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the REAL rest of the story...

Wednesday, August 31, 2016
... is what I learned from the attorney in the DA's office when he called last week. Thinking the number he had was a 'home number'. (Pretty funny as Icould not for the life of me tell you what our home/land line number actually is! It only rings when someone wants you to send money or vote, so we never answer it.  I honestly do not know what the number is as I only would use it when my cell phone has run away and I am trying to track it down.)

Anyway  - the guy in the District Attorney's office called looking for the homeowner, and got me instead. I told him I would give him the right number, but I was so curious he would have to tell me what the story was before I would provide the info. he wanted. He said that the man who robbed us had pled guilty and was to be sentenced the next day. I was welcome to appear in court, have an opportunity to speak and give them all a piece of my mind.Good news/bad news: sadly, I was out of town. Fortunately, I was not available, as I probably do not have any 'pieces' to spare.

The story is so unlikely, even after he told me, I could not believe what he said. The guy who kicked in our front door, broke into our house and burgled cash, jewelry and guns was in jail at the time of the home invasion. Huh? What? How is that possible? Yeah, me too! I said all those things, wondering how a man who was incarcerated could be admitting to B and E.

As it turned out, the man was already serving time for some other charge, but was out on a work detail. Going some place every day to provide labor for the city, in a work detail with other inmates, supervised by a prison guard. But this man had an accomplice, and a little side job he was doing on his lunch break. Bustin' down doors and robbing people. Amazing.

the rest of the story...

Saturday, August 27, 2016
...but first the back story...which you have already forgot, as it occurred nearly three years ago. When you read this part, it will make your hair stand on end. And cause you to add another set of dead bolts to the doors in your home, that sadly will not keep you safe, or protect you from being burgled by those who wish to invade your sanctuary.

I came home one day to discover our front door had been kicked in. The actual (metal) door only had a dent, and was closed, so not particularly noticeable. But the wooden door frame was busted with parts of the wooden trim/molding lying on the floor in the hallway. I thought 'odd', but had to pee, so went on down the hall and did my business. Then discovered all the contents of the dresser and chest of drawers scattered on the floor.

Alarming, right? Yes!!!  I called the Man of the House, as well as 911.

Everything was mostly, eventually, ultimately put to rights, but there were (and still are) some things missing: personal items, like jewelry and handguns. One of the rings eventually turned up, due to being unique with the owner's name inscribed, which allowed it to be traced and returned. Other stuff fell in a black hole, vanished.

The lesson I attempted to share, a Cautionary Tale for others, is that deadbolts do not keep you safe. Forty seven deadbolts will not protect you when the door frame is made of wood, pre-manufactured, assembled with staples!!!  Plus you are an idiot if your doors, entryways into your home, have glass in them. We ALL know that locks on windows and doors only keep out honest people, right? So having a beautiful, expensive, custom door with fancy etched glass panels on your house is an Invitation.

the trip to the DMV...

...to get my driving permit renewed. Another opportunity to take a number and get in line. Wait your turn, with the option of standing by or sitting in molded plastic chairs that have held thousands of bodies over time, and were not designed for the backsides of actual humans.

In the envelope that came in early August with the form to take to the tax/tag office for getting a sticker for another year of using the roads/streets was a reminder to renew my permit. Got the tag sticker for 2017 last week, and knew I needed to go to the DMV to get license before late September. I actually had this on my 'to-do' list to be sure it did not slip through the cracks and I would be at risk of driving all over the world with an expired license.

The list of things you need to prove You are You was pretty extensive. Generally meaning: highly annoying and thoroughly aggravating if you went unprepared. Should you go in to accomplish the task without adequate proof in the way of providing sufficient and appropriate documentation, you would leave with steam coming out of your ears. I know, as this has happened to my very own person.

Several years ago, my license got mis-put. I won't give details. (I dis-remember, but it probably went through the washer, or got left in a jacket pocket, forgotten.) But the part I do remember: making three trips back to the house to get all the paperwork they demanded before issuing a replacement.

Our house is less than a mile from the office of the Department of Motor Vehicles, where you would go at age sixteen to take the driving test and receive a permit to take to the public thoroughfare. In theory, my replacement experience could have been far more frustrating than it actually was by having to drive miles to get there. But I still recall having to make several trips back home to get the perfectly perfect documents to present for getting the mis-put license replaced. (Which I later found.)

They would not accept a birth certificate that was not 'official', without a raised notary seal. They would not accept a 'copy' of a SS card. And some other nit-picky issue that caused me to make a third trip home to get it right. Be Forewarned: save yourself elevated blood pressure and possibly a stress headache by taking all the right paperwork the first time you go.

I went on Wednesday, with an accumulation of all the required/proper documentation on the list. Which I had put in my car, to stop at the D.M.V., when I would notice a small number of vehicles in the parking lot. Indicating a fairly short wait line, with only a few people in the building awaiting service by cranky state employees. It was thankfully a non-event, with no incidents to report after I completed the form and was issued a 'wait-in-line' number.

I understand that the laminated card I can expect to receive in the mail is good for eight years. And comes with some sort of signifier imprinted so I won't have to take my passport, SS card, and proof of residence when up for renewal in eight years. Which is great, as I probably will not have the where-with-all  to assemble the multiplicity of documents eight years hence.

I guess I should be also thankful that it IS good for eight years, as I was stunned when they said I would be paying $35 for the privilege. I think I remember my first license (printed on card stock, dogeared over a years' time, filled in with ink pen by the presiding state trooper) was two, or  possibly three bucks. But, of course, had to be replaced each year. It's good the current version is laminated, as it could possibly/theoretically survive multiple trips through the washer and dryer. Not that anything this irresponsible would happen at my house....

bumper sticker:

..."when you say you throw your trash away, where is 'away'?" It is plastered on the back of a vehicle I see on a regular basis. Along with a lot of other misc. commentary on the world, and assorted personal opinions, political statements. But a conversation recently makes me seriously ponder this particular query.

A friend told me that he will put medications he no longer takes in a jar, set aside on a high shelf, and destroy the original container the Rx was dispensed in. For some reason he feels he should burn the bottles with labeling containing personal information. But he does not burn the pills. He was wondering what he could/should do with the medications. My first thought was to tell him our local law enforcement personnel will periodically advertise a day and specific location where/when they will accept un-used prescriptions to keep people from flushing them into the public utilities.

