Sunday, December 18, 2011

4th Sunday of Advent

No pictures.  Our large desktop computer had to be taken for service.  I am using our laptop, and it isn't as simple to post a notice, let alone include pictures.

However, I am expecting it to be returned this week (fingers crossed.)  I received a call from the Toronto Acer service center earlier this week letting me know the problem was dust and it was ready to ship back.  However, the tech also said there was damage to the outside, including a hole in the back, and wanted to know if I wanted them to replace the case!  Yikes!!!  It was NOT damaged at all when I took it back to Best Buy.  So YES! I want it fixed.  A call to our Best Buy confirmed they would cover the cost (and probably file a claim with UPS). Another call to the service center to confirm that Best Buy okayed repairs.  So, now all I can do is wait.

Once we get my Acer back home and hooked up to life support, I'll write about our adventure to Houston and back, our visitors, the weather, and share this year's decorations.  We found some great recipes to share as well (and hope those who have received theirs enjoy them).

Happy 4th Sunday of Advent!!  
Today is also the 2nd O Antiphon: O Lord and Ruler (O Adonai) ... the snow has returned to London, and our Houston girl is happy :-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Up On the Housetop!

As I sit here typing today I am anticipating a dark/early departure for the US with Mary tomorrow morning.  Original plans were for Tom to be with us, but work obligations put a halt to those.  As a consequence I'll be in Houston with Mary, Peter, Meg and Kate for Thanksgiving, and Tom will be watching Thanksgiving Day football after work on Thursday!

One very bright spot will be stopping at lunch time in Indianapolis to visit with Liz.  She has successfully landed a good position in her field (environmental).  It will be good for the three of us to have even a snatch of time to visit.  Then Mary and I will push on to Little Rock, Arkansas for a night's rest before driving the rest of the way to Houston.  I don't think I'll even be tempted to push on, especially since I'm the sole driver.

Our weather has turned cold, but nice blue skies this morning.  Snow has been promised later today, and we are just hoping it doesn't mean heavy fall, just another dusting.

Last week we flew Meghan up to visit.  It was good to have her here.  On Sunday Meg and Peter flew back to Houston.  That gave him time to be with his sisters.  Then he'll help drive home after Thanksgiving.  Our little Basil will be coming back as well.  The kids were all joking about how "cruel" I am, bringing our senior citizen back from his "Florida" to endure a London winter.  I don't feel too bad for the little guy, we'll have a nice fire to warm up with, and on sunny days he'll have the sunbeams to follow across the family room floor.

Anyone reading, we hope you have a good Thanksgiving, especially family who have so graciously extended invitations.  We are ever hopeful that in the future years we'll be able to take you all up on the offers.
Why the title?  Tom cleaned the chimney on Saturday ... Meghan went up to the roof, sparing me the agony.  Peter and I helped from below.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More Repair to This Old House

It isn't that old, but the house is a bit worn out.  This summer after an especially hard rain we had water in the basement.  At first it was just a little puddle, however soon with each subsequent storm it lengthened, and finally went in a small stream about 15 feet into the basement.

We knew when we purchased the home that it had several flaws, some glaring (why we painted a year ago) and some hidden.  Now is the time for hidden flaws to start revealing themselves.  Last month it was the washing machine that revealed a corroded hot water fitting.  That necessitated the repairs pictured in the previous entry.

Just prior to that good news we had decided to contact two companies about sealing the seepage through the basement wall.  Both came in at about the same price (no surprise), so I selected one and scheduled the work.  It took the utility companies quite a while to come out and paint their lines (as seen by the colored paint in the pictures.)

Finally, after a 4 week wait we received word the crew would arrive on Tuesday.  Here is a pictoral of what they did, and how it all looked in the end.  In the process we also discovered that the weeping tile is practically full of sediment.  Since we do not have any other problems in the basement right now, the excavations to actually get the pipe cleaned out will have to wait.

This is one job we did not desire to attempt on our own (especially Peter).  End cost will be about $1100.  The 13% HST kills us here.  The firm did offer to clean out the tile, but that would have run a minimum of another $500, and torn up a lot more places along the foundation.  Snow is predicted for Saturday .. so now is simply not the time for such an endeavor.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Out With the Old ...

Two weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon my washing machine stopped spinning.  In fact, it was completely seized.  Try as I might to coax another cycle, it wasn't going to budge.  Six weeks ago the same thing happened, so Tom and Peter hauled it out to the garage to check it out.  Everything is sealed up, so replacing a part wasn't an option.  So they hauled it back in, and it started to work again.

Every now and then the spin cycle didn't spin, but I could try again, and it would.  Except, not the last day.

