Friday, May 31, 2013

Mary's Birthday Gift

These petunias were a birthday gift from Michelle, and Mary had the perfect planter for them.

(The green thing at the bottom of the planter is the shutter)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

I want to publicly shame myself

I was sitting in a big upholstered chair, sipping some sort of flavored water, just put down a copy of Entertainment Weekly reading about all the summer movies. My cleaning woman is out in the garden sweeping with water to clean the floor out there, after telling me she was late because she had to wait 45 minutes for a bus. She had just cleaned my bedroom, one bathroom, changed my sheets and swept and mopped my steps and then headed for the garden. With more of the apartment ahead of her.

I'm sitting there, put down the magazine, put my head back, close my eyes and muttered, "I'm so tired."

Ewwwww. Mary and I talk about this frequently. I know everything is relative, and I know I have a very privileged life. For example, one of my clients told me that his brakes were feeling funny and he took his car in and the bill was $500. He said something to the effect of, "I don't like spending that money, but I have it." And we wonder what people who don't have $500 do -- drive around with bad brakes?

But back to my shaming -- I am allowed to be tired even though there will always be someone more tired than I am. I got a bit defensive with myself and thought that I'm tired but at least I'm earning money to pay her with.


It still happens to me, and just did, that I read  or write something on the computer while my background TV says the exact same word or words. This is not a common word that you'd expect. A client just wrote me an email and at the end he asked me if I wanted to put down a deposit on this new business jet. I wrote back "Would 50 bucks do it? I can afford that."

Just as I finished typing "I can afford that" -- the voice on the TV said the exact same words. I don't know what point I'm trying to make but this happens to me all the time.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Got to Vent about Sprint

A loose end of my new computer and router is that I had to cancel my mobile WiFi with Sprint. I've been a customer for about six years. When I opened the most recent bill, I looked at the total and thought I had forgotten to pay the bill since it was double what it normally is. As it turned out, I had paid the bill, but this was overages.

In six years, I have never once had an overage.This past month,  I did not download War and Peace or Gone with the Wind or do anything that I hadn't been doing for six years.

So I call Sprint to start this process. Go through the annoying phone tree. Am prompted to enter my PIN number. I have no PIN number. Is it a PIN number? Is it a password? If it's a password, I can pretty much guess what it is, but no, it's a six digit numerical PIN. I have no idea.

I get a live person who says I can answer a security question which is "What is the name of your first elementary school?" I told the answer and it was wrong. No way. I went to the same school from nursery school through senior in high school... the same public school. There was no other answer I could give.

She said she'd have to send me a letter via the post office which takes 4 to 5 days. When I protested, she transferred me to someone else. Go through the story. She asks me the last 4 digits of my SS# and my mailing address. I then get into the overages and it was she said, she said. I'd say my behavior was no different. She'd say "On May 6th, you downloaded..." and I'd look at my calendar and have no clue. But it wasn't just one day -- and I just refuse to believe that the past month my behavior online was so different that for the first time I have overages.

Plus it was a bad connection to the sub-continent.  I kept asking them to slow down, talk slowly, so I could understand. I tell her to forget it, that this conversation is pointless and go on to tell her since my new computer has Windows 8, I can't use 3G and I have never been able, no matter where I am, to hold a 4G connection.

She then transfers me to a total stranger who knew nothing about me. I sigh and tell my whole story again. The woman says, "I'm so sorry, but this is technical support and I can't help you."
On to the fourth person who was this man who I also could barely hear. I could hear them, but you know they are talking into a headset and they talk fast in a sing-songy way that's hard to understand. Oh dear, do I sound like an old person?

The guy would do nothing about the overages, then tried to convince me that I could update the software so that it's compatible, I said no, that I could do this and that with Sprint, and I said no. I have to say that I rarely had a good connection with Sprint. I had a workable connection. Oh, he even asked me if I knew anyone who would want to use this mobile WiFi so I wouldn't cancel. Uh, no.