When I was talking about this to someone else about this, we discussed options for disposal. You could burn it, but that still releases the contents, maybe in an altered form, into the world, and creates carbon, as well as giving us all an opportunity to inhale some scare-y substances, or contamination from ash. I remember when my dad died, the hospice nurse immediately poured all his medications into the toilet to 'waste' the pharmaceuticals. Which puts all sorts of risky stuff into the water, where it does not actually vanish, merely changing form to pollute the drinking water, and resources where reptiles and amphibians live.

So, here's the conundrum: out of sight, out of mind? You think you do the 'right thing' by giving the Rx to people who work in law enforcement. Keeping the controlled substance out of the hands of the miscreants, ne'r do wells, local criminal element. Good idea! But what happens to the drugs when you 'donate'? As in the opening quote from the bumper sticker. Where does it actually go?

the trip to the tag office...

... qualifies as a necessary evil. You don't want to pay the penalty of getting caught, being given a traffic citation for not having a current sticker on your tag. Entailing: go to court, wait your turn, stand before the judge, pay the fine, then go stand in line to get your sticker. 

Therefore the the law-abiding citizens chooses to stand in like to get the tag or just a sticker for the right to drive on public thoroughfares for another year. For many years, the law here required drivers to buy a new tag before the end of  the month of your birth. Meaning most everyone born in any given month would wait until the last possible moment to go pay the fee. Creating  long lines of procrastinators trailing out the door in the last week of any month. But the requirement now is that it must be purchased before your actual birth date, spreading the demand out over the days and weeks to ease demand and pile up at the end of the month..

The notice that I needed to renew before my birthday came in the mail early in August, along with the form that provided the info. to take to the tag office 2017 sticker for my car license plate. I went a last week to get the tag sticker, knowing it would only cost me twenty bucks. You will think: wow! And wonder: why was the price for another year of driving on the public right-of-way so relatively inexpensive???.

The answer is the legislature changed the rules so the buyer is required to pay the full amount up front upon purchase, then just the minimal amount each year to cover costs of labor/printing/services of tag office. Which means I paid thousands up front with the registration of the newly purchased car, when I went to register the purchase/title.  And now pay twenty dollars a year to get a current sticker, good for another 365 days of running around like my shirt-tail is on fire.

quitting every day...

Friday, August 26, 2016
...over and over again, until I get it right. I have been trying for nearly two weeks to quit eating so much sugar. And have to start over again each morning, when the wagon keeps breaking down and I fall off again day after day after day after day, etc....

I don't know why I am having such a  difficult time with this - I did it on Jan. 2 and found it almost do-able. For at least three weeks, when I decided that twenty days or so had proved my point and that was enough of that. So I quit The Quitting, having completely gotten over being self-righteous and totally done with the idea of brimming with good intentions.

But this time, I just could not get it going. Every day, at some point before I was even halfway through the day, I found myself backsliding. With delicious cold chocolate milk a work, or foraging for something sweet in the closet at home where there might be a stash of peanut M & M's squirreled away. I have currently given up for the week, but will start afresh next Monday, trying to wean myself off junk food and refined sugar.

The rules of the game allow all the fresh fruit one can consume, since I spend a good portion of each day at work slicing strawberries or cutting melons into chunks, or shucking fresh pineapples. And of course, customers will ask about the tastiness of the goods, so it is necessary to continually do Quality Control.  And occasional grape, juicy ripe strawberry or bite of nearly-too-ripe pineapple is completely permissible

But anything with added sugar in all it's many sneaky forms is not allowed. Malto-dextrin, sucrose, brown sugar, corn syrup all on the 'don't-do-it' list. So no cold cereal, and no drinks that have either sugar or artificial sweeteners. I got tired of oatmeal with blueberries and pecans after about three days. It's really hard to find something acceptable when you have just gotten out of bed and can't think, but have to be at work in thirty minutes.

I would like to think I will be better prepared on Monday, and will be able to at least get through one day, if not the entire week. And honestly, even if I can just cut back and consume less, that is an improvement over ferreting out junk every day. I am sure it would work much better  if I were not the one trying to hide the Snickers from myself.

not really braggin'...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
...but pretty pleased with myself. I admit to occasional bouts of laziness, and think the heat of summer is a factor in my inactivity. Plus standing on my feets on the hard concrete floor for six or eight or more hours a day tends to be exhausting, making me totally disinterested in exerting my person when the work day is over. Not even remotely inclined for anything that might be related to healthy.

But I do enjoy swimming. So I have taken myself to the city pool for the past three days after work. And put in at least half an hour doing laps. I was quite pleasantly surprised to discover that swimming and being virtually weightless allows me to get in the deliberate exercise without my bum knee hurting. The bad knee is mostly a just a nuisance, always hurting, forcing me to 'favor' it, changing my gait, which I am sure will create other problems over time. Not so painful there is a problem with getting around, but I am always aware of it, know I cannot 'hurry' for any reason, with only one speed in my personal travel.

But swimming is good. It does not hurt at all while I am in the pool. I guess swimming could be considered therapy? In addition to being good for muscles, heart, mental health.  I used to walk every day and enjoy the exercise, knowing I was doing something to maintain good health, but have not been able to do it in a couple of years without constant low-grade pain in my knee. I am delighted to discover swimming does not make it miserable, and stay in the water indefinitely (till I completely wrinkle up like a raisin) getting plenty of exercise without the continual joint pain.

just because you don't read about it...

Monday, August 22, 2016
...does not mean that the millipedes are not still wandering around on the tile floor every morning when I get up. There is  not a single morning when I walk into the kitchen I don't get the broom and sweep up at least a half dozen wiggling their way across the floor. I even got out the bug spray and gave a good healthy squirt along the baseboard in the pantry where I thought might be the point of entry. It didn't even slow them down.

The only reason there are not more that land in the dustpan on the way to the trash is that I have to go to work, and do not have time to hang around waiting for them to show their nasty little wiggle-self, scooching across the floor. I see them all along the baseboards in other rooms, dead, crispy, curled up, waiting for the broom. So do some make it past the tile floor into other parts of the house, as I am still convinced they are coming somehow from a crack in the pantry.

