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multiple kitty excursions

Sunday, July 31, 2011
I took most of the cats to the vet on Saturday morning, for their annual visit. I am reminded of my mom taking me to the health department for yearly immunizations, and clearly remember that the big, heavy glass door at the entrance of the building opened 'in' so that a small child could not get a running start, give it a good hard push and escape. I would like to think that the Fire Marshall would not let that pass inspection now, and that little people today stand a better chance of avoiding that Trial by Needle than I ever did.

The vet we use sends out friendly little 'reminder' cards like your dentist to notify about scheduling an appointment, so I knew they were due rabies shots and tags last week. As soon as I saw the number of cars in the parking lot, I knew I should not have tried to do it on the weekend: like knowing you will stand in line for two hours if you go to the DMV for license renewal with all the others who waited until Saturday. But I had corralled one of the three, so thought I should go ahead and get the process underway.

Admittedly, I have not, after all these years, figured out a good system for getting them all from point A to point B and back again: it has always required three round trips to get it accomplished. For the first time last year, I had a pet carrier I tried to put them in, but it probably looked like a cartoom if there was anyone observing me attemtping to poke a twenty-legged cat into a small hole in the opening of the carrier: retreat/release was definitely the path I chose when all those claws came out!  There must be some sort of 'cat telepathy' involved: when I do get my hands on the first one, the others some how immediately know Bad Things are occuring, and can make themselves so scarce, I think they have evacuated to Talbot County, or making a run towards Alabama - definitely left the premises.

The first one refused to go in the carrier, in spite of the advice of 'grab the scruff of the neck and do it so fast they do not have time to resist", so I just put her in the car, loose. She is the one with the world's dense-est coat: I had to get the vacuum out when I finally got her back home - and used it not only on the car seat and carpet, but myself as well. When I looked down at T-shirt when I got her back to the house, I thought: Alpaca sweater! She also left drifts and drifts of hair while I was petting and holding her in the vet's office - they are likely knitting themselves another cat with all that got left behind.

The second one, historically the most docile of the three, went in the carrier with hardly a peep, but made pitiful little weepy sounds the whole time she was cooped up. Trip number two was mostly uneventful, but I discovered when I was leaving the vets' office is only open until noon on Saturday, so I knew I could not get back with cat 3 before they closed. When I did get home, and released the pitiful little long-suffering #2, naturally number three was sitting there, as if she somehow knew she was safe and would not be going for her annual drive to the doctor.... I told her it was a good thing the vet was closed for the weekend - but honestly, I think she somehow knew... She was the one I had caught first and tried to put in the carrier but turned loose before she shredded me with her claws.

The ornery one, Miss 'Most Likely to Create Puncture Wounds' will have to go on Monday - but I suspect she will become mysteriously very scarce when I go out in the morning: How do they know?

In Memory Of...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Anytime someone dies,especially in a sudden and unexpected  manner, they leave behind people who are sad, and strugglling with having a hole in their lives. I went to another funeral last week, for a man who unintentionally left behind some people he would have wanted to provide for, but did not.

But I do know how much he liked the people who were connected to him, and how willing he was to devote his time, attention and resources to them. As well as how much he enjoyed a gathering of friends and family: he was the kind of guy who never met a stranger, who loved to laugh, hug, tell bad jokes. The man Enjoyed Life. (Some folks don't: always complaining, with a 'woe is me' attitude - but not S.) It has been heartwrenching for the ones he left behind who truly mourn, and the distressing addition of financial worries is not something he would have wanted those he cared most about to face in their grief.

Even before his untimely, death I knew I should be getting my Life In Order, and had begun the process of organizing, to list all personal matters/desires. I have never actually owned anything, to have any reason for a Will, that would express preferences of what to do with an estate. I just never felt the necessity before... and I guess that is a common, (mis)belief: that your family can read your deceased mind, and would tend to your business in the manner you would choose. Now that we all see that in print, it is pretty clear that kind of thinking is a major fallacy and would likely lead to a seriously contentious trip to court, where only the attorneys truly benefit.

I am going to make copies of the Do It Yourself 'Last Will and Testament' Kit, with complete instuctions for both my favorite descendents. For them to use or line the canary cage with. But I will complete mine, and put it with all the financial info., and personal-preference data they will need to know. If you want a copy, let me know. It is completely self-explanatory, easy to do, and only needs two signatures plus a notary (readily available at any financial/banking establishment or insurance office, for no charge). If you own anything and have a preference that includes the state not getting a percentage of your estate, you should be completeing a will.

A life well lived: reminding us that we leave a legacy after we are gone. He continues to live in the hearts of those he befriended, and was well-loved by all who knew him.

Does it even count???

Sunday, July 17, 2011
There was this completely unlikely, largely unexplainable, thoroughly confusing, partially unresolved business that occured with my bank last week that has me still baffled. I readily admit to being mildly paranoid (not nearly as badly as Mel Gibson in that movie with Julia Roberts when his was legitimate), which I think in small doses can be  helpful/good for self-defense. But never unnerved to the point that I felt it necessary to pay for services on financial services to keep my banking information protected from prying eyes.

