Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010

Out with the old, and in with the new.
HAPPY NEW YEAR blog buddies.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS

With our tummies stuffed full of food… we bundled up in hats and gloves, as the cool night air nipped at our noses. We clamored into the Dodge Caravan, happy… that the automatic car starter had warmed our seats, in advance. Flurries were in the night air, as Christmas music played on the radio. The mood was set. Santa was on the way. With no destination in mind, we headed down the road. Giddy with excitement… we were going a-wandering, in search of outdoor Christmas displays. Everywhere we went… from one neighborhood to the next… lights dazzled in hues of red, green, amber, white, and blue. Wooden snowmen, Nutcrackers and St. Nick’s… stood in yards and on porches. Wired deer, giant snowflakes and stars, lined the rooftops. Icicle lights dripped from gutters. Trees glistened in house windows and front lawns. Wreaths… with big red bows, dotted doorways. The beauty of the season was upon us. What a wonderful time of the year. Cars lined the streets… and we caught glimpses of families gathered round, celebrating the holiday. It was time for us, to head home, to do the same. On the way back… we saw eight deer munching on something in a neighbor’s yard. It had to be… Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Santa is busy at work. It won’t be long now, until they stop to visit you, too… Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

LONGEST WEEK

My debit card is being quirky. I use it for everything. We have more than enough money in the bank to cover transactions… but sometimes the card doesn’t work, and then it appears we can‘t cover the bill… when we really can. It has become embarrassing. Try explaining that to a busy cashier, at this time of year. One clerk suggested the problem was that the card got demagnetized, somehow, in my purse. Perhaps the magnetic clasp in my wallet caused it? Whatever the reason for the problem, it needed to be fixed. I had to do something to stop this game of chance. So… I went to the bank to complain. The teller confirmed the card was indeed, demagnetized. And then told me, there would be a $25 charge to replace the card. BUT… this one time only, she would waive the fee. I thanked her profusely. Frankly, I don’t care what it costs… I just want a card that works. Problem is… I now have to wait 5 to 7 days for the new card to arrive. In the meantime, I have to rely on checks to pay for things. It’s like going back to the Dark Ages. It’s been a long, long time since I wrote a check... I swear, I almost forgot how. My hand wobbled as I wrote out all the information on that 2 x 6 inch piece of paper. Did you know, they now give the check back to you at the register, after they’ve entered all the data. They used to keep it, back in the old days. In my humble opinion… it’s so much easier to swipe a card through one of those gizmos. I miss my debit card. Being without it, is going to drive me crazy. This is going to be the longest week in my life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

SWEET DREAMS

I was sitting in bed… the other night, reading the book, 'The Christmas Cookie Club'… while my hubby lay next to me, snoring away. Suddenly… without warning, his whole body shook… and his arms began flailing all about, as he shouted, “NO, NO, NO.” Concerned, I debated what to do. Should I wake him up, which might startle him more… making the situation worse? Or do I let the dream play out? He continued to shout and thrash about. It was making me feel uneasy… I had to do something… so I decided to talk to him, loudly. “Are you ok?” I asked. “NO, NO, NO.” he yelled. And then, he began mumbling under his breath. Persisting, I raised my voice… “I can’t understand you. Are you ok?” He rolled over on his back, his eyes fluttering open briefly before shutting them again. I softened my tone, putting my hand gently on his shoulder, nudging him… “Are you ok? You frightened me. You were shouting in your sleep.” He turned his back to me, then quietly said, “The man was holding me up at gunpoint.” “You’re safe. It was just a bad dream,” I told him… massaging his scalp. I expected him to respond, but heard snoring… instead. He was ok. I was the one feeling a little out of sorts. I closed my book and reached out to turn off the light. Time to sleep. Little did I know… I would have my own nightmare, two hours later. I don’t know how I reacted outwardly, because we both slept through it. But in my dream… I was being smothered and choked to death, by my husband. Terrified… I woke up, turning on all the lights in the bedroom. This in turn, woke him up. He was agitated I disturbed his sleep cycle. “Too bad,” I said, “I was just traumatized by you. I‘m scared.” I expected him to ask me why, but he didn‘t… probably assuming, I was talking about what happened, earlier in the evening. I added, “I need a little TLC, right now. I had a bad dream.” Then… I realized, it was too late for that… my significant other was already SNORING again. He can sleep through anything… his dream, my dream. I guess he expected me… to go back to sleep, too. Still shaking, I couldn’t erase the images… of the dream I had, from my mind. It felt so real. I picked up my book for comfort and distraction. Then… I snuggled my pillow closer. It took a while… but I eventually forgot about the nightmare, and managed to revisit the sandman, undisturbed, for the rest of the night. Still I wonder… what if anything, the dreams meant?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