I see them heading out of the pantry in every direction, as if they had a master plan. If they had bigger brains I would think they were organized by battalions to scatter and infiltrate to the farthest corners of every room in the house. If I could just figure out where they are getting in, I would definitely be plugging it. A plague and a pestilence. Arrggghhh.....

and then on Saturday...

Sunday, August 21, 2016
... I was a passenger when we went down to the scout camp in north Georgia, a pleasant drive in the morning. There were lots of low hanging clouds, and occasional sprinkles of rain. The camp is pretty high up in a densely forested area, with a fairly good sized lake. It almost felt like we were in a foreign land, above the clouds. There are a couple of places where there were power line cuts and you could look quick, glance out across the ridgelines into space and view the bluish-grey landscape on hills miles away. Beauty full up there along the little two lane highway to no where past the Dead End sign.

Went out the the river  northeast of town to jetski. At a small city park with a boat ramp, where the lake is wide above the TVA dam built back in the 1930's. Shallow in places and a hundred feet deep in others where the water covers long abandoned homes, and what used to be family farms. With thunderstorms blowing through, the water was sort of choppy, a bit rough for very small craft like we were on. And occasional actual rain showers. But other than the prolific weeds growing in the shallows, good fun.

A family birthday dinner in the evening, with various and assorted members observing birth dates that occur during the month of August. Good eats with all the attendees contributing parts of the meal. And most excellent carrot cake for dessert, imported from GA.

drivin' to TN...

...in a frog-strangling rain. It was not dripping a single drop when I left home on Friday morning, but started in North GA, getting to the point that people pulled off the road to wait it out, not being able to see to drive. I don't know whether it blew over or I just drove on through and got past the pounding thunderstorm.

I had planned the travel to allow for time to stop at the Chickamauga Battlefield in the far northwest corner of GA, just below the TN line. The rain was still coming down really hard when I arrived, so sat in the parking lot of the NPS visitor's center to wait for it to lighten up to go in. And might have possibly taken a wee little nap while waiting. I am not much knowledgeable about the fighting that occurred in and around Chattanooga, but know it was fierce, with a great loss of life on both sides.

There is a short movie that provides a good description and explanation of the battle that raged over several days. With most of the part played by civil war re-enactors who obviously took on their instructions with great enthusiasm as the charged across the meadows and up the rocky slopes of wooded hills with alacrity.  Much of the land was densely wooded at the time of the fighting, with some small acreage cleared for crops, and small farmsteads spread out over the valley. The soldiers were dressed in period garb, with muskets, blankets slung over shoulders, dragging wheeled cannon through the fields, across streams, heavily wooded embankments, dirty, war-weary.

In the historical material posted on the walls, describing the events of the battle, I know now it was a terrible event. There was a huge loss of life for both sides, and ended with the confederates retreating; opening the munitions, wares, and manufacturing resources of the south to the pillaging of northern troops. I am sure many families of men who died on the fields were never told the particulars, just knew their fathers, brothers, sons, husbands never returned home.

This battlefield was one of the first dedicated to the memory of that horrendous loss, and was surely a place of healing as the men from both north and south came together to reminisce and remember in the years after. A place set aside for remembrance, with carefully etched granite monuments erected by groups of veterans to serve as a memorial to their lost members as well as a cautionary tale for future generations.

That historically accurate movie in the theater of the visitor's center was so well done, there was a disclaimer to warn people with children or those with weak stomachs about the content. It was sad and gruesome to watch sitting there in the peaceful, comfortable darkness of the air-conditioned building - 150 years after it occurred. I cannot even begin to comprehend what it must have been like out there in the battlefields, scared to run and scared to stay, watching companions, war-weary friends being blown up or sliced with bayonets.

the parable of the disorganized cake...

Friday, August 19, 2016
... titled thusly in order to have the option of providing a 'moral' at the end of the story. Which starts with the history of making carrot cakes. The recipe frequently used when there were small children here, who would gobble up anything with sugar while disregarding the nutrition of three cups of grated carrots. Sadly when they got old enough to attend parties where the cake was yellow with buttercream icing, 'homemade' went the way of mom-made clothing.

It is universally enjoyed, when made by special request, probably due to the stick-of-butter-block-of-cream-cheese-and-pound-of-confectioners'-sugar icing. Not healthy, likely even dangerous for people with chronic heart disease, skyrocketing cholesterol numbers and clogged arteries. But an occasional trip to The Edge can be forgiven, as long as you don't live there permanently.

I am going to a birthday event on Saturday, and wanted to make a carrot cake to take, along with candles that prove it is party when set ablaze.I knew the carrots in the fridge were creating roots, long white hairs growing in the dark. Can not begin to guess how long they have been languishing, but probably not safe to consume. So I stopped at the store my way home yesterday to get another bag of carrots to grate for the cake. And knew I was low on sugar, so bought a small bag of that. (If you are keeping score - this is my second trip to the grocery, the first being going to work for seven hours.)

I got home and got out my cook book only to discover I did not have enough cooking oil to complete the ingredients list. Debated about subbing butter, but if I used my only stick of butter, I would not have any to make the icing. So I went to the store to get cooking oil (and might as well get a box of butter while I am there going through the checkout line.). This would be the second trip to the store for ingredients and the third time in the grocery store for the day.

I grated (carrots), measured (sugar and flour), counted (eggs), put it all together and cooked it. Added five min. to the cook time when I decided the layers were not quite done when I gave a poke with a toothpick. After they came out of the oven, I discovered I did not have enough confectioners sugar to make the icing recipe. So the run to Walmart this morning to get a bag of sugar makes the third time I went shopping to get the goods to finish my project. It's done. Dishes are washed. Candles and matches ready to travel.

The moral to the story is: read the recipe, even if you have done it a dozen time. Look in the pantry and fridge just to confirm you have what you need. Especially if you are out of the 'cooking mode', and do not prepare baked goods often enough to know if you have what you will need without making three trips to the store to get all your ingredients. You might even want to write it down, to be sure you get it all on the first trip, if your brain is so full you can't store any more lists in there.

a story from my fav-o-rite aunt...

