Saturday, November 30, 2013

Netflix Recommendation

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy are two of my favorites -- if you haven't seen this yet, Sandra is an uptight FBI agent and Melissa is a totally informatl Boston cop who get teamed up and go after a big drug lord. It's rated R, but there's no sex, just loads of vile language -- but language so vile (from Melissa's character) that it's funny. This is not Ghandi, or any serious movie. I laughed aloud a dozen times. I can't give this four stars because it's like fast food, but it's definitely worth the rental and worth the time if you know it's something mindless.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lazy Friday

Look up lazy in the disctionary today and you'd see my photo. I slept late, never got dressed (very unusual for me), watched TV, played video games and ate macaroni and cheese for dinner. More TV tonight and maybe a Netflix. It's quite cold and all is well.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Mary's Family

This is Mary and her two cousins who are brothers -- Dwight on the left, Doug on the right. Mary in the middle. I had met Doug and Dwight for the first time back in 1969 -- my how the time flies! Mary told me that Dwight recently did to his thumb what I did to my big toe --- a garden variety whoops which turned into a big deal. Dwight had to have surgery on his thumb -- he went a little farther than I did!

Happy Thanksgiviing!

I'm back from my Thanksgiving celebration at my sister's home in Long Island. Of course all my worries about the car not showing up to bring me, not showing up to take me home, finding the house right, etc were all for naught. Delightful trip both ways and zero traffic. On the way home, another guest came with me who had come out by train and was thrilled to ride back in a car.

I told him there's something so depressing about that return trip on the train -- it's dark and you're plucked from a group of happy people and you're alone and there are old newspapers on the floor and everyone looks a little sad -- so the car was a great alternative.

Now it's on with the show:

This is my niece Charlotte who is about to be 15 and is in the 9th grade and my nephew Clark who is in the 7th grade.

This is Scott, one of the guests, who, along with his wife drove down from Portland, Maine, with their new rescue puppy named Cassco (like the Bay). At first we thought the dog's name was Costco.

This is my niece Louisa who is a twin of Clark's. I didn't know until today that many people think that my sister and her husband named them Louisa and Clark after the explorers Lewis and Clark which never occurred to me. So when they say their names, they say Clark and Louisa.

This is Clark and Louisa, the twins NOT named after the explorers.

Silliness in the kitchen. The woman in the back is Scott's wife, Charry.

This is Mary's husband Scott cutting the turkey with their dog Charlie ever-so-patiently hoping that Scott dropped some turkey.
This is the dining room table. They live in a wonderful old house that they've had dated to the first half of the 1800s which was made much larger in 1934. I really do prefer old homes.

Right before we sat down to eat. We had turkey, stuffing (gluten and gluten free), carrots glazed with brown sugar and Jack Daniels, mashed potatoes, gravy, roasted Brussel sprouts, corn pudding and corn bread which someone else brought. Scott (Mary's husband) was also making yeast rolls and miscalculated the rising times so there wasn't time for them. I was grateful that he isn't the host who prolongs dinner until 8 pm so we can eat the rolls! I did miss having one though.
The cernterpiece

These are the placecards which the children made and I took mine home as my Thanksgiving souvenir.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Good Toe Report, at Last

I had a 3:30 appt at a podiatrist that CityMD had recommended and I was dreading going based on Saturday's report. To me, my foot looked almost the same as Saturday -- maybe a 20% improvement. I think Stephanie went to this podiatrist on 86th St.  -- Dr. Teitelbaum... and he was just a really nice older man, and I liked him.

CityMD had told me on Saturday that they were going to give me my xrays to bring today and then they never did and I forgot about it and I had already decided that, having trooped to the doctor, I was not dragging myself further back to CityMD. So they did ask today for the xrays and I truthfully said they didn't give me any -- and the other front desk woman piped up "Oh I'll run over there and get them." Good idea. I figured she saw it as a trip out of the office.

So I sit in the big comfy examination chair and he comes in and asks me various questions, then looks at the toe and says the stitches are ready to come out and he took them out. You know how they won't say anything bad about another doctor, but today he told me that he saw no infection and I asked what the discoloration was that the other doctor called an infection and he said "that's just bruising."