I decided to decorate for Christmas . This meant tackling some of the mess in the garage. The mess is still there… but rearranged, so I could reach my motion figures and tree boxes, piled high on a shelf. With my bad knees, climbing a ladder is hard for me. And my hubby has vertigo, so he can’t do it. So… to maneuver the boxes, down from there… I had to use a long wooden stud, to push them forward, so they would fall off the shelf into my arms, or onto a pile of junk. Soft landing. Mission accomplished. Then… I had to drag the boxes across the garage floor, into the house. What a chore. But it was worth the trouble. Opening the boxes to see familiar Christmas items, like the tabletop Snowman, my father made for me… gave me a nice warm, fuzzy feeling inside. And inspired me, to get with it, and do the job. After all, you only have to decorate for Christmas, once a year. First challenge was the tree. I have a TWIG tree, that I put in the corner of my living room, every year. This year it‘s going in the family room, instead. So I had to make way, by pulling an end table forward from the wall. My cats have a fascination with the tree. So I can’t put ornaments on it. They cart them away, as play toys. Besides the fact… my ornaments, many years worth… were packed away, in the far reaches of my attic, once upon a time… never to be seen from, again. They’ve gone missing, for seven years… now. It’s heartbreaking, really. I learned to improvise. So… I decorate the tree with hundreds of white twinkle lights, the size of tiny snowballs… and adorn it with a golden garland, with red berries and then… top it off, with a grapevine star. This year, I decided to use one of these NEW bows filled with miniature LEDS, as a Tree Topper, since the star has also disappeared… no doubt, buried in a box, somewhere in the garage. Anyway, about the BOW… not sure if I like it or not? It’s growing on me… I think. Now… with the tree firmly in place, next up… on my to do list, is the crowning glory of my Christmas displays, every year… my MOTION FIGURES. I have about a dozen. This year, I chose just four of them. All… favorites. A little boy, and a little girl… dressed up in their Victorian finery, carrying candlesticks, nestled among the poinsettias in my living room. A snowman, with antlers and flashing lights for the family room. And last, but not least… the life of the party, inside my house, every year… DANCING SANTA. At 5ft.Tall, he definitely commands attention… so I place him by the front window. With that done… it’s finally time to do outside. Evergreens, with white lights and pretty red bows, flanking the front door, on both sides. Green lights, on a snowman wreath… and more white twinkle lights outlining the door. Also, a couple of large bushes, nearby... are bathed in dazzling green lights… and finally… a life-size, wooden Santa and Snowman standing on the porch, are added to the display. Christmas has arrived at my house. Now, I’m making a list and checking it twice…

Thursday, November 26, 2009

DOORBUSTERS

A year ago, on Black Friday we bought a Keurig coffee maker, at Doorbuster prices. The fact it was on sale, clinched the deal… but we mainly bought it for its versatility. I drink tea, spouse drinks coffee. It brews both, courtesy of K-cups. K-cups, for those that haven’t seen them… are cups six to eight times bigger than a small creamer cup. Inside they’re filled with tea or coffee. You pick the size mug you want… 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 ounces. You pop ONE of your favorite flavor K-cups... inside the machine, and it pierces the top and bottom, as hot water washes through it… rendering a delicious mug of your desired brew. Yummy and ingenious, it has simplified the time it takes to make tea and coffee! Happy with the machine, we also noted it makes hot chocolate. So back then, when it was new… I decided to give that a try. Because our local stores didn’t carry the cocoa K-cups, I ordered them online. It took 1 ½ weeks for the box to arrive. Anxiously, I anticipated my first cup of Timothy’s White Chocolate. I shouldn’t have. It was terrible. It tasted like hot dish water. I was so disappointed. I thought perhaps, the K-cup was diluted, by the size I picked… so I tried making a smaller cup. Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. It still left a bad taste in my mouth. Frustrated, I gave up. Because K-cups are classified as food stuff, I couldn’t return them for a refund. So… I ended up tossing them in the garbage. What a waste of money. We stuck to tea or coffee, from then on. But as winter turned to spring, and spring turned to summer, and summer turned to autumn… the thought lingered, what about a cup of hot chocolate? It was time to try again. This time... I bought Gloria Jean’s Hot Chocolate K-cups. The result was just as bad as the first trial run... devastating. It tasted like hot water, with just a touch of chocolate flavoring. Again disappointment… so how do I get the Keurig coffemaker to make me a decent cup of hot chocolate? I'm convinced it can't. MAD… I was ready to complain to the company. But my husband started experimenting. He was determined, we wouldn’t throw these K-cups away. And so far, we haven’t. But... we’re NOT using them as intended. Instead, he has to OPEN... two or three K-cups, by hand, with a knife... and then dumps the contents into a mug. He then places the mug, on the designated spot, under the coffeemaker and plunges the knob, getting hot water. With a spoon, he stirs it up. And… at last, a decent cup of hot chocolate with a little help from Keurig. Unfortunately, the K-cups are being used up, twice as fast, because you need so many, to even taste the chocolate. It defeats the purpose. It would just be easier to buy regular cocoa. From now on, I’m sticking to... tea or coffee... with the Keurig Coffeemaker. BUT... if I should ever be in the mood for hot chocolate, again… I’m getting it from McDonalds, complete with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