Wednesday, August 17, 2016
... who is long gone, but not forgotten. I have always denied being a party to this event, but she insisted as long as she had breath that I was one of the culprits. Having no memory of the event, while being raised to respect my elders, not 'back talk' or disagree with adults, it isn't likely my denial had any weight. But honestly, I don't think it was me. Partially because it is funny enough that if I was really one of the rascals involved, I would like to think that I'd remember - and I don't.

She claims she looked out the window of her mothers' house, which stood about forty feet from hers, and saw my cousin and I happily sitting under her house. The houses were of the era that were built several feet off the ground, I assume on the theory that cooling breezes would blow beneath and keep the inside temperature down? I'm not sure, but many from that period were built up on brick pilings or piers, some feet above the earth.

The aunt said she looked out and saw us striking matches under the house, where we apparently thought we were completely hidden from view. Anyone inside the house would not be able to see us, but anyone walking down the street or at a good viewing distance to have a sight line for misbehavior below the flooring would have been greatly alarmed. To see those happy little pyromaniacs cheerfully striking book matches for the pure joy of making fire. Under a two story house made of heart pine that, if it should catch fire, would burn down the brick piers in a matter of minutes.

What I think really happened is that it was my brother and the cousin. With a boy who was a couple of years older than the cousin and I, just old enough to be able to lead us astray, I choose to believe that it was the two guys under there, happily squatting in the doodlebugs and dirt. Industriously attempting to build a campfire with the contraband books of matches they had swiped from the auntie who was a serious smoker/coffee drinker in those days. I don't deny having the occasional pyromaniac tendency even to this day, and likely passed it along in my genes, but I refuse to believe I would have been there having all that illicit fun and not remember anything about the scene of the crime.

When all was said and done, it would be a near certainty that we got our backsides warmed. Back during that era of Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child. The auntie die enjoy telling that story, but never to the point of telling about blistering our backsides with a switch picked from the bush by the back door. Wondering if the bush was planted there just for that purpose to have a constant supply of switches to whale away on miscreants?

tea party...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016
...that has nothing to do with US politics. Though I am nearly physically ill when I devote any time to thinking of what a sad situation our country is in on the political scene with choices at this point amounting to the Devil or the Deep Blue Sea. I am so distressed I cannot talk about this distasteful, disturbing, thoroughly offensive mess.

I was conversing with a friend about our trip in July, which caused me to remember occasions in the past: tea parties. When my daughters were young, maybe grade school to middle school age, there were several women locally who combined their resources to open little tea rooms in the area. I am not sure how we first heard about the Tea Room, but know there were several at one time. 

One was in a historic building downtown, in a home that is at least a century old. It was not occupied at the time, so the women rented it, decorated with lots of period antiques. Lace curtains, walls papered with huge mauve cabbage roses, antique frames with sepia tinted photos of long forgotten faces, over stuffed upholstered velvet furniture with dark stained wood. Lots of clutter on every horizontal surface, knick-knacks, mismatched china teacups and saucers, teapots with crocheted cozies to keep them warm. Hats you could borrow for a couple of hour: tiny little velvet ones with delicate veils, or big floppy brims with silk flower trim. All things to make it look 'homey' and filled with furnishings with from the Victorian era.

It was good fun. I remember going several times over the years. I think the first was just the three of us, after someone shared their knowledge and experience of going to have a fancy tea. We ate and giggled our way through, holding pinky fingers aloft as we sipped our exotic tea and nibbled on wee little egg salad, cucumber, pimento cheese sandwiches. Another time was my mom's birthday. We planned and persuaded their grandmother from south GA to visit and we made reservations to go celebrate. Pretty remarkable occasion, as she was not one for being 'carried on' over, so I am sure she agreed to go primarily to please her granddaughters.

Another time a daughter had a birthday, invited several friends and they dressed to the nines, we went and had a grand glorious tea  party with copious giggling and silliness. I think they put on the tiny little hats and white cotton gloves that time, and we drove to a small town in south GA. where the Tea Party ladies had an outpost. I am remembering going to a thrift shop to find a party dress with lots of frou-frou for the occasion. I believe there are photos to commemorate this hilarious event, so hope that at least one of the people involved can find and maybe put them here. 

book reveiw: 'flashback'...

Monday, August 15, 2016
...by Nevada Barr. This one of the series is set in the Gulf of Mexico. They are about Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the National Park Service (which, by the way is having a 100th birthday this year. Get out! Go visit one of our beautiful scenic parks!) Part of what makes reading the Barr books so enjoyable is the knowledge that she has a wealth of personal experience to draw from as she writes her narratives.

This is not a new book, copyright was at least ten years ago, but one of a series following this same character. Anna has been posted all over the country in a number of different geographic areas. She has been to the Great Lakes, cold water diving on a sunken wreck. Rafting on the Rio at Big Bend in Texas. On the Georgia coast at Cumberland Island. In the New York Harbor at Ellis Island.On the Natchez Trace in Mississippi. And now, in 'flashback' at Fort Jefferson on isolated Garden Key, beyond Key West, FL.

Pigeon is a fictitious character, so fallible and believable you find yourself identifying with her. She is so willing to admit to quirks, idiosyncrasies, anxieties, foibles you find yourself convinced she is human. It just seems like she accidentally finds herself in the wrong place as the wrong time... an unwitting party to murder and mayhem. She is a smart, resourceful ranger, knowledgeable and capable, though often outweighed/outnumbered  by the bad guys.

In an effort to encourage you to want to get involved, help her with all those 'hot messes' she finds herself in, here is a teaser: this one involves smuggling, but it is not drugs. 'Flashback' starts with a 'go-fast' boat, like those long sleek cigarette-type high-powered one they use for racing, that accidentally blows up, leaving shreds of body parts on the pristine reefs and white sandy bottom of the clear Gulf waters. And a sunken boat that held a NPS staffer who is injured, goes missing.

The 'flashback' part is a series of letters Anna's sister sends her at her duty station, written by a long dead relative, who was the wife of the commander of Fort Jefferson when it held Civil War POWs. A story within a story, leading the reader into seeing life as it was when the fort was in active use as a part of the national defense system. Uncovering criminal activity in the present day also leads Anna to solving a hundred year old mystery.