He took the stitches out, put a bandage on, told me to start using neosporin or bacitracin and I had bought some neosporin... to change the bandage daily for two more weeks, to wear the ortho shoe for two more weeks. He said the biggest danger is if the bone got infected and he said there's no evidence of that at all.

I am supposed to go back to him in two to three weeks to be xrayed again. So I felt as if a weight had been lifted and I am happy to get the stitches out -- just a milestone. Today, in fact, is the two week anniversary of the accident although it seems like two months ago.

It is raining, nasty out and cold and I walked there -- slowly -- and walked back -- a little more slowly as my foot hurt a bit from the stitches out -- but I am happy that during tomorrow's big storm I have no place to go. I changed my Thanksgiving plans from Wednesday and Thursday to just Thursday and I have canceled the rental car and hired a car service so I will be picked up and brought home door to door and it's less than a rental car. It's a service I've used before alot. My heart goes out to all those folks stuck at airports.

Tonight I am thankful that I'm on the mend, with no infection and no more stitches.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Netflix Recommendation

I watched "The Words" which is about a struggling writer who can't get attention for his work, is humiliated by having to borrow money from his father who thinks he should get a "real job." He finally gives in and gets a day job, gets married, goes on a honeymoon to Paris and in a flea market type shop he finds this old briefcase/portfolio that his wife buys for him.

Doesn't pay much attention to it until one day he sees a compartment in it that he hasn't noticed and inside is a manuscript for a book which he eventually copies one for word and the book is a huge success... but you know what happens... of course, the original author turns up. It's easy to get into, I really like Bradley Cooper and it's just an interesting "little" movie. PG13

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sunset in DC

Mary and Fran independent of each other sent me these views of sunset in DC tonight. The first two are Fran's; the third is Mary's.

Toe Progress

It was two steps forward and one step back when I went to CityMD to get my stitches out today. First, I will say that the people were all -- from the front desk to the doctor and various staff -- above and beyond friendly and kind.

The doctor kept reiterating what a bad break this was. He also says there's an infection -- a red area but said there's no x, y or pus -- meaning that's a good thing. I didn't know the words he used but I took it to mean no gooky stuff, just redness and some warmth.

They re-x-rayed it, gave me a new prescription for antibiotics, did NOT take out the stitches, want me to go to a podiatrist on Monday (they'll make the appt) and put some kind of cream on and rebandaged it. The doctor also gave me a new shoe -- and this is the Cadillac of shoes -- makes my Cinncinnati one look like Payless Shoe! He even said he wouldn't charge me for the shoe.

On the bright side, he said that I am taking good care of my toe -- he said that 2, maybe 3 times. The other bright spot is that my blood pressure was OK.

Barbara had volunteered to go with me and I said no, but how I was wishing I'd said yes. I was not expecting to get another prescription and the walk to the drugstore, then home, seemed like climbing a mountain. I had thought my drug store delivered prescriptions, and they do, but not on weekends. So the woman at the front desk really went above and beyond when she called the drugstore to see if they'd deliver, then she called the prescription in to this tiny drugstore two doors down which I didn't even know had a pharmacy, then cancelled the first prescription. So I was able to walk two doors down and then got in a cab. I just was exhausted as I didn't expect to be at the medical place that long.

I do feel good that a doctor has looked at it. I called Mary when I got home, all sad and defeated and discouraged and I find myself full of fear of falling or getting some horrid infection and then I said that I have to stick with facts. The fact is that I am incredibly careful with steps, with walking, and the fact is that the doctor sent me home with a prescription. He did not send me to a hospital.

When I was checking in, there was a mother and teen daughter and one of the front desk people was saying to them, "No, you're going there right now. You're getting in a cab and going there now." So I know they send you directly to a hospital.

A good thing I did was bring my papers from the Cincinnati hospital with me which showed all the technical things, and the medications they gave me. All those antibiotics sound the same to me so I"m glad I had the paper.

I liked the doctor but he was my age, sort of this sort of scrappy New Yorker who kept telling me my toe is "a disaster" -- just like the paramedic said it's an "amputation" -- I just wish they could have gentler words.

But I came home, licked my wounds (OK, not literally!) called Mary and ate dinner and now am relaxing and watching TV.