So looking back on the events of early last week, I now ponder if I should be more aware/on the defensive than I thought necessary? Was I foolish in: assuming that the security features banks and credit suppliers have for their protecting their own business would also be sufficient to protect The Customer (me)?

For reasons unrelated to the untimely death of a friend who left his estate in sad disarray, I started last weekend to think I need to Get My House In Order. So I was sitting with assorted semi-organized paperwork, putting down everything on paper to help make sense of the jumble for grieving family (Not to Worry:  I do not expect it to be used for many years). Just thinking about my dad and what a meticulous guy he was with his financial/personal business, and using his listing of Everything You Need to Know as the model for helping the lost and lonely when they will Need to Know Everything.

As I was listing banking account numbers/contact information, I realized I had not received a bank statement for months. To those who bank on-line this would not be a problem - but I am not yet convinced to go that route. Due to residual Right Brained in a Left Brained World problems: I have always struggled with mathematical business, and need the process of pencil, calculator, check register, printed statement to feel satisfied with the balance. So I called the 1-800-customer service number and talked at length to Francisco. He asked me lots of questions to determine that I was actually the owner of the account - dutifully documenting information about my mother, childhood pets, school attendance record. And remarked that I had changed  my address. I was astounded: mostly due to having been in the same location for nearly thirty (30!) years. He assured me that I had requested the change, but would not tell me where I now reside because that is Confidential customer information.

I wondered to him if I needed to talk to their fraud people, but he seemed to think nothing had occured. Someone went into their system, changed my address to receive my monthly statements - but nothing had occured? Bull-loney. It all started with me calling to ask for copies of the missing statements, and ended with me closing the account. But, when I did go to the bank and get copies of the statement (that I demanded the bank supply - and not bill me for cost -since it was their 'bad' that sent several to a bogus address.) everything seemed in order. After diligent application of pencil and calculator it appeared that nothing out of the ordinary had occured... so I am not sure I legitimately qualify (like the little boy who was left out alone on the hillside to guard the flock and cried 'WOLF' - just for the comfort of a friendly face...) as having been taken advantage of?

I did go to the local branch, explained my story to a very helpful csutomer service rep.(thanks, Wanda), who talked to someone in tech support to find that my 'new' address is a street in Naples, FL since back in April. It was changed by someone in Charlotte, NC, and the local CSR was hoping the person in NC could provide an explanation, as that was not something that could be done by telephone (which I most definitely did with the 1-800 guy: so I am left to wonder: how did it happen before?). She put in a call to that individual, who is required to document any changes in customer information, but the culprint in Charlotte did not respond. 

The saga continues: I called the branch manager the following day, who was remarkably lackadasical, generally unconcerned, mostly indifferent to my worries, when I had expected a response. She had a sort of don't-call-us - we'll-call-you attitude. I wish I had said: "if this was your personal account would you be so complacent?"  But I was still so anxious about all the unknowns, I went to the branch and talked to another very friendly customer service person, (thanks, Jose) who agreed I should just close the account. My helpful CSR will be back at work on Monday...

memorial to Jo....

Friday, July 8, 2011
My friend and co-worker Martin lost his mother last weekend. She died on her birthday. She had been in poor health for a couple of months and in hospice for most of that time. It has been so sad, and heartache-y as he and family have watched her slowly decline, just watching and waiting and waiting and waiting....

But the sweet, amazing, remarkable part has been the outpouring of love and caring that customers have demonstrated in the past week as I have been working in his stead. It has been so precious to hear total strangers, the most casual of acquaintances, people I can't even name - ask about him and his family. I feel like I have received a blessing by proxy as I have listened to people I have never even seen or spoken to before as they inquire about his mom.

A most unusual man: one who talks about his emotions, expresses his feelings to freely, and is so open and willing to talk about matters that matter. Having been raised in a family that was not able/willing to have the discussions about those things that are close to the heart, I have been astounded to hear people I've never said more than 'good morning' to tell me about a man who is so open-hearted they have hd that family in their prayers. Martin and Jo, along with his sister Nancy, spent time in recent weeks, talking about all the things most families scrupulously avoid discussing until it is too late for asking and answering. listening and sharing, finally getting to the point of knowing that nothing has been left unresolved. What a blessing to be able to let go with complete peace.

The older I get the more I believe that the reason most of us turn into decent, fully (or semi-) functioing human beings is due to the influence of our parents and grandparents. The character. morals, beliefs of the generations of family who raised us are the primary reason we become who we are... So I guess this is a testimonial to Jo. Though I did not know her, she obviously did a great job of raising a pair of amazing adults, and is looking down on them, singing and dancing with the heavely host, whole, healthy, happy, laughing, joy-filled forever.