Well written, drawing you into the scene, with beautiful descriptions of amazing places available for all of us to go and visit. The stories offer much detail, providing clear images of the locations where the rangers live and work. It is obvious that Barr as an author has done the legwork, interviews and research to make her characters come to life. I'm putting Ft. Jefferson on my bucket list.

well, not exactly....

... is more accurate for what happened when I made my first foray into Costco. I did make a purchase. Even though I thought I was going to get out of there without pulling my cash out of my pocket, I saw something to buy. The person who loves to put big pretty chrysanthemums on her front steps will have a great time trying to keep this one alive.

It is huge, and will probably have to be watered at least once a day. It is planted is a ten inch pot, and will be yellow when it blooms. The plant itself is at least knee high, with hundreds of tiny little unopened buds. Very few of the gazillion buds are showing any color, so hopefully it will be showing off on the front steps of 52 Street for weeks before it all blooms out.

my first visit...

...to Costco today made me think it's not more than a glorified Sam's Club. I had never been, mostly due to never having been in the vicinity. And like Sam's, you have to be someone really special to be allowed to enter. They have large bouncer-sized people at the doors, checking identification, not letting just any-old-body in.

If you are not privy to the password or secret handshake there will be no admittance. If you cannot hold your tongue just right, hop on one foot while turning in a counterclockwise circle and winking, you are not permitted to pass into the inner sanctum. You have to prove your worthiness for entry.

I made all that up. I have  no idea whatsoever what is required to gain entry at Costco, but I suppose you need to be willing to purchase a annual membership. Thereby gaining access to buying bulk, family-size, commercial quantity packages of paper towels,office supplies and granola. Pretty much the same as Sam's.

After wandering around in the store and seeing absolutely nothing I could not live without, I left. Then began wondering how their prices compare with Sam's. The place I live has no competition from another big 'wholesale' type store, so in reality it really does not matter. But I did wish I had the memory for numbers (big joke - from the chronically math impaired person here) to know what things at Sam's cost just to notice if there is a marked difference at Costco. Pretty much a moot point, as I would not take advantage of the opportunity by driving two hours to save those few cents

Can't say I have never been to Costco now.

why, you may ask....

Friday, August 12, 2016
...was I so insistent on having only an initial and last name on the plastic card? For what I thought was a Very Good Reason. Simply so that if the card should be misput, stolen, or lost no one would know what my name is, so could not sign my full name on a receipt to use the card.

For the same reason I do not have my first name on my printed checks or the other credit card I use daily. If some hinky soul should get my card info. through nefarious means, just having the number to use it online, you still need to have a name associated with that particular card. When you cannot give the business a full name, it's not likely that the number will be used or accepted to make a purchase.

Did I tell you about the time I got a call from a credit card company, years ago? Asking if I had made a purchase at a curb store in New Jersey? The total amount was well over two hundred dollars. Unless you are buying cigarettes or vast quantities of beer, it would be pretty difficult to spend that amount at a convenience store. I reported I had never been to Jersey in my life, and certainly not to purchase beer at a curb store. I have no idea how that occurred, but I did not pay for beer I did not enjoy drinking.

As I said, I am not through with this... I am sure the bank would not blink over the loss of my business. My little checking and saving is so insignificant there would be no begging, pleading, gnashing of teeth if I should relocate my accounts. But it does seem to me like the card processing company would be willing to put the name I choose on my credit card. If they put initials for a business (or a man), I expect they should do likewise for any one doing business with them.

'the rest of the story'....

....strange experience, part 2: The customer service rep. also said that the reason my card was not replaced/renewed was due to the fact that I had requested my first initial rather than full name appear on the card, along with last name. So I still had to ask: why was I not informed? Not told the card would not be reissued when it expired at the end of 7/16?

She said I could expect to get a replacement she had already ordered in about ten days. Better than nothing, but pretty irritating, to have to wait over a week before using the ATM to access my own money. Thoroughly aggravating, right?

A little aside: yes, I know I could write a check to 'cash', but my checkbook is rarely at hand. At one time it was always in my car. And now I leave it in  my car: Never. After reading an article in the paper months ago, written by someone local who had her vehicle broken into - twice. Following that scary, aggravating, educational experience she vowed to never leave anything of value in her car. I don't recall if she lost purse, wallet, check book, electronics, cell. But whatever she lost, would have been an annoying nuisance to replace. Time consuming as well as frustrating.

The new card finally came. With my full name on it. I was not finished with 'venting'. I went to the bank yesterday and talked with another CSR. She called the company that supplies the cards. Leading me to discover this particular service is contracted out. I should have known, but did not think. If the processing/billing is done by contract, it stands to reason the printing and delivery of the cards would be part of the contract.  The company with the contract decides for us that we cannot use an initial instead of a name. And yes, you do have to have your full first name embossed on the card.

I am still annoyed by this turn of events. And not through complaining.  Even though I am certain  my voice is not loud enough to have an impact, I will continue to press my case.   Arrggghhh....

a strange experience worth sharing...

Thursday, August 11, 2016
...occurred about a week ago, when I went to the bank I use that is as far away (from my house)and thoroughly inconvenient (for my banking needs) as it could possibly be. I opened an account at this (sort of) local bank some years ago, in order to get a bill debited so I would not have to remember to pay it each month. Even though I had another account at a large international bank with local offices, one of which was right across the street from my workplace.

I don't recall why I got annoyed with the big (very convenient) bank, probably over something insignificant like a checking fee or having to pay to get checks printed.This from the person who grew up in the era of free everything, counter checks, a small town bank that would call my dad to say I was 'overdrawn so please come make a deposit'. But it caused me to close that account. Leaving me with the one at the bank with branches all across southern half of the state, and a home office in little out-of-the-way Fitzgerald, GA.

So I was relatively happy with my account at Colony: no service charges, no fees to get checks printed. Pleasant customer service people who smile and offer assistance when I (rarely) walk in the lobby with a problem. Though I would think 'I need to pack a lunch to get there' being as far away from the house as any bank in town, they never fail to provide good service.