THANKSGIVING

Pumpkins are still sitting out and about… a large LEAF wreath, greets visitors to my front door... a burnt orange tablecloth covers my dining room table, and a ceramic turkey sits on my countertop. I’m in Thanksgiving mode. Last year, our youngest daughter made the long trek home, from St. Louis… so we had a nice home cooked meal with her. Amazingly, she even helped me in the kitchen, with dinner preparations and it was great fun. We’ll miss her this year… she’s now living in Tacoma, Washington and won’t be here to celebrate the holiday. My folks popped in to visit us, back in October, from the East Coast, so they won’t be here, either. (Hopefully, we’ll see them again, in the spring.) And... since our older daughter always celebrates with her in-laws, that leaves the hubby and me, all alone for Thanksgiving, this year. My stove is still broken… so I have to buy a NEW one, and get it delivered here, in time for the holiday. BUT... since that’s probably NOT going to happen, alternative plans needed to be made for dinner. At first glance, it appeared all our local restaurants were going to be closed for Turkey Day, leaving us in a lurch. What to do? Fortunately, I bought a newspaper, last weekend... and in it, I saw a small ad for a local cafe, hosting Family Style dinners for Thanksgiving Day, from 11 am to 7 pm. The menu includes… Slow roasted Tom Turkey, Citrus Glazed Virginia Ham, Pecan Caramelized Sweet Potatoes, Traditional Celery Dressing, Fresh orange Zest Cranberry Salad, Steamed Green Beans with Slivered Almonds, Fresh Baked Pumpkin Pie and Apple Crisp. YUMMY! No cleanup either. I’d spend MORE money on groceries if I had a working kitchen. I made RESERVATIONS. We’ll get the new stove for Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2009

CARS

My car doesn’t define me. It is beige and boring… but I LIKE it. It’s a good solid, stable piece of machinery, that I use for transportation. It has a nice stereo system, too. When I was much younger, I owned an orange mustang… previously owned by an actress. I thought I was cool and hip… even with two children to drive around. The car lasted into their teens… when they increasingly, became embarrassed by the color. Too wild a ride, for a mom-mobile, they thought. But… they changed their minds, when young teenage boys, they knew… found it awesome. I think that’s when I realized I had outgrown it. So, I moved on to something more mature. No more fun and flirty for me… forget high maintenance… dependable, became my middle name. I now live in a household of minivans and one mid-size STRATUS car, and that’s that. Unless something is wrong with the vehicle… I don’t give much thought to it, that is, until the other day. Sitting in my non descript car, in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I got a chance to look around. Cars, trucks and SUV’s of every shape, color and size surrounded me… but only one really caught my eye. It was a new VW Beetle. Bright Cherry Red… with black circles, all over it. It took a minute or two, for the significance of that to set in… then it HIT me. It was a LADYBUG. The car was a giant LADYBUG. A smile spread across my face, cheek to cheek. Innovative and cute, this BUG stood out in a crowd. And it made me, a little jealous. Nothing BORING about it. Talk about a conversation starter. I longed for the attention, such a car would bring. I wondered WHO was driving it? My imagination ran wild. A teacher, senior, business owner or student? Content to guess, rather than actually know… I thought about myself, and my reaction to this sporty little car. It was like a spark, setting my heart, a flutter... stirring something, deep within. The question is… what? How do I scratch this itch? Truth is, I don’t need a new car. BESIDES… Who can top a LADYBUG?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

IT'S BIGGER THAN...

Guess what I got? An early Christmas present. It’s bigger than a PDA or cell phone and smaller than a laptop. I bought an Acer Aspire Net Book with Windows 7, Starter. It is a great little computer. It is PURPLE… and I got a matching Microsoft PURPLE wireless mouse. How cool is that? The money I used, had been accumulating, in my SOCK IT AWAY FUND, for the past two years. Personally, I think the price point on this Net Book is a little too high because of the software it lacks. In my opinion, they could afford to drop it to $199 and sell a lot more of them. I’m sure they’ll be better deals at Thanksgiving… but I wanted mine now, so I paid for it. Still got it cheaper at Wal-Mart, here in town, than online, at Amazon... So I’m happy. The plan is to use this Net Book as a word processing unit. My laptop is too big and bulky, so I’m used to carrying around, composition notebooks… to write in, when the mood strikes. Now… I’ll use this, instead. It’s portable, compact and just perfect for my writing needs. Had a little trouble getting it to connect to the Internet in the preliminary tests. But it was due to network glitches here at home. Now that it’s fixed, no more problems. I just LOVE it. The next issue is finding a proper case to store it in. Already hit two stores today and came up empty handed. Right now… the only thing I can find, to fit this 10 inch size, is a BLACK neoprene sleeve. I want something with handles, and inner and outer zippered pouches. Looks like it’s going to turn into a science project, to find a case, much less one, with my criteria. I wonder… is it too much to ask, for all of that, in the color PURPLE?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

