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accidently not-so-"cheerfully unemployed"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
I found myself working at Publix all week. I thought I was working on Monday and not again until the weekend. I knew about Monday, as my co-worker was required/commanded to report to the Jury Pool room in the government center at eight o'clock sharp. I knew my job was to be his replacement for the day - but did not really expect that truck load of plants and bouquets from the warehouse, getting shoppers in the mood for Easter sales.

The jury selection went on for the better part of three days, but fortunatelyfinally the decision has been made: if it were me sweating out  the process, I would be delighted to be sent home as 'unselected' (which he was!) I would assuredly not feel the slightest big 'rejected' by not spending the next month sitting in a courtroom trying to keep all the he-said/she-said stuff straight in my mind.

Things will get back to (relatively speaking) normal with my little part-time, somewhat, semi-employ after Sunday.  But I will go on punching the time clock for the rest of this week, due to the holiday plus a prom on Saturday.

I am so out of the habit of being on my feets all day, day after day, I expect to be singing the song of the Little Engine That Could by the time the store is closed for Easter.

it was glorious...

Monday, April 18, 2011
It was just as glorious as I had planned, expected, hoped and looked forward to. The tulips were beauty-full. We walked through the gardens after touring the house and having lunch in the 'stable' (nothing on the property was less than perfectly groomed, so it was not a matter of pushing the livestock out of the way to get to the trough: a tasty lunch in a remarkably 're-purposed' space, though you could easily envision a different era from all the historic photos placed throughout to help picture the past.)

I think it had been about fifteen years since we went to the Biltmore one year at Thanksgiving when the place was ostentatiously decorated for Christmas. The opulence of the era was very much on display through out the house. I think I remember hearing there are 250 rooms? Most not open to the prying eyes of the paying public, but those we saw were set as if the occupants might have just walked out...and would be back after the lawn tennis event to change into outfits for the next activity, or formal wear for dinner.

The tour of the house was pretty crowded, as it had stormed overnight, and I think we/all the tourists all had the same idea of not stomping out in the wet early in the day. But it cleared up, to a perfectly cloudless bright blue sky and was a gorgeous day, though a bit blowy for the underdressed group from GA.

There were optional additional tours (for a price) we chose to take: a wine tasting with chocolates, that was kinda let down, since I am not much for pucker-y red wines, and would have been perfectly content with the chocolate truffle part. Then a tour of the workings/'how-to' process of making wine, behind the scenes walk-through from bringing in the grapes fresh picked from the vines to the labeling of the filled bottles. There was not actual production going on when we were there, as the 'season' for grapes from Biltmore vineyards is late summer, and then they start getting in west coast grapes in the early fall. A little tidbit: they heat the corks in the microwave to make them pilable enough to squeeze in the narrow neck of the glass bottles! It was interesting and educational.

The best part was spending the day with daughters. Thanks!

road trip!

Thursday, April 14, 2011
I am really looking forward to spending the weekend in NC with my favorite people. We are going to Asheville to enjoy the Biltmore Gardens.

And plan to park ourselves out on the spacious dining porch of the Grove Park Inn and attempt to give the appearance of belonging in such high-falutin' circumstances. Hope we won't show up on the back page of the Asheville newspaper holding numbers, looking like suspicious characters in need of bail money.

At&T saga, Part 2...

Well.... not actually part two as nothing has really occured yet, other than me being pretty annoyed. I was up by 6:00 and started watching the clock a little after 7:00 so I could dial the '1-800-aggravation' number and be the first one in line to talk to a real person. I have the theory that there is only one actual, living customer service rep. and the  voice mail process is so laborious and complicated to weed out all the customers who are not persistent enough to slog through the 'do this for that' questions in order to actually get to see 'what is really behind the curtain in Oz'.

So I made the call at 8:01, and worked my way through to the part where you get the recording that says 'sorry, all our reps. are busy, but we promise to answer you soon', then got hung up/disconnected. So I started over, and the same thing happened again... listen to choices, punch the number, more recorded options, punch another number: 'sorry, all our reps. are busy, etc, etc,'. So I started over: it's now about 8:20 (and I was thinking: they have just not activated the system, everyone is lagging behind over coffee, no one is on the job even though the directory says business hours are 8:00 to 6:00)... but when I dailed the third time  through the questions (that, had I been paying attention, I could have memorized by now), and actually talked to a real live, breathing customer serrvice person, she said: 'our computers are down, please call back in a couple of hours'.... arrrrgggghhh...