I had a bank card that is a debit/credit card, but I only used it at their ATM, and not often, as the ATM machine is so far away from my house: as I said - clear across town. Mostly visited when I would be planning to travel, and stop to get cash before heading north on the interstate. So.... when I was going to SC recently, I stopped by to withdraw traveling funds, as I do not like to be on the road with out cash.

My card had expired. I only use it to withdraw cash, so it is not often out of my wallet, and rarely looked at. I was surprised to not have received a replacement, as usually occurs before the expiry date printed in raised numbers on the card. I went in the bank to inquire. The service rep., Michelle, said she would be sure to put in my request and I could expect to receive a replacement in ten working days. I gave her the useless card to destroy, dispose of remains.

Got in  my car and left town without the comfort of cash, but did have another bank card I use for daily purchases. About thirty minutes up the road, she called to say the card had actually been cancelled months ago. Back in February, the bank had decided to not replace it when it expired. Without providing that information to the card holder. Needless to say: I was pissed.

Well? What did you do? Then what happened???

you will likely think...

Tuesday, August 9, 2016
... the fact that I got excited about the newest issue of Reader's Digest coming in the mail today pretty dull. And the fact that I sat right down and started reading seriously low brow. So I hope that the fact I can always find something that makes me laugh out loud will have a small degree redeeming value.

It was a quote from former president Jimmy Carter. I have always been a fan, though there are some who have always viewed  him   as 'way down on the scale on best/most qualified in the line up. I am definitely biased and not just due to his origins in the deep south.. Feeling that the good he has done as a international supporter of human rights and impact he and Roselynn have had on health care far outweighs any thing he did or didn't do while serving in the White House.

"My esteem in this country has gone up substantially. It is very nice now that when people wave at me, they use all their fingers."

unexpected benefit...

...of donating a couple of hours to volunteering today. Even though it took me two trips to get it done, I brought home three wooden pallets to paint. I have an 'order' for one, and hope to find good homes for the others. As you might well expect: when I get done, they will all be very patriotic.

When I was leaving the library, I noticed the pallets leaning up against the wall in the room where we were processing the hundreds of dictionaries. My eyes lit up, and I thought: 'Hot-diggity dog! I have found a source for more flags, if only they will fit in my car.'  I asked, attempting to sound very off-handedly casual, what plans they had for the pallets. I was told I would have to ask the director of the program, which made me sad, thinking that she already envisioned a garden project: some clever idea to recycle into decorative furniture as I know people are doing some amazing things with reclaimed wood.

She said she had been contemplating getting a crowbar. Which was even more distressing. Just the thought that they were already spoken for when I was so hoping to give them away, after I got them painted with stars and stripes to adopt out to deserving families.

She asked what I would do, and I told her my flag story. She helped  me haul them out the door and load into my car. They would not all fit, so I had to make two trips. Resulting in three pallets propped up against the wall in the carport: as inviting as a blank canvas is to a gifted artist. If you would like one, you have to promise to display in your front yard.

volunteering today...

...now that schools are getting back into session and kids will soon have worn the 'new' off shoes, clothes and backpacks. The Literacy Alliance will soon gear up to start making assignments with adult tutors going to help pre-school students begin to develop their pre-reading skills. I have volunteered with this program for several years, going into different neighborhood elementary schools.The assignment/obligation is for one day each week for eight weeks, to spend time one-on-one with little people who seem to be struggling with catching on to the basics they need to begin to learn to love reading.

Today, the request for help had a great response. The Alliance gives every third grade student in all the public elementary schools in the county a paperback dictionary to keep. They needed volunteers to meet in the community room, a meeting space in the library to prepare the dictionaries for distribution to the students. Every book needed a sticker placed on the first page, so the students would  know and remember that it was a gift from the Alliance, with additional funding also provided by a local civic group: Columbus Rotary Club. Also a ink pen, packaged together for gifting to each third grader.

There must have been over fifty people there in that room to help put the materials together. I expect the crowd of volunteers gets a little larger each year, now that a local Rotary club has started providing manpower as well as funding. I recall hearing that a number of the readers last year were members of Rotary:  a great source for volunteers in community service organizations. Historically Rotary has been mostly populated with business men, so a really good way to lure men into the tutoring program. Which would provide lots of little people interaction with adult males, and a bit  more opportunity to see guys who are interested and  involved as well as willing to devote an hour a week to help them develop their skills.

You know how with kids 'play' is their work? Exploring their ever-expanding world, experiencing daily routine activities is such a way of learning? Those little things that adults do: tying shoes, measuring ingredients for a recipe, testing the temp. of the bath water, the sequence of helping little people get dressed, how to pour cereal and milk in a bowl. Fine motor skills needed to button a shirt. Manners, social interaction: none of us were born knowing how. We all know that most teachers especially in the lower grades tend to be women, so having more men being willing to devote an hour a week to mentoring, just being there, having a conversation, as well as being reading coaches is a good thing.

'Olympic games'...

... for competitors who do not take the events too seriously. I was scrolling across the radio when driving this morning, looking for something to pass the time. Hoping to find a public radio station while traveling the interstate in the rain. Found something that was quite amusing.

It might have been a syndicated program that is broadcast nationwide, but the several people in conversation sounded like they have a history together, and enjoyed sharing the position announcing, talking about current event. They faceless people I was listening to had the same sort of camarderie you often see on sit-coms. Where the group involved will happily get a laugh at a co-workers' expense. Intending to gently poke fun at fellow participants quickly turns into something more rude, crude and not-so-funny. 

The topic they were discussing was current world events: talking about the upcoming competitions on today's calendar in Rio during the Summer Olympics. Things like kayak slalom, swimming, and badminton.They apparently started a mini-version of games for medal claiming. After they discussed scores thus far, one of the voices told the others that today's attempts would be in Bad Mittens.

Each of the participants sitting there in the broadcast booth had to put on a pair of mittens and attempt to pick up coins of various denominations. The coins could not be slid to the edge of the table, but had to be picked up wearing the mittens and deposited in a cup. The one with the highest total value of coins would be the day's winner.Each person only had thirty seconds to accumulate the maximum amount.  The first person to wear the mittens immediately went for the quarters, hoping for the highest score. So the last one in line, would naturally be stuck with nickles and pennies, with no hope of claiming the Gold for top score.