I was sort of happy to be able to say no and to wash my hands of Sprint. What I owe is $148 for these overages instead of $62 for the monthly bill. Then, of course, there's a $50 cancellation fee. So I pay this $148 and then I'll get a bill on June 17th with NO monthly charge unless I use it, which I won't, and the $50 cancellation fee along with "taxes and other administrative charges."

It's such a total rip off. We have to pay to cancel?? I hate to say this, but part of me was glad that it was "only" $50.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Where's Summer? Where's Spring?

It's supposed to warm up tomorrow, and I guess I should be grateful that my air conditioning bill isn't being run up, but it is COLD. And rainy. Not late May feeling at all. Let's see -- I don't have to water my garden -- I'm not sweating -- there must be more good things about this weather.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Barbara Sends Greetings from the Country

Barbara writes: Summer vacation started for us on Friday, and after two days of rain and one of clouds, the sun is glorious here on Memorial Day. 

B says:
The bleeding hearts and lily of the valley are in full bloom.


B says:
A.J. from the inside, A.J. from the outside... one of his favorite summer spots

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What I'm Reading

This book is written in two voices, alternating chapters:  an 89-year old white woman and a black woman hairdresser in her 30s. The book also goes from present time and back to the late 1930s. The old lady has developed a close friendship with her hairdresser and asks her hairdresser to drive her from Arlington, Texas, to Cincinnati for a funeral. Along the way, she talks about the (forbidden) relationship she had back then with the son of their housekeeper when they lived in Kentucky.
I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon and they all say these are unforgettable characters -- and they are -- just interesting characters you haven't met before. I read about 80 pages today, and I would have kept reading but hunger called.

Happy Birthday, Judy!

Happy Birthday to Mary's sister Judy, and here are

Five Things I Like about


1. She produced four smart, funny and kind children who contribute to society. Not a bad one in the bunch. I was thinking this means, as a parent, she made thousands of correct decisions. Maybe Rob had something to do with this, but if moms always get blamed, moms should also get credit too.

2. Despite some scary health challenges, she always maintained her cheerfulness and humor.

3. Just like me, she has low-class taste in reality television so we can talk for hours about the various housewives, drama, which folks we like and which we don't and who said what to whom.

4. She has always made me feel welcome in her home and a member of her family.

5. What's odd is that Judy and I have so much more in common that Mary and I so together I get the best of both worlds. Oh wait, that's about me, not Judy. I would say Judy is just a funny, sweet -- just the salt of the earth person. What's not to like?

Happy Birthday, Judy!

Fran's Interesting Evening

Wow, now I'm feeling boring...My evening was not like this. Fran writes:

May I highly recommend Jaleo Restaurant. Yum yum. We ate at the one in Crystal City. It's a Spanish tapas place. Superbly prepared food. (There's one located downtown near F street.)

I had seared giant scallops, grilled sausage w white beans, fingerling potatoes in special tomato and garlic sauce,...and tasted roasted divine shrimp, chicken something or other. And drank several glasses of white sangria to die for.

The Bonds hosted a dinner at Jaleo's for10 people in honor of their......ready? Their cat Calvin's 15th birthday. We then went back to their home for birthday cake and coffee.

And here's the proof. Happy Birthday Calvin!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

On an Unrelated Note

I had mentioned the restaurant on my corner that has been empty for a long time -- this is the place that had the fabulous guacamole with crabmeat. The pizza place on the opposite corner told me a restaurant was going there, but I couldn't tell what kind.

There's a wooden covering around the place, and I thought what was on the wood was a poster since it said I LOVE GRASS, but that's actually the name of the new restaurant (I think). It's going to be a burger place that sells grass-fed, organic hamburgers. Stand by for a review, but it could be months away. And Food Emporium is officially closed.

More Horticulture

This is a columbine -- Ok, so it looks a little like the False Indigo. They're both blue flowers with green leaves...

And here's a "better" photo of Mary's stinky iris:

Lazy, Un-Summerlike Saturday

When I went to take the garbage out today, someone who lives in this building was coming in and he was actually wearing a winter ski parka. Yes, it's that cold. Rainy, cold, made it to 50, now it's back in the 40s.