When I told her how many times I have attempted thus far, she suggested I call back in one hour instead of two, but could not give me a 'short-cut' number to call - so I thought I would just spread dissension amongst the ranks while I am waiting for my hour to be up so I can start over, again.

So here is my telephone rant/editorial:
When did we get to the point that we thought phones were essential to daily life? I remember growing up on a dirt road sharing a party line with another family. With parents that thought anyone calling after 9:00 at night could only be bearing bad news, and you could write a letter and use a stamp if it was not urgent. I know: I'm just 'old school' and not in touch with our me-centric and media-centric world... is that the worst thing ever?

I see people in public places having loud disruptive conversations and sharing some very personal business for all the world to hear - things I really do not want to know about, even if they are total strangers, it is 'way too much information about divorces, custody disagreements, what happened last night. Just because you have a telephone in your pocket or one that plugs into your ear does not necessairily mean that what you have to say is worthy of broadcast or the rest of the world wants/needs to hear.

I guess this is in a parallel vein with media personalities, that were nobody until someone started taking their photos, who enjoy prancing about in their underwear. When did sleeping garments become acceptable public apparel? How did underwear become acceptable outerwear?  If we don't take/publish their pictures, give them a boatload of publicity, no one will see their inappropriate attire/behavior - and their fifteen minutes of fame will thankfully be over before they show up on checkout tabloids.

It's time for me to re-visit '1-800-aggravate-your-socks-off'....

where is that application I need to complete for sainthood?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
I have been out doing good, and practicing tolerance/selfcontrol. I was thinking to myself I have begun to develop so much patience for aggravating situations, I might need to change my name to Theresa (as in Mother!) but think maybe I should just wait till I get to the Pearly Gates and see just how many stars have already been placed in the 'standard issue' crown before I pat myself on the back. It has not be a particularly productive day, but certainly not due to lack of effort on my part.

I have a friend, someone that I know really as an acquaintance, mostly just casually, as a customer passing through the workplace. As she begins to struggle with problems associate with aging and has assorted health concerns, I gave her my phone number and told her she should call me if she needed help doing daily things like grocery shopping or getting to doctor's appointments. She has actually called me a couple of times and given her grocery list by phone, I would go to the store and deliver it to her door, where she would generously reimburse me for purchases and time.  She called over the weekend and needed a ride to an appointment at the pain clinic. I did her grocery buying and took parcels over when I went to pick her up on Monday for the trip to the medical office. We sucessfully nagivated the labrynth  and I returned her home.

As we were chatting, whiling away the time in the waiting room and cubicle, she talked about problems with telephone: connections, batteries, service and said that she was planning to discontinue the service on her home-based business phone. I offered to make the call for her. And had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

I have called AT&T five times. Two on Monday, and three today. And only had the delightful opportunity to talk to a real person once, when I called at 8:02 this morning right after they opened for business with the profoundly aggravating voice mail system. But that very pleasant CSR, located in Idaho could not help me because I could not prove I was the person with the business phone, in spite of the fact that I blatantly lied and told her I was. Without back-up evidence, CSR said I would have to call back and start over with 1-800-aggravation, as there is no 'shortcut' number to avoid the long annoying process of 'punch this if you mean that'.

Which I did this afternoon with evidence in hand, and left a number for them to call me back instead of spending 27 minutes on hold. They did not call back - which is, I guess, the way they get people to just keep paying and paying and paying because they get so irritated with voicemail choices they throw the phone out in the back yard and get billed for service regardless.

I plan to try again (with evidence in hand) in the morning at 8:01. Wish me luck?

I seem to have done it again....

Saturday, April 9, 2011
I was recently giving myself a little 'talking to': saying ' you need to quit burning your candle at both ends' and 'how much longer do you think you will be able to run up and down the road all the time without falling over from exhaustion?' I.... had to go get my calendar to look back over the week and try to establish what is was that kept me so busy? 