LEAVES & AUTUMN

Autumn is here… winter is edging closer. The crisp cool air has a bite to it. The leaves on the trees are painting the fall sky with spectacular colors. And the leaves on the ground are providing a delightful crunch, as you walk. My neighbors, meanwhile… are driving me crazy. Everyday I hear the endless drone of lawnmowers. Mind you, they aren’t cutting the grass. It has stopped growing. No… they are attempting to rid the world of fallen leaves. With trees all around, they think they can beat nature at it’s own game. It’s not going to happen, folks. I gave up a long time ago. Let them fall. But, onward they trudge… plowing their way through the leaves, either cutting them up or picking them up, one day at a time. This is an impossible task. There is no way to keep up with it. But each day, they do battle with the trees in their yards, trying to. To them the downed leaves are a nuisance. To me, they’re a gift. At some point you’d think logic would win out. The trees are going to continue to drop their leaves… and, there is no way you’re going to get them all, until they‘re done. So… give it up, until the branches are EMPTY… then, tackle this chore. That’s what I do, and I don‘t lose any sleep over it. Sometimes, even Mother Nature helps, by providing a couple days, of gusty wind… to sweep them away. I embrace the season and all the wonders of it, including falling leaves… don’t you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

HAPPY HALLOWEEN

My mailbox was full. I received a notice telling me I had a package too big to fit inside it. Since the post office was closed for the day, I’d have to come pick it up, the next day. Excited, I couldn’t wait. My SKELETON had arrived. You see DRACULA is buried in the back of my garage, hidden away behind all kinds of junk that accumulated throughout the year. So… it would be too much trouble to DIG him out, without emptying the entire garage. Life-size, with bloodshot eyes, and an infectious grin, he will be sorely MISSED this year at Halloween. I fell in love with him, in Chicago, six years ago… and he hitched a ride home with me. My faithful friend has stood on my porch, every October, since then, until this year. In years past, I would don my witch’s apparel… complete with warts, cobwebs and vampire teeth, dripping blood. Throughout my yard would be an assortment of ghouls, tombstones and ghosts, sitting in the grass or hanging from the trees. The kids loved it. It was great fun. But… as I’ve gotten older, the neighborhood children have grown and gone. I no longer see the TRICK or TREATERS I used to. So the theatrics stopped, for a few years, until DRACULA. Then, it was just he and I… year after year. BUT, now… this holiday, I’m feeling lonely without him… so I had to improvise and find something to REPLACE him. I cleverly made up a GOBLIN, sitting in a chair and put a PUMPKIN in his lap. But the LOOK wasn’t complete. So… I went online a week ago, and found myself, a life-size, GLOW-IN-THE-DARK, SKELETON to sit on the opposite side of the porch. He’s the perfect companion, to my other new friend. This year… won’t be the same, without the VAMPIRE... but I’ll still be in the spirit... haunting anybody, who happens past… TRICK or TREATERS, or not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

APPRECIATION

My house is adorned with artwork hanging on the walls. These are paintings we have been collecting, for a lifetime. Most have more sentimental value than monetary. Some of them belonged to my in-laws, before they died... some, to my grandmother, others were my husband’s and there are a few that were mine. Now they belong to us. At the time we acquired them, there was a story attached to each one, that we mulled over. As the years passed… they just hung there, pretty much ignored, except for dusting… until the other day. Our four-year-old granddaughter was here, and she started asking questions about them... which proves, art appreciation starts at any age. Looking up at a colorful painting of a symphony, behind our sofa, she wanted to know what it was? My husband told her, “ It is musicians playing their instruments.” The same was true of the next two paintings she examined. “More musicians.” One of a trio… the other, of the conductor and orchestra. “What does this one mean”, she asked innocently, walking across the room and pointing out a cityscape of Chicago. I told her it was a painting of the Chicago skyline. “What about this one”, she inquired. “It’s pointillism of a house and flowers, poppies to be exact.” “And this one”, she whispered. I explained that picture was painted by her aunt. It was a pot of gold, at the base of purple mountains, majesty. Temporarily satisfied with the answers she pressed on. Looking quizzically at a bright red and black abstract painting, she wanted to know what the ‘books’ in the picture were. This surprised her grandfather, who always thought the blocks drawn in the painting, represented a street scene in Detroit. So he told her that. “BUT”… she said, “What does it mean? It’s Books.” Out of the mouths of babes… ART interpretation is, all in the eye of the beholder. Forget Woodward Avenue, grandpa… from now on, BOOKS, it is.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CONCERT