I do not know how the 'event' ended, as I drove out of range of the radio station, but thought it was both clever and amusing. The sort of endeavor that might be challenging for a children's party - simple in concept, but not as easy as it might originally appear. Plus you have to figure out a way to make it more 'democratic', so the first ones to put on the mittens with the timer going, do not get all the high value coins and leave the copper for the later gamesters.

It also made me think about the party game with balloons. My kids did years ago, when every one gets two inflated balloons, ties one on each ankle. The object is to stomp on everyone else's balloon while protecting your own. It can be chaotic, and slightly risky, so all the stompers need to be about the same size to keep toes from being mangled. Pretty funny - I think I still have a video of that...

going to visit the auntie...

Monday, August 8, 2016
... who lives in south GA. I got off work fairly early, so will have to afternoon to drive down and spend some time visiting with her. I know she is lonesome, living by herself, with not much in the way of social life or friends to interact with. There are times when she probably goes to the grocery store, just to get out of the house and have an opportunity to interact with someone besides the contestants on the Jeopardy show on TV.

Sadly: I talked with the person who works out of the Department of Family and Children's Services last week. She does intake when someone calls with a concern about an older person, relating to health and safety. The DFaCS person said that some anonymous person had reported the aunties' driving, for the third time. I am in total agreement, as I won't get in the car with her unless I am the one behind the steering wheel.

Reportedly if there is a fourth report, the Protective Services unit will contact family members and ask everyone to gather for a conference. Possibly leading to the person in question making a change, or a family member petitioning the court for Guardianship.I told the DFaCS person I am completely ready a family meeting  to happen. I've been trying to get info. out of the auntie for years, encouraging her to make some plans for her future, including possibility of no longer living independently. The auntie gives the impression of being in total denial.

I am hoping to have The Conversation with her, and pry some info. out relating to what her choices would be if she should become incapacitated,  which I forsee as a very real possibility. With a family history of at least two generations descending into dementia, I am fearful not only for her, but myself as well. Not much point in fretting about things we cannot change, but I do believe in being prepared. (Strike anywhere matches, right?) We shall see what we shall see....

You may be interested in knowing about the Mini-Mental Exam health care professionals give people who might be at risk for disability, expressing concerns about any type of mental difficulty. I observed my mom responding to the questions a number of times when I would accompany her to Dr. appointments. You can google it right up. And might want to go ahead and give it a go, see what your score is. No cheating! It would be a good idea for all of us to establish a 'base line' score.

another reason for thankful...

Sunday, August 7, 2016
... when I had a conversation with a co-worker today. M. and I always seem to get around to talking about families when we work together. We agree we are very congenial, and if it is at all possible to 'enjoy' slaving away for a paycheck, we can amuse ourselves well enough through the tedium to make it bearable.

She was telling me about a co-worker who 'went off' on a fellow worker who is a really sweet, mostly agreeable guy, but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. There are a couple of young guys who work as baggers, and do 'carry out' for customers. These two are Differently Able'd. I don't know if the term Handicapped is considered politically incorrect, but it is obvious after only the briefest of conversations with these two young men that they do have some ... issues? Generally hard working but often not aware of the finer points of customer interaction. I don't know either of them well, but know most people who work with them are very protective of them, and careful to see that other people show them an extra modicum of consideration.

This older man,also an employee, long retired from full time work, apparently said something really inappropriate to one of these guys who struggles with social situations. I don't know details, or\who would have reported the interchange to mangers, or maybe they were just overheard. But the older man, who can be 'short' with people, was apparently suspended from his part time job to have an opportunity to think over his ill-temper and bad manners.

What I am thankful for is fully functioning, adult children. Who are capable, confident, able to interact, deal with the world, socially aware, considerate of not just equals or co-workers, but also the less fortunate amongst us. Thankful they are independent, able-bodied, well-educated, literate, and just generally pleasant to be around. Civilized except for the occasionally objectionable, highly opinionated bumper sticker.

When people ask about the best part our trip in July, I tell them Just Being. With my Favorite People.

needing rain here...

...but not as desperately as people depending on the weather for their livelihood. There have been quite a few thunderstorms blowing through, with drenching rains that might last for twenty minutes. The kind of think you hear about on the news, when storm systems stall in an area, and produce life-threatening, home destroying flash flooding. I do not think we have had anything quite that dramatic here, but the quantity of water falling for short periods would, in my opinion, qualify as being a 'frog strangler'.

I have been sporadically dragging the hose around, due to foolish behavior: planting things that will only survive the heat if copiously watered. And periodically starting the soaker hose to leave running for several hours to give perennials, though established, enough to get through the blistering heat of August. I think, hope. believe those things that were in pots and recently put in the ground will be ok, if I can keep them wet until the weather changes. I put the native azaleas in holes in the back yard, a cuople of weeks ago, after a good rain, when the clay was diggable. And a couple of thee flowering almonds that I bought back in the spring, and failed to plant when the weather more conducive.

Last week, after much swearing over rock hard clay and difficulty with digging, planted some  'Stella' day lilies that are supposed to bloom all summer. Trying to focus on things that will make the pollinators: butterflies, bees and especially humming birds happy when they are looking for lunch. I've offered some butterfly bush that has 'volunteered', come up near the mother plant to a couple of people who will get it in the fall. Only the foolish (like me) would be transplanting in the drought and heatness of August., instead of November, which is a much better time to dig/transplant. If you want one - now is the time to put in your request.

veeerrrry important safety tip...

...you need to know about, and take action immediately you forget about doing it. If you have a printer in your house that is also a copier, you can do it right now. So stop that multitasking, scrolling through your favorite blogs as well as checking email and face booking and go to the printer right now.

Take your wallet out, and put all the cards down on the glass to make copies of everything, then turn the cards over and copy the back. You will need the contact numbers on the reverse of the cards if you should loose/misplace anything. God forbid this should happen, but you need to be prepared to have some way to cancel credit cards. So everything needs to be copied, and then you put the copies of all the cards/curriculum vitae where you will hopefully remember where valuable info .is hidden.