Mon: with the Betts' counting boxes and bins as they came off the Mayflower (truck).
Tues: going with T.P. to two dr. appts, plus a swim at the Y.
Wed: buying/planting annuals at St. Luke UMC Respite Care and a non-credit class at Cont. Ed.
Thur:  swim at Y, class on container gardening and a fish-fry/quartet concert/Bible dramatization.
Fri: to Decatur to plant a gazillion (heisted) daffodil bulbs at Eleanor Dr., lunch with family, pawnshop.
Sat: Publix 7:00 am to 3:00 pm, lasagna with Betts.

One of the reasons I have been talking to myself about the candle situation is I was so exhausted from getting up at 4:30 and driving to Decatur, spending the morning digging holes and trying to leave town before the other two million people there got on the road: came in the house and went straight to bed.  I knew I needed to make the lasagna for the people to come eat for supper tonight, but was so tired I had to go lay down before I could get up and put the casserole together.

Maybe I will do better in June?

P.S.:Thanks to the solver of the (arrggghhh) problem in the blog. I've been back and edited two of the long, exhausting, strung-together narratives that did not have paragraphs.

verrry quiet here....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The houseguests got (mostly) moved on Monday. The huge (over 50 feet long) moving van with their household stuff that has been stored in Dubuque since last May was waiting on the street when we got to the house about 8 a.m. My assignment was to check off all the (over 300) boxes and bins when they came off the truck. I immediately discovered I am very Thankful that I am not in the business of moving/transporting other people's stuff. I have been commenting for many years when I see folks trundling down the highway with pickup truck piled high, roped in, looking like the opening scene from the Beverly Hillbillies, with Granny tied to her rocking chair atop boxes and barrels: I am so thankful that's not me!

In addition to having 27 banker's size boxes of reference books, and a huge stack of kitchenware, the cartons and tubs took up half of the two car-size carport. And that's just stuff, not really any of their furniture, which the moving-men took in the different rooms and set up as instructed. But they seem to be pretty well settled, though I expect it will take weeks to empty all the cartons. (And already thinking they will find one box of empty plastic jugs they meant to recycle, but supposed the packers had boxed up for storage!) So It's Really Quiet here.

Before they got underway, on Sunday night, knowing they would be sleeping in their own -but 'strange' -beds on Monday night, I said that it was going to be pretty lonesome here, with virtually no converstion during the evening meal. I also discovered there is no one here to help with eating up all the left-overs (now commonly referred to as 'must-go': if you don't consume it the second go-round, it Must Go in the trash), or doing the dishes after we eat. It has been good having them around, and they leave a Lot of Silence in their wake.

The up side is that when I wake up in the wee hours with no possiblity of going back to sleep (likely due to illicit chocolate consumption before bed) I can peck away on the computer! Which I was doing at 2:00 and 4:00 and etc...

thinking I deserve a nap or two...

Saturday, April 2, 2011
It's been a busy week of running to and fro. Was 'invited' to go to Decatur on Wed., and replant big pots with spring/summer blooming things, though it was sad/difficult to pull out the gloriously blooming pansies that seem to have been rejuvinated after plentious rains. So I got up too early and drove up to spend the day digging. Preceeded by a little sadness when we had a small funeral in the back yard. Louise the hen is no longer a part of the harem.

On Thursday, I had plans to meet two of the WWII vets. I went to DC with, when they came up from Albany to visit the Infantry Museum. I hope they enjoyed the scenery, because I know I enjoyed spending several hours with them, seeing exhibits, a film about infantry and having lunch.

Went back to Decatur on Thursday night, when I found that Paula would be having a CT scan of of her head on Friday morning. We got up early and drove on up to TN on Fri. to go with her to the radiology clinic. I know she was anxious, because her mom was too: but it was uneventful, and she got a call before I could get home Friday night assuring her there is not a vacuum between her ears. The family practice team that has been trying to help her manage migrane headaches felt that the scan was necessary.

Good news: nothing out of the ordinary there, Bad News: still miserable with a headache that has been pecking at her brain for nearly two weeks. Should have known what to expect when driving through ATL on a Friday aft: took six hours to make the four hour drive from Chatt-nooga to Columbus.

Working at Publix today and Sunday.