I had an interesting day… And, it was quite unexpected. I went to run some errands, and ended up… with a front row spot, at an impromptu concert, in the center aisle, of my local Wal-Mart store. The scene unfolded like this. One kid was sitting there playing the drums, another was on the guitar, while their father stood at a microphone, singing along, karaoke style… all prompted by a big screen television, displaying the new interactive Beatles game. A small crowd gathered round to listen to their live performance. Hoots and hollers, with a smattering of applause, filled the makeshift arena… encouraging the trio, as they tried to emulate the Fab Four. It was quite a moment… They did a bang-up job. But, after a while… I decided it was time for me, to get busy and shop… since I didn’t come here to see a concert. So, before they finished their latest set… I left the area to find coasters, a tablecloth, and the rest of the stuff on my list. It took a while, to gather the things I needed, in part… because of all the material distractions, along the way. But finally, I got the job done. Heading to the cash registers… Imagine my surprise, to discover… the entertainers were still going strong, forty minutes later. The crowd had thinned out quite a bit, and seemed much quieter, than when I first got there, but… the musicians pressed on, nonetheless. Wal-Mart should have paid them for all the free publicity. It was very clever strategy to put an interactive display out there on the floor. Passerby’s inevitably wanted to become part of the act or be audience members. It turned into quite an advertisement for the product, not to mention a memory maker for the participants. The experience was PRICELESS. Thanksgiving and Christmas sales are right around the corner… looks like Wal-Mart got a big head start.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

VACUUM

Company... is coming in three days, and the vacuum cleaner just broke. I smelled something burning. I think it’s a broken belt.  I need a number 10 Bissell belt, if it is. I bought a package of two, just in case. However, the package says it’s also for 7, 9, 12 and 14 too. So… I hope it fits. It was cheap enough, though. Only $2.50. Unfortunately, you have to unscrew and snap the cover off the vacuum to install it. I may take it to the sweeper shop and have them do it. But... they’ll probably charge $50, and keep it for a week, so maybe I won’t? I don't have the time. And, I think I need new filters too. Unfortunately there weren’t any, the right size, at any of the stores I frequent. I don’t know where I can get some, around here, on such short notice. I’ll have to order them online and make do with the old ones for now. The other problem is, the canister keeps getting clogged with dirt. What a pain in the rear, this is. I don’t know why they don’t make them with bags anymore… that way, your hands stayed out of the dirt, and the mess was contained. With the canisters it’s just not as simple as the manufacturers would like you to believe. Nowadays… it seems… anything meant to simplify life, ends up complicating it. Well… the clocks ticking, time’s a wasting and the floor needs cleaning. The vacuum better be up and running, by day’s end, or else I’m trading it in.

Friday, October 9, 2009

THE MOVE

On the way out to eat… I noticed a grasshopper on the windshield of the car. Clinging for dear life, the little bug maneuvered itself onto the windshield wipers, on the far right side of the vehicle. There it stayed quite content… sitting pretty, throughout downtown and then past the post office. This is quite a trek for people, not to mention a hitchhiking bug. But I noticed the poor little guy, beginning to get antsy, not long after the sightseeing commenced. When the car stopped at the first red light, he began trying to edge his way… left, across the seemingly endless expanse of the blades. I worried a gust of wind might carry him away, into traffic, when he shifted to the front edge of the wipers, instead of laying low, near the rear. Resilient… he hung on, as the car worked it’s way through town, slowing at intersections and stopping at stop signs, then speeding up again. Dinner out, was the intended destination, so when the car got close enough… I started plotting strategy. I wanted us to park near, the shrubbery, on the grounds of the restaurant, so the grasshopper could end his ride, without incident. Fortunately, there was the perfect parking space, next to a grassy island, complete with bushes and a tree. The car moved into position. On his journey… the grasshopper had successfully maneuvered to the left, driver’s side of the vehicle. That’s where he was, when we headed into eat. Throughout the meal, I speculated if he hopped off to start life someplace new? My question was answered a short time later, when we headed back to the car. There he was, still clinging to the wiper blade. A decision was made to end his adventure, and to put him out of his misery. He belonged, closer to nature. His wild ride was over. With the help of an old cardboard temporary tag, he was lifted from the car and set into the grass, next to a bush. I hope he likes his new digs. It was fun helping him move. I’m just glad it didn’t rain.

Friday, October 2, 2009

TICK! TOCK!