Please send antibiotic/germ killing thoughts my way.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


 I had lunch with Barbara the day before I left for Ohio, and, right before I left to meet her, I was on the phone with Fran who told me to say hello to Barbara. Fran laughed that she only knows Barbara via the blog. When I passed along the hello to Barbara, she said she doesn't know Fran, but she knows the names of Fran's cats and said them. Weird electronic world we live in -- so here's Angelina looking regal.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Second Day Home

Suitcase slowly unpacked; laundry down to one load. Continued improvement on toe. Trying to catch up with work.

Monday, November 18, 2013

First Day Home

I'm plugging along, foot is doing better each day. Set to get the stitches out on Friday. Not much to report. Enjoyed one of the last mild days of the season today with a cold snap coming.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Home Safe and Sound

I had a string of little annoyances getting home, but I was lucky enough to have a Dollar rental car guy hanging out outside the building (it was raining!) and I called over to him and he did everything -- took my suitcase out of the trunk, I handed him my computer bag and purse, he drove the car down the ramp to park it, he got me my receipt. Then I had a great cab driver who brought my luggage inside to about 15 feet of my door. Then a neighbor came along and I asked him to bring it inside (since there's three steps into my apt). Am happy to do nothing today! Thanks for all the kind words of support.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday NIght, and Almost Home

Am in my Allentown, PA, staging area. Will be home, God willing, by lunch tomorrow. In the meantime, here's the toe. Took a pain pill last night, but none today since I was driving. The changes are less blood and more purply toes, black and blue marks all over.

Also I noticed black and blue marks on my arm. The blood pressure machine was broken (really) and it took them a while to figure out that it was broken and they kept doing it over and over until I thought my arm would burst. Finally they brought in another machine.

This is in the hosptial before they did anything to it. Oh I think they had injected it three times and then left to give it time to get numb, but not numb enough. Those are the railings I squeezed as my toenail was being taken off. I need a bullet to bite

This is what I'm stylin' these days. It doesn't look that bad. but it's a gauze pad with gauze strips wrapped around it and then tape over it. The shoe is hard rubber and theres a separate piece of the shoe that goes on top (in the middle under the straps). The heel comes up high in the back and there is no give when you walk -- the sole of the shoe is hard rubber. But thank god I had a pedicure going.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Off to bed

Chinese food outside of a major metropolitan area can be iffy -- so what is Chinese food like in Wadsworth, Ohio?

It's weird to call the place and talk to a suburban sounding man. However I have to say that the egg drop soup was the best I've ever had -- ordered some dumplings which were wonderful and then some egg foo young. I had to laugh as in NYC, you are not given one molecule more mustard or duck sauce than they think you deserve. Tonight, there were literal handfulls of condiments in this bag, so many that I considered bringing some home, but I countered the hoarder in me and am not going to.

So I am well fed, rested, as happy as I can be. My bandage is still white after having it on since about 730 this morning so that's good. (I accidentaly just typed "so that's god" -- ok, I'll give him/her credit for that!)

Friday at 7

One leg down (Hmmm... maybe I shouldn't use that expression...) I'll start over: One segment of my trip down, two to go. I left at 1 pm today and I'm so glad I did. I could drive mostly in daylight and I was getting drowsy near the end. I do have a book on CD which I'm really enjoying so it was an easy trip. The only fly in the ointment is bathroom stops. Of course, I've figured out the least amount of walking involved. Today I used the state "rest areas" -- always close up parking and benches along the sidewalk. They also have the "family/handicapped restroom."  These are not full size rest stops, just parking and a building with restrooms and some vending machines -- you can walk your dog, picnic tables etc.

I remember when I broke my ankle how grateful I was for accommodation such as toilet grab bars and curb cuts. A curb might as well be 4 feet tall when you have to go up one step and have nothing to hold on to.

I had been ruminating about the crutches which I have not used. Right or wrong, they make me feel uncoordinated and off balance. I could not decide what to do with them -- take them, leave them... to such an extent that I couldn't make a decision. So meanwhile before I left, one of my colleagues brought me a "hurry-cane" -- I really thought a cane is better for me than crutches. So then what to do about the crutches? He said maybe the company wants them, and asked and they decided they could use a pair of crutches at the company so I'm glad they will be put to use if necessary, the crutches are not my burden anymore and I have a great cane. I like the cane because it also gives people a visual clue so they open doors for me, etc. And it folds up into a carrying case. Oh dear, I'm excited about my new cane.