I must say I had a relaxing day. I woke up with nothing particular to do in a clean apartment with no work thing hounding me. I got groceries, did laundry, finished my book, took a nap (hey, that was exhausting!), watched my Netflix, played video games, watched TV, enjoyed browsing Netflix site to update my queue. Enjoyed browsing and bought two new nightgowns and a pair of sandals with the Memorial Day weekend bonanza coupons.

I enjoyed the experience of *falling* asleep. I was consciously feeling what it was like -- definitely a feeling of falling, but maybe it's more drifting and I reach a point where I believe I'm still awake, but I'm not. And it's great to wake up in my own big comfy chair and not in an airport gate or hotel room.

So I hope all of you had an equally relaxing day. Tomorrow the sun is supposed to come out and it's supposed to warm up. Shout out to the people of New Jersey with their rebuilt beach communities who are determined to ENJOY the rebuilt boardwalks, etc. News is filled with images of them walking the boardwalk in the rain and cold.

Friday, May 24, 2013

More Flowers from Mary

I've had this for about a week. Mary writes:

This is a flower that I can't remember blooming  more vigorously than ever before

Can anyone identify it? A columbine?


Back in Business!

After every imaginable set up problem with my new computer and my new Verizon DSL, I am officially up and running. Believe it or not, I have been using dial up for the past three days -- that's enough power to read and respond to email, but that's about it. Last stop was a visit with Rose of India who was quite helpful to the point of doing "screen share" so I just sat there and watched. Fine with me. She felt as if she had to explain every step, which I truly didn't care about, but it's now done.

I'm celebrating!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mary's Stinky Flowers

Marys says, "The garden is in full bloom.  These antique looking iris are the most beautiful flowers I've grown, but Fran will attest to the fact that they stink to high heaven."

Fran weighs in:
"Like some Hollywood starlets...beautiful outside but stinky....
These irises are truly the most beautiful I've seen."

Home Again Monday

Uneventful trip home. All is well. It will be great to sleep in my own bed tonight and wake up without pressure tomorrow. Warm, but misty rainy here. All is well.

Since I complain about customer service, I should do the opposite and praise the woman at the Dollar counter I use. She was very friendly to me when I got the car last week, said she hadn't seen me in a while. When you return a car, you have to drive it through this very narrow opening that was built probably in the 1920s, if not earlier, when cars were way smaller and down this steep ramp which I've complained about before. I was told that returning customers often won't drive it down there, not because of the steep uphill trek out of there, but they are afraid to go through such a narrow opening without scratching the car.

So I was planning to do it, to drive it down there, but then it was so tempting to not. I left the car on the street and went in and told Michelle (I had asked her name last week) and she said something like don't worry, just sit down and rest. Yes, my kind of woman. She goes running out to drive the car down there and meanwhile I got out $5 to tip her which she refused to take. She really refused, not just put up a little bitty fight about it.

What I didn't know is that her boss had called when she was gone wanting to know where she was, why the phone wasn't answered and she said something like I had to take care of MY customer -- like I was her special customer. I told her how much I like the Altima, which I really do, and she said she'll make sure I get one every time.

There are so many crappy, disinterested clerks you encounter when you  travel that it's such a nice surprise to find someone who really gets what it means to be of service. I did send a twitter to Dollar about her. (OK, selfishly I confess I wanted Michelle to see I appreciated her so that the good service will continue.)

Welcome home to me.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What I Saw on Sunday


This is way back in Ohio, about 15 minutes from where I spent the night, and I appreciate the personal direction.
The day started out sunny and warm.

I had noticed one of those brown highway signs for historic things and one said "Brookville Historic District" so I figured I should take a look and this is the beginning. This is in Pennsylvania.

Turned out to be 263 bulldings (I checked Wikepedia) that are both residential and commercial. Almost like an old town that somehow didn't get razed in the name of progress.

This is the downtown section which are all old building -- you don't see parking like this much anymore.