A year ago, I bought a new watch. It had a nightlight, showed the current date and had big numbers I could read without my glasses. It was two-tone silver and gold, with a bracelet band that opened and closed. I liked it, but it kept losing time… first, fifteen minutes, then, half an hour. Initially, I blamed the manufacturer and took it back to the store to complain. The store claimed it had an old battery and replaced it. Problem solved. I was ecstatic. With my watch fixed, I went about my business and stopped worrying about it. But a couple weeks later, the nightlight stopped working and the hour hands, slowed down again. TICK! TOCK! I took it back to the store. Jewelry clerk looked it over, tested it and determined it needed another new battery. “How is that possible?” I demanded to know, stating the battery had just been replaced. No explanation was given, except to say, that was the problem. The battery was dead. So, it was replaced again. Making the assumption, this battery thing was a coincidence… I rested easy knowing my watch, still had shelf life, off the shelf. TICK! TOCK! Three weeks later, the watch lost half an hour and the nightlight failed. I got mad. I wanted the store to replace the watch. After a lengthy, song and dance routine, the store refused. BUT… you guessed it, offered to replace the battery, claiming that was the only thing wrong. This prompted me to ask, “How old is your stock of batteries? This will be the third time in two months, you replaced it.” To which, I received a dirty look and the inevitable comment… “Our stock is current.” So I wondered what could be causing the problem? It was irritating and I was tired of dealing with it. With no solutions in sight, disgruntled, I left the store. TICK! TOCK! Sure enough, in a couple weeks, it failed again. This time… I took the watch from my wrist, put it in my jewelry box and went in search of a new one. On my birthday, I found one... different manufacturer, different store. For four months it’s been running fine. Yesterday, I noticed the nightlight stopped working. Here we go again…

Monday, September 28, 2009

LONG DRAWN OUT AFFAIR

It’s that time of the year. Time for my annual flu shot. So I thought I’d do what I always do... I’d get it under my belt early. And, that meant heading to the closest place advertising flu shots for $24.99. This year it was Walgreen’s. (Last year Wal-Mart, the year before that Rite Aid, the year before that the Mall)

I’m an expert at this process. You stand in line, in the middle of the store, get one tiny piece of paper to sign… that asks if you’re allergic to eggs or the flu shot? Then… you roll up your sleeve, get the shot, pay for it and are on your way in 10 minutes or less. Not big on paperwork and waiting rooms, I like getting it done this way. It’s cheap, quick and effective.

But today, it turned into a real hassle.


First… I had to go to customer service, which was actually the prescription drop off line, so it was busy… then, when my turn came, I was handed a clipboard and pen with MORE than one sheet of paper. The lady explained I needed to fill out all the paperwork before the shot. It asked the standard questions, plus more. Was I pregnant? Did I have a disorder, Guillain-Barre? Also included in those papers was a place to fill in the name, phone number, fax number and address of my primary care physician. This immediately raised a red flag. I never, ever had to do this before, in all the years of getting a flu shot. It’s none of their business. On top of which… I don’t have a doctor since mine quit his private practice, three months ago. He refereed me to a new doctor, but that information is at home since I haven’t had an occasion to go there yet.

When I bulked at the paperwork… the lady was exasperated with my explanation and insisted I not leave any spaces blank. It was important that a copy of my flu vaccination information be sent to my doctor. She directed me to a waiting area to fill out the papers. I sat down and tried... but decided I needed help and asked for a phone book. Another woman behind the prescription PICK UP counter gave me one.

I thought by reading all the names of the physicians, it would help jar my memory and help me find the name of the refereed doctor, I was given… but instead it confused me more. So then, I had to resort to guessing the address of the refereed doctor. I remembered it was on Market Street, so I wrote down the name of a group of internists there, that I found in the phone book… getting more and more peeved that I had to do this at all.

What happened to quick and effective? This was wasting time. If I had wanted to involve a doctor, I would have gone to one to begin with, and been overcharged for the shot and office visit. This was ridiculous. But like a good girl, I complied as best as I could.

When my paperwork was ready, they had me wait back in the customer service line. Thinking I was all done with this nonsense, the lady now asks to see my insurance card.


"WHAT FOR?
My insurance won’t cover this and I’ve never had to do this before either", I exclaim.

“It’s standard procedure”, she tells me.

”You are in our system, aren’t you?”

I tell her, I’ve never gotten a prescription filled there.


“Is that a requirement, too,” I ask?


She acts surprised I’m not a member of the Walgreen’s family. I swear, at this point, I wanted to scream and just forget the whole thing. She then takes my insurance card, which I reluctantly give her, considering it an invasion of privacy… and she begins entering the information in the computer, eventually handing me back a piece of paper and a couple of red heart stickers. Next she asks for my credit card to pay for it, since my insurance doesn't cover it. NO KIDDING. Then she redirects me back to the waiting area.

“We’ll call you when it’s your turn”, she explains.

Tick tock.

A man comes out and gives a shot, to the only other person waiting, besides my husband and I… then he packs up his bag to leave.

I ask him, "What about me?" He tells me someone else will take care of me.


Angry at the long, drawn out affair this had become… I wonder why I came here, at all. Forty-five minutes, after I arrived... a very nice woman finally comes out from the pharmacy to give me my shot. If not for her pleasantness, I would have been irate. Mission Accomplished, at long last.