During the drive I sort of did this scan of physical, mental, emotional me and the only blip was a sense of fear. I couldn't see my toe well and when I got a glimpse of it, it looked like blood  had come through and I could feel moisture in the shoe so of course I catastrophize and picture this soaking wet bandage in a bloody shoe.

When I got to a rest stop, and swung my leg out, of course the bandage is pure white, not a drop of blood in sight and the moisture I felt was my bare foot against the rubber of the shoe. I was thinking of that 12-step notion that FEAR stands for "false evidence appearing real" -- as hokey as that is, it is what fear is.

Anyway, my only challenge was getting in the door to my hotel room. I have stopped at this place before and you park right in front of your room. I even backed in so it couldn't have been closer. There is no curb, but it's a higher-than-usual step into the room from the outside door. So I'm pulling myself on the door frame to make the step up, and I did it.

When I checked in, I asked if they had any places which delivered and she gave me a bunch of menus so I'm leaning toward Chinese since I am thinking soup would be good.

Tomorrow it's onward to Allentown, PA.

Friday at 10 am

Homeward bound today!

Funny bit from this morning -- I had called the front desk to get help with my luggage. I did over-rule myself and my instinct to "Oh, I can manage" -- so I called the front desk, waited 15 minutes, called again --she was like 'ho hum' and I said "I'm going to be late for a meeting" and she sprung to action -- I don't know when she was planning to send someone... Anyway, so I eventually hear a knock on my door and I yell out "I'm coming" and I hear this little voice outside the door that says "I'm the breakfast lady and I'm here to help you" -- it just struck me as funny and sweet. She was very solicitous and kept saying "Bless you dear" as I hobbled to the car.

My housekeeping lady was outside the door,literally outside sitting on a bench smoking when I left. I told her I left some stuff for her -- some little giveaways from the one meeting and a bag of jelly beans that I really didn't want -- and she took off like a shot. And came back and thanked me... so I felt I had a good team on my side.

Meanwhile, the assistant to the company lawyer came over to talk this morning and said she wished she'd known so she could have come to the hospital. She added, "And I would act normal" -- and she would. She wrote her number on a post-it note and I stuck it on the back of my insurance card. Another colleague who gave me his cellphone and his wife's cellphone number (who is a nurse at the hospital I went to) told me that the numbers are good (meaning he'll come help me) within a 500-mile range and I should call him and if I'm more than 500 miles he'll find someone to come save me... so I have lots of guardian angels on my side.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday NIght

I was able to work a full day today -- I was going to leave at 4 pm, but when that time came I was knocking out work and felt ok. Finally at 5:45 I was feeling pooped and I said enough. But I feel good that I was able to function somewhat normally.

I had a concern about getting my luggage to the car so I called the front desk and asked if there would be anyone available to help me. I told her I'm the one who had injured myself and she really responded and said, "We'll get a housekeeper or a maintenance man or someone to help you. Don't worry, just call the front desk." I asked her if she was the one who called the ambulance for me and she was and I thanked her and she asked how it turned out, etc.

So I stopped for food on the way home and was able to have the evening I had planned -- relaxing, watching TV and eating dinner.

Now the next big agenda item is I'm going to change the bandage and then put on my nightgown, dim the lights and fall asleep.

I also decided as of right now I'm only going to work half a day tomorrow. That will get me driving before it's dark -- and when I still have full energy.

In short, I had a modified normal day... people would come up to me during the day and ask about me and I would repeat the same story and this one man who sits next to me was forced to hear me telling the same story and it reminded me of an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy has this big story and at first Ethel urges her to keep telling the story, then Ethel gets so sick of hearing the story that she starts mouthing the words as Lucy speaks and mimic how Lucy was telling the story. I was aware of that with Mark and sometimes glanced over to see if his lips were moving in sync with mine.

I have often thought about when Stephanie went through chemo with the same two women who were both wealthy, and when Stephanie was still working and standing on her feet all day doing hair, these two other women were getting massages and their husbands were buying them diamond bracelets. But Stephanie still had to work chemo or no chemo with no massages and diamond bracelets.

As I hobbled to the car, I was thinking of the effort to earn money by our own hands and thought of the lyric "She works hard for the money" as I was gingerly getting myself in the car. Here's to all of us who work hard for the money.