Just another one of the buildings. This one looked really old.

This is in a store/gas station type place in the restroom. Of course, I have to read every sign. What's with the "store leader?" We don't have managers any more? I notice more and more that people are saying "team" instead of "department" so maybe this is part of that. Some HR genius decided a leader is better than a manager.

And here's the button you push to summon the store leader. So then I was headed back to the highway where I saw another sign, not commercial, but like a municipat sign with an arrow to the "Moonlite Drive In" -- it was only 3/4 mile so I thought I should check it out.

It appears to still be open... I thought drive ins were supposed to be cheap -- that you paid by the car. I have great memories of going to drive ins as a child -- that was the height of the drive in craze -- I did google this one, and it's been in constant operation since 1952.

I totally forgot about thiat -- that when you drove in, you turned off your car headlights.

You can see there's
dirt road, an open field. There are no sound systems -- that's how I remember it -- that you hooked some speaker up to the car, but this doesn't have any.
So now I'm in Allentown on a foggy, misty night. If all goes well, I'll be home safe and sound by lunch tomorrow.

So Sad about Powerball

I heard this morning that there is one winner in Zephyrhills, Florida. To add insult to injury, I have stayed in Zephyrhills (and yes, it's one word)... it's an old town with the Wal-Mart, McDonald's area added in.

I stayed there last year when I made my annual Florida airshow trip, and I stayed there in order to get a cheaper hotel since I pay for it myself. It's about 40 minutes from the airshow. I am holding out some hope that maybe my gang and I won a lesser prize, but I have no emails from anyone there -- um, maybe they want to tell me by phone?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Sights

Finished my work and headed north, but first a bit of sad news. This first photo is the site of that little "house by the side of the road" which was torn down between my trip here in January and now. I missed seeing it.

The guys told me the house was torn down in one day and that until recently there was an old lady living there.

This is a church two minutes from my client, and I thought that blessing the hands of healthcare workers was really a lovely thought.

This is a lawn sign and the "just point" appealed to me. Wouldn't that be great to just point and have something done. You wouldn't even have to speak -- just point at those dirty dishes; just point at that laundry.

Heading toward Columbus, then passing it.

This is my little dumpy hotel/motel which I like so much. Love pulling right up to the room. Last time I was here I was tiptoeing through an icy parking lot in a snow flurry.

And here's my rockin' Saturday night. Lying on my stomach on the bed, with my computer, with Cops on TV. Note that I have cleverly pulled my suitcase up to the bed to serve as a snack table/drink holder! Tomorrow it's on to Allentown.


It's 9:30 pm and I don't know if the numbers have been picked. Not only did the Powerball organizer collect the money and buy the tickets, he figured out people's approximate winnings and how much tax we'd have to pay. Of course I was the winner with tax because NY state residents are charged federal, state and I also have city taxes. I can say I was having some great financial fantasies over this. So keep an ear out for a winner where the tickets were purchased in Ohio. Don't know the name of the town, but we'll start with Ohio.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Tuesday's Photos on Friday

My computer problems are solved and I have a lightning fast, connected computer with Microsoft Office and it damn near killed me. Enough on that.

So back to my first day of travels... I figure I have the photos so I might as well use them.

Here goes:

Ok. it's Tuesday and I'm leaving NYC. This is one block from my house, and I hear at least one blast every day. My mantra is I want to live long enough to have one ride on this subway.

This is on Route 80 where I was bumper to bumper going back two miles... these signs were counting down as we crawled along.
Almost there... I get to see the so-called Traffic Emergency... which turned out to be a big nothing of traffic cones blocking one lane
This is the scenic overlook right by the Delaware Water Gap. I stopped here In January and it was way more scenic without all the leaves blocking the view, but people were having a picnic. Maybe next trip I'll have a picnic here too.

Ever since Mark Sanford "hiking the Appalachian Trail" when he was boffing his Argentienean, I laugh every time I hear the Trail mentioned. Plus I'm fascinated by the little pictogram of the hikers. They seem awfully weighted down with their backpacks.