Next year... I won’t get my flu shot at Walgreen’s. It's too complicated.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

UMBRELLAS

Torrential rain hit here. And as usual, yours truly got caught in the downpour. But this time I was prepared, or thought I was. I saw lots of people running for cover, but no umbrellas. People don’t carry them, anymore. I wonder why? Little did I know, I was about to find out.  I remembered… I had a pocketbook umbrella and snatched it from my purse, in a flash. I would be protected. Unfortunately, I had never opened it before this emergency, and was shocked to discover… it barely covered me. My back and hair got soaked, as I ventured farther from my car. And my feet were sloshing through a couple inches of water, just trying to get inside. SQUISH. SQUISH. Then, I had the wet umbrella to contend with. What do you do with a wet umbrella, to dry it off? Open it up and lay it on the floor? Couldn’t, I was in a store… so I folded it back up and put it in the cart, dripping wet. Meanwhile, I had to drip and dry, myself. What a mess! I should have driven home. Truth be told… I like the basic concept of an umbrella… it’s designed to shed water and keep you dry. I just got a little peeved, because this one didn’t do its job. Maybe, the rain was coming down, too fast and furious, just pounding too hard, for it to be effective… because, let’s face it, I got drenched... carrying it. But, maybe it was just this particular umbrella. I bought it a year ago, for ten dollars... because I wanted something, small and compact, to stick inside my purse... just in case, a storm like this, hit. So, it was never tested until now. And… boy oh boy, did it FAIL. Guess you get what you pay for.  It seems the manufacturer was a bit chintzy on the fabric and construction. Too bad, I didn’t know about that, ahead of time. I would have just waited for the storm to blow over and in the process, stayed dry. For… all its fury, the rain only lasted, fifteen minutes or so. I could have, easily, entertained myself in the car, listening to oldies but goodies on the radio. On the other hand, what would I have to write about? Do you carry an umbrella?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SAGA CONTINUES

Two pigeons are sitting high on a wire, directly over my car, in the parking lot of a local eatery. I bet my windshield is splattered with their business by the time I get outside. Maybe the predicted rain will begin falling, to wash it off, so I won’t have to get a car wash. Fifty/Fifty chance. I came here looking for a relaxing cup of raspberry tea, and a much deserved respite… now it looks as though I’ll have to contend with more crap. The home improvement saga at my house continues. The concrete in the new patio has been poured. The surface of it was smoothed out, in some places, and roughed up in others. So, its overall appearance looks shoddy. He tells me the surface will wear off, looking more uniform as time goes by. I can only hope and pray it will. Add to this the fact, the contractor took it upon himself to fill in an open spot behind my front porch, that nobody told him to. He didn’t use forms, so the concrete dripped down the sides, coming out uneven, with the rest of the porch. The edges aren’t smooth, so it looks like the cement has crumbled and is breaking off around the corners. He’s pronounced the project incomplete and claims filing it and sanding it will finish off the edges. He says he’ll do this soon. I guess with this guy, the finished product is all about visualization, seeing things how you want them to be, then accepting them as they are. Needless to say, I am disappointed. I’ve never heard more EXCUSES. If you can’t be PROUD of your work, what’s the point? Believe it or not, my husband PAID him. Meanwhile, the driveway was supposed to be resealed and that job was started and then left unfinished because of the weather forecast. I say why did they start at all? But who am I, in all of this… just the victim?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MY BELOVED

I am livid. I want to scream, but all I can do is cry. The contractor hired to do cement work, and put in a small patio, here at my house… has cruelly yanked out my beloved rhododendron plants. These plants were murdered. They were supposed to be dug up and transplanted to another spot. Instead, one of them is now torn to shreds and the other one barely has a root system in place. I doubt it will survive my attempt to save it. How could this man have been so barbaric? It’s just as much trouble… to take a living, breathing plant, out of the ground properly, as it is to hacksaw it to death. I am seething with anger. In twenty minutes or less, he destroyed ten years of beautiful blooms. And unfortunately, I was too late to catch him in the process. I would have read him the riot act. What a jerk. He was scheduled to come out here on Saturday… so there would have been ample time to transplant. But since he arrived so early… there was no time to prepare for the madness that ensued. If he had the decency to ask me… what to do with the plants… I would have told him.  But he took matters into his own hands and destroyed the rhododendrons that I loved, so much. I made assumptions, I shouldn’t have. And I will never forgive myself. I don’t care about the stupid patio anymore. It will be a reminder... of the terror, my plants endured. I miss my purple flowers and the beautiful leafy branches that held them. How sad, today is. How sad.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