As a PS, I had told my guys today the question about --- wait, did I tell this story? -- one of the health history questions was "Do you feel safe in your own home?" and I had no idea what she was asking -- didn't know if she were asking about living in NYC... so I didn't say anything and she said "Do you live with someone who hurts you or abuses you?" and I said no.

Meanwhile, one of the guys said he was watering the lawn while his wife was walking the dog and somehow the dog took off and his wife ran after the dog, tripping on the hose and hurting herself to the point where he called an ambulance. The EMT woman was questioning his wife about whether my guy was resonsible for her getting hurt -- he said, right as he was standing there and wanted to say "Ask me, I'm right here" but he didn't. Obviously. Then another guy said someone else who works there was seriously questioned about a burn on their baby -- as if having a baby with a burn isn't traumatic enough. I suppose it's good that health care people are so vigilant about it -- so it must take place a whole lot.

Checking in at 2:15

I've had an almost normal work day today. Went to sleep early last night (10 pm which is early for me); slept well, held off the decision to shower for the morning and I felt like it... got in the shower with no problem... bless the person who invented grab bars -- pink water started to run off my foot but after a few minutes, it was clear so that felt good. The Dr. said I could get it wet, but not submerge it. I loved having clean hair and smelling like soap.

The bandage had some blood, but it had also been on for about 15 hours so I was fine with that -- maybe this is too much detail, but the wound continues to seep a bit but it is not actively bleeding.

Left the crutches in the room because they make me feel unbalanced and I'm just uncoordinated with them. I am walking, however slowly... left my purse, computer etc in the car and had someone come out for those so I didn't have to carry and could just walk.

Walked upstairs for pizza lunch which is a long way -- not in real people sense, but in wounded person sense, it's long. I told them don't wait for me... that makes me feel as if I have to walk faster and I just want my own pace. Went to the ladies room etc so I'm doing all the walking I normally do but just at a slower pace.

People have been so kind and supportive here and I have asked for favors such as tightening my shoe (velcro straps) etc. The last pain pill I took was about 10 pm last night and haven't taken one today and I"m OK... although I have to laugh that the pain pill also takes away old lady pains in the knees etc so I have to separate what is toe pain vs what is pain I have anyway.

They work until 615 or 630 here, but I think I'm going to leave around 5.

My philosophical thought is that I know we reap what we have sown, and I know I have done many kindnesses for people, but I am struck by the kindnesses offered me --- from a genuine effort to drive me and my rental car back to NY to the wife of someone here saying she could come to my hotel room and keep me company and we could watch TV together. My take away is that we should all continue to "do something" for people like this -- even if "all" you can do is offer a kind email or offer to come over and watch TV.

So that's it for now. More to come, including photos! (No,not of my naked toe, don't worry)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Sad Story (Really)

Last night, I had a freak accident in my hotel room. I had a long day, got food on the way home, got undressed, put on a snap-front cotton bathrobe type thing and laid down on the bed to watch TV and eat. Something dropped off the foot of the bed, and I got up to pick it up. My shoes were between the beds and I somehow tripped over the shoe, didn't fall but took a few steps forward and totally mashed my big toe.

This is the sickening part... it didn't hurt, but when I bent over to see it, it was so clearly bending in a way it should have and was bleeding. After a few minutes, and scarcely believing my own eyes, I called the front desk and said I needed paramedics.

She was lovely and said she'd come open the room, to sit tight... oh she did ask me what my symptoms were and when I told her, I could hear the pause... like "Really? You need paramedics for a stubbed toe??" I hear the sirens in the distance and am just embarrassed.

They arrive, the one guy looks at my toe and says, "This is an amputation." Honest to God, he said that. So they wheel in the gurney, strap me in (barefoot and underwear-less, shoeless, coatless). I have my purse. Didn't have my phone, but later in the hospital I thought it's just as well I didn't have my phone because I was holding it together and I knew the sound of Mary's voice would make me cry.

Let me just jump to the end and say that it was not an amputation. I got a tetanus shot, two antibiotic shots, an x-ray or three (yes, it's broken), and the toenail removed. Do not wish that procedure on your worst enemy.

I was a lone wolf when they discharged me -- shoeless, coatless, etc. Took a cab back to the hotel. Stopped at a 24 hour drive thru pharmacy.

