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The weather here has taken a turn: 24 degrees and sunny two days ago; 7 degrees and a cold north wind making it miserable today. Such is the changeable climate of Southern Ontario. Gill tells me it’s getting wet, cool and gloomy in Bristol as well. Fall is upon us — and I am preparing to get my house tucked in for the long autumn and winter ahead.

It is this time of year that I really miss my kids — when they lived with me, they helped with the raking and then the snow shoveling. But now I must do it myself or find some sucker..oops, kind soul… to do it. I went about trying to find a reasonable commercial snow removal enterprise — all to no avail. The prices quoted were astronomical! I choked and almost said, “No, I need a quote for  snow removal…not for buying a new car.”

If it weren’t for the fact that the city would ticket me for not shoveling the sidewalks, I’d just let the snow pile up. I don’t need to go anywhere particular during the winter and, since I refuse to put snow tires on my car, driving is problematic anyway. I could go into full recluse mode and simply have my food and wine delivered. Tempting. But knowing that the city wouldn’t care at all for my excuse that I’m a frail senior living on her own, I tried to think of alternatives. I came up with the idea of buying a snowblower — a medium priced one — but, since I’d still be unable to push it myself, I’d get my good friends across the street to do it for me. They, of course, would use it for their own driveway and sidewalk and if I decide to sell my house in the near future, they could keep the snowblower.

“I have a proposition for you,” was the way I opened the conversation. The neighbor knows I’m a bit weird but I think this took him aback. Was I hitting on him? Was I suggesting an illegal, or at least sketchy endeavor?

I presented my plan and suggested he think it over. He came back, a couple of days later, with a ‘counter-proposal’. He doesn’t like the noise and smell of the machines, but he and his family would do my shoveling for a fee…yet to be established. It seems he is trying to teach his daughter a good work ethic. We agreed — but I still don’t know the price. I’m sure it will be reasonable, keeping in mind that I looked after their rambunctious puppy for three weeks while they were in Europe.I suspect they realized after the fact that they were lucky I was still alive after the three weeks and that I didn’t sue them for elder abuse!

Gill was prepared to assist me from afar with the fall leaf raking. She put a ‘helpful’ suggestion on her Facebook page. This article stated that it is more beneficial to save the leaves, turn them into mulch and provide homes or shelter for little creatures throughout the harsh winter months.

“Ha! You’re kidding, right? I am fighting a constant battle to keep ‘Ratty’ out of my basement and you want me to encourage him and his friends, the chipmunks, squirrels, voles, mice, bunnies, groundhog, skunks, raccoons, foxes…to come to my yard and hang out? Are you nuts? I’m already getting nasty looks from the neighbors for harboring these rodenty low-lifes. Now that Mrs. Beeton is relegated to the bird room for the winter, she peers out the window and sees all the critters in ‘her yard’ and on ‘her deck’ and gives me the stinkeye every chance she gets. To keep neighborhood peace and prevent an in-house revolt, I have to rake.”

Since I had to replace my furnace and air conditioner this year, I am mindful of taking care of them. At the end of summer, I suddenly realized I didn’t have a cover for the air con unit to protect it from snow and ice. I took myself to Home Depot and found the last cover available on the shelves. I thought it would fit — having neglected to measure it, of course, as I so often do.

“How many different shapes and sizes do air conditioners come in?” I asked myself, confident in my assumption ‘not many’. Of course it would fit. Besides, it was the last one available. And, the clincher, it was on sale!

The cover languished in the mud room until last week. Getting a jump on things, I took it from its package and started to put it on the unit. You can, Dear Readers, see where this is going. It didn’t fit…not even close. So, being the cheapskate I am, I decided to ‘alter’ it myself. Out came the scissors and duct tape. I made a slit up one side (the side not facing the prevailing wind), fitted the cover on the unit as best I could and wrapped the whole mess with duct tape…oh, and I placed four bricks on top to anchor it and prevent the wind from blowing it off. It looks messy and jerry-rigged, but it works. Who says duct tape can’t fix everything?

Now all I have to do is cover the BBQ (to keep the nesting mice inside), clean the chipmunk nests of maple keys and pine cones out of the garage and remove the garden hose, wrap it up and store it inside. (Everyone who knows me knows it will end up in a tangled heap on the basement floor, ready to thwart my attempts to untwist it in the spring. It will be in good company beside the tangled Christmas lights, outdoor extension chords and Crazy D’s piles of electronic bits and pieces.)

When I rattled off the list of things I must do to prepare for the cold season, Gill chuckled and commented, “Oh, yes, that reminds me. I must get ready for the gales here…I must dig out my heavy toque and thick scarf. Perhaps one day, when I have my own place, you can give me some tips on home maintenance, Ma.”

“Be happy to, dear. I’ll keep a supply of duct tape, crazy glue and paper clips at the ready. There’s not much you can’t fix with those three things…”