NIRVANA

In today’s world… everything is all about the COFFEE. I don’t fit in. I’m all about the TEA. I love a good cup of CHAI to start my morning. I hate coffee. It used to be, tea, was a popular beverage. Years ago, I remember getting a cup of hot water, and a teabag from McDonalds or anywhere… nowadays; it’s coffee, coffee, coffee. I think that’s sad. We’re NOT all coffee drinkers. While, a cup of joe, is always readily available, it can be quite affordable too. But… tea, not so much. Starbucks, Panera and Biggby all have CHAI. But the cost is steep. I feel like I’m being penalized for this choice. Why? It can’t be more expensive to make CHAI than coffee, can it? I mean, seriously. Add to this… the fact, I don’t drink soda pop either, and I really feel discriminated against. I prefer peach or raspberry iced tea. You know how hard it is to find that on the menu???? To their credit, Applebees and Ruby Tuesday, carry it. And, so does one of the local eateries, I frequent. Otherwise, FORGET ABOUT IT. Of course... enjoying the simple pleasures, of TEA at home, is a given for me... So, I buy Snapple or Arizona teas, in bottles and cans, for my raspberry and peach, fix. DELICIOUS! For CHAI… I prefer Tazo or Oregon Chai, boxed concentrate. Talk about NIRVANA in a CUP. Yummy.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

HOW SWEET

I live in the suburbs, and it’s rare to see wildlife... except birds, chipmunks and squirrels. Of course... there is always, the random, raccoon or possum, DEAD, on the side of the road. It just makes me sick to my stomach, to see how they met their fate. And how... cars and trucks, continue to run over them, flattening them out like pancakes. But such is life, in the animal kingdom, since humankind has encroached on their territory. I personally have never hit an animal when driving, and hope I never do. I would fret about it for weeks. However, the other day, for the first time, I came close… too close for comfort. As I was making my way to the store, I encountered a situation, of sorts. It was the perfect scene for a picture postcard… but potentially dangerous for yours truly. There in the middle of the road, as I rounded the corner, was a full-grown DEER. I immediately slammed on the brakes. The car skidded to a halt. The deer stood there and stared at me, as I stared back at it. Each of us silently wondering, what the other one was doing there? Standing her ground, the deer turned her gaze towards the other side of the road… I too turned, to see what she was looking at. There, frolicking near a driveway, were two of her babies. Cuter than pie, they followed their mother out into the roadway… her attention now completely diverted from me. Then, in the bat of an eye… the three of them, ran off in the woods, near the railroad tracks... as I looked on. I was awestruck. "How sweet", I thought. Then, with just seconds to spare... I saw headlights in my rearview mirror, and knew it was time, to step on the gas, before I got HIT from behind. The second time in one night, I avoided an accident. Lucky me! Nature has a way of creeping up on you, when you least suspect it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

SHEER JOY

I have temporarily retired from the drudgery of pots and pans, the sink full of dirty dishes, and countless trips to the grocery store. I gave it all up for the sheer joy of eating out, every single day. And what a joy, it is. No cooking, cleaning or fussing. The money I would have spent on groceries, now goes to an outside menu. Yummy! Of course, this new lifestyle was thrust upon me, quite by accident... you see, the burners on my stove broke, one by one... until it finally went kaput! Meals, while optional are a necessity, so eating out became the solution, until a new stove could be purchased. Sounds simple enough, you think?  But a funny thing happened on the way to buy that stove... technology changed. A stove, just isn't just a stove, anymore. I had choices, FLATTOP or COIL.  I wanted to stick with what I understood. But... the thought of something new intrigued me, too! Add to that, the right color, and price... And yours truly had a dilema. DECISIONS! DECISIONS! No answer in sight. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months... So here I am, still no stove. BUT meanwhile... I'm a regular at all the local eateries and even have my own table! There's no harm in that, is there?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

ONCE UPON A TIME....

Weekend was filled with a to do list. The boulevard needed to be cut. I spent part of the afternoon doing it. I like to scoot around on the riding mower... As long as standing and walking are not involved, my knees and hips can handle it. Some days are worse than others with the pain. Need to have them replaced, but I can't bear the thought... recovery time is too long. So for now... I suffer and complain.  It's hard to keep up with all the chores because of it. So... I've let too many things go. Nowadays... my house, inside,  looks like a tornado hit . Sometime soon, I keep promising myself, the place will look like home again. I just don't know when??? It's easier to ignore, than tackle. I long for the good old days and legs that worked. They are not going to get better, left alone, I know. I live in a Cape Cod and haven't been upstairs in over a year. My knees and hips can't take the strain. I can't sit on the floor either, to sort things out,  because getting up is near impossible. These limitations have aged me beyond my years... Such is life, my life. But once upon a time, I used to walk 5 miles a day and have a spotless place... In my dreams, I still do.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reflections

It's raining here. Just a nice easy drizzle that waters the plants and keeps the grass green. I'm sitting here with my peach tea, reflecting. Summer days have dwindled and autumn is upon us, as winter creeps nearer. I'm housebound once the first flake falls. And then, cabin fever strikes. I don't drive well in the snow. Though, I love to curl up with a good book and watch it accumulate. Enough said about the white stuff, it'll be here soon enough. I'm glad I still have some time to get out and about and can take in all the sights and sounds of the fall. It is my favorite season and it can't come soon enough for me.