Took today off... As far as I can tell, my toe is doing OK, but it's only 24 hours ago. I was afraid to look at the bandage this morning for fear it would be dripping blood. The doctor warned me there would be blood, but it was ok this morning, kept the bandage on for 14 hours and yes it had blood, but parts didn't. I've had the new one on for five hours and it's ok, still white with some blood, but if it were really bleeding, it wouldn't last 5 hours.

My client has brought food, more bandages, etc. One guy just brought me dinner and kept saying I should call him. Told me he had been sick once out of town and someone was kind to him so he was paying back.

Anyway, please send healing white light my way in the direction of my foot. Just so you know, I did tell the doctor straight what my plans are -- to work in an office on Thursday and Friday and then to drive to NY and he was OK with that. So I'm just not thinking beyond a few hours at a time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Arrived Safe and Sound in Ohio

All is well, but of course I have one complaint. The drive was uneventful -- a few problems in the afternoon with sun glare -- is that worse this time of year?

I've stayed in this hotel probably 50 times -- I know this hotel... All told I spend nearly four weeks here during the year, work weeks.

In the past year or so, I have requested a specific room. I don't make the reservation, but my client does and I totally trust the man who makes it -- he does all of my client's trade show details, thousands of details, and he does it with ease.

He is well aware of my preference for this certain room. Some days when I check it, they cheerfully announce the room number "Miss Luebke, we have room 132 reserved for you..." and other days, it's like I am speaking Croatian to the clerk. I totally trust my client making the reservation so the person taking it doesn't care, is too dumb to write it down, pays lipservice to the request... and this annoys me beyond what it should.

Today I was crabby with the front desk clerk when my requested room wasn't available -- oh, and we make the reservation weeks in advance. I asked her, sincerely, "Are there some special words to use?" -- you know how sometimes a company will say, "Oh, you should have requested a 465 exemption..." so she said no, just make the request, and I said, "Well, that clearly doesn't work." So she said she'd put the request in "my record." We'll see.

Other than that, I'm fit as a fiddle.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

First Night -- Clarion, Pennsylvania

This is actually two trips back to back -- two clients in Ohio and I'll be at both. Uneventful trip, other than lots of deer roadkill. I had a sort of sad moment this morning at the rental car place. The woman ahead of me was there with her young daughter and they went through the whole process and the her credit card was turned down. The clerk was being very discreet about it -- he turned the computer screen around and pointed it out to her. She did the usual, "oh, but that's impossible" -- but the thing is, and I've seen this before a number of times -- that if your car is going to cost $200 -- and you have $200 still in your credit limit, the rental card company will block like $400 to cover themselves. So he told her she could make a payment and then come back. She said to her little girl, "Come on" (to leave) and the kid looked confused.

I was then on my way, cloudy, sunny, cloudy, sunny -- I had one moment of panic over sun glare around 4:30 where I literally could not see past the front of the car. Luckily, it only lasted a minute or so, but it is scary.

I make a point of stopping at the scenic overlook at the Delaware Water Gap.

I don't know why, but I get a kick out of watching these kinds of family photos. All grinnibng.

Enteroing Pennsylvania

Stopped for lunch, and there was this chicken on the corner enticing people and I thought there are some really crummy jobs -- but this chicken was making the most of it, dancing, waving and I thought good for you! If you have to put on a stupid chicken outfit, you might as well own it , embrace the expererience and this person did.

Stopped at a rest area and took a nap for about 15 minutes. I really don't play around with heavy eyelids when I''m driving.

So tomorrow it's on to Ohio.

Left Over from Friday

Had lunch with Barbara on Friday -- our usual scrambled egg, bacon, fries lunch where we do everything but lick the plate. Of course, we have our ordering down to the last detail of my scrambled eggs soft and our "crispy" bacon and "well-done" fries. Rye toast for her; toasted bagel for me.

Riding home,
I do enjoy seeing the changes seasons through Central Park.

Traffic on Park Avenue

This is the corner of 86th $r and  Second, and you can see that the under-construction Second Avenue Subway has now moved out so that there is one lane of traffic, rather than four on Second Avenue. Those white buildings are built on the Avenue. It's a mess.

There are two identical trees across the street from my building. One has totally changed; the other hasn't at all. I mentioned this to Barbara at lunch, and she joked, "Maybe one's female and one's male." I said, "Yeah, the green one is male and refuses to change." She had interpreted it another way -- that the yellow one was male, just like male birds are more colorful.

