s hair is starting to show its true colour.  *ahem*



Hey, whatever.  She’s now quite proficient at managing stairs,  getting in and out of the car,  and generally getting about. 

Within reason.

The very bright people at the hair salon hadn’t quite grasped the concept of “due diligence”,   since there was a good inch of slush outside their door.   I offered to shovel it away when I went to pick her up later,  and that was enough to shame the one fellow into getting out there and sorting it out.  I guess they haven’t had a lawsuit yet.  Their turn will come.

I was relating to T.C. on the way home in the car how,  in my former life as a Caretaker,  we had to document each and every time we shovelled and/or spread ice melter.   Helped cut the lawsuits WAY down.  Judges like “due diligence” it seems.  But that’s all I’ll say about that.  Some folks be dumb,  and don’t wear the proper footwear,  just sayin’.


Oh,  forgot to mention.  We did get a visit from the cable company.


Naturally,  it was during the snow storm.   He tested the line back roughly 25 meters and couldn’t detect a problem.  I strongly suggested simply replacing their modem,  since they tend to crap out on the order of roughly every two years or so.  That’s what he did,  and we’ve not had any outages since. 

More than a happy coincidence,  methinks.

There was also a phone conversation I had with someone on their billing end of things,  and I believe we’ll be getting a bit of a reduction.  I think my exact words were,  “We can’t have this”.  And this was because T.C. was on a conference call,  and the internet crapped out.   Not good.  Not acceptable.

So we’ll see. 

She was using her cell phone, by the way.  Never a good idea to rely solely on one mode of communication if it’s absolutely essential that you not get cut off.



I guess that’s it for this missive.  Not much excitement here at The Ponderosa.


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Gas Man cometh.

And that’s about all I got.  Really.

I think I mentioned that we’d be needing a bigger meter in order to run the stand-by generator, which meant having to fill out a form and submitting it to Union Gas.  The turn around was actually quite quick considering you know, it’s Union Gas.

I submitted the form on the 26th of November, got a message some time later that week, which I didn’t know I had until the weekend (T.C.’s surgery and all, forgot to check messages) called them up right away and booked the appointment for today.

In typical fashion when it comes to these things, it was to happen anytime between “8 and 12”.   Which of course means,  the Gas Dude could have showed up at 8:00 a.m. Right?


Naturally,  it was 11:30 when he appeared at the door.

Shoulda knowd.



That’s the old meter there on the right.



And the new one that he installed.

It’s just a wee bit bigger.

Now funny thing is,  he did a pressure test only to discover that there was a leak.  Huh?

So fine we go in,  close all the valves (gas range, boiler and hot water heater)  and he still has a leak.  Oh, by the way,  I had already switched off the boiler so it would not be calling for heat, but you probably knew that.

So he starts with the soap solution on all the bits he had installed,  and sure enough within about a minute there’s this huge bubble coming out of one of the connections.  Turns out he had a bit of a brain fart and didn’t tighten it.

Then it’s time to relight the pilot on the hot water heater and fire up the boiler.  I had in the meanwhile lit the range,  which flamed out once and then I let it burn for a while,  while he went out to the truck for his CO sniffer.

The boiler is working just fine,  since it’s only throwing 2ppm of CO.  That’s pretty good.  Seems to me anything under about 75ppm is acceptable,  but don’t quote me.  That’s “parts per million” there kids.

Right along with that,  he has to do an “inspection”,  which these days is something that is supposed to be carried out once a year.  My understanding had always been that anything under 15 pounds of pressure didn’t need an annual inspection,  but I had to get one last year,  and that dude charged me $250!   This one was free.  I like free.

I’m inclined to check with our very fancy TSSA to get an opinion on this situation,  since I haven’t yet been able to narrow down what the recent legislation requires. 

And don’t get me started about the TSSA.   Can you say “cash grab”?

Let’s not go there.

I’m rolling my eyes,  in case you hadn’t noticed.

Now I just have to hear back from my other gas installer dude.  I called him earlier today and left a message.  He’s a busy guy.

We’ll get that generator running before the next ice storm.  I’m sure of it.


Keep yer stick on the ice.


Thanks for stopping by.





Sunday, December 7, 2014

It wasn’t the phones.

I think I’ll need to have some “speaks” with the cable company come tomorrow.  I like to put the bite on them from time to time for a rate reduction if our service isn’t up to snuff.

It’s a bit of a pain in the hind end,  which is mostly why any outages tend to get left by the wayside.

Not this time.

We’re still having calls being dropped,  and this morning the internet was wonky.   Last Sunday,  both internet and phone were out.  The TV signal was fine.  It’s not much to speak of in the first place,  so it’s not like it’s some high def,  dreamy “my Gawd I’m in TV nirvana” kind of thing.  So even if there is good TV, it ain’t much.

Meanwhile of course, I’ve dropped a hunnert bucks on a new phone system,  which I’m not overly upset about,  since there are some new features that are pretty nifty. 

I went with the same brand, Panasonic,  with the hope that maybe this set will be as durable as the last.   I think the main attribute is that the keypad and display are easier to read without my glasses on.  Sometimes there’s just not a pair of specs close at hand,  and most of the time I like to know who is calling.  Oh,  AND there are a bunch of ways to block unwanted calls.  The list goes on.  Click the link above if you’re remotely curious.  The one feature that I think is the most nifty is,  if you put numbers into the “phone book”,  then it’s in all the phones.  They talk to each other. 

I guess I’m a bit of a Luddite,  ‘cause I think that’s pretty cool.


I’ve almost finished in the garden.  Well, the part that I was obsessed with over the last two days anyway.

It’s been neglected, mostly due to the work that was being done on the house.  Unfortunately, the neglect goes way back,  since there wasn’t too much being done when we were overseas either. 

It’s not even that it was that warm out or anything, since I started to lose feeling in the tips of my fingers.  The rest of me was warm enough,  but by the time I got the feeling back,  I was starting to get tired of digging.

This is what I extracted from the tangled mess of lilies.


Something to plant in the spring. 

There only remains a patch about the size of the lid that goes on that metal can,  but I had had enough after about an hour of trying to separate the bulbs from the crab grass.  And from each other.  Perennials are awesome,  except for when they become overgrown.

And I don’t even really like gardening.


The gas company is coming in the morning to install a bigger meter.  Seems the new stand-by generator is a bit of a BTU hog.  Eeep.  

Well,  if the power goes out,  we’ll likely be the only ones on the street using gas,  so I doubt that we’ll starve the line.


We’ll see how it goes.

Thanks for looking in.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Muddling along.

I had a couple other titles in mind,  but that’s all that surfaces at the moment.

I was going to say,  “A sad day”,  but I didn’t want to cause a panic.  I only had that thought when I felt compelled to toss out one of my favourite t-shirts. 

I do realise that it was starting to get a little frayed around the collar,  but that was hardly a reason to ditch it.  However there’s a line, and holes in the armpits is somewhere over that line.

At least according to T.C.

I failed to take a picture. 

You’re welcome.



I’ve been sticking pretty close to home base since Tuesday,  since that was finally the day when Travelling Companion got released from the hospital.  Yes, there were some issues.  Had to do with blood thinness, or lack thereof.  That of course, means they won’t release you until they think you’ll be OK.  The operation itself was fine,  there was just that other issue.

I’ll not divulge too many other details,  as that wouldn’t be prudent.  She’s fine.  Getting around with her walker at this point and using the cane to get up or down the stairs.

Suffice to say I’ve learned a few things about INR, something called Factor X and a bunch of other stuff that I barely remember.

Anyway,  the very nice flowers above are just one example of a few items that came come this way in the last few days. 

I’m pretty much doing the “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” routine,  which was a roll that I had been able to at least half ways relinquish once T.C. retired.   That too is not a big deal,  as the only requests I’ve had this week has been for chicken soup.  Home made of course.

There’s boatloads of things squirreled away in the freezer, so we won’t starve.



Meanwhile, a decision was made to replace our aging phone system.  No complaints really,  since I don’t even remember how many years its been since we started out with the previous set.  I think it’s about 14 years,  which is a long time for cordless phones to last.  It’s usually the batteries,  but we noticed that one of the handsets would simply cut out.  And by they way,  when you’re on the phone with your Doctor? 

That ain’t good.

Canadian Tire had a set of four phones on for a hundred bucks,  so that was that.  Hopefully they’ll last just as long.  I haven’t quite figured out what to do with the old set,  since I’d really like to have some sort of call display out in the garage.  I have a phone out there,  but it’s an old corded model from pre calls display days.  I’ll figure it out.

I guess that’s about it.  If I think of anything witty or clever to throw on here,  I’ll be back at some point.

Meanwhile,  my brain is pretty much mush.


Keep those sticks on the ice.

Thanks for stopping by.