Drivers license, bank cards, insurance contact info., family medical history, list of current medications. Any pertinent info. you are carrying around in your wallet that would be difficult replace if stolen or misput.  Be prepared. I like to think of myself as congenitally optimistic, but practical enough to be prepared: with ample 'strike anywhere' matches to be ready for the unexpected.

I admit to a bit of latent paranoia. Partially due to a long history of occasionally living on the edge, generic foolishness, not doing anything particularly illegal, but maybe a bit shady, possibly on the cusp of not one hundred percent above board. Nothing (that I will admit to) more serious than underage alcohol consumption.

Oddly enough, it never crossed my mind to misbehave in my high school years, when my worst infraction was....(story for another day).  But I did an excellent job of making up for lost time upon leaving home, with a blatant disregard for authority. Refusing  to observe the social mores. Establishing a rep. for markedly poor decision making. But at this point, all such old news, it is hardly worth a mention. And about that: if given the opportunity to for a 'do over; I hope I would postpone that behavior for a while, as I now desperately wish for all those brain cells I killed.

lead astray...

Friday, August 5, 2016
...by my own daughter. It has been an exhausting week. Working too many hours crowded into too few days. I was on the schedule to work four days x five hours each day, but have accumulated nearly forty hours in that time. I actually had my manager go to the computer, and check to be sure I would not get over 40 if I stayed till five o'clock like he wanted me to do. Saying that if I should be 'over', the store manager would blame me,possibly send me home for a week to contemplate my unacceptable behavior. I told him I was completely unwilling to take responsibility for that. It was pretty close, but not too close.

About the middle of the afternoon, I began to think about what sort of reward would be appropriate to celebrate surviving another week of that misery-making job. And decided an  Adult Beverage would be a nice treat to wrap up the week. Something I used to drink years ago, but cannot recall the last opportunity for imbibing. My daughter took me to the Adult Beverage store several months ago, when she was searching for something particular/specific her husband wanted. I went along and remembered about the empty bottle of Southern Comfort on the shelf at my house.

Not completely totally empty, or I would have put it in the recycling bin. But empty enough to need a replacement, since it is not something you can take in for a refill. I guess I was hoping someone with a really big bottle, like a half gallon (or a pickup truck with a 55 gallon drum on the back?) would come along and offer to fill my little half pint?. Or maybe just to rinse it out and get enough  to flavor of alcohol to make one last drink before relegating the bottle to the trash?

So we went to the liquor store a couple of months ago, and I bought myself a little bottle. Not actually glass, but plastic - I guess to put in your hip pocket and not break when you get falling down drunk? And now, after working from 6 a.m. till 5 p.m., I am home, enjoying my Adult Beverage.

my flag...

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

... had gotten really faded, from being out in the weather, rain, heat, wind, sun. Always hanging on the pole, mounted on the carport. So I went to buy another. Found one at Harbor Freight for less than ten bucks.

The new one is really nice. The fifty white stars are neatly embroidered in tidy rows, and the stripes are all sewn, alternating bright red with sparkling white, rather than just printed on. Distressing to see on the packaging that it was 'Made In China'. 

But it is new, with bright colors, ready to be installed on the pole after I take the faded, frayed one down and give it a respectful retirement. I think the proper method of disposal is to burn it, so there may be a little episode of pyromania here shortly. 

I've talked to several people who have admired my pallet painted like a flag, that has caused me to offer to make more, so anyone who would like one has a big festive patriotic wooden pallet. The qualifier is they have to promise they will display the brightly colored flag in their front yard. Some immediately declined, but a couple agreed, so now I have to scrounge up more discarded pallets to do the painting on.

eating my tomato plants...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016
...big fat nasty green things. If they were 'desireables', I suppose they would be caterpillars. But since they are consuming my carefully tended plants at a remarkable pace, they are The Enemy. And face certain death, provided I spot them all and can give a good stomp.

I was looking out the window, and said to myself: 'hmmm... something is seriously wrong with those tomato plants!' The ones in the planter that I was expecting to yield a bumper crop of salad-sized grape tomatoes. The same ones I stood on top of the ladder to pound in the stakes to tie the long leggy plants up and keep the mow-and-blow guys from chopping them off. They are probably ten feet tall, tied up to the wooden stakes. But the top half of the vine is completely denuded of leaves.

Upon closer inspection, I saw more of those dang worms happily chomping away on the leaves. So disgusting I would not touch them, and had to come back in the house to get the kitchen tongs to peel them off the plants. Dropped them on the ground to give a vigorous stomp. I think I picked six off, without hesitation smooshing every one. The first two made me think they just sort of deflated under my shoe, then I realized all their insides came out. Yes, is is disgusting, but if they had not been messing with my tomato plants it would not have happened.

the cousin who met us...

... when we went  to the UK in July sent her teenager to the US for the summer. There was apparently an 'underground' exchange program established some years ago, as the cousins had children who became sixteen years of age. It sounds like a really neat idea, making me wish I had known about it, and could have been involved. I would have gladly made a donation when there were two teens here, living in a state of hormonal angst.

I think sending them off while knowing there is a good person out there who will be available in a crisis is a great way to stick a toe into the Real World. Someone you know and trust with your dearest, who will allow them to experience life in a different culture, but with a safety net. Providing assurance to the anxious parent. Who knows a dependable, responsible adult is on call for emergencies, and keeping tabs on a wandering youth.

This guy, who has spent the past month in the US is, according to his mom, a whiz at languages.  She said he 'taught himself" Russian, from books, and listening to speakers pronouncing the words on line and recordings. When they wee making plans for his summer, he agreed to spend a week at a French language camp in Decatur. Complete immersion - everyone speaking French all the time. I assume all the staff are students who have mastered the language and willing to help the teens with syntax, grammar, writing and speaking.

After several weeks in GA, the Uncle in Denver met him on a flight from Atlanta. During his stay in Colorado, he attended a camp where they all communicated in Japanese. Amazing. I don't know if he had any basic knowldege of Japanese but this week was also one of complete immersion: no English allowed. I would have been hungry, desperate by the end of the week, with no one feeding me due to not knowing how to ask for anything at all.

He is back in GA for several days before he will return to UK the end of the week. I do want to see him, and today is the only chance, so, yeah, crazy person is making another trip to Decatur...