This is the rest of the block looking fall like.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall in DC

Mary's front-yard bush continues to get colorful. Mary claims to like this time of year, and I don't. It's just about 3:30 here and already getting dark.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Kali, the Huntress

It turns out that this innocent looking cat is actually quite the hunter. Stephanie writes:

She has brought in from the lanai so far a gecko, but now, she brought me a new present....a frog.  I saw her slinking into the bedroom from the lanai looking all coy and smug.  I followed her into the bedroom and there jumping around was a frog!  Of course I screamed and woke up all of Charlotte County.  Danny managed to put a garbage can over it and then gave it its freedom to the great outdoors.  The gecko was not so lucky.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I Thought I Was Done, but, come on, it's a baby polar bear!

Coffee Drinkers

This is from a newsletter I get called the Thrill List. Today, it was about 29 different kinds of coffee drinkers. Here they are:

The gas station coffee evangelist
He just loves being one of the common people. And watching them buy their Skoal Bandits.
The unapologetic Starbucks patron
There's gotta be a reason there's 21,000 locations, right? Right?
Impatient businessman at Starbucks
Obviously on his way to an important meeting and has no time to tip. Cool Jawbone, bro.
Cool suburban dad at Starbucks
He also gets all of his Leonard Cohen CDs there.
The almond/rice milk guy
Congrats on finding a new and exciting way to ruin the taste of coffee.
Sugar In The Raw snob The Ol' Dirty Bastard of coffee-drinkers.
The late-night sipper
Who cares if it's 10 at night? Caffeine doesn't affect him like it does everyone else. Rightseedoesn'taffecthmeatallI'mgonnajustwatchninehoursofTurnerClassicMoviesandmakeaquiltnow.
The guy who only drinks coffee because he has a crush on the barista
She doesn't care how your day was, and neither do the 10 people in line behind you. And now you've got acid reflux from all these "dates".
The guy who insists that Dunkin' Donuts is the best coffee ever
He takes it with milk and 400 eclairs' worth of sugar.
The McDonald's guy He thinks the lawsuit over the coffee being too hot was ridiculous, because that's the main reason he goes here.
The Stevia addict
This person deserves your sympathy because they'll soon have cancer. Thought we were gonna do the Breaking Bad spoiler? We're not gonna do the Breaking Bad spoiler! Wait, did we just do a Breaking Bad spoiler?
The Chemex snob
Yes, the glass Chemex brewer makes a great cup of coffee, but no, it does not belong in a contemporary art museum.
French press hard-on guy
Just choke down those grounds and tell people about how you stayed in a hostel in Nice that one time.
Reusable coffee cup that looks disposable but really isn't... girl
It's dishwasher-safe and the lid only tastes a little bit like rubber.
The novelty mug girl
It sure is hilarious that you're drinking coffee out of a cup shaped like a toilet.
The person who pronounces espresso with an X
He takes the espress train to work every day.
The decaf drinker
The foamy cappuccino fan
This is the same type of person who takes unironic bubble baths. They usually smell terrific
Lip-smacking espresso lover
How much do you love that coffee brewed by forcing a small amount of nearly boiling water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans, huh?!?! A lot? Oh, cool, we had no idea.
The guy who stopped drinking coffee and wants to tell you all about it
His serotonin levels have never been higher! He feels better in the morning! His crippling withdrawal headache will eventually cause him to chug old coffee rinds around the back by the Tim Horton's dumpster! Also, why is he in Canada?!?
The K-Cupper
The pumpkin spice Coffee-Mate lady
She wants every morning to smell like the cheap aunt who brought a frozen Sara Lee Oven Fresh Pumpkin Pie to Thanksgiving.
The coffee gadget guy
Sir, is that an AeroPress or a penis pump?
The clueless drip coffee guy
It's the best part of waking up, right? Right? Wait, it isn't 1989?!?
The coffee break office worker
Cigarettes last longer and you get to go outside!

The coffee shop chick who nurses one cup for five hours
The baristas are roasting you alive with their eyes.
The sustainability snob
He only buys organic, shade-grown, Rainforest Alliance-certified, Fair Trade beans harvested by indigenous people whose monthly wages are around what the cup of coffee cost him.
The proud dude who takes his coffee black
Turning down cream doesn't make you less of a man. Wait, does it? Should we be drinking our coffee black?
The barista who's pissed that you ordered a caramel macchiato
Where do you think you are, Starbucks? This is an independent coffee shop! Don't you see the local art on the walls? (Actually, we're all kind of pissed you ordered that caramel macchiato. Where do you think you are, Starbucks?!? 

Ok, so I'll admit I'm a K-cupper who does harbor some pride in being manly enough to drink my coffee black. Also, when I order cappucino, I do put one packet of sugar in it and always opt for the Sugar in the Raw when available.

Fran's Fall Foliage on Fessenden Street

Fran's Orchid Blooms Again

It's weird that the leaves are falling and it's getting cold, but this orchid is on its own schedule.

From great to lousy in customer service

Last night I was trying to make a hotel reservation for my trip to Ohio. I have a particular hotel I liked and the chain was running a promotion for "Choice Club Members" where if you made the reservation on line, you'd get a 30% discount.

I had to have my club member number to take advantage of this and finally got that coordinated so I was at my computer with my card at the same time.

So I reserve the room, put in my number (holding the card in my hand) and the web site asks me to put in my username and password. There's just too many fricking usernames, but I put in the one I always use, and it wouldn't take it. Try. Try. Try. Try different things.

I call the 800-number and I have to say the guy was rude and impatient. I was pretty mellow but finally I told him to calm down. He would insist it would work, and I'd insist that it wasn't. The telephones for the Choice Club member only were open until 8 pm which seems odd for a hotel chain.

Anyway, I went ahead and made the reservation thinking I'd call the Choice Club number today and ask for the discount. Considering the time I'd invested in this reservation, I think I'd earned it.

As it turned out, and I figured this out myself -- I have a Choice Club membership but I did NOT have an online account. I don't know anyone who is active on the internet who can remember where we have accounts and where we don't. If it asks me my Username, I took that as a clue I *have* a username with them.

So I set up the online account. Then I asked the guy, really still nicely, if he could give me the 30% discount.

And that's when I went crazy. He immediately said no and started the corporate blah blah which is like nails on a black board to me... that sing-songy "this promotion is only for reservations that are made on line..."

So I said "Stop!" Then I said, "I don't want to hear the corporate line. You've said no and that's the end of it" and hung up. It sounds juvenile, even to me, but it seems so crazy to take your best customers (frequent guests), woo them constantly via email and then when you have a chance to impress them and do right by them, you treat them with no caring.

View from Mary's Backyard

This is the door to Mary's deck with Milo watching the leaves fall. Hope everyone enjoyed their extra hour of sleep. I did!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

I Can't Stop Myself

baby seal

London 1903

This is a real photograph -- if I were teaching a creative writing class, I'd like people to write about who is in one of these carriages and why and where they're going... this photo looks like a scene from a movie, and it's odd to think it's real.

Customer Service

Yesterday I had groceries delivered from Peapod. Once again, the delivery was nearly an hour past the delivery window and I had a problem with a bag of six bakery sandwich rolls, five of which were so stale as to be inedible. My free delivery is finished, and so I was charged $6.95 for a delivery fee.

I called to complain last night, and the "wait times" exceeded 10 minutes so I just called back now. The guy was calm, and I was calm and I said, "I don't think I should have to pay a delivery fee when the delivery is nearly an hour past the window."

Know what he said?

"I agree. I'll waive that."

Uh... uh... ok

Then I went on to talk about the rolls and, again he calmly said, "I'll credit your account."

He then added up the $6.95 and $2.99 and said they'd credit my card.

I was sort of chuckling at myself, thinking of the expression "take the wind out of your sails" but it really did. No arguing, no quoting company policy, no telling me I'm the first one ever to complain, no telling me what it says in the general conditions blah blah blah. No telling me it is beyond their control. blah blah blah

As usual, I believe I was asking for a reasonable solution, and it was just pleasant (for a change) to have that honored.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fall in Mary's Front Yard

When I read the subject line of Mary's email, it said "Fall on 43rd St" and my heart missed a beat, thinking Mary had fallen on 43rd Street. I guess that's the way we think these days. So I was happy that it was that other fall on 43rd Street.

Mary's red bud tree

goodbye hydrangeas

Mary thinks this one looks "impressionist"