I looked at the cost of new machines, and went "eek!"  We are trying to keep two households running, and money isn't exactly growing on trees right now.  So when Tom returned from his business trip I had to let him know the bad news.

Well, fortunately for us, Tom is always scheming.  I don't know how his mind works, exactly, but I'm sure glad it works differently than mine.  When we first moved to Canada getting a credit card proved to be frustrating, even though our US credit ratings were about as high as they can be.  No good here.  One trip to Sears to purchase some necessity, a nice clerk asked us if we wanted to apply for a Sears card and get 10% off.  For some reason Tom said no, but then said, what the heck.  So he filled out the application, and it was approved.

Since then it has become my card for household items.  And along with that card came Sears points.  That was Tom's scheme.

We found out that Sears does not stock appliances in London.  They have to be ordered, with about a 10 day delivery.  Visions of laundromats flitted in and out of my mind.  Too many years of having to do that made it not an attractive alternative.  But the salesman did say that we might want to check out the Sears Outlet store.  After verifying that we could still use our points, we drove there.  Found a scratch and dent, and after only having to shell out $150 of our own money, had a new washer.

So home we went, and ... it wasn't so simple.  Here are some pictures of how this all ended up costing Tom the entire weekend, plus two more nights of repairs.  The hot water faucet was corroded, and not coming off!

Three trips between Lowes and Home Depot for various parts, and I was finally good to go by Sunday evening.  Monday and Tuesday, Tom pulled the machine out to do a bit more finishing on the wall.  Paint is needed, but you can see the wallpaper in the laundry room.  That will be coming off .. so for now, I can live with the patch.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Way

Yesterday we went to Livonia, MI (suburb of Detroit) to watch  The Way ...  All four of us enjoyed it.

It is an independent film so I hope you can find it playing in your area.  If it is, go see a movie!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Golfing on a beautiful autumn afternoon:

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Dam Tour

Or, as Londoners prefer to say it, the tour of the dam.  Probably the same reason Canadians say ash-falt for asphalt.  While we regularly get exposed to other, far worse language, it is considered ill mannered to say ass or hell in public.  Go figure!

Yesterday Mary and Peter joined other area home schooling teens for a tour of the Fanshawe Reservoir Dam.  Though they left reluctantly yesterday morning, they came home in better spirits.  They both said the tour was well worth their time, and their guide was terrific.

They learned why it was important to London and folks further downstream.  The 1937 flood submerged houses near downtown London up over their roof tops.  It was constructed in 1950, the first of eight proposed dams.  Three others were built, but remaining 5 have been abandoned.  Instead, authorities work to keep folks from settling on the remaining flood plains.

The dam protected London and communities downstream as late as 2000, 2008 and 2009.  We witnessed the 2009 high water levels in the Thames River flowing through London.  It was pretty impressive.  What would have been more impressive, imho, is if we had realized what was keeping higher water levels from devastating the area.

This dam also hosts a hydroelectric plant capable of providing for 300 households.  Normal water storage for the reservoir is 12 billion litres (3.17 million gallons), full it can contain 48 billion litres (12.7 million gallons).   It might not be large by most standards.  However, having witnessed the destruction of flash floods in the desert, and river flooding along the Mississippi and other river systems, it is good to know we are protected here.

The tour took them from the surface to the lowest tunnel, 100 ' below the surface.  Evidence of water seepage, and calcium build up (the kids mentioned a definite sulfur "rotten egg" odor.  

Back on the surface, to see bright blue skies and geese migrating to warmer climes south!

Friday, September 30, 2011

It has been a year

A little over a year ago our extended Rinaldi family began a roller coaster ride that reached the sudden climax while we were still driving to get to Colorado.  Just before we crossed from Iowa to Nebraska, we got the call we didn't want to receive, but one we thought would come.  The family that was present had a great gathering in Cathy's hospital room, and just after they were leaving to call it a late night, Ray stayed behind to spend the night with his beloved wife.  And, she was gone.  While we couldn't be with them, it was so good that most of the family was able to be together, celebrating Cathy's life before she took her final breath.

One of the legacies that Cathy left us with is a strong sense of what family means.  And in her final act on earth she, once again, brought the family together.  We came together to grieve, try to cope with a sudden sense of lost time, lost opportunities, and missing her famous hugs.  Oh, some of us (me included) felt more than a little guilty at also not missing her sharp criticism, and her raw sense of humor.  But, mostly, we wandered each home in Colorado, knowing she would just be around the corner.  Or she would be coming, but just a little late.  Your presence was palpable, and more than once I just knew if I walked in quick enough, I'd see you weren't really gone.

What I have come to realize was how she showed me the reward of being a feisty, opinionated, compassionate and hard work woman.  Her kids and their families often stood in awe when she turned into the mother tiger protecting her cubs.  We also celebrated so many joyous and other sad occasions under her direction.  The next wedding will be hard without her hovering, and making sure everyone is having a good time!  It can never be said that you could walk away hungry or thirsty when Cathy opened her door.  Plenty of grandchildren joined her and Nonno for games of Phase 10, Rummikub and Farkel.

Lynn Cathleen Rinaldi ... you welcomed me into the crazy Rinaldi clan in your own unique way.  Thank you for believing in us, for being our cheering squad, for offering opposite opinions, but allowing us to make our own way.  And thank for you for never once saying "I told you so" when our choices were not your wiser ones.

We pray for your soul every day, Cathy, and hope that God's mercy has been showering you with some of the love you missed when growing up.  We hope that you are side by side with all your dear friends and family who departed this world before you.  We hope you'll be there when we each come across the veil to join you, waiting with open arms for a much needed hug and gentle "I love you" whispered in our ears.

Any Rinaldi's reading this post, know what we are sending our love out to each one of you.  We'd be hugging and listening to you in person if we could.  Most of all, if you can, give Ray one huge, long hug from us!

Saturday, September 24, 2011


A story similar to this link appeared in this morning's London Free Press.  It really had me scratching my head, wondering how on earth a banana was a racial slur.

I finally made the lame connection about 2 hours later to why it could even be considered racial prejudice.

So, all you folks who really believe in the racial bias inherent with Darwin's theory (used loosely, I might add) here you go.

If you are reading this, know that the folks we rub elbows with here in London are not of this ilk.  Probably someone from out of town (!)

100 Days Later

Happy Birthday, Sweetie!

We had to celebrate on Tuesday night, late (ballet until 8:30!), because Tom is playing golf in Vancouver today.  At least, we hope so.  Last night he called to tell me it was raining, but they were expecting sunshine today.

The 100?  Well it turns out that our birthdays are exactly 100 days apart, and now he is at the middle of 50, just like me.

Peter and Mary made the cake from scratch, iced and decorated it while I was busy with my ENDOW study group at the parish.  Here they are lighting the candles to surprise their Dad!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Who Tom Works For

Each Monday the London Free Press has a full page featuring someone from the local business community.  Today it was Robin Goad, Tom's boss.


Sticky Fingers

Back in July when we were being "processed" through security at the Las Vegas, Nevada airport my son's passport came up missing.  My daughter demanded that the security staff find it.  My son was embarrassed, but she was right, and they did locate his passport and return it.

After reading this story in today's paper, I am wondering a lot about how innocent it really was.  Something similar happened to Tom's parents on one of their vacations to Mexico with the airline check-in counter, but they didn't realize the Phoenix airport employee had not returned their passports until they had to present them in Mexico!  Fortunately, that was before a passport was required, and they had enough other documents to continue their vacation.

Hmmm... makes we think that the passengers aren't the ones who need screening at the airport.  We are most likely the least of our worries!

Good Bye, Nonno!

Another quick trip across the border to take Ray to the Detroit airport.  Here are Mary, Peter and Ray after a quick breakfast.  (btw, do not recommend the Bob's Big Boy by the airport ... Mickey D's would have been a better choice)

Autumn Colors

In the backyard ...

Nice Visit

Labor Day weekend we had visitors.  Tom's Dad, Ray, flew to Detroit from Denver.  It was, unfortunately, quite a long ordeal for him at the Denver airport.  First his flight was delayed, then, while he was waiting at the gate, the gates were changed without anyone notifying him.  Ray wears hearing aids, and they are readily apparent.  But apparently United Airlines does not believe in taking care of their passengers.  He was left behind.  The gate personnel said they had paged him ... we all know how easy it is to understand everything over the PA system (except the inane "Security Alert Status" notifications.)

Finally he arrived in Detroit and we scooted back across the border and arrived in London well after 1 am!  His original arrival time was supposed to be 2:30 pm.

Late on Friday our oldest daughter and her husband, Lizzy and John Paul, arrived with Sally (their adorable, rambunctious four legged bundle of hair and energy). We had hoped to have a nice fishing expedition on Lake Huron for the guys.  Not to be.  High surf negated the wisdom of trying to go out so the charter was cancelled.

While we didn't get to do much sight seeing, we did get time to visit.  Pictures were not on my mind so none were taken!

I must be a real homebody because I did not realize how close it was to get to the beach.  Mary, Ray and I drove to Port Stanley on Tuesday, and it was apparent that the "season" was over.  The beach was deserted except for us and the seagulls.  Fortunately, they must have been well fed the previous day, and left us alone, much to Mary's relief.  She had a scary run in with some greedy sea gulls at the tender age of 2 while visiting Sea World San Diego!