Then I stopped to do some fly fishing with this man and his dog. Ok, I'm lying. This was the back of an RV ahead of me and I wanted to see if I could make it look like a real scene.

This is the Delaware River and the Delaware Water Gap. I'm not sure what the Delaware Water Gap is.

Heading West, out of New Jersey, past the Delaware Water Gap, into Pennsylvania

This is a regional 7-11 type chain, and I just love the name.

WaWa has nice landscaping. Loved this little tree.

I had to sneak in at least one road picture.

This is the lightswitch in my bathroom. It's always my first stop when I come in the room and I somehow got the light on without really looking at it and I'm (ahem) sitting there and all of a sudden the room goes dark. So this is a timer... I guess to save electricity.

This is the lovely view of the lovely pool from my lovely room,, but it was drizzing rain, but I might have had a nice view.

My $65 room.

And now it's Wednesday and I stopped for lunch at a Wendy's and this doesn't really capture it, but it was so peaceful, out in farm country.  I went through drive-thru and then sat in my car with the windows open and ate and read my book.

Approaching Columbus, headed to Cincinnati.


Catching up with Photos

Fran also sent this with only the caption "The party goes on."

If I had to tell a story about these two photos, I'd say that Mary and Fran went out to dinner to celebrate Mary's birthday and the meal ended with some sort of lavish dessert which looks like a banana split.

Fran's Orchid

Two years ago, Fran and Mary joined me on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where Fran bought an orchid plant that must love living with Fran as it continues to bloom.

Fran writes:

The wonderful Tilghman Island orchid plant--remember I bought it several years ago on a visit to your summer cottage?--bloomed again. I had not noticed signs of new life, when suddenly there it was in all its glory. Such a lovely surprise.
Happy trails to you --

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thursday Report

All is well, and I am puttering through the week. This client is having an outdoor event on Saturday, and today it moved to sixty percent chance of rain, so we'll see. Not much we can do about it.

On more frustrating fronts, my little computer finally gave out, not totally, but I bought a new computer with blessed Windows 8 on it which hasn't gotten good reviews. I did not know at the time, but Windows 8 does not work with 3G connections, and my mobile wifi has 3G and 4G, but nowhere whether, here, NY, PA, wherever has 4G reception.

I have downloaded AOL on my new computer, but I had not downloaded Microsoft Office. So today at my client, I thought I could plug my new computer into their network. It worked, but so slowly that it would take 60 seconds to open one email. I futzed with it for hours, finally asked for help.

One of the guys diagnosed, on a hunch, that it was the McCaffee virus protection that was slowing it down since it was using 50 percent of the computer's power which make no sense, but we uninstalled it since I had another virus protection and that cured it. Lightning fast computer.

I was now ready to buy and download Office which I did, got to within 1/2 inch of moving bar to show the download and it stalled. Nothing would make that bar go that last 1/2 inch. I really felt like crying. I stayed a while after everyone had left trying to re-download and couldn't. One of my guys said he'd do it in the morning, and I left it there.

I would gladly buy and use a replacement, old-fashioned little computer like this one. It's all I need. But I figure I'm better off now than I was this morning and I do believe my guy will fix it for me and then I will just have to figure out what I'm going to do when I get home.


But all may not be lost. Calling all lottery angels. I'm in Powerball country, and today one of the guys was forming a pool to buy Powerball tickets as a group. I put in five dollars. Predictions are that the total amount by Saturday night could be $700 million and my share is 2-1/2 percent. As Mary has said over the years, we'd make GOOD rich people.

I also gambled one dollar more today. This company has a sweepstakes annually and you pick a state out of an envelope -- there are 53 "states" in all due to Canada, other foreign, and APO/FPO. So the most I could win is $53 --- so maybe I'll be announcing good financial news.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Now in Ohio.

All is well. Last night, my room got so cold, with weather in the low 50s that I turned on the heat. Now it's 86 in Ohio and I have turned on the AC.

Here are some